It has become apparent that my TBR (to be read) list has gotten nearly out of hand. Therefore, I have decided to do a post featuring ten books from it approximately every other week. As I go through the list, I will evaluate each book and decide whether or not it still belongs. Who knows, perhaps as my list (hopefully) shrinks, you will find a few books to add to your own!
The last time I did this type of post was March 15, 2022. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 914 books. Today it has 905 (I did a little spontaneous “weeding” the other day). I have gone through 415 books.
#416. Cool Beans (Maya Davis #1) by Erynn Mangum
Synopsis: Everything seems to be going perfectly for Maya Davis: She has a great job at a coffee shop, gets along with her parents, and is happily single. That is until her best friend starts dating Maya’s high school sweetheart. This funny, heartwarming fiction story by best-selling author Erynn Mangum uses the power of story to challenge teens to discover the relevance of faith in their relationships and their lives.
Comments: I used to really want to read this book, but I could never find a copy.
#417. Nowhere to be Found (Secrets of the Blue Hill Library Book #1) by Emily Thomas
Synopsis: While converting the Victorian home left by her great-aunt Edie into a library, Anne Gibson stumbles upon a fascinating find. Hidden behind an old star quilt is a tiny sealed-off room with a small writing desk and a faded photograph of Edie in a wedding gown. Anne is certain Aunt Edie never married, so who is the handsome young man with her in the photograph? Could he still hold claim to the house bequeathed to Anne? As Anne sets out to solve the mystery, she makes delightful new friends and runs into old ones – including a high school sweetheart who might not be happy that the woman who broke his heart is back in town.
Comments: I would watch this as a Hallmark movie, but I don’t fancy reading it as a nearly-300-page book.
#418. Sundays in Fredericksburg by Lynette Sowell, Eileen Key, Connie Stevens, and Marjorie Vawter
Synopsis: For generations, Sunday houses provided overnight shelter for rural farmers who traveled to town on Sundays. Across generations, four couples find buds of romance blooming around these quaint structures.
In 1897, Amelia Bachman became a schoolteacher to avoid getting hitched. Will love-struck carpenter Hank Zimmermann dissolve her resolution and turn a Sunday house into a home?
World War I nurse Mildred Zimmermann opens her Sunday house to patients during an outbreak of influenza. Will she provide more than a shelter from the storm to war hero Nelson Winters?
In 1943, Trudy Meier craves adventure yet is terrified at the possibility of leaving Fredericksburg. Roving columnist Bradley Payne rents the Meier’s Sunday house, but when he hears the call of the open road, can he take Trudy’s heart with him?
Gwen Zimmermann has been carrying meals to injured geologist Clay Tanner, who’s staying in a local Sunday house. Does Clay have the courage to trust God with his love–and with his life?
Will the roughly hewn loves of these couples be strong enough to support a forever-after shelter?
Comments: Okay, I’m not looking forward to all of the romance, but I am intrigued by the setting and idea around this collection!
#419. The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey
Synopsis: The author has written a study that places George Orwell’s 1984 in a variety of contexts: the author’s life and times, the book’s precursors in the science fiction genre, and its subsequent place in popular culture. Lynskey delves into how Orwell’s harrowing Spanish Civil War experiences shaped his concern with political disinformation by exposing him to the deceptiveness of people he’d once regarded as allies against fascism: the Soviets and their Western apologists.
Comments: Orwell is not an author who I am compelled to read everything about, so I think I’m going to let this one pass.
#420. The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali
Synopsis: Roya, a dreamy, idealistic teenager living amid the political upheaval of 1953 Tehran, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood stationery shop, stocked with books and pens and bottles of jewel-colored ink.
Then Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—and she loses her heart at once. Their romance blossoms, and the little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.
A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square when violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she moves on—to college in California, to another man, to a life in New England—until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did you leave? Where did you go? How is it that you were able to forget me?
Comments: This sounds like a fascinating story! Definitely keeping it around.
#421. Down to Earth by Tom Hughes
Synopsis: There’s hardly anyone in the world more down-to-earth than Jesus. That sounds far-fetched because, well, Jesus is God. But read the Gospels and you find Jesus telling stories that ring true from beginning to end, stories you can immediately identify with, stories that make you go “hmmm.” In Down to Earth we learn that these stories are different from the stories we tell each other – these are stories intended to change your life. They’re soul stories – stories that get inside you and linger there, stories you start to find yourself living into. And when you do, you and the world around you are transformed for good.
Comments: I read a substantial amount of Christian nonfiction, and this one sounds fairly basic. I don’t think I would be the best audience unless I decided to read it with the thought of passing it along to someone newer to faith or studying the Bible.
#422. Bug City by Dahlov Ipcar
Synopsis: Follow a whimsical day in the life of a Bug City family, with imaginative illustrations of real insects by American artist Dahlov Ipcar.
This charming bug family (Mama is a ladybug and Papa is a daddy longlegs) share a day in Bug City, where they go shopping (for calico moths and velvet ants, of course!) and visit the zoo with rhinoceros beetles and ant lions. Their quaint, busy lives, augmented by Dahlov Ipcar’s flamboyant, colorful illustrations, make a charming story for readers to enjoy and learn how to identify a wide variety of bugs.
