We’re only two weeks into January, but I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made on this year’s reading goals. And this is why I love the new year: nothing in particular has changed from last month to this one except I reexamined my reading habits and goals, which has motivated me to pick up a book more often—listening to audiobooks in the shower or while I fold laundry, taking my Kindle to read while Sean runs into a store, reading before bed instead of staring mindlessly at my phone. I’m sure as seasons change there will be months when I read less again, but I’m happy to kick things off on the right foot and read “ahead” for as long as this season lasts!
Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read so far this month.
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
I knew this would be my choice for a book that had won a Newbery Award as soon as I saw that category on the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge. My kids love Kate DiCamilo, and the big girls both loved this story, which Shaina gave us a few years ago.
I’m trying to preserve Saturdays for reading, relaxing and spending time as a family (as opposed to catching up on work!), and I set a goal of finishing this book on Saturday. It’s an easy, short read, so that wasn’t difficult, but a tiny part of me wished I’d saved it for a read aloud because it’s laugh out loud funny as well as charming and thought provoking. I still might read it aloud so the little girls can enjoy it, but it would have been more fun to read it for the first time with them!
Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi
Jessica from The Mom Creative recommended this book as one of her top reads of 2016 just a few weeks ago when it was on sale, and I’m so glad I picked it up. I chose this book for my #diversebooks category in the reading challenge, but we have family friends from Ghana, and it’s a country that has always captured my imagination and heart, so it could also fit under a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit.
Homegoing is breathtakingly, heartachingly beautiful. It’s a fast-paced novel, moving quickly from the 1700s in Ghana to modern day America as it follows the paths of two half sisters who were born into separate villages and whose lives took very different paths—one married to a British soldier and one captured and sold as a slave. As you can imagine, there are parts that are very, very hard to read. But the writing is phenomenal, and Gyasi manages to capture the beauty in each story—the strength of the people and the culture at the time—even in the midst of the awful.
Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah
Reading all of Kristin Hannah novels I got on sale at the start of the year is my guilty pleasure and “the book(s) I don’t want to admit I’m dying to read this year.” I really, really disliked Home Front a couple of years ago and dismissed Hannah’s writing as overly sweet and cliche, but I’ve enjoyed the last few that I read.
This novel is the story of a couple that has grown apart as they’ve raised their children and a woman who has lost herself as she’s poured everything she has into her family. Although I don’t identify with the “losing yourself” part of the story, I always appreciate the perspective that reading about struggling marriages provides, and this was no exception. It made me think about the way Sean and I interact and how we can preserve “us” in the midst of raising six kids.
Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford
Rachel Macy Stafford’s words and examples often inspire me to slow down and prioritize, and this book is no exception. I was a little disappointed that all of the examples were still so closely related to motherhood (just as Hands Free Mama was) rather than written more broadly for life in general, but I still found it thought-provoking and encouraging. I especially love habits #6 and #9: give what matters and change someone’s story.
Belong to Me: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos
I really enjoyed Marisa de los Santos’ Love Walked In last year, and this follow up novel didn’t disappoint.
It’s not a perfect novel and I agree with some of the reviews that there was too much going on and the three different story lines didn’t always blend together well, but it was a sweet, easy ready, perfect for those times when you’re just looking for an escape!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
I’m on my second reading of the Harry Potter series (a goal I set for myself last year to try to keep up with my kids’ encyclopedic knowledge of the characters and events). The first three books were extremely quick reads, but this one felt a bit like slogging through the mud. I still haven’t figured out why; in theory, I love this storyline, but in reality it’s hard for me to sit and ready it steadily. Now that I’m through it, I’m hoping the last three books will be quicker!
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve had this book on Audible for months now, and I’m so glad I finally made time to listen to it. In fact, while I rated it 4 stars on Goodreads, I may go back and bump that up to 5. There were things I didn’t love about it—the way Gilbert personifies creativity is a bit weird and reminiscent of Marie Kondo—but overall it resonated and inspired me to create for creativity’s sake, to push limits, live curiously and more.
- Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction by Asheritah Ciuciu
- Curious Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the God of Possibility by Logan Wolfram
- The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
- What She Knew: A Novel by Gilly Macmillan