If you've been around Shop Good for any amount of time, you've seen some book lists. You've probably also seen a few books appear over, and over, and over. 😂
Here is my summer reading post from 2016, and I still stand by it!
I would love to add more to the mix now in 2018, but I have a few problems on the recommendation front:
So, what is left?
(listed chronologically by when I read them)
We’re heading into a season of major family dynamics, with holidays and time together and everything else that involves.
People are so complex, and the relationships that we are born into (or perhaps, join in marriage) make for some of the most fascinating fodder for fiction and memoir alike.
I am always very reluctant to recommend anything I have never read, but the truth is, I’m not particularly well-read, and I often recommend the same favourites! #sorrynotsorry! (Though, there is not a single mention below of my oft-mentioned books Dinner: A Love Story, or The Glass Castle. I'm mentioning them here instead 😂)
You may pick up one of these books to feel better that your family isn’t so bad after all; or, to experience communion with others whose families are just as crazy; or, to wish that you were one of the Marches, just for a while. Or, perhaps you just need an excuse to retreat into your own room with a good book ;)
I have no false pretense that I am some kind of expert in the reading category. Reading is a hobby, but I have several other things I enjoy. I read every night before bed, and more if I’m super compelled (or trying to cram in a book club read), but my books-I’ve-read-this-year-list usually fits on a notebook page. I adore the library, and rarely buy books (and almost never buy hardcover), so that affects reading patterns, too.
I would say that I read more than most friends I know, but far less than the hardcore book nerds of the internet.
All that is to say, if you are looking for brand new books, check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading List, and if these picks don’t suit, you might really enjoy the same gal (Anne Bogel)’s podcast, What Should I Read Next? She asks guests about 3 books they love, one book they hate, and what they are reading now; then, she suggests 3 recommendations that they might like (to read next). Listen to a few eps and you will have a long list to books to-be-read (TBR for those in the know ;).
As for this post, it is just a completely subjective list of suggestions of not-particularly-new books that you might enjoy for your summer reading. Let me know what you are reading (and, what you think of these picks!) by commenting below, emailing me or on IG or FB.
I, for one, don't like to learn about history. But, I do like to read and I do like to be smart (or at least sound smart). The best solution for me is to read novels that are set in a time & place that teaches me all about it, without me even realizing I am getting a history lesson.
Of course, it's not just about gaining smarts! Reading stories that are set in another time & place gives us a first person point-of-view to understand better the circumstances of others' lives. Like "heavy reads" that pique my empathy, any stories that take place in a life different that my own do increase my sense of humanity and fraternity. Straight up: learning about different lives makes me a better person! And, it makes life more interesting, too, no?
Even as a "do-gooder" – whether you donate to good causes, volunteer your time, or run a business to support thriving employment of vulnerable women ;) – it is possible to do the good, but still maintain a distance in your heart between yourself and the other.
I'm speaking about myself, of course; being so geographically distant from the work at Basha (& Basha's partnering training programs) makes it easy to check out emotionally from the lives of people who are so very different from my own.
This summer, I've read a string of books that have been so extraordinary! They have nudged me and pressed my heart in transformative ways; to see all people – from the most vulnerable to the most powerful – as people, humans, made like me and of equal value.
To be upfront: there are Christian faith elements in all of these books; I love to read and read a wide range of genres, but this summer, these books were my jam! Like, as a friend once said, "water for a thirsty guy [gal!]". I have listed them below from the most widely interesting & accessible (ie. least Christian-y) to the most specifically faith-based.
When summer vacation began around here, my oldest daughter took up her station in the corner of our couch, pretty much reading all day (punctuated by meals, exploring breaks outside, and some antics with her siblings).
With a two-year-old and five-year-old, not to mention a myriad of other adult & business responsibilities, I am not quite at that life space of blissful, lazy reading all summer (and I try to keep the envious glances to a minimum). But, for many of us, summer provides a respite from the year of run-around busyness, and AT LAST a chance to dig in to a good book.
