I set out with a goal of reading 24 books last year (2 per month) and ended up surpassing it! I read 40 books. It was definitely the most books I’ve read as an adult. Some things I did to increase my reading time was always having two books going, one digital and one actual book. That way when I was stuck upstairs putting kids to bed for longer than expected or before bed I would read the digital book. My physical book I kept downstairs on the table and read at breakfast and lunch (sometimes only a page or two between questions or requests from children) and then again in the evening after everyone was asleep. I used to watch probably 30 minutes to an hour of tv after kid bedtime, but that rarely happens any more. The other biggest thing I did was choosing books that kept my interest and were relatively fast moving. Over the years I’ve bought a lot of books that everyone loves but I just could never get into and I’ve decided that’s ok and it’s better to read something I LOVE than something other people think I should read. So find something that you want to read. This year that turned out to be a lot of memoirs, especially about people escaping something: religion, war, dictatorship. So here are of my favorites that I read this year. Maybe you will find something that peaks your interest here.
1. Stars between the Moon and Sun – This was my favorite of the North Korea escape stories. And really I think it is one of the more graphic and horrific accounts. So be prepared to be horrified and want to do something to help.
2. Princess Academy – This is a 3 book series, and I preferred the first in the series to the others, but read the others because I wanted to know how the story ended. This is a middle grade fiction novel, so really quite different from most of what I read, but it was full of adventure and kept my attention. I mostly set out to read it to see if Greta would like it. I think she would, but there were a couple of tense scenes that might be too much for her. I think I will probably try to get her to read it in the next year or two (she is 9.5 right now).
4. The Sound of Gravel – This was my favorite of the polygamist escape stories that I read. I’ve read a bunch about polygamy in the past as well and really I’m just fascinated by the whole culture. This again was pretty graphic and some horrific things happens. (What does it say about me that I keep reading about all of these horrible tragedies? I think I just like to see how much the human spirit can triumph in the end).
5. Kisses from Katie – I read both this and her next book, Daring to Hope, but found this one much more moving. Katie is girl from Tennessee who decides to go live in Uganda before college and then ends up moving there and adopting a bunch of kids. This is a lovely story of faith and where it can lead you.
6. A Hope More Powerful than the Sea – Another escape story. This time from Syria. This really is something everyone should read because this is occurring right now. We have some local Syrian refugee families who attend the English class that I volunteer at, and this really was the reason I started to get involved in the class.
7. Echo – This is a middle grade novel, or maybe even young adult. I listened to this on audio and it was very lovely. This book is broken into three different parts with three different stories. In the end all of the stories are somehow linked together, which is kind of cool. The harmonica is the key component linking three different stories and with the audible version, the music really enhances the story.
8. Refugee – This is another middle grade novel, but it is based on lots of research about refugees. This is also three stories, but rather than being three separate parts, the chapters alternate between characters. I found this made me want to keep reading and reading because I really needed to know what happened to the characters. In fact at one point I had to skip ahead on one story to find out what happened. This isn’t too graphic, but there are still some tense parts, so I would say maybe 6th grade and up could and should read this.
9. Hattie Big Sky – Kind of like Laura Ingalls Wilder on her own at age 16. Hattie gets left some land in Montana and at the age of 16 goes out to live on the land. There is a sequel as well, but I enjoyed this one much more. This is another middle grade novel. Greta couldn’t be convinced to read this, but I think she would have enjoyed it.
10. Beyond Belief – This was the first and most eye-opening book about Scientology that I read this year. This is told by a girl who was raised in Scientology and how children were treated during the 80s/90s. Supposedly much of the actions in this book have stopped, but not all. Definitely an interesting read into a bizarre religion (if you can call it that).
What were your favorites of the year? Anything I should add to my to-read list for this year?
**Links are amazon affiliate links. All books were either bought by me or borrowed from our wonderful library.