Reading is so vital in building up our knowledge and worldview. It uncovers our interests and distastes. It takes us to faraway places and brings us to familiar surroundings. Reading introduced me to areas I have come to cherish. As a child and even now, I love spending time at my local library, looking up new books in the catalog or simply thumbing through the librarian's recommendations on the shelves.
Traveling inside a book can offer a sense of adventure, or it can teach us something new. My grandfather, for instance, often finds a particular subject or time period he wants to know more about. He will then devote himself to it, reading several books- all by different authors, to said subject just so that he can get a wide enough perspective.
I find myself liking the same subjects, often works of fiction involving young protagonists (favorites include Because of Winn Dixie, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret), but college has helped me expand my interests. While I could go on and on about all the books I love, I'll just leave you with recommendations of what I've recently read.
If you like fluffy fiction, I recommend Minnow by James E. McTeeer II. I actually read this novel twice, it has beautiful imagery that transports readers to the wild South Carolina island landscape in which it is set. This story too is heralded by a child protagonist, a boy who must find medicine for his sick father while navigating mysterious terrain. If you like period pieces, detailed descriptions that focus on setting, and minimal dialogue, this is a good book for you. I often look up the publisher of the books I read, especially if they are not well known. My curiosity for this book led me to Hub City Press, an independent publisher based in South Carolina that focuses on place-based literature, specifically stories set in the South. Check out their other titles at hubcity.org if you are interested in setting-heavy books.
Thanks to a book assignment on The Glass Castle in college, I have become obsessed with memoirs. I think one reason Jeanette Walls' story is so successful and why it has been on The New York Times bestselling list for so long is because humans are naturally drawn to rags-to-riches success stories. For those of you who, like me, are drawn to tales of resilience and are looking for a book similar to The Glass Castle, I recommend Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. His memoir draws on more political themes associated with working-class Appalachia. Vance, a Yale graduate who grew up in the Rust Belt, describes his tumultuous family life and the grandparents who raised him. I laughed out loud while reading some of Vance's memories, and it's an incredible rarity for me to show any visible emotion while reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an eye into a part of America rarely seen by outsiders.
If you are interested in physical labor, construction, carpentry, and women doing all the above, you should read the memoir Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter. In it, Nina MacLaughlin recounts her decision to leave her desk job in pursuit of an ad in the paper looking for a female carpenter. Inspiring and concise, you should read this if you've been watching too much HGTV and want to know what it is actually like to build physical objects like walls, tables, and counters.
Other house and decor-inspired reads I recommend is Junk Gypsy by Amie and Jolie Skies and Salvage Style by Leslie Linsley. The former is the the story of two Texas sisters responsible for creating a junk-centered empire along with their design tips and step-by-step found-object crafts and projects. It functions as a sort of mish-mash book, including recipes, DIY projects, and biographical elements. The latter, published under Country Living, offers advice on salvaging furniture and accents and mixing styles from the past with the present. Both books have savory photography to match the writing, so if you need visuals, look no further.
I hope to share more books I have recently read and recommend on more blog posts. For now, I'll sign off with this, read as much as you can! It's always good to learn, and I truly believe if people read from a wider variety of styles, genres, and authors, they would be more informed, better educated, and more understanding on all sorts of subjects.