I think I’ve read more books more over the past six months than I’ve read in the past four years combined. A little fiction, a little nonfiction, and a healthy dose of self-care and spiritual reading.
It’s been lovely.
I credit a lot of this newfound time spent reading to staying mostly away from social media (nope-you won’t find me on Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram much, if at all). Also, lots of insomnia before I had Aidan and lots of time nursing him since then have lent themselves well to reading, even if it’s five or ten minutes here and there during the day.
The beautiful thing about reading books on Kindle, by the way, is that you can get the free Kindle app on your phone, and the app makes sure that when you open the book on either device, it always picks up where you left off on the other device. Also, my local library has an app with tons of Kindle books and audiobooks available.:)
Some of the best books I’ve read have been because a friend recommended them. I thought I’d share my recent reading list with all of you, in hopes that some of you may find something that is just right for you. Enjoy!
- The Fringe Hours, by Jessica Turner – Thank you, icky post-partum mastitis, for rendering me bedridden for two days and giving me time to read this jewel of a book. I bought The Fringe Hours on Kindle at least a year ago and never read it. It wasn’t the book I thought it would be, but it was exactly what I needed to read in this season of my life. It really convicted me about taking time and energy for myself. Since reading the book, I’ve signed up for a post-partum weekly Pilates/diastasis recti healing class, enjoyed several more books, and taken a much-needed Saturday “off” (which allowed me to tap out this post, coincidentally:).
- 33 Days to Merciful Love, by Fr. Michael Gaitley – Our friends Kate and David gave us this wonderful book on Divine Mercy two years ago, and I finally picked it up and read it in the weeks before I had Aidan. The Holy Spirit is so powerful and beautiful in His timing. I was at a point in the end of my pregnancy when I was often just sort of floundering in my discomfort and anxiety…and God just wrapped me up in the encouragement and hope of His Merciful Love. I highly recommend this book. Let God and the writings of his amazing little daughter St. Therese of Lisieux help you to not be so hard on yourself.
- Poldark, by Winston Graham – I loved the first season of Poldark a few years ago, and had heard the books (12 of them!) were a great read. So I ended up listening last year to the series through book #6 or #7…then had to stop. They were enjoyable, but were just a little depressing, and with such a long series, it felt like there were few problems that resolved for the better once and for all. The poor Poldarks and their friends just couldn’t seem to stay happy and out of trouble, and I needed something lighter (see below:). (Plus, Ross Poldark, for all his noble deeds and moments over the years, just doesn’t deserve that amazing wife of his.) And I may have first heard of the name Aidan (my 5th child’s name) from the actor who plays Ross Poldark in the BBC show…:)
- Emma, by Alexander McCall Smith – A fun, quick, and slightly froo-froo read. I needed something light after reading all of those Poldark novels…and Emma is of my three favorite Jane Austen stories. I know the story so well that the “modern retelling” was a little predictable. But still fun.
- True Grit, by Charles Portis – Ya’ll. I really enjoyed this book! I may actually re-read it again sometime soon. It’s hilarious and deep at the same time. And a great adventure story. It can be kind of gory, but not in an off-putting way. The violence is not disturbing like you’d think; it’s really tempered in a neat way by the personality of the first-person narrator (a 14-year-old girl). The 2010 movie with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon was great as well; Michael and I rented it after I read the book. Score! In-home date night movie compromise success.:)
- Winter Solstice, by Rosamunde Pilcher – I read this around Christmastime, and it was a heartwearming holiday read. I liked the narrator’s voice.:)
- A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens – Jim Dale did a FANTASTIC job reading this classic tale. He really brings the story and characters to life in an entertaining way. I highly recommend this book next Christmas for your entire family. My kids (almost-8 and under at the time) enjoyed it, and so did I! There are definitely some scary parts, so be sensitive to your particular children’s threshhold for scary stuff, but Jim Dale does a good job of making it feel like a fairy tale rather than a horror novel. Note: I DO NOT recommend the recent Jim Carrey/Disney film version. It’s really scary and over-the-top. I regret watching it with the kids…and after fast-forwarding a few times through surprisingly horrifying scenes, not just turning it off altogether. It was a definite #momfail moment and I know I was just being stubborn. I love to rent the movies after we’ve listened to books as a family, and I enjoyed the book so much that I wanted the movie to be a good experience as well…at least nobody had nightmares. 4-year-old Gianna actually asked for days to go watch “the skeleton part” again…
- On the Other Side of Fear, by Hallie Lord – I really enjoyed this book as well. Hallie has been a favorite blogger of mine for years. Her personal stories and hard-earned wisdom gave me a lot of encouragement in some good ways right now. A sweet older friend of mine in her sixties read this book and contacted me a few weeks ago about it. She had liked it so much that she purchased a few copies and wanted to ask “young mother” friends of hers if they were pass it around their friend groups as a ‘traveling book.’ I told her I’d be happy to, and met her after mass one Sunday and delivered it the next weekend to a friend I knew it’d be perfect for.
