Hit the Books

Summer Reading Suggestions

hit the books, summer reading suggestions

By Mimi Greenwood Knight

My friend, Amie, has the best taste in books. That is to say, I suppose that we have the same taste in books. Rarely has Amie recommended a book I didn’t absolutely love. As summer 2024 approaches, we’ll all — hopefully — have more time to indulge in a good read or two. Here are a few Aime and I have enjoyed.

American Sherlock

American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI

by Kate Winkler Dawsey (nonfiction)

If you’re a true crime junkie, you may already know Kate Winkler Dawsey from her historic true-crime podcasts, Tenfold More Wicked and Buried Bones. In “American Sherlock,” Kate follows the career of Edward Oscar Heinrich, one of America’s greatest — and first — forensic scientists. Set in the 1930s, the story follows Heinrich as he solves over 2,000 cases in his 40-year career using techniques he was basically creating on the fly, many of which are still used today.

The In Between

The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments

by Hadley Vlahos (memoir)

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do sad. No weepy books or movies for me, thank you very much. You’d think the memoir of a hospice nurse relating the final days of her patients’ lives wouldn’t be my cup of tea. On the contrary, Hadley’s book is filled with hope, joy, wisdom, faith, and stories of redemption as she meets her patients and works to make the end of their lives peaceful and beautiful.

Herbal Medicine for Beginners

Herbal Remedies for Beginners

by Katja Swift and Ryn Midura (nonfiction, instructional)

I first met Ryn and Katja through the Holistic Herbalism Podcast. As a brand-new herb enthusiast, I appreciated how approachable they made the topic. Successful herbalists, teachers, and co-founders of the CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, the two take a complex subject and (as my daddy liked to say) put the cookies on the bottom shelf. Their book includes 100 herbal remedies with simple herbs that are easy to access and step-by-step instructions on how to shop for, make, and apply herbal medicine that may address common problems such as headaches, colds, insect bites, tummy upsets, and more. (Note: Always check with your medical doctor before taking herbal supplements.)

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

by Mark Sullivan (historical fiction)

When Amie recommended this one, she said, “You’ll never forget Pino Lella.” And she was right. The story follows a real-life hero, an Italian teenager turned reluctant resistance fighter. Author Mark Sullivan actually spent time with Pino toward the end of his life. He heard firsthand about the years he spent helping Jews escape over the Alps through the underground railroad and infiltrating Hitler’s ranks when he wasn’t much more than a boy.

The Choice

The Choice

by Gillian McAllister (fiction)

I was so excited after I read this one that I spoiled the experience for several people by revealing too much of the plot. Suffice it to say, this mystery/thriller follows the choice a young woman makes and presents alternating timelines in which she did and didn’t make that choice, while neither she nor the reader knows which reality to believe. It’s thought-provoking and suspenseful.

This is a terrible admission from a writer, but because I have attention deficit disorder, I struggle to sit still and read a book. For years, my solution was to walk along our country road, book in hand and read as I walked. Two birds, one stone, right?

My new solution for reining-in my wandering brain is to listen to an audiobook while keeping my hands busy with other activity. If you haven’t jumped on the audiobook bandwagon yet, let me proselytize a moment. My local library has thousands of audiobook titles in every genre. I bet yours does, too.

Now I can be driving, cooking, doing laundry, gardening, or foraging while simultaneously fighting on the Scottish moors with Jaime Fraser or learning about real food from Michael Pollan. The library gives me two weeks to finish a book, and I’ve never returned one after that deadline. If it’s a nonfiction or reference-type book, I might purchase the audiobook through a source like Audible.com since I’ll want to refer back to it frequently. I might even buy an accompanying hard copy off ThriftBooks.com

If you have attention deficit too – and even if you don’t – give audiobook multitasking a try!

Happy reading!

If you need help getting your kids into reading this summer, check out this article:

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