This month, I read Tsh Oxenreider's memoir/manifesto Notes from a Blue Bike and I thought... if you like reading Shop Good, you might really like this book.
In one sense, I am loathe to point everyone to another writer who is like me, but much farther along, with many more resources, more wisdom, and a published book… But, Tsh is just that good!
The truth is, I don’t read blogs much. [I am all the more swelled with gratitude when anyone takes the precious time to read mine – seriously, THANK YOU. It means so much to me.] I create, I work, I cook, I clean (ha ha, no I don’t), and I do read. I love novels & memoirs, I read the Bible. I try to keep up marginally with news/world events by reading the New Yorker and (honestly, shameful as it is to admit this as a news source) scanning the Facebook trending stories. But regular, devoted blog reading just doesn’t make the cut.
So, all that to say, I am no expert in Tsh Oxenreider’s giant of a writing hub, The Art of Simple. I’ve read a number of articles over time, and I like it. I like her. The like her contributors. We are simpatico. So, when I saw her book, Notes from A Blue Bike, on the library shelf, I snapped it up and have been devouring it ever since.
One of the very obvious responses that came across in our reader survey was that many of us love to read. Perfect, because I do, too! I’ve written book lists before, but it’s been a while, and we readers are always looking for something to read, amiright?!
Last month, the book club I belong to with some long-time girlfriends picked our books for the year. A theme that popped up through the recommendations was food memoirs and other books about cooking, eating, and the role of food in one’s life. Not cookbooks, though some included recipes, but books about life, with food interweaved.
I enjoy food, I’m intrigued by chefs, and I love to read glimpses into other people’s lives. Here are some foodie books on my radar, but let me know any more that I must add to my nightstand!
This month’s “woman of dignity” is not a woman at all, and actually is not even a real person. Meet: Nancy. Nancy Clancy. Fancy Nancy.
I’ll be honest: when I first heard of “Fancy Nancy”, I definitely rolled my eyes. All of the pink and princess and fancy and whatnot can be tiresome for a mother of daughters. I am not particularly feminine or fussy and I don’t even like the spa. I immediately assumed that “Fancy Nancy” would be a girl who was shallow and silly and without much to offer to my impressionable young daughters (aged 4 & 6).
After reading some 35+ picture books and 5 chapter books – more than once, I assure you– I am convinced that she is one of the most well-written, deep characters in all of children’s fiction. Jane O’Connor offers children a role model with dignity, complexity and a high quality of character. I LOVE Nancy and here is why:
Photo credit: Nick Agro OC Register
Last Mother’s Day, my sister gave me a copy of Jenny Rosenstrach’s cookbook/memoir/ode-to-“family dinner” Dinner: A Love Story. Based on her blog of the same name, DALS wrestles through the joys & trials of prioritizing a daily meal together as a family.
The book chronicles Jenny’s journey from the early days of her own family – she & her husband working long hours in NYC publishing, then counter-culturally coming home and still cooking dinner – through the punishing years of toddler pickiness, on to the glory days: what she calls “the years the angels began to sing” (i.e. school aged children). Throughout her tales of working and then baby-ing and, the trickiest, working and baby-ing, there are recipes. Oh, there are recipes!
Ever since receiving it, DALS has been a mainstay of my cooking arsenal. I dole out copies whenever I have occasion to, and sing Jenny’s (or Andy – her husband’s) praises when I sit down to yet another reliably delicious meal.
Dinner: A Love Story is a fabulous gift to give to any mom, any aspiring cook, anyone who likes good writing, anyone who enjoys a good laugh… ANYONE! Pick up a copy at your local bookstore if there is a mom you’d like to treat this week.
Another idea in our meaningful gift guide is to cook your Mom a meal. Here are two recipes from Jenny’s original DALS book that you can make for Mom this weekend.
When I began working on our Meaningful Gift Guide for Moms, I knew that I needed to include a section on books.
She always has a stack of books on her bedside and one or two on the go. Her book club has been meeting for nearly 40 years. And her insistence that a great joy of life is that she will never, ever run out of great books to read – well, it has completely inspired me with a passionate love of reading.
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