Sharing short reviews of what I’ve been reading lately and linking up with Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy, let me know what you’re reading lately and then head there for many more titles! This month’s highlights include some fun fiction and one stellar non-fiction.
(this post contains affiliate links to Amazon)
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
I took this book along for a recent weekend away and it was a great relaxing read. The book follows the lives of three woman as they each have big changes in their personal lives which intersect at a weekly viewing of Downton Abbey in their apartment building. The book is set in Atlanta with many references to places around the city which makes it fun for anyone who is familiar with the city (I was there in October and loved all the references!). The book isn’t a great read but what made it enjoyable for me is the underlying truth that we each have something to offer in friendships even when it seems like others are totally pulled together and those friendships can start over something as simple as a weekly viewing of a British period drama.
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
After reading All the Light We Cannot See, every book set in Paris during World War II seems to pale in comparison. This book seemed to drag in the first half of the book and I wasn’t sure what the author’s point. I stuck with it because the author is an architect by day, author by night and those kind of books fascinate me. An architect is hired to build an impossible to find hiding place for a prominent Jewish business man. He accepts the challenge and then finds himself doing multiple projects as well as forging an unlikely friendship with a fellow architect who happens to be a Nazi. This book raises a lot of interesting ethical ideas about relationships between the Jews, Parisians and Germans and goes to show that just like in real life, wartime isn’t all black and white.
If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern
Written by the same author of P.S. I love You, this story is also set in Ireland with a very stoic, organized interior designer, her delightful nephew, her grieving father and flighty sister. The older sister watched her mother leave the family time and time again and as a result had to raise her baby sister. She promised herself that she would leave Ireland and her dysfunctional family but she was compelled to stay. An imaginary friend of her nephew becomes her friend and draws her out of her all black wardrobe and all work life. It’s a bit of a far stretch but it’s also a delightful story about learning to be free and embrace all the messy parts of life and relationship. Plus the descriptions of Ireland are great.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
This is the food version of You’ve Got Mail, Lou has opened the restaurant she’s always dreamed but without the complete support of her fiancé. In another attempt to win him over, she bakes him her signature coconut cake only to find another woman in his apartment. That night her emotions come out in her cooking which also happens to be the night that an influential food critic eats at her restaurant and is not impressed. She ends up in a relationship with the food critic and he attempts to win her over despite his guilt at causing her restaurant to fail. It’s a delightful read with a British food critic and a solidly mid-western chef and fabulous descriptions of the food they enjoy. Warning: you will want to eat coconut cake at the end.
When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park
This was a pick for an online family reading book club and I’m so glad I was introduced to it. Based on the author’s parents’ experiences, it is the story of Korea during World War II from the perspective of a brother and a sister. It’s a fascinating window on an area and time I knew nothing about. Japanese forces took over Korea and forced much of the Korean culture out but the subtle ways the Korean people fought back and retained their heritage was both inspiring and heartbreaking to read. It’s a YA novel and one I’ll be introducing to my girls when they want to read more about this time period.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg MeKeown
This book has been on my radar since my sister reviewed it on her blog a year ago but it took moving and having a newborn for me to actually read it. And without being too gushy, it’s been the most useful book I’ve read in months. The book’s tagline is ‘the disciplined pursuit of less’ and it is the book to read if you’ve ever felt stretched too thin, like you’re keeping too many balls in the air and you often feel burnt out. This book helps to weed out the non-essentials and to hone your focus on what is truly essential for you and your life. It’s a short, easy read but one that I will be returning to on an annual basis.
I’d love to hear what you’re reading lately or what books you think I should add to my to read list, let’s chat in the comments!