Each month during 2020, I would like to write a post with quick summaries and reviews of the books that I read. I generally find posts like this inspiring, and I always get a few new reads to add to my (ever-growing!) TBR list. (That’s the “To Be Read” list.)
Reading has always been vitally important to me. It has made me who I am, helped me explore ideas, brought me to other worlds, and inspired me to live more intentionally. Whether in novels, memoirs, nonfiction texts, or children’s books, the books I read shape me. So, here are the books that have shaped me this month:
What I’ve Read This Month: January
Fiction for Adults
None this month! I am currently working on one and have another checked out from the library.
Nonfiction for Adults
A Simplified Life by Emily Ley
I love listening to nonfiction audiobooks when I am driving, doing laundry, or grocery shopping. This was my first book of the year, and it was a good one to start with. Ley writes about simplifying your life through decluttering, clearing out your calendar, establishing rhythms and rituals in your home, and streamlining activities. While most of this was not new information or ideas for me, it was a good reminder at the beginning of the year.
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan
The memoir of an introvert who decides to live like an extrovert for a year as she seeks to make more friends in a new country. Pan learns how to speak to strangers on the train, network, host a dinner party, and even speak in public. Honest, hilarious, and totally relatable for introverts like me. Warning: there is some foul language throughout, though I found the content made up for it.
Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
In keeping with my theme of simple living, I enjoyed listening to this on audiobook as well. Tsh and her husband have made a decision to live intentionally as a family, choosing what really matters to them and making life-decisions based on those priorities. They prioritize travel, educating well-rounded children, working for themselves, eating locally-grown food, and living slow, thoughtful lives. This was a quick listen.
Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
I tend to like memoirs, especially memoirs by professional writers and memoirs about living abroad. This book combined those genres in an engaging way. Doerr, author of the award-winning All the Light We Cannot See, wrote this book while living in Rome for a year. During that year he was working on his novel and raising young twin boys with his wife. The combination of his writing life and his parenting life interested me greatly, as did his beautiful descriptions of Rome and their time in that city.
When Less Becomes More by Emily Ley
I just couldn’t seem to get enough of the “slow down and simplify life” books this month. This was another audiobook that I enjoyed, especially as I was crocheting in the evenings. It’s a short book with a simple message: we need less and more. Less social media, less connectivity, less busyness in kids’ schedules, less of a push to achieve “greatness.” More real-life relationships, more unstructured time, more enjoying the simple and the good. If you have to choose one of Emily Ley’s books to read, I’d recommend this one.
Fiction for Young Adults or Children
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I’m reading this one aloud to my fourth grade class, and I couldn’t help but read it on my own to finish it. This is a re-read for me (I have decided to count re-reads as part of my yearly total this year, a change for me), and I am always so glad to read it each time. Auggie is a fifth-grader with a cranio-facial abnormality, which causes him to look quite different from other kids. His first year of “real school” after being homeschooled is a roller-coaster ride of experiences and emotions. Heartwarming, heart-breaking, and a must-read for kids ages 9-13 and the adults who love them. Let’s all be a little “kinder than necessary.”
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Anidori, Crown Princess, is married off to the prince of a neighboring land by her mother. As she and her caravan journey toward him, Ani’s lady-in-waiting, Selia, overthrows Ani and tries to murder her. Ani has to survive in a new country by pretending to be a lowly goose girl caring for the palace fowl. As she befriends the castle folk and learns more about her new country, Ani also discovers powers that she never knew she had. I fell in love with this book the first time I read it a few years ago, and nothing has changed in the re-reading! It’s a gently told, imaginative fantasy any 5th-9th grader will love. I also read the other three books in this series again: Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Forest Born. Goose Girl is the best of the series, though the rest are good reads, too.
What did you read this month?
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