- Getting Past Perfect, by Kate Wicker – If you’re a mother, and if you like my blog, get thee a copy of this book and buy an extra copy to give to a friend. I loved it! There is SO much good stuff in here, ladies. I teared up many times as I read these chapters.
- One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp – I’ve had this book on my radar for probably 8 years. No joke. My library had it, and I needed something to read while I waiting for another book I wanted to become available…and I was so glad I read it on a whim. It’s a beautiful, deep book. And it gave me a lot to think about in its spiritually-rich premise of cultivating a habit of thankfulness. I definitely recommend it. Also, Ann Voskamp is a hugely gifted writer.
- The Fall of Lord Drayson, by Rachael Anderson – I’m a little embarrassed to put this one on here, but I decided to anyway. It’s kind of like a super-duper-lite Pride and Prejudice with a more simple and predictable plotline with a happy ending. (I need happy endings tied up with a bow everything once in a while, don’t you?) This was a froo-froo book for sure, but enjoyable if you just want a strong female character, a Regency-era setting, and boy-turns-around-and-impoverished-nice-girl-gets-a-husband-in-the-end happy ending. And it’s clean, if you catch my drift.:)
- Fit to Burst, by Rachel Jankovic – Every young momma needs a copy of this book. This one and also Loving the Little Years. There’s so much wisdom in this woman. Wow. This book is one I’ve actually re-read probably twice now.
- Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women, by Marianne Monson – I listened to this non-fiction gem on audiobook and really enjoyed it. The women profiled in the book have truly incredible and inspiring stories. I don’t know why I picked this book out, but I’m glad I did.
- A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens – Why? Why not? I read this classic book in high school. I’m listening to it on audiobook right now, and I’m actually liking it. I may just like the vague familiarity of the story and British accent of the man who reads the book, though. And I think it has one of those good, poetic sort of endings, if I am remembering correctly. Beautiful British accents are my favorite for audiobooks, for whatever reason. One of my favorite audiobooks from a couple of years ago was Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, by Jane Rubino. I loved the well-done twist on Jane Austen’s Lady Susan as much as I loved just listening to Susan Duerden’s soothing voice.
- In This House of Brede, by Rumer Godden – I just started this book, but I’m hooked already. I’m not in a season of life where I can honestly say, “I couldn’t put it down!”, but if I were, I don’t think I’d put this one down.
Ah! Such treasures in this list! Here are some books I’m planning to read soon:
- Good Enough is Good Enough, by Colleen Duggan and Lisa Hendey – Colleen is actually a friend of mine (and I’ve interviewed both Colleen and Lisa on my podcast back when I was still recording). Colleen emailed me a while back and asked if I might review a copy of her upcoming book. I read just the title and wrote her back “yes” immediately. I can’t wait to read it. Colleen (who is a fellow blogger, too) is so wonderfully down to earth and practical…I have a feeling this book will be incredible.
- Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell – Because I thought it’d be a neat American classic to read. And because I’m apparently in a Western stage (see above recent reads, True Grit and Frontier Grit)
- The Read-Aloud Family, by Sarah Mackenzie – This book comes out in March, and I can’t wait. Reading aloud with my kids is one of my joys as a mom. I try to re-read Sarah’s classic book, Teaching from Rest, every summer before I start my homeschool year again. It’s that good. And I’m forever in the debt of Sarah’s Read Aloud Revival and podcast for what bringing more books and read-aloud time into my home has done for my me and my kids.
- One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both, by Jennifer Fuhwiler – My library has a copy of this book on Kindle, and I think I’m #2 on the waiting list by now. I have been wanting to read this book for a while.
It has felt so good to read again these past months. I don’t know what mixture of reasons finally got me back to my reading habit after years and years barely reading at all, but I’m grateful to be here now. Reading gives me pleasure, relaxation, encouragement, and a chance to learn from the wisdom and experiences of others.
I am thankful for being able to read so much lately, for the gifts and wisdom of these authors, and for a simpler season of my life where I’m focusing mostly on my family, my faith, and (yes, it’s OK!) myself.
And now for an obligatory cute-baby-Franco picture: