I will go ahead and admit I was that nerdy kid who loved summer reading, and I still do. I thought I'd share a few suggestions of books I've read lately in case you're one of those cool kids too.
Ryan's Hand by Leila Meacham
A romance on a cattle ranch . . . don't mind if I do. I thought this was a new release, but it is actually Meacham's first novel, one she wrote when she was an English teacher back in the '80s. She gives me hope that I'll be able to retire on the sales of my best seller one day.
If you've read any of her other books- Roses, Somerset, Tumbleweeds, or, Titans- all highly recommended themselves- it's not quite the same sweeping Texas saga you may be used to. However, it's still an enjoyable read, perfect for your beach bag, especially if you like Mary Kay Andrews, Dorothea Benton Frank, or Elin Hilderbrand. While it is a little predictable, if you're like me and listened to Toby Keith's "Should've Been a Cowboy" one too many times, it will satisfy your desire for wild stallions, chuck wagons, and love on the range.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
Never has a book made me as hungry as this one did! It is a lighthearted and touching story of a chef set on reaching her dreams and trying to find love along the way. Oddly enough, this book also made me want to take a trip to Milwaukee, a city I've never even considered visiting. But after reading about the art museum, the baseball tailgates, the cultural festivals, the craft brews, and all of the fried cheese, I'm ready to pack up and head out. Sadly, I may have to settle for a Fireflies game and a trip to Flying Saucer.
I loved the characters in this book and the idea that our friends, both old and young, help bring out the best in us.
Overall, the story reminded me of the movie Burn, which is really good if you haven't seen it. It stars Bradley Cooper- need I say more?
How to Raise and Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims
I like to throw in a little non-fiction every now and then, and this one was recommended by a friend and fellow teacher, so I thought I would give it a try. This is an interesting read for parents and teachers. Really, it would be a good read for anyone who works with young people.
The book starts by explaining how our culture created the "helicopter parent" phenomenon and then goes on to explain how we can combat the situation. It also tries to answer the question What can we do to counterbalance the prevalence of participation trophies to help kids develop grit? If you are a fan of John Rosemond, Lythcott-Haims' advice reminds me a lot of his work.
For me, the book made me think about how I define satisfaction and how I can help both my children and my students think on their own and learn from failure. While I do want my kids to succeed, I also want them to stay grounded. Lythcott-Haims presents practical advice, along with well-researched commentary, to help parents find the right balance.
One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline
This is an intriguing mystery about a high school social studies teacher and coach who isn't quite what he seems. Seeing that I share a classroom with a high school social studies teacher and coach, by page 10, I was freaking out that Matt might actually be some kind of psycho killer. When Jackson asked me what the book is about, I told him hidden identities He looked really confused, so I explained it's like PJ Masks. You know, going undercover into the night to save the day. I'm sure Scottoline would be thrilled to know I just compared her thriller to a children's cartoon.
Anyway, this is a suspenseful page turner with a few twists, turns, and murders along the way. I can definitely see it being turned into a movie, hopefully starring a cute Chris- Pratt, Hemsworth, Pine, or Evans, I'm not picky.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Best.Book.Ever. No, really, I'm kinda worried that now that I've read this, I'll never find another book as good. I laughed, I cried, and sometimes I did both at the same time . . . which may or may not have caused me to snort.
This book tells the story of Ove, a rather ornery gentleman, and his neighbors, who all live in what seems like a cool collection of row houses in Sweden. All of Ove's quirks made me feel like I was getting a glimpse of what Sheldon Cooper's life will be like when he's 60. I'll admit, the book was a little hard to get into, and I didn't even like Ove at first, but by the end of the book, I wanted my very own Ove to live next door.
I loved the way this story intertwined the lives of all of the neighbors, reminding me that we never know the impact we can have on people or how our paths will cross. I read this book on my iPad, but now I want to buy a hard copy just so I can easily reread the best parts. My friend Jonelle recommended this and Coconut Cake, and I sure am glad she did.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
So, three of my best friends live in Texas: Melanie Shankle, Jen Hatmaker, and Joanna Gaines, or as I like to call them when we go out for girls' night, Mel, Jen, and JoJo. Now, while that statement may be a tad fabricated, the truth is I recommend all of their books, but since I read The Magnolia Story most recently, I'm going to write about it.
I fell in love with Chip and Jo when I was on maternity leave with Reeves. (I also fell in love with the Property Brothers during this time, so much so that one day I referred to my boys as Jonathan and Drew instead of Jackson and Reeves!) Since then, Alex and I have watched their show every Tuesday night, and we have contemplated moving to Waco more than once.
This book will make you feel like you are having a personal conversation with Chip and Jo. They share stories about how they met and fell in love and how their faith helped them build their business. They also offer up a few hilarious examples of Chip's questionable parenting moments. I think even if you've never seen Fixer Upper, you will still enjoy their story.
Well, that's it, just a few of my favorites from this year. If you have any suggestions for my summer reading list, just drop them in the comments below. I believe in the power of a good recommendation. Happy reading!