Anyone who know me knows I have a love for books. I have also since found reading books and collecting books are two separate hobbies. We have actually run out of bookshelf space this year and have tried to drop off books to Little Free Libraries in our area. I have trouble letting go as books become my friends.
Since 2015, I have set a reading goal every year. The last few years I have been trying to focus on the quality of reading versus the quantity. Could I read 75 to 100 books a year? Probably, but when I tried one year, I felt I was rushing through the books and unable to enjoy what I was reading. For me, it was stressful. Some books I absolutely could not put down, but there were others I wanted to slow down and savor.
This year, I planned for 35 books in my challenge, but surpassed my goal by reading 52 books. I organize my books on Goodreads, but there are other digital organizers out there.
I will share with you five which were amongst the highest rated and some of my personal favorites for the year.
(For my readers with attention to detail, you’ll notice that I rated most of these books four stars. Rarely, do I rate a book five stars unless it completely blows me away.)
- The Things We Cannot Say– Historical fiction would probably be my favorite genre. This is a dual narrative storyline of Alina and her family in 1942 Poland and of Alice in modern times. Who we are today is shaped by the actions of those in our past. Alice looks to solve the puzzle of her ancestors. I really connected with Alice’s desire to know her family history as I recently met family members this year myself. Beautiful writing and descriptions by the author and some heart-breaking moments. I shed a few tears. I was fully committed to both storylines.
2. Dragonfly in Amber– 2nd book in the series-Though I love historical fiction, I resisted the Outlander series for a while. The affair in the story bothered me as did some of the reviews about it being a “trashy novel”, but eventually I succumbed and therefore, I am later than most to the Outlander party. I am glad I started reading the series. It’s always important to read something and make up your own mind. I love reading books and then watching the series, but in this case-gasp! I watched the first five seasons before starting the books. I have yet to finish watching the sixth season. I always appreciate the detail and the differences between the books and the TV series (or movie) and usually the books win, as is the case here. It was a guilty pleasure for me. Claire Randall has kept the secret of her time traveling adventures and her love for Jamie for the past 20 years. Now she starts unraveling the secrets of her heart and confesses her desire to return to 18th-century Scotland. Her daughter, Brianna has choices she must make as well. Beautiful writing and it was very well-researched.
3. Sensible Shoes-first book in a series-This was the book I picked out for our book group this year, but I don’t think everyone was enthralled as I was. A friend of mine suggested I would enjoy it and I certainly did. I am working to finish my certification in Spiritual Direction, and this book shows spiritual direction in action. It was helpful for me. We all have the power to grow and to change, though it isn’t always easy. This book follows the story of four women who meet at a retreat center. They each have unique stories and different ways in which they need to heal. The retreat leader shares different spiritual exercises to try (all of which I am familiar with) to help the directees. The internal struggle of each woman shows the uncomfortable process of seeing our scars and a life-long pursuit of healing and wholeness.
4. The Great Hunt is the second in The Wheel of Time series- I came across The Wheel of Time as a TV series on Amazon Prime in 2021. The fantasy and action-adventure series are based on 14 novels by Robert Jordan. I watched the 8 episodes from the first series and wondered how it compared to the book. The specific and in-depth details from the book helped me understand more what was going on in the TV series. It helped to fill in some questions. I had thought the second season was going to come out this year or early next year, so I read this book as well, but no release date has been announced by Amazon as of yet despite filming season 2 was wrapped up in May. I’m impatiently waiting to see how the TV series will take the characters. I liked book two of the series even better than the first one. Jordan can be very wordy and this second book, I feel, has better pacing. This book continues where the first book left off. Rand, Nynaeve, Egwene, Perrin and Matt have plenty more adventures to find. The Aes Sedai, the Warders and the chosen ones embark on their journeys wherever fate may lead them. The main goal here is to hunt a stolen, legendary item and fight against the evil which prevails. We are introduced to new places, new Aes Sedai and get to see the characters develop and make some tough choices along the way.
5. The Ship of the Dead-third book of the series- As a former middle school teacher and as a mom and stepmom, I confess to reading Young Adult and Middle Grade fictional stories. Not only do I read them, but I am addicted to most of Rick Riordan’s books. I read the entire Percy Jackson series to my kids when they were little till, they grew up and read the books on their own. It also allows me to trade books with my now teenagers and open communication on whatever they are reading. So, when my daughter brought the Magnus Chase books to my attention, I read them as she suggested. Magnus is the cousin of Annabeth Chase and we see her and even Percy a few times. I absolutely love mythology and Magnus Chase books are steeped in Norse mythology, a departure from Greek and Roman mythology in previous series. We met Thor, Loki and other gods as Magnus helps to retrieve Thor’s missing hammer. Riordan writes in a heartfelt and humorous way which makes the adventures exciting.
6. Inner Work-We studied dreamwork for a month in our Spiritual Direction classes and this book was my favorite thus far. It gave a good framework of why we should pay attention and study our dreams.
7. Another book I read in our Spiritual Direction class which I found to be heartfelt and surprisingly funny. A good read, especially if you are needing to forgive people in your life and move forward.
8. A book about the 1666 plague which swept through an isolated village when a flea infested bolt of fabric is bought from London. We see the story from the point of view of Anna Frith as she watches fear-based decisions wreak havoc in the town.
9. Another book club pick. A story told by three different women through different time periods. Another modern time story which finds out secrets from their family’s past. Brilliant book. The main problem is the characters can become confusing. I also read Lake House by Kate Morton right before this book and as it is written somewhat similarly, it was even more confusing. I will read Kate Morton books with some distance in between.
More information/suggested links:
Goodreads One way to track and organize books digitally.
Reading Rainbow video
Outlander TV series– the first 5 seasons
Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar
Wisdom Tree Collective– School of Spiritual Direction
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