Episode 80: Laura's October 2021 Reading

On this episode of the Library Laura Podcast, your host Laura shares all the books she read in October of 2021. From middle grade mysteries to inspiring and thought-provoking nonfiction, from books set in bookshops to children's picture books, there's a lot to talk about. 

Books from today's episode are on the Library Laura storefront on bookshop.org

Come tell us on social media what you've been reading lately, or if there was a book on today's episode that sparked your interest! Find and follow the Library Laura Podcast on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and on the Podcast Blog

Books from Episode 80 

(Links to books are Bookshop and Amazon affiliate links and I may earn from purchases made through them. Thanks!) 

To start out the episode, I mentioned some autumnal books I read last year like Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow. I didn't do such a good job reading seasonally this year, but still had a lovely reading month. My reading was mostly digitally and on audio because it was a wacky, busy month. If you're looking for seasonal recommendations I have some; they're just not on this list apparently. 

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (Bookshop | Amazon)  -  Recommended by Leigh Ann Porter on Episode 16. It was one of her childhood favorites! I read it as a kid, I'm sure...but I remembered nearly nothing about it.  I enjoyed the dynamic between all the children, it reminded me of my childhood Bible Quiz team days, and I loved the disability representation found in Mrs. Olinsky. I also mentioned The God of the Garden by Andrew Peterson, while talking about this book and there was a parallel between the two I wasn't expecting.  

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg (Bookshop | Amazon) - Recommended by Jewel Gilbert on episode 18. It was one of her favorite books as a kid, and one that I hadn't heard of.  This is a quirky story, but a good one. Margaret Rose Kane is a force to be reckoned with. It reminds readers to stand up for what they believe in and not to give into peer pressure. It’s got some serious summer camp “mean girls.” Her Hungarian great-uncles were quite the characters as well. I found myself accidentally humming “God Save the Queen” around the house several times this week.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Bookshop | Amazon) - This book in translation is another 4 short stories set in the same cafe as Before the Coffee Gets Cold. I enjoyed re-visiting the cafe and hearing more time-travel stories. They're all very centered in relationships and deal with themes of love, loss, dreams and family. 

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (Bookshop | Amazon) - Recommendation from Rab Ferguson on episode 75.  I enjoyed this fantasy story, especially the themes of names having power and contenting with the shadow-side of ourselves. I listened to this one on audiobook, but the narrator wasn't my favorite. I'll probably re-read this in physical form at some point. I'm glad I've finally read a Le Guin book and I should read more! 

Remember God by Annie F. Downs (Bookshop | Amazon) - I was inspired to read the book because of Annie's post about the book's third anniversary earlier this month. I realized that she's written several books I hadn't read yet, and I wanted to start remedying that fact. This was a hard story for Annie to write, but beautifully shared. I listened to the audio version, which was lovely. 

What Sounds Fun To You?  (And some more of baby's books on the shelf in the background)

What Sounds Fun to You? by Annie F. Downs (Bookshop | Amazon) - I  was so excited to get Annie F. Downs' first children's book in the mail on release day! I even was able to get it personalized for baby Miller as part of my pre-order. There's also a very cute episode of the That Sounds Fun Podcast where she talks to many of the children who inspired the illustrations. This would be a great gift for parents of children and for teachers. 

Dreams of A Damselfly by Chris Morris (Bookshop | Amazon) - Chris Morris was a guest on episode 40. We talked about his first book, Which Way is North? on that episode. Since then, he released Dreams of A Damselfly, a story about a young teacher who gets diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, which leads her to reexamine her priorities and try to live life to the fullest in the time she has left. It was fun to read a book that I had talked to the author about while it was still in progress. Also, Chris thanked me in the acknowledgments section of his book?! That was a pleasant surprise to find at the end. 

When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People by Jeannie Gaffigan (Bookshop | Amazon) - This book was recommended recently to me by my friend Rachel Palm, who was a guest on episode 12.  I listened to it on audio, which was really interesting. Her husband Jim does the intro, her sister reads the first portion of the book, and Jeannie herself reads the second half of the book. Apparently her sister sounds more like she did pre-surgery. Another book that lets readers reflect on their own mortality and making the best of the time they have left. While serious, it's also very humorous and Jeannie writes with a light and lovely tone. 

