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  • Avery Garn

Not-So WellRead Recently

I must begin this post with a book that has ROCKED MY WORLD. If I’ve spoken to you in the past few weeks I have probably already told you about it:

Since reading this book, I have determined that a core value of mine is love of reading. Clint is slightly concerned that this value has trumped, say, generosity.

A coworker of mine recently learned that I was a teacher in another life. Whenever people learn this about me, the first thing they say is that I look like a teacher. I’d love to know: what do teachers look like? Female?

Back when my career matched my appearance, I read a brilliant book called Book Love by Penny Kittle. Kittle lists the “rights of a reader”, and one of those rights is to quit a book if you are not enjoying it. I love this permission. One does not have to finish a book. We’re not in school anymore. We should look forward to reading. No one is making me finish a book, and thus, below are some books that became a chore to read, and therefore are rated DNF (did not finish). 

Note: A few years ago, I quit reading A Ballad of Songbirds and Saints after 10 chapters that felt utterly boring. Then a friend told me to try again. I did, and I loved the book. So take my DNF for what it is.

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride DNF

Despite multiple rave reviews AND having the audiobook in addition to the hardback, I could not finish this book. Too many characters. Too much happening. I have no doubt that it all weaved together beautifully; I wanted to know what happened to one of the main characters, and yet I did not want to know enough to finish the book.

The Cloisters by Katy Hays DNF

One of the rare Read With Jenna picks that was not for me. It’s also about tarot cards, so. (Side note: If you find yourself exploring “spirituality”, might I recommend Andy’s recent sermon?)

The Whalebone Theater by Joanna Quinn DNF

A DNF that I might have to go back and F (as in finish) after someone recommended again. It is slow; the main characters are eight, and I lost interest. To be continued.

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros DNF

Can’t say I get the hype…I guess it read to me like a TV show that is terrible yet popular. (Cough, cough, Bridgerton.) And yet, maybe I’ll try again.


But there are a few winners! I recently discussed the merits of a 5 star rating. To me, 5 stars mean I loved the book so much that I did not want it to end and suffered from reading-hangover for at least a few days.

The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5/5

Nonfiction, but what a beautiful nonfiction. Subtitle: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction. A book I want to wave from the rooftops, and might just be my new go-to new mom gift.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5/5

This one I loved. A fun and relevant read set during the pandemic. The whole novel references “the greatest American play ever written”, Our Town. As I know nothing about theater or this play, thank you to my sister-in-law Nikki for watching the 1940 Our Town film adaptation with me after Clint refused. (Yes, 1940. It is not necessary to watch to understand or enjoy the book. In fact, it might make the reading experience less enjoyable. It’s meant to be a play after all, not a movie.)

Wellness by Nathan Hill ⭐⭐⭐⭐4/5

A hilarious and satirical look at an American family. I just missed the author’s book tour and I am so sad. Not sure of Nathan’s faith, but I think he could be friends with my second-favorite pastor John Mark Comer.

A Likely Story by ⭐⭐⭐3/5

Not the most amazing book I’ve ever read, but thoroughly enjoyable. It reminded me a lot of The Plot with a story within the story. (A “frame” story if my Literature degree serves me correctly.)

If you're counting, the tenth Moana book stays on Eliza's person and is currently in her crib.

Anything Moana ⭐⭐⭐⭐4/5

We’re on a real Moana kick these days. I’d like to take this opportunity for my quarterly reminder to GET A LIBRARY CARD. I checked out ten--TEN--Moana books for Eliza. And next week when she moves on to a new princess, I will return said Moana books and get ten new princess books. (I’m pushing for a Pocahontas phase.)

I do have a great stack of highly recommended reads from a very trustworthy source (my friend and cousin Brittany Bomba!) Happy reading! And consider adding it to your family values ;)

TBR stack
As for instilling my values in my children, so far so good.



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