Thursday, July 1, 2021

What I Read in June

It's been a while, friends! 

Welcome back to this space. I apologize for my absence. Most likely, nobody noticed, but it still seems that apologizing is the right thing to do. 

2020 was a rough year. The beginning of 2021 has been... different... but I've started the process of self-reflection and one of the things I've found is that I'm a better me when I'm writing. 

Doesn't matter if anyone is reading.... but getting the words down is important. 

Because of that, I've made some intentional steps to start focusing on my writing. 

I know, I know... I've said that before. 

But this time I REALLY mean it. 

I'm going to get in a writing routine. I'm going to get words on paper. 

What better topic to write about than books? 

If you've spent any time around this space, you know I love books. Any kind of book. Most kinds of genres. I read multiple titles at a time. 

This summer, I re-discovered the public library. When I was young, I always loved going to the library. When Caleb was little, we enjoyed going together and picking out Little Critter books. He also loved When You A Mouse a Cookie, Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus, and anything that involved cars, planes and automobiles. 

Alas, Mama got busy and forgot to take books back. And lost books. And kept forgetting. And the fines built up and the shame compounded... so much that I just pretended I didn't know where the library was. 

I know, I know. 

So about a year ago, I called the library to see what my bill was. I was going to pay up, because I read all kinds of blogs and listen to all kinds of podcasts and follow all kinds of people on social media who were giving me library envy. 

Y'all... it had been so long they had purged my account. So this summer I finally made my way back into the library and opened up a new account. Got my new card, and checked out 5 books. 

I read 1 by the due date. 

I'm not a quitter, though, so I renewed 4 and checked out  6 other to reach my limit of 10. 

I ended up finishing 3 by the next deadline. 

I'm learning that "adult" responsibilities and class and life in general means I'm a slower reader...

but I love checking out books. I love book stacks. It gives me a sense of accomplishment in a way I don't get on my Kindle (although I'm still logging plenty of hours there, too!) 

So, here is what I read in June. 10 books. Not my best month... but not too shabby, either. 

1. Something Needs to Change by David Platt-

 Platt goes on a hiking missionary adventure in the Himalayan mountains and takes readers along for the adventure. A largely unchurched people, the stories he encountered and his reading of the Gospels as he encountered them made an impact on his life, and he encourages his readers to allow it to do so for them, too. I got this book several months ago when there was a free online Bible study for the study book and a webpage was offering the videos for free. (I cheat, y'all. I buy the study books, watch the videos while they are free, sometimes binge-watching several in a day, then go back and complete the workbook). I have always wanted to go on a missions trip. I'm not sure hiking in the Himalayas is something I'm up for, but it definitely prompted me to take a look around my own world and think of how I can affect those in my influence. 

One of my 21 for 2021 goals this year is to do some type of kindness act every day. I'd like to challenge you to join me if you're reading this. It doesn't have to be anything big; a hand-written note, holding the door open for someone, a smile when a person may need it. Just do something. 

2. Remarkable Hope: by Shauna Letellier

I started this book at the beginning of the year after completing Remarkable Advent. I enjoy the author's writing style. She brings Biblical characters to life in this devotional style book, with references to their stories from the Scripture. It's a good reminder that our stories matter, and that we can embrace hope. 

*This book is on sale on Kindle for $1.99, a really good deal. 

3. Half-Finished by Lauraine Snelling- I LOVED this book. My aunt let me borrow it and I devoured it.... well, as much as you can devour a book when working on class work and focusing on other obligations. This tells the story of a group of friends who are crafters but are perpetual un-finishers (is that a word?) One gets the idea to start a club to help them finish their projects, and the idea catches on quickly in their small community. The characters are lovely, the dialogue is realistic, and there's a combination of love, loss, and hope that left me a little teary-eyed throughout. I don't know if it's because we still aren't completely back to normal with gatherings after COVID or what, but this book made me wish I had learned to crochet and could sit around with a group of friends and work on new baby blankets. 

*This book is also on sale for Kindle. 

4. The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

My summer 2020 obsession (maybe even earlier than that) was the British Royal family. I loved The Crown series (so yeah, 2019 was the beginning of the obsession, I believe) and watched every British documentary that I could find on Netflix. As a result, I added a lot of books related to the British family, some non-fictional, some fictional. This was my first library read of the summer and it did not disappoint. It's loosely based on Queen Elizabeth's father's nanny when growing up, and is delightfully written. It had enough  historical detail thrown in to satisfy my need for learning (I even looked up a couple of events and facts mentioned) and was a pleasure to read. 

5. Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

I love Sophie Kinsella. She is wickedly funny, so much so that I literally sometimes lose my breath from laughing out loud. This novel, my second library read, was no disappointment. The book follows a couple who have fallen into the mundane, everyday sameness of a marriage with kids. Work obligations, childcare, adulting, what they think to be middle age, and a visit to the doctor for a physical where they are assured they are in perfect health leaves Sylvie in a bit of a tailspin. In an effort to spice up the marriage, she proposes to Dan that they need to try to surprise each other... and this they do. It's a fast read, with funny characters and enough real-life to make it believable. There is some language and it can be racy in places. Any book written by Kinsella is a winner for me! 

6. House on Foster Hill by  Jamie Jo Wright

I got this book on Kindle Unlimited, and had it downloaded for a while before really diving in. This book goes back and forth in time between two young ladies caught up in the mysteries surrounding the house on Foster Hill. Kaine has purchased the house, sight unseen, in an effort to run from her own past. In a previous generation, Ivy is a young lady who grew up in the community and is seeking to find out the truth about a murder that occurred there. The interweaving of their tales over the span of generations makes for a good plot, a surprising ending, and a twist on an issue that is very current in today's society. (No spoilers, but I'll never look at mail order brides the same way again.)

7. Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

This is another book I read on Kindle Unlimited. I started it in April, and the beginning narrative of a flood that swept away a community hit a little close to home. I had to stop reading! I have read several of Fabry's books. I enjoy them because many are set in West Virginia/Virginia... Kentucky even made an appearance in this one. 

Billy is a musical genius but socially awkward. This book deals with his childhood, his first love, his starting of a gospel radio station out of his house, the death of his mother, and many other life events. Some of the chapters are narrated by his guardian angel, making for an interesting read. This book deals with difficult subjects, so it could be a trigger for anyone with trauma-based feelings, from abuse, suicide and depression, violence... but it is a beautifully written story of how redemption can be found. Highly recommend! 

8. For My Daughters by Barbara Delinsky

This was another of my library reads. This poignant read focuses on the intricate, complicated relationship of a mother and her daughters, with each of them being the subject of different chapters so you get their perspective. Forced together, the sisters find that they have more in common than they thought, and find an unbreakable bond as they learn about a hidden side of their mother. This is a love story, about a mother's love, about young love, about unexpected love, and a reminder that love is the tie that binds us all together. 

9. 84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff

I'm not sure how this book came to be on my TBR. Most likely it fulfilled a "book written in letter format" on one challenge or another. To be honest, I had bought it early in January and just stumbled across it looking for a cheap paperback to read in the pool. I'm so glad I did. This book chronicles the pen-pal relationship between Hanff and a bookseller in London. She lives in New York and writes requesting a book, and over a series of years becomes friends with the bookstore staff. I finished it quickly on the beach and it was just the perfect feel-good read. There are some sad turn of events, and one of them is finding out that by the end of the book Hanff still hasn't made it to London.

I was delighted when I just logged on Amazon to share the link to find it had been made into a movie... and Hanff wrote another book chronicling a visit to London!!! Yay for new finds. Added a new book to my TBR and rented the movie for the next rainy day. 

10. The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

This was my last library book, and it was one of my favorite books I've read in a while. Is there anything better than a book that takes place in a bookshop? Wiggs includes thoughtful quotes and references to real books (adding to my TBR!!!). Natalie Harper never thought she'd be in charge of the bookstore where she grew up, but here she is. Coupled with unexpected debt and an ill grandfather, she struggles to figure out how to save the bookshop (does she even want to?) and how to save her self. Of course, there's romance thrown in, a love triangle, some historical intrigue... all which add up to make this a marvelous read. 

So, there's what I read for June. As I mentioned before, I'm going to try to write more this summer. Posts will be about books, about my thoughts and reflections, about intentionality, maybe some thoughts on grace and a couple of Caleb stories... nothing really regular but my goal is a couple of times a week. At least on Tuesdays and Fridays =) 

Thanks for reading, if you did. Give me a follow or share... and comment below what you are reading! One can never be aware of too many books. 

10. The Lost and Found Bookstore by Susan Wiggs

1 comment:

  1. I read 84 Charring Cross Rd when I was a kid; it was a Reader's Digest Condensed Book selection at some point and I read through my mom's collection growing up. I so loved the book that when I found it at Amazon a few years back I ordered it at once. Such a lovely book...and it's amazing how the story unfolds through the letters; I cried at the end when the letter came relating sad news. My most recent read is 'The Chosen' by Chaim Potok. Also a book I read as a kid in the RDCB...but as an adult I had a whole new appreciation for it. My reading has dropped off so badly in the last few years; I have stacks of books waiting to be read. Must. Make. Time. For. Reading....