Read-alouds, memoir, and lovely fiction {September Quick-Lit}

Non-Fiction:

  1. Breathe Again by Niki Hardy – 4 stars. A powerful book for anyone grieving, approaching serious illness, or even just in the middle of ridiculous or worrisome circumstances. Word that nudge you to pick yourself up after the hard news hits and keep going after something happens. I appreciated it.
  2. If Only You Knew by Jamie Ivey – This book was so so honest. Basically a story of all her apparent shortcomings and how God remained for her and with her the whole way. The last chapter was my favorite and I wanted a whole book like that. But the whole book is that very thing. “For as bad as it’s been, and as bad as it can get, Jesus is better.”(page 218) Such a refreshingly honest, no-nonsense book.
  3. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – 5 stars. This was so different than anything I had ever read. It was a graphic memoir. The author drew and wrote the story of her life and her parents lives in Vietnam and then as immigrants to the US. She included general history, family dynamics and trauma, immigration, and how the author began to process it all as an adult all told through illustrations and a graphic story format.
  4. The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr – 5 stars. I read this a few pages at a time instead of a devotional in the morning. I loved this theological deep-dive into the trinity and what it means for us in our everyday.
  5. Parenting Forward: How to Raise Children with Justice, Mercy, and Kindness by Cindy Wang Brandt – 4 stars. This book is helpful, bold, and intense with Brandt’s desire to raise whole, honored, thinking kids who live in the world bravely and as advocates for other people. I’m still in the process with some of these issues but I really appreciated her clarity and assertive style. The forward from Rachel Held Evans gave me a pang of sadness.
  6. Remember God by Annie F. Downs – 5 stars. A year of learning, trusting, grieving, hoping, clinging. I am so enjoying the story-driven memoir lately. I really appreciated how Annie’s struggles were book-length instead of chapter-length. Much more like life. And lots of hope for us in this book.

Fiction:

  1. Useful Phrases for Immigrants by May-lee Chai – 5 stars. I’m often frustrated by short stories because they tend to end right when I begin to care about the characters. But these short stories were perfectly paced for poignant vignettes of full characters in a piece of a whole story.
  2. A Better Man by Louise Penny – 5 stars. Every now and then I am disappointed by an Inspector Gamache mystery, but this was not one of those times. It kept surprising me even as I thought I’d guessed the end. Some heavy themes with marital abuse in this one, but well done.
  3. The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez – 3 stars. I went in expecting a light fun read. And it was mostly fun and light until trauma hit and it quickly became more stressful than I’d planned for my Saturday afternoon. It was good, but the secondary characters experience some major grief. I shed tears for them. It might have risque scenes.. (I don’t remember at the moment, so sorry!)
  4. Shades of Light by Sharon Garlough Brown – 5 stars. wow, this book was so good. It fulfilled my expectations for a more serious read, but it also had so much light, hope, and healing. I appreciated the honest look at the often chronic nature of mental health struggles, how christians can be flippant about it being a faith issue, and the way the mother-daughter relationship evolved over the course of the novel. Really worth reading. Difficult at times, but really good. (Thanks @ivpress for the review copy).
  5. The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier – 4 stars. Two sisters are thrown together trying to make life work in rough patches of their careers/relationships. I loved how this whole story worked out and the sisters relationship brought them back to themselves and to each other. Cooking, journalism, sisterhood, relationships, and making an grown up life work.
  6. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – 5 stars. Ivan is a gorilla living in a mall who uses his art to tell a his story and, with the help of his friends, communicate his desire for a different life. This book really came to life as a read aloud for the kids. They loved the relationships between the animals and the kid humor. I loved how this brought up conversations about animal conditions in zoos, protesting to change things, and stepping in to help where we can.
  7. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – 3 stars. This book was a little too violent/gross for me. Apparently zombie-like monsters is where I should draw my line. But I did finish it because of the characters, and I did enjoy the second book much more.
  8. Summerlost by Ally Condie – 4 stars. About a young girl navigating the summer after the loss of her brother and father. I loved how she came more into herself over the summer and the way the ren fair and a new friend helped her through.
  9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – 5 stars. This took me a bit to get into (the characters and times switch back and forth a little freely), but, after a bit, I inhaled it to its perfect ending. Magic, unorthodox travel, world-hopping and some intensely woven family stories in an intricate plot and story. Bookish people will adore it :)
  10. A Pure Heart by Rajia Hassib – 4 stars. An egyptologist returns to Egypt to uncover the mystery of her sister’s death and life. I loved cultural insight, story-telling, and character development.
  11. Toys Come Home by Emily Jenkins – 5 stars. The last official book in the toys series. We had so much fun with these books. I’m crossing my fingers we’ll keep finding more books that are great read-alouds for little-ish kids (4-7). Any recommendations?

I’m always looking to add more to my list to read with my kiddos, especially when they’re so little. Did your parents read chapter books aloud to you as a young kid? Do you have one you particularly remember being read to you or reading independently? What have been favorites with your kids?


Thanks for reading here! Let me know if there’s any specific book recommendation you might be looking for. I’ve read a lot :)

If you haven’t yet, you might check out my Paperback Deals page where I try to keep track of when some of my favorite books from the past few years go on sale. I also have links to lists of picture books we’ve loved, a few little kid read-alouds, and bunches of my favorite fiction and non-fiction. That page is here!


(Thanks to IvPress, B&H Books, Netgalley, and Revell Books for review copies of Shades of Light, If Only You Knew, Remember God, The Second Chance Supper Club, and Breathe Again. All opinions are my own.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links)

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