Books & Reading

Recommended Reading: Back to School

I cannot believe it’s back-to-school time already. Ozark starts Kindergarten in LESS THAN A WEEK. We have the school supplies and the backpack, the lunch box and the water bottle. We are going grocery shopping this weekend for school lunch food. So I am prepared, but I am not exactly ready. You know what I mean?

I do love this time of year, though. Even though I’m not in school anymore myself, something about the fall makes it easy to embrace routine, tackle difficult projects, or learn something new. A lot of the books I’ve read recently are absolutely perfect for this time of the year, whether you’re looking for a great novel or a really interesting piece of non-fiction.

At the Water’s Edge – This is a new one by the author of Water for Elephants. The story is extremely compelling, especially if you like World War II novels or are intrigued by the idea of the Loch Ness Monster.

The Invention of Wings – I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading this. It’s a novel, but it’s based on a true story about a little-known woman who was a major part of the early abolition movement. Another home run by Sue Monk Kid (also the author of The Secret Life of Bees).

To Kill a Mockingbird – Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two months, you probably know that Harper Lee just released a brand-new book about Scout when she’s all grown up. It’s been met with mixed reviews, but a lot of people are saying it’s important anyway. If you’re thinking of reading it, might I suggest reading To Kill A Mockingbird first? If you’ve never read it, it’s more than worth your time, but even if you read it as a student, it’s worth a reread. I was a freshman in high school when I last read this book, which I recently realized was half my life ago. I’ve grown up a lot since then, and my understanding of Lee’s characters and message has deepened considerably.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – One of the benefits (or so I’m told) of approaching your thirties is a growing realization of your own stregnths and weaknesses. It’s been both eye-opening surprising for me to discover, over the last couple years, that I am an introvert. (INFJs are commonly mistaken for extroverts.) I found this book helpful and fascinating. Did you know that people who are introverted (and likely more sensitive to their environments) are actually physiologically thinner-skinned than their extroverted peers?

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – I love Michael Pollan’s work, and this book was no exception. He explores the route of food through the industrial food chain, but also delves into the worlds of organic farming and hunting. If you like knowing about where your food comes from, this is an excellent read.


Of course, you may not be quite ready to tackle my back-to-school reading list. It’s still quite warm outside, the pool is still calling, and you need something to read. I get it. The lazy days of summer seem to me more ideally suited to fast-paced, easy-to-read engrossing stories that you can finish in a weekend. (In fact, my summer ideal is a two-book weekend.) If you’re not quite ready to give up your summer, here’s what I recommend:

Royal Wedding – I unashamedly love the Princess Diaries series. This installment is written for adults, about Mia as an adult. It falls squarely in the “chick lit” category, and is an easy, fun read.

All Fall Down – Grace, the main character in this book, returns to the European embassy where her grandfather is an ambassador following her mother’s death. It’s clear that there were some traumatic events that led up to this, and you’ll spend the entire book trying to piece them together. If you liked last year’s We Were Liars, you will enjoy this book. And that’s all I’m going to say.

Rapunzel Untangled – Nominated for the year’s Truman Readers Award, this book re-imagines the story of Rapunzel in a modern, non-magical context. What if someone kidnapped a baby and keep her locked up in a tower for 16 years? What would that look like today?

The Bookseller – I picked this up off the new shelf at the library, and was so intrigued by the jacket description I decided to check it out. Katherine wakes up, alternately, in two different lives every time she goes to sleep. Which life is the dream? Which is real? I couldn’t put this book down.

The Girl on the Train – No one quite expected this book to the be breakout bestseller it’s become over the last several months, but it’s clear why it’s so popular. The story is so intriguing: Rachel, an alcoholic who rides the train every day, has had a vantage point into the lives of a couple whose home is along the tracks, even though she doesn’t really know them. When the woman goes missing, Rachel is sure she can help figure out what happened. Disclaimer: this one is a little intense, suspense-wise, and with regards to some of the things the characters do and say, but if you’re looking for a chilling mystery, this book is worth your time.


2 thoughts on “Recommended Reading: Back to School

  1. Some great reads here. I’m going on vacation here soon and I’ve already got a pile coming with me but that Bookseller looks good and a couple of others too! Thanks! Oh, can’t believe school is already starting. We don’t start till after Labor Day!

    1. I know! August 13 seems WAY early to me. But we get out early, too, and always end up with a lot of snow and ice cancellations because we are in a rural area. So I guess it makes sense. But I can’t believe it’s already here!

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