Happy February! Finally January is over, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I have finished reading a number of books this month- more than usual. A fair few are ones I had started last year or at least had made a little progress on (since I read multiple books at a time these days) so I definitely didn’t read all these pages in January but it’s been lovely to spend some regular minutes in these grey icy days reading and entering a different world. I managed to finish 9 books (a few in the last few days of the month, admittedly) which is probably going to be the most I complete in such a short space of time for a while. (My phone has also completely died so the lack of scrolling is definitely helping too!)
I thought it would be nice to do a little monthly recap when I can – I always enjoy seeing what others are reading and prefer reading from recommendations than randomly chosen from the book description or the cover! If you’re wanting to read more or not knowing what to pick up it’s so nice to hear others’ experiences.
Midnight Blue– Simeon van Der Vlugt
I picked this lovely book up in a Dutch bookshop (in the English section!) while we were staying in Delft. Set in 1654, it follows Catrin as she picks up her life after her husband dies and makes a new life in Delft- along with plenty about the pottery, history and city she is in. I really enjoyed it for the setting and learning about the ceramics, and as I had been there and could imagine it that bit better. I didn’t particularly connect with Catrin as a protagonist but enjoyed it regardless.
Present over Perfect– Shauna Niequist
I had been wanting to read this book- and Shauna’s writing- for a while, especially this one since ‘present’ was my word for 2016 and eventually got it on my kindle. Initially I didn’t connect very deeply with what Shauna was sharing- her desire to do more and more things to try to prove herself- which actually ends up in being distracted and tired and burnt out, and specifically her work choices. Until I read these lines ‘yes, I will lay down this frantic way of living. Yes, I will show up to the event that I’ve been invited to. This event, of course, is my life.’ I try not to stuff our lives full, to avoid that crazy state that can easily be achieved. Yet like Shauna, who was working hard to stay busy ‘avoiding the emptiness.’- I can instead distract myself away from seeing the uncomfortable things in my life- or things that need doing that I feel overwhelmed by. I loved her writing style and did really find it a thought provoking read in the end.
Mary Poppins – PL Travers
In preparation for seeing the new film and also as I was finishing my Mary Poppins themed Whimsy and Wonderland box- I re-read this lovely classic. What I particularly love about the books about this famous nanny is that each chapter is like a standalone adventure and it’s really easy to dip and out of. Her character and quirks are so lovely, and whilst the films are definitely different I think the spirit of Mary Poppins remains throughout. I have the sequels so I’m looking forward to re-reading those again before too long.
The Secret Keeper– Kate Morton
If you don’t remember, Kate Morton is one of my newest favourite authors and I’m trying not to binge-read all of her books. I found this in the library and couldn’t resist though, and it’s probably my favourite fiction book I’ve read this month. As always the story flits between contemporary life and life in and just before World War II, as Laurel seeks to unearth more about her mothers’ life before marriage and children- and more importantly decode the mystery surrounding a traumatic event she witnessed as a teenager. I found the characterisation and the use of the different timelines and people was done really well and as always it’s been a wonderful read that I struggled to put down!
Bridget Jones’ Baby – Helen Fielding
I read the earlier Bridget Jones books many moons ago and thought it would be nice to enjoy something light when I saw this one at the library. I haven’t actually seen the film yet, but this was a quick and funny read that made the grey days a bit more tolerable!
Of Mice and Men– John Steinbeck
I had no idea how short this one was, and really no idea what to expect but this packs a punch. Following George and his friend Lennie as they start on a new ranch for work, and the unfortunate events that occur there, with Lennie a victim of his own strength and lack of understanding, despite George’s efforts to take care of him. With powerful themes of friendship and loneliness I can see why this one is often an English literature text in schools, and I’m still thinking about it a few days on.
Grace not Perfection– Emily Ley
I had half read this and decided it was time to finish- Emily walks really graciously through different areas of life and encourages us to be people who live for what really matters, with love and grace and purpose that God gives. I’ve followed her online for a while and love how she strips it back while sharing her story to help us remember what matters most when you look at life a bit more simply.
Decluttering at the Speed of Life– Dana K White
This is a really great practical book that walks you through some really helpful questions when it comes to decluttering, and works through the different areas of your house applying those questions. While organising and sorting is really helpful, Dana reminds us that having less stuff is a lot easier to keep controlled- and shares some great techniques for how we think about our homes and possessions. If you’re overwhelmed by Marie Kondo’s technique of getting everything out and making a huge project and a huge mess- Dana’s advice helps you to declutter in a way that means it improves rather than gets worse in the process, especially if you get interrupted! I’ve been busy taking bags of bits and pieces out to the car and it’s always nice to have some extra breathing room mentally as a result of less physical stuff. (Her other book is also excellent, How to manage your home without losing your mind)
Reading People– Anne Bogel
I found this a really helpful little breakdown of some of the most common personality frameworks and systems. If you’re curious about any of the personality frameworks or just want a quick overview before digging into any of them in depth, this is a great book for that. I’ve found it helpful for understanding some I had a vague understanding of, and giving me ideas of other resources or books that I might want to read next- The Road back to You probably being one I’ll want to check out!
This month has been a lot of library and kindle reads, so I’m hoping to get a few more off my to-be-read shelf at home and finished during February, in between birthdays and decluttering spells and the rest of normal life!