Five Winter Reads

It was fall for about five minutes where I live, and then winter came. And with it came a lot of snow. Did the snow melt right away? No, of course not. Is it still around? Indeed it is. It seems like winter makes itself known every time I look out the window these days, which means it’s time to grab my blanket and head for the couch. Today I want to share five books perfect for these cold, wet days.

5 winter reads
The child finder book cover

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Naomi Cottle is a private investigator called upon to find a missing child who disappeared when she and her family searched for a Christmas tree in the forest. A former missing child herself, Naomi is specially equipped to find the missing girl. But, as she begins her search in the snowy woods, memories from her past come back in dreams and force her to face things she thought she’d forgotten. This novel is as atmospheric as they come.

The hunting party book cover

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

I love novels with a strong sense of place, and The Hunting Party delivers. The story is set at a luxurious, remote lodge where a group of friends come together to celebrate the new year. A blizzard snows in the group, ensuring no one can leave the property. When someone is found dead on New Year’s Day, everyone becomes a suspect as old memories and resentments surface.

Small things like these book cover

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These is a novella set during the Christmas season in Ireland. It’s 1985, and Bill Furlong is an honest and hardworking husband, father, and man of faith. He works as a coal merchant and makes a startling discovery when he drops off a delivery to a local convent. This is a slim book but one that will stay with you.

The snow child book cover

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Set in 1920s Alaska, The Snow Child tells the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless couple who builds a child out of snow. The snow child disappears, but a little girl named Faina appears in the woods. Who she is and where she came from are the questions that power this memorable story. This type of book isn’t what I usually reach for, but I’m glad I read this one. The isolation and brutal cold of winter felt palpable in these pages.

Wintering book cover

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May

January and February can be difficult months. The holidays are over, your New Year’s resolutions are probably broken, and winter days can seem longer than ever. Wintering is the perfect book for times like those. Katherine May writes about difficult seasons in her own life and how she learned the importance of rest and reflection. Reading this book felt like a warm hug, but not in a creepy way. You get it.

Do you have any go-to winter reads? Are there certain books you like to pick up in the colder months?

What I Read and Loved in August 2021

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

It feels so good to be back in this space. I never intended to take such a long break from posting, but I didn’t have much to share. My grandma passed away in April. Thanks to a mixture of grief and living through a global pandemic, I didn’t have the desire or concentration to read much. Thankfully, I’m back into a groove with books and was even able to develop many new post ideas that I’m excited about sharing. Keep an eye out for some fun posts dropping soon.

But first, here’s my August recap. Enjoy!

What I Read

The Plot book cover

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Format: eBook

Jacob Finch Bonner hasn’t been able to follow up the success of his first novel. The literary world has moved on, and he’s stuck teaching creative writing at a failing college. One day, a student named Evan reveals that he’s come up with a plot idea that is sure to be a success. He shares the plot with Jacob, who agrees that the story is a sure thing. When Jacob finds out that Evan has died, he decides to write the book that Evan never did. The success that follows is blissful until a note shows up that reads, “You are a thief.”

The Plot contains not one but two unputdownable storylines: Jacob’s and the one that Evan conceived. I loved the quick pace of this novel and enjoyed a look into the literary world. If you’re ever stuck in a reading slump like I had been, give this book a chance to get you out of it.

Jesus and John Wayne book cover

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
Format: Print

One of my missions as a library worker is to convince skeptics that some nonfiction books can be just as exciting as any thriller. That’s certainly the case with Jesus and John Wayne. Throughout the book, Du Mez reflects on the history of white American evangelicalism and how American society has influenced it, and how it has influenced society. Du Mez’s observations are astute and helped me better understand the faith in which I was raised. Don’t miss this book if you’re interested in religion, politics, gender, and how the three often get entangled.

In book cover

In by Will McPhail
Format: Print

I’ve developed an interest in graphic novels this year and couldn’t resist In when I saw it on the shelf of my local library. The illustrations looked beautiful, and I was intrigued by the premise of a young man trying to connect with the people around him. Thankfully, this gem of a book exceeded my expectations. It follows a man named Nick who wonders why his interactions with people don’t have more depth. As he learns how to open up, he starts seeing the world in new, colorful ways. In is a beautiful meditation on belonging, connection, and finding one’s way in the world. 

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Format: Print

Rowan is a young woman who stumbles across an ad for a live-in nanny. She wants the generous salary and is intrigued about the idea of living in a “smart house,” a residence full of the latest technology. Since this is a mystery novel, things don’t work out. Rowan ends up in prison for murder, and The Turn of the Key is formatted as a letter she’s writing to a lawyer who she believes can save her. 

I love a unique, exciting setting when I read fiction, and Ruth Ware certainly provides that in this story. This novel is a perfectly fine mystery, but I was let down by the ending and lack of character development. 

