What I'm Reading These Days
(I tend to read several things at once.)
A hodgepodge of books I'm currently reading (if I remember to add them) ... My intention is to tell you a little about them. Some are for fun, others for personal growth, business, etc. I'll only include ones I think are worth recommending. I would love to hear your comments if you read any books I've recommended. (For your convenience, most of the book covers link to Amazon.)
Photos from top, clockwise: Lake by butterfly garden on Eastern Neck Island; Bogle's Wharf on Eastern Neck Island; hidden stairs down to Turner's Creek.
Bees are just the motif, not what the story is about. This is a beautifully written coming-of-age story set in the American South in 1964, after President Johnson signed the Civil Right Act. So many other topics are dealt with, including abuse. Feminine strength is portrayed sometimes in lovely, other times inspiring, and even in humorous ways.
Bill and I really want to walk the Camino de Santiago someday, so we love reading books about other people's experiences as pilgrims. This one is quite different from the others I've read. But then again, I'm not sure I could say any of the ones I've read have been enough alike to come up with "typical."
This is a novel, not a romance. It has some pretty significant (and unexpected) drama throughout it. Great twists in the story. If you love complex characters, I would highly recommend it. The writer's style is pretty no-nonsense, which was actually somewhat refreshing. Great story. Doesn't necessarily turn out the way you want it to. (And no, it's not about Sweetwater, Tennessee. Sweetwater, here, refers to a lodge in the Adirondacks.)
A pretty important book for us to read as we prepare to finish building the house we hope to live in for the rest of our lives. It has really made us think about planning ahead. Not that we need to build ourselves a home that's fit for 90-year-olds ... but hopefully making it easy enough to retrofit so that we can leave this place feet first and not have to ever grace the halls of a nursing home. Great discussions and ideas. It will save a lot of pain, heartache, money, and time in the long run.
A sequel to The Guestbook, which I read many months ago. A sweet romance. One of the themes is Lupus. I realized as I was reading this that one of the reasons we ladies love to read romances is because the men actually talk through things! That's our fantasy. (To understand what I'm talking about, see this absolutely hilarious, yet profoundly true, video of Mark Gungor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XjUFYxSxDk&index=2&list=RD814eR5K7KD8)
One of my favorite romance authors, Mary Jane Hathaway, kicks off this 6-novella series ... which, by the way, is free on Kindle. Each novella is written by a different author, but they are set in the same place: Arcadia Valley, Idaho. The characters overlap a little ... and I'm guessing that they will overlap more in the 18 books of the series which are to be released one each month.
I'm a big-time fan of Joanna Penn. Her marketing ideas for indie authors are the only ones that make sense for me, and while she does include theory, she is very practical, with specific things to do. She also has a great website, which can be found at TheCreativePenn.com.
I don't know if we will ever turn our beekeeping into a business, and if we do, it will probably be mainly Bill's thing, but when I saw this, I thought that it couldn't hurt to read it and maybe I would get some good general input. I did!!! This is the first time that I've found really good step-by-step instructions for writing out a business plan -- not just for yourself, but to present to a lender, etc.
I'd recommend this book for people who are interested in either checking out beekeeping or are just curious. It gives a great overview, but certainly not enough to actually do it. (Note that it's free on Kindle.) Cute writing style. If you are grammar Nazi, though, don't get this. I personally do not have a problem with people writing books who don't get it all right, as long as I am able to figure it out. I think it's great if someone who is not a natural writer goes to the effort to write a book, and it's wonderful that indie publishing allows us to glean from their expertise.
If you've been told, "You're too sensitive," you need to read this book. Because you know what? You're not too sensitive; you're just right. You are the way you are for a reason, and there's a purpose for our kind of sensitivity. Dr Aron helps us reframe what our culture and individuals have tried to suffocate us with, and encourages us to appreciate the advantages and gift of our sensitivity.
Okay, yes, I do see the irony of putting this book right before a book with brownies on it. (smile) I'm not a diet type of person, and I avoid diet books. But Dr John Douillard is someone I really respect. I'm finding this book interesting, reasonable, and practical. I'm still reading, and haven't yet tried to apply it. I would love to hear what someone else thinks of this.
