Wow. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve done an update but I promise I have a good excuse. I had a baby (Arlo) in May and took a break from blogging for a while. Going into my goal for the year I took this into account and significantly reduced my reading goal down to 20 books (my lowest ever) and I’m glad I did. I’m still getting some reading in and have been supplementing with audiobooks, which I love, but it’s definitely been an adjustment trying to fit reading into my new life with an infant. In addition to just finding the time, I’ve found that my interests have shifted a little bit as well. So with that, here’s what I’ve been reading!
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior
Some friends lent this book to me and my husband so it came highly recommended. Honestly, I think my expectations were too high. I read this before my son was born and it’s really targeted more for parents of older kids, I think. It was mildly depressing. When you’re pregnant, you tend to focus on hopeful and happy things about becoming a parent and this book dwells on the fact that parenting is hard and sometimes not very fun. Which is true and obvious but I guess I thought the book might give some advice on managing this, but it was much more research-based and factual – definitely not a self-improvement/advice driven book. Learn more here.
Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Book Club Read)
Set during the dust bowl, this novel follows a husband and wife – going back and forth between points of view. The husband, Brodis, is a preacher of a church that I believe he helped found. He is very strict in his beliefs and has strong ideas about the roles of husband and wife. His wife, Irene, becomes taken with a USDA agent who comes to town, their friendship emboldens Irene which leads to troubles with her marriage. Let me just say, this book goes from super boring and depressing to bat-shit-crazy real quick. Irene’s change in temperament and behavior leads Brodis to believe she is practicing witchcraft and the story feels like it takes place during the Salem Witch Trials but is actually in the 1930’s. Lots of crazy stuff goes down. I would say it’s worth pushing through the boring parts to get to the crazy, or if you just want to skim the dialog you’ll get the gist and it will a lot faster for you! Learn more here.
The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandhal
I really loved this book, so far it has been the best parenting book that I’ve read. Denmark has often ranked #1 as the happiest nation in the world and it all starts with raising happy kids. The authors (one a Dane, the other married to one) explore ideas like encouraging free play, fostering confidence, nurturing empathy, emphasizing teamwork and celebrating togetherness (in a cozy way). All of these are things that I value and find joy in as a parent. I’ll definitely refer back to this book for advice as my husband and I raise Arlo. I also suggested to my husband that he read the book because it feels so essential to how I want to parent and I want to make sure we are on the same page. Learn more here.
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Kate Morton is one of those authors that I will read anything by. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Her stories are complex and entangled, which I always find interesting. This story follows a detective who happens upon an abandoned lake house and her personal investigation into what happened with a cold case associated with the family who owned it. The story is told from her perspective in the present day, as well as several characters from the family both past and present. It did keep me guessing until the end but was a little too “tied up with a pretty bow” in the end for my taste. Altogether though, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I listened to this on audio and the voice actor was great! Learn more here.
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
This is your typical female protagonist mystery. Nothing majorly groundbreaking although I will say that I was initially very surprised by the direction it went in the end. However, there is a “twist” in the epilogue that brought it back to a more predictable place. That whole section was unnecessary – unless she’s planning to write a sequel and was trying to set up something for that. Learn more here.
At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider
I’m a big fan of Tsh and her blog (The Art of Simple) and podcast (The Simple Show). Through reading and listening to her over the last year or so I’ve heard mention of her travel year with her family and was excited to read the details in this memoir. As parents of three kids under the age of 10, Tsh and her husband embarked on a nine-month adventure traveling the world with their family. Tsh describes the juxtaposition of her wanderlust and being a homebody which I could easily relate to. I love being home but I also want to see the world and experience different cultures. Not just that, since I didn’t have that growing up, I really want to expose my children to different cultures as they grow up. And since my family is not currently in a position to be able to do this kind of thing, I have to live vicariously through Tsh and her book. Well worth the read and very inspiring. Learn more here.
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner (Book Club Read)
My book club got on kind of a culty kick this year. I wouldn’t say that Over the Plain Houses was necessarily a cult book but it did have some strange religious overtones. This memoir is about Ruth’s upbringing in a fundamentalist sect of the Mormon church and is definitely cultish. My husband grew up in the LDS church and I attended many times before he left the church so I know quite a bit about it and I’m always sensitive to people thinking that these subsects are all “Mormon” so I thought this would be a really interesting read. It started a little slow for me but stick it out because the last couple chapters are insane and you have to remind yourself that this actually happened, it’s a true story. Completely mindboggling. Learn more here.
Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest
I don’t know if you’ve noticed a theme here but I have a pretty good idea of the kind of parenting styles I’m going for. I think minimalism (not in the sparse sense) is important for kids in regards to creativity, imagination, and simplicity. I don’t want a lot of “things” and I don’t want to be overwhelmed feeling obligated to do everything. I think the first part of this book addresses those topics very well. However, the implementation felt like just another book on being organized and I am already very acutely aware of how to be organized. So I didn’t find the advice particularly helpful in this book. If you’re looking for a self-improvement book with advice on organizing your day-to-day life, this would be a good option though. Learn more here.
And that’s it for what I have completed since March. I have started a few books that I’m currently reading – Lord of Shadows, A Bridge Across the Ocean (audiobook) and Reading People. I also attempted reading The Girls (another culty book club read) but gave up. It was not my forte.
In all, I’ve read 12/20 books toward my goal this year. With the 3 I’m currently reading I’m in good shape to finish out the year on track! I’ll try to do another update before the end of the year and then a final update so I don’t have to fit all 8 (or more) books into one post!