Welcome to my book update post where I share what books I finished recently + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.
My Reading Goals for 2021
For 2021, I set a goal of reading 3 books per week — 1 fiction book, 1 non-fiction book, and 1 audiobook each week. I know this is an audacious goal, but reading is something I love and it’s a way I learn, challenge my mind, improve as a writer and communicator, and am refreshed and encouraged through inspiring stories.
I have a few shelves full of books (mostly that I’ve gotten free), so I decided to choose 52 books from off my shelf to read this year (see my list of 52 books I plan to read in 2021 here). I’ll also read other books that I find/am sent that pique my interest. Plus, I plan to go through a lot of audiobooks (I get mine free from the Libby app and just started trying out the Hoopla app).
Here are four books I finished recently:
Did you know that some circus companies hid Jews in their company during World War II? I didn’t know that until listening to this book!
I enjoyed this book, but it was my least favorite audiobook in the line-up this week. Mostly because I felt like some of the story was disjointed and a lot of it just felt very unrealistic. That said, it’s well narrated and, if you like World War II novels, you’ll probably enjoy this one.
Verdict: 3 stars
Todd Tilghman is likely best known for being the winner of The Voice, but he’s had a lot of little wins in his life that gave him the backbone and courage to try out for The Voice and make it to the end. The book chronicles he and his wife’s story and journey — from almost losing their marriage early on, to financial struggles, to their call to adopt, to dealing with unexpected fame. It’s a story of teamwork, of relying upon God, and of stepping out in faith and saying yes — even when it terrifies you!
I’m only giving it 3 stars because I felt like the story jumped around some and there was a lot of repetition in it that I found distracting, but I underlined and dog-eared many parts of the book, so don’t let my rating keep you from reading the book!
Verdict: 3 stars
I listened to this audiobook and found it to be a really engaging story (that was also well narrated). While some of the story felt fairly improbable and impossible, it opened up my eyes to another World War II story I’d never heard of before: Jews who hid in the sewers in order to survive the Holocaust.
If you want to read more of the real-life accounts of Jewish people hiding in the sewer, check out this site. And now I want to read The Girl in the Green Sweater, a first hand retelling of surviving in the sewer for 14 months and also the book, In the Sewers of Lvov: A Heroic Story of Survival from the Holocaust. (Have any of you read either of these?)
Verdict: 4 stars
This was my favorite book of this week. It’s the beautiful story of two young girls — one from a Japanese family and one from a German family — who meet at the Crystal City internment camp during World War II.
Not only does the story engage you right from the get-go, but it really makes you step back and ponder what it would be like to be an American citizen who — through no fault of your own — ended up in an internment camp in the US. Like the above two book, this is a World War II perspective I’d never considered before and I think it is a very worthwhile story to read or listen to (the audiobook narration is very well done). And it made me stop to consider how we can jump to conclusions because of fear and how those conclusions can deeply hurt others or make them feel outcast.
My only criticism with the book was that it gets a little far-fetched and detailed in the end section — the part that was well after the war. I kind of felt like that part could have been left out or edited down some as it felt like it started to drag on a little.
Verdict: 4 stars