Book Flight: Books Set in Bookshops and Libraries

What makes a book lover happier than a bookshop or a library? We love being surrounded by books and stories and fellow readers. It’s also the perfect setting for some of my favorite books.

If you live in the Southern U.S., a cozy bookshop and a hot drink probably sound really good right now. Our low here in Oklahoma was -6 last night. We have several inches of snow on the ground and are expecting another several inches tonight and tomorrow. Staying inside with a book is the only thing this weather is good for! Too bad we can’t really get to a bookstore right now.

If you’re snowed in and need an escape, here are my favorite books set in bookshops and libraries:

The Printed Letter Bookshop – Katherine Reay

When Madeline inherits her aunt’s beloved bookshop, the only thing she wants to do is sell the struggling store quickly. But things don’t turn out the way she planned. This is a story of friendship, the part books play in our lives, and the unexpected surprises life often has for us.

The Fifth Avenue Story Society – Rachel Hauck

I haven’t read a single Rachel Hauck book I didn’t love. This one is a bit different, but just as good. Five strangers receive mysterious invitations to the Fifth Avenue Story Society. No one knows who sent the invitations or who started this society, but they are drawn together at a library each week to share their stories. Relationships form, secrets are revealed, and their lives are changed forever by the meetings.

The Secrets of Paper and Ink – Lindsay Harrell

Sophia Barrett goes to England to visit the area her favorite author lived, and to find healing from a painful past. She finds a place to stay that comes with a requirement – help out at the bookshop attached. Ginny Rose is struggling with both the shop and her marriage. Desperate to save both, she enlists the help of her brother-in-law and Sophia. When the trio discovers a mysterious journal, they are determined to find the truth about the past. Their discoveries bring long hidden secrets to light and force them to rethink their futures.

This book is amazing on it’s own, but there are also two Christmas novellas set in the same British town: Like a Winter Snow and Like a Christmas Dream.

What are your favorite books about bookshops and libraries?

My 2021 Planner Setup and a Surprising Planner Change

I’ve been a pen-and-paper planner since my college days more than twenty years ago. I’ve used various types, from preprinted planners to bullet journals. In 2019, I settled on Passion Planner. I assumed I would be a lifelong physical Passion Planner user. Until this year.

My husband surprised for Christmas with an Apple Pencil. I downloaded a note taking app he uses and started experimenting with all it could do. I was instantly hooked. Instead of juggling notebooks and my planner and a large assortment of index cards and sticky notes, I easily consolidated everything into one app on my iPad. He mentioned a digital planner, but I’d already bought a physical planner and started setting it up. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try it. The goal of having an Apple Pencil was to simplify things, and carrying my iPad plus a planner wasn’t really simplifying.

Passion Planner just recently introduced a digital version of their planners, and they were running a huge deal on their digital planner packs. The sale plus my ambassador discount code saved me a ton of money, so I took the plunge and bought a digital edition, very unsure of what to expect from the experience.

I had no idea how much I would love digital planning. I can be very bit as creative as I can with a paper planner. I can customize my digital planner even more than I could my paper planner. And I can access it from any device.

Most importantly, I can have all the benefits of paper planning, with a streamlined way to carry it all. With my physical planner, I usually carried my planner, highlighters, my pen (I had a certain pen I used), sticky notes, and more. Now, multiple pens and highlighters are built into the Goodnotes app (the one Passion Planner recommends). I have access to digital sticky notes and many more ways to customize my layouts.

Right now, the same deal I got on a digital pack is still available, and if you use my discount code AMANDAH10, you can take 10% off the sale price. If you’ve been on the fence about digital planning, I’d encourage you to give this one a try.

Five Minute Friday: Sunrise

Sunrise is one of my favorite times. Especially now that we’ve living on our small farm, I’m often outside just as the first rays of sun appear on the horizon. It never fails to amaze me. I love the way the early morning sun sparkles on the dew or on the frost. I love the way sunrise looks different as the seasons change, from bright spring and summer days to the changing leaves of fall and the frost of winter. Sometimes the morning light catches a spider’s web and makes it sparkle. Other times it’s hidden by dark clouds as an early morning storm rolls in. Other times the sunrise is subtle, hidden by clouds, but the gradual end of night still comes.

