I retired in 2011 and finally had the time to do some serious reading. One of the things I decided to do was to go back and actually read some of the books that I had been asked to read for various classes and never had truly read. I passed all those classes, by the way, with flying colors. Undoubtedly my superpower has something to do with a higher than average level of something I like to call BS-ability. I started with a belated mental apology to my ninth grade English teacher as I read A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. I followed up with all those I lied about in college: The Brothers Karamazov, Don Quixote, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Robinson Crusoe, and even the infamous Moby Dick. Are all of these books wonderful? Of course, they’re all examples of great literature! Does each of these books resonate equally with all readers? Of course not, each of us brings our own life experiences to our reading armchairs when we sit down with a good book.
That being said, here are a few other entries on my Later Life Redemptive Reading List. These are books that resonated with me on every level and I am very thankful that I was:
1. asked to read them early in life so that I could
2. neglect to read them when assigned so that I could
3. read them later in life and bring a full set of life experiences to the armchair.
And so, in no particular order (except that I put my favorite first):
The Grapes of Wrath is the story of an Oklahoma family forced off their farm in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. They travel to California in search of work and a new home.
I’m glad I lied about reading it as a student, because I really enjoyed reading it as an adult. This is a “no-duh” for most of you, but I finally figured out what the “grapes of wrath” were, and where they were stored, and why we should hope they will be trampled. What a great title! His wife came up with it. Steinbeck was going to call it The Harvest Gypsies. He wrote it to tell the plight of migrant farm workers and it does so admirably. But it should also be on the I Have Read bookshelf of every feminist. That Ma Joad! “Man, he lives in jerks…Woman, it’s all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that…Ever’thing we do —seems to me is aimed right at going on…Jus’ try to live the day, jus’ the day.” What a memorable character! What great lines! What a great book!
This is Janie’s story. She is a Southern Black woman whose life shines with independence, strength and wit even though burdened with poverty, social injustice and the trials of early century womanhood. I love love love this book for three reasons. Hurston’s poetic imagery and her stylistic wordsmithing are outstanding. She is able to immerse the reader in the culture of Black 1920s rural Florida. It’s captivating. Janie’s story is every woman’s story and Hurston tells it artfully in this novel. It’s empowering.Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
George and Lenny are itinerant ranch hands in Depression Era California.Their friendship is endearing, priceless, and ill-fated. It’s a short little book (just around 100 pages), but in those pages Steinbeck packs all the feels. One of the characteristics of great literature is that each rereading provides new discovery. Of Mice and Men certainly qualifies as great literature in that regard. Because I know how it ends, each time I read it I am sad through the whole dang thing. It’s so tragic and desolate. Each time Lenny talks about the little farm and “livin’ off the fat of the land” it gut punches me. Steinbeck writes in a very direct, realistic, honest way about the disenfranchised of America’s Great Depression. I hate to read it, but I’ll read it again and again. Maybe one day I’ll read it and Lenny and George will get their little piece of land in the end.
Because I avoid reading romance books with cowboys (just not my thing) I kind of put Western in that same category and never read it. Thankfully Entangled Publishing saw to rectify my mistake by sending me a book with a fabulous cover, awesome title, great blurb, and trapped me into reading it. And now that I've read it... I need the next one in the series!
Now that you know my history with Western Romances you will understand when I say I went into this book with zero expectations. In my mind I just had: "it sounds fun. It better have some humor". Boy did it have some humor! Gray "Quick Shot" may be good and quick with a gun, but the guy is the laziest man I've ever read about. I think there is talk of napping every three or so pages. And I don't mention that in a negative way, it's hilarious. Gray wants to believe he is retired from shooting people and all he wants is peace and quiet, preferably with a hot meal- the meal doesn't even have to be good. And considering our main female character is absolutely terrible in the kitchen, that is his only choice if he is to stay in the small town of Desolation.
Mercy was his opposite in almost every way. She doesn't have one lazy bone in her body and is a very intense character. She has opinions, questions, wishes, things to do, place to be... But she is a woman and one of her neighbors wants her land bad. Bad enough that although she is a tough cookie she might not be tough enough alone. Bad enough that having Mr "Quick Shot" around as her fake fiancé and then real husband is the only choice she has.
Their relationship was amusing. There was plenty of banter, sarcasm, and chemistry. All the secondary characters were entertaining as well. I need more, and so will you!
Trees are fascinating subjects. I am obsessed with tree books and try to read all that I can find. But most of these focus on a tree's root systems or how they influence the forest floor to support life. Not many of these books delve into the canopy of these trees, until now. This is the subject of Meg Lowman’s book The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us. Meg Lowman or “CanopyMeg” and the “real-life Lorax” as she is more affectionately known is an american biologist, educator and champion of tree conservation. This book details the author's dual journey as she makes her literal ascent into the treetops and her rise to fame in a male dominated science community.
The winners for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association 2022 Northwest Book Awards have been announced. These books were selected from more than 400 nominated titles published in 2021 by a dedicated volunteer committee of independent booksellers. Have fun reading!
It’s 2022 now and with the new year many of us look to the future by trying to better ourselves. It’s an innately optimistic thing to do and we all need an extra dose of optimism these days! With that in mind, we here at Inklings would like to share with you a few ideas for books that might help you fulfill your New Year's resolutions.
Taking up hobbies is a popular resolution, and knitting is one of the most accessible ones there is. Vogue® has been prolific in it’s knitting guides the past few years. The color photographs are chic and professional and the directions concise. The book gives great instructions for all the basic stitches, cast ons and bind offs with photographs of each step using perfectly color coordinated backdrops so you can easily see the stitching.
After instructing on the stitches the book offers patterns for some basic clothes ranking them from one to three by difficulty and displays them elegantly and stylishly. This is a great book by writers that are obviously passionate about empowering their readers to create clothes they love with a personal touch.
This book has been on our bestseller shelf almost all of 2020 and for good reason! It is a lifetime of research into psychological trauma written into a poignant and emotionally stirring book. This is a great read for anyone who feels like they’re not handling something from their past now and wants to change that. It provides understanding of how trauma affects people differently, and explains how treatments for overcoming trauma have evolved over the past 50 years. The written accounts of various therapy subjects will bring you to tears and will teach you how resilient the human mind is.
Written by the Chief Scientific Officer of WW (Formerly Weight Watchers) this book explains the mindset behind the success stories. These mindset tools are honestly great for just about any task that is daunting or requires commitment. Each chapter focuses on a separate tool, the first is Self Compassion. The second is accepting setbacks. The third is setting small specific goals. The Fourth is identifying inner strengths and using them. The fifth is appreciating your body (where you are right now). The sixth is getting help from people around you. The seventh (final) is experiencing happiness where you are right now.
This isn’t a book with exercises and recipes, but it offers something potentially more important because it’s the lasting mindset that turns a new year's resolution into real change for the better. This book is good enough that it could be used for weight loss but then take the same approach to write a novel or start a business.
Happy New Year from the booksellers here at Inklings. 2022 promises to be a year of transition and we look forward to helping our readers navigate the changes of the coming year. Remember, taking time to read more books is also a perfectly valid resolution!
The Expanse Series began 10 years ago with Leviathan Wakes. Eight novels later it concludes it’s run with Leviathan Falls just as Prime is releasing the final season of the TV adaptation. By those measures it’s been a successful franchise. Should you read it now that it’s finished?
The series is science fiction, but also a political drama dealing with the consequences of humans suddenly finding the technological remnants of a long-dead galaxy-spanning alien race. This is the core premise of all nine books of the Expanse series. How would humanity react finding alien technology for the first time? How would our first interstellar forays go if we were using alien technology we didn’t understand in order to do it?
When your power depends on the sun and the seasons that come with it, what will happen
when unpredictable weather threatens not just the shaders (non magical beings) but the witches
as well? Clara Densmore is an Everwitch, the first one in a hundred years. She is the only witch
alive who can control magic in each season. The fate of nature rests on her shoulders. But
being the most powerful witch comes with a price. Her magic seeks out the people she loves the
most and after the death of someone she loved, she refuses to get close to anyone again. Can
she learn to control her magic or will it continue to take everything she holds dear as the planet
she loves continues to die.
In a conversation with Clara, one of the characters says,“Never let anyone make you feel bad
about the things you’re capable of. Some will insist you step into the shadows to make them
more comfortable. But I’ll tell you a secret: there’s enough light for us all.”
This quote from the book illustrates the beautiful message of accepting who you are to the
fullest and not apologizing for what makes you spark. In dark times never forget, there is
enough light to shine on you.
Rachel Griffin does a breathtaking job of taking you through a journey of self-discovery and self-
acceptance. I love the idea of magic and being something extraordinary. The idea of being more
than can be intoxicating. This book does a beautiful job of showing the things we dream about
can come with burdens yet you should never give up on love and you should never give up on
Whether you are a witch, a human, or anything in between, who you are greatly matters and
there is strength in accepting that truth.