I am an avid reader and have been since I was little. I can remember spending hours pouring over books at the local library in my hometown or picking through the shelves of faded paperbacks at the used book store. I always had my nose in a book.
So this year I have set a goal for myself to read 36 books in 2019. That’s only 3 books a month, which might seem like a daunting task to many of you. One of the ways that I manage to read so much is audiobooks. I tend to mostly listen to uplifting, motivational non-fiction in the car. I also read every night before bed.
I want to share with you every month the books that I’ve been reading and what I thought of them. I’ve found that as a huge bookie nerd I love hearing about others’ experiences with a book. I often find myself much more swayed by someone’s recommendation than I am by the book jacket.
This month has been chock full of fantastic books. I put several things on hold at the library last fall and it seems as though I have had an avalanche of books came off hold all at once this month so I have been speed reading through some really fantastic books.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
I’m not sure where I first heard about this book. Maybe from Anne Bogel’s fantastic podcast What Should I Read Next. I just know that this is a title I’ve seen floating around as a recommendation for a while.
Set in one of my favorite countries to read about, Scotland, the main character Nina is roughly my age and trying to come to grips with the trajectory that she wants her life to take. Her longing for something more and for trying to find her sense of purpose really resonated with me. On a whim, she packs up her entire life, moves to a completely new town in the country, buys an old van and starts running a mobile bookstore. Along the way, she discovers a lot about herself and finds more in Scotland than she ever bargained for.
This was one of the most charming books I have read recently. What reader doesn’t dream of driving around in the Scottish countryside with a van full of books? There are so many little nuggets and tid-bits in this book that are subtle nod and wink to all us bookish people worldwide. The characters are captivating, the scenery absolutely picturesque and all of the quotes and book references make you feel like someone finally understands what it’s like to sometimes live with your head in a book. I would definitely recommend this for an easy breezy vacation read or maybe on the back deck sipping cocktails on a sunny Saturday.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
This is one of those books that touches something deep in your soul and will leave you thinking about it for days after you’ve finished. Though based on the true story of the author’s grandfather and his family during the Holocaust, author Georgia Hunter has written the story to read like a fiction novel so we feel like we are literally in the story rather just simply reading about it.
The book begins at the start of World War II and centers around Polish Jews, the Kurc family. It is a sweeping story that spans a decade and takes place all over Europe and South America, beginning with the Kurc family home in Poland and branching out into multiple storylines that follow all members of the family as they struggle to survive everywhere from Siberian gulags to Polish ghettos. It is a story of resilience as the scattered Kurc family does everything in their power to try and survive and reunite with one another.
The book is written in such a way to make you feel as though you are actually there and are immersed in this race for their lives right along with all the other family members. I sobbed at numerous parts of this story and couldn’t seem to shake it for days after finishing. To me that is the mark of a truly remarkable book and it is certainly one of the best I have read in a really long time. I HIGHLY recommend.
Girl Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
I have been a giant fan of Rachel Hollis since last year’s Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be. If you have never even heard of Rachel Hollis stop reading this post, right now, and immediately go buy Girl Wash Your Face. It was a life changing book for me and I know it will be for you too.
Where Girl Wash Your Face taught us to stop believing the lies that we tell ourselves as women that hold us back, Girl Stop Apologizing takes you to the next step, creating a gameplan to set goals, achieve more from life and live with intention and purpose.
You guys know that intentional living is my jam. She lays out all of the excuses you are using to keep yourself from reaching your potential. Then she gives you a guide of behaviors to adopt to make your life happier, more fulfilling, and purposeful. Many of these behaviors and healthy habits are things that I had already noticed make my life better if practiced on a daily basis. And lastly, she lists the skills that you need to acquire in order to go out and achieve your dreams.
It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO of a large company, mompreneur hustling after the kids are in bed or stay at home mom trying to raise your littles to be amazing people, every single woman on this planet should have dreams and goals that are hers and hers alone that she is striving for.
I firmly believe that every woman should read this book. Every woman.
In fact, I believe that so much that I bought several copies of Girl Wash Your Face last year as Christmas gifts and I fully intend to do that this year for Christmas.
Reading Tip: I LOVE listening to the audiobook version of nearly every motivational non-fiction book I’ve ever read. I find that the enthusiasm really comes across in the author’s delivery of their work and you can just hear the passion in their voice. Rachel Hollis narrates this one.
You can check out the audiobook version of Girl Stop Apologizing for free with a trial to Scribd.
Scribd is like the Netflix of books. I pay a monthly subscription (less than the cost of Netflix) and I can read unlimited books all month. I mostly use Scribd for audiobooks and can usually crank through 2 audiobooks a month while driving around in the car or doing chores around the house.
Lord John Grey and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series holds a special place in my heart. It is my favorite book series of all time (behind Anne of Green Gables)
I have read and re-read the Outlander series multiple times but haven’t managed to read many of her other books ( and she has quite the impressive list) The Lord John Grey series is a spin-off of the Outlander series based on minor character, you guessed it, Lord John Grey.
I will admit that this book started off extremely slow for me. One of the things I love most about the Outlander series is the epic love story and that element was sorely missing in this book. It reads more like a murder mystery style book which I have not read many of. The story didn’t really hold my attention and I found myself reading a chapter or so and then putting it down in favor of another book for a day or two and then coming back to it.
I’m glad I stuck it out though because the storyline really picked up steam around 1/3 of the way into the book and from there it was a riveting whodunnit mystery.
If you’re a fan of Outlander or any of Diana Gabaldon’s other work you will appreciate reading about Lord John Grey in a completely new light.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
This story of love, culture and family bonds grabbed me from the first few pages. Set in pre-revolution Havana 1958 and present day 2017 Havana, the story follows Elisa, a sugar cane dynasty debutante, caught squarely in the middle of family loyalty and love and Marisol, granddaughter of Elisa, discovering family secrets and the heart of the real Cuba in present day.
I admittedly didn’t know much about the Cuban Revolution before reading this book (other than what precious little I learned in high school history class) and I found myself Googling and Wikipedia-ing multiple times, eager to know more about the complex political backdrop of the story. The resilience and passion of the Cuban people is the real heartbeat of this story.
I originally added this to my reading list because it was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick last summer and I’m so glad I did. This story is part history lesson, part love story, and a really fantastic read.
I hope you liked taking a peek into my reading life.
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