Books that Might Be Interesting to Read

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I have two friends, bookworms like me. We’ve been chatting about books for at least a year or more. This past month, the emails have just been flying back and forth between Anne, Carrie and I. I think we met over Booking It many moons ago. (The power of the Internet….)

Our quest: to discover some great books to read this year.

We’ve read books in common over the last couple years. It’s been agreed in our trio that we’ve found some fabulous reads in that time. The great thing about it as that we each bring a different perspective to the reading.

  • I’m old; they’re young.
  • I have many children. Anne has a fair handful. Carrie isn’t yet a mom.
  • At a party one of us might order a margarita, another a glass of red wine, and another a glass of iced tea.
  • We all love God.

It makes for lively discussions.

Both ladies have graciously agreed to co-host Booking It with me this year. I’m thrilled. They are wise women and I’m blessed by their friendship.

We’re going to do a “She Says, She Says, She Says” kind of reporting on a variety of books as well as some in common. It could get interesting.

Over the last month, we’ve pulled together a list of books that we’re curious about. Some of them one of us has read. Some none. We collectively throw out a big HUGE disclaimer:

We can’t vouch for these books. Read at your own risk.

But, if you’ve read and enjoyed a book on the list, we’d love to know! They sound interesting to us, but we’d love to know what you think. And yes, there might be one or two controversial books on the list. That’s okay.

Reasonable minds can disagree. 😉

Books that might be interesting to read:

Suffice it to say, these would compose our collective, prospective reading list for the year, in a very jumbled order. Tell us what you think!

(If you make a purchase through any Amazon links, Amazon will compensate me a small amount in way of advertising fees.)

I’d say that’s a long list! Have you read any of them? What do you think?

FishMama’s Stamp of Approval

If you’re looking for something tried and true, I can swear that I loved each of these books — or have been significantly influenced by its overall message:

Remember we’ll be Booking It on the last Monday of the month, talking about what books we’re reading and discussing what we’ve read in common. Get reading!

What’s on YOUR list this year?

PS. Please don’t hash or praise a book on the list unless you have actually read it or have attempted to do so.

Disclosure: if you make a purchase through any Amazon links up there, I do receive a small percentage of the sale. Book titles marked with an asterisk * are those that I was recently sent as review copies. However, I wouldn’t include them unless I was seriously considering reading them.

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  1. I loved A Homemade Life, 7, and What Alice Forgot. Just finished The Paris Wife today and next on my list is A Circle of Quiet. Looking forward to following along with you all this year!

  2. I have read Radical by David Platt and LOVED it! God really spoke to me through Radical and turned my life upside-down, or rather, right side up. 🙂 Be prepared to be challenged!

  3. I’ve read a couple of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency books (and listened to one as an audio book). They are enjoyable reads with a quirky main character.

  4. Dorothy Sayers is my favorite novelist of all time. I LOVE the Lord Peter Wimsey stories. I really enjoy the setting (lots of fans read the books just for the iconic British 1920s and ’30s vibe) and Sayers is excellent with her mystery plots, but the character formation and the witty and philosophical dialogue is what keeps me reading and re-reading. Christians might want to be beware that Sayers (a Christian) wrote Lord Peter as a staunch atheist, but I’d say the books are PG or PG-13 (mostly for language – what I’d consider mild from a 21st-century viewpoint), and there are some very interesting discussions of morality sprinkled through the series. I’d love to hear a review if Jessica, Anne, or Carrie ends up reading any of these books. I’m always especially interested in a Christian reaction to them. That reminds me that I’ve been meaning to read Sayers’ nonfiction, Christian/theological work for years now. That should go on my new year’s reading plan!

      1. It’s actually me who loves Lord Peter. I think Carrie is having a hard time getting into them. I may have to reread them; it’s been awhile.

        1. Have you read any of Sayers’ nonfiction? I’ve heard she wrote some very interesting theology but I’ve never given it a try.

          1. I don’t think I have. For some reason I seem to remember she was anti-semitic. Is that right or am I confusing her with someone else?

