This blog post comes with one rule: If you read it, you absolutely MUST leave a comment with a book recommendation for me. Got it? I'm gonna give you some suggestions so it's only fair that you do the same.
Do you write down the books you read? Or keep a list of ones you want to read? I keep one in the notes app on my phone and anytime someone mentions a good book they've read, I add it to the list. I also skim those articles on Pinterest that are like "If you enjoyed reading ______, then you'll love ______" and I add a book or two from those. Sometimes I pull titles from "Must Read Books of 2016" lists and "Top 10 Books to Read this Summer Before the Movie Comes Out" or whatever the catch line may be. If I see that someone on Facebook or Instagram has asked for book suggestions, I always skim the comments. If a title is listed repeatedly then I'll add it to my list too.
The problem with doing my list this way, though, is that I never remember why I added a particular book to my list - who or where did I get the recommendation from? And then when I finish one that I don't think was any good (like I just did), I think "Why in the world did I read that awful book?!" On the flip side, if I really enjoyed a book I might recommend it to a friend only to be reminded that they're the one that suggested it to me! It's not a perfect system, is what I'm saying.
As you can see from my list above, I add a check mark when I've read a book. Why don't I just delete them? Because I read on my kindle and cannot ever remember the names of books that I've read - often times I don't even know the name of the book I'm currently reading! And don't bother asking me about the author - I can promise you I won't know that either.
Ok, who needs a book to read? If you haven't read it already, you absolutely must start with Hope Heals by Jay and Katherine Wolf.
I knew about Katherine and Jay before their book came out and had even watched their video and read some of their blog posts. So I was familiar with the story line. Maybe that's why I tried hard to ignore it even though the book kept popping up in my social media feeds and on blogs that I read. I think I was scared of it, maybe? But oh my goodness, what a great story of survival and hope and faith! And it's written in such an easy way to read. I devoured the book in less than a week, which is fast for this slow reader! My descriptions will never do it justice - just read this one, ok?
In keeping with the "true stories," Fearless by Eric Blehm is another good one. This probably isn't a book I would have picked on my own but Matt read it first and thought I'd enjoy it. The book is about the life of Adam Brown, a US Navy SEAL that was part of Team SIX - the group responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. I'm really not good at writing book reviews but this book really showed the "real person" side of this Navy SEAL and all that he overcame to get into the navy and then to become a SEAL. Like the title suggests, Adam was fearless and it made him a great hero for our country. This book was one I couldn't put down.
In the category of Historical Fiction, you must read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Burrows. The Nightingale is a story of two sisters and the different paths they take during World War II. Set in France, each sister fights against the Nazis in their own secretive way - each very different from the other. If I remember correctly, it took me a few chapters to really get into the book, but once I did I was hooked.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (longest title ever!) is about the community on Guernsey Island (near London) also during World War II. It is less about the actual war and more about the people living on the island, but you can't tell their stories without seeing how the war effected their lives - with curfews, food rations, soldiers in town, etc. The book is written in letter format which makes it an interesting read - you get to hear the voice of many different characters.
I think I may learn more from these types of books then I did from any of my history classes.
Oh, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a good one for this category too! I read it so long ago that I can't remember many of the details, but I know it tells the stories of two different girls with similar backgrounds and was an interesting read.
Do you like "whodunnit" type of books? If so, try The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons. This is another one that Matt read first so I gave it a try on his recommendation. Man, I stayed up way too late every night when reading this one! I just had to know what happened next. I did not have the mystery figured out early at all. Now I'm realizing this is part of a series so I may need to read another one!
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult is not necessarily a "whodunnit" book but it had a twist I didn't see coming. It still does try to figure out what happened to a missing person and while going through that investigation, you also learn so much about...elephants. One of the main characters lives and works at an elephant sanctuary so there is so much elephant information added in. It was quite educational! The voice of each chapter rotates between the characters so if you don't like books that do that, then skip this one.
How do you feel about books where the main characters are in high school? (Does that make them Young Adult??) Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys was good. We got it for Anna for Christmas and since the back cover mentioned prostitution and brothels, I gave it a quick read before giving it to her. I really enjoyed it! It's well-written and is actually historical about how brothels were run back in the day. (And no, the main character is not a prostitute, but she was raised by one.) I kinda want to try another of Ruta's books...
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is about two high schoolers and first loves. I enjoyed reading it. Matt read it after I did and probably rolled his eyes a hundred times but he did finish it. We both agree that Park's family reminds us of one we know, so that made it even more entertaining. This would be a good beach read!
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith is another good vacation book. In fact, I think I read it while we were at the beach. It's another story of two young adults but the interesting thing about this one, if I remember correctly, is that the whole book is only 24 hours of their lives. It's a quick, easy read and will leave you wondering - is love at first sight really possible?
And now, going off the top of my head, here are some of my all time favorites that I like to recommend to someone looking for a good read:
- The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
- The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
- Same Kind of Different As Me
And my mind just went totally blank! Those three are all some of my favorites so check them out if you haven't read them already. Right now I am reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and I can already tell it will be on my favorites list too. It's about an ornery old man that stays cranky and mad at his neighbors, and I kind of love him. Actually, I wish he was my neighbor! I have already downloaded These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy Turner so I guess it's next on my list. Of course, I have no idea who suggested it or why I chose it, so I hope it's good!
I feel like I should give you some warning about a few that I didn't like too, since you can see them checked off on my list above. I'm not even going to bother linking to them!
- Tigers in Red Weather was weird and to me, had no point. It also had a creepy character that, well, creeped me out.
- King of Heists is more documentary-ish so it took me forever to read (it's based on facts). I chose it because I saw that it was about bank heists and I thought that'd be interesting and it was, to an extent, but it just didn't suck me in.
- Just Another Number is the book I just finished and, call me a prude, but the language was just a tad too raunchy for me. Also, the author and I don't necessarily make any of the same lifestyle choices.
Now, if you've made it this far, do you remember the one rule from the beginning of this post? You are required to leave a comment with a book suggestion for me (and all the other commenters!). I wanna know - what's your favorite book recommendation? Can't wait to read what all you suggest!