Sunrise this summer as a storm rolled in

Each sunrise feels like a fresh start. It reminds of the scripture that tells us God’s mercies are new every morning. Each one is unique, a reminder that God has new things for me today. No matter how much chaos rolls around us, the sun is still going to come up with fresh grace for another day.

What I’m Reading This Year

My reading habits have gone through a major shift the past few years. I’ve been branching out a lot and finding new genres I love. My tastes have broadened and changed. It’s been a little overwhelming sometimes, because it can be hard to focus. I tend to skip from one extreme to the other. As I started thinking about reading goals for 2021, I found help from a favorite source. I love this list of questions from Modern Mrs. Darcy. It really helped define what I want to read and what I want to change.

This year I’m focusing on a few key goals…

Long books

Les Miserables has been on my “book bucket list” for years. Last year I tried to read it, but moving into our new house, changing jobs, and more derailed me. Plus, during COVID I found myself reaching for lighter books than I would normally read. This year I’m already over 100 pages into this, and I love the story.

Another long book I’m reading this year is Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – the book the musical was based on. I love history and biographies. This is an exceptionally well written book, and I’m already planning the author’s Washington biography next year.

More classics

I have a list of classics I’ve either never read (Mansfield Park, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) or that I haven’t read in years and want to reread (Jane Eyre, Frankenstein). This year I’ll focus on more classics, plus some author biographies and books that delve into the backstory behind the novels.

Literary fiction

I keep hearing about great literary fiction like Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I think The Kite Runner also falls into this category. I’ve tried to read it twice, but it’s such a hard, heavy book. This year I’m determined to read it.

Regency

Can you believe I’d never read Jane Austen until a few years ago? Now I love her books, and I’ve discovered a whole new genre of books to enjoy. I’ve already read Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen, and I picked up another of her books from the library last week. There are other regency authors I want to try, but just reading through her backlist will keep me busy for a while.

Split Time

Split time or time slip has become a favorite genre over the past couple of years. These books tell two or more connected stories in two or more time periods. Some of my favorites in this genre have new books coming soon, including Jaime Jo Wright, Amanda Dykes, and Heidi Chiavaroli.

Favorite suspense authors

Mystery/suspense has been a favorite genre since I started reading. This year I’ve got some favorite authors on my list, including more Steven James (our library finally got his prequel series!), Carrie Stuart Parks (her newest releases in July), and Jaime Jo Wright’s new split time mystery (coming in June). While this is still my favorite genre, I’ve gotten more particular about what authors I read, so I limit myself a bit.

More deep, emotional books

Last year was a weird year for me – as I’m sure it was for many readers. The grim reality of everyday life during a pandemic was just hard. But when I look at the books that stick with me, the hard hitting, all-the-feels authors are some of my favorites. Stand out titles include Rachel Hauck’s split time The Love Letter, anything by Charles Martin, and Elizabeth Byler Younts’ The Bright Unknown and The Solace of Water. I’m going deeper with my reading this year and goosing harder books.

A few things I’m changing up…

Less contemporary romance

I like some contemporary romance…but not as much as I like other genres, like women’s fiction or literary fiction. Rachel Hauck is a notable exception – I’ll read anything she writes! I also love Katherine Reay’s literary spin on contemporary novels and Bethany Turner’s rom coms. But for the most part, I’ll be reading a lot less of this genre.

Less YA

Don’t get me wrong – I love YA novels. But I binged so many last year (The Hunger Games, The Selection) that I plan to back off this year.

I set my Goodreads goal at 60 books this year. It’s the same goal I set (and passed) last year, with two huge books on my reading list, that will be more of a challenge. I’m trying to read through Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries this year, which are fairly short, so hopefully that will hep balance things out.

Do you have reading goals for this year? Are your reading habits changing as you get older or as your life circumstances change?

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