Recent Reading

Hi Reading Friends– I have one question for you —  What are you reading??    Do you have some recommendations?  I’d love to hear them!  Always looking for worthwhile books to track down and read.

And for you readers:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  ― C.S. Lewis

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”  ― Lemony Snicket

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ― Dr. Seuss

I’ve been reading a piles of books lately.  Mostly reading snuggled up against a toddler, who has definite literary tastes. And also some a few books of my own that have been worthwhile.   Here’s a few of our favorites:

There’s been multiple readings of The Lady with the Alligator Purse every day around here.   It’s a sing-along book about a baby who drinks up all the bathwater and eats up all the soap, resulting in visits from the doctor, nurse and, or course, the Lady with the Alligator Purse, who saves the day!  Nadine Westcott has added her lively lovely illustrations to a whole string of children’s songs in books like Miss Mary Mack and Down By the Bay.  All books you’ll read/sing again and again.

Hug by Jez Alborough is also on high demand here.  A baby monkey sees an elephant mom & child giving hugs and it sets him on a search for his own big hug.  Along the way he finds other jungle animals hugging and is about to despair when his Mom appears with– you guessed it– an enormous hug!  Few words, just illustrations tell the story.  Was fun to talk though and the bonus was big hugs from my reading buddy!

Go Dog Go is a classic by P. D. Eastman (but in the Dr. Seuss collection).  It’s just a series of observations about dogs doing crazy things, in the simplest vocabulary and happy illustrations.  That’s why it’s great reading with a toddler and also a wonderful first book for a kindergartner to take on reading on his own.  It’s silly and whimsical and ends with a big dog party!!  Any kid who likes dogs, will like this book.

The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone is the best!  Good old Grover notices from the title that there is a monster at the end of the book.  He spends that next several pages trying to stop you from turning pages so that you will not get to the monster at the end.  It’s funny and interactive and happily (spoiler alert!) the monster at the end is just him–lovable Grover.  I recommend this book be read with that grumbly Grover voice for best effect!!  Lois and I love it– with her stuffed Grover sitting on her lap!

Here’s my reading buddy Little Lois and I reading at the library after Toddler Story Time.



And happily, I’ve had some time to read books that are not heavily illustrated, aimed at a little more mature audience.

One of those books that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page, Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is a riveting story.  Westover grew up in a large survivalist family near he mountains of Idaho.  Her rigid father ran a junkyard on their land, her mother a mid-wife and herbal healer. Over the years family members suffered gashes, burns, concussions and were just treated at home, the medical world distrusted.  As well, the children did not attend schools and were cut off from the wide world.  Tara suffered from an abusive brother and parents who would not protect her.   When one of Westover’s brothers goes to college, he encourages her to do it as well.  She teaches herself enough to take the ACT and eventually goes/graduates from Brigham Young University–hearing for the first time of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.  She continues on to study at Harvard and to earn her PhD from Cambridge.  But through these years she constantly struggles over her relationship with her family, with loyalties and the fears of her childhood at play. A fascinating crazy true story about the ties of family and the power of education.

Eleanor Oliphant is a quirky socially awkward young woman whose days are filled with office work and nights and weekends are spent alone, consuming frozen pizza and vodka.  She makes the acquaintance of Raymond, the IT guy at her work and he gradually becomes the friend she needs.  As you read along, the story of Eleanor’s disturbing childhood becomes apparent.  Raymond’s dogged friendship see’s her through her darkest hours.  Enjoyed this story for the interesting characters that I fell in love with by the end of the book–faithful kind hearted Raymond and courageous Eleanor.

Kate Bowler is a professor Duke Divinity School.  At 35 she has a wonderful husband and a small new son– and is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.  She realizes how much she believed she could control her own life circumstances — that things did happen for a reason.  What results is her journey through involved treatments, surrounded by family and friends.  Her honest, vivid, sometimes funny account is Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved.  Her truths about how to live when death is a near possibility are heartening and ring true.”

And I’ve saved the best for last.  I have to admit to being a huge fan of Shannan Martin, first on her blog and now her Instagram posts that are sweet, funny, honest and open my eyes to the world of need around me.  So when there was an offer to receive an advance copy of her latest book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I jumped at the chance!  Shannan tells stories– of people in her neighborhood and how strangers became friends.  She writes about digging in deep with the people around us, about being intrepid in how we love people, about sticking around for the long haul.  My copy is dog eared right and left– and I’m ready to go in and read it for a second time to collect all the thoughts I need to remember for my own care taking of people I love. Loved every well crafted page of this amazing book.  You can find Shannan’s Instagram meditations/warm hearted stories at “Shannanwrites.”  And her book is due out October 9th.

Here’s an excerpt of her writing:
“I’m on a journey toward understanding that my highest calling is to be a woman who loves my neighbor more than I love myself. I’m not very awesome at this yet, but each day is a new opportunity for growth, for guts, for compassion, and for open hands.”


For more posts on books worth reading:
Halloween Books Kids Love
Best Thanksgiving Books
Two Books–Two Old Favorites
Three Books–Three Women
A Pair of Good Books
Two Favorite Books

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”   — Jane Austen from Pride and Prejudice

P.S.  Painting at the top is “Great Chapter” by Nancy Chaboun (1954-)
Painitng at the bottom is “Girl Reading” by Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938)



51 thoughts on “Recent Reading

  1. Inspiring book list and great reviews Rhonda! I preordered Shannon’s book….And I’m eager to read it in October! I love Eleanor and her bravery! I hope we get a sequel. I finished Just Mercy this week and have started an ARC of Virgil Wander by Leif Enger (author of Peace Like A River). Thanks for your inspiring posts!

    • Hi Carol– really like Shannon’s book– I think her strength is in her stories. She’s a model without trying to impress. — Waiting to read your reviews on those 2 books! And just a few pages from finishing A Place For You. So moving. You’re my most dependable book recommender! thanks.

        • Finished A Place for Us This Afternoon– basically cried my way through Part 4. Was not expecting Rafiq’s tender point of view to wrap it all up. Such a intricate look at the dynamics of the family– and raising children to be conservative Muslims, I could really relate the the importance of their faith. Thanks for the recommendation Carol!! xo

          • Oh…it wrecked me! I’m hoping for a sequel maybe from the prodigal son’s point of view??? But I thought it was a very realistic ending. So much for readers to relate to in this story…..especially for parents. I thought the faith aspect was handled well…. families of any faith most likely have similar tensions. Another story that handled faith well is We Were The Lucky Ones…..have you read that? I’m glad you enjoyed A Place For Us! Thanks for letting me know.

  2. 2 Favorite Books: My younger grandchild loved having “Elmo Says Achoo!” read to her – over and over. I am presently reading a biography about one of my mentors, Dr. Pamela Reeve. “Romance of a Protestant Nun: One Woman Surprised by Love”. Written in part by Dr. Reeve and Linda Wright. Dr. Reeve is also the author of “Faith Is” and many other books. When I was at a Bible college, she was the Dean of Women and she helped so many of us during the turbulent 60’s and what it meant to be a “modern” Christian woman.

    • Hi Sharon– those both sound like books I need to track down. My small grand-girl loves Elmo songs–And we read the Grover book over and over. And- just added the Pamela Reeve book to my list! thanks. Hope your week is rolling along well… xo

  3. What a lovely post! And I love the illustrations.
    Sorry I’ve been so quiet recently. Sadly my father died and I am finding it difficult getting back on track particularly having sent the last month nursing him. It was his time to go and he wanted to “go to God” so I am just being selfish in missing him. Lots of love xxx

    • Oh Rosie– so sad and sorry to hear this. Thankful that he had the hope of a home with God, our father and that you had that dar time with him. And wishing I could help in some way in these difficult times. Such a loss– I can imagine how you’ll miss him. There’s no one like a loving father. Praying for you dear Rosie. Hugs hugs from here.

  4. Eleanor and Educated are both on my nightstand ( haven’t cracked them open yet). I just finished I Am, I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. Is an eye-opening account (non-fiction) of the 17 times the author had a brush with death. It sounds rather grim but I found it so interesting and inspiring. Are you watching the Great American Read on PBS? It is so fabulous but the only disadvantage is that it is adding to my pile of “must reads.” -Kat

    • ha ha! Yep, watching it too. I think there are just a lot of good books out there right now (plus all the classics they refer too). Off to look up I Am I Am on amazon. Loved the Eleanor book– she starts out rather bristly, but I loved her by the end… Happy reading Kat! xox

  5. Hi Rhonda! I read Educated recently as well, but wasn’t quite taken with it in the same way seemingly everyone else was. The bar for me this year, maybe this decade, is Homegoing, which I was and am completely in awe of. I’m currently reading ‘Evicted,’ and have Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight and VS Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas in my queue. Cheers from NYC.

    • Hi Bobalina!! Writing these down so I can get off to Amazon to check them out. I know what you mean about reading an especially wonderful or insightful or riveting book. Others can pale in comparison. I thought Educated was hard to read in places and I was amazed at her long loyalty to her father. Thanks thanks for the book ideas!! Love to go in new directions! Hope you’re rolling into a lovely fall there… xox

  6. Thanks for the recommendations! I recently read The Tea Girl from Hummingbird Lane. It was written so well, I wondered at times whether it was fiction or non-fiction! Now I’m listening to the audiobook Somewhere Inn Time. I, of course, saw the movie years ago, but we’re planning a girls weekend away to Mackinac Island where it was filmed, so wanted to read (listen to) the book too. It’s eh, okay so far. I put The Ministry of Ordinary Places on my TBR list, so thanks again!!!

    • Hi Lenore! Read Tea Girl too– really like Lisa See’s books that are historical fiction. And that was especially interesting because my sis lived in that area of China for 3 years and we visited amid al the tea hills. — And I’m a little jealous about the girls weekend to Mackinac Island!! I’ve seen photos and it looks so beautiful and tranquil! Hoping you’ll have the best time!! And– I think you’ll appreciate Shannan’s book. Do you follow her blog or Instagram?? Love hearing from you!! Thanks for the book tip! xox

  7. Wonderful post, Rhonda! I love the quotes and pictures. I’ve got Educated on my reading list and already enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant a while back. My two most recent reads were: The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers AND The English Wife. I enjoyed both. If you like a story within a story, these have it, with well done characters and elements of mystery.

  8. Thank you for the interesting looking fictional books! I’m going to write them down! I used to have The Monster at the end of this book growing up and Go Dog Go is a favorite at school. I am reading Joyce Myer’s self help book A Confident Woman. It’s good and has scriptures tied in to the advice. I’m enjoying it but I miss my fictional stories. Have a blessed weekend!😁💕

  9. I’m scrolling through your blog looking for some dinner inspiration. I caught a glimpse of the Grover book. It was my favorite story as a kid. My mom used to read it to me. I also love Go Dog Go. If I remember correctly, I think it’s full of many prepositions and my daughter and I have acted them out together. Love your blog always! 💖

  10. Aaaaaand I want to read all of these 🙂 Elenor Oliphant is Completely Fine has been on my radar a few times. I’m going to pull the trigger on that one. Also, my kids love Go Dog Go. A children’s theater somehow turned it into a play here about a year. Of course we had to go.

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