Ok, everyone. After multiple put-offs, Sweet Book of Mine is finally making a comeback and is here to stay. With most of us self-quarantining due to COVID-19 (Spring-breakers, GET YOUR FANNIES INSIDE), now is as great a time as ever to un-glue our eyes from our screens, detox from the never-ending stream of media, and get on that reading grind, even if just for an hour a day. I am going to resume sharing my favorite books, ranging from memoirs and WWII historical fiction, all the way to gripping thrillers that leave you engrossed until the final page. So, without further ado, I present to you, Sweet Book of Mine: Volume #2!
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown – I am pretty picky about self-help/motivational books, but this one is a MUST read. Utilizing both research and personal anecdotes, Brene Brown taps into what it means to truly belong to ourselves in a world filled with constant criticism and uncertainty, compounded by issues such as divisive politics and the rise of technology and social media.
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantu – This memoir addresses the ongoing immigration crisis here in the U.S. Cantu, the son of a Mexican immigrant, shares his experiences during his time as a Border Patrol agent, and afterward, having left his position. His accounts are powerful, peeling back complex layers of what has become a very polarizing topic among American citizens. Cantu really forces you to stop and think about the humanity behind the immigration crisis, and just how much it goes beyond politics.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – I had waited for months to get my hands on this critically acclaimed memoir. Westover weaves through her childhood and adolescence with such vivid detail, that her struggles to fully detach herself from her isolationist family in the pursuit of a formal education, become intensely palpable to the reader. A truly remarkable read that I will pick up again in the future.
Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa Wingate – Wingate’s heart-wrenching tale of a group of siblings fighting to stay together is loosely based off the real-life Tennessee Children’s Home Society, an orphanage that operated as an underground adoption ring. Georgia Tann, the TCHS director, kidnapped children from lower-class families and adopted them out to wealthier families, all to make a profit. The story also fluctuates between past and present-day, uncovering some shocking family truths along the way. I ended up researching the TCHS after finishing the novel, and I was horrified to learn how many lives and families Tann so unabashedly ripped apart and destroyed.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by Mark Sullivan – Based on a true story, Pino Lella is a seventeen-year-old living in Mussolini’s Italy during WWII. To keep him safe, his parents send him to study in the mountains, where he helps Jews escape into Switzerland. As the war escalates, he enlists as a German solider and becomes the trusted driver of one of Hitler’s highest-ranking officers, gaining access to information that will help the Allies save countless others from persecution and death. Pino demonstrated unconventional courage, strength and will to survive and protect countless others for someone his age, and it goes without saying that Sullivan’s novel has left an indelible impact on the WWII genre.