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!
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
Best Historical Fiction
Most Helpful (in my season of life)
2018 Living by the Page Booklist
Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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
The Middle Place Kelly Corrigan
The Monk of Mokha Dave Eggers
At Home in This Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroad of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises Jerusalem Jackson Greer
Girl, Wash Your Face Rachel Hollis
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
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
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
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals Sy Montgomery
Becoming Michelle Obama
Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School David and Kelli Pritchard
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
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
YOUNG ADULT AND MIDDLE GRADE
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
Family Read Alouds:
 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.
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:
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!
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.
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!).
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 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.
Because with kids (young or teens) in the house, every day is New Year's Day in terms of simplifying it all, right!?
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.
Cloth + Paper
Because she needs somewhere to place all this goodness, right!? Just order by Monday May 7 to ensure delivery by Mother's Day!
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!