Sunday, July 05, 2020

2020 Mid-Year Book List!

Wow, this has become an epic year for reading!

As you know, for the last few years, I've given myself a goal of reading 2 books a month.
Each year, I celebrate this goal by publishing my reading list.

Here are my lists for 2018 and 2019.

I'd set the same goal for 2020, but once the lockdown hit, my reading took off like a shot!

Not being able to tour or perform for live audiences has been incredibly difficult in every possible way. I'm not exaggerating when I say that music, gardening and reading have kept me feeling sane and peaceful throughout this whole ordeal.

Since the lockdown started, my reading has increased 
from 2 books a month to 4 or 5 per month!
At this rate, I'll hit my annual goal of 24 in just a few weeks.

Rather than create an exhaustive list in December, 
I've decided to share a mid-year list with you now.

You'll find a good mix here:
fiction and non-fiction, some Canadian and local reads, a few books-in-translation,
and of course my favourite: historical fiction.

Hopefully, you'll find something that will be an inspiration or diversion for you this season!

Here's my 2020 Mid-Year Book List!

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
By Jennifer Robson

I started the year with this gorgeous historical fiction, imagining the lives of the women who created Queen (then "Princess") Elizabeth's wedding gown. I loved everything about this book - the characters, setting, and story were all fully engaging. But my favourite part of historical fiction is always taking the deep dive outside of the book itself. Search any of the dresses mentioned in the book, or even the designer himself, and you'll find a plethora of photos and videos that help flesh out the world of The Gown.

By Fredrik Backman

My writing friend, Martha Tatarnic, lent me this book last spring, but I really felt a book about hockey should be read in winter. Set in Northern Sweden (this is one of my books-in-translation reads!), Beartown could easily be set in a small, northern Canada town. This compelling story asks important questions about where we place our values and priorities, especially when the stakes are high.

All the Light We Cannot See
By Anthony Doerr

Another historical fiction! I think everyone I know had already read this book, so I'm late to the party, but a complete superfan! A literary, layered, and engaging novel exploring the ravages of war through children and teenagers. I couldn't stop thinking or talking about this book.

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou
By Maya Angelou

This winter, I decided that I wanted to start reading poetry. The idea was sparked late one night, when I wanted to read, but was too tired to delve into a few chapters. "Ah," I thought, "this would be the perfect time to just read a poem of two." It's really the only genre that's been missing from my reading list, and Maya seemed like the perfect place to start.

Praying Women: How to Pray When You Don't Know What to Say
By Sheila Walsh

I read this book for review. You can read my thoughts HERE.

In Calamity's Wake: A Novel
By Natalee Caple

In our travels, I've started visiting indie bookstores and picking up books by local authors. While visiting St. Catharines' latest indie bookstore, Someday Books, I realized I hadn't read any of our hometown authors yet! Inspired by the wild west, In Calamity's Wake tells the fictional story of Calamity Jane's daughter and her journey to find her mother. Steeped in historical details and wonderfully told - a treasure of a book!

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
By Mary Oliver

I loved reading Maya Angelou, so I did a Facebook poll of friends to find their favourite poets, and Mary Oliver topped the list. I loooooved this collection! Her images of nature and gentleness were exactly what I wanted to read. I think I bookmarked about half the poems for repeated reading!

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living
By Meik Wiking

We entered lockdown in March, and this seemed like the perfect time to explore the idea of hygge. This Danish approach to comfort has been trendy for a while, and this is truly the perfect season to put it into practice. Candles, comfort food, soft blankets, quiet time at home - if we have to be in lockdown, we might as well make the most of it.

Daisy Jones and The Six
By Taylor Jenkins Reid

I'd definitely call this historical fiction a romp of a book! Daisy Jones and The Six tells the story of a fictional 70s rock band. Written in the style of a Rolling Stones interview, we get the story of the band from the varied perspectives and biases of the different band members. I particularly love the time dedicated to exploring the challenges and triumphs of the songwriting process.

More Than We Remember
By Christina Suzann Nelson

I read this book for review. You can read my thoughts HERE.

A Moveable Feast
By Ernest Hemingway

The Little Book of Hygge recommended this as a good hygge book. Hemingway's memoir of his years in Paris were a decadent treat, filled with cozy cafes, eclectic bookstores, long walks, and the eccentricities of the writer's life. Although not historical "fiction", it still gave me that great thrill of placing me in a more decadent time and place (such a treat during lockdown!) 

By William Shakespeare

My poetry journey continued with Shakespeare! These are poems that were definitely written to be read aloud. Each is like a tiny meal, so I rarely read more than a few a day. And my copy was a sweet little vintage tome with a fabric cover, so the reading experience was satisfying (dare I say, "hygge") in so many ways!

From the Ashes: My Story of Being M├ętis, Homeless, and Finding My Way
By Jesse Thistle

I included this in May's "Favourite Things." You can read about it HERE.

Saints: Becoming More Than "Christians"
By Addison D. Bevere

I read this book for review. You can read my thoughts HERE.

The River
By Peter Heller

A action adventure novel! Wynn and Jack set out for the long, leisurely canoe trip of their dreams. But the moment they discover a forest fire growing in the distance, everything changes. Very different than what I normally read! Fast-paced, suspenseful, and action packed - I couldn't put this down!

Don't Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life
By Anne Bogel

I read this book for review. You can read my thoughts HERE.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold
By Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Another book-in-translation! What if there was a cafe you could visit that allowed you to time travel? You could go anywhere you wanted in the past, but you could only stay until your cup of coffee gets cold. This imaginative Japanese novel perfectly weaves the supernatural with gobs of humanity. A real find of a book!

The Garden of Small Beginnings
By Abbi Waxman

One of the unforeseen blessings of 2020 has been all the time I've been able to spend in my garden, so I was attracted to a novel with gardening as a theme. As I read the first few pages, I started laughing out loud, and it was then that I realized it: I never read funny books!! So, I need to amend that.... The Garden of Small Beginnings tells the story of Lilian, a widow and single mom of two small girls, whose life is upended when she starts a gardening course. There are no great twists in this story, but I still loved it. It never shies away from exploring the longterm struggles with grief, but still remains genuinely fun and inspiring.

God at Every Gate: Prayers and Blessings for Pilgrims
By Brendan O'Malley

I was chatting with my Dad about a desire to read some Celtic poetry, and he lent me this sweet book of devotions. Each daily reading included poetry and prayers from a variety of authors and sources. It also explored a variety of themes, including elements of nature, and the various ways we can express our own faith. I particularly fell in love with the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, so you can probably expect to see one of her books on my year end list.

The Bookshop On The Corner
By Jenny Colgan
AKA: The Little Shop of Happy Ever After

What happens when an introverted but passionate librarian is sacked due to downsizing? The Bookshop on the Corner tells a story of pushing past your comfort zone to discover the dreams you never knew you wanted. This charming book celebrates all things bookish, and left me with a craving to visit Scotland. I struggled with the generic title of the book (no spoilers, but it really doesn't fit the story). Apparently, this is the North American title. The original UK title - The Little Shop of Happy Ever After - is much more evocative and well suited.

Losing Control: Finding Freedom by Letting Go
By Mark Smeby

I first met Mark when we sang on the same worship team in Nashville. I was part of his advance reading team for his latest book, and I'll be posting my review later this week. Stay tuned!

There you have it - my 2020 reading, thus far!

What are you reading these days?

I'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments! 

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