Now that it’s September, Summer is officially over in my book. If someone could please inform the state of Texas, that would be great, because I’m ready to go into basic-white-girl-who-love-fall mode. I refused to be ashamed of it either!
I’m wrapping up all of my summer projects and lists now that summer is ending and I am desperately looking forward to fall. However, I wanted to give you a follow up on my summer reading list to let you know how I, and the books, did. I am pleased to announce that I accomplished my summer reading list and then some! I’m not just going to leave you with that, though. I’ve got to tell you how I liked them all. You ready? Hold onto your kindle, here we go!
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (Finished 05/23/2017)
The Blue Castle was, hands down, my favorite book from my summer reading list! Call me a romantic. I loved it. The Blue Castle tells the story of a young woman named Valancy who receives a startling diagnosis. Even though the diagnosis a death sentence, it frees her to finally live her life on her terms. I think deep down we all love it when the shy character bursts out in confidence (Hello, Neville Longbottom!), and Valancy giving zero shits is delightful. Think Elizabeth Bennet levels of attitude. And of course, there’s a little bit of romance for our heroine as well. This book is easily accessible for a high school level reader, and can be found online for free! I do wish I had it in print though, because I like it that much.
Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie (Finished 06/14/2017)
I might be a sucker for Agatha Christie, but I loved this book! It goes without saying that this is a murder mystery book. After an unsavory character is found dead on the snowed in Orient Express, Hercule Poirot must determine the killer before snow thaws and the killer escapes. I’ve read a lot of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, so I like to see if I can figure things out on my own, but this book totally got me! I never would have guessed the ending, and it was delightful. This book is being made into a movie this fall so you should totally read it. It’s a totally satisfying, easy little read.
At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider (Finished 08/15/2017)
I loved this book. It was definitely the most summer reading-esque book on my summer reading list. In At Home in the World, Tsh Oxenreider chronicles the 9 month trip that she and her family took around the world. In it, she finds a delicate balance between the love of constant travel and the need to be a homebody. Besides making me want to travel to all the places (especially New Zealand) and eat all the things, At Home in the World wisely makes the point that sometimes restlessness says more about who we are than where we are. I thought this was a great summer read, but if you don’t have any travel plans before you read it, you’ll wish you did by the time that you are done!
Food for Thought:
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (Finished 08/06/2017)
Hillbilly Elegy sticks out as one of the more meaningful reads on my summer reading list. J.D. Vance is both nostalgic and brutally honest about his upbringing in America’s rust belt. He does not flinch away from deeply troubling scenes of poverty and abuse, but he also doesn’t assign them more meaning than they deserve. In telling the story of a poor, white, American boy who pulled himself out of poverty, Hillbilly Elegy could have come out as self righteous and pious; but J.D. Vance is a humble and thoughtful narrator. He does not shy away from his message, but never gets preachy about it either. Hillbilly Elegy is a complex, thoughtful memoir and I highly recommend it.
The More of Less by Joshua Becker (Finished 08/11/2017)
I love a good minimalist book. It makes me want to clean out my closet. And then actually do something with the clothes other than bad them up and leave them on the floor of my closet…
Joshua Becker is my go to minimalist writer. He doesn’t over romanticize it and promise that you’ll never struggle. Instead, he encourages you to think about what your ideal life looks like, and asks you to eliminate the barriers to that. I enjoyed his biblical perspective, which was approachable to Christians and non-Christians alike. He wasn’t preachy, but used biblical stories more like parables or fables. Did this book totally change my life? No. I find it hard to reconcile my minimalism with my this-could-be-used-in-a-craft-3-years-from-now. But for someone wanting to know more about the mentality of minimalism, this is one of the better books I’ve read.
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (Finished 07/21/2017)
Both Tsh Oxenreider and Sarah Bessey have recommended Hannah Coulter to their readers so I had high expectations for this book. Honestly, though, I found this one to be a bit slow. Hannah Coulter is comes from the perspective of an old farmer’s wife looking back on her life and her decisions in the fictional town of Port William. It’s got the same dreamy, personal narrative style of a Laura Ingalls book, but with a touch more regret. The writing is beautiful, bittersweet, and full of wisdom. However, it’s best read a little bit at a time and digested.
Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner (Finished 06/23/2017)
In her book, Chasing Slow, Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind is totally honest about her frequent inability to chase slow. Chasing Slow allows Erin to feel back the instagram perfect facade on her life and talk about the pressures we all face to look like our idea of success. Chasing Slow is the kind of book that tells women to have grace with women, including themselves. I happen to think that is an important genre, and I like books like this when I feel like I’m in a slump. I did think that this book lost some of it’s presentation on the Kindle, so I recommend getting the physical copy if you read this book.
The Woman on the Orient Express is a book about Agatha Christie that is not an Agatha Christie book. Agatha is grappling with the end of her marriage and fighting off a breakdown when she decides to book a ride on the Orient Express under a different name. On her way, she encounters some complex women with secrets of their own. The Woman on the Orient Express is part drama, part historical fiction and part travel book. I found it difficult to track with the multiple characters at times and definitely skimmed some parts. The ending was dramatic, but I found that some of the character’s story lines were a little contrived. It’s a nice mindless summer read, but I wouldn’t pay more than $5 for it.
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker (Finished 06/07/2017)
I’ve mentioned before how much I love Jen Hatmaker. This is still true. However, I found For the Love to be a bit scattered and unfocused. I didn’t see a lot tying the chapters together, and that make them feel too much like blog posts. It’s not that I disagreed with anything that she was saying, but I can’t really tell you anything about the substance of the book either, except that Jen’s got opinions about the leggings-as-pants situation. Jen is such a smart and heartfelt woman that I believe that she can deliver a more polished, meaningful (that’s “impactful” in church speak) message than this. I’m hoping that’s what has happened with her most recent book, Of Mess and Moxie.
In Praise of Women’s Bodies by Gloria Steinem (Finished 06/13/2017)
This is more of an essay than a book. I wish that I had read it in college, so I could have discussed it with others. I do think that it’s important to see women’s bodies as something other than attractive, but capable, strong and powerful. Gloria Steinem points out that women’s bodies can be important in different ways for different women. It’s easy for feminists to put as many limitations on women as others so, and so I was glad to see Gloria Steinem calling out and praising diversity among women.
Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman (Finished 08/30/2017)
This would make a great book club/small group/bible study book, but it was a little slow on its own.
Frederica by Georgette Heyer (Finished 06/12/2017)
Enjoyable. Good for Jane Austen lovers. Predictable is a good, comforting way. Read it when it’s raining, with tea.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (finished 08/16/2017)
Meh. Reliant on too many tropes. I’d skip this one.
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (Finished 08/17/2017)
Do not, I repeat, do not read this book while your sister-in-law is in the hospital with post-partum pre-eclampsia. You will give yourself a panic attack. Other than that, it’s great.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Young adult book about the child of a Greek god. Funny and enjoyable, I want to read the rest of the series now. A little biased towards western civilization, but I can suspend belief for a young adult novel.
That’s the end of my summer reading list! I’m a little impressed at how much I was able to finish! Now you know I’m already lining up some books for Fall. I’m taking recommendations! What did you read this summer that blew your mind?