30 Day Challenge – Day 10

Day 10 – Reading is FUN!


Hello blog reading friends – we are 1/3 of the way through this 30 day challenge!  I feel the need to do a little dance – – – – ok I’m finished. Thanks for reading along with me on this attempt to establish a new habit – being accountable to folks who MIGHT be out there reading this has made me stay on task thus far – so good on you internet!

Today is also the 3rd Wednesday of the month, which means it is BOOK CLUB day!  This is one of my favorite days of the month!  I joined the 3rd Wednesday Book Club in the fall of 2011 (has it really been that long?) and I love it. We meet – ironically enough – on the 3rd Wednesday of each month; we are co-ed and we stick to primarily fiction.  Those are about the only rules.  We are an eclectic group of individuals from all kinds of backgrounds, professions and stages of life; but what we have in common is the love of books.  We don’t always love the books that we read, but we do love the act of selecting, reading and dissecting books.  Throw in wine and great food – and you have yourself some quality adult time that has been a total saving grace in my mommy world.

In celebration of book club day, I thought it might be fun to make a list of 5 of my favorite books from the past few years. Summer is about to be here and it is always a great time to pick up a good book, so hopefully one or more of these will peek your interest.  Also, I am going to add a couple that wouldn’t make the book club cut because they are non-fiction, but I have read them recently and really enjoyed the experience.  So something for everyone today!  Woohoo!

Here we go…

Top Five Books From 3rd Wednesday Book Club (totally my own opinion because this is my world and I get to be queen!)

Full disclosures:

  • 2 of the 5 are books I chose for the club
  • I only chose books I had read from the time I was in the club – the club has been around a lot longer, and there are a ton of books from before that were fabulous.
  • I was in the minority on these selections some months – but like I said – this is MY list and MY opinion.
  1. The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

An ingenious tale of murder and revenge, featuring a retired New York City detective and a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe.

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope just off the parade grounds. An apparent suicide is not unheard of in a harsh regimen like West Point’s, but the next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has stolen into the room where the body lay and removed the heart.

I loved this book!  I’ve read a few by Louis Bayard – he takes real characters and puts them in fictional circumstances.  Another favorite of mine by Bayard was Mr. Timothy – about Tiny Tim!  Total warning here – Tiny Tim is not a friendly little boy in this AT ALL!

  1. A Good American by Alex George

An uplifting novel about the families we create and the places we call home.

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead (“What’s the difference? They’re both new“), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together.

This was the second book I read in book club and it is still one of my all time favorites.  It follows the same family through  multiple generations – really good! 

  1. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

I recall crying quite a lot through this book – which really is the measure of a good book!

  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.

A book about writing and loving books – hello – doesn’t get better.  Some was a little cheesy but it was a good escape.

  1. Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

Willie Sutton was born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, and came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren’t failing outright, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs and homes, they were being propped up with emergency bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.

I am a sucker for heist stories – this is a book about one of the most notorious bank robbers in history.  Loved it and read it in just a couple sittings.


3 Non-Fiction books I’ve read recently that you might want to check out…

  1. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the New Germany, she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

I will read anything Erik Larson puts out because I just love his style so much (if you haven’t read The Devil in the White City, stop what you are doing right now and go back and do so immediately).

2. Game Change by Mark Halpren and John Heilemann

Game Change is the New York Times bestselling story of the 2008 presidential election, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the best political reporters in the country. In the spirit of Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes and Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President 1960, this classic campaign trail book tells the defining story of a new era in American politics, going deeper behind the scenes of the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin campaigns than any other account of the historic 2008 election.

I read this right after the election last year – and I really found so many clues that, had they been observed, might have had an impact on the result.  Plus it was funny, so that is always a plus

3. The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer

A joint biography of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who led the United States into an unseen war that decisively shaped today’s world

During the 1950s, when the Cold War was at its peak, two immensely powerful brothers led the United States into a series of foreign adventures whose effects are still shaking the world.

John Foster Dulles was secretary of state while his brother, Allen Dulles, was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this book, Stephen Kinzer places their extraordinary lives against the background of American culture and history. He uses the framework of biography to ask: Why does the United States behave as it does in the world?

Thoroughly interesting and not a bit terrifying. 

See ya tomorrow!

30 Day Challenge Count Down

Days Complete 10

Days to Go 20


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Mommy, Historian, Wannabe Writer.

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