Back-to-school book recommendations

oliphant

Source: Goodreads

This was a bit slow to start for me, but so glad I stuck it out! Reminded me of “Britt-Marie Was Here”, which I loved.

guernsey

Source: Goodreads

Confession — I only read this after I saw the Netflix movie. It’s written completely in the format of letters, which I wasn’t sure I could get in to at first. But, again, I’m glad I stuck it out.

stillme

Source: Goodreads

Third in series, “Me Before You” and “After You” came before. I honestly only started the series because I was in an airport waiting for a flight and needed a book. I didn’t actually expect to like it, but I did!

yesplease

Source: Goodreads

Hubs and I love Parks and Rec, and at some point I remembered that Amy Poehler had written a “memoir”. This one’s random, a little quirky, but has surprising moments of soulfulness. Worth it :-).

Belated books

This is past due (Get it? Because of past due books at libraries? I know, I’m hopeless.) but here are the last book recommendations from my vacation reading last month. As it turns out, I hadn’t read the Harlan Coben one!

thewoods

Source: Goodreads

languageofsecrets

Source: Goodreads

brokengirls

Source: Goodreads

Back to school time is always a bit hit-or-miss for me as far as getting to the library for some new reading material, so I’m currently rereading some of what’s already on my bookshelf. But once I get my hands on some new reads that I think are worth sharing, I’ll let you know!

“Expecting Sunshine” + some real talk

chute

Photo source: Amazon

Last week, I finished one of the books left over from my beach book list. This one was a memoir, entitled “Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss”.

When I found out I was pregnant again, I went in search of a book that would help me in this next phase like “Empty Cradle, Broken Heart” had helped me at the beginning of the summer. Somehow, I caught a line on this book (by Alexis Marie Chute), and decided to try it. I am so glad I did.

Though our personal stories are different, there was so much in this book that I was able to relate to — that I felt “finally, yes, that’s what it feels like!” To give a brief overview: Chute was 25 weeks pregnant with her second child, a son, when they discovered that her baby had a condition that would cause him to be stillborn. Afterward, she throws herself into any distraction she can find to help her get through the first year after her son’s death. The book picks up at the end of her “year of distraction”, and goes through the entire nine months of the pregnancy that follows (her third baby); it shows her grappling with the grief of losing her son, in addition to her fear of what could happen with the new pregnancy (and throw in there that she’s also trying to parent her daughter — y’know, NBD).

As you all know, I found out at 12 weeks that my baby had died. Because Charlie died prior to 20 weeks, it was considered a miscarriage (a missed miscarriage, in my case). I’ve found that for the general public, miscarriages don’t hold much weight. But lordy do they hold weight for the parents of the baby. What I’m getting at, is that to the people who love their baby before it even “gets here”, it really does not matter what embryonic/fetal/whatever stage the baby was technically in. This really stood out to me when I was reading this book. So much of what Chute describes thinking and feeling, I felt a personal connection to.

At one point, Chute describes how shortly after the death of her son, Zachary, she and her family were visiting her mother and stepfather. Her husband had to go back to work, and she was struggling with needing him with her and feeling abandoned while trying to cope with the grief. She describes finding a golf tee in the garage, and jamming it in to her hand (her family discovers this and helps her find a counselor, and also brings up the potential that she may be going through PTSD). Now, I know this may be difficult to hear, and part of your brain probably jumps to self-harming as destructive. Which it is. But I think what she was trying to describe is that after going through this kind of loss, you have so much inner turmoil, so much pain inside of you that no one can see or seem to understand, and you just want some kind of physical pain, some kind of physical manifestation, to almost combat what you’re feeling inside. Almost like a balance. At least, this is what I inferred while reading it. And again I thought, yes.

I did not harm myself physically during my grief, but I understand about the forcefulness of inner turmoil. I understand having an amount of pain take you over, with a magnitude that you didn’t even know was possible. I get what she meant. I started counseling pretty soon after we lost Charlie, and I took steps to take care of myself even when it felt almost ridiculous to do so. Like Chute, I attempt to distract myself by jumping back into work right away. I thought that would help. But it backfired, so I had to do something else. I wanted the grief to just happen and be over (no one wants to feel pain like that, no matter how much love it speaks of), but that wasn’t an option. I had to go through it. All of it. I still do.

My heartbreak over losing my first baby isn’t gone, it never will be. But the pain has become less intense, for which I am grateful. My first baby is still a part of this new pregnancy, my total fears for the new baby coming directly from my grief of losing Charlie. Of not knowing. Of not being able to protect my children no matter how badly I try. And when hubs and I do have children (working hard on making myself think “when” not “if”), they’ll know about Charlie. It won’t be a secret. Chute talks about this as well.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re in a position even vaguely similar to mine, this book might be worth it. I wish I could give you more direct passages that spoke to me, but I actually let my mom borrow the book so she could get some kind of idea of what I’ve been feeling. (So, if you know someone who’s been in a position even vaguely similar to mine, and you want to try to understand more, you might be interested in this book as well.)

Food for thought.

If you want to learn more about the author, you can check it out here: www.alexismariechute.com

Beach vacation + beach books

Tomorrow we leave at o’dark-thirty for the beach! I’m very excited and can’t wait to spend the weeks with hubs being on an official vacation. While last summer’s Pacific Northwest Roadtrip was amazing, it was also super tiring and I’m grateful that our vacay this year consists of doing a whole lot less by the sand and surf. Especially with everything that’s happened in the last six months.

Naturally, I will be hauling along a sack full of books. My list includes:

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss by Alexis Marie Chute

The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello

The Woods by Harlan Coben (I may have read this one before, but I can’t quite recall and I’m not against reading a book twice as long as it’s marginally interesting.)

The Language of Secrets by Dianna Dixon

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Another Day by David Levithan

Now, I sure I won’t get through all of these books, but I am going to make a good dent!

S’more summer reading

The most recent batch I checked out from the library wasn’t a great hit. Most I completed, but wasn’t impressed with, and there was at least one that I didn’t finish at all. Years ago I used to force myself to finish all books because it felt like quitting if I didn’t. But one day I realized the only one hung up on that was me, and life’s too short to force yourself to finish books you don’t like. These two were the only ones that really stood out:

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern

E1A65BEC-C73B-48AA-83F3-D76658EB25AF

Image source: HarperCollins

and

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

4E457705-1829-4985-B6FA-404B489A5219

Image source: Goodreads

 

Summer reading recs

I’ve just finished up my latest library culling. There were only three (out of 8) that I’ll suggest for some summer reads:

sumbooks

Image Source: Goodreads

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick — This was reminiscent of “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” for me (which I really liked). The title is more literal than you would expect! Also, isn’t Phaedra a fantastic name?

sumbooks1

Image Source: Goodreads

How to Walk Away — For sure a beach read, it’s kind of quippy and there’s some sap but also some good messages within.

sumbooks2

Image Source: Amazon

I Let You Go — In the winter/early spring I got into reading Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware, and this similar to those works. There’s a pretty good twist, which I never saw coming, even though I cheated and read the last page.

 

Waiting on my next round to come in to the library!