This month’s category is “a book recommended by someone with great taste.” I thought it would be fun to share some picks from a few of the readers I look to for help when I’m trying to decide what to read next. I asked them what book they’d recommend to me or to Modern Mrs Darcy readers. These are their answers:
Amy Clark blogs at Mom Advice about everything moms might be interested in. I love that her understanding of those categories includes lots of good books. Amy reads piles of contemporary fiction, and I look to her when I’m weighing whether or not to read a hot new release.
I read this beautiful book in just a couple of short days and absolutely fell in love with it. If you don’t fall in love with these characters, I fear for you. It’s that endearing. In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother’s Mississippi home. Starla’s destination is Nashville, where her mother went to become a famous singer, abandoning Starla when she was three. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. Now, on the road trip that will change her life forever, Starla sees for the first time life as it really is—as she reaches for a dream of how it could one day be. This book is so beautiful your heart aches. A coming-of-age story about what it means to be family and how the most unlikely people can be a part of that despite all racial and societal barriers. More info →
Emily Freeman is the author of Simply Tuesday and blogger at Chatting at the Sky, which she calls “a space for your soul to breathe,” and where she regularly shares her recommended reads.
"Because so much of my faith journey from high school through my early twenties was defined by rules, discipline, and perfectionism, I have been weary of anything that hints at that in books that I read. I discovered Ruth's writing a few years ago at a time in my life when I started to return to the idea of spiritual practices from a more healthy perspective, not as a rule but as a rhythmic way of life. This book was a lovely introduction for me into the importance of the practice of solitude and silence. Her voice is accessible and has helped to inform my own writing and life." More info →
Katie Gibson blogs about savoring the everyday at Cakes, Tea and Dreams. She posts regular updates on what she’s reading, a nice mix of old and new, kid lit and adult, fiction and memoir. She’s quite good at the one-paragraph summary. (When I did literary matchmaking for Katie I called it fiction recommendations for the anglophile.
"I read and loved Charlotte's Web as a child, of course, but only discovered White's work for grown-ups a few years ago. He wrote regularly and prolifically for The New Yorker, and this essay collection contains about 30 of his meditations on (among other things) farm life, baseball, humor, technological progress, political turmoil, childhood memories and his deep affection for New York. He is wise, witty, often self-deprecating, quietly intelligent and a keen observer. I've read nearly everything he's written over the last several years and would recommend it all - but this sparkling, eclectic collection is a good place to start." More info →
Jessica Howard is a serious booklover and former bookstore worker who blogs at Quirky Bookworm. She reads way more YA and historical fiction picks than I do, and I rely on her to send the best ones my way.
"I like to say that Georgette Heyer is like Jane Austen, but funnier. She wrote more than sixty books in a variety of genres, but my favorite are her Regency romances. They’re clever, wordy, vivid depictions of 19th century life in the British upper class. Frederica is one of Heyer’s best heroines - resourceful, funny, and intelligent. And the way she and her cast of hilariously demanding younger siblings take down the bored Marquis of Alverstoke? Priceless. Watching him transform from a top-lofty dilettante into someone who cares deeply about Frederica and her family is irresistible." More info →
Leigh Kramer is a self-described book nerd and shares frequent updates on the reading life and what she’s reading on her eponymous blog. Our tastes overlap but aren’t identical: she puts lots of good books on my radar, and can tell me truly if they’re worth my time.
"I read this earlier this year and if I could make the entire world read it, I would. It's eye opening and important and powerful. Stevenson has done incredible work through the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal practice he started, dedicated to serving the poor, the marginalized, the downtrodden. The book is part memoir, part treatise on the state of the legal system. We follow the story of Walter, a man on Alabama's Death Row who proclaims his innocence, and meet Stevenson's other clients as he built his practice in the 1980s and the subsequent areas of injustice they've battled to this day, including death penalty sentences for children and the treatment of the mentally ill. There's also a surprising appearance by To Kill A Mockingbird—the irony and ignorance will knock you flat." More info →
Crystal Paine blogs about intentional finance, intentional family, and intentional business at Money Saving Mom. Crystal reads widely, including lots of nonfiction that wouldn’t otherwise be on my radar.
Probably the most life-changing book for me to read in recent years. I know it's not some obscure book, but it's the one I'm constantly recommending. This book impacted me deeply and my life will never be the same as a result. In fact, I was so challenged by it that I had a necklace made that I wear almost all the time as a reminder. More info →
Marybeth Whalen is a published author and co-founder of the excellent online book club site She Reads, which shares excellent fiction recommendations aimed at women:
"Apart from any surprises the audio version, narrated by George Newbern, is holding out as my favorite read this year. The way Newbern portrays Ove—I literally laughed and cried in the span of two pages. I'm listening to Every Fifteen Minutes narrated by him now. It is possible I've given myself a reading challenge of bingeing on a large number of books he's narrated. #narratorcrush" More info →
Michelle runs the instagram account Book Musings (it’s one of my favorites), where she regularly inspires envy among book-lovers with photographs of her beautiful classics collection.
Someone at a Distance is a quiet novel as far as plot goes but Whipple is an expert at fleshing out her characters and her psychological insight into the human mind and heart is unmatched. Whipple is a natural storyteller and her books make for compulsive reading; you can't help but turn the page. It starts off as a simple story of a middle class happy family living in England after WWII. Ellen and Avery have been married for twenty years and have two children. They are happily living their lives, to the envy of some of the people who know them, when Avery's mother advertises for a companion. The French young woman who arrives sets her sights on Avery and threatens the happy marriage. As Whipple states, "Things go wrong, even in exceptionally happy families." Whipple writes the kind of stories that linger in your mind long after you finish them. I'm hoping more people discover and read them because they're just so good! More info →