          2. I’ve heard back and forth opinions on whether she’s antisemitic. I read a quote from her once in which she had been accused of being antisemitic in her novels, and she responded with surprise that if anything, she thought her novels came off as anti-Christian rather than anti-Jew. I don’t see them as particularly anti-Christian, so I’m not sure where the leaves the issue. IIRC, it is an issue that’s come up and her various biographers disagree on whether her writings are meant to be antisemitic or not. I’d have to read her nonfiction to see whether I had an opinion on it. She does tend to deal in stereotypes when it comes to people and she treats them with tongue in cheek, but you do walk a fine line when doing that and satire can come off as being serious when it wasn’t intended that way.

            With that said, I do tend to read her books with caution when it comes to race. At least twice in the series, characters use a variation of the N-word when referring to people with darker skin. At first it really bothered me, then I remembered that the word was not seen as so offensive in that time (maybe not offensive at all? I’m not an expert), whereas it’s very offensive now. The characters referred to were also in general portrayed in a favorable light, whereas the characters *using* the word were actually portrayed as less favorable. So, like I said, I proceed with caution, haven’t quite made up my mind where I stand on this, but I do realize that I need to take historical mores into account when I’m reading books written in the past. It’s a tricky subject for me. And I’d have to read all of her writings before I could vouch for her overall – I’m only referring to her fiction here.

      2. I’m still trying to finish The Nine Tailors (ugg…it’s killing me!), but I’m also sucked in to “Whose Body” (which I got for $0.99 on my free Kindle for Smartphone app, and loving it. There will certainly be a review in the next 12 months! 🙂

        1. Doing some research into change ringing and the fen country of East Anglia helped me very slightly work through The Nine Tailors. It’s definitely one of the more dry novels of the series. 🙂

      3. Gaudy Night is definitely my favorite too. There’s so much good stuff in there. 🙂 It was actually my first Sayers novel. My aunt recommended them to me and said I should start with that one. I don’t really know what she was thinking – it’s so far toward the end of the series that I had no idea what was going on between the characters, and would have enjoyed reading about Lord Peter’s character progression, not to mention his and Harriet’s relationship, in a more linear fashion. But I didn’t let it deter me and promptly fell in love with the whole series!

        1. Thanks for the recommendation, Elizabeth! I appreciate hearing from someone who has read them. Thankfully, both Anne and my sister encouraged me not to give up on Lord Peter, and Whose Body has been enjoyable, so I’m willing to try some more. Plus, I just found out there is a TV series as well, which makes me want to look those up. Have you watched them?

          1. I saw one of the tv shows. Liked it, but it wasn’t kid-friendly due to topics. Was going to prompt more questions than I wanted to answer. But that was five years ago. I should look at them again. It’s hard to watch a how w/o kids around here.

          2. Hi Carrie, there are so many fans of Sayers out there that I’m not surprised someone talked you into giving the books another try. 🙂 There are two different TV series, and they cover different books. The TV shows featuring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter were made in the 1970s and cover the first five books, including Whose Body? and The Nine Tailors. The shows featuring Edward Petherbridge as Lord Peter were made in the 1980s and they cover the first three novels that involve both Peter and Harriet (his romantic interest). Those are Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, and Gaudy Night. I’ve seen all three of the latter, and only one of the former, but I did enjoy them all. All of them run quite long, but if you’re the sort who enjoys BBC adaptations of classical novels, they’re definitely worth watching.

          3. My bad, I looked it up and Whose Body is NOT one of the books that was made into a show. I wonder why they decided to leave it out…anyway, thought I’d post just to correct myself. Going to stop prattling on about Sayers now. I warned you I was a fan. 😉

          1. I am going to love these reading discussions! Anyone who loves Sayers share my reading taste. You guys have got to try her theology book – Mind of the Maker. It isn’t as scary as it sounds. I found it fascinating. I think anyone involved in writing will especially connect with it.

