Here are a few of the books I’ve been reading of late —
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
1885 Alaska. Exploration. Nature. Survival. I’m not sure how the publisher classified this book, but I’d call it a documentary novel, with letters, journal entries, maps, photographs, pages from medical journals, and more. There’s definitely an element of the weird and the wonderful. Oh, and there’s bird imagery. This one felt like it was made for me.
Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis by Jeannine Atkins
I’ve always admired Jeannie’s work (here’s a great interview she did recently on writing in verse), but this book is exceptional. The language is vigorous, the history compelling, and the descriptions of artmaking spoke straight to my heart.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
This story of a tragic summer and how a pastor’s family copes is set in a small midwestern town and is part Stand By Me, part A Prayer for Owen Meany, part Peace Like a River. It reminded me of the Frederich Buechner quote “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” While I really enjoyed it, I was sometimes distracted by the number of convenient eavesdropping scenes (perhaps I’m sensitive, as my editor has called me on this?).
Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt
I stumbled onto this novel about the mystic visionary and composer, Hildegarde von Bingen, through my library’s audio book program. Hildegard’s remarkable life included being confined to an anchorage as a child and remaining there for decades. Her story felt familiar, and sure enough, I’d listened to a podcast about her last year. Fascinating!
I’m an absolute sucker for any book about self reflection and / or the reasons behind the way people behave, so this was un-put-downable material for me. The author defines self-awareness as not only understanding our motives and actions (in other words, internal awareness) but the way others perceive us, too (external awareness). I’ve thought a lot about her suggestion to ask What? rather than Why? when trying to make sense of thoughts, emotions, and actions. (ie – Why don’t I like my job? vs. What can I do to change things?) Why questions keep us stuck. What questions point to new options. Highly recommended.
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
A middle-grade novel about a boy whose options have run out, who chooses an outrageous, difficult thing as some measure of control in his didn’t-sign-up-for-this life. It’s brave and raw and real and hopeful. You can’t get much better than that.
What are you reading? I’d love if you’d share below!