Episode 31: Laura's October 2020 Reading

On this week's dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm, our host Laura talks about the 19 books she read in October 2020. From owned non-fiction books to spooky books from the library, there's quite the variety and lots of fun! 

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Reading Challenge Books: 

#theunreadshelfproject2020 - a book that scares you 

#mmdchallenge2020- a classic you didn't read in school

Books Laura Read in October: 

Whisper: How to Hear The Voice of God by Mark Batterson - This is the first of several books that you'll see on this list that relate to the topic of hearing and understanding God's calling. Whisper was great in that it detailed 7 languages God uses to get our attention: Scripture, desires, doors, dreams, promptings, people, and pain. I read the hardcover, which I found at a thrift store a few months ago, but my husband has listened to the audio and found it very effective as well.

All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson - I heard about this one while talking to Kris on episode 22.  This is the same author who wrote When Stars are Scattered and Roller Girl.   All's Faire is about a girl whose family works a Renaissance Faire, and she's a formerly-homeschooled student who is starting her first year of public school as a middle schooler. (Which, as a former homeschooler, sounds like a total nightmare honestly.) She has to navigate the drama of middle school, and learns lessons about bullying, fitting in, and knowing one's self. It's all against the backdrop of the Faire, which is fun. Also, her parents are total nerds, playing DND and doing art in their spare time, and I love them so much. 

Persuasion  by Jane Austen - I did it! I read a Jane Austen book! I have several more to go, but now I can say I've read an Austen book (since reading P & P in high school, that is). I enjoyed Persuasion. It is deceptively quiet, but the payoff is lovely. Poor Anne...my theory is that she is an enneagram 9. 

The Switch by Beth O'Leary - This is a cute rom-com with a lot of heart. A young woman living in London swaps places with her grandma who lives in a little village. They're both unhappy with life at the beginning, and find contentment as the story progresses. I love how this one emphasized the importance and vigor of older people. The grandma was one of the pillars of her society, and the younger woman learned a lot from living in her shoes for a while. (Trigger warnings: spousal abuse, online dating scam, panic attack)

The Tunguska Asteroid by C.A. Gray - What a cool short story this was! I got to read this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I learned a lot from this book, because I knew nothing about the historical event it examined. Another great installment in the Kairos Makers series, which has some Magic Tree House or Magic Attic vibes. 

Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts into Your Greatest Allies by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller  - This was a fascinating non-fiction read. If you're familiar with the emotions as characters from the Pixar film Inside Out, imagine that. It uses a family systems model to talk about the relationships between the emotions and whether they are too far or too close. Are they exiles, fire-fighters, or protectors? And can you ask Jesus to draw near to the broken parts of your soul? 

More: Find Your Personal Calling and Live Life To Your Fullest Measure by Todd Wilson - Another book in my research on Calling. It was recommended by Kaitlyn's dad. I really appreciated the Be, Do, and Go framework that Wilson brought to the conversation. 

Paolo Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia - this book was awesome and super scary (for me). It was recommended to me by a local bookstagrammer, @danica.rae.reads when we met at The Green Door Store on Independent Bookstore Day. It's a part of the Rick Riordan Presents series, and is based in part on Mexican folklore.  I loved how scientific the main character was, and how her scientific logic was challenged by the supernatural events. A story of family, friends, adventure, and bravery.

This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger - I’ve been meaning to read This Tender Land for months, ever since it made it in the minimalist list for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide. I checked it out from the library as a physical copy in July, but didn’t end up reading it before it was due back. I gave it another try this month, this time on ebook. I read it all in a few days and really enjoyed it. I talk about how sometimes it is just the right book at the right time. July wasn’t the right moment for me. This month was. What a journey this book was! There were some very surprising moments, some heartbreaking and some hopeful. I think the quote from the first chapter tells it best: “the tale I’m going to tell is of a summer long ago. Of killing and kidnapping and children pursued by demons of a thousand names. There will be courage in this story and cowardice. There will be love and betrayal. And, of course, there will be hope. In the end, isn’t that what every good story is about?”

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris - I loved, loved, Loved this book. Jewel recommended it to me all the way back on episode 20. Shortly after that I bought a copy at a thrift store. I dragged it all the way to Branson and back on our September trip, but didn't get to it. I finally read it this month, and absolutely devoured it! The romance was cute, the humor was just up my alley (aka lots of puns and word play) and the rivalry between the Troll and the Tooth Fairy was great. I found out at the end that there is a sequel, which leads us to.....

