The Secrets of Midwives

The Top 5 Books I Read This Year

This year I finally reached my goal of reading 50 books in a year. I’ve been trying since 2011, so it feels especially good to have surpassed my goal in 2015. With that said, it was pretty tough to pick the top five books I read this year. It was so hard that I decided to pick five and then add in a few honorable mentions.

Looking back through the books I read this year, I was surprised to see how much fiction I read. I’m usually a big fan of memoirs, self-help, and midwifery books, but I branched out more in 2015 and I’m so glad I did.

Books
1. Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Secrets of a Charmed Life begins in present day England with a young American student interviewing Isabel McFarland, an elderly woman who is finally ready to discuss lifelong secrets she has kept from World War II, starting with her identity. The author then weaves in the story of fifteen-year-old Emmy and her younger sister, Julia who live in England in the 1940s. As Hitler wages a war against London, children are forced to evacuate to foster homes in the countryside. While Emmy and Julia find security and peace in a lovely cottage with their foster mother, Emmy’s desire to return to London and work with a fashion designer battles with Julia’s need for her sister. Just as the Luftwaffe begins its destruction of London, the sisters are torn apart and their lives change forever.

This book. I was hooked once the story of Emmy and Julia picked up and couldn’t stop reading it. I loved it so much that I forced my mom to read it (who claims she’s not big into reading) and she said she adored it. We agreed that we liked the bond between the sisters and their mother and felt that it was very realistic. I highly recommend this book.

2. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans is the story of Tom Sherbourne, an Australian lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. His lighthouse is so secluded that it’s half a day’s journey from the coast, and a supply boat only visits once a season. Tom meets and marries Isabel, and she lives with him on Janus Rock. Through the story, Isabel suffers two miscarriages and a stillbirth. One day, she hears a baby’s cry, and it turns out that a boat washed up on Janus Rock with a dead man and living baby on it. Tom wants to report the incident right away, but Isabel want to keep the baby. They end up keeping her and naming her Lucy. When Lucy is two, the family returns to the mainland and everything goes haywire.

At first, I wasn’t into this book. Once I became more invested in the plot, it was absolutely riveting. I have heard this it’s going to be turned into a movie this year as well. I’m very excited to see it!

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3. The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson Brower

The Residence is a nonfiction book that gives an account of the service staff of the White House. The author discusses many of the first families that have lived in the White House as well as the dedicated professionals who maintain the 132 rooms in the six-floor mansion. What I loved about The Residence was that it covered so many different aspects of the White House, from President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle to how the professionals get the White House ready for holidays and events. From the moment I began reading this book, I was absolutely fascinated. I’m also delighted to hear that the author has another (similar) book coming out in 2016!

4. The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

The Secrets of Midwives is about Neva Bradley, a young third-generation midwife who is pregnant, but keeping the details of who the father is under wraps. Neva’s secret mirrors her grandmother’s past in an eerily same way, and her grandmother must choose whether or not to share her past. I was fond of this book not only because it was about midwifery, but because the author totally nailed the mother-daughter relationships in a way that was very real to me. This book was a page-turner, but I wouldn’t read it if you’re squeamish about details concerning childbirth.

5. The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

The Boston Girl is about a young Jewish immigrant, Addie, who tells her life story to her granddaughter when asked how she became the woman she is. Addie’s story begins in 1915, and follows her through quite a few life changes. The book has a strong feminist theme, and proves that the author has a keen eye for history. When I first read about The Boston Girl online, I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy it but I was dead wrong. I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted to know what would happen next in Addie’s life. There are so many plot twists and turns, I was never bored with this book for a second.

Honorable Mentions

The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir – Patricia Harman

Astonish Me – Maggie Shipstead

You’re Going to be Okay: Encouraging Truth your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days – Holley Gerth

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success – Amy Morin

Did you read any good books this year? Please share!

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The Best Books I’ve Read Lately

Hello! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. It’s so nice to catch up on everyone’s blogs and just feel welcomed back into the blog world 🙂

Best Books

I’m pretty sure 2015 has been the year of reading for me, and I’m absolutely loving it. Since 2011, I have been trying (and trying, and trying) to read 50 books in a year and I’m glad to say I finally reached my goal this year! I’m happy that I never gave up after coming somewhat close to hitting the big 5-0 mark each year.

