The Fort (& More July Reads)

Hands Free Life and Other July Reads

August is almost over, and I’m just now getting around to publishing last month’s reading list. I finished four books in July, starting with Gordon Korman’s highly enjoyable The Fort. Read on for my impressions of all four titles.

The 4 books I read in July

The Fort by Gordon Korman

We finished listening to Gordon Korman’s The Fort on a roadtrip last month. I bought the book knowing nothing about it except for the fact (1) it was written by the author of another book we really like (Schooled) and (2) it was on sale through Audible. But we all ended up really enjoying this account of a group of friends who stumble upon an abandoned but fully stocked bomb shelter and claim it as their own.

The story is told from the individual perspectives of each member of the friend group, some with heart-rending home situations, who find solace and protection within the walls of their new “fort.”

The book kept us guessing up to the very last chapter. We had absolutely no idea how the story would end, but were entirely satisfied with the way it did.

Eight Dates by John Gottman

Eight Dates

Although I’ve never read it before, Eight Dates by famed marriage researchers John & Julie Gottman recommends many of the same conversations my husband and I had while dating. In an effort to spare ourselves a lot of grief and unwelcome surprises after marriage, we tackled myriad topics including religious beliefs, family planning, conflict resolution, finances, sex, and our hopes and dreams for the future.

Such frank discussions are vital to a healthy marriage, whether you’re considering tying the knot or have been married for decades. However, I CANNOT RECOMMEND this book as a roadmap for having such talks without a huge disclaimer. It is not written from a Christian perspective and regards as normal and acceptable many practices the Bible condemns as sinful and perverse. While there may still be more meat than bones in the book (which is why I finished it), the bones are sharp and could cause great harm to an undiscerning reader.

Schooled by Gordon Korman


It had been nearly a decade since my husband last read ​Schooled ​aloud to the family, so after finishing The Fort​ earlier in the month, we decided to re-listen to this one, as well.

It details the story of Capricorn Anderson, who is homeschooled by his hippie grandmother. When a broken hip lands his granny in the hospital, Cap is forced to attend a local middle school, where he does his best to make friends, despite being tormented mercilessly by the class bully.

Having raised a houseful of homeschooled children who eventually had to transition to a traditional classroom (usually by taking dual credit classes their senior year), I have a special place in my heart for this sweet character who marched to the beat of a different drummer.

Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

Smarter, Faster, Better

Smarter, Faster, Better is every bit as riveting as Charles Duhigg’s New York Times bestseller, The Power of Habit

In this thought provoking book, the author talks about our psychological need for closure, and how people who become too focused on closure when setting goals often tend to stick with superficial, easily finished tasks, sometimes to the neglect of deeper, harder, more meaningful work. 

That’s why we need to set stretch goals AND smart goals. Dream big, then break those big dreams into manageable chunks of well-defined short-term goals. Duhigg gives great advice for doing this, and practical tips for achieving more than you ever thought possible.

Make Time for Reading

Do you love to read as much as we do? I’ve gathered all my best resources for bibliophiles onto this page, or you can read more of my book reviews by following this link .

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