Tag Archives: books

My Year in Books

“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.” ~Erin Morgenstern in The Starless Sea

Confession – I may have read too many books this year. 70 actually, not including the majority of my 5 textbooks for the fall semester of my master’s program and any book I gave up on after the first 50 pages or so because life is too short to read terrible books or books not meant for this reader at this point in her life. I intentionally attempted to read books with perspectives unlike my own, and have discovered several treasures I intend to keep close to my heart and reread.

As for next year’s reading list, I am officially over books set during World War II. I get it that it was the war that has defined all wars before or since, but I just don’t want to read about it anymore. Not when there are an unbelievable amount of fantastic books existing in the world. I fully admit to loving historical fiction, however, so I plan to continue to read about any other time period. I also adore reading Young Adult fiction, especially in between more serious books (although young adult books are complicated and seriously messy in their own way). Next year, I hope to read more Science Fiction because that slipped through the cracks (anyone have good recommendations?) Finally, my favorite books are the ones with the truest stories. Not true in the literal sense that everything is rational and factual, but in the sense that I am emotionally transported into the lives of the characters and am along with them for their journeys. Even when they are devastating because as The Starless Sea reminds us: “Important things hurt sometimes.” 2019 was a tough year for me, but 2020 promises a renewal of hope. And I plan to live out my hope, in part, through my reading.

My Top 8 Favorite Books Published in 2019

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Dragonfly by Leila Meacham

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber

A Mostly Complete List of Books I Read in 2019, Organized by Stars via Goodreads:

5 Stars

Fiction

  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (December 1-6)
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (November 16-25)
  • The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis, #1-4) (2000) by Marjane Satrapi (October 31-December 7)
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (October 25-28)
  • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (October 14-20)
  • Neverwhere (London Below #1) (1996) by Neil Gaiman (October 2-7)
  • The Shadow of the Wind (El cemeterio de los libros olvidados #1) (2001) by Carlos Ruis Zafon (September 15-October 31)
  • The Guest Book by Sarah Blake (August 28-September 5)
  • Dragonfly by Leila Meacham (August 4-6)
  • 11/22/63 (2011) by Stephen King (July 29-31)
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney (June 26-27)
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) by Maria Semple (June 5-8)
  • The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin (June 3-5)
  • This Is How It Always Is (2017) by Laurie Frankel (May 24-June 3)
  • Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (April 6-8)
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (March 28-30)

Nonfiction

  • Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan (July 19-August 25)
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, & Lead (2012) by Brene Brown (June 25-August 2)
  • State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland (2016) by Dave Barry (July 23-25)
  • Heavy: An American Memoir (2018) by Kiese Laymon (June 12-15)
  • Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World by Rozella Haydee White (May 8-19)
  • March: Book Three (2016) by John Lewis (February 8-18)
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, & the Dawn of a New America (2012) by Gilbert King (January 29-February 28)
  • March: Book Two (2015) by John Lewis (February 8)
  • March: Book One (2013) by John Lewis (February 5-6)
  • Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber (January 29-February 3)
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018) (December 31, 2018-February 5)

4 Stars

Fiction

  • The Testaments (The Handmaid’s Tale #2) by Margaret Atwood (December 17-19)
  • Find Me (Call Me By Your Name #2) by Andre Aciman (December 13-17)
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (December 6-11)
  • The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippmann (November 11-16)
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (2017) by Erika Sanchez (October 9-14)
  • Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns, #4) by Kendare Blake (September 23-October 31)
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017) by Taylor Jenkins Reid (September 21-23)
  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (September 5-17)
  • The Alice Network (2017) by Kate Quinn (August 21-23)
  • The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (August 18-21)
  • Titans (2016) by Leila Meacham (August 11-13)
  • Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) (2018) by Laura Sebastian (July 14-16)
  • The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (2018) by Stuart Turton (June 21-24)
  • Wicked Saints (Something Dark & Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan (May 19-22)
  • Dear Evan Hansen (2018) by Val Emmich (April 25-30)
  • American Gods (2001) by Neil Gaiman (January 22-30)

Nonfiction

  • Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong (December 24-30)
  • Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living (2016) by Sandra Niequist (May 23-June 20)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) by Maya Angelou (March 19-May 9)
  • Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (April 24-May 8)
  • The Library Book (2018) by Susan Orlean (March 21-24)
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) by Stephen King (December 12, 2018-March 24)