This is one of those books I'd enjoy reading even if the plot stank. The way this woman writes is hilarious. Puns, understated humor ... But the plot doesn't stink. It's actually quite good. Not terribly deep, just pure fun. Don't read this, though, if you're a conservative who takes herself too seriously.
As creatives, we often stubbornly want to figure things out for ourselves ... and we prefer to find a way to do it that no one else has done before. As I've gotten older, I've learned that this is a waste of creative energy. There are better places to channel that -- such as writing or painting. The business part does take some creativity, don't get me wrong. But much of it can be done perfectly well -- and often more successfully -- by taking the advice and following the lead of someone who has already succeeded. Joanna Penn is one such person. Practical as all get out. You can turn this book into your to-do list.
(and several other times in the past year)
I love anything Jeff Goins writes, as well as his webinars. I find him inspiring, practical, and uplifting. His style is light and fun ... but rich and full of great concepts. I consider this both business reading and personal growth. I have highlighted a ton of quotes from this book to put onto 3x5 cards for myself. Not just quippy motivational stuff. Meat. Things to do and work on. Specifics. I like that.
June, July, August 2017 - Taking it bit by bit
Okay, so yeah, I'm still reading Queens. (Read through the book descriptions below for the ongoing saga of my struggle with this tome.) When I went back to it after finishing Chancey, my Kindle told me that I still have 23 hours and 59 minutes in the book. Are you freaking kidding me??? So yes, I'm reading about Matilda of Scotland, but when I don't want to fall asleep too quickly, I'm also reading Confessions of a Boss Mom, which feels super special because my Etsy/Facebook friend, Carrie Wood, is featured in it!
July 2017 (Avoidance mode)
Great summer reading. Fairly light, with enough depth to keep it interesting. The main character is so different from myself. You would think that would make it hard to relate, but she's intriguing. There are some really sweet moments, some frustrations, a little romance. But most of all, a middle-aged woman finding answers to her struggles through the wisdom of a 7-year-old girl ... and learning that it's really not such a great idea to try to do it all alone. I liked the way this one ended.
Between various Queen Mathildas
Another book I'm reading while I work through Queens. (Did I mention I tend to read several books at once? When I lived in Sweetwater, I'd take a stack of books out to the swing each morning and read a little from each. When I'd go to appointments, I'd take a book bag, not knowing what I'd be in the mood for. Kindle has made my life so much easier.) Anyway, Henri Nouwen is one of my very favorite authors. He's easy to read and very real, but extremely profound. I really want to let his thoughts sink in, so I might read just one of his books a year ... sometimes over and over. Another favorite is Life of the Beloved.
Not reading this right now, but since I mentioned it above, I thought I should post it here. This is classic Nouwen. Beautiful, profound, comforting, joyful. I first read this at a time when it seemed like everyone around me was trying to convince me I was worthless. It was like Nouwen sat beside me and was the operating nurse while the Great Physician did surgery on my soul. I have read this a few times and I imagine I will read it twenty more in my lifetime. If you need to know that you are The Beloved, lose yourself in his words.
January 2011 ... and a few times since. (Here because it's mentioned above.)
Light (very light!) reading between Queens (see above - I've read about William the Conqueror's wife, Matilda, and need a break). I'm enjoying this one. Fun summer reading. Writing style is quirky. And Sweetwater, TN, is mentioned, to my surprise! If you like Hart of Dixie, you'll love this. (After finishing: This actually ended up being much better than I expected. I was looking for light reading and didn't really have quality in mind. This novel is well-written and has a great plot! Not something where you're going to come away with a huge life lesson -- though there is a life lesson if you look for it -- but entertaining and very enjoyable.) Now ... back to Queens. I think it's Matilda of Scotland next. Did you know there were so many Matildas?
I'm reading this because Bill enjoyed it and because I'm intrigued by queens. We've watched a number of movies and TV series on Netflix about monarchs and castles. We also both read a book about Queen Isabella. Aside from a few key queens (Bloody Mary, Elizabeths I and II), you really don't hear much about queens, as far as their influence and power in history. So I thought I'd give this a shot, even though the style Bill usually enjoys is almost painful for me to read. (His taste is more academic; I like stories.) I can't read more than a few pages of this without falling asleep, but I have to say that it's very interesting.
July 2017 (Reading about one queen at a time and interspersing with something lighter.)
This is one to savor. I read it in April and am reading it again. I don't remember the story well ... but what I'm really reading it for is her writing style! Saturated with lovely imagery, almost poetic, but not. Scope for the imagination. (July 10 - Finished this last week and loved it every bit as much the second time. So beautifully written.)
Dr Rawls has made a huge difference to my health. I've struggled with Lyme, which really came to a head in 2015, but which I probably contracted in 2007 (I remember all the horrible symptoms, but I guess it wasn't something they tested for in East Tennessee at the time). Reading this is kind of an ongoing thing for me. There is so much to learn from this. It's easy to read, but so full of info that I will probably need to read it over and over. You will be surprised at what you learn about Lyme ... and the solutions for it. Dr Rawls has experienced Lyme himself, which makes him a voice to be reckoned with. Highly recommend.
I'm a James Michener fan. Edward Rutherfurd writes a lot like Michener: Sagas that span hundreds or thousands of years, following several families for generations, allowing you to experience history in a less academic way. This is the story of Salisbury and it's beautifully written. If you're overwhelmed by 1059 pages, just think of it as several books. Read about one period at a time, interspersing with something lighter.
(and sometime in the 1990s)
Bill and I love anything Sue Hubbell writes. Her style is casual, down home, and inspirational. (Scroll down to my March reading for another of her books.) She uses beautiful imagery, but it's not fluffy. She writes about day to day life as a beekeeper in the Ozarks, often struggling just to get by. Sue cuts her own wood, and does many things I would never imagine doing. She sees beauty in life and I want that to wear off on me.
This book has changed my life. I have always struggled with sleep -- it seems to run in my family. I read several books about sleep in June and this one had some ideas that I've implemented, which made an immediate difference. I feel so much better, am more productive, have gotten rid of the fog, and just feel happier and more alive. (If you want to know exactly what I've done, feel free to ask.)
I loved this! Bill and I are Fixer Upper fans ... it really opened the doors for the house we've bought in the Cherokee National Forest. Their story is uplifting, inspiring ... and just fun. We're so bummed that it's no longer on Netflix and would like to watch them again as we fix up our house. If anyone wants to buy us any of the actual season DVDs from the series, I would send you a copy of any one of my books in return. (Contact me first, please.)
I don't like drama in my life ... and I don't always like too much of it in books I read, but this one had enough psychological aspects to it, to make it worth the drama. A group of women who have every reason to hate each other (recent death of husband/lover/father) go on a retreat together to work things out, some unwillingly.
I can't remember a time when I wasn't a Michener fan. I'm not sure when I started reading his books. Well-researched, I found that they were great to read to my kids when we were studying particular places. (I admit to censoring from time to time, which is why I read them out loud.) I had to read Chesapeake while we were still living here on the Eastern Shore, very near where it is set and where Michener lived while writing it. Highly recommend!
I've often said that I would read Elizabeth Gilbert if she wrote 500 pages about taking out the trash. She's another author to be savored for her style. The Last American Man is surprising, inspiring, and a fun read. Very, very different from Eat, Pray, Love or anything else I've read of hers. You won't be disappointed.
As you know, Bill and I keep bees. We're novices -- just started in April 2016, though Bill helped a friend with a couple hives the previous year and took beekeeping classes. They are fascinating to watch and we will sit out in our yard a couple feet from the hive, witnessing epic battles as the guards wrestle intruders to the death. Sue (one of our favorite authors) writes about her beekeeping in the Ozarks.
Karen Kingsbury is one of the writers I aspire to be like. I read her books over and over, wanting to learn from her about style and plot ... and get hopelessly lost in the stories instead. I can recommend without reservation anything she's written, but this is the most recent I've read. (2 books here, by the way.)
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