Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

Just Read: The Teenage Brain + 10 more

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book recap and it’s long overdue. I try to ping-pong back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, just to break up my intake. The year started off impressively with All The Light We Cannot See and you can add me to the long list of people who loved this book. If you haven’t read it yet, you can believe the hype.

Scanning the list of books below, you might gather that my non-fiction reading has been hijacked by parenting topics. Maybe this is what happens when one’s child is leaving the cozy nest of elementary school and about to enter the wilds of middle school. It’s my first time, so don’t laugh too hard.

books read in 2015

2015 Books

Since we’re traveling to Amsterdam, Berlin and Iceland this summer, I added Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts & Jon Krakauer to my reading list. After finishing Anne Frank, I passed it along to our daughter to read and will be very interested in her thoughts on it. She knows how the story ends already — I felt like I need to tell her that from the get-go.

Quick Reviews:

  1. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. (Darkly funny, dysfunctional family, death + divorce, made into a movie)
  2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. (WWII historical fiction, told through two characters, a German soldier and a blind French girl)
  3. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. (foster care system, a flower whisperer and the chance to heal old wounds)
  4. The Teenage Brain by Frances Jensen (what kids do during these years has a lasting impact on their brains, i.e. alcohol, drugs, technology habits and sports concussions)
  5. The Myth of the Spoiled Child by Alfie Kohn. (Are modern parenting practices really making a generation of spoiled kids? The evidence says NO.)
  6. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. (Great book for setting boundaries around digital creep. Excellent reminder and strategies for carving out time for renewal. Spiritual/Religious but not overly so.)
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. (Powerful and incredibly well-written.)
  8. The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato. (Armchair travel to Venice with semi-interesting love story + historic intrigue)
  9. Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts. (A younger John Krakauer supplies the photography for this book. Part history, part travelogue. Just so-so)
  10. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. (10 years on this book seems very relevant to today’s news. Perfect for music lovers. A slow burn.)
  11. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart with Money by Ron Lieber. (Excellent book with thoughtful ideas on how to help kids navigate money, responsibility and sense of self in the broader world.)

My favorites of all of these was All the Light We Cannot See, The Opposite of Spoiled, and Sabbath. The rest were plain good, except for The Glassblower of Murano. That one just didn’t do it for me at all.

Lastly, if you have any recommendations (books, sights, restaurants) for Amsterdam, Berlin, and/or Iceland, please let me know! I would love to hear them.

x Laura


Just Read: Cold Earth + Eight More

Book Collage - 2014

Sometimes my reading choices are right in the thick of the mainstream, and very book-of-the-moment (i.e. Gone Girl, Divergent) and sometimes I’m off doing my own thing. The books I’ve read so far this year (which included Divergent, but you don’t need me to talk about that one), have been a mixed bag.

I absolutely loved Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe, because I am such a child of that era, growing up at the same time, seeing the movies that he’s starring in. If you think he’s just another pretty-boy-airhead, you will be convinced otherwise and if you only know him from The West Wing, you’ll get a taste for his geeky-to-golden-boy early years. He narrates the audio book, which is how I read it, and it’s a treat to have his voice telling his story.

Quick Reviews

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss. Archaeology, haunted dig site and a race against the clock before the winter weather seals them off from the helicopter pick-up. Do not read while camping.

The Smartest Kids In The World by Amanda Ripley. Revealing thesis to why some countries have better prepared kids for success than others, and how we can learn from them.

When Wanderers Cease To Roam by Vivian Swift. Where do I start with this gorgeously written and illustrated seasonal journal? Vivian Swift has been a global nomad for twenty years and has finally set down her backpack. Now she roams her small village and finds a world of beauty within its smallness. Received a copy for my birthday from my mother-in-law and loved it enough to buy another one as a gift to my mother.

Are We Nearly There Yet? by Ben Hatch. Crazy, adventurous, funny, poignant, and a 5-month snapshot of what middle-age looks like for some. Sandwiched between young children and family illness, Ben Hatch ping-pongs between sippy cups, hospital visits, and a 5-month road trip with two kids under age four. Madness. Glad to have read it.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. See paragraph above.

Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift. For Francophiles, the newly coupled, or those who are interested in the musings on being a traveler rather than a tourist. Gorgeously illustrated with her watercolors and written with her unique observations. Liked it less than When Wanderers Cease To Roam, but still good.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  Mother and son get through cancer treatments, dismal diagnosis and family dynamics with a very personal book club. Not my favorite book this year, but might be good for others.

Currently Reading


The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski (children/YA fiction – my daughter loved this book and insisted I read it. Also got a thumbs up from her teacher.)

Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Fiction – received rave reviews, so I’m on the bandwagon once again.)

 Hope your summer allows for reading time. Let me know what books you’re reading and what you like/didn’t like. I’m all ears.

x Laura