Make sure you head on over to Carolyn Astfalk's link-up for more book recommendations!
Leisure: the basis of culture, by Joseph Pieper. This book has been on my reading list for nearly ten years, and I finally read it! The volume consists of two essays ("Leisure: the basis of culture" and "The philosophical act") and they were both really excellent. A lot of it went over my head, so I need to ask one of my more philosophically-minded friends to help me understand Pieper. But, what I did understand, I loved-there's a lot in here about the value of true leisure and reflecting on God's works (as opposed to being idle) and the importance of experiencing a sense of wonder. It was excellent, and I definitely need to go through it again sometime!
The Other Alcott, by Elise Hooper. This was a delightful historical fiction novel that follows May Alcott as she pursues her dreams amid the publication of Little Women, the novel written by her sister. While the story of May was embellished (to make it a novel that flowed well), this book was heavily researched and it really helped me jump into the life of the Alcott family and see what their family culture-and what the wider culture-was like at the time. I also knew nothing about May, and I found her story of becoming an artist amid difficulties (female artists had limited access to good education) fascinating. Parts of this book may cause some people to get squeamish as they describe May's artistic education (though the descriptions of nude models were not very explicit), but it was a really enjoyable story. I recommend it!
Educated, by Tara Westover. Tara grew up in the mountains of Idaho with a family who spent their days scrapping metal and preparing for the End Times. Her father's paranoia caused her to grow up with a "head for the hills" bag on her bed, and Tara grew up with a very limited education in the ways of actual school subjects. When she was an older teen, Tara (through the influence of an older sibling) wound up teaching herself the necessary information to take the ACT and got accepted to Brigham Young University, where she learned about events like the Holocaust and the Civil Right Movement for the first time. This book is so interesting and powerful, and it's incredible to read about the author's journey to achieve an education, and also to learn about how she grew and healed from a lot of abuse that she faced from her family. I highly recommend this book, it was very well done! (apparently the book is rather controversial and some people claim that Tara fabricated some experiences, but I thought she was a fairly reliable narrator because she specified when her memories didn't align to other people's memories, and the story seemed very grounded in facts)
The Grace of Enough, by Haley Stewart. In this delightful book, Catholic writer and blogger Haley Stewart gives practical strategies for rejecting the "throwaway culture" and building greater community with others. With quotations from various Catholic figures throughout history, reflection questions, and solid references to Scripture and the Catechism, Stewart jumps off of her own family's experience as she discusses various aspects of embracing God's plan for your family. I thought it was neat that she specifically talked about ways to do this in an urban setting, since often these types of discussions revolve around rural communities. I found a lot of this book really relatable and very inspirational (her section on the "hotel home" was particularly thought-provoking). I loved this book, and I highly recommend picking it up-regardless of whether or not you are Catholic, there is a lot of excellent content in here that we can all learn and grow from!
Marzi, by Marzena Sowa. This is a memoir about the author's childhood as she grew up in Poland in the 1980s, during Communist rule. Told in a graphic novel format, various vignettes from Sowa's childhood are presented as she depicts what life was like at that time and place. I don't think I had ever read much, prior to this book, about life in Poland during the 80s, and I was fascinated to learn about various details and events that were typical for the experience of many Polish people. I love how the graphic novel format can convey in a particular way various moods and settings-the use of simple illustrations and a grayscale palette with splashes of color, in this case-and I enjoyed this book quite a bit.
The Choice: Embrace the Possible, by Dr. Edith Eger. WOW. This memoir follows Eger's childhood in Hungary and pursuit of ballet and gymnastics (she was on the Olympic training team for her country!), her fight for survival in Auschwitz (her first day there, Dr. Mengele ordered her to dance for him), and her journey to rebuild her life in America. As Dr. Eger relates her life story, she also vulnerably shares about her journey of healing, hope, and forgiveness. Her story is incredibly powerful, and reading about her journey back to Auschwitz decades after the war particularly hit me. Dr. Eger works as a clinical psychologist, and she packed so much wisdom on pursuing our own healing in this book. I cannot recommend this book enough. I loved it, and if the book I read wasn't a library copy, I probably would have underlined most of it (which I guess defeats the purpose of underlining haha!). Dr. Eger has incredible joy and peace, and it really pours out of the pages. Read this book with an open mind and heart, and let her words truly impact you.
Thanks for joining me to chat about books! As always, let me know if you have any recommendations-I love adding to my reading list!