Wednesday, May 5, 2021

An Open Book: April 2021 Reads

It's May! That means it's time to link-up with Carolyn Astfalk at An Open Book so we can chat about what crossed my bookshelf in the past month. It was a pretty fun mix of fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary. Let's dive in! 

Unwinding Anxiety, by Judson Brewer.

Written by a neuroscientist, this book dives into the science of anxiety and habits, and it talks about ways to combat anxiety. I really liked how the author emphasized reward-based behavior and working with habit loops, rather than trying to use sheer willpower, distraction, or substitution. Some parts (especially towards the end) were a little too woo-woo for me, and this book helped trigger an anxiety flare-up in me initially, but this was a really interesting, helpful read! 

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.

A group of young British schoolboys finds themselves trapped on an island just after WWII, and the gradually spiral into savagery. I'd always heard this very basic premise and stayed far, far away from this book, but I'm so glad that I finally picked it up! I LOVED IT. Not only is the writing beautiful and the story thought-provoking (and rather relevant to our current world), but this book really speaks to me of hope. Stay tuned for more thoughts on this book in upcoming blog posts! 

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink.

Somehow, this is yet another classic that I missed in childhood, and it was delightful! Based on stories of Brink's grandmother, this book follows the young Caddie, a girl growing up in the American frontier in the 1860s. While her sisters have to act "like little ladies," Caddie is allowed to roam wild and free with her brothers, and she has loads of adventures exploring and befriending the local Native Americans. The relationship with the native people forms a large part of this book, and I really liked the different angles given here. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and am excited to share it with my kids when they grow older! 

From Christendom to Apostolic Mission, by Monsignor Shea and University of Mary Press.

This 100ish page book is having a moment in my archdiocese right now; a lot of people are reading and discussing it, so after some nudging from my husband, I finally read it too! It was excellent. It's basically one long essay that addresses the current culture in America, and how we can bring Christ into our lives and the culture. It makes the argument that we no longer live in a "Christendom culture" as our grandparents did, but that our culture is more like that of the Apostolic times-so we should act accordingly. I found myself nodding along to this entire book, and I was really encouraged and inspired by it! I HIGHLY recommend it, it was excellent and brought up great points. 

Bringing Reggio Home, by Louise Caldwell.

In the early 90s, Louise Caldwell spent a year Reggio Emilia, Italy, learning and working at the preschools there. Then, she came back to the U.S.A. and tried to implement some of what she learned into a preschool here. This book goes into her time in Italy and the U.S. and gives many classroom examples, with discussions and some pictures. Since I really love some elements of the Reggio Emilia method of education, I thought this was very interesting and helpful! I appreciated her reflection on the limitations in the U.S.A.'s model of education, and how she still worked to bring positive changes regardless. The focus on animism got a little old to me, though I did love a lot of the discussions in here about seeing parts of nature in relationship to each other and to ourselves. Also, while the classroom discussions in here were lovely to read, some of them got a bit long for me. Overall, though, I enjoyed this book! 

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson.

 Andie, a high school senior, goes missing. Her boyfriend then winds up deadin a suicide, and after seeing all the evidence, everyone concludes that Sal killed Andie. Until, five years later, a high school student named Pippa chooses to analyze this murder investigation as her capstone project...and finds that there is more to this tragedy than the initial police investigation concluded. I thought this YA book was entertaining, but not great. I mean, the story is interesting and I was genuinely held in suspense at parts. BUT. I didn't get how seemingly every adult in her life is stupid and enabling. The fact that her supposedly responsible parents (one a lawyer) send her off to a very sketchy house party "with drinking and boys!" (as they declare) really had me wondering where the ACTUAL responsible adults in the town were. Pippa also lies to everyone-friends, parents, teachers-and that's never really addressed, either. However, I did appreciate the "call to arms" in the conclusion and the emphasis on the collective responsibility of a town and a community to help each other and make this world a better place. 

Thanks so much for joining me this month! Please drop any recommendations in the comments-I always love adding to my list! 


  1. I loved Caddie Woodlawn! You inspired me to try to read more classics.

    1. That's so neat that you enjoy Caddie Woodlawn! I'm really enjoying the occasional dive into a classics-there are so many good books that I somehow missed!

  2. I missed out on a lot of childhood classics. Caddie Woodlawn is one of them, but I'm glad I discovered it for my daughter, who loved it. I haven't read Lord of the Flies yet either, but now I'm eager to get to it. It's a short book, isn't it? I'm looking up From Christendom to Apostolic Mission too! Thanks for linking to An Open Book.

    1. That's awesome that your daughter has read Caddie! It was such a fun book. I'm interested to hear what you think of Lord of the Flies! It was about 230 or so pages, and I went through it fairly quickly-a pretty easy read, plus I had to see how things turned out! I also hope you're able to get to From Christendom to Apostolic Mission sometime! I think it lays things out really well, and I love how the book's message is one of hope :)