Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Open Book for September 2022


I'm joining up with Carolyn Astfalk who hosts an #OpenBook Linkup on Here's what I've been reading this past month.  This month was somewhat discouraging. Most of the leisure reads that I read on Sundays turned out to be disappointing. They started out promising enough but then degenerated, so I didn't finish them. Hopefully next month will be better. The dates indicate when I finished the books I did read. Thanks for stopping by!

8/5/22 - Happily Ever Amish - Shelley Shepard Gray - Addie Byler has always been an outsider in her Amish community of Apple Creek, Ohio. Her mother abandoned her as a little girl and left her with her grandmother to raise. She's quiet and shy and owns a pet rescue donkey. When Daniel Miller decides to start writing her secret admirer letters in order to maybe help Addie gain some self-confidence, he soon discovers she has much to offer, but he has no idea how to turn their pretend relationship into a real one and fears Addie will hate him if she discovers the truth. I enjoy Amish romance and this was a good one.  (Read for a book review publication).

8/7/22 Humankind: A Hopeful History - Rutger Bregman. This one was recommended to me by my 19-year-old son. On the downside, the author is possibly an atheist (he doesn't come right out and say it, but that seems to be the case) and dismisses organized religion. However, the vast majority of this book is consistent with a Christian view of life. Bregman challenges the prevailing view that most people are bad and out to get us with one that argues people are basically good. He takes a deep dive into many famous psychological studies that are taught in college courses and refutes their findings. He talks about the ways our social institutions fail us and offers ten rules to live by that could help make the world a kinder, gentler place. It was extremely thought-provoking. It was also written before the pandemic. I wonder what the author's take on recent history would be. I can't verify that every word in this book is true, but I found it fascinating and thought-provoking and I am glad I read it. 

8-10-22 Habits of Freedom: 5 Ignatian Tools for Clearing Your Mind and Resting Daily in the Lord - Christopher S. Collins, S.J. - This book is primarily about discernment of spirits in your life, figuring out where the Holy Spirit is leading you as opposed to the evil one who always wants to lead us away from God. The goals of this book are to help you: 1) Establish imaginative frameworks for how to interpret what goes on in your daily life, 2) Pay attention to your moods and perceptions of reality; 3) Resist negative influences, 4) Develop spiritual and emotional growth and resiliency, and 5) Combat discouragement, resentment, and fear so that you can live more freely and generously. This was a book I had in my purse for quite a while and would pull it out when I had a free moment and read a few pages. It was written during Covid lockdowns so the author speaks a great deal about those feelings of isolation which may not be as relevant now. Still, for anyone looking to learn more about Ignatian discernment, this is a short, helpful book. 


8-13-12 What Would Monica Do? - Patti Maguire Armstrong and Roxane Beauclair Salomen - St. Monica prayed for his son's Augustine's conversion for 17 years. He ultimately became a great saint, offering hope for all who pray for family members who have left the Catholic faith. This new book is a must-read for anyone praying for someone to return to the Church. It offers hope and consolation. 

8-14-22 The Foundling - Ann Leary - Two girls grow up together in an Catholic orphanage until one leaves to live with her aunt when she is 12. Six years later, in 1927, the one who left gets a job working as a secretary at the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. The other is an inmate. The secretary's conscience works on her as she tries to figure out a way to help her friend (who is clearly not feebleminded) while not losing her job. This story is based on real-life institutions that were created as part of the Eugenics movement. The idea was if you locked up women of diminished intellectual or moral capacity during their childbearing years, they wouldn't be able to have children. This novel helps shed light on that dark chapter of history. There is one sex scene (that was completely  and some discussion of sexual abuse as well as other difficult topics. This one is definitely an older teen / adult book, but I enjoyed the suspense-filled story and historical insight.   

8/23/22 - Pretty Little Pieces - Carmen Schober - Couple Georgina Havoc and Lance Broussard are supposed to be the next big thing in the design world, but when Georgina has an unexpected pregnancy that ends in miscarriage, Lance walks out and Georgina is left to put her life back together with the help of her best friend Poppy and a new man in her life who helps bring her to God. This story hit all the Christian romance genre expectations. There is nothing wrong with it, but it left me feeling "meh".  (Read for a book review publication). 


9/4/22 - History of the Springfield Cemetery - Joseph Carvalho III and Wayne E. Phaneuf - This is a book about the main non-sectarian cemetery in my city of Springfield, MA. It is a beautiful cemetery with the graves of many notable local personages including veterans of the colonial wars and American Revolution. This book explored the history of the cemetery and highlighted some of the notable graves. It is full of color photographs and was a joy to look through.

 9/6/22 The Sisters of Sea View - Julie Klassen - This first book in a new series reminded me a bit of reading a Jane Austen book (that's a good thing). A family of women in 1819 England is in reduced circumstances after their father's death and is forced to open their home to paid guests, each of whom brings their own story. It is a great set-up for a series. The sisters are interesting, there is romance, and the constant movement of guests provides a great deal of fodder for stories. I enjoyed it! (Read for a book review publication).

Since spring of 2019, I have been making my way through the Great Books Curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College (I'm currently working on the readings for sophomore year). 

The Rise of Rome, Books 1 -5 - Livy - I've been trudging through this one.  I'm currently in book 4. Titus Livius lived from 59BC - AD17. He was a historian who felt that it was important to study the past so that you would choose what to imitate. I admire his desire to record the history and this record is important for our understanding of Rome. However, I find it dreadfully dull. There are lots of wars, a lot of civil strife. I've never been one for military history.


My eleven-year-old daughter and I read the following book this month:


8/11/22 - The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan. My daughter and I have been making our way through the Percy Jackson series. In this edition, Percy and his friends undertake a perilous voyage to save their summer camp and another half-blood.


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AnneMarie said...

The Foundling sounds really intriguing-adding it to my list right now!

Carolyn Astfalk said...

I've enjoyed Shelley Shepard Gray books but haven't read any of her Amish novels yet. It's been a while since I've read a Julie Klassen novel, but I enjoy her writing. I like what you said about Pretty Little Pieces. Nothing wrong with it but left you feeling 'meh.' I have that feeling sometimes and like trying to tear apart exactly what the author did or didn't do that left me feeling that way. Thanks for linking to An Open book!

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