So you want to talk about race book cover

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Format: Print

After George Floyd was murdered last summer, there was an interest in antiracism books that sent many titles to the top of the bestseller lists, including So You Want to Talk About Race. I’ve received requests at work for antiracism books, and after reading this one, I know Oluo’s book is the one I’d recommend first. In short chapters about topics like policing and incarceration, Oluo illuminates the struggles Black people have to be safe and respected in America today. (The chapter on cultural appropriation was especially helpful since I’d struggled to understand that topic in the past.)

Shortcomings book cover

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
Format: eBook

Shortcomings is about a Japanese-American man named Ben. When the story begins, Ben is dating and living with his longtime girlfriend, but the two keep fighting. The dissolution of their relationship causes Ben–a genuinely unlikeable character–to set out on an emotional and physical journey.

I was left wanting more from this graphic novel: more depth, more story, and more reasons to care about Ben. Shortcomings was entertaining, but nothing more for me.

The subsidiary book cover

The Subsidiary by Matías Celedón
Format: eBook

The premise of this book fascinated me: an office worker trapped in a building full of violence and fear reports what happens using stamps. While I appreciate the concept, this book didn’t work for me. I was never quite sure what was happening or who the characters were supposed to be. For me, this was a case of style over substance.

The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna

Lauren is a lonely, 30-year-old woman teaching college writing near Washington, D.C. She lost her parents years ago in a car accident and is still trying to find her way after their deaths. When Siri shows up in Lauren’s classroom, the two women strike up a friendship. Siri has also lost her parents, so the two feel a special kinship. Siri invites Lauren back to her home in Sweden, and Lauren, blurring professional boundaries, accepts.

The All-Night Sun follows the two women through their time in Sweden. This novel explores friendship, loneliness, and professionalism through beautiful prose and memorable characters. The cover of this book caught my eye at my local indie bookstore, and I’m so glad it did. I think most literary fiction fans will enjoy this story.

What I Loved

Photo featuring Jason Sudeikis

TELEVISION: Ted Lasso Season 2

Ted Lasso was one of the few highlights from 2020. It’s a hilarious, feel-good comedy about an American football coach who ends up coaching soccer in London. Everything I loved about the first season abounds in the second. The show is just as smart, funny, and heartwarming as the first ten episodes.

TELEVISION: Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers is based on a Liane Moriarty novel of the same name. It’s about a group of people who find themselves at a mysterious resort that is supposed to change their lives and make them better people. I don’t know that this show is necessarily good, but I do know it’s entertaining. That’s all I want sometimes and Nine Perfect Strangers delivers.

MUSIC: Sob Rock by John Mayer

Sob Rock, John Mayer’s new album, was my soundtrack for August. I’ve listened to “New Light” and “Last Train Home” on repeat. Also, this album cover delights me.

What did you read or love in August? I’d love to know!

Building a Personal Library

I’ve been a library patron for as long as I can remember.  Though I was a frequent library user, I’ve also been privileged enough to always own books. My collection evolved from things like The Baby-Sitters Club series to John Grisham paperbacks to whatever was $1.99 at Value Village. As I entered adulthood, I decided I wanted a large, well-curated library of my very own.

When I embarked on this dream I sort of ignored the “well-curated” part. I bought anything I thought looked interesting thanks to thrift stores and used book sales. I just wanted to have a lot of books, and I wanted them immediately. But over the years, as my reading tastes have changed and what I want to spend money on has shifted, I’ve finally become choosier about the books I purchase. Here’s what’s important to me now when I add books to my library.



If I want to read a book to learn something specific, chances are I’m going to buy it. I don’t tend to write in fiction books very often, but my nonfiction shelves are full of books with my underlining and marginalia. (I love that word so much.) I don’t tend to write terribly detailed notes, but I do like being able to flip through a book to see what ideas I thought were important. Books that fit into this category are usually theology or writing guides. I mark up my poetry books quite a bit, as well.



Do I need three different editions of Moby-Dick? No. Do I own them anyway because they’re pretty? Yes.

As a kid, I was always collecting something. I loved building mini-collections of everything from snow globes to rocks (a.k.a. gravel from my driveway). There are a few different editions of books I collect, and I’m always eager to add to them. One is the Penguin hardcover collection designed by Coralie Bickford Smith. I think these books are beautiful. I love the feel of them and how they look on my shelf. I also collect the Drop Caps series designed by Jessica Hische. While the hardcover books are elegant and classic, the drop caps are bright and fun. I love their boldness and the colorful edges that match the cover.



There are certain authors whose books are immediately on my to-buy list. They could write books about how to use a hammer or what crafts to make with dryer lint, and I’d probably still buy them. These authors include Donna Tartt, Celeste Ng, David Sedaris, Roxane Gay, Marisha Pessl, and Liane Moriarty. I know I love the work these writers put out so I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase their latest. (I even bought Pessl’s recent release, Neverworld Wake, even though it’s far outside my wheelhouse. Andrea + Marisha = Love)



The most recent book this happened with was The Nix by Nathan Hill. I listened to this book (the audio narration is excellent, by the way) and I absolutely loved it. I wanted to give it a hug, but you can’t hug audio files from OverDrive. I had to get the book. If you’ve read this far, I trust you understand.

Do you like buying and collecting books? If so, what guides your choices?