I mentioned a few posts back that while I’ve always been a reader, I’ve recently reawakened the reading fever. College sucked that right out of me for a minute. It’s a good to be back, baby! I’ve been reading all the time lately – even on the go when my bag of books is at home (thanks Kindle app) – and enjoying all kinds of genres! Which is a win-win, because it’s a great escape from stress without spending my free time mindlessly scrolling on social media. I always love remembering what I’ve read, and when, and seeing what other people are reading.
(And I know that’s why Goodreads exists, but tbh, I already started this post and now I have to take it to the hoop, you feel me?)
Here’s what I’ve really enjoyed reading lately:
1. These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
We read this for our October book in my yoga girls book group, and I LOVED it. As in, I couldn’t put it down and, when I finished it at 11pm in the tub, I sobbed so hard it woke Cody up in the other room and he came running in to see what was wrong. And I squeaked out, at a pitch I’m sure only dogs could hear, “It’s… just… a really… good book.”
A work of historical fiction based loosely on the author’s own family history, it contains 20 years of Sarah Prine’s life experience in the Arizona Territories in the 1800s. She records her journey from an illiterate, spitfire slip of a girl growing into a powerful, educated, whole-hearted woman. She records her daily life and catches both the trauma and the tender. You guys, she lives a WILD life. You see her transition from precocious tomboy to loving mother. You see her get to know herself and navigate such heart wrenching experiences with honesty and pain and grace and humor.
I honestly thought, based on the title, that the writing style would drive me crazy (I’m a grammar nazi, but come by it honestly. Hi, mom!) or that I’d get super lost in a book that spanned such a large amount of time. I DID NOT FEEL THAT WAY EVER. I could not stop! And while her life and the challenges she faces in early America and old time frontier Arizona are often miles away from anything I’ve experienced, her experiences and her emotions and her longings still touch the heart of what everyone experiences daily. The book was also a great example of being present in our experiences, seeking growth and progression, female friendship between opposite personalities, accepting others from different walks of life, etc., and LOVE.
THIS IS WHEN I TELL YOU, MOST IMPORTANTLY, (no spoilers) that this is maybe the best story of enduring, real love I’ve ever read – there was a reason I sobbed in the tub. In the words of Kanye West, yo, all other books: I’m happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but These Is My Words had one of the best love stories of all time!!!
2. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
We read this in my Forever Young Adult book group for October and I am obsessed. It was one of the most delightful group conversations I’ve ever had about a book – because there is so much to talk about! This book is really unlike your typical on-trend YA lit. First of all – it’s not dystopian. Second of all – there is no love triangle (hallelujah!) and while there are romantic tensions, it’s not a complicated plot built around romance. If anything, it’s the other way around – squeezed in realistically among damaged characters. And while there are magical elements, they are based in science and so believable (I mean, if you really believe in glittery vampires, no shade, but…) that you can picture it so clearly. The story follows a group of misfit teenage crooks embarking on the biggest heist EVER, and if that isn’t exciting enough, it is written in such a way that the whole thing unfolds in your minds’ eye just like a movie.
Fun fact: the author is also a Hollywood costume designer, and somehow, in the way she weaves the story and locations and relationships, it shows. It was such a vivid, action-packed read. I felt like I watched it, and totally spent time thinking which actors and actresses I’d pick for each character – you get to know them that well. Characters were three-dimensional, lovable, flawed, and so well-developed. I feel like in a lot of books you have the main character and flat supporting characters, and in this book, you came to know and root for all of them. It had great examples of non-competitive female friendships, independent characters who didn’t look to a romantic partner for worth, and characters who knew and owned who they were without bending or compromising boundaries to others. Packed with suspense, heartache, and action, it is a MUST READ. It’s been so long since I felt so captivated or had so much fun reading a book – I read all 479 pages in a single day. WHOOPS. Not whoops. YOU HAVE TO READ IT. I’m sorry, one more time for the people in the back: YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK! And then TELL ME so we can talk about it!
3. Merchants of Doubt – Naomi Oreskes & Eric Conway
I know, I know. A science book? But listen. This book is an important read. We read it this semester in my Climate Change course and I am so grateful we did. First, it’s very readable. You know what I mean – when you try to get informed on a topic and pick a science-y book and end up reading the same paragraph 23 times and still not understanding a WORD you just read. This book isn’t like that.
This book examines the intersection of industry/politics and science, and how a handful of denialists, businessmen, or politicians can obscure truth on environmental issues that affect the health of the public to protect their own interests. It illustrates the use of their techniques to delay public knowledge about the harmful truth of tobacco products and helps the reader understand how similar techniques are taking place in the discussion on climate change today. I loved that the book was non-partisan, simply factual, and allowed me to become a more informed consumer. The book also looks at the way the media can be influenced or a biased source, and why that came to be. You feel me? It was an eye-opening read, and really made me want to make sure I’m taking information from neutral sources and become as informed as possible so that I can form my own views and opinions rather than being colored by any particular political party and their stance or interpretation. It’s a good one!
4. Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
YES. The sequel to Six of Crows made the same list of books I love! A sequel that lives up to the hype of a first novel. I loved this book. It was filled with suspense, honesty, and SUCH QUALITY CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – even more falling in love and rooting for these characters. I loved that this book delved deeper into each character’s vulnerability and also showed us that despite their incredible stories and talents, these people and their plans are just as flawed and fallible as you or I. And while sometimes seeing that or the outcome of that broke my heart, I think it was an important choice she made as an author. Again, I repeat that it was action-packed, vivid, and well-written. I just LOVE these books and find them a joy to read. I think it goes without saying that I couldn’t put this one down either and you NEED to read it. After reading the first book in the pair, of course!
5. The Universe Has Your Back – Gabrielle Berstein
Imagine your BFF sitting you down and immersing you in spiritual jabber, and some of it REALLY resonates with you, and some of it doesn’t, but you walk away feeling so much lighter for getting the pep talk. That’s this book! And I feel like that is the mindset you have to take into all self-help literature – take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. However, I will be straight up and say that the majority of this book REALLY worked for me.
It’s all about transforming our fear to faith and living an intentional, loving life where we are open to the possibilities for joy and creativity in every day. Gabrielle uses the terminology of the Universe or the Divine, but if you are Christian, she encourages you to plug God in there and for me, the majority of what she said was right in line with the gospel I believe. It’s funny how you can read things you’ve been told your whole life, just said in a slightly different way, at the right time, and BOOM, you feel the truth of it and finally GET it on a deep-heart level. When I first started reading this, and it first told me to stop and journal, I was like, “crap. I just wanted to read a smart book, I didn’t actually want to DO anything.” However, it worked. Cody commented that he could tell the days I read this book without my telling him, because I was physically brighter! Despite my janky attitude, I loved that the book pushed me to practice what it preached, and I really loved that this book came with links throughout (almost each chapter) to her website to practice guided meditation to focus on your life and your faith. I can genuinely say that I walked away from this read feeling bolder, more grateful, more empowered, more loving, more confident, more joyful, less anxious, and with more faith in God. More trust that He, The Universe, truly has my back. And when I feel that, how can I feel fear? It really was transformative. Read it!!!
Okay, friends. I need a new book (or 10) to tackle next. Comment or message me your favorites!