I love to read, I’ve always preferred reading over watching TV! I love learning and gaining new insights and knowledge, and just reading to gain perspective about things as well. I set a goal for myself at the beginning of the year, to try and read at least one book each month. For me, that seemed attainable even though some months it has been close! I’ve been proud that a couple of months I have read two books haha! With little ones it is sometimes hard to find the time to read…
buuuut I’ve been using the kindle app on my phone so I can just pick up where I left off here and there from my Kindle Paperwhite and it is so convenient! So here’s what I’ve been reading so far this year. And P.S. if you are interested, follow me on Goodreads here, and you can see my other book reviews here. Hope you enjoy!
I read “The Radium Girls” at the very beginning of the year, when we were all sick and just lying around on the couch for pretty much the WHOLE month of January. It was kind of awful. But this book was not. It popped up on my Kindle as a book of possible interest based on other things I was reading, and it was only a couple of dollars so I downloaded it. It really took me off guard and by surprise in a number of ways… it was all about the girls in the early 1900s who worked in the dial factories painting radium on dials (clocks and other mechanisms for planes) that made the features glow in the dark. The catch was, the method ended up killing all of them. They had to lip point, twist a brush in their mouth with the radium on it, and then paint the intricate numbers. This was one of the first instances of a workman’s compensation law suit, and up until this time there were not a lot of laws that protected people in the work force. The book covers each of the women’s stories, how they each lived and became the consequence of their work, how no one believed them and one by one their job killed them, but also how eventually they prevailed and proved the need for more protection of men and women in their jobs. It was sad and gruesome at times how the radium poisoning took their lives and how they were treated, but it was so eye opening as well as to how far we have come in such a short time.
I love Melanie Shankle. I have read all of her books and just love the rhythm of her writing, and her humor and perspective on life is so great. I enjoyed “Church of the Small Things”, there were a lot of good thoughts but also some random ones. There were times I was like oh yes this is so true and other times when I kind of was wondering why she had included certain stories. I always enjoy her books though and highly recommend them! She literally has me laughing out loud at times and crying at others, and I always finish them feeling good.
I am a big fan of Kristin Hannah as well, I loved her book “The Nightingale,” it’s one of my all time favorite books. I downloaded “Home Front” from the library when I was staying at my mother in laws waiting on our third baby boy to arrive, and enjoyed the read. It is a story about a woman in the National Guard who flies Black Hawk helicopters, and how her life and her family’s lives drastically change when she is called into active duty and must leave home for a time to serve. Her story gave me so much perspective about the sacrifices military families make, and how they and their military members deal with coming back home and adapting to daily life again, especially with challenges of post traumatic stress disorder. It was a hard story to read at times, but overall a good one. There was some language in this one, I think mainly because of the military setting, so I just like to warn people about that in case they are interested.
My next read while waiting on my baby boy haha… I was also having trouble going to sleep at night so I was doing lots of reading. 😉 I love WW2 historical fiction novels… and “Salt to the Sea” did not disappoint. It follows the lives of a few different characters, each chapter being the voice of a different person and bouncing back and forth between the people, following their travels as they evacuate from the war. Eventually their lives overlap and their travels become one as they make their way to the sea to get on a ship to take them to supposed safety. The ship they got on was packed to the brim with people and sadly did not make it very far thanks to Russian submarines lurking nearby . It’s one of the most disastrous losses at sea of all time yet not many people know about it. This tragic story of sacrifice and loss with have you aching for what people went through during that time.
After reading two intense stories, I was looking for something more light hearted and settled on “Sisters First”. I have always loved the Bush family and what they have stood for, so I loved reading all of the different stories from Jenna (she has a great name, doesn’t she? 😉) and Barbara about their childhood and what it was like growing up in the White House. It was definitely interesting and neat to read about their lives and relationships.
Once I got home with my baby boy, I finished “Sisters First” and then started on another sister story, “When We Were Sisters”. This book talked about two girls who solidified their sisterhood while in foster homes together, and once into adulthood how they went back through the journey of their lives, to make peace with everything they endured bouncing from one foster home to the next. I’ll admit this wasn’t my favorite, and I had to push through most of this book. Parts of it were hard to believe at times or seemed forced, but the ending was good and tied everything together. We have always talked about possibly adopting one day at some point, so I did enjoy just the insight gained from this story.
Another war historical fiction read… the “Alice Network” was about a group of women spies during the war, so cool right? Friends, as interesting as this book was story-wise, there was SO much bad language in it. I scanned this second half of this book because I couldn’t take it anymore! It made me sad though because the characters and story itself was great, but I cannot recommend this one because of some of the provocative scenes and language.
The hard part about downloading books from the library is that you have to take what is available at times hah! So ANOTHER read set during the WW2 era. “The Book Thief” surprised me, it was not like I thought it would be, mainly because it was told from the perspective of the “soul collector.” Which thinking about that, really is a perfect perspective because of the enormity of souls collected during WW2…such a tragedy, I just cannot imagine living through this. The story follows the life of a girl, who does become a book thief, and how she was adopted and new life in Germany. They live in a town near the concentration camp Dachau, which I had the privilege of traveling to in college. The site of that camp was the most quiet and silent places I have ever visited, the only sounds I can remember are the gravel crunching under people’s feet as we walked around… and to think about those scenes while reading this story was so powerful. Very interesting and sad read for sure, but also just a good perspective too.
I was looking for another lighthearted easy read and decided on “The Little French Bistro” based on her reviews. Of course with my luck, it starts off with the main character trying to commit suicide and was depressing and gray…but the story follows her travels and how she finds herself and discovers living again. She frees herself from an oppressive marriage and realizes her worth, creating a desire to live again. It was somewhat cheesy and predictable at times, but we can all use a bit of cheesy in our lives from time to time, right? 😉
I had a couple of weeks left in June so I squeezed in “For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.” And friends, I needed this read. I feel like my head is so full of noise at times or what does this person think about me or am I doing enough to please others or am I being a good enough mom or am I fulfilling my roles and on and on and on…and she just kept addressing one after the other with her own sentiments on handling things. Of course, like any book, you may not agree 100% with everything she says, in fact there are a few statements I strongly disagreed with, but overall she has a lot of thoughts to consider. She covers so many issues we deal with as women these days, from simple things to big ones. Her writing style is quick witted, full of humor and straight to the point, which is the kind of writing I appreciate. It was so easy to stay engaged and for the most part I just wanted to keep reading the next chapter to see what else she had to say. I think just like any book, you can pick and chose helpful things from the content.
I hope you enjoyed the list for the first half of the year and found something that interested you! Happy reading friends! 🙂