January Book List
Winter is really the best time to read. The days are shorter and SO much colder, so it's so much easier to cozy up by the fire with a good blanket and book. Although we do a good share of reading in the Summer, we have lovingly dubbed Winter to be the "reading season." And let's be real ... most of my reading these days consists of children's books - either to my kids or in preparation for future homeschooling years. We probably read 10-15 books a day most days ... and while I'll save our favorite picture books from January for another post, I thought it would be fun to see a stack of what chapter books we're digging into this month.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street - One of the juvenile fiction books I read this month, it's such a cute story about a family in New York City who is on the verge of losing their apartment right at Christmas-time. The five siblings have eleven days to save their lease, and they come up with such clever, sweet ways to show their landlord just how much they love living there. It's a beautiful illustration of how we never know what is going on in someone's life, how sadness can be permeating if we keep walls up, and how simple acts of kindness and love can change a life. It's one that I'll pick back up come December as a bedtime read-aloud for A.
The Secret of Nightingale Wood - This is another one I found in the children's library, but it reads like a true classic. I found myself forgetting that I was an adult and falling into the storyline as if I was a 12-year-old girl. It covers some tough mental illness topics, and isn't one I'll be reading my children any time soon, but it's definitely one I'll come back to in several years when the girls are much older. Set in England in 1919, it is a fictional story of a mother who is mentally ill after the death of her son, and the struggles that the 12-year-old daughter goes through in trying to help. It raises issues surrounding depression and suicide and I think it could be a good conversation starter for talking about how we take ownership of our own health and choosing health providers that listen to us and our family members. As a reader, I loved every word of it and would recommend it to any teenager or adult.
The Hideaway - This was my guilty pleasure book of the month - aka a great beach read or sit by the fire with a cup of tea read. It's set in the South, and I'm a sucker for good novels about people in the South. It takes me home and reminds me of my own family growing up. The story made me happy - as any good beach read should - and it reminded me how the older people in our lives all have stories that we've never heard.
The Heart's Invisible Furies - This was my Book of the Month book for August. I started it back in August and put it down out of sheer boredom in September. But when I saw it won the award of Book of the Year from Book of the Month for 2017, I decided it was worth picking back up and pressing onward. I'm so glad I did ... it ended up being a beautifully written, thought-provoking novel about the coming of age as a homosexual in Catholic Ireland. While it didn't move me the same way A Man Called Ove did, it ends on a happy note and was well worth reading to the end. Not a BOTM member? Try it out ... I'm finding that I love every single book they send me and not a one is one I would have picked up from the library on my own.
Back Bay - I picked up Harvard Yard at a Library book sale in the fall and decided I couldn't read it until I read the first book in the series. It was nothing special, but I'm glad I read it. I learned a lot about the geographical history of Boston and a few fun tidbits about Paul Revere. It was a fun, quick read, and I'll definitely pick up Harvard Yard in the next month or so!
As Good As True - This is a brand new book that I got on my Kindle for free thanks to the Amazon First feature of Amazon Prime. A Historical Fiction book set in the 1950s, it tells the story of a Syrian woman who tries to stand up against her husband and daughter by letting a black mailman deliver their mail. There's quite a bit of domestic violence and abuse in it, so it could be a trigger for anyone who has stories of domestic violence and abuse in their life. I found it hard to read large chunks at once, but it's an incredible story of what life might be like for a minority in our society - not only in the 1950s, but also today.
River Runs Deep - I saw this on the endcap in the Children's Library a week ago and just had to grab it. It was good ... but not great. It did have some great nuggets of history that I had never heard before ... did you know that long ago there was a Doctor who turned a cave into a hospital in an attempt to cure tuberculosis? And that same cave served as a hideout for runaway slaves, who were aided by the slaves owned by the Doctor? I'm now so intrigued by Mammoth Cave, and am having the hardest time finding any adult material on it. If you know of a good book or two that tells the story of Stephen Bishop or Mammoth Cave, send it my way!
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids - I'm trying to read at least one book each month that has something to do with parenting or marriage. I come from a family where one parent was a yeller and I sometimes find myself falling down that road - particularly in times of stress or unrest. This book has been incredibly helpful in understanding how the brains of children work and how my actions and reactions help influence their emotions and actions far into the future. It not only gives helpful insights to what our children may need from us as parents, but also gives real steps that we can take to help shift our parenting from one of power and control to one of coaching and empowerment. It may be the best parenting book I've read in a long time (but truth be told ... I don't read a ton of parenting books.) She has another book out called Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings that will definitely be in my pile later this year. I need all the tips in helping my girls stop fighting and be friends for life!
Winnie-the-Pooh - Would you believe I had never read the original Winnie-the-Pooh? I read this to sweet A at bedtime and it became a great way for us to wind down after the day and just have some one-on-one cuddle time. Being the first chapter book we've read at bedtime, it started a new daily ritual for us, and for that I'm so thankful. For those of you who haven't read it, this is the first collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories. We meet Christopher Robin, Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Eeyore, and Kanga & Roo come along somewhere in the middle of the book. Written as if though the author is speaking to Christopher Robin, it has a unique writing voice that is lost in most modern children's books, and is the perfect bedtime story.
Little House in the Big Woods - These were some of my favorite books growing up - does anyone else remember watching the TV show with Michael Landon as Pa? I found the complete set of books at a thrift store some time last year and have been anxiously waiting the moment when my kids were old enough to appreciate them. When we finished Winnie-the-Pooh and A asked for another chapter book for bedtime, this was the one I chose. When she saw we only had a few chapters left, she said, Oh Mama! Does that mean we get to read the next one soon? I love sharing some of my favorite books from childhood with her - and I'm finding that this one is really the perfect book to read together in the dark days of Winter. It's reminding me that there's beauty in simplicity, and just how lucky we are to have the things we have. It's opened up great conversation about what life used to be like and we've been able to talk about the similarities and differences between our life today and their life so many years ago.
So that's what I've been reading this month. What about you??