Hey friends – hope you’re doing well as the summer’s winding down. Did I just say that? Waaahhh. I’m trying not to think about that sad fact. But happy weekend anyway!
School has already started in some parts of the country and it’s been a busy time around here too as we’re getting ready for school to start next week for our younger kids. And in just a few days we head south dropping our oldest son off at college for the first time. (Sniff.) This is new territory for us.
It’s going to be a long ride to Birmingham (and likely an even longer one home), so I’m collecting some good reads for the trip. Which reminds me that I meant to post a summer reading suggestion list here like I did last year, just didn’t get a roundtuit.
If you missed these two book recommendations from this past fall and spring, check out The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It was amazing. Also Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius. Wanting a contemplative beach/weekend read? Consider Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
I’ve got two new suggestions to share from my reading list this summer. Both are fascinating reads and take place during the the WWI/WWII era.
First: Born Survivors, a poignant memoir by Wendy Holden published in 2015.
From the inside book cover:
“Three women pregnant by their husbands.
Three couples praying for a brighter future.
Three babies, born within weeks of each other in unimaginable circumstances.
By the time they arrived, each weighing less than three pounds, their fathers had been murdered by the Nazis and their mothers were ‘walking skeletons’, living moment to moment in the same concentration camp.
Somehow, all three women managed to survive.
Against all odds, their babies did too.
Seventy years on, these siblings of the heart have come together for the first time to tell the remarkable stories of the mothers who defied death to give them life.
All of them, born survivors.”
This book had me teary and in awe of these three incredibly courageous women who defied all odds to protect the precious babies they carried.
And second: All the Light We Cannot See, a novel by Anthony Doerr published in 2014.
From the book flap:
“Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home.
When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, on a special assignment to track the resistance.
More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie Laure’s converge.”
These books are deep, poignant and tear jerkers both. You’ll think. At least I did. (I don’t recommend these books for children.) I’m always on the lookout for a great read, and look forward to hearing your recommendations too.
You may also like: Gift from the Sea
Great reading list! Haven’t read any of these. Born survivors sounds very inspirational. An unbelievable story. Hard to even imagine what these mothers must have gone through to survive with their babies. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!
Thanks Tracy – this is one of the most amazing books I’ve read in a long time. There’s a lot of history in them too. I finished it on my trip to Birmingham. Wow – no words to describe the cruelty in the concentration camps and the courage of these moms.
Aunt Pinkie says
Those two ‘new’books sound great! I just read Miss Buncle’s Book by D. E. Stevenson-perfectly delightful novel!
Oh great – thanks for the recommendation!
Barb R. says
I read All the Light We Cannot See and loved it. Wow, a book I’ll never forget. Another book that was one of the best I have ever read is The Nightingale. That is a book that will stay with your forever.
Hi Barb – thank you SO much for this book recommendation – I was needing another book for our trip south. Several people have recommended The Nightingale but I kind of forgot about it. I’m so glad you reminded me, really looking forward to this read, thanks so much.
Tina Sneed says
You have to try Saw’s BBQ in Birmingham.nits owned by a friend’s brother, Mike Wilson. He has several restaurants in B’ham.
Hi Tina – the trip was super packed and we couldn’t get there this time around, but we’ll be back for parents weekend soon and will definitely try it. I heard in Bham it’s incredible on a bed of cheese grits with greens and onion rings!!!! Woo hoo!
Susie Mandel says
Born Survivors sounds great, and I need to add a couple of your other suggestions to my list. I read All the Light We Cannot See and loved that, too. Safe travels to Birmingham! We’ll wave atcha. 😉
On our way north t0 you, hope the travels have been wonderful!!! Looking forward to hearing all about it.
Aunt Margie says
“All the Light” , the “Nightengale” and Ghost Boy” were three books I couldn’t put down. Lots of midnight oil with these, and could hardly bear them to be over. Love your reading lists, Allie! Can’t wait!!! Have a sweet, tender time depositing that wonderful Jonathan! Big move! Blessings all.
Thank you Auntie M – another reader also recommended The Nightingale and so that is next on my list. Thank you! Birmingham was good and hard and we are so glad to see Jonathan immersing in where he is supposed to be – Samford is a good fit for him and just glad he is beginning the journey. Goodbye is always hard but it was better than I anticipated. I am not a puddle, which is somewhat surprising and I think we got such a great taste at parent orientation and that helps. XO
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
I STILL can’t believe you are old enough to have a child who is about to go into college, Allie!!! You yourself look young enough to be attending college!! 😉 I’m sure that it going to be a hard trip, but you must be SO proud!! Anyways, I always love your reading suggestions, so thank you for these!!! I’m still trying to convince Boy we need ONE MORE beach trip this summer, so if I get my way I will need a good read!! Cheers, dear friend! xoxo
I owe you BIG TIME girl — I’ll pay you later. And sure hope you get that beach trip. You NEED it. I adore the beach. XO
Anu - My Ginger Garlic Kitchen says
This is an unbelievable story. What an awesome reading list, Allie! Always love all your reading suggestions so will have a look. Haven’t read any of these. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!
You are very welcome Anu, thanks for dropping by!
Dear Allie, these sound like incredible stories. I will keep Born Survivors in mind for when I am in the right mood for that kind of book. I haven’t read Gifts from The Sea, yet. I think that one will be next on my reading list, actually. Wow, I can’t believe summer is winding up and that you are already taking your son off to college so soon. What a lot of mixed emotions you must be feeling, and I am sure the drive home will be a time for some reflection. I am also sure that you must be so proud of him. Warm wishes, friend. Xo
Yeah – you really have to be in the right place for Born Survivors, it’s a somber read, that’s for sure. I really like to be aware of history, though I have yet to make it to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. yet. Someday. We are on our way back from Birmingham, in the winding hills of Virginia. It’s been a good trip but def. hard to say goodbye to Jonathan. I do think he’s in the right place and that helps. We’re picking up an exchange student from China in Boston on Saturday and so thankfully we’re making good time on the road. Hope you and yours are having a great weekend! XO