{reading} fiction and non-fiction recommendations

After last month's slight slump of only having two good books worth sharing, I'm happy to report that I have several on my list for this month. I found a nice balance of fiction and non-fiction, which has been easier these days thanks to audiobooks.

Here are my recent fiction and non-fiction recommendations.

{fiction I loved}

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. One of my favorite podcasts chose this book for their latest book club episode, so I picked it up. About a mysterious girl who comes to life after being presumed dead in a small river town, the story focuses on three families, all of whom have a reason to claim her. It felt slightly magical, yet the characters were rooted in reality and beautifully developed. I loved the way storytelling became a thread that knit everything together, and also how the setting felt as alive as the characters. This was a great read! My rating: 4/5 stars. 

The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Originally published in 1924, this story about an unhappy couple trying to play their socially acceptable roles as working father and stay-at-home mother touched on many issues still relevant today. Although her characterizations felt slightly over-the-top, I admit that I saw parts of myself in the impatient, overly critical mother. I loved the way this book made me think about the roles we still play in society, and about the importance of feeling fulfilled in what we do, no matter what it is we choose. My rating: 4/5 stars

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan. I picked this up on a Kindle deal because it was one I remember hearing great things about. I went in knowing next to nothing about it, fully expecting a quirky, fun, book about books a la The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Well. This book is quite dark, and while the main character works as a bookseller at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, the similarities end there. However, once I adjusted to the mood, I got wrapped up in the story and the mystery. I don't mind dark, and I loved the bookish elements woven throughout. My rating: 4/5 stars.

{non-fiction picks}

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans. I learned about Rachel Held Evans after hearing of her untimely death, and shortly after that this book came up in discussion on a couple of podcasts I listen to. This is her memoir of growing up Evangelical Christian with a strong faith, but then struggling with that faith and the beliefs of her church as she got older. I thought it was honest and wise, and although my faith journey has been a lot different from hers, I could relate in many ways. My rating: 4/5 stars.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury. I've been listening to Janet Lansbury on her podcast, Unruffled, for years. I think her respectful approach to parenting is helpful, and when I make an effort to implement what she teaches I find it to be very effective. It's not always easy to remain calm and unruffled, yet empathetic, in the moment, but this book really broke down the advice she gives on her podcast and gave me lots of practical tips. Her focus is on toddlers, but I found most of what she discusses still very applicable with Violet, who is a bit past the toddler stage at 3. My rating: 4/5 stars

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein. I love finding memoirs read by the author to listen to on audio. Jessi's story of growing up as a "late bloomer" and coming into herself as a writer and comedian was honest, funny, and relatable. My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Have you read anything good lately?

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