Here we are in mid-November. Fall is nearing its end and winter is approaching, which means shorter days and colder weather. Theoretically anyway. Today it’s nearing 80 degrees again, but hope springs eternal right? Anyway, I’m ignoring the current temperatures and looking forward to spending many an afternoon and evening curled up on the couch with a cozy throw and a good book. I had fallen into the bad habit of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook whenever I had some downtime. But I’ve found that I reaching for a book instead is a soul-filling rather than mind-numbing experience. If it’s been a while since you read an actual book here are a few of my favorites to inspire you:
1. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
This story brings together a single mother raising two unconventional kids and a wealthy but lonely businessman who has just made the biggest mistake of his career. These unlikely characters end up banding together to drive the woman’s daughter to a maths competition that will change the course of her academic career and ultimately her life (yes, maths. It’s set in Great Britain). The characters are quirky and loveable, the love story is predictable but engaging, and the ending wraps up with a nice bow and leaves you satisfied and happy. There are some deep themes explored here but in a matter-of-fact, breezy way that never drags down the story.
Note: Moyes made a name for herself with the huge best-seller Me Before You, which I haven’t read (I’m not a fan of gut-wrenching, tragic endings) but I promise this story will warm your heart, not break it in pieces. 😉
2. Street of the Five Moons (Vicki Bliss series) by Elizabeth Peters
This book is perfect for the armchair traveler. It starts in picturesque Munich, Germany but the action quickly moves to Italy. Vicki Bliss is an art historian and amateur sleuth who stumbles upon an art forgery ring and a suave, unprincipled but engaging master thief named “John Smith.” Vicki’s sheer audacity and propensity to rush in where angels fear to tread make this a fast-paced page turner filled with interesting yet dangerous characters and just the right amount of unwilling attraction between her and John, which is explored further in the rest of the series. The third book, Trojan Gold, is a fun winter read set in the Alps around Christmastime.
3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This story isn’t exactly lighthearted like the first two picks, but it’s such a fantastic story. It tells of Ove, a stereotypical grumpy old man who strikes up a reluctant friendship with his new neighbors, a young couple and their children. The story unfolds in a series of flashbacks to Ove’s past where we learn the hardships he’s faced and the downright tragedies that have shaped him into the cantankerous curmudgeon he is now. This book would be a total downer if it weren’t for the hope and light he finds in the unlikeliest of places…his neighbors. The author is an expert at weaving together the past and the present and the ending, while not exactly happy, is extremely satisfying.
4. Wicked Fix (Home Repair Mysteries series) by Sarah Graves
I love a good cozy mystery series, and this is a great one. You don’t necessarily have to read them in order, and this third book is one of my favorites. Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree took her son and left an extremely lucrative but destructive career (along with her very successful but philandering husband) in New York for a tiny town in “down-east” Maine, where she bought a huge, dilapidated old mansion and set about learning how to restore it herself. She finds a true friend in Ellie, a native of the town, and together they solve mysteries and murders in between home improvement projects. The characters are rich and interesting, and the setting is absolutely idyllic (I could never survive winters in Maine, but I love visiting in these books). The later books take a darker turn, but the first few won’t curl your toes too much.
5. The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris
I could write a whole post about this book, and I’m only halfway through. Part memoir, part essay, this short but thought-provoking read addresses our everyday routines and suggests that simple, daily rhythms and chores like cooking dinner and doing laundry are actually pathways to a deeper walk with God and a richer spiritual life. She references modern monks, poetry, and her own experiences, and leaves the reader feeling hopeful and empowered. The ideas in this book are feeding my soul. If you ever struggle with the mundane, repetitive tasks that make up our days this book is definitely a must-read!
Your turn. Do you have any books that would be the perfect companion to a warm blanket and a cup of tea on a dreary afternoon? Please share!