    1. She’s one of my faves, too. I also like PG Wodehouse and PDJames. Have you read either of them?

      1. Oh, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE PG Wodehouse. In fact, after I read the books, I looked up the TV series, and I ended up getting the entire series on DVD for the hubs for Christmas. We love it. 🙂

        1. I love Dorothy Sayers! I was in a Great Books program in college (Biola University) and each of the discussion groups was named after an author – Lewis, Ignatius, Chesterton, Edwards, you get the idea. My group was, to my great joy, Sayers! Lord Peter is so fun. I didn’t know there was a TV series. I’ll have to look that up!

          1. I love the idea to name groups after authors! I have a few friends who went to Biola – yay for Christian colleges. 😉

        2. The PG Wodehouse shows are so much fun! I like Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster much better than I like him as House!

      2. I’ve read quite a bit of Wodehouse and James, but I’m not sure I’ve read all of the books in either series. I’m a big fan of re-reading, and I think I’m going to add PD James to my list for this year. It’s been a while since I read anything by her. Thanks for the prompt!

  5. Another vote for the No 1 ladies detective agency !
    I read the books and then BBC made it into a tv series and it was good – ok not as good as book, but good 🙂

  6. I thought Cleaning House was a worthwhile read and took away a few tips.
    I found that with 7 that the writing was really bad and totally clouded what could have been a good message, but I find that I have that problem with a lot of blogs-turned-books. The “hey girlfriend” writing style just doesn’t work as well on the printed page.

    The best book I read in 2012 was without a doubt UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand.
    I also really enjoyed What Alice Forgot.

    I agree with much that is on your approved list. I LOVED the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and really liked The Help, In Defense of Food, and The Happiness Project— I’m getting ready to read her next one, Happier at Home

  7. I have to share my opinion on “Organize Now”.
    I am an organized person, but while at Lowe’s one day four years ago, I passed this compact, spiral bound green book and it just spoke to me. I thumbed through it, and was happy with what I saw. So, I gave it a home. It really is a great book – I think its very simplicity will speak to those that are organized as well as the ones that are clutter-challenged. The layout is such that you can go to the area you have concerns with, or just start at the beginning, and spend the 52 “weeks” organizing absolutely everything in your home.
    The beauty of it is that the book itself is clutter-free, i.e., you aren’t wading through a sea of words to discover the info you need. It is concise with bullet-points and lists that are the means to the end of why you would choose to read a book on organizing in the first place.

    Chapters are laid out as weekly goals. They do not build on each other – so if you wanted to jump ahead and tackle a home office or kids’ toys, you won’t be confused or playing catch-up elsewhere.
    Chapters are short. A check-off to do list, as well as space for your own notes and bulleted tips to make it more smooth and efficient. Plus each chapter has a box for what to do in 3-6 months and a year from now.
    It doesn’t do the work for you. 🙂

      1. Ever the diplomat, you are! 😉
        If anyone is interested in the “other” Organized Now”, that is the one I recommended and reviewed above. Now I need to go check out the one that is actually on this list!
        Sorry if I confused anyone…

  8. I read The Mother Tongue years ago and found it fascinating and a pretty easy read for such a scholarly topic. (Etymology? The development of a whole language? Seriously?) Bryson does a good job making it easy to understand. What has stuck with me the most, however, was his chapter dealing with the translation of the Bible into English. Tyndale and others went through so much to make the Bible accessible to the common folk, and now we have multiple translations in English, yet how many English-speaking people today even read the Bible? (I’m on-and-off with my own reading of it, I’m ashamed to admit.) Anyway, I really enjoyed it (but, of course, I’m geeky like that).

    1. Roberta,

      I’m currently wading through Mother Tongue. What amazes me is Bryson’s knowledge of so many topics! I still feel that much of it is over my head, but I’m pushing through and hoping to come out the other side with new knowledge. 🙂 Enjoyed hearing your take on it (I haven’t gotten to the Bible section yet).


    2. Those stories of the Bible translators are amazing. The kids and I read several bios a few years ago. One child has Tyndale’s name. 😉 I guess that was a long time ago! lol

      1. So I’m feeling pretty foolish right about now. “Wading through” just didn’t seem to fit my recollection. Turns out I had read The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg. (Note to self: Do NOT comment on a book you read–or thought you read–over 8 years ago. Sheesh!)

