Wednesday, July 3, 2024

An Open Book: June 2024 Reads

We've been living in a stretch of triple-digit temperatures, so I think summer has finally decided to officially arrive :) In the past few weeks, I picked up some interesting books that I'm excited to share about! I'm linking up with An Open Book to talk about the fiction and non-fiction that crossed my shelf the past month. Let's dive in! 

Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food, by Lenore Newman

Newman tackles the topic of culinary extinction and explores the different animals and plants that we no longer bring into our kitchens, simply because they no longer exist. This was a fascinating and approachable book, and it was really fun to read about the variety of plants and animals that have filled the Earth over the years. I was particularly struck by the author's mention that kitchen gardens just a couple centuries ago looked much different than ours today, because they contained many more cultivars of fruits and vegetables than what we have currently. I also was intrigued to learn about the impact that the highway system had on agriculture. The flow of this book seemed a little disjointed to me at times, and there didn't seem to be much in a practical "here's how we can improve things" rallying cry, but I enjoyed this.  

Jane of Lantern Hill, by L. M. Montgomery

After having this children's novel on the edge of my literary radar for years, I finally picked it up. This story follows Jane, a young girl who lives with her mother and grandmother in a big house in Toronto. For Jane's entire life, she has believed/assumed that her father was dead. So, she is surprised one day when another girl informs her that actually, Jane's father is alive and that he and her mother separated when Jane was just a few years old. Jane is further surprised to then receive a letter from her father, in which he invites Jane to come spend summer with him at his home on Prince Edward Island. She continues to be astonished to see that she really loves and trusts her father, and she immerses herself in PEI life for the summer. This book explores the very sweet relationship that Jane has with her dad, and it was a lot of fun to read. I'm glad, though, that I didn't stumble across this book when I was a young girl who was immersed in all things Anne of Green Gables, at least without guidance. There are some pretty weighty themes in here, like spousal separation and divorce & remarriage. Not only that, but Jane's grandmother is very verbally and emotionally abusive. It's a fun book, but some kids would probably benefit from processing these themes with a trusted adult. 

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, by E. Nesbitt

This is another book that has been on the edge of my radar for a while, and I happened to see it at the library and snatched it up! I enjoy some of Shakespeare's plays and I've been wanting to read this as I think about gradually introducing my kids to Shakespeare. This book contains fun retellings of many of Shakespeare's plays, pared down to the basic storylines. Honestly, this book was helpful for me to help untangle some of the characters and plots of the plays that I have read! Nesbitt has a delightful storytelling voice, and I really enjoyed reading this. I'm excited to go through this book with my kids as they get old enough and interested! 

REREAD: Sobornost, by Catherine Doherty

I've had this book on my heart lately and figured it'd be a good time to reread it (I've found that making time to read/reread a Catherine Doherty book every few months helps keep me grounded, encouraged, and focused in my spiritual life). This book comes after her classic, Poustinia, and focuses on sobornost, the Russian word for "unity." More than a superficial unity, sobornost invites us to participate in the unity of the Trinity. Reading it this time around, I was struck by the ways in which our participation in the liturgy and liturgical year helps us gather in sobornost. I was also really encouraged by the reminder that even though it can be hard to grow in unity, especially when there are various personality clashes and disagreements, it is absolutely necessary. I really love this book, and I highly, highly recommend it! 

North! Or Be Eaten (The Wingfeather Saga, book 2), by Andrew Peterson

In this follow-up to On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the Igiby family is on the run from Fangs, toothy cows, and trolls. As they push onwards, hoping to eventually reach safety up north, they encounter a variety of challenges and get separated. Much of this book focuses on Janner, the oldest Igiby child, and his brother, Tink. There's a lot of tension as Janner and Tink struggle to survive and get to safety, and also as they grapple with their true identities--one as the Throne Warden, the other as the King. Not to mention that they have brother squabbles as well. This children's novel was fun and adventurous and it was beautiful to see the Igiby family work together as they fought for survival. It ends on quite the cliffhanger, so now I need to read the next one! 

Thanks so much for joining me this month! If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments. I'm currently working through a couple nonfiction books (slowly and gradually!) and I'll need some new books to read after those. So, please send me your ideas! 


  1. Wow, I had never heard of that L.M. Montgomery novel. I enjoyed the first few in the "Anne of Green Gables" series (felt like it jumped the shark after 3 or 4 books) ... I'll take a look at this one.

    1. It's amazing to see how many novels L.M. Montgomery wrote (one of my favorites is The Blue Castle. I also really like-and need to reread-her Emily of New Moon trilogy)! I have similar feelings about the Anne of Green Gables books. I really love Book 1, and I very much enjoyed Book 3, but I wasn't as interested in the rest (aside from Book 8-I'm thinking it's due to the fact that I was a brand-new mom when I read Book 8, and Book 8 is a lot about motherhood and it really clicked with me). I hope you enjoy this one!

  2. I read Jane of Lantern Hill as an adult and never even thought of how it might have some difficult issues for children. You are absolutely right that some parental conversation might be in order! Thanks for sharing your #OpenBook!

    1. I think those topics in Jane of Lantern Hill mostly jumped out at me since I'm a mom of young kids now-you know how it is, I'm guessing, with keeping an eye open to what our children consume and what they're ready for (or not!). That and the fact that I know families with very different views on what's appropriate for different ages; it's helpful for me to sort out what might be issues for different families so I can bring it up to them if I'm recommending a book for their kids. I enjoyed Jane of Lantern Hill, but it's amazing to see how different it was from the Anne of Green Gables books that I grew up on!