Great Summer Reads

It’s finally summer and you know what that means!  Well, aside from lax schedules, entire days spent outdoors and lots of late nights, for me it means more time to read.  Some of my favorite books have come from recommendations from others and so I thought I’d share a few of mine with you.

I was listening to a podcast recently, “That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs and she was interviewing Anne Bogel who shared some great book recommendations.  Bogel has two podcasts herself, “What Should I Read Next?” and “One Great Book.”  Bogel’s forte is all things books and reading, so if you are a book lover, you should definitely subscribe to her podcasts.  For those of you stressing out over finishing a book that you don’t really have much excitement for, can I offer a piece of advice?  Let it go.  Give yourself permission to not have to finish it.  Move on and find a book that does excite you and get reading!  We spend enough time doing things we don’t want to do, don’t make the joy of reading become a chore.  That’s my advice.

Holly Furtick has an online book club on Instagram and she recently recommended “Belgravia,” by Julian Fellowes.  I was looking for a new read, so I bought it and basically devoured it.  Julian Fellowes is the creator of Downton Abbey, so if you enjoyed the show, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.

Why I loved this book: It was an easy read.  Set in the early 1800’s,  it touches on British Society and a man desperate to rise into the aristocratic ranks.  The first chapter sets the stage for the rest of the story which occurs some 25 years later.  There are some twists and turns in the plot, characters you love to hate, and some you hate but feel sorry for, and of course some people you find yourself rooting for. Everything wraps up rather neatly in the end (whether that makes you happy or disappointed to know, you can be the judge.)

I’m currently reading “Lost Roses” by Martha Hall Kelly.  If you haven’t read her other book, “Lilac Girls,” go right now and get it!

Why I loved/am loving these books:

“Lilac Girls” is inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, Caroline Ferriday.  It weaves together the story of three women:  a New York socialite, a polish teenager & a young German doctor.  It tells the harrowing story of the medical experimentation that took place on countless Polish women while being held by the Nazis at Ravensbruck concentration camp.  I seriously cannot recommend this book enough.  If you love WWII historical fiction, this is a must read!

“Lost Roses,” which I am currently reading (and is sitting on my dining table taunting me to read it) is a novel set a generation earlier and features Caroline’s mother, Eliza Ferriday.  It is a prequel to “Lilac Girls” and I am all in at the moment.  It’s also inspired by true events and follows the story of three women from New York, to St. Petersburg and Paris.  It’s a beautiful story of women’s friendships set against the bleak backdrop of some of our history’s darkest days.

I read a book two summer’s ago that made it on my “must read” list.  Beneath A Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan, is one of my all time favorite books.

Why I loved this book: 

It’s set in Italy during WWII (I know what you’re thinking, “again with the WWII era,” and all I can say is, I will not apologize. It is also based on the true story of a forgotten hero.  The novel follows Pino Lella from his days as a normal teenage boy who wants nothing to do with war and then eventually joins an underground railroad, helping Jews escape over the Alps.  He is forced to enlist as a German soldier by his parents in an attempt to protect him.  However, at the age of eighteen becomes the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers.  As he works for Leyers and has an opportunity to spy for the Allies, he witnesses the horrors of war and continues to fight for freedom and for the chance that he will one day be reunited with his love.

Just buy the book and you can thank me later.

One of the books on my nightstand currently is a book I’ve already read and plan on reading again this summer.  “La la Lovely,” by Trina McNeilly, is exactly that, lovely.  From the moment a dear friend gifted this book to me, I knew I had been given something special.  The  size, the font, the front cover, all of it spoke of beauty and as I turned the pages, revealed even more.

Why I plan to reread this book once a year:

Inside the pages is an invitation to something we often need reminding of, a call to behold beauty.  Often times we think beauty only exists in pretty places.  But beauty is deeper than simply pretty, and often times our disappointments, failures and the jagged edges of life produce the deepest beauty.  From personal stories, gorgeous photos and even some helpful decorating tips, the author invites us to not only behold beauty, but also to pursue it.  “To find beauty within the broken is to behold, ‘to keep and remember,’ the goodness of God.”

Everyone will get something out of this book but if you’re a #2, #3 or #4 on the Enneagram, (part of the heart Triad) you will likely find this book to be deeply moving and inspiring.

Speaking of the Enneagram, I recently purchased a book that I am really enjoying called, “The Path Between Us” by Suzanne Stabile.  Now, before I go any further, I should let you know that I believe the Enneagram can be a useful tool in discovering who we are and how we relate to those around us.  I don’t consider it to be an authority in my life nor does it trump the word of God, but I do believe it can be useful in helping me understand not only myself, but also a resource in helping me discover how to relate to other people.  Relationships are highly valuable to me and this has become a tool in helping me better understand myself and my loved ones.

Why I loved this book:

This book dives into the nine different Enneagram types and how they each behave and experience relationships.  Often times our behaviors (seen) can be similar to another person, while our motivation (unseen) can be vastly different.  Understanding these motivations and the dynamics that each personality type can bring, can help us better understand ourselves and others.  I have found it wildly helpful in better understanding why I sometimes react the way I do in certain situations.  It has also opened a dialogue between myself and some of the most important relationships in my life, and allowed me to catch a glimpse into areas of dysfunction in my life.  At the same time, it has allowed me to fully embrace the unique traits and attributes that God has placed inside of me, embracing all of it with an increased desire for growth.

I hope one of these recommendations has sparked an interest for you.  Reading has always been a wonderful retreat for me and I hope it can be one for you as well.  I traveled all the way to Santorini, Greece last summer and do you know what I did?  I hunted down a local bookstore that I had been fangirling over on Instagram called Atlantis Books.  It was this crazy, eclectic, wonderful bookstore that Aaron and I spent over an hour rummaging through.  It was one of the highlights of our trip for me.

If you have a book that has inspired, helped, or even just entertained you, I’d love for you to share it in the comments below. I’ll leave you with this quote from C.S. Lewis that I feel like I could’ve written, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” Happy reading.

I'm an English Breakfast tea drinker who loves the color green. I enjoy reading, writing and baking and am a world traveler "wannabe". I am mother to three of the most amazing kids & am madly in love with my husband who just also happens to be my best friend. I am passionate about all things faith & family. We live a rather quiet & simple life...I wouldn't want it any other way.

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