Comments: This is a nonfiction picture book that I at one point thought my nephews might like. Upon taking a closer look, this is one that I couldn’t get through without cringing! It seems to be a great resource for youngsters who want to learn to identify bugs, but I won’t be using it unless someone specifically asks for this kind of book.
#422. Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively
Synopsis: Penelope Lively takes up her key themes of time and memory, and her lifelong passions for art, literature, and gardening in this philosophical and poetic memoir. From the courtyards of her childhood home in Cairo to a family cottage in Somerset, to her own gardens in Oxford and London, Lively conducts an expert tour, taking us from Eden to Sissinghurst and into her own backyard, traversing the lives of writers like Virginia Woolf and Philip Larkin while imparting her own sly and spare wisdom. “Her body of work proves that certain themes never go out of fashion,” writes the New York Times Book Review, as true of this beautiful volume as of the rest of the Lively canon.
Now in her eighty-fourth year, Lively muses, “To garden is to elide past, present, and future; it is a defiance of time.”
Comments: Should I know who Penelope Lively is? I don’t. This book sounds lovely, but it also sounds like it hinges on the reader already having an understanding and context of the author, which I do not.
#423. The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke (Acts of Faith #1)
Synopsis: Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil–facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions. Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine’s governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah’s mistress, the governor’s wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death–and missing body–is causing such furor.
This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, The Centurion’s Wife unfolds the testing of loyalties–between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.
Comments: This book sounds really uplifting and fun! Unfortunately, my library does not have it, so it will probably be a while before I track down a copy.
#424. Love Needs No Words by Faith Potts
Synopsis: Home from college for the summer, Shay Williams has many plans. Crossing paths with her childhood crush was not on the list. Yet when Daniel Rogers, a young mute man, reappears in her life, the friendship that once blossomed between them is rekindled.
Daniel is mesmerized by this sweet girl who has a heart for deaf and mute children. But is it wrong of him to want to know her better, considering his inability? The last thing he wants to become is another charity case.
Follow these two young people through a summer of discovery as they learn valuable truths about friendship and love – a love that speaks not from the lips but from the heart.
#425. Find Momo: A Photography Book by Andrew Knapp
Synopsis: Thousands of Internet fans play hide-and-seek with Momo the border collie every day. And now, in his New York Times best-selling book, you can too! Momo and his best buddy Andrew Knapp have traveled all over—through fields, down country roads, across cities, and into yards, neighborhoods, and surreal spaces of all sorts. The result is a book of spectacular photography that’s also a game you can play anytime. Lose yourself in page after page of Andrew’s beautiful, serene, dreamlike images, and sooner or later you’ll find Momo’s sweet, eager face looking back at you. (Can’t find him? Don’t worry…the answers are in the back.)
Comments: I picked up another Momo book one day and had a lot of fun flipping through it. This is mostly to remind me that there are others and I should look them up at some point!
#426. Find Momo Coast to Coast by Andrew Knapp
Synopsis: Momo loves to hide—and you’ll love looking for him! In this follow-up to Find Momo, the canine Instagram superstar (and his best buddy, Andrew Knapp) travel across the United States and Canada, visiting iconic landmarks and unique off-the-map marvels. Look for Momo hiding in Grand Central Station, in front of the White House, and in the French Quarter of New Orleans . . . as well as at diners, bookstores, museums, and other locales that only a seasoned road-tripper like Andrew could find. It’s part game, part photography book, and a whole lot of fun.
Comments: I probably also added this book before I realized just how many there are in the series. I don’t really need more than one on my list.
#427. The Road to Paradise by Karen Bennett
Synopsis: An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.
But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.
When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?
Comments: I love the idea of this historical fiction series set around America’s National Parks, especially with an element of faith. Unfortunately, I’ve read too many unfavorable reviews to have high hopes for this anymore. If it’s meant to be, this book will find its way back into my life at the right time.
#428. American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present by Philip S. Gorski
Synopsis: Gorski traces the historical development of prophetic republicanism from the Puritan era to the present day. He provides close readings of thinkers such as John Winthrop, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Hannah Arendt, along with insightful portraits of recent and contemporary religious and political leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Gorski shows how the founders’ original vision for America is threatened by an internecine struggle between two rival traditions, religious nationalism and radical secularism. Religious nationalism is a form of militaristic hyperpatriotism that imagines the United States as a divine instrument in the final showdown between good and evil. Radical secularists fervently deny the positive contributions of the Judeo-Christian tradition to the American project and seek to remove all traces of religious expression from the public square. Gorski offers an unsparing critique of both, demonstrating how half a century of culture war has drowned out the quieter voices of the vital center.
American Covenant makes the compelling case that if we are to rebuild that vital center, we must recover the civil religious tradition on which the republic was founded.
Comments: Sounds interesting! I don’t remember when I came across this book before, and it sounds like it will be best to read it at a time when I can focus a significant amount of attention on it, but eventually I will probably get to this.
#429. The Assumption of Moses
Synopsis: The synopses provided by Goodreads do not tell anything about this book itself. I know it’s considered apocryphal, but I don’t remember why I wanted to read it specifically or whether it is part of a larger collection. It looks like there are free Kindle versions easily available, so I’ll let it stay on my list for a day when I feel like investigating further.
Ending number of books on TBR list: 897
Until the next chapter,