A Handful of Recent Favorites

I love to read. LOVE it. I'll curl up and read, turn on an audiobook while driving or cooking, and I love to sit on the couch with my friends' kids and giggle through a new children's book.

Over the years, it's become more apparent that reading a lot of books does not equate to enjoying a lot of books. Most of the time, I'll read something all the way through with the hope that it will redeem itself in the end. This, sadly, is not always the case.

So, in case you find yourself at a loss for something lovely to read, (and you trust that I will not steer you wrong) here are a handful of my recent favorites.

The Nightingale. If you haven't read it yet, do so right now. It is, hands-down, the best fiction book I've read in the last five years. As soon as I finished, I handed it to my best friend... then to my mom, who handed it to her husband, then I gave it to a coworker. It’s heartbreaking and wonderful. (You will most likely (ugly) cry at the end... be sure to pick a suitable place to do so.)

I read 85% of The Tattooist of Auschwitz on a single flight--I couldn't put it down. It was so lovely and, again, heartbreaking. (As are, I'd imagine, most books about WW2.) AND THEN I FOUND OUT IT'S A TRUE STORY.

In 2018, I made it a goal to read books primarily by people of color. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was one of my favorites. The story of love and friendship is so moving... and, having not known much about Japanese Internment camps (other than knowing they existed), found the detailed explanation of them eye-opening.

Another I loved so much was The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. I really enjoyed the Audible version.

Last, but not least, The History of Love. Two stories (one an old man, the other a pre-teen girl) woven together into the sweetest, saddest, most lovely book. I read it every few years and fall in love with it all over again. Josh read it this year, too, and even used my favorite line in his proposal.


Born a Crime was captivating. It made me laugh, it brought tears to my eyes, it incited curiosity in Apartheid. I could not stop listening. I especially loved listening to it, since the accents and pronunciation of words in South African dialects added to the richness of the storytelling.

After visiting the National Civil Rights Museum, I read everything I could from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. To say Why We Can’t Wait was moving in an understatement. I'm an auditory learner, so I read the book aloud to myself. There were several lines that made me choke up, forcing me to pause before I could complete them... if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

I've planned and executed many, many events in my years of youth ministry. But my approach to brainstorming and planning shifted after reading The Power of Moments. It sparked so much thought and creativity in me that I had to read with a massive notebook open next to me so I could pause and write down thoughts and brainstorms and lists. Man, it was good.

I just finished Notorious RBG this week. Growing up, I'd heard about her work surrounding women's reproductive rights, but this opened my eyes to the battles she fought for women on many fronts. I especially loved--and resonated with--her thoughts on how she'd like to be remembered: "[As] someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, as my colleague David Souter would say, outside myself. ‘Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid."

// UP NEXT: //
Becoming and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.

We're also halfway through Harry Potter around here (on Audible because Jim Dale is the greatest narrator of all time, as far as I'm concerned.) It's my fifth or sixth time through, but Josh's first. He's super into it: pausing to make sure he has characters straight in complicated scenes (Quidditch World Cup anyone?!), pausing to guess what's about to happen ("I think the Chamber was opened by..."), pausing to react to everything that's just happened (The story of four friends in the Shrieking Shack!!!)

What have you read (and LOVED) recently? I’m always looking for new great books.

P.S. Have you heard of whatshouldireadnext.com? You enter the title of a book you love and it suggests four or five books by similar authors or with similar topics based on the recommendations of real readers. I used it in a pinch while at the new public library last week and picked up two books... this one, which I really enjoyed, and another I did not...

{top image of the Stockholm Public Library}

1 comment

  1. "Maybe you should talk to someone!"is the best book of the year! Thanks for the great recommendations! :)