Books I’m Loving Lately

In an effort to scroll Instagram less this year, I launched myself on a 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. As of today, I’m 21 books in, which means I’m ever so slightly ahead of schedule. Though I normally read more than the average human (who-according to google-never reads), I’m being more intentional about it this year. Less social media, more books. Less TV, more reading. I’ve read a pretty broad range of books so far, and while they haven’t all been gems, here are the highlights!


The Dirty Life: A memoir of farming, food, and love. A writer who lives in NYC falls in love with a farmer. They move to New England to homestead with one plan: to grow and raise everything to feed their community. Kristen Kimball’s writing style is lovely. Reading this book made me want to plant my garden immediately and get chickens, a jersey cow, and a pair of clydesdale horses.

The Light Between Oceans. Set in post-WWII Australia, this is a novel about a lighthouse keeper, his wife, and the lengths we go to protect those we love.

Present Over Perfect. Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors of all time, and this is my favorite of her books (followed closely by Bread and Wine). The tagline says it all: leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. Not based in any truth at all, this is a fun and engaging story about a fictional secretary of Winston Churchill in London during the war.

How to Celebrate Everything and Dinner: A Love Story. Both of these memoir style cookbooks are so much fun to read. They contain easy to follow recipes with normal ingredients and a healthy amount of encouragement to develop and protect our family’s rituals.

Have you read anything really great this year? I have 31 books to go before New Year’s Eve, so any recommendations are welcome! I’d love your suggestions for novels, especially. It seems most of the ones I’ve read (not listed above) have ranged from trite and cliche to dull.

4 thoughts on “Books I’m Loving Lately

  1. I also read more than the average human and I’ve consumed books both good and bad in the last while. Here are my top picks:
    (1) (a) Half of a Yellow Sun and (b) Americanah, both by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The first dives into Nigeria’s civil war and transports you to a world that feels both foreign and familiar. The second (and I wouldn’t read these books consecutively) is in a more recent setting in which a Nigerian immigrant living in Brooklyn goes back to Nigeria. Adichie’a writing is simply spectacular.
    (2) The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. This is a surprising tale filled with unforgettable characters. I don’t want to say anything other than read it. 🙂
    (3) The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante. These books aren’t for everyone, but I devoured the series and basically lived in Naples in my imagination for a few weeks. Richly detailed, intimate look into the female psyche.
    (4) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. A novel that spans more than 300 years, tracing the descendants of two half-sisters. It’ll make you think about history, legacy, and the things that connect us.
    (5) Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. For when you need a lighter but not frivolous book.
    (6) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Two sisters, two different ways of dealing with the horror of WWII in France.
    (7) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. The only autobiography to make my recent favorites list. A quick read that skillfully intersects medicine with literature, life with death.
    (8) City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. A mountain of a book that’s not for the faint of heart. Clocking in at nearly 800 pages, I was completely enamoured by the first 500 and very disappointed by the final bits. But it was still worth the read (for me).
    (9) My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. A sparse novel that somehow captures some of the deepest of human emotions.

    PS – I love when you post links to your blog because reading you is fun.

    • SO many good recommendations. I feel like we have reading taste in common. I read and loved The Nightingale and My Name is Lucy Barton. Your summary sentence captures the latter perfectly! And Modern Lovers and When Breath Becomes Air are both already on my list. I’m adding the rest of them–with maybe the exception of City on Fire. That sounds like a monster investment for a mediocre ending. Thanks for taking the time to recommend these, Rachel!

  2. Here’s a way to knock off 9 books. There’s a series that has just been re-printed and added to by the author. It’s called The Hawk and the Dove; that’s the series title and the first book in the series. Author is Penelope Wick, a British author. It is the story of the relationships of men in a monastery to their God and to one another. It is far from trite or predictable and very much a picture of men on a journey to know God and love one another along the way of our messy lives. If you have trouble finding the books and don’t want to buy the series, we own them and would be happy to let you borrow them..
    It’s a powerfully moving tale that mirrors our souls deeply. (The last book is the weakest in my opinion.) Other selling point is that each novel is not more than 200 pp. Is that cheating your goal? 🙂 Check out Goodreads reviews. One other tidbit…. the first 3 books can be found in a single novel, printed as a trilogy. The re-printing has them as 9 separate novels. Our pastor quotes from them from time to time, and many in the church have read them, which is how I became interested.

  3. Pingback: 4 Great Children’s Books for Winter | Balance and Blueberries

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