It’s the first week summer and you know what that means….It’s time for book recommendations!!!
Before we get talking books, two quick things:
1) You can subscribe to the blog. Don’t worry, I don’t think I’m big time now. The only reason I did this is because my cousin Jamie requested it since she isn’t addicted to Facebook like the rest of us, but still wants to know when I update this baby.
Over to the right (or at the bottom if you’re on your phone) there is a place where you can enter your e-mail and get notified every time the blog is updated. Now you’ll never miss a word I say. Unless you’re a student of mine. In which case, you’re probably tuning me out this very moment.
2) Post # 3 in the series about my closet is coming but is delayed. Paul and I fly to Alaska today and considering the fact that we’ll be sleeping in a tent with a gun (in case of bears), I’m guessing I won’t be blogging much during the week. And if you never hear from me again, assume I was eaten by a bear. Kidding, Mom!
Okay, now it’s party time! Time to talk books!
Non-book nerds, feel free to skip this post and come back in a week.
Fellow worms, I love when you share your recent recommendations, so don’t be bashful!
Perhaps you recall the time I offered book recommendations HERE and HERE. If you’ve never checked out those lists, they include most of my favorites. Also, several people left really great recommendations in the comments sections. Thanks for that!
The following list is of the books I’ve read recently. So without further ado, here is the 2015 Summer Reading List:
1. Red Queen
If you love teen fiction as much as I do, you’ll LOVE this new series. But if you’re tired of reading about dystopian societies with a an unlikely heroine, you may want to skip this one. It’s the next Hunger Games/Divergent type of series and it had me completely captivated. Paul bought this book for me because he is learning to speak my love language of gifts, and more specifically, gifts of teen lit.
My friend Hilary recommended this series last year and I was instantly hooked. I am such a sucker for this genre of teen lit! Warning: it’s not the best writing. In fact, it’s kind of terribly written and you might feel patronized by how simple it is. BUT the story is fascinating!
It’s another messed up society but it’s more realistic than some of the other series because it is based on a future where there is a giant flood that separates the east part of America from the west and completely destroys whole continents. It’s a future where the chaos of the flood opens doors for dictators to rise and the geopolitical nature of the world to shift. Plus, there’s another girl who saves the day. Girl power!
3. A Land More Kind Than Home
If you want a book with more depth than all the teen fiction novels, consider this one. To be honest, I read this one 2 summers ago, so I don’t remember the story. I just remember loving it!
4. Tattoos on the Heart
My friend Jeff gave me this book and since he is the one who gave me Father Elijah (now one of my all-time favorite books ever!), I knew it was going to be good. These are Father Boyle’s true stories of working with gang members in LA in the 80’s and 90’s and HOLY MOLY- it is fantastic!!! I would lend you my copy but it’s covered in notes and highlighted to heck. This book made me laugh and cry and live life more intentionally.
5. Edge of EternityThis trilogy is a definite favorite of mine, but it is not for the faint of heart. These books are looooong. But in a good way. And if you bust them out in public, people will think you’re really smart. Or really nerdy. Probably both.
If you don’t have the time for such a serious commitment, you don’t have to read the first 2 books of the series to understand and appreciate this final book. It follows 4 different main characters living in Russia, the US, England, and East Germany during the Cold War and Civil Rights Era. The only problem is that I was reading this book while I was teaching those units and I kept confusing actual history with the story. Whoops!
If you love historical fiction, this will keep you entertained for days, weeks, maybe even months. Like I said, it is super long. And super good. (ps- Follett tends to get a little too graphic at times. This one is not as crazy sexual as some of his others, but there are still some scenes that made me blush and quickly turn the page.)
6. Yes Please
This book is what you’d expect it to be- a light, hilarious, quick and easy read. It’s been on my bookshelf for the past few months and whenever I need a break from whatever book I’m reading, I pick it up and chuckle through a chapter. If you love Amy Poehler, you’ll love her book, but be prepared: Amy swears A LOT more than Leslie Knopp.
Of all the funny girl books I’ve read, my favorite is still Mindy Kaling’s, but this one is for sure entertaining. Someone recommended the audio version since Amy reads the book aloud- wish I had known that sooner!
7. The Happiness Project
I started reading this book the day after Christmas. I wasn’t unhappy. Quite the opposite. But it was day 3 of Christmas family gatherings and this introvert was WIPED OUT. So when Paul’s aunt lent me the book, I pulled a typical Katie and while others held conversations that I was just too tired to hold, I stuck my nose in these pages and found refuge.
