My Favorite Reads of 2020

It was