Friday, February 20, 2015

Final Installment of Top 40 Books: The Mostly Non-Fiction Edition

31. This is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness by Laura Munson. This is another book and author that has mentored me toward taking my writing life seriously. This author wrote more than a dozen unpublished books before this memoir book her on the map. She now conducts writing workshops in Montana, and I'm determined to attend one. This is a great read if you find yourself in difficult times and want a healthy way to walk through them.

32. Take this bread by Sara Miles. This woman's story is awesome. She tells about how she found God when she wasn't really even looking and then tells the story of how she became a vital member of her faith community and the people they serve.

33. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons. After To Kill a Mockingbird and Love Walked In, this book and #34 are my favorite books. I will reread and relisten to them over and over. This story follows a young Viennese woman who leaves her family and her privilege to escape the tightening grip of the Nazis before World War II. It is gripping, deeply sad, and oh so beautifully written. Natasha Solomons is a writer to follow.

34. Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons. There is not another novel like this one. It's creativity, poignancy, and heartbreak are palpable. I cried and laughed out loud. There are no words for how brilliant Natasha Solomons' story telling is.

35. The Notebook Series by Laura Resau. I read this series two summers ago and still think of the characters, the places they lived, and wish there were more stories! They are a great demonstration of just how excellent young adult fiction is. A teenager and her free-spirited mother move from country to country and with every move the young girl chooses a different colored journal to record their experiences. A traveler's dream life.

36. Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I stumbled on this book two-and-a-half years ago and it is an understatement to say that it changed my parenting life. I was exhausted by my five-year-old in a way I couldn't understand and this book explained it. It turns out my daughter AND her mother are spirited, but in different ways. Reading this book helped me understand my daughter's high energy, intensity, and sensitivity in new ways. I'm so grateful to be able to understand myself better too. I recommend this book so often, I should probably get some sort of commission.

37. Parenting without borders by Christine Gross-Loh, Ph.D. My life has been enriched by the multicultural friendships and experiences I have had. This book was a fascinating read about how different cultures parent their children and suggested that well-meaning American parents have a few things out of whack. It was extremely enlightening.

38. A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter by William Deresiewicz. For the LIFE OF ME, I cannot enjoy the reading of Jane Austen's works. I appreciate where Jane fits into literature, and I dearly love Emma Thompson's screenplay and acts in Sense and Sensibility. It is one of my favorite movies. I just cannot manage to summarize what I've spent hours reading. This memoir is a wonderful recap of her books and what the author learned. He tells his story in a really interesting way whilst also summarizing the stories and their characters in a way I can understand. Whew! Saves me from having to read anymore of her novels.

39. I have Iraq in my shoes Misadventures of a Soldier of Fashion by Gretchen Berg. Oh my gosh, this book was so fun to read. An ESL teacher finds herself without a job and a lot of debt, so she's offered a high paying job to teach English in Iraq. She decides to take the job as a way to pay down her debt and awards herself with couture shoes along the way. It is a terrific read and gives a really interesting perspective on the country of Iraq. I love travelogues and this is an outstanding one.

40. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I listened to this book two summers ago and I still miss the characters. A young woman is hired to be a caregiver for an affluent, angry, young, and previously accomplished quadriplegic and a most unlikely friendship develops. It is stunning. The listening is particularly awesome if you like accents.

Well, there they are: my top 40 books. I have enjoyed compiling this list and revisiting each of these books/series through the brief summaries I wrote. I know that I will reread some of the books again and again through the next decade. I'm also excited to discover the books that move me and shape my thinking going forward.

If you decide to read one (or more of these books), comment on the blog about what you thought of the book, and you will be entered in a drawing for something exciting...prize to be announced later. Ready, Set, Read!

Consider # 28 on my list officially complete!

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