Last year when we returned from our vacation in January, I decided to make a goal of reading at least two books per month. I was already ahead since I had read four on the vacation! I decided that I’d spend 30 minutes every day, first thing in the morning to read. I surpassed my goal and ended up reading 46 books! That didn’t count all of the books I started and never finished.
Here are some of my favorites from the year:
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle. I absolutely loved this book. I really didn’t want her journey to end. Like Katy in this story, I lost my mother at an early age. So I identified with this book because of the loss, but also because even though I’ve only been to Italy once, I’d love to go back. I loved spending a few days with Katy in that beautiful place. I love how Rebecca writes. I highly recommend this feel-good book.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. She celebrates her birthday dinner with five people of her choosing – dead or alive. It’s a lively discussion – one that helps to answer some of her questions and to help her move on. While reading this book, I’m wondering who I would invite. Fast read. Another interesting book from Rebecca Serle.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. Another author I’ve never read. I loved this book. It was one I really had a hard time putting down. The story was interesting, and I’m always glad to see a strong woman protagonist.
Kindred by Octavia E Butler. This is a mix of slave memory, fantasy and historical fiction. Parts of it were hard to read, but was worth it. I liked this so much that I had purchased it, and it’s back on my book shelf to read again later.
Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones. This novel stayed with me long after I finished reading it. This is set in Atlanta in the 80s when all of the murders of black children were being committed. I remember that time and was horrified at what was going on back then. Tayari uses this backdrop telling the story through the eyes of three children. As with all of her novels, they are easy, fast reads. I have to make myself stop reading so I can get other stuff done! I highly recommend this and her other novels.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Have you ever wondered what your life would have been if you had made a different decision? What if you had chosen a different career, or life partner, or even a different hometown? Do you have a Book of Regrets? Nora gets the opportunity to explore those different choices through The Midnight Library. It’s a great premise for a book, and a good read. Although it’s just fiction, it made me think about my choices.
WIN by Harlan Coben. I love Coben’s mysteries and how I get so sucked up in his stories on the first page. His recent release was no different. After many books with Win as Myron’s friend and sidekick, we finally learn more about him. I was hoping to see Myron again, but I enjoyed following Win on his journey. Looks like this will be a series which I look forward to reading. I read this on vacation, and I always leave my books in places we stay so others can enjoy them. I “met” Harlan Coben from a book that was left in a condo we stayed at years ago, and he’s been my favorite mystery writer since then. That was the beginning of me leaving books behind when we travel.
The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh. Love a mystery – and this one is pretty unusual – but it kept me reading. Highly recommend this interesting read.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. Love a good mystery, and she sure served it up. I really liked how she told the story through each of the renters in the complex. This is the first book I’ve read by this author.
The Street Lawyer by John Grisham. It has been years since I’ve read a Grisham novel. This one I found on my book shelf. I had purchased it many years ago at a thrift store. His writing immediately pulled me in, making it almost impossible for me to put it down. I loved that his character had left his high pressure/high reward job to work with the homeless, introducing their issues to readers. Great read. I’ll be reading more of his.
These Precious Days:Essays by Ann Patchett. I absolutely loved this book of essays. Almost everyone of them brought back memories for me. Some were funny. Some were sweet. A couple made me cry. It’s be a long time since a book has touched me like this one. She’s a great writer.
A Daughter’s Kaddish: My Year of Grief, Devotion, and Healing by Sarah Birnbach. A Daughter’s Kaddish recounts Sarah Birnbach’s year-long odyssey to persevere through an unfamiliar world of Jewish prayer. To honor her beloved father, Sarah commits to reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish twice a day in synagogue for eleven months—a Jewish mourning ritual that was historically reserved for sons—despite her father’s initial request that she hire someone male to do so. A novice worshipper and single working mother, Sarah encountered many obstacles—including gender-based objections to her prayer practice, her own daughter’s near-fatal car accident, an incident that tore her synagogue apart, and her mother’s dismissiveness.
Sarah incorporates these religious and spiritual practices into her already hectic 21st-century life while struggling with the heavy emotional distress of grief. As she travels the country for work, Sarah must find a synagogue where she can pray in each city and town she visits, a challenge that brings many surprises—and upsets. Throughout her year of devotion, Sarah takes comfort in the loving memories of her childhood while at the same time grappling with some very painful ones—ultimately discovering how the path of faith and grief can lead to true healing.
And a few of duds that I would NOT recommend.
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves. I’ve never read anything by Ann Cleeves, although have enjoyed the Vera series on TV. I thought I might like her books. It was easy to get into, but as far as chilling or riveting I didn’t find that. I was barely surprised at the ending. I had figured early on it was either of the two. I guess I’m spoiled by Harlan Coben’s mysteries which keep me guessing until the end. I won’t be reading the series. One is enough.
Secrets by Jude Deveraux. I had finished my four books I brought on vacation, and was looking for something to read on our flight home. This one was in the condo. I had never heard of her, and since she was a New York Times Bestselling author I thought it had to be good. My mistake. No surprises. Trite ending. I was glad when it was over.
The Living is Easy by Dorothy West. I really wanted to like this book, but I really disliked the main character. I almost put it down half way through, but I kept thinking if I stayed with the book, I’d understand her more and learn to like her, but it never happened.
So those were my picks. If you want to challenge yourself this year, join goodreads.com and start working on your book list. I have several that I started that I will finish someday so they’re on my list there to remind me!
One thing I did this year that I haven’t done in years is use the public library. In the past I was buying all of the books. It saved me a lot of money and also the deadline for returning the book kept me motivated to finish it!! I still buy books to take on vacation because I do plan to leave them.
Hope you are having a good start to the New Year!