On Becca’s Bookshelf // August 2015 Edition

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I thought I’d continue the theme of books on this fine Friday morning — what do you think? Our book giveaway is going strong, and here are some more book recommendations for your weekend! I have another post up my sleeve for next week, though, which is a smattering of pictures about our family these past few weeks, since I haven’t shared a personal update for a while.

In the meantime, here’s what I read in August!

  • The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin I knew nothing about the Lindberghs other than Charles L. looked very handsome in that b&w photo after he flew across the Atlantic for the first time. This book was an amazing window inside a strong and influential woman in U.S. history, and was written in such a way that I didn’t want to put it down despite its length. I had no idea of the unlikely alliance of the Lindberghs’ marriage, the kidnapping of their infant son, Anne Morrow’s slow steeling over time, and her independent author’s life in the sunset of their marriage. Historical fiction at its finest. Definitely recommend.ย  4 stars
  • The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber Over 16 years in 9 different hospitals, Nurse Charles Cullen intentionally killed approximately 400 patients with drug overdoses. His motive? The book explores that as well as the timeline of the murders and the investigation. It’s well-written but poorly edited, and the subject is definitely more interesting to me since I was an ICU nurse like Charles was… meaning that I think most people would find it too long and somewhat tedious.ย  2 stars
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan — This is a hefty tome entirely written for women who are obsessed with Will and Kate and all things British royalty. (I am the wrong person to read this book because I’ve forgotten Will and Kate’s children’s names, but even still, I really enjoyed this novel!) It’s is the first-person account of Becca, an American college student who spends a term at Oxford and lives in the same hall as Nick, the prince and heir apparent to the throne of England. The two fall helplessly in love, despite the fact that they can never get married — or can they? And what will the royal family say when they find out? It was fun, irreverent, and satisfying. Warning: it would be rated R if it was a movie, so don’t read it if you wouldn’t watch it! — 3 stars
  • Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine BrooksThis is my first Geraldine Brooks novel, and I found it to be magnificent in its scope and background research, a truly masterfully written novel. It’s not for the faint of heart or stomach because she spares little detail or mercy in describing the horrible suffering the plague victims endured, both socially and emotionally as well as physically. I was surprised and vaguely disappointed by the last 1/5 of the book, but I suppose that is the author’s choice. I though it was an abrupt departure from the direction the rest of the novel had taken. Either way — now I want to read her other two novels! — 4 stars
  • I Know How She Does It:ย How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam — This is a non-fiction book that I picked for my book club to read, and I’ll just say that in some small ways it has changed my life. The author researched the lives of working mothers who make over $100k per year by having them fill out a weeklong time log showing how they spent their time in 30-minute increments. How do they handle dinner, babies, childcare, and house cleaning? It was fascinating. The book was heavy on the data in the first half (about work), but it was easier to appreciate her wisdom and find it applicable in the second half (about time management and self care). I only work part time, though, not full time, and so I am sure moms would find it more relevant who work 30+ hours a week. Now I’m tracking every 1/2 hour of my week, just to see how I spend my time (ie. how I do it), and it’s already interesting and making me rethink my time management. — 4 stars
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee — I read this only because Elliott was horrified to see that I’d checked Go Set a Watchman out of the library and wasn’t going to re-read TKAM again first. Apparently we’d agreed to do this and I had totally forgotten, but anyway — I went ahead and read TKAM again. Let me just say that the novel reads very differently when you are an adult who has experienced pain and suffering and life and death vs. a kid in 9th Grade who has just begun to feel. I laughed out loud, predictably teared up, and felt breathless when I closed the novel on the last page. What a magnificent book! After that, I felt like I’d experienced the greatest American novel, and I wasn’t going to ruin it or my opinion of Harper Lee by reading the discarded first draft of TKAM (Go Set a Watchman). Read it (again)! You won’t regret it! — 5 SPARKLING GOLD STARS

What’s on your bedside table right now? I am finishing this convicting memoir about putting down my phone and focusing on my children, and I just got this book at the library tonight to prepare for an upcoming trip to San Francisco! What have you read lately that you recommend?

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8 Responses to On Becca’s Bookshelf // August 2015 Edition

  1. Tiffany September 25, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’m reading Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey and loving it. I definitely want to check out I Know How She Does It as well.

    As someone who also thinks TKAM is the greatest American novel ever written, I still wholeheartedly recommend reading Go Set a Watchman–after a bit of time and space. From a literary perspective, it’s fascinating to see how her ideas, characters, and writing evolved from that original draft. I’m also an Alabama girl, so I especially enjoyed her descriptions of home. :) Don’t give up on it yet though!

    • Becca September 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      This is really helpful! Thank you, Tiffany. I have read a lot of reviews and have mostly been discouraged, but I think your perspective is very refreshing and realistic. I won’t give up! I’ll read it. :)

  2. Meryl September 25, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    The Land of Blue Burquas
    I learned a lot about Afghanistan, the Muslim faith and more importantly how to share mine without insult or a front. Loved it from cover to cover.

  3. Meryl September 25, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin is another book to be re read as an adult. What a snapshot of society. Cliques haven’t changed much.

    • Becca September 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      Thanks for these two great recommendations! I tried to read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a young girl but just wasn’t ready to slog through it whenever I tried. I’d love to read it now with a more mature mind.

  4. Lucy September 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    LOVED your description of rereading TKAM (& decision to forego Go Set a Watchman). I tried to “flip through” it last year to refresh my memory before a discussion on it in my Law & Literature class and ended up staying up almost all night because I couldn’t put it down. It’s as good as it gets!

  5. Eden September 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    So many good recommendations! I’ve read a couple of these but would like to read others. Can’t imagine where I would find any half hours for reading right now though…

  6. kristin September 29, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    yay! i’ve been debating on rereading TKAM- and you sealed the deal. there have been several times where i have reread or watched something again and it really does come across so different!

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