What I’ve Been Reading Lately: Stories that make you want to laugh, cry and cheer out loud.


Welcome to my monthly book report! Because I can’t just read a book like a normal person – I need space to process and discuss it – below are my informal reviews and random thoughts on the books I’ve read this month. I love being able to share and connect with others to discuss what books wowed us (and maybe which books didn’t). This month I’m also including books that I’ve listened to as an audiobook. As usual, I’m linking up with the community at the Modern Mrs. Darcy.


The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

“It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them.”

—George Yeoman Pocock

Since I’ve been inspired by all things Olympics lately, I listened to this as an audiobook using my monthly Audible credit. Since I don’t know anything about rowing, I was a bit surprised by how engrossed I became with the story…and not just me but my family as well. It’s the story of the rise of the University of Washington’s rowing team and their journey to the Olympics, with the happenings of Nazi Germany as the backdrop. But the story really centers around one person, the loveable Joe Rantz. It’s his story and his fierce determination coupled with his sweet disposition that completely hooked me on the story. Who doesn’t like to cheer for the underdog? It’s an all-around inspiring story and an interesting peek into that time in history. I think fans of “Seabiscuit” and “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand will also enjoy reading this story. It’s truly one of those books that will make you laugh, cry and cheer out loud.


Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth

“No indeed, the nuns were not remote goody-goodies. They were a bunch of feisty women who had seen it all, lived and loved and suffered throughout, and remained true to their vocation.”

“Shadows of the Workhouse” is the second book in the “Call the Midwife” series and it was just as fascinating and engaging as the first book. Set in London’s West End during the 1950s, this book tells the stories of the people of Poplar. People who lived through just about every unimaginable tragedy – poverty, war, disease, etc. – and had an iron will about them. As the name implies, many of the stories tell of the horrors that occurred in the workhouses in the late 1800s and what happened to those children when they grew up. They are heartbreakingly sad stories, but also filled with hope and perseverance. You’ll want to cry and cheer at the same time. Oh, the things they had to live with and overcome! It’s such a great reminder of how lucky we are to live with today’s conveniences.

As a side note, if this is any testimony to the power of these stories, this book brought me out of a terrible reading “drought.” (You know those times when nothing interests you and you have no desire to read.)


Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

“What is the nature of life? Life is lines of dominoes falling. One thing leads to another, and then another, just like you’d planned. But suddenly a Domino gets skewed, events change direction, people dig in their heels, and you’re faced with a situation that you didn’t see coming, you who thought you were so clever.”

I felt like this book had a lot of potential to tell a very interesting story. It spans several generations and two continents. It’s the story of a grandmother, mother and daughter and the choices they make – both good and bad – that greatly impact their futures. The story highlights the complicated relationships that mothers tend to have with their daughters (and vice versa, of course). The writing was solid and I mostly liked the characters, but about half way through I started to wonder what the point of the story was, other than making me feel depressed. I don’t need a story to wrap up neatly but I want to feel as if there was some type of redemption or at least some point in telling the story. There seems to be a trend right now in current fiction, this book included, to create stories about a slew of characters bent on making bad choices and decisions. I’m not a fan of it. As a reader, it just makes me feel bad about life. I wouldn’t say avoid this story, but I would advise to approach with caution.

Your Turn: What have you been reading lately?

8 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately: Stories that make you want to laugh, cry and cheer out loud.

  1. How cool to read Boys in the Boat during the Olympics. Boys in the Boat was our county’s read a couple years back and the Joe Rantz’s daughter and the author came to speak. I was sad that I didn’t get to hear them


  2. Glad you enjoyed The Boys in the Boat. I did row in high school, so I had that extra level of knowledge. The storytelling in that book is just so good!


  3. I keep hearing about the Boys in the Boat AND even the Godess book too. 🙂 I MAY read them some time.

    My Mom really enjoyed the Call the Midwives book series. She was shocked at how graphic they were, but flew right through all of them. Glad they were just what you needed too!

    As for me…I’ve been doing less reading and yet my pace seems to be picking back up again. 🙂 I’m currently reading two books that I need to finish by TOMORROW. “Partners in Crime” by Agatha Christie and “At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon. It’s been slow going, but I want to finish both of them before I have to take them back to the library. Yesterday I started a book on Lady Jane Grey (research for a writing project I’ve got going) by Faith Cook. That’s one woman and time period I know almost NOTHING about, so I’m nothing but totally excited about it all.

    I’ve got a great stack of books to dig into next. I hope, anyways! I’ve already started dabbling into Ruth Reichl’s “My Kitchen Year” and a collection of poems from 100 Years of Poetry Magazine. 🙂


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