I think if I could travel the world, have a dog, and read books for the rest of my life,
I would be completely happy.
— my sister, last week —
This past week I dove into the most wonderful group of novels, one after another, barely coming up for air between them, tearing through them hours on end, waking up early and going to sleep late to read and read and read. Afterwards I laughingly said I’d gone on a “book binge,” my first in a long time. I’d forgotten what that felt like.
So if you’re looking for some yummy reads, look no further! Here are five books I haven’t been able to put down:
This was a Book Club choice, and I was ambivalent… until I realized that it is based on a true story. And then I was blown away. It’s a sweeping Southern drama, telling the story of Sarah Grimke, born into Charleston belle privilege, and Handful, the slave she was gifted on her twelfth birthday. Sarah goes on to become one of the first female abolitionists, and her story is painful, riveting, and inspiring. Read it to be taught as well as to enjoy.
It’s a short, easy read, but the fact that it is also based on extensive historical research makes it powerful and memorable. The book follows the story of Vivian, an orphan in NYC who is put on the infamous “orphan train” heading West to families in need of shop labor or farm hands. Some of the orphans’ stories are devastatingly sad, and Vivian’s takes sickening turns. But the ending is sweet and redemptive, and I loved the modern-day orphan story woven back and forth through the historical narrative. Read it!
This was one of the books from my book binge. I inhaled the 450-page novel in about 48 hours, scrambling to think of things for Lena and Gil to do by themselves so that I could just keep reading! The story begins in the 1960s when teenage Laurel, up in the tree house on her family’s property, witnesses her mother open the door to a strange man and then kill him in cold blood. Unable to forget the murder years later, Laurel goes on a quest to uncover her mother’s past, taking her deep into WWII London during the Blitz.
(Note: I also read The Forgotten Garden by the same author that week, and it was good too.)
What a treat. Reads like chick lit, but the author is smarter and keener, and she knows how to deal with deep heart issues while keeping the tone light and fun. The main character, Alice, hits her head and wakes up thinking that she is newlywed, pregnant, and completely happy… none of which are true because it’s actually 10 years later and she has three children, an estranged husband, and a lot of water under the bridge with her sister and friends. Will losing her memory let her to redeem her family, friends, and life? Or is it too late?
(Note: I also read the author’s newer book, The Husband’s Secret, and loved it almost as much. Highly recommend this one too!)
And here are a few more honorable mentions that I’ve loved over the past few years:
- A Severe Mercy — a true love story & the book Elliott and I read when we were falling in love
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette? — light, fun, mother-daughter story
- Unbroken — riveting WWII memoir (I think I was the last of my friends to read this)
- The Glass Castle — family, heartbreak, memoir
- The Light Between Oceans — infertility, love, & Australia
- The Handmaid’s Tale — distopia with a “Biblical” twist
- The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love — FAVORITE!!!
- Bringing Up Bébé — American vs. French parenting, ie. my kind of brain candy
- NutureShock: New Thinking About Children — game-changer for parents
- 84, Charing Cross Road — handwritten letters, books, love
- Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster — EDGE OF MY SEAT
- My Life in France — Julia Child, FOOD, France
Do you have any recommendations for me? Happy reading!