        Anyway, if you’re interested in a book on the development of the English language that does not require “wading through,” try The Adventure of English. And it does have a chapter on Tyndale (chapter 9, in fact; after my previous faux pas I dug out the book and double-checked–ha!).

        Now I need to go back and reread The Adventure of English just to make sure my brain hasn’t totally abandoned me.

  9. I am a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith and have read all the books in No. 1 Ladies, and The Sunday Philosophy Club Series, 44 Scotland Street Series. I love the characters in the No. 1 Ladies Series. They are so endearing and the books are such a fun read. I also enjoyed aspects of the Sunday Philosophy Club Series. I was not a great fan of the 44 Scotland Club. I felt the characters weren’t strong and the plot lines were harder to follow and stay attentive to.

  10. Seems like an interesting list. I read Gift From The Sea once a year while I’m at a weekend at the beach. It is an all-time favorite of mine. Highly recommend it!!

    I’m digging into Rachel Held Evans’ book A Year of Biblical Womanhood soon myself. Looks to be a neat read. I’ll definitely have to add several of these to my list!

    1. I’d never even heard of Gift from the Sea. And now here are two votes. Thanks for chiming in.

    1. I read a lot when I nursed babies and then there was a lull. This series is really what got me back to regular reading.

  11. Unbroken, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and In Defense of Food all get a thumbs up from me. The first two are set around WWII. Unbroken is a based on a true story and the main character is a friend of my brother-in-law, which gave it an even more interesting twist for me.

    1. Thanks for sharing that title. It’s always so interesting when you have a personal connection to a book.

  12. Enjoyed 7, not the writing style but the idea and information. Cleaning House had some good ideas but the “pay jar” system used obviously isn’t doable for those of us on low budgets. Still worth a read for other ideas, though. An Everlasting Meal felt like it lasted eternally. Goodness, I LOVE to read and typically read at least 2-3 books a week but finally gave up halfway through it. I just read the book Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sallie Mae and Sally Clarkson and found it to be very worthwhile. And the book Unbroken someone else mentioned above was excellent.

  13. Although not a book, over the past 2 years I have been reading “Imprimis.” From their website…Imprimis, which in Latin means “in the first place,” is Hillsdale College’s national speech digest. It publishes monthly presentations delivered at it’s many seminar and lecture programs. Speakers are from around the world. Begun in 1972 , it now reaches over 2.6 million readers monthly, the largest thing of its kind…… It comes at no cost to anyone who wishes to receive it, as part of Hillsdale’s commitment to “pursuing truth and defending liberty.” (Can be read online or sent to home)

    They also have 2 free classes online. History 101 and Constitution 101/201.
    Although not Christian, Hillsdale is a conservative liberal arts college.

  14. Love this list. From the list I’ve read Last Child in the Woods!, 7, Urban Pantry, What the Most Successful People do on the Weekend, and All the Money in the world. All were great!

    I’ve heard so many good things about No. 1 Ladies, but had totally forgotten about it! Several of these are also on my list for this year, and I’m looking forward to checking into the others.

    Also…I am finally getting around to reading Kitchen Counter Cooking School that you recommended months ago and I’m loving it!

  15. Hi Jessica,

    Looks an interesting list. I like the idea of reading:

    “The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements”

    My favourite author is Matt Ridley as I prefer factual books much more than fiction. Although I love Daphne Du Maurier books which I’m sure you have heard of.

    I think you would enjoy the following:

    Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park’s code-breaking computers (or your sons would – this is an amazing book on how they deciphered codes during the second world war) by Jake copeland and others

    Can Any Mother Help Me? by Jenna Bailey

    59 Seconds: Think a little Change a lot by Richard Wiseman.

    1. The code-breaker one definitely sounds interesting. Thanks for the suggestion!

  16. I LOVED The Lord Peter Wimsey series. I practically cried when there wasn’t another one left to read. =) They are such well written mysteries. I think they’re in a class all by themselves when it comes to mystery stories… or probably fiction in general.