Twice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (and here's all three books in the series together in one!) - In the sequel to Once Upon a Marigold, a character that I thought was gone for good resurfaced, and they weren't my favorite character. That wasn't a great way to start. But it actually turned out to be a really interesting read, with the characters navigating the problem of evil, political uprisings, and more. There was still a lot of humor, but not quite as "punny" as the first book for me. I did like the ending, and there was a fun twist to the identity of a character. My friend Hailey tells me that the third book has a LIBRARIAN in it, so I am all in for the third one. Stay tuned for my thoughts on Thrice Upon a Marigold once I finish it! 

Calling and Clarity: Discovering What God Wants For Your Life by Doug Koskela - The last book I read for the calling project this month. This one came to me by way of Dr. Posey and her colleagues at John Brown University (my alma mater). They're teaching a gateway class on spiritual practices and calling, and during Virtual Homecoming (thanks to COVID) I got to ask her what books they were using in the curriculum for that class. This is the book they're using to teach calling these days. I'm really glad I read it, because while it defines general calling very similarly to most of the other literature (to love God, make disciples, and bring God glory), it breaks down personal calling into two distinct parts. First is "direct calling" which is where you know WHAT God wants you to do clearly, but you may not feel equipped to do it or particularly excited about it. Picture Moses at the burning bush. Then you have "missional calling" which is where you know that you have gifts and talents, but it takes a process of learning and discernment to understand what God wants you to do with what He's given you. So...yeah. That's the part that this book brought to the table, and it's very insightful. I would definitely recommend if this topic interests you! 

Mourn Not Your Dead by Deborah Crombie - I'm still working my way through this series! I listened to this one on audiobook, and found the mystery interesting. I am really digging the relationship development between the main characters and excited to see where this series goes. (trigger warnings: murder obviously, but also spousal abuse) 

Dreaming of the Bones by Deborah Crombie - I didn't enjoy this mystery as much, it reminded me too much of The Secret History by Donna Tartt in some places. Yet, there is a huge part of the story arc that develops during this book that is important for the main characters, so I just focused on that! (triggers: multiple deaths, suspected suicide) 

Marble Town by Kathleen M. Jacobs - This book was perfect for "spooky" October. While it's not out-and-out scary, much of the story takes place in a graveyard. On occasion, the protagonist felt older than his early teenage years (and did things like drank his parents alcohol) but this story had a lot of heart, and Jacob's descriptions and strong sense of place are always fascinating. 

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett - I picked up this book because of Anne Bogel's list of "unputdownable" mysteries and thrillers that she put up at the beginning of November. Here's the sentence that had me putting the book on my library holds list post haste: "This book is perfect for readers who love a page-turning puzzle, minus the murder and violence of many crime-driven mysteries. I couldn't put it down because I was equally delighted with the literary references and wanting to know what would happen next." That's my kind of book, folks. 

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell - the grumpy bookseller from Wigtown Scotland is back again with another year of diary entries. Featuring rants about the bookstore-killer ways of Amazon, an eccentric Italian summer employee who quickly earned the nickname "Granny," and many other quirky customers, neighbors and guests, this book is funny and enjoyable. 

The Stolen Dagger  by Conor Bredin - You'll hear more about Conor on the podcast soon, but I checked out his short story / novella and found it sad but fascinating. (Content warning for violence) If supernatural thrillers are your jam, you might find his other work "The Longest Night" to be interesting. 

The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found by Karina Yan Glaser - I love this whole series and was thrilled to have my sister purchase the fourth book for my birthday. (It's personalized and signed to me, which made my day... week...month) This book made me cry, but in the best way. It is so full of joy, and is set during the New York City Marathon, but also deals with loss of a loved one and childhood homelessness. It was especially interesting to read the dated installments mostly during the days they happened (the book starts on October 21 and ends on November 4th!) 

Reading Stats: 

  • 14 Fiction
  • 5 Non-Fiction

Book Format breakdown: 

  • 3 Library
  • 7 Owned
  • 5 eBook
  • 3 Audiobook
  • 1 eARC 


19 books for October
159 books for 2020 


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Library Laura
Laura is an avid reader who is happiest when surrounded by books, tea, blankets and/or friends. Host of the Library Laura Podcast.


The Library Laura Podcast


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