Bringing Joy – Books!

As usual, I have struggled with a topic for this week’s blog.  I have COVID-19 isolation brain.  My life feels as if it has become very small. My house is a disaster. I’m tired of cooking.  I’m tired of Zoom meetings.  It’s all hard – but you know that.  And if you would like more specifics on WHY it is feeling so hard, read this great article about “Surge Capacity”  https://elemental.medium.com/your-surge-capacity-is-depleted-it-s-why-you-feel-awful-de285d542f4c  Seriously! It’s really good!

Because I really want you to read it, I’m not telling you the why, but I’ll tease you with a little “What can help” that the author shares.  One idea is “Look for activities, new and old, that continue to fulfill you.”

So, I’m sharing an “old” activity of mine with you – some of the books I have read this year!  As I have for the last couple of years, I have a goal of reading 52 books this year.  Because of COVID, I might actually reach that goal for the first time!  Right now I’m sitting at 43 (and, BTW, I don’t count the many children’s books I read with my son, but I am including two on this list). 

Here are a few favs. If you have read them, share in the comments what you loved about them. If you have some to recommend, please share those too!

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey –
Historical Fiction is my jam and I love me a good powerful women in World War II story! This one does not disappoint.

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun
This one is for my Gen X women friends who are midlife (ouch!), as well as those who love and want to understand them better. Many are successful by society’s standards, and yet really struggle. We are not alone!  “Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X’s predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss – and keep the next generation of women from falling in.”  I will admit, it started off a little depressing, but then moved to comforting and empowering.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance    
Since I first read Christy by Jane Marshall as an early teen, I have been mesmerized by stories of Appalachia. “JD Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.” Even when his family makes it into “middle class,” many struggles remained. It is a powerful story about a significant part of our country.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Since reading The Nightingale, I have come to love Kristin Hannah’s writing.  This story of a difficult relationship between two sisters and their mother, reminds us that our parents had stories and lives before us that impacted them greatly, and that redemption can be found in the sharing and hearing of those stories.

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram Kendi
As racial injustice in America became more pronounced and talked about this year, Kendi’s book shot to the top of the bestseller lists.  I highly recommend it. If you want an introduction to Kendi, check out Brene’ Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast from June 3.  Oh, and the one with Austin Channing Brown, author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is also one to not miss!

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erick Larson
If you enjoyed Devil in the White City, then you know Erick Larson. I love the way he tells non-fiction stories in such captivating ways.  While I have been fascinated by Winston Churchill for years, any biography I have picked up has been way too much. The Splendid and the Vile was a great window into his life during his first year as Prime Minister.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Always have to throw an old favorite into the mix!  I once was intimidated by Jane Austen; but now she is one I return to over and over again!

Going to Ground by Robert Dittrich
Yes, THAT Robert Dittrich.  Yes, a little self-promoting for my family. But, it’s a REALLY good short story! Just remember, in Rob’s words, “A zombie story is never about the zombies.” While this is a vampire story, the same theory applies.  (only available on Kindle)

Defiant: What the Women of Exodus Teach Us about Freedom by Kelley Nikondeha
I think I have to say that this was the best book I have read this year – and it’s not just because I’m a bit of a Bible nerd.  Incredible stories of the women we hear very little about in the book of Exodus.  I will be leading a book study on this at some point in the future – it’s that good!

The Story of AND: The Little Word that Changed the World by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
“Poor and: the word everyone takes for granted. So tiny, so common, so easily overlooked. Yet if it weren’t for and, so much would fall apart! Who knew such a little word could make such a big difference?” Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is one of my favorite children’s book authors (BTW, she is Director of Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Purdue University and a Rabbi.)  Oh! And the story come with a download of Carrie Newcomer’s song based on the story.

If you have made it this far, you need to know that I could go on and on and on.  Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 (children’s book), The Distant Hours, The Dutch House, Behold the Dreamers, The Other Einstein, The Henna Artist. OK! I’m stopping now.

Thanks for indulging me in something “old” that continues to fill my soul. As for something new . . . next weekend we are going camping at a Llama Ranch!  But that’s another blog . . .

Be kind to yourself and do something that brings you joy today!

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