Summer 2018 Books

This year, like the last 3 years, I set a goal for myself of reading 52 books. Well, I made it to the end of May and had finished only 14 books. That was pretty far off pace, and I started to think that perhaps my goal was a little too big for this season of life. Not one to be a quitter, though, I made up my mind to try and close the gap as much as possible this summer before our next baby is born in the fall and my reading life gets a little, well, unpredictable. As of today, July 25, I just finished book #31! I’m so thrilled that I’ve been able to slash a few long-time standouts on my to-be-read (TBR) list and put my 52 book goal back within reach. It’s yet to be seen if I make it, but I’m really hoping to keep this pace up! Here’s what I’ve read so far this summer:

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 Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
This was a book club book but had also been on my TBR list for awhile. I really enjoyed it! Though I think my enjoyment was strengthened by a discussion with good friends. It’s a great conversion story, beautifully written, and English. What more do you need?
Educated by Tara Westover
This was similiar to the Sound of Gravel and The Glass Castle in that it told a coming of age story from the POV of a child who had a very unconventional upbringing and yet grew up to be a functional, successful adult. This book, however, was much more frank about the role of mental illness in her parents’ lives, which I really appreciated and found interesting. This is a newer book and there are several great interviews available online with Dr. Westover as well.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
This was a book club pick for the second book club I’m in and I really enjoyed this book. I almost put it down 1/3 of the way through because it felt too dark, but I’m glad I stuck with it. There is redemption, and it really becomes a page turner about 2/3 of the way through. The writing is stellar, the story is interesting and well thought out, and the characters are compelling. Just be prepared for a bit of darkness because it is about the survivors of an epidemic that wipes out 99.9% of Earth’s population.
Like Living Among Scorpions by Jennifer Fulwiler
This is a memoir written by a mother of 6 young kids, so it was pretty relatable for me! Fulwiler is hilarious and very, very honest about life among many little guys. Of note, I think this was an early edition of what became One Beautiful Dream on re-release. There’s a lot of overlap and honestly, One Beautiful Dream was stronger and had better editing.
Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody
We listened to this on audio through a family road trip and it was a hit with everyone, but most especially my non-book loving husband. It’s a great nostalgic father and son story, but the ending is sad so be prepared.
 One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler
Something other than God by Jennifer Fulwiler
This is going on my lifetime favorites list. Fulwiler tells the story of how she went from lifelong atheism after being raised by an atheist father and agnostic mother, to her conversion to Catholicism along with her husband. It is so interesting, so well written, so honest and raw. I really loved it and found so many of her discussions of how she grappled with different aspects of faith helpful in reflecting on my own faith.
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
I really felt like this book could have been summed up in one blog post…it was a series of essays on the same thing over over. I really don’t like Niequist’s writing style, either. That being said, I loved Bread and Wine. This one just really didn’t land with me, but maybe it will with you?
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Obv. this was incredible and we loved it. Listening to the HP books for the first time with my kids has been such a joy so far. We are just taking our time and savoring the experience of meeting Harry and everyone in his world for the first time!
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Another book club book! This was another one that started to annoy me about half way through and I almost put it down, but…book club. So I stuck with it and ended up really enjoying it! A good slice of Southern fiction for the summer if that’s your bag. Very memorable characters, hilarious dialogue, and it sounds like there are big differences from the movie that would keep it fresh as a read for you.
Calypso by David Sedaris
I could not put this book down and tore through it in 24 hours after resolving to streeettttch it out and savor it. This is more like Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim than Sedaris’s more recent books and I just loved it. He writes about his sister’s suicide and his mother’s death throughout the essays, but I wouldn’t call this book dark or depressing at all. His humor shines through but more importantly, his honesty.
Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Pinsky
I am in full school year planning mode over here and this was a great book that gave me several great ideas for reorganizing our play room and school room.
Know and Tell by Karen Glass
Another great homeschool prep book, this is on the skill of narration. We use a Charlotte Mason model in our homeschool and this book was incredibly interesting and helpful in understanding how children’s listening, speaking, and writing skills develop.
The Little Oratory-David Caldwell
I borrowed this book from a friend and really found it helpful in figuring out practical ways to build prayer and more of our faith into our daily routine. I’m hoping to make the liturgy of the hours and the rosary much more consistent parts of our lives and this book gave me so many great ideas for doing just that!
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I’ve been wanting to read this for such a long time and I’m so glad I finally did! What a fantastic piece of science writing. Such an interesting, layered story about cell biology, the history of cancer research, bioethics, and just a fascinating family story.
Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery
I try to read an Anne book every summer. Anne of Green Gables is still my all time favorite, but this was sweet, funny, and just what I wanted to curl up with on summer afternoons. Since so much of the book focuses on Anne’s career as a ‘school ma’am,’ it was a nice little shot in the arm for homeschool prep as well.
That’s my list for the summer so far! I’m currently reading Americanah and really enjoying it, and I have a stack I’m hoping to work through when we go on vacation next week….if our van is ever fixed. Fingers crossed.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought!
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My Lifetime Favorites

I have so many books to share and talk about that I’ve read this year so far, but for now, I wanted to get this list of my lifetime favorites out there. A couple of book club meetings ago we started talking about our lifetime favorites and it inspired me to finally put a list together. These are in no particular order, just the order in which I thought of them.  I would love to hear if we share any favorites, and to see your favorites as well!

1. The World According to Garp by John Irving
2. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
3. Bossypants by Tina Fey (audio is a must)
4. The Boys in the Boat by
5. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
6. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
7. Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball
8. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
9. The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan
10. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple
11. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (audio is a must)
12. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
13. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
14. An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter
15. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
16. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
17. Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume
18. The Joy Luck Club by Any Tan
19. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
20. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee