This is my monthly roundup of books that came my way in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my and my family’s life.
Family and Life Update
Our daughter, Reagan was one of the step-sisters in the fall musical, Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. What a joy it was to watch her perform.
We were able to have our big family Christmas this year with my mom and her four sisters and their families. Even though not everyone was able to come, we had a great time. Since it was mom’s turn to host, we were also responsible for the ornaments. Since we couldn’t have Christmas last year, my family made two ornaments to commemorate both years, a pine cone ornament with pine cones from the farm and other areas special to our family. My sister also made these angel ornaments out of masks so we don’t forget 2020.
I spent several days in Colorado helping to care for my two great-nephews, ages 2 and 6 months. They were so much fun! Was I tired when I got home? Yep! But, it was a good tired. I had so many joyous moments during my time out there. I miss them so much already.
Our house is finally decorated for Christmas. Pat does such a great job on the outside lights. This year we finally got a new Christmas tree after 21 years and it is so pretty!
November just flew by and I know December will be even more hectic. But, as I was decorating and getting things organized, I decided to just put out a few of my favorite things and not get EVERYTHING out. It was a bit overwhelming to me knowing that in just a few weeks I would be putting it all away again and I just was feeling the tug to do something simpler and that is okay. Make space for what matters to you and let the other stuff go. That may just have to be my mantra for 2022!
I hope your December is full of all the joy of the season, some delicious cookie baking, a few Christmas carols, and maybe a Christmas read or too. I am thankful for you and your trust in my bookish recommendations. I hope you take some time to do some reading this month as well!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.
If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE. Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.
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Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction Books
By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published: May 14, 2013
This is the next choice in the Jen Hatmaker Book Club. The book also came with fun socks adorned with the Book Club logo. This is a book I actually haven’t read but have been interested in reading. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award and has been raved about by several publications.
Two teenagers are in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Ifemelu leaves for America, and Obinze goes to London. It’s a novel about race, love and identity.
By: Naomi Krupitsky
Published: November 2, 2021
Publisher: G P Putnam
This was a Book of the Month choice. I love family dramas/sagas so this one interested me.
Two daughters. Two families. One inescapable fate.
Sofia Colicchio is a free spirit, a loud, untamed thing. Antonia Russo is thoughtful, ever observing the world around her. Best friends from birth, their homes share a brick wall and their fathers are part of an unspoken community that connects them all: the Family. Sunday dinners gather the Family each week to feast, discuss business, and renew the intoxicating bond borne of blood and love.
Until Antonia’s father dares to dream of a different life and goes missing soon after. His disappearance drives a whisper-thin wedge between Sofia and Antonia as they become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflicted friendship. Both women are pushing against the walls of a prison made up of expectations, even as they remain bound to one another, their hearts expanding in tandem with Red Hook and Brooklyn around them. One fateful night their loyalty to each other and the Family will be tested. Only one of them can pull the trigger before it’s too late.
AT HEAVEN’S DOOR
What Shared Journeys to the Afterlife Teach about Dying Well and Living Better
By: William J. Peters
Published: January 11, 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
I am always interested in death/heaven stories. Especially after working in Hospice and watching others take their final journey.
In 2000, end-of-life therapist William Peters was volunteering at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco when he had an extraordinary experience as he was reading aloud to a patient: he suddenly felt himself floating in midair, completely out of his body. The patient, who was also aloft, looked at him and smiled. The next moment, Peters felt himself return to his body…but the patient never regained consciousness and died.
Perplexed and stunned by what had happened, Peters began searching for other people who’d shared similar experiences. He would spend the next twenty years gathering and meticulously categorizing their stories to identify key patterns and features of what is now known as the “shared crossing” experience. The similarities, which cut across continents and cultures and include awe-inspiring visual and sensory effects, and powerful emotional after-effects, were impossible to ignore.
Long whispered about in the hospice and medical communities, these extraordinary moments of final passage are openly discussed and explained in At Heaven’s Door. The book is filled with powerful tales of spouses on departing this earth after decades together and bereaved parents who share their children’s entry into the afterlife. Applying rigorous research, Peters digs into the effect these shared crossing experiences impart—liberation at the sight of a loved one finding joy, a sense of reconciliation if the relationship was fraught—and explores questions like: What can explain these shared death experiences? How can we increase our likelihood of having one? What do these experiences tell us about what lies beyond? And, most importantly, how can they help take away the sting of death and better prepare us for our own final moments? How can we have both a better life and a better death?
The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
By: Katherine May
Published: November 10, 2020
Publisher: Riverhead Books
This came in my Literati Book Club. See my post about the Literati Book Club, HERE. I actually tried listening to WINTERING toward the end of the summer on audio and I returned it after a couple of chapters. I’m guessing it was a “wrong time” thing. I’ve heard great things so I will give it another shot.
Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered.
A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.
Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.
THE FIELD GUIDE TO DUMB BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA
By: Matt Kracht
Published: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Chronicle Books
I had seen this book pop up on various websites and was curious about it. Then, my cousin had a copy and once I looked at a few pages, I knew I had to get a copy. I actually like birds and we take feeding the birds in our backyard, seriously. But, this book is a hilarious look at the annoying and dumb things birds do. For example, the Scarlet Tanager is a Scarlet Teenager because you never know quite what they are up to. There is profanity and crude humor so beware if you are gifting this one to your grandma. But, it would be a great gift for that snarky cousin! 😉
A look at 50 common North American dumb birds
For those who have a disdain for birds, or bird lovers with a sense of humor, this snarky, illustrated handbook is equal parts profane, funny, and—let’s face it—true. Featuring 50 common North American birds, such as the White-Breasted Butt Nugget and the Goddamned Canada Goose (or White-Breasted Nuthatch and Canada Goose for the layperson), Matt Kracht identifies all the idiots in your backyard and details exactly why they suck with ink drawings.
Each entry is accompanied by facts about a bird’s (annoying) call, its (dumb) migratory pattern, its (downright tacky) markings, and more.
The essential guide to all things wings with migratory maps, tips for birding, musings on the avian population, and the ethics of birdwatching.
Embrace the Possible
By: Dr. Edith Eva Eger
Published: September 5, 2017
This was an add-on choice for my Book of the Month. This book has been on my to-read list for a long time and I knew it was one I might likely want to pass on, so I got a copy.
It’s 1944 and sixteen-year-old ballerina and gymnast Edith Eger is sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.
The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. The Choice is her unforgettable story.
EAT TO BEAT DISEASE
The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself
By: William W. Li, MD
Published: March 19, 2019
This book has been on my list for a while as well. I got it on the Buy 3 for the price of 2 deal.
Forget everything you think you know about your body and food, and discover the new science of how the body heals itself. Learn how to identify the strategies and the dosages for using food to transform your resilience and health in EAT TO BEAT DISEASE.
We have radically underestimated our body’s power to transform and restore our health. Pioneering physician scientist, Dr. William Li, empowers readers by showing them the evidence behind over 200 health-boosting foods that can starve cancer, reduce your risk of dementia, and beat dozens of avoidable diseases. EAT TO BEAT DISEASE isn’t about what foods to avoid, but rather is a life-changing guide to the hundreds of healing foods to add to your meals that support the body’s defense systems.
THE BEST OF ARTISAN BREAD IN FIVE MINUTES A DAY
By: Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoe Francois
Published: October 12, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
I follow the authors on Instagram. Bread is something I deeply would like to master and I’m hoping this is one I can manage. They make it look so easy! I purchased this in the buy 3 for the price of 2 deal.
With The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Jeff and Zoë have chosen their absolute favorite 80 recipes from all five of their books, bringing them together into a single volume that is the only bread book a baker needs. In addition to old favorites, the book pulls in a few new tricks, tips, and techniques that Jeff and Zoë have learned along the way. With this revolutionary stored-dough technique—along with color and instructional black-and-white photographs—readers can have stunning, delicious bread on day one. The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day will make everyone a baker—with only five minutes a day of active preparation time.
THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS SUPER EASY!
120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More
By: Ree Drummond
Published: October 19, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
I really love Ree’s cookbooks and her show on the Food Network. I have several of her cookbooks and wanted to get her newest one. I purchased this in the buy 3 for the price of 2 deal.
In Ree’s new cookbook, with recipes that range from comfort classics to easy skillets to ready-in-minutes Tex Mex meals, readers can find whatever they need to suit their cooking schedule—today! Filled with funny anecdotes, delightful asides, and notes from Ree’s family about their favorite dishes, this book will both entertain and feed the whole family, from game-changing breakfasts to go-to dinners (not to mention simple snacks and doable desserts) that bring the family together—without having to spend hours in the kitchen. It’s just what the home cook ordered!
HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY HOME
By: Katy Regan
Published: February 15, 2022
I haven’t read any of Katy Regan’s books yet, but LITTLE BIG LOVE is on my list. I love sibling stories and I’m anxious to read this one.
A warm, life-affirming novel about what happens when a sister discovers that the brother she hasn’t seen in more than a decade is homeless, and in reconnecting with him learns the true meaning of belonging, from the author of Little Big Love.
When they were children, Emily and her brother Stephen were inseparable. Running wild through the marshes of Canvey Island, it was Stephen who taught her to look for the incandescent flash of a bird’s wings, who instilled within her a love and respect for nature’s wonders. But one June day, their lives came crashing down around them and fate forced them apart.
Fifteen years later, Emily should be happy. She has a sun-filled garden flat, a lovely boyfriend, and a job that is supposed to let her make a difference. But instead she’s lost, always on the lookout for her brother’s face, and worn down, spending her days working at the local housing offices having to turn away more applicants than she can help.
And then one day, her brother walks through the door.
Stephen has been living in and out of shelters for the last decade and the baggage between them is heavy. But Emily is overjoyed to see her brother again and invites him to come live with her. In an attempt to rebuild their relationship, they embark on a birding adventure together. Amid the soft calls of the marsh birds, they must confront the secrets of all that stands between them–even as they begin to realize that home may just be found within.
THE WORLD PLAYED CHESS
By: Robert Dugoni
Published: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
This is our book club choice for the month. We have read THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL together and loved it so we are trying another Dugoni book.
In 1979, Vincent Bianco has just graduated high school. His only desire: collect a little beer money and enjoy his final summer before college. So he lands a job as a laborer on a construction crew. Working alongside two Vietnam vets, one suffering from PTSD, Vincent gets the education of a lifetime. Now forty years later, with his own son leaving for college, the lessons of that summer—Vincent’s last taste of innocence and first taste of real life—dramatically unfold in a novel about breaking away, shaping a life, and seeking one’s own destiny.
Finger Puppet Book
Published: February 16, 2006
Publisher: Chronicle Kids
Format: Board Book
There are so many of these finger puppet books in the series and when I saw they had a lamb one, I had to get one for our home. They are just the cutest books for little ones.
An adorable finger puppet peeks through a diecut hole on each page making this book an excellent way to read and play.
THE GIVING WORLD
By: Leigha Huggins and Heather Lean
Illustrated by: 26 Illustrators
Published: October 22, 2021
Publisher: Love Hugs and Books LLC
Format: Paperback Picture Book
I previously shared Huggin’s book, LOVE LOTTERY with you in 2020. In this book, she has collaborated with various illustrators to share peace, beauty, generosity, and kindness with others through words and illustrations.
Unity For Diversity – Together As One A beautiful touching book full of diverse art and soft rhyming stanzas penned from the heart.
Twenty-six talented illustrators were each given complete freedom to express their illustration through their own palette of color, vision, and style. From love to innovation, wonder, adventure, forgiveness, and hope.- each illustration tells it’s own story. Every page comes together to create The Giving World.
Behind the scenes of the creative process; Lean and Huggins wrote The Giving World only after receiving the finished illustrations. Trusting their hearts, vision, and creativity Lean and Huggins hired not one, but 26 illustrators, believing we are always better when we work together. We can’t wait to share The Giving World with you.
AT THE HEIGHT OF THE MOON
A Book of Bedtime Poetry and Art
By: Alison Baverstock, Matt Cunningham, and Annette Roeder – Editors
Illustrated by: Various Illustrators
Published: November 2, 2021
Publisher: Prestel Junior
This is an absolutely gorgeous book full of poems and beautiful illustrations that focus on nighttime. This book will introduce children to the beauty of poetry and art. Reading a poem or two at bedtime will help them settle in and be exposed to beautiful poetry. I wrote about Annette Roeder’s book, VEGGIE POWER in April.
Drawing from centuries of artistic and literary traditions from around the world, this gorgeous bedtime book pairs works of art with poems and short fiction. Divided into eight thematic sections it features dozens of double-paged spreads that families will turn to again and again as part of their bedtime routine. The carefully chosen, diverse selection of images includes works by John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Utagawa Hiroshige and Henri Le Sidoner among many others, beautifully reproduced in luminous color. Accompanying these artworks are poems, mediations and short fiction that range from lighthearted verse to eerie folktales. Together these words and pictures create meaningful impressions that children will treasure and remember as they drift off to sleep–and hold onto for the rest of their lives.
Which one (or two or three) of these books will you be adding to your list?
To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.
So many books, so little time!
Posted Under Alison Baverstock, Annette Roeder, board book, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, cookbook, Dr Edith Eva Eger, fiction, Heather Lean, Jeff Hertzberg, Katherine May, Katy Regan, Leigha Huggins, Matt Cunningham, Matt Kracht, memoir, Naomi Krupitsky, New on the Stack, non-fiction, poetry, Reagan, Ree Drummond, Robert Dugoni, William J Peters, William W Li, Zoe Francois
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