Easter Basket Round Up

Time to talk baskets! Growing up our Easter baskets were heavy on the chocolate (Cadbury, yum) and jelly beans, and an accessory such as a hair bow or little purse but honestly not much else. Not that there is anything wrong with that but more sugar is one thing that my kids don’t need, wink, and since Easter is an important faith holiday for us, we like to focus on something that encourages them in their faith walk while also celebrating the new life that is reflected all around us during springtime (which sometimes looks like new art supplies, new poetry books, etc). And if you haven’t endured a Michigan winter you don’t know just how joyous that celebration is! My children are ages 4-9 and I’ve rounded up some of my spring favorites including the books that I’m placing their baskets this year. I try to focus on what we need to replenish (chalk, bubbles, paints) and sometimes I snag a little something at the Target dollar spot (they have such cute watering cans for kids as well as wooded painted birdhouses). And at the end of the day, you really just have the size of a basket to work with so while it’s easy to get overwhelmed with Christmas (and having to stem the tide of gifts from well-meaning family and friends), I find Easter much easier and simpler. And that’s probably the way it should be, no? Smile. Happy Easter all!

2018 Booklist

It’s no secret that I love to read, a LOT. I don’t use any sort of fancy tracking for my booklist except a Word document that I’ve been updating since 2010. I know many people who set reading goals each year but I’ve never had the compulsion to do that. For me, I consider healthy reading to be akin to healthy eating: essentially doing so intuitively works the best for me. Sure, there are some books that I seek out more aggressively than others, but most times I’m at the mercy of the library hold list. Wink. I also pay attention to book recommendations from fellow bookworms and I love the booklists that our local independent bookstores put out. I’ve also recognized that some seasons I am able to read more than others (when toddlers were afoot, not much!). All that to say is that I’m not hung up on the actual number; I don’t numerate as I track as I’ve always felt then it would begin to seem like work to me, I just tally them up at the end of the year. This year I did read the most I have since I begun keeping track in 2010: a total of 88 books (last year it was 79). Note that this does include middle grade and young adult fiction, books that I’m able to get through quite quickly. I did not include family read-alouds in that total but I’ve included those, as well as audiobooks that we listened to as a family below. As I work from home I don’t have a commute so the audiobooks that we enjoy on road trips tend to be those that we do as a family. I do note trends in my reading though! Two years ago it was year of non-fiction. Last year it was historical fiction. This year was clearly the year of the memoir. I am realizing I read the least non-fiction this year than any other years but I believe this to be due to the fact that memoirs can toggle the line between non-fiction/autobiography. However, there are some topics I look forward to delving into deeper this year. I will look forward to seeing what 2019 brings!

For years I have done my own literary superlatives, I’ve listed those first but the list in its entirety is below as well. I didn’t include middle grade/YA in the superlatives as I don’t read as many in that genre and the ones that I did read were ALL fabulous. Please comment if you see a favorite or a book you’d like to read. Happy Reading!

2018 Booklist Superlatives

Best All Around

Where the Crawdads Sing

Best Fiction


The Cactus

Best Historical Fiction

Lilli De Jong

Best Non-Fiction

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions

Most Helpful (in my season of life)

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School

Most Unique

The Monk of Mokha

Most Poignant

The Line Becomes a River

Before We Were Yours

Most Humorous

Dear Mrs. Bird

Best Memoir

The Soul of An Octopus


2018 Living by the Page Booklist


Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence Kayla Aimee

That Kind of Mother Rumaan Alam

Us Against You Fredrik Backman

Lilli De Jong Janet Benton

How to Walk Away Katherine Center

The Great Alone Kristin Hannah

The Cactus Sarah Haywood

Small Country: A Novel Gaël Faye

The Atlas of Love Laurie Frankel

Last Christmas in Paris Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Every Note Played Lisa Genova

An American Marriage Tayari Jones

The Queen of Hearts Kimmery Martin

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee Agnes Martin-Lugand

Still Me JoJo Moyes

Little Fires Everywhere Celeste Ng

This Must Be the Place Maggie O’Farrell

Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens

Dear Mrs. Bird AJ Pearce

A Spark of Light Jodi Picoult

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go Amy Reichert

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Lisa See

Mr. Dickens and His Carol Samantha Silva

Sourdough Robin Sloan

By the Book Julia Sonneborn

The Good Thief Hannah Tinti

The Space Between Us Thrity Umrigar

The Book of Essie Meghan MacLean Weir

My Oxford Year Julia Whelan

Before We Were Yours Lisa Wingate

Something Like Happy Eva Woods

The Map of Salt and Stars Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin


Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening Manal Al-Sharif

The Line Becomes a River Francisco Cantú

Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life Joan Chittister

The Middle Place Kelly Corrigan

Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say Kelly Corrigan

The Monk of Mokha Dave Eggers

 Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People Bob Goff

At Home in This Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroad of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of this Wild and Glorious Life Jen Hatmaker

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works-A True Story Dan Harris

Girl, Wash Your Face Rachel Hollis

Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared Jessica Honegger

To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regrets Jedidiah Jenkins

The Joy of Doing Nothing Rachel Jonat

From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel Christine Hoover

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry Katrina Kenison

 The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir Katrina Kenison

The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love Kristin Kimball

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living Emily Ley

Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful Katie Davis Major

Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted Shannan Martin

Come & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table Bri McKoy 

Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons Dr. Meg Meeker

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion Sara Miles

The Soul of An Octopus Sy Montgomery

The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood Sy Montgomery

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals Sy Montgomery

Becoming Michelle Obama

Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith and Resilience Allison Pataki

