Spring Reading Update – Middle Grades & More
I owe you a reading update – it’s been a couple of months.
And what a great couple of reading months it has been!
Because we have made some rather large homeschool changes for next year, I’ve been on a quest for good books to read aloud with my 16-year-old son next year. I went back to middle grades because in my experience they are always engaging for all ages.
Then, Allison wrote about her favorite middle-grade books a few weeks ago.
All of the signs in my life were pointing to middle grades — so that’s mostly where I camped out, with some historical fiction, classics, and nonfiction thrown in the mix.
At the beginning of 2021 I shared 5 Guiding Principles for my reading life.
I think I’m doing fairly well – but I would like to add more nonfiction to the mix.
Additionally, I wanted to focus on quality, not quantity. It turns out I have been able to read A LOT – simply because this stage of my life offers more time! My daughter is in college, my son drives now and is also working. So, that leaves me with lots of time to read.
I also enjoy audiobooks and can get a lot of listening done while folding laundry, cleaning, walking the dog, etc…
Follow me on Instagram to see in depth reviews of these books – plus I just think the #bookstagram community is tons of fun!
I’m not sure why I waited so long to read The War that Saved My Life and the sequel, The War I Finally Won. They lived up to every bit of hype they have received. Never have I read books that present very hard truths in such a simple, beautiful way. The topic of WWII is never easy to discuss with children, so these books are a gift to parents and children.
I’m also quickly discovering that ANYTHING written by Michael Morpurgo is bound to be wonderful – and oftentimes a tear-jerker. Shadow is based on a true story and will tug at your heartstrings.
Finding Langston was recommended to me by my good friend Amy, at Humility & Doxology. (We had a great homeschool conversation that might interest you.) Reading this book convinced me that we need to study Langston Hughes next year.
Wolf Hollow was an audiobook that was extremely well done. Another book set during WWII (but in America) that takes a difficult subject and tackles it in a sensitive and effective way.
Finally – The Means That Make Us Strangers is technically a young adult book, and I might reserve this one for high school students. It was the winner of a Christy Award which is how I found it. Your high school girls in particular will really like this one.
This is my go-to genre. (Do you have one of those?)
Two of these were for my in-person book club: The Children’s Blizzard and Lady Clementine were just “ok”. I could take them or leave them. It’s starting to take a lot more for historical fiction to knock my socks off…
which The Nature of Fragile Things definitely did! I really enjoy anything Susan Meissner writes, and this book – set during the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco is well worth your time to read. If you want to listen to the author talk about what inspired her to write this book, and what drove some of the decisions she made in the book, listen to her interview on Thoughts On a Page (my new favorite podcast!).
If you are a fan of The Crown, then definitely check out Another Woman’s Husband. This dual timeline story explores the life of Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana and surrounding characters. I was enthralled. but I am a sucker for all things royal.
Finally, go ahead and skip The Four Winds. Usually, Kristin Hannah is a sure thing for me, but not this one. I felt like the book was ENDLESS, and also focused way too much on place throughout (it takes place during the Dustbowl). Honestly, it felt like she was trying to make a political statement about immigration in response to the contentious climate of 2020. I was actually disappointed in this book.
I made it through The Brothers K! The audiobook was TWENTY EIGHT hours. I can tell you it was worth it because the story turned out different than I expected and so many of the characters grew and changed throughout the novel. Fair warning: there is A LOT of cursing and other offensiveness in this book. It begins in the 1950s and follows a family through the tumultuous times of the 1960s and the Vietnam War.
The book made quite a statement about religious legalism. It also made a big statement about the unconditional love of family. I would recommend it 100%, but just make sure you have a lot of time to devote to this one.
The Oysterville Sewing Circle was a lovely book – perfect if you need a palate cleanser or have a book hangover! Someone in my book club said her books are always great go-to reads for the beach and I agree. They’re not fluff – but pretty close!
The last in this category, The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth was WONDERFUL! I love Sally Hepworth, and when I received this book from Libro.fm as part of their influencer program I was quite excited! Her books are always a bit romantic, a bit mysterious, and always full of suspense. This book had a protagonist who was an adult librarian dealing with autism and a sister/caretaker who may or may not always want the best for her. You should read it. Super good!
Elizabeth Goudge (1900-1984), where have you been my whole life? I thoroughly have fallen in love with her poetic writing style. She imparts so many beautiful Godly truths that I was just soaking up – and journaling as fast as I could. There are three books in the Eliot Family Triology, and I just need to read the third! They are romantic, suspenseful, comforting. I told a friend of mine I just feel the need to get a fuzzy blanket, a cup of tea and a scone, and cuddle up with all of the Eliots while I read about them!
The Haunted Bookshop wasn’t as good as its predecessor, Parnassus on Wheels, but it was clever and sweet. If you’re a book lover I think you should definitely give it a go.
My husband, son, and I all read The Screwtape Letters and Out of the Silent Planet for my son’s school assignments. I think the consensus was that we enjoyed The Screwtape Letters, but didn’t appreciate Out of the Silent Planet quite as much. I know some people LOVE that book, but I’m not much of a sci fi person.
And, doesn’t everyone need some LM Montgomery every now and then? Jane of Lantern Hill was a sweet book that made me realize I need to go back and visit LM Montgomery’s books more!
Based on the true story of the development of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Professor and the Madman was riveting! I love narrative nonfiction, and Simon Winchester is the master. I don’t want to give away the story – but it does involve a “madman” (who we would now say has Schizophrenia) and his collaboration with the editor of the dictionary, and their poignant friendship.
The book had a beautiful theme of redemption and forgiveness.
After I finished the book we had a movie night with my son. I think high schoolers can definitely handle the movie – it was super interesting! It does have violence, so if you are squeamish (blood and guts) you might want to skip it. If you aren’t, I would check out the movie. It did seem to follow the book fairly well, too.
This was one of those books/movies that I just felt like I learned so much from! I will never ever look at a dictionary in the same way again.
I’ve had a membership to Scribd for nearly 6 months. I can honestly say it is the best reading investment I make each month.
For $9.99 each month, Scribd offers audibooks, ebooks, podcasts, and more.
Recently I have used Scribd for the Eliot Family Triology, our CS Lewis reading, Another Woman’s Husband, and Jane of Lantern Hill on audio.
I’d love to know what you’ve been reading!
Leave me a comment below!
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