Recommended Theme Reads – Baby Stealing, Water Ecosystems & Houseboat History

Theme-based reading recommendations; unknown aspects of American history, water ecosystems, and houseboats.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours accomplishes something I relish while reading for pleasure – it taught me something. The story is about a Tenessee baby stealing ring, Depression-era shantyboat culture, and institutional mistreatment of children.

For me, the most intriguing storyline follows a riverboat family from the ‘before’ time. Descriptions of nature knowledge gained while living on the Mississippi River are lush and sensory. It reminded me of the next book on this list.

The heartbreak, terror, and powerlessness suffered by poor birth families taken advantage of while at their most vulnerable and children separated from loving parents, and further – siblings from each other – was worthy of the strong emotions it stirred.

This book strengthened my convictions about the support needed for defenseless populations and about prosecuting those who value money over humanity.

A Secret History of American River People


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The “Marsh Girl” is an enigma in the backwater settlement closest to Catherine’s (aka Kya) home.

Abandoned by her mother, siblings, and eventually, by her abusive alcoholic father, the youngster navigates on her own through her teen and young adult years. She becomes an avid self-taught naturalist who delves into life the cycles of the animals and plants in her South Carolina marsh environment.

‘Fear of other’ and class bias causes her neglectful community to turn against her when the son of a prominent family is found dead.

Where the Crawdads Sing will delight natural history readers while highlighting the social and emotional damage caused by indifference and loneliness.

‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ Author Delia Owens Has A Strange Connection To A Real-Life Murder Mystery


Floating Point by Shelley Buck

Shelley Buck’s contemporary memoir gives the reader a viewpoint of life on a houseboat in the San Francisco Bay Area.

You’ll never look at a marina quite the same.

Shelley is a dot.com spouse with a high school-aged son attending a financially challenged charter school. While developing her author career, she seeks out a creative housing solution in uber-expensive Silicon Valley. Her journey takes the reader into a fluid dock community, repairs and maintenance unique to houseboats, and waterfront real estate under constant pressure from developers.

Buck’s canine-loving and nature appreciating observations intermingle with poetic narratives and moments of anxiety as she navigates through her soon-to-be empty nest and approaching retirement years.

If your reading mood calls for nature and water and you’ve got emotional reserves to explore traumatic children’s issues, Before We Were Yours and Where Crawdads Sing are great choices. If you want an uplifting family saga fraught with kids, pets, and mechanical challenges, Floating Point should hit the mark.

Best Wishes for Compelling Reading!

For ten more book recommendations from a historical fiction author/ reader, visit World of Mailman.

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Peggy’s Book Club Reads

Censorship & Politics

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

 

Kristen: …one of those books you don’t appreciate when tasked with reading it in high school, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you read it as an adult.

Graphic Novel | Fantasy

Notes on a Case of Melancholia or A Little Death by Nicholas Gurewitch


Lisa:
The Grim Reaper’s child doesn’t want to follow in Dad’s footsteps. Listed as an NPR editor pick, this was a surprisingly charming story.

Graphic Novel | Native American | Folklore

Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection by Matt Dembricki

Lisa: This book was on my bookshelf when I started reading Crossing the Owl’s Bridge by Kim Bateman. I attended a lecture of Dr. Bateman’s at a writers conference where she spoke about using the trickster and humor in writing. It was a perfect compliment to her book.

Grief & Loss

Crossing the Owl’s Bridge by Kim Bateman, PH.D.

Lisa: Through folklore, Dr. Bateman explores the grief process humans share across cultures and time. Contemporary grief client vignettes make this a timely read.

The love we have in a relationship doesn’t die with the body. It helps us heal.

I read this book as SARS-CoV-2 was breaking out. Bracing myself for difficult times ahead.

 

History

Sister Queens by Julia Fox

 

Mary: A true accounting of the lives of the daughters of Ferdinand and Isabella. Taken from their personal letters, court records and historical documents. An interesting perspective on somewhat unknown but important historical figures.

 

The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe

 

 

 

 

Peggy: True, inspirational, funny stories. Easy read, great if you need short, interesting, individual stories. Seems like it would be a great book to give as a gift to anyone. I might buy a hard copy (got it from the library)just to pass around.

 

Historical Fiction

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor

 

Lisa: Inspired by true events surrounding a group of fourteen women who were emigrating to America from Lahardane in County Mayo, Ireland. Eleven from the group died in the Titanic tragedy.

Of all the passengers, this group represents the largest loss from a single region. http://addergoogle-titanic.com/

Mystery

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Windspear

 

Karen: Starts out around WWI time period and goes forward from there. Great details about young woman solving mysteries. There are fourteen books in this series!

 

Mystery | Detective

The Old Success by Martha Grimes

 

 

Mary read this book.

Nonfiction | Time Management

Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee

Lisa: Another timely topic – rethinking how we spend our time. Book Quotes: “In 1965 a Senate Subcommittee predicted that by the year 2000 Americans would work fourteen-hour work weeks. And take nearly two months of vacation time.

“Do not let corporate values determine how you spend your days and what your priorities are. You are a big-brained social animal currently constrained by unrealistic demands and expectations.”

Thriller

The Whistler by John Grisham

 

Kristen: Action-packed. Really enjoyed it!

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