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School David and Kelli Pritchard

A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda Josh Ruxin

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith Barbara Brown Taylor

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way Lysa TerKeurst

Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful Sarah Wilson


Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior Jonah Berger

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life Bill Burnett & Dave Evans 

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions Valeria Luiselli

The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life Into a Work of Art Erwin Raphael McManus


Where the Watermelons Grow Cindy Baldwin

The Wild Robot Peter Brown

The Wild Robot Escapes Peter Brown     

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming J. Anderson Coats

Finding Esme Suzanne Crowley

The Great Hibernation Tara Dairman 

The Lifters Dave Eggers

Fortunately, the Milk Neil Gaiman

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel Kimberly Willis Holt

Bob Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

The Flourishing of Floralie Laurel Fiadhnait Moser

The Book of Boy Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell

Front Desk Kelly Yang


Devotions Mary Oliver


·      Mary Poppins

·      The Penderwicks in Spring

·      The Penderwicks at Last

·      Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package

·      The War That Saved My Life

·      The War I Finally Won

·      Who Was? Scientists and Inventors

 Family Read Alouds:

[1] Note that the Audiobooks and Family Read Alouds are in the order that we read/listened to them. This doesn’t include the copious amount of picture books we read this year, please visit my the ‘Book Review’ section on this site or visit my IG @livingbythepagewithnatalie to see those titles and reviews.


Mini Mother's Day Gift Guide

The other day my husband was asking what I wanted for Mother's Day and my answer was the same as it is every year: just time with you and the kids. And good, strong coffee. And brunch. LOL. But honesty, tangible gifts aren't my love language the way that quality time is, but he pointed out that he wants to teach us our kids how to love on their mama and my boys particularly had been asking for him to help them pick out a gift...SO since my arm was twisted, a book list was rapidly sent his way and they have plans to hit our local indie bookstore this weekend. All this made me think of how many of you perhaps are looking for a gift for your own mothers...or for sisters, friends, aunts, or yourselves! I'm all about the #metome gifting, wink. I am hesitant to call this an official gift guide since there are so many other bloggers out there that do a fabulous job of curating gifts (I see you, @dosaygive) but here a few unique ones for that woman in your life that loves to live by the page:


Darling Magazine

This magazine is focused on ALL things around the art of being a woman.  It's classy, fun, witty and best of all, none of the women in the magazine have been retouched.  As their motto goes, you too, darling, are a work of art. You can gift a subscription, a current issue or even a back issue for just $6!

Flourish Motherhood

I contributed to Issue 02 of this magazine and ordered a few print editions for my own mama-crew! This is such an uplifting and encouraging magazine about all things motherhood! The print version of Issue 02 is sold out, but you can get a digital copy of Issue 02 online right now for just $4.99. 


Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

This isn't a new one but it's been a faithful standby that I've gifted to sisters, sister-in-laws, friends, and the like since 2013. A collection of essays about life, love, and food with a sprinkling of some amazing recipes in between (get ready for some to become regular rotations!).

Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life

I loved Lara Casey's 'Make it Happen' book and can't wait to get my hands on this one! I think this would be a lovely gift and check out the other items in her shop as well (prints, journals, etc) over at www.cultivatewhatmatters.com


This collection of watercolor art and devotions by Ruth Chou Simons is stunningly beautiful. I gifted this to my mother-in-law for her birthday this fall and secretly have been hoping for a copy myself. 

The Magic of Motherhood: The Good Stuff, The Hard Stuff, and Everything in Between

The sweetest collection of essays by the team at Coffee + Crumbs about the ups, and downs, of motherhood. Especially perfect for the soon-to-be or first-time mama. 

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living

Because with kids (young or teens) in the house, every day is New Year's Day in terms of simplifying it all, right!? 

Puffin in Bloom Collection

If she is a classics aficionado or has a young girl that she loves to read aloud with, this special collection of four hardback books designed by Anna Rifle Bond is for her (this includes Heidi, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and A Little Princess).


Links below to some of my favorites....even if you are working with more of a novice cook, cookbooks provide fabulous inspiration or even make lovely coffee table books too. Wink.

Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life

How to Celebrate Everything: Recipes and Rituals for Birthdays, Holidays, Family Dinners, and Every Day In Between

Love & Lemons: An Apple to Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Though the Seasons

The Forest Feast Gatherings

Cloth + Paper 

Living by the Page Canvas Bag

Because she needs somewhere to place all this goodness, right!? Just order by Monday May 7 to ensure delivery by Mother's Day! 

Joy Creative Shop

Steph Weibring of Joy Creative Shop created the fabulous hand-letting that you see here at Living by the Page. Check out her shop for some lovely paper good-ideas.  While I do appreciate all that technology enables us to do, I firmly believe in the power and love that comes in the form of a hand-written note.


Pair it all with some fresh beans from BookLoversCoffee! They don't roast the coffee until you order it so zero inventory is held!  And Living by the Page readers are welcome to use code MOMSBEANS for 10% off the entire order.  Orders must be placed by Saturday May 5 to guarantee delivery for Mother's Day!