Life as a mom of four kids is always busy. But now that my children have all passed through the infant and toddler years. I seem to have a little more room in my mama brain for things that require more mental capacity.
I enjoy reading, listening to audio books and reading to my children. As a teacher and mother, I spend quite a lot of time reading to children. I love sharing stories with children and the genre of children’s literature overall, but I’m also drawn to literature that’s written specifically to grownups.
I particularly appreciate illustrated cookbooks and other inspirational project books when I’m looking for new recipes and ideas. I make an effort to cycle through parenting books for ideas, information and research. I also like to revel in a good novel, travel essay or personal memoir that can give me a little escape from my day-to-day life, even if it is in my imagination.
Summer can be an opportune time to pick up a book and catch up on some reading. Here are some books that I am reading or that I’ve recently enjoyed that you may want to put on your book list this summer:
The Great Alone
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America's last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents' passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights' lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt's fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in 18 hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska - a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night audiobook about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.
This was a captivating Alaskan story.
Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold and Brilliant
Why does my voice crack like that? What should I eat to build muscle? What do I do if someone calls me names or bullies me?
Following her New York Times bestseller Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, star of The Big Bang Theory Mayim Bialik turns her attention to teen boys in a new book about the science, pressures and pitfalls of growing up male in today’s world.
Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold and Brilliant sees Bialik use scientific information from her life as a neuroscientist, along with personal anecdotes as a mother of two boys, to explain what it means to grow from a boy to a man biologically, psychologically, and sociologically.
Yup, I'm here folks...
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity.
The occasion was a big birthday. And it inspired two close friends to get together in Dharamsala for a talk about something very important to them. The friends were His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The subject was joy. Both winners of the Nobel Prize, both great spiritual masters and moral leaders of our time, they are also known for being among the most infectiously happy people on the planet.
From the beginning the book was envisioned as a three-layer birthday cake: their own stories and teachings about joy, the most recent findings in the science of deep happiness, and the daily practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives. Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu have been tested by great personal and national adversity, and here they share their personal stories of struggle and renewal. Now that they are both in their 80s, they especially want to spread the core message that to have joy yourself, you must bring joy to others.
Most of all, during that landmark week in Dharamsala, they demonstrated by their own exuberance, compassion, and humor how joy can be transformed from a fleeting emotion into an enduring way of life.
I listened to this audiobook through audible and also purchased and read a print version. It is that good.
Educated: A Memoir
Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.
This story is about as crazy as it gets. It is a story about family, resilience and one woman's journey finding her own way.
How to Walk Away
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she's worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment. In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there's her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there's Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won't let her give in to her pity and who sees her like no one has seen her before.
Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
This is a good story, a good summer beach read.
What is on your bookshelf?
*book descriptions in italics are pulled from amazon.com
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