This year will go down in my personal history as the year I didn’t meet any of my goals, and I think my reading goal (which I audaciously raised to 100 books this year—hahahaha!) has suffered the most. Although I love to read before bed, I end up falling asleep after a few pages, and with two 800+ page books on my nightstand, that means I’m making really slow progress through them.
But here are the books I’ve been reading over the past few months and how they’re keeping my love of reading alive:
The series that keeps me reading
I had heard so much about the Inspector Gamache mystery series over the past few years, but I typically wait for deals on Kindle books before buying them, and I hadn’t been able to catch Still Life on sale until earlier this summer. I was hooked after that first book, though.
I love the characters, and I love that not one of them is painted as perfect; Louise Penny shows the strengths and character flaws of each person throughout the series. The stories aren’t 100% believable (how often can murder touch a tiny hidden town, after all?!), but I enjoy the continuity of the series and the character development that happens over the course of several books.
And I’m loving reading more about the culture of Canada’s Québec province.
You can actually buy the whole series at once or three books at a time for a discount, so I’ve treated myself to the first 6 books over the course of the last couple of months, and I’d love to read the next three ASAP!
History books that tell a story
As the girls and I have been learning more about Africa—the diversity of the continent, the culture and history, I’ve realized how shaky my framework of African history is. I don’t have a great handle on ancient history or early civilizations, and I certainly don’t understand the history of individual countries.
Someone recommended Africa: A Biography of the Continent by John Reader as a comprehensive overview (and at 800 pages with tiny print, it’s more than just an overview!), and it’s incredibly readable. The first section also includes an in-depth look at evolutionary theory (from a secular standpoint), and I feel like I understand the evidence and reasoning for this theory for the first time.
I also fell in love with the Hamilton soundtrack this summer, and I couldn’t resist picking up Ron Chenow’s book, Lin Manuel-Miranda’s inspiration for the musical. It’s the heretofore little known story of the orphan who immigrated to the U.S. from St. Croix, serve as an aide-de-camp for General George Washington and become one of the Founding Fathers, the author of 51 of The Federalist Papers and the first Secretary of the Treasury before being killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804. It’s a fascinating read, although there is quite a bit of conjecture on Chenow’s part to keep the story moving, and I’m enjoying the soundtrack even more as I read more of the story!
Book club selections for accountability
This is a new approach to reading for me, but on a whim I picked up the audiobook of Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker J. Palmer to join Deidra Riggs’ Forward bookclub this fall, and when Natasha Crane mentioned a book club to read through her book, Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith, I decided to join that as well. The accountability to read just a small section each week feels doable to me in this busy season!
Escapist fiction, but not too often
Okay, at the end of the day escapist fiction is still my favorite; I love to read a story that transports me to another time and place. That said, I’m trying not to pick it up too often right now since I don’t have a ton of free time and I’m no good at reading those slowly, which means I tend to neglect everything on my to-do list in favor of reading.
I did enjoy both The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (#3 in The Winner’s Trilogy) and Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah recently, and I’m planning to get Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty before my trip to Florida in a couple of weeks!
In other news, I think my Kindle Paperwhite may be on its last legs (I keep getting app errors and frozen screens), which would be a disaster, so I’m saving for a new one!