3 Stars

  • Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner (November 18-22)
  • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (November 2-6)
  • Summer of ’69 by Erin Hilderbrand (August 27-28)
  • The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams (August 15-18)
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (August 6-11)
  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (August 1)
  • An American Marriage (2018) by Tayari Jones (July 21-26)
  • Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian (July 16-21)
  • The Goldfinch (2013) by Donna Tartt (June 25-July 6)
  • Lilac Girls (2016) by Martha Hall Kelly (April 25-May 19)
  • Where the Crawdads Sing (2018) by Delia Owens (April 12-16)
  • Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3) (2018) by Kendare Blake (April 12-13)
  • One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) (2017) by Kendare Blake (April 9-10)
  • The Malta Exchange (Cotton Malone #14) by Steve Berry (March 28-April 5)
  • Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) (2016) by Kendare Blake (March 9-14)
  • Dark Places (2010) by Gillian Flynn (March 9-12)
  • Queen of Air & Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) (2018) by Cassandra Clare (January 7-12)
  • Look Alive Twenty-Five (2018) by Janet Evanovich (January 7-11)

2 Stars

  • I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (February 7-11)

1 Star

  • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (September 25-27)
  • Once Upon a River (2018) by Diane Setterfield (June 12-19)

 

 

Summer Reading Adventures

Currently, we have an embarrassment of riches checked out from the local library. I tallied them up, and we have 25 children’s books checked out! Some are graphic novels/chapter books for Henry to practice his reading aloud, but the majority are gorgeous picture books I have been hoarding (but know I’ll have to let them go eventually). Isn’t it funny how fantastic books become part of your self? I think my kids are starting to grasp that, especially when they ask for certain ones to be read over and over and over and over again. Since summer vacation is rapidly approaching (last day of school is in less than one week – EEP!), I thought I’d share current books my kids are loving, and then do periodic updates this summer.

I’d love it if you shared ones your kids can’t put down. I’m always on the hunt for beautiful, thoughtful, silly, and empowering books for my littles. I hope you enjoy our picks, in alphabetical order by author’s last name:

Rot, the Cutest in the World! by Ben Clanton

Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña

The Library Dragon & Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, both by Carmen Agra Deedy

When Sadness is at Your Door by Eva Eland

Africville by Shauntay Grant

The Bad Seed & The Good Egg, both by Jory John

Drawn Together by Minh Lê

My Heart by Corinna Luyken

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

Funny Bones by Duncan Tonatiuh

Because by Mo Willems

Asheville Adventuring with the Littles

Let me first start by saying that everyone needs a friend like Amber in their lives. She’s one of the best, and we are lucky to have been friends with her since college. It’s one of those friendships that can pick up after not keeping in touch well (on my part, she’s always the one reaching out to say hi) and it seems like no time has passed. Additionally, she was kind enough to invite all four of us to stay with her for a week while Keith was at his conference and she was teaching. Adding our four-person level of craziness to her quiet home was probably an adventure in itself, but then we ventured out!


She recommended a playground in Asheville called Carrier Park which was incredible! A velodrome surrounded the playground area so we had fun watching bicycle racing before playing. The playground itself was a wooden castle, with climbing tunnels, swings, slides, and an airplane! In two sections – one for older kids and one for the smaller ones – we spent equal time in both. Henry loved playing hide and go seek against me and Elliot because there were so many spots to hide. We also took a walk alongside the French Broad River to relax before heading back for lunch and a nap.


The next day we headed into downtown Asheville to get awesome books from Malaprops, the local bookstore. The kid’s selection was on point – we got four excellent books. Then we attempted to go to the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Unfortunately, all the schools and everyone with kids (at least that’s how the crowded  parking situation seemed) had the same idea, so we didn’t even make it past the parking lot. There was a playground nearby so we hung out there until lunchtime. Are you sensing a theme? When all else fails, a playground always makes things better.


The final day of Keith’s conference occurred on Saturday, so Amber had the day off to play with us! We visited the Hands On! Children’s Gallery in nearby Hendersonville and had lots of rainy day fun. Henry loved creating energy by peddling a bike, selling ice cream in the ice cream shop, making lego cars and racing them, and rapidly running from exhibit to exhibit. I think everyone took naps after this.