Library's Most Wanted by Carolyn Leiloglou (Bookshop | Amazon) - Carolyn was a Hutchmoot Homebound guest speaker. This cute picture book would be great gift for a librarian or child book lover. "Libby longs to be a great librarian like her aunt Nora, and it just chaps her hide when kids vandalize books. She hangs up Wanted posters to drive the "outlaws" from her "territory." But when she realizes that a librarian's real job isn't protecting books but connecting them with readers, she must find a way to lure them back." (Book description from bookshop.org) 

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan (Bookshop | Amazon) - This was an unread shelf / Little Free Library find, but I listened to it on audio and it was lovely. This story had a Sound of Music in Scotland vibe, with lots of book love thrown in. (And maybe some Jane Eyre vibes?). It is a sequel to The Bookshop on the Corner so you’ll probably want to read in order…but this is definitely Zoe’s story, not Nina’s. It would be a perfect Autumn or Winter read, with lots of rainy Scottish weather and tea to be drunk. (There’s also some trigger warnings here, especially for self-harm, so check those out if you need to.) I'm currently listening to 500 Miles From You , the third book in the series, which I'm enjoying but finding it to be right on the edge of what I'm able to listen to when it comes to medical procedures /injuries. I've had to tune out on a few parts so far.

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs (Bookshop | Amazon) - This was a Kindle deal purchase quite a while ago, and probably 3 stars for me. But I read the whole thing because I enjoyed it being set in a bookstore. There are strong themes of grief throughout, so take care of yourself if you're dealing with that right now. 

Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Bookshop | Amazon) - Recommended by a future podcast guest Nancy McConnell. If you’re looking for a slow- to medium-paced middle grade mystery with cozy, historical vibes, you might enjoy the Greenglass House. There were several things I enjoyed about this book. The ambiance of the book was great. Slightly mysterious, a big snowstorm, a big old house, treasures and secrets, and lots of hot cocoa. I loved the themes of adoption and family. Lots of quirky characters with interesting backstories. What I didn’t love: the RPG game thread throughout the book was kind of lost on me (but could totally be what someone else would love!) and there were a couple characters that had two or three names throughout the book and swapped back and forth between them, which overall I found confusing.

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School #1) by Jen Calonita (Bookshop | Amazon) - This was a Little Free Library find, and also probably a 3-star read for me. I loved the cover design, and the premise of former fairytale villains running a reform school was intriguing. This was a quick and fun read. It felt a bit cheesy and there were almost too many fairytale characters all in one story. But I loved Gilly and there were some really great humorous moments too.

Room to Dream by Kelly Yang (Bookshop | Amazon) - Highly recommend!!!  This is the third book in the Front Desk series. In this book, Mia's family returns to China to visit family after living in California for several years, and they see all the rapid changes that have taken place in the intervening years. Mia learns more about herself as a writer and gets some new opportunities to share her thoughts with the world. She also must navigate changing friendships and gets her first introduction to the concept of consent and needing to stand up for yourself and your boundaries. If you like Room to Dream, you might also like Justice in A Bottle by Pete Fanning. Both have young writers learning about journalism ethics and I love them so much. 

Hear God Calling You workbook  - This is a project I've been working on with the non-profit I work for, Crossroads Career, for the better part of a year. It's now available for purchase and I couldn't be more pleased. If you're looking for some resources to help you know God or know yourself better, this e-book is only $8 and is packed full of practical and biblical exercises to help you in your faith and your career. You can hear more about the process behind the workbook development from me and my two co-writers in this podcast episode.

Jamberry by Bruce Degen  (Bookshop | Amazon) - This book was a baby shower gift from my younger sister, Rachel. We both enjoyed reading it aloud to our nephew when he was a baby, so it was the perfect gift! I may have already read this book aloud to my tummy....which felt silly but they tell you to do it. I can't wait to read this aloud to baby Miller many more times. We got so many books for baby at our shower, and I'll be sharing more soon, I'm sure. 

Jamberry (Then)

Jamberry (Now) 

I'd love to hear what you've been reading lately! Comment below, send me an email, or come find me on social media and let me know! 

With lots of literary love from my library to yours, 

~ Laura 


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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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