When I open my reading app (I have an Amazon Fire Phone, sort of like owning an Edsel in the 1960’s), I see the first five or six books are texts I am reading simultaneously. I don’t read serially because my moods change and drive my decisions, my cravings, even my goals. Here are my current reads:
A Winter Away by Elizabeth Fair
I think it goes without saying that I began reading this in the, ahem, winter. I cannot claim to have devoured it, but I will saying I am slowly relishing it. The golden mysteries (especially British) are my top pick when I need to relax and be transformed to another time and place. This book is not actually a crime story, but reads more like a mystery than a typical country house novel.
The story revolves around a 25-year-old who has come to stay at her older cousin’s country house and work for a wealthy neighbor (also older). I love a book that is unpredictable, and this writer has layered her characters with flat traits on the surface, but complex traits underneath.
Part of the intrigue involves figuring out who can be trusted and who cannot. She does drop clues, but you must listen to the other characters very closely.
Amplified Bible: Classic Edition
This book never falls far down on my list. This Bible is not a word-for-word translation, but rather a linguistic translation that takes into account what was intended in the original text, both Hebrew and Greek.
The Psalms are extremely comforting and powerful in this version:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe]. For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on his heart] that we are dust.” (Psalm 103: 12-14 AMP)
Postcards from Across the Pond by Michael Harling
Harling reveals the differences between the everyday lives of Americans and Brits as he adjusts to marriage and to a whole new way of life in Great Britain. Although written some years ago (I think serially at some point), this books pulls you in, and I am re-reading it. Well done!
Here, he talks about the bathroom sink:
“…the English haven’t yet caught on to the concept that hot and cold water, coming out of the same faucet, produces warm water. In the tub and the sink, there are two taps. One is cold, the other, ostensibly, hot…which necessitates moving your hands rapidly back and forth between the hot and cold taps. You could use the small rubber bung chained to the sink to stop up the drain…but having been raised on the single tap method, this doesn’t occur to you.”
A few days ago, I was watching a British home show and noticed the two separate taps on the tub. I probably would never have thought about it had I not been reading this book. Don’t worry, though. He doesn’t disparage the British in favor of Americans, and he really does love his life. He just shows us that, although we share a language, we are different culturally. (Harling has also written a sequel explaining that much of this has changed, and modern comforts are now common in GB.)
My husband just had a DNA test done to find out his heritage, and he is like 90% British. I knew that without needing a test to tell me. If he only had a British accent, he would make perfect sense!
Prairie Fires: the American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
I have basically collected Laura Ingalls Wilder books since I was a young girl, writing my first “research” paper in 6th grade using non-fiction biographies I owned at the time. Since then, I have accumulated many more, and Prairie Fires was a must-read for this year.
Strangely, I have taken my time reading this text, as I need to think about what the author is saying and what I have read over the years both about and by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Fraser is much more objective than I thought at first, so I am definitely learning all sorts of new tidbits. Her focus gives a heavy dose of the real struggles of the Ingalls and Wilder families.
For example, when Laura and Manly’s house burns down, according to Fraser, Laura crumples to the ground sobbing, as Rose looks on. I had never thought of the many and extreme disappointments this family experienced being so felt and expressed by Laura, who gave a much more positive and hopeful slant (purposefully, as she was writing for children) in her own writings.
The Worn Doorstep by Margaret Sherwood
As I began to read the first chapter, I was convinced this was an autobiography. As with Elizabeth von Arnim, Sherwood writes so naturally (and with a first-person point of view) that one is drawn into her world and made to feel we are being entrusted with her secrets. Surely, this must be drawn from person experience!
Really, this book gives a glimpse of those left behind during world war, especially the wives left permanently behind who needed to create a new life for themselves. The American narrator buys an English cottage, one like she and her British husband had dreamed of buying together, and fixes it up and learns about herself and British domestic life at the same time. Home design and DIY are not new ideas! Read this book for free by clicking here.
This is just the sort of book I might read when I am extremely worn out and trying to make decisions in my life. I feel comforted by the familiarity of someone expressing their own worries and thought processes.
Yes, I see common themes in my picks. As a lover of non-fiction, I seem to choose even fiction that has a biographical feel. How about you? What books are in your top list right now, whether you are taking a slow journey or reading voraciously and with purpose?