Saturday, March 23, 2019

Off the Shelf

Most of the books I read are middle-grade fiction that I'm pre-reading for my children, but here are a few adult books that I read (and loved) this winter. 

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The Lake House by Kate Morton
read almost no adult fiction. I feel like I don't have time to read fiction when there is so much nonfiction that I want to read. Plus I tend to lose sleep when I'm reading a good fiction story. But occasionally, I like to pick up a well-written fiction. And The Lake House was worth it. 

This book begins in the 1920's when a child disappeared from a sea-side estate then jumps to 2003 when a detective is researching this cold case. The child's sisters are now elderly ladies who think they know what happened those many years ago, but soon they learn that there is much they didn't know. 

I love a detective story that keeps me guessing "who dun it " the whole way through. Morton is a master at characterization and each character seemed real to me. There is a very small amount of profanity and a mention of adultery in the book, but not in a sensual manner. 

Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction
by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd
I like to read a good writing book at least once a year. This book was written by a Pulitzer Prize winning author and his editor. The two of them worked together for decades, and I loved listening to their writing and editing process. Unlike many writing books, this one didn't contain questionable excerpts to wade through. Highly recommended for any writer.

Ed and I started this nonfiction audio on our trips to the city for his doctor appointments, but then we finished listening to them with the whole family and my boys couldn't get enough. 

I'm not even interested in space travel, but Rocket Men held my attention until the very end. This is a great example of nonfiction story-telling. It contained some profanity (direct quotes) that I wish the author would have omitted, but not bad enough that I couldn't let my children listen.

And an extra because I can't quit talking to my friends about this book...

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
I think this was my favorite book I read last year. It might have even landed on my top-ten books list. 

Okay for Now is listed as a middle-grade novel though I would recommend it for teens or older. Schmidt nails perfectly the voice of Doug, a struggling teen who has just moved to The Dump in a stupid town in northern New York. I rooted for Doug as he makes new friends and discovered hidden abilities. I finished the story in awe of how the author put me into the head of a troubled teenager in a dysfunctional home. 

Okay For Now is an example of how what the author doesn't tell you is as important as what he does tell you. I could give examples, but then I might give too much away. And I really want you to read this book. (There is a small amount of romance including a quick kiss.) 

This book would be perfect for anyone who works with troubled teens, especially teachers. It is set in 1969 (think the Space Race and Vietnam War) and masterfully combines John James Audubon's paintings. I finished this book with a longing that every book was written this well. Okay for Now is a sequel to Wednesday Wars, but can be read alone. But, if you enjoy one, you'll want to read them both.

What are you reading?


  1. I love getting swept up in unlikely nonfiction too: I've read Kathryn Hulme's semi-fictional "A Nun's Story" several times, and Barack Obama's first book 'Dreams from my Father' was on a used e-reader that I bought: it is SO good that I wish I'd paid more attention to him when he was president! :) There is bad language all through it though, which is too bad. People talk about being more inclusive - taking out needless swearing would sure help to include more readers :)

    I'm not a writer but I love books about writing, too, and also books about books: Anatomy of Criticism by Northrup Frye and Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster are favorites; right now I'm reading an anthology of Chinese literature, which is something really different, and is making me want to read anthologies from other cultures, too.

  2. Thank you, I love book recommendations! I am rereading Jamie Langston Turner, (an author I've found on here too:) Also some captivating Dee Henderson occasionally. Miss Buncles Book by D. E. Stevenson. Humorous. Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy .Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. Great for children. Yes fiction is my favorite...

  3. Yay for book recommendations! Lake House has been on my radar for awhile, but I've been on the fence about it. It's nice to know it was worth your time! Your other recommendations tick some of my boxes too, so I will add them to my TBR.

    I recently listened to Beautiful Boy, a memoir by the father of a meth addicted son. Strong language at times, but worth it in my opinion. I've been doing some reading on the wisdom books of the Old Testament in preparation for a Sunday School class, and Longman's The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom was well worth my time.

  4. Gina,
    I stumbled onto your blog from my friend Vila Gingerich mentioning your review of her book. I have since read several of the books you have reviewed, gotten a sourdough starter from Carl's Friends, and last week made your soft sour dough bread for the first time. It turned out! I wasn't too hopeful after reading other's first time failures, but wonder of wonders...beginner's luck? I find myself coming back for updates on your family. My prayers are ascending to heaven for all of you. Your sightings of the Lily in the Valley and the reports of it's heavenly scent are encouragement to all Christians. Go with God, my friend.

  5. Thank you so much for these recommendations! I have ordered all of them at my library. I love your booklists.

    Things I'm reading right now:
    Alexander Hamilton: The Outside (Jean Fritz)
    The Plant Paradox (Steven Gundry)
    The Harp and Laurel Wreath (Berquist)
    Homeschooling Through Every Season (Christian Light)
    Sense and Sensibility (Austen)
    Keep a Quiet Heart (Elliott)
    How to Teach Your Child Shakespeare (Ludwig)

    Have a wonderful Sabbath!

  6. Thanks for the book list! I also love juvenile fiction. Only recently I discovered Gary Schmidt's book The Wednesday Wars. This one sounds similar. My children love good audiobooks that don't talk down to them, and astonish me with their interest in well-written history. I wish more of it was written without adult themes/expressions. My 11 and 14 year-olds have listened to David McCullough's histories for hours and hours, especially The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.
    Our most recent read-aloud was The Inn of Six Happinesses. I did edit some as we went along for the sake of the younger children, but I don't think they will ever forget the Small Woman.
    Blessings on your day!

  7. Gina, thanks for the recommendation of Okay For Now. I just finished it this afternoon - my fifth-grader got it out of the library basket before me and he told me it was really good. I was SO IMPRESSED with the book!!! Will definitely be looking for Schmidt's other books.

  8. I hope you'll forgive my commenting on a slightly old post. I sent The Lake House, which you reviewed in this post, to a friend for her 98th birthday. She enjoyed it very much, and I have you to thank for that.
    I continue to pray for you and your children.


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