I think two factors contributed my success this year. The first being that I graduated, thus I have had much more time to read. The second factor is the fact that I started listening to audio books. They have been a game changer for me because I listen to them while I walk Lola, work, and drive. I get all of my audio books through my library on an app called Overdrive. I definitely recommend it. There’s also e-books and movies available through the app!

Anyways, the last time I really blogged about books was in late March, so it’s been a while. I want to share five of the best books I’ve read lately, plus one I’m reading now.

Best Books Photo 1

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (Fiction)

The Boston Girl is about a young Jewish immigrant, Addie, who tells her life story to her granddaughter when asked how she became the woman she is. Addie’s story begins in 1915, and follows her through quite a few life changes. The book has a strong feminist theme, and proves that the author has a keen eye for history. When I first read about The Boston Girl online, I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy it but I was dead wrong. I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted to know what would happen next in Addie’s life. There are so many plot twists and turns, I was never bored with this book for a second.

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth (Fiction)

If you’ve read my blog in the past few years, you probably know that I’m fascinated by midwifery. I read a lot of books (fiction and nonfiction) on the topic, and this one was a winner. The Secrets of Midwives is about Neva Bradley, a young third-generation midwife who is pregnant, but keeping the details of who the father is under wraps. Neva’s secret mirrors her grandmother’s past in an eerily same way, and her grandmother must choose whether or not to share her past. I was fond of this book not only because it was about midwifery, but because the author totally nailed the mother-daughter relationships in a way that was very real to me. This book was a page-turner, but I wouldn’t read it if you’re squeamish about details concerning childbirth.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (Fiction)

The Red Tent details the story of Dinah from the Old Testament in the Bible. Though her life story in the Bible is very short, the author (fictionally) expands up it in The Red Tent. According to ancient law in the Bible, women were to spend time in a red tent while menstruating or giving birth. The story is told in Dinah’s voice as she explains what life was like as a woman growing up in the tribe of Jacob and tells the stories she learned in the red tent. I’m currently about halfway through this book, but I’m really enjoying it for its historical and Biblical narrative.

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The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir by Patricia Harman (Nonfiction)

Another midwifery book, surprise! The Blue Cotton Gown had me hooked from the very first page. It’s a memoir about nurse-midwife Patsy Harman’s life as she manages a health clinic in West Virginia with her husband, who is an ob-gyn. The author share stories of her patients as well as her own financial and health struggles. The memoir covers five seasons of the author’s life and is at times hilarious and utterly heartbreaking. I loved this book so much that I read the author’s other three books. Again, if you’re squeamish about childbirth, I wouldn’t recommend this book. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful read.

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower (Nonfiction)

The title of this book is exactly what it’s all about, the private world of the White House. The author interviewed many of the past and present staff of the White House, who gave a respectful inside look at not only the White House, but the various first families who have lived there, from the Kennedy family to the Obama family. Prior to reading this book, I was fairly interested in the ins and outs of the presidency and White House, but the anecdotes within the pages really sparked my interest in all things White House/presidency. For weeks after reading, I was googling past presidents and asking my parents questions from what they remembered about scandals and other happenings at the White House before I was born. I wasn’t sure if this book would be a bit dry, but it is far from it. I finished it in just a few days and was actually sad to be done with it.

Growing Up Amish: A Memoir by Ira Wagler (Nonfiction)

Growing Up Amish is a memoir by Ira Wagler, an Amish-born man who tired and tried to find his way within the Amish community. Wagler recounts the first time he left the Amish at age 17, and a few times afterwards. He did an amazing job at sharing the good and bad about growing up Amish, from his family’s unconditional (and oftentimes tough) love, to the challenge of trying to fit in with the Old Order Amish when he was curious about life in the English world. If you’re interested in what it’s like to grow up Amish, this is a must-read.

What are some of the best books you’ve read lately?