What I’ve Read Lately

I’ve been trying to read more fiction lately, as I got out of the habit for awhile. Here are some of the books I’ve read and enjoyed recently.  As I wrote about these books for you, I had to laugh at myself, because most of these ‘fictional’ stories are actually true stories, based on true stories, an exploration of other cultures, or exploring a facet of humans and their relationships that I would like to learn more about. No escapist fiction here, sorry!

Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women— During World War I, radium was  discovered to glow in the dark, and was painted on the dials inside military airplanes.  Since not much was known at the time about the dangers of radium, the girls doing the painting suffered terribly. Though this was a fictionalized account, the women and their challenges were real. This is the story of their fight to hold their employers accountable.

Indigo Girl— A fascinating story of a young girl in the 1700’s who was left in charge of her father’s plantation.  This was based on a true story and the fictionalized story was interspersed with letters that the girl had actually written.  The protagonist is strong and capable and very atypical of (my imaginings of) a woman in that era.  Woven into the story of the plantation was the story of her longing to find a marriage match of her own choosing, and how all of it was a fight against conventional expectations of that day.

The Forgotten Seamstress— This is a story set in two different times.  A modern day woman gets curious about a quilt that has been in her family for generations, and discovers that the quilt maker was doing more than just quilting when she created this heirloom.  She was trying to tell people about her life, while locked up in an insane asylum. Definitely adult themes in this one, but it is a fascinating read.

The Namesake— This one is a multi-generational story of a family who came to America from India.  I am fascinated with the immigrant experience, and found this description of life lived with your heart in two worlds to be both mournful and intriguing.

The Girl with Seven Names– this is the true story of a girl who escaped from North Korea.  I found it to be an interesting view into the country, and into the struggles of the North Korean people, and I cheered with the woman when she finally made it to a place of safety.

Turtles All the Way Down— This one was an interesting view into the mind of a person struggling with extreme anxiety and obsessive thoughts. It did a great job portraying the endless thoughts that hound folks with extreme anxiety, and gave me a new sense of compassion and understanding. Definitely a young adult book– I would have appreciated a little more depth.  But still interesting.

180 Seconds— This story is based on a fascinating experiment where complete strangers are set face to face to look into each other’s eyes for 180 seconds.  The main character in the book is a college age girl who has spent the majority of her life in foster care, and is struggling with issues surrounding attachment and trust.  This is definitely a romance and gets downright steamy at times.  But I found the protagonists believable and the big question in the book very intriguing– what does it take to break down walls in a person who has been very wounded?

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  What have you been reading lately?


  1. Great suggestions, Mary! I added most of those to my library list. The North Korea book was already on hold for me.
    Some of my favorites from the last couple of years, mostly nonfiction:

    Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
    Anything by Marilynne Robinson – except her books of essays
    Dreamland: the true tale of America’s opiate epidemic by Sam Quinones
    Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Hughette Clark and the Spending of an American Fortune
    Quiet by Susan Cain

  2. The Girl with Seven Names sounds like one I’d like to read, and I’m trying to read more this year. Right now I’m reading Crazy Love, Plowed Under (Amy Carmichael), Mom Enough, and currently the only fiction is The Secret Zoo that I’m reading to the kids, but we all love it!

  3. Alas, in this season of my life, I don’t have the physical energy to read as I used to. (I can barely stay awake for a chapter of my Bible each night.) I used to love reading and I am holding on to hope that this is a season and I will read again some day! 🙂 In the meantime, I will put your suggestions on my book list.

    Do you have book suggestions for a teenage girl or preteen boy?

  4. Christina says:

    Hi Mary
    I love your posts and always look forward to reading new ones!
    You are so inspiring and your frugal ideas are very realistic.
    I was just wondering, what is the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on food, at the store and /or at a restaurant?
    Keep the posts coming!