It misses the main point of happiness: God is the source of all our joy. These pages could be filled with reminders of Jesus and how to live a happy, God-honoring life, but they’re not.
However, it is still pretty entertaining and has some interesting tips like,“Keep a gratitude notebook” and “Don’t expect praise or appreciation.” I hadn’t realized my own need for gold stars every time I cleaned the toilet or made dinner until I read this. I did not, however, agree with the finding that people who hugged others 5 times a day were found to be happier. Non-huggers are happy people too!
8. The Snow Child
Jenny recommended this book and it did not disappoint! Set in Alaska (go figure) in the 1920’s, this story is beautiful. It is full of sadness and sprinkled with a little bit of magic.
9. A House in the Sky
If you too are a bit of a wanderlust, you will most likely love reading Amanda’s travel stories from around the globe. However, if you are sensitive like me, you will be wrecked by the story of her kidnapping and time in captivity in Somalia. I haven’t cried this hard while reading a book in a long while. Maybe ever.
The fact that this beautifully written story is true makes it remarkably intense and powerful. Often times I wished it was fiction. Halfway through the book, I recommended it to my friends. A few days later I took back my recommendation. “It’s too hard. Too sad. You might not want to read this.”
If you’re looking for a heart-wrenching story of adventure and tragedy, this may be your ticket.
10. Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?
I’ve mentioned this book before because Cindy is a friend of mine and a letter I wrote to single girls is in the book. All the single ladies should put your hands up and buy this hilarious book. It will make you laugh and remind you that you are not alone.
11. Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
If you enjoyed The Paris Wife, chances are you’ll love this one too. It’s sad but super interesting- especially if you’ve ever wondered what Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were like in real life.
I totally judged this book by its cover. Because the cover is awesome. The book looks so cute on our kitchen table that I’d keep it there even if I wasn’t reading it.
I love Shauna’s writing style, and really enjoyed Bittersweet, but I offer the following caveat about this book: don’t expect it to be a devotional like Jesus Calling. My sister-in-law told this to me and since I had switched my expectations, I wasn’t disappointed when I found the “devotions” are sometimes just Shauna’s stories peppered with some recipes and some words of wisdom. Shauna is a wonderful story-teller who offers some great advice. Plus, I’m going to try out her spicy Thai noodles tonight, so I’m not complaining. But if you’re looking for something theologically “meaty,” this probably isn’t what your’e looking for.
Speaking of theologically meaty, if you love C.S. Lewis and you love Sci-Fi, this book might be exactly what you need this summer. The first book in the trilogy, Out of the Silent Plant, was good, but this one is even better and you can understand it without having read the first one. Paul told me to skip the third book altogether, since this book is the best in the series.
Warning: this book is weird. Like really weird. Or maybe it’s just “Sci-Fi” weird and I’m not used to that. In any case, this is no Chronicles of Narnia. But another world is involved. Venus, or Perelandra, to be exact. It’s short, but really dense and I find myself re-reading entire paragraphs and having to stop and think about what I’ve read. Not exactly an easy, beach read.
The premise is that a man travels to Venus and discovers a world with only one man and one woman; a world with mermaids and bubble trees and beauty and wonder. A world without death or pain or evil or sadness. A world much like earth before the fall. It makes me long for heaven.
The story resembles the Genesis 3 account where Eve eats the forbidden fruit, since the devil tries to persuade the female character to disobey God. I’m halfway through the book and find myself yelling to the woman, “DON’T LISTEN TO HIM!!! HE’S EVIL!!!”
C.S. Lewis has a way of awakening in my soul a deep, hidden longing for God. He also has a way of giving the enemy a face and reminding his readers that we are daily fighting a battle against invisible forces of evil. While reading this book, I am continually reminded that there is so much more; that my time on this planet is limited and I am a tiny player in a giant, cosmic story of God’s kingdom in heaven and on earth.
14. What’s My Pee Telling Me?
I include this only because my friend Katie has a weird aversion to odd numbers so I’m ending this list on #14 rather than # 13. This is a legitimate book that Katie gave to me (along with What’s Your Poo Telling You?). Ironically, it is so funny it might make you pee your pants. If you’re looking for some reading material for the commode, these books are quite perfect.
Now for the list of books I plan on reading…
Two of these are re-reads but the rest are new to me. If you see any in the pile that were awful or boring, please let me know.
And if I was rich, I would buy all of these books from Costco:
But alas, I am not rich, so I will most likely buy 1 or 2 of these books. Have you read any of them? If so, please let me know which books you liked or didn’t like.
Again, I’d love to hear your recommendations. Happy reading!