27: Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

At Anne Bogel’s repeated recommendation I listened to this on audio last year and loved it. Of the 200+ books I read last year, this was my favorite. I made a friend from work read it (hi Josh) and this month I made my book club read it.

I even made my own Museum of Civilization in my living room for our event next week!!

The writing is lovely, the story is fantastic, and the timing is perfect: Hello Covid19! I’ve read more of her books and can’t wait for the new one. Nothing is in chronological order, so if timelines are hard for you, be warned; but you know everything you need to know in the order you need to know it.

This re-read lived up to the hype and my original ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating! Might be even better in paperback so you can read faster than the narrator!!

26: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Trouble Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

A friend sent me this book after she finished it saying “it was ok, pretty sad, kinda historical fiction, I guess.” Because I don’t turn down free books, especially books about books, I asked if she’d send it to me. I brought it on my trip to Italy as some light reading.

In the lobby before we left one day I was telling our priest about it, and his summary (even though he has no interest in reading it) was entirely on point. “An allegory on racism”

Cussy, also known as Bluet or Book Woman, is one of the last “blue people” in Kentucky (and probably the world), She’s discriminated against just like anyone of color was in the 1940s. They treat her like her blueness can rub off on them, which is ridiculous … but something people of color have heard for centuries all over the world.

Just when you think she’s going to get a “happily ever after” racism strikes again. The story is sad. Her personal experience is fiction, but the blue people are not, and neither are the pack horse librarians. It was fascinating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

25: The Solid Grounds Coffee Company

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company by Carla Laureno

I started listening to this on the plane because I was tired and didn’t want to venture into my printed book. It’s the 3rd in a series that I’ve really been enjoying called “The Supper Club Series”. This is the final book and thing are wrapped up pretty well.

I listened on my flight over to London and finished during my layover. I may have missed a few part from some dozing because they referenced something near the end that I wasn’t sure I remembered hearing earlier in the book.

This story follows Ana and Brian (who sounded like Ryan every time the narrator said his name). They both have a past, Brian’s a little more recent than hers, but she’s been covering things up because she believes everyone blames her for something that was so clearly someone else’s fault.

Why does she do this? Because her parents blame her. Why? Because he’s a good family friend. Oh complicated histories.

I think the other two books in this series are better, but this was a nice conclusion! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

24: Dear Edward

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

In a few hours I’m getting on a plane to chase a dream across an ocean … so what do I spend the day doing? Reading a book about a plane crash. Why? Because Annie B. Jones loved it, recommended it, and Book of the Month Club sent it to me in December.

And it was SO good. Delightfully good. Can you say that about a book that features a plane crash where only one boy survives? Well, I just did, so I guess someone can.

The thing about flying and plane crashes is that I have no control over keeping the plane in the air, therefore nothing I do or say can take it out of the air. They’re also rare. That’s the story I’m telling myself, and nothing you say will change it … at least not until after I’ve flown the last flight of my life many, many years from now.

Edward is the sole survivor. The book follows, in alternate chapters, his life after the crash and the day of the crash. It’s beautifully written, and heart breaking, but in the best way only the best books are.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

23: Cilka’s Journey

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

We read The Tattooist of Auschwitz for book club back in the fall and it was captivating and also a love story. We were first introduced to Cilka in that book. This follow up story of her journey after Auschwitz was heart breaking and beautifully written.

I listened in the car over the past few weeks, which was at times hard to handle. She is arrested while her friends are freed from Auschwitz by the Russian for “cooperating with the enemy” … because she was the head guard’s sex slave while she was in the camp. If you’re confused as to why she was arrested for being raped, you’re in good company.

She was sentenced to 15 additional years in a Russian prison camp in Siberia (used literally, not figuratively). There she became a nurse, delivered babies, and fell in love. The story of this woman (a real life person) and others in these prison camps should make us uncomfortable. I never even knew this was a thing … freedom wasn’t given to everyone when the Nazi Work/Death Camps were liberated.

This is a story we can never forget because if we do, we’re destined to repeat it. Always remember, share with everyone, evaluate what we’re doing today and let’s ensure we never repeat it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

P.s There’s an author interview at the end of the audio that’s fantastic!!

22: Little Beach Street Bakery

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

A few months ago I went to R J Julia’s book shop in Madison, CT on my way to the airport from my aunt and uncle’s place. I wanted to find a book to have a souvenir and saw the 3rd in this series on the Christmas Clearance table … and since I’m not one to own only part of a series, I picked up the first two as well.

Since I’m on my “no books from the library until after I get back from Europe” kick, I decided to pull it off the shelve for some reading.

Polly’s life goes up in flames when her idiot of a boyfriend and her have to declare bankruptcy on their business. She moves into a dreadful flat on an island that is cut off from the mainland much of the day and winter. Over the course of the winter she finds herself. She begins baking the most amazing bread and ends up opening, then owning a bakery.

There’s a little love story, but it’s really such a small part of the story. Quite a delight! Jenny Colgan has done it again! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21: The Bookshop on the Shore

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

I delighted in this book as I knew I would when I picked it up when I was Waco at the newly opened Fabled Bookshop back in September. Jenny Colgan writes books about books as a book lover. She had a beautiful introduction to the first in this “not called a series, but they’re so closely connected” books. In this one she even inserts herself as an author into one of the later chapters.

There were a lot of run on sentences, which while this does not make for high literature … I loved because that’s how I write and speak (hence this sentence, for instance). Zoe was a delightful character. She becomes an au pair to a trio of kids who live in a very large house and have been parenting themselves since their mother left.

I loved the characters, I delighted in the writing, and I definitely recommend this book if you enjoy chatty people and books. Also, read the first one first, then this one. The first one is known as “The Bookshop on the Corner” even though it’s not the first in a series, you’ll miss a bunch of the references in this book! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️