What I’ve Been Reading Lately: November, December


I’ve done a lot of reading in the last five months even if I haven’t done much writing about it here. Time for a catch-up because I am JACKED to tell you about them all and in particular the five I particularly loved–two of which make their move to my all-time faves list. There’s a lot to share after all this time, so I’ll add January and February in the next post.

Here goes!

The Second Mrs. Hockaday, by Susan Rivers

I loved this book for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is it is a beautifully executed version of all the things I love most in a novel: interesting history, colorful characters, a moving story, gorgeous writing. The publisher says this: When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?
I loved, loved, loved this novel!

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
I may well be the last person on earth to get around to this book. Chapman maintains you and your significant other probably express love in a very different ways and that recognizing these differing “love languages,” and honoring them, is the secret to intimacy and lasting love. While a bit of an unintentional caricature of the self help novel (it was written 25 years ago although it has been updated), I did find the insights really helpful and I still think about them on a daily basis. Very worth the read if you are into this kind of thing–which I am.

Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny, by Tony Robbins
I love Katie Couric’s podcast and really enjoyed her interview with Tony Robbins. That prompted a visit to the library and a download of this audiobook, which Tim and I listened to on a road trip to Florida. I am fascinated by Tony Robbins–let me say that–but this particular book didn’t really speak to me. Although to be fair, I must say I am sure it is a matter of my life stage. (I think my giant is fully awake and focused on some other things right now.)

The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

Now on my All Time Favorites List, The Snow Child was Day Five of my 30 Days of Joy series here on The Daily Grace in December. Gorgeous, quiet, heartbreaking, beautiful–I love everything about this novel. Jack and Mabel are a childless couple homesteading in Alaska in 1920. It is a brutal life for them both, until one day they build a girl out of snow. The next day the snow child is gone but they see a young blonde girl running through the trees. This is Fiona, and her magical existence changes everything about their lives. I started this book on Kindle but loved it so much I ordered my own copy. You will want the paperback, I promise.

Before the Fall, by Noah Wiley
Another road trip pick, I got this award-winner on audio from the library. The publisher writes: On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are the painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family. The novel goes on to deconstruct the days and moments leading to the disaster as officials try to determine if this is a case of mechanical failure or if something more sinister is at work. I love the premise of this book but it didn’t quite land for me (so to speak). Still it has been heralded by critics and decorated with lots of “thriller” honors, so if you love the genre it might be right up your alley.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport
Doesn’t need much explanation since the title is aptly descriptive. I enjoyed this read and pulled some valuable nuggets. A topic I am very interested in, and if you feel the same, this is a worthy read. NOTE: I read this on Kindle but suggest the paperback. There will be sections you will want to underline and refer back to.

What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton
I admire Hillary Clinton for her smarts and her moxie, and I was most interested to hear her side of the story of the election of 2016. This book did not disappoint. While no doubt written with an eye toward legacy (who wouldn’t?) I nevertheless felt the deconstruction of the “mistakes” she believes she made, along with the immense heartbreak of the loss and the dealing-with-it days that followed was both genuine and heartfelt. No matter how you feel about Hillary, a fascinating glimpse into the historical significance of a female’s run for president.

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
I’ve never read Agatha Christie but this title (“the most widely read mystery of all time”) seemed like a great place to start. Plus Agatha Christie was one of my grandmother’s favorite authors. Plus the movie was coming out so the title was getting a lot of buzz. Plus we were headed on YET ANOTHER  road trip, this time to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, and the library delivered the audiobook just in time. (There was quite a wait list so this was rather miraculous.) We really enjoyed it and MARVELED at the audiobook narration which I didn’t discover until we had finished–Dan Stevens–AKA Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey! Worth a listen just for his A-MA-ZING character voices. So good!


Next up: What I’ve Been Reading Lately: January and February
(There are some great ones!)


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2 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately: November, December

  1. Thanks for the recommendations, Cathy.
    A funny story about the Love Languages… Joss and I did this about 10-12 years ago. We read it and I worked on giving her the two things she wanted most: Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. I mean I worked hard at those two things. She seemed to be responding and we got along much better. About a month into it, Joss says, “I think the test may have been wrong about me — I feel very much affirmed by you and you always do nice things to help me. I would like to take the test again as I think they really got it wrong for me.”
    Well, I cracked up. I said, “Of course you feel affirmed! And, yes, thanks for noticing all the nice things I do for you! I have been busting my tail to fulfill those needs and now you want to pick two more? I don’t think I am supposed to work my way through all five! You only get to pick two.” When she realized what was happening, we both had a good laugh and smile about it every time we see that book.

    1. This is the best story EVER.

      My love language is Acts of Service. Tim’s is Words of Affirmation. So in essence he does things for me and I go on and on about how much I appreciate it and everything is good!

      Thanks for sharing, Brad!

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