I’ve been trying to read more, which probably sounds ridiculous for an English teacher, but the truth is that I have to do so much required reading that it leaves me very little time for reading for fun. Since finishing grad school in May—which helped cut down on required reading quite a bit—I’ve been visiting the library and loading up my Kindle. I’m always looking for book recommendations, so I figured it made sense to pay it forward and share my recent reads with you lovely people.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I’ve been listening to the Happier Podcast for the last few months and really enjoying it, so it only made sense to read the book, right? The Happiness Project is full of research and suggestions, but everything is presented in a way that is easy and enjoyable to read. I like Gretchen Rubin’s approach, which is very personal and sort of walks you through her own happiness project while giving you suggestions about how to start your own. I checked this one out from the library but immediately ordered a paperback to give as a gift (my usual m.o. with books I loved).
Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz–Weber
This might sound a little odd, but I feel as though I’ve been growing spiritually in the last couple of years, and I’ve been seeking books that fill a need I didn’t have until recently. Unfortunately, I’ve run into a lot of books that just don’t jive with my personal faith or view of life (i.e., they’re super–conservative and way too literal with the bible). Enter Nadia. She’s smart, she’s faithful, she’s not judgmental. She is a Lutheran pastor who messes up constantly and knows it. She seeks—and needs!—grace at every turn, and something about her honesty and warmth just drew me in and left me thinking about her stories for weeks after reading them. The book follows a narrative path but is really a collection of essays, so it’s perfect for reading a little at a time.
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
I normally love, love, LOVE her books, but this one fell more into the “just okay” category for me. It felt a little forced, like Niequist was trying to break into a new genre—in this case, food writing—more than she was writing from the heart. I guess that’s what threw me about this one. Her other books are so honest and heartfelt, but this one seemed . . . off, somehow. Even so, I always enjoy how she writes about life and did find a few new recipes to try.
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
After loving Rubin’s Happiness Project so much, I figured her most recent one would be a no–brainer. I was also excited about understanding more about habits and (hopefully!) breaking my own bad ones and starting some new good ones. Unfortunately, this book just didn’t interest me the same way Happiness Project did. Kind of like Bread and Wine, it felt more forced than I was expecting. It seemed like every page introduced a new buzzword Rubin was hoping would catch on rather than just explaining research studies and telling anecdotes, which I think worked so well in Happiness Project. The library due date on this one was coming up, and I decided just to let it go and move on to something else.
* I normally make myself finish books regardless of whether or not I’m enjoying them, but I’m trying to break free of that habit. There are too many great books out there to waste my time on one I’m just not loving. Oddly enough, I got that advice from an episode of the Happier Podcast. ; )
Because I love children’s lit
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Okay, so please don’t think I’m the dorkiest person ever here, but I read this one during the first week of school. It was part of a little back–to–school attitude adjustment I wanted. I feel like my work life is the only place where I’m still really, really struggling to find and choose joy, so I figured having Pollyanna on the brain wouldn’t be so bad. She plays this game where she finds what she’s glad about in any situation, and it’s one of those adorable childhood practices that would be easy to overlook because we’re all just so tired and jaded but would actually be good for adults, too. This book reminds me of one of my all–time childhood favorites, The Secret Garden, because of the strong female protagonist, the plotline that is just as interesting for adults as for kids, and different time period appeal (always works for me).
Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner
I’ve actually been reading this one off and on for a few months now. I started it before we moved, then I spent most of my time getting moved in / settled, then I needed to complete my own summer reading assignment (poetic justice for my students, I’m sure!), then I had a few library books that had a deadline while this one didn’t, so it sat on my nightstand untouched for a while. Even so, I’m really enjoying it because the writer converts from Judaism to Christianity (she joins the Episcopal church, specifically), so I keep finding so many personal connections to her experience*.
* We’ve talked about the Jewish branch of my family tree, right? I am already counting down to latke season, people.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Four different people have recommended this book to me over the last year, so it seems like it’s time, right? I do love historical fiction; there’s something about it that’s sort of escapist to me, like it’s the kind of genre I can just get lost in and completely forget about the here and now. And the people who have recommended it are all pretty brilliant and have great taste, so I’m thinking they know what’s up.
And then there’s this little gem. It’s more of a need–to–read than a want–to–read because I am absolutely in need of remedial gardening classes.
PS: Are you on Goodreads? Let’s be friends.
I’ve linked to Amazon but none are affiliate links (not that there’s anything wrong with those!).