    I have also enjoyed the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books. I read a couple of books in the Irregular Verbs series, and part of 44 Scotland St. If you liked No. 1, you might get an unpleasant surprise from the other series. They are completely different in tone and worldview…. suprisingly so to me. Traditional Judeo Christian morality is a large part of No. 1, and it is very absent from the others. They come from an amoral European perspective. It’s not like everything I read is explicitly Christian, because it definitely isn’t, but the sense of a world without God and Christ felt stronger to me in the tone of his other series than a lot of other fiction I read. It was frankly depressing. You can see what you think…

    I’d add “Kirsten Lavransdatter” to your list. I devoured the whole thing in a week of much reading, I think. Powerful….

    1. I had Kirsten Lavransdatter in my Amazon cart forever since our library didn’t have it. But, I deleted. Can’t remember why. Will have to look at it again.

  17. I love McCall’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency series! The first time I picked up the first book I could not seem to get into it but tried it again a year later and was hooked. I did not, however, enjoy his other series’. I could not seem to attach to any of the characters like I did with the #1 Ladies series and just did not enjoy them. I did watch some videos based on the series that I thought were done by HBO but they seemed to only do one season. It did not stick to the storylines in the book very closely but the characters were just as I had imagined them while reading. Even my husband seemed to enjoy the videos.

  18. I am part of a wonderful book club of women at my church who meet once a month to discuss whatever book we have chosen. I have to admit that I love this book club as these ladies have all become my friends!! Of course we are not your typical book club. We have sleepovers to discuss books and once a year in November we have retreat out to our friend’s lodge to discuss our latest book….usually that weekend is reserved for a book on strengthening marriages. This past February we had a sleepover and discussed 7! We all decided to actually do what shesuggests you do in the book!! It was a great experiment and we stayed up all night coming up with ideas on how to make life more simple!! So far that has been my favorite book!! Other books we have read in the past are:
    Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers (One of my all time favorites….I love all her books!!)
    Discovering Your God Given Talents – Don Fortune
    Sacred Marriage – Gary Thomas
    Lineage of Grace – Francine Rivers

  19. Wow! Now, I just added even more books to my list…especially several of Laura Vanderkam’s books. I love how you are sharing all your various thoughts, because isn’t it great to have book reading friends? Thanks, ladies!

  20. I attempted to read Radical, but struggled with the premise in the first chapter. My hubby is in a group though that read it and they all really enjoyed it.

    I just finished one of Amy McCready’s parenting webinars, so her book might be interesting to read. I didn’t see much else on the list that I’d make the time to read though. I love that you have friends that like to read with you, and would enjoy participating in Booking It-if it were a book I wanted to read. 🙂

    1. Anybody can participate. You don’t have to read what we’re reading. This year there is no assigned reading. Just read a book and tell us about it. That’s all.

  21. I’ve read
    – Ex Libris (loved it — but I also have a personal taste of loving books about books and reading).
    – Gift from the Sea (found it inspiring)
    – The Mother Tongue (a gift from a former boss; it was my first Bill Bryson. I’ve ended up reading almost all of his other books, if that says anything. Enjoyed both the writing style and the information in Mother Tongue.)
    – Last Child in the Woods (loved it and found it has really influenced my parenting philosophy)
    – No. Ladies Detective Agency (enjoyed it as a fun light read; I’m not opposed to reading more in the series, but others books have taken precedence for me)

    Oh, and I definitely second (third? fourth? fifth?) the recommendations of others for “Unbroken.”

  22. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was interesting for me because my maiden name was Gurnsey, and that side of my family came from the Isle of Guernsey during the potato famine of the 1800s.
    I am currently reading The Year of Biblical Womanhood. It was written by a gal from the county I currently live in –in Tennessee. I used to read her column in the paper and so when I saw she had written a book, I decided to read it. A collegue also recommended it. I don’t know the author personally, but she is an acquaintance/friend of several of my friends at school. She certainly has an interesting perspective on some of the topics she chose for her yearlong project. I certainly don’t agree with all of her conclusions, but she has a very humorous way of presenting a lot of it that it is a good read so far. I am about 2/3 of the way finished with it. It is interesting to read books that are somehow connected to me. I was surprised that I had actually read a couple on your list!