If you’ve been here awhile you know that I love to read. We all do over here at the Robinson house, and I am so glad that I get to have my own private book club everyday, chatting with my kids about what they are currently reading/re-reading. (We are big re-readers in our house.)
The last couple years, as we’ve gotten busier and busier, I’ve found it harder to read/get through books. By the time I’d lay down at night to read, I was so exhausted that I would just pass out after a page. This does not a high quality reading experience make.
And then COVID happened. And suddenly we had a lot less going on, and I had TIME! It was magnificent! I was going to read, really read again! A week before the shutdown happened, when we knew it was coming. I grabbed a couple new books my friend Janssen recommended and figured they would be a good distraction during the "few weeks" (or so we naively thought) when we were all locked down. Well those first initial weeks, turned into months and I finished those books and then went ahead and read ten more and we’re still in Corona land so I’m thinking I’m going to do a lot more reading before the end of the year…That’s one big drink of lemonade from this lemon situation. I’ve absolutely loved being able to really sit down and read again.
Here are all the books I’ve read during quarantine, a little about them and why I love them.
These are the first two books I read during quarantine. This is a charming little YA romantic comedy book series. I’ve read two of the three and they are lots of fun, and quick, easy, light reads. They were perfect during those first few extra stressful weeks of the initial lockdown. A great escape. Basic Plot: Lara Jean writes love letters to all the crushes she’s ever had and keeps them hidden in a box. And then one day someone sends them… that’s when the trouble/fun starts. Like I said, they’re light and cute. I still haven’t read the third in the series, but I’m sure I’ll get around to it in the next couple months.
After paying $20 to rent this darling movie not once, but twice during the first month of quarantine, I decided it was time to revisit this Jane Austen’s spunky comedy. There’s reason why Jane Austen remains a favorite of mine, I can’t read her books without marveling at her brilliant and clever writing style. If you’ve never read Jane Austen, start with Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion; then read this one. Also, be patient. It takes a few pages to get used to the cadence and the style of older writing but it’s worth it. Basic Plot: Emma Woodhouse, beautiful, clever and wealthy, does not need a husband. She does, however love meddling in the romantic lives of those around her. Her matchmaking efforts cause all kinds of fun trouble and of course there’s plenty of romance because hello, it’s Jane Austen. Emma is charmingly imperfect, and I have been obsessed with Knightly since I was a teenager.
The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale.
This is actually a 4 book series, and I reread them all again over the last couple months. Shannon Hale is an incredible writer and I love every thing I’ve every read of hers. She’s one of Hannah’s favorite authors too and I think she was in 4th grade when she first read them. (Hannah is a pretty advanced reader, so don’t think you’ll be bored with these as an adult, they’re awesome.). Your kids will love them too, especially if they like reading. My boys love these books just as much as me and Hannah. I’ll break it down by book.
The Goose Girl: a retelling of the classic Grimm fairytale and so much better! She starts with the basic story and then runs with it, and by the end of the series you almost forget it started that way. Basic plot: Ani is a princess traveling to a new country to wed the future king when her lady in waiting mutinies and takes her place as the process, while Ani goes into hiding as the Goose Girl, discovers a power she didn’t know she had and then things get really interesting. Shannon Hale writes so beautifully you feel like you’re in the story, and the book is lots of fun.
Enna Burning: this is my favorite of the Books of Bayern and it follows Ani’s best friend Enna. I think I love this book most because it’s centered on Enna and she is my favorite character. She’s funny and spunky and the writing is again top-notch. Basic Plot: Enna discovers her own power and when war comes to Bayern she must use it to save the kingdom and herself before it consumes her. It’s so good.
River Secrets: This one follows Razo, another one of Ani’s friends from her Goose Girl days. Razo comes in like a force in the Goose Girl and makes himself dang useful in Enna Burning… you can tell that his character was just begging for his own story, and it’s a whole lot of fun. Basic Plot: Razo is short and spunky, (so naturally I like him as a character) and when he joins the guard that accompanies the ambassador to the country they were just at war with, lots of trouble and fun happens. You meet a new character with a new power and she’s great. I love that Shannon Hale gives the girls the powers in her books.
Forest Born: this is the last of the books of Bayern and follows Razo’s little sister Rin. All the strong female characters come together in this book and I love it. Basic plot: Rin is the youngest daughter of a forest family and has never left the trees. Determined to find a new sense of self, Rin joins her brother Razo into the city, where she discovers that a mysterious threat haunts Bayern. She joins with three magical girls–Isi, Enna, and Dasha–as they venture toward the kingdom of Kel . . . where someone wants them dead.
Switching gears a little bit on this one, as this is not a novel, but it is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life and I re-read it anytime I get overly troubled. I reread it in June after all of the rioting and unrest. I was starting to get really bad anxiety again and just a horrible feeling of dread, coupled with the grief that leads up to my stillborn baby Ruby’s birthday (which was June 21), I could feel myself slipping. A book that teaches you to find purpose and strength in times of great despair, it has been there for me in some really dark times and every time I reread it, it helps me pull myself up by the bootstraps and climb out again. Here’s a brief synopsis because I couldn’t say it better:
"Viktor Frankl’s riveting account of his time in the Nazi concentration camps, and his insightful exploration of the human will to find meaning in spite of the worst adversity, has offered solace and guidance to generations of readers since it was first published in 1946. At the heart of Frankl’s theory of logotherapy (from the Greek word for "meaning") is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what the individual finds meaningful. Today, as new generations face new challenges and an ever more complex and uncertain world, Frankl’s classic work continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living, in spite of all obstacles."
Every single person should read this book. Period.
Another amazing personal development book. This book is more like a bunch of small thoughts/essays, and the wisdom in it is so powerful and relevant to our lives today. Seriously, if everyone read Man’s Search for Meaning and Meditations and then lived by the principles in these two books, our world would be so much better. Marcus Aurelius was a stoic and the last great Roman Emperor. This book is a "series of exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’s insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style."
Okay, back to the novels! This is the most recent books I’ve read and I LOVED it. It’s a historical fiction and tells the fictional story behind the Vermeer painting The Girl with the Pearl earring. The prose are beautiful and Chevalier paints a beautiful picture of 1665 Delft Holland and the characters are interesting and well drawn. Basic Plot: 16-year-old Griet, takes a job as a maid the Johannes Vermeer’s household, where her life is transformed and she soon becomes the subject of one of his most celebrated works. Honestly, this book is so well written and believable, it feels like it could be how the painting came about.
There you go! All the books I’ve read during quarantine! Have you read any great books?! Share them in the comments.