I’m afraid it’s been too long since I wrote anything new for this, my occasional series of Saturday book recommendations.
Truthfully, I’ve been reading up a storm, but it all felt so weirdly personal. Either I was reading very particular books intended to fuel my own book writing, or I was escaping into novels that seemed either too lightweight or too well known (or both!) to be worth mentioning.
But then I realized something. The only thing really holding me back from writing another addition to this series was pride. Pride because I didn’t feel I’d been reading anything earth-shattering enough, or esoteric enough, or special enough. As if I share book recommendations in this space in order to cultivate a certain self-image.
But pride is so boring. My own pride, especially. So, I’m kicking it aside and telling you, honestly, what I’ve been reading. It’s an oddball pile of books, but I think you might just find something you like. I know I did.
(P.S. These posts contain affiliate links. Find all my book recommendations here.)
I first read A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell months ago on a good friend’s recommendation. Hubbell is a university-librarian-turned-beekeeper in rural Missouri. This book offers four seasons worth of reflections rooted in her mountain home. It’s a quiet book. A plain book. But it sticks with you. Lately, I’ve been rereading it, hoping that some of Hubbell’s no-nonsense, beautifully observant style will wear off on me.
The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is new to me, though it was released a few years ago. Wilson-Hartgrove is probably best known as one of the so-called “New Monastics.” He writes simply and straightforwardly about his choice to stay in an impoverished, urban neighborhood. The book offers an easy introduction to monastic spirituality and what that might look like for us today. That is, it’s easy to read and Wilson-Hartgrove’s storytelling is easy to enjoy, but the stability he describes is hard. The kind of hard I want and need and hope to spend the rest of my life learning.
My love for picture books is well documented in this space. I’ve told you before that I think we push chapter books too often and too early. Quality picture books are not only works of art, but they tend to aim at a higher level of storytelling and language. All the Places to Love by Patricia Maclachlan is no exception.
This one was recommended to me by another friend. It isn’t new, but I’d never encountered it until this year. The art feels slightly dated, but that is a small, small quibble with a beautiful book. This one makes me cry. Every time. It isn’t a sad story; it’s a lovely story. Reading this book you realize just how heart-breakingly beautiful are our small lives and small homes and ordinary days. This book is for anyone who has ever loved some special place, and, especially, for anyone who has ever shared that love of place with another.
I’m reading a lot of heavy, heady stuff right now, but if my own book is inspired by anything I hope it is inspired by this picture book.
Anyone ready for a big, fat, fun novel? Liane Moriarty’s novels always fit the bill. I’ve told you before how much I loved What Alice Forgot, and Moriarty’s latest, Big Little Lies, is another excellent, fun, funny, thought-provoking romp. This one tackles the heavy topic of domestic violence, but does so with such a uniquely hilarious Moriarty touch that you can’t help but be charmed even as you find your eyes being opened, your heart softened.
This isn’t high-art by any stretch of the imagination, but I think Moriarty is a genius.
Tell me, what’s sitting on your shelf these days?
It’s been a month of packing and moving, so I’ve read very few books, even to my kids (which is possibly why I feel so unmoored).
However, we’ve read Winnie-the-Pooh and are 2 chapters away from finishing The House at Pooh Corner; A.A. Milne delights me, and he delights my children, and I am so grateful for these well-loved books. (I think it’s our third, maybe fourth time through them as a family, though for the twins, it’s their first experience of Milne.)
My son and I are reading Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard, which is much better than I expected, though not up to Rosemary Sutcliff levels of historical fiction.
On my own, I’ve read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, which, though dated, is still thought-provoking.
Thanks for giving me a chance to write about what I’m reading. I need to start doing that on my own blog. It gives me such joy to share good books with others.
And thanks for introducing me to three new writers I’ve never read. (I love MacLachlan’s book. I even think Moser’s woodcuts complement it beautifully, quietly capturing the spirit of the story and of 1930’s rural America.)
Oh, Winnie-the-Pooh. We adore him in this house. We also like Stephen Fry’s audio book version. Oh, and the Stephen Fry audio version of Paddington is fabulous. My oldest and I especially love the dry humor. I don’t know Moser’s woodcuts. I wonder if I have a different edition? Looking it up, I’ve realized how many books MacLachlan has that I’ve never read. Must fix that. It is so good to share books with friends. Thanks for being here, Kimberlee!
We live in a small space and don’t really know anyone here yet so there is a LOT of family reading time happening:)
I told you about Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher so the next installment is hopefully in the mail. Also we are a chapter away from finishing Pinky Pye, which we read on the heals of Ginger Pye because Eleanor Estes never disappoints.
Thanks to YOU I am in the middle of yet another Inspector Gamache novel! Also, The One and Only Ivan, a kids book, but oh my. Never thought the words of a gorilla would be so touching and beautiful. Lastly, Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. More young people need to read this book. Like all young people, and their parents too.
There’s more but that is everything on the table by my coffee at this moment!
So many great suggestions, Kelli. Thank you. Eleanor Estes is wonderful, and I had completely forgotten about The One and Only Ivan. I heard about it on NPR last year and thought it sounded amazing. Another one for the list. Thanks!
I’m reading The Little White Horse to my kids. Are you familiar with Elizabeth Goudge?
I just finished the foodie memoir This Homemade Life, which I enjoyed, and am in the middle of the novel Cutting for Stone which is well written. Not sure where it’s going yet, but riveting.
I bought my daughter a beautiful edition of The Little White Horse for her birthday a few years ago, but I’ve never read it myself. I need to fix that! And, I loved This Homemade Life. I’ve been wanting to read her latest, too.
I’m not sure there is such a difference between high and the low art, anyway. If you come away better than before, more curious, joyful…to me, that’s art. I’m so glad you decided to share; I hadn’t heard of any of these! I’m not plugged into that scene, you’re it, Christie! 🙂