Books! Sharing Some of My Favorite Recent Reads and Inviting You to Share Yours

I wanted to first thank everyone who chimed in on the discussion I started with Friday's blog post. I really appreciate the time and thought each of you put into your comments!

Now, on to something different!

It's been a while since I've done a book post, so I figured this would be the perfect time to do another one. With darkness falling earlier and earlier, these cozy fall days are made for curling up with a good book and a steaming mug of tea.

books, audiobooks, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Although I've been plowing my way through Michael Connelly's Bosch series (I just can't help it; once I get into a series I need to read all of it), I've taken time off to read some other books, too.

Here are some I particularly enjoyed:

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. (Thank you, Karen, for recommending this way back in February!). I literally could not put this book down. I devoured it. So fascinating and also, so thoughtful and insightful. It's historical fiction that spans generations and continuously surprises, changing direction as life's disappointments derail the best laid plans. Lots about hunting for exotic species of plants, too (which I found irresistible).

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann. I'm embarrassed to admit that I wasn't familiar with Sally Mann or her photographs before I read about this book. And I'm even more embarrassed to admit that what first caught my attention was the photo on NPR's website that accompanied the interview with her. The photo depicts the photographer in the car with her greyhound. Yes, I'm always easily swayed in a person's favor if I know they've rescued a greyhound -- and it turns out that Sally Mann has rescued many greyhounds. This book, though has very little to do with greyhounds. It was dense. It was long, but it was very readable and incredibly interesting.

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Langercrantz. It's hard to imagine liking a book that continues a series started by another author, but like it I did. This is the fourth book in the Millennium series written by Stieg Larsson. If you haven't read the first three books, I'd start with them. They are dark and, at times, graphic, yet there's something so compelling about the characters. David Langercrantz did a wonderful job of picking up where Larsson left off without rehashing plots or themes.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling). This is another one I wouldn't recommend reading if you haven't already read the others in the series (I'm always a bit obsessive about reading series in order). It's dark -- serial murder and rape -- but it also contains this gem:
"You could find beauty nearly anywhere if you stopped to look for it, but the battle to get through the days made it easy to forget this totally cost-free luxury existed. He carried memories like this from his childhood... the glitter of the sea as you first saw it on a morning as blue as a butterfly's wing; the mysterious emerald-and-shadow world of the Gunnera Passage at Trebah Garden; distant white sails bobbing like seabirds on blustery gunmetal waves." 
In the end I was left craving the next installment.

Although I enjoy reading books from a variety of genres, it's probably pretty clear by now that I love a good mystery. I also love watching TV mysteries, especially British crime dramas. Gathering evidence, catching murders... so fascinating to me. But where's the truth behind the fiction? Val McDermid explores the science and the history of solving crime, from arson to murder to computer crime, with her non-fiction book Forensics. It was a quick and easy read and sheds some light on what's true and what's not true in crime fiction.

So as not to end on a dark note, the last book I'll mention is Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic.  It seems as if everyone has been reading this book (or at least everyone on Instagram). I don't usually get excited about self-help type books, but Big Magic is inspiring and encouraging and beautiful. I listened to it on audio (read by the author) as I painted in my studio. It's a call to live a creative life, to listen to the part of you that yearns to create, not as a career or a job, but because it's your responsibility and also, ultimately, the purpose of life itself. Elizabeth Gilbert's take on inspiration and creativity is refreshing in so many ways.

marigolds, orange flowers, autumn arrangement, oak leaves, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I recommended a couple other books in my Autumn Newsletter. Missed it? Sign up now and I'll catch you up.

So what about you? What have you been reading lately? Although I have a long to-read list, I'm always happy to add more books to it and and happy when you inspire each other in the comments, too!


  1. Thanks for the recommendations Anne. I haven't read fiction for ages and must get back into it. I am just working my way through a non-fiction book called The Creative License by Danny Gregory. I don't know if I am going to do all the exercises - I'll more than likely extract the bits I want to do and only do them! I hope you have a great week. :-)

    1. I got that book out from the library once, but I have to say I don't remember any exercises. Ooops. Guess it didn't make a big impression on me. I'm the same way as you, I don't really like doing exercises in books like that, but you never know how something you've read or seen may inspire you later.

      Hope you do fit in some fiction reading, too. :)

  2. Hi Anne - I just got the Spoonflower Handbook in the mail from Amazon and it looks promising for winter projects. I also got Season 3 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries which got mixed reviews on Amazon but since I love the costumes I decided I had to have it for my library. I haven't read Big Magic yet but that's on my list. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. Hi, Sharon! I had been thinking about buying the Spoonflower Handbook, but then I saw I could get it from the library. I've put in a request for it and look forward to it coming in.

      I watched season 3 of Miss Fisher on Netflix and I thought it was fun. I do love the costumes and cars and Miss Fisher is such an entertaining character.

      I think you'll like Big Magic.


  3. So glad you enjoyed The Signature of All Things!

    Not an easy book to read, but so, so enlightening is Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. A recently named MacArthur Fellow, Coates' writing on race in America is essential reading.

    Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer is on my nightstand. Elizabeth Gilbert reviewed it and wrote "A hymn of love to the world".

    Just finishing The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks, about his work as a shepherd in England's gorgeous Lake District.

    Thanks for this fun post, Anne!


    1. Thank you, Karen, for sharing some more titles! I'll have to add them to my list!


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