Book Club on the Blog

IMG_4738I love to read and love sharing book recommendations with others.  The eleven books below are some of my 2016 Good Reads so far: a fair mix of fiction novels, nonfiction (spanning topics from motherhood to Christian life), and four fantastic children’s books.  You can click on the title to read a more detailed summary on Amazon.  Hope you find a title that sparks your interest!


  • BITTERSWEET: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist
    GENRE: Nonfiction (Christian Life/Spiritual Growth)
    THE SKINNY:  I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Shauna Niequist and enjoyed reading her book.  It reads very similar to the style and voice of a blog.  After enduring numerous difficulties and major life transition including birth of a child, job loss, a miscarriage, and an out of state move, she settles on the idea that “…in all things [bittersweet] there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness“.  Also looking forward to reading her book “Cold Tangerines”.



  • THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah
    GENRE: Historical Fiction, Novel
    THE SKINNY: “In love we find out who we want to be.  In war we find out who we are.”  This is such an outstanding novel and definitely one of my favorites in awhile.  It details the stories of survival and love experienced by two sisters in German-occupied France during WWII.  Couldn’t put it down!



  • THE SONGS OF JESUS by Tim Keller
    GENRE: Christian Devotional
    THE SKINNY:  First of all: Tim Keller.  Anything he writes is really good and I’ve loved starting my days with this daily devotional.  The book is structured so that within a year, you end up reading through the entire book of Psalms from the Bible.  He writes out a few verses for each day’s reading, has a very brief reflection on the text, and finishes with a 2-3 sentence written prayer.  Encouraging, quick way to focus your day and could be a great introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the Bible but interested in learning more.



  • LOVING THE LITTLE YEARS: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic
    GENRE:  Nonfiction (Motherhood)
    THE SKINNY: This was the first book I read in 2016.  I loved the short chapters, her perspective on motherhood (doesn’t romanticize but also doesn’t martyr herself), practical advice mixed with insightful godly reminders that I soaked up as a new mom.  “Prioritize your children far and away above the other work you need to get done.  They are the only part of your work that really matters.”


  • WE ARE CALLED TO RISE by Laura McBride
    GENRE: Fiction, Novel
    THE SKINNY: This story is narrated from four alternating perspectives by characters who end up connected by the end of the novel.  I could visualize one character, Bashkim (an eight year old immigrant), so strongly that I felt like he sat in my own third grade classroom.  Some occasional strong language and weighty topics (PTSD, foster care system, abuse) are present in this book, however the author does tie hope and redemption into the storyline.


  • BIRD BY BIRD: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
    GENRE: Nonfiction (Writing)
    THE SKINNY:  If you enjoy writing and pursue it in some form (work or pleasure), I’d strongly recommend this book.  I was such a fan that my highlighter pretty much could have been on autopilot and highlighted the entire book.  Not only does she offer some great points about the writing process, she is also very, very funny.



  • DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown
    GENRE: Nonfiction (Personal Growth/Relationships)
    THE SKINNY: I think I’m late to the Brene Brown party but DONT WORRY EVERYBODY I made it! The subtitle summarizes the book pretty well: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.  In a year of learning a lot about vulnerability (what it is and what it isn’t), this book has resonated with me.  “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.  Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”


As a former third grade teacher, I can’t help but love children’s literature.  Being at home with my daughter hasn’t kept me from exploring fun, new (to me) picture books; I’ve enjoyed reading them with her and showing her all the pictures. Whether you’re an educator looking for a fresh story for a lesson, a parent looking for a delightful alternative to the firetruck book you’ve read 84 times, or a fellow children’s lit enthusiast, below are a few picture books I’ve recently enjoyed from our local public library:


    ABOUT: Julia advertises for lost creatures to move in to her too-quiet house and ends up with a full crew including a mermaid, dragon, troll, and ghost.  When they become too unruly, Julia decides the best way to solve the problem is by making a Chore Chart and putting them all to work.  The graphic novel style of illustrations are just as entertaining as the story.
    GOOD FOR TEACHING: onomatopoeias (bang! crash! scritch scratch! boom!)



  • LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt de la Pena 
    ABOUT: As a boy and his grandma travel together through town by bus, he questions why they have to ride the bus on a rainy day instead of driving a car.  Or rather, “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?”  His grandma patiently and creatively answers his many questions on their journey, which takes them to the soup kitchen where they’re volunteering to serve food.
    GOOD FOR TEACHING: questioning, using descriptive language



  • WOLFIE THE BUNNY by Ame Dyckman
    ABOUT: A baby wolf is left on the doorstep of a bunny family.  Papa and Mama are excited to have Wolfie but Dot is convinced he is going to eat them all up.  At the end, the book takes a fun turn away from sibling rivalry and shows Dot standing up for Wolfie when a bear tries to eat him.
    GOOD FOR TEACHING: predicting, how real life experiences help you to imagine stories (author’s note in back explains how she came up with the story)



  • SIDEWALK FLOWERS by JonArno Lawson
    ABOUT: I love wordless picture books!  This one is so rich with meaning and tells a beautiful story through the illustrations.  A little girl walks with her distracted father through the city and picks flowers growing from the sidewalk throughout the beginning of the book.  Then, seemingly as a gesture of kindness, she leaves her flowers with others as she passes by: a dead bird on the sidewalk, a man sleeping on a park bench, her mom and siblings.  My favorite part is how the book starts off in black and white with occasional color and then slowly more color is added as the story and characters come to life.
    GOOD FOR TEACHING: reading the pictures, questioning, making inferences


I always love book recommendations from any genre.  If you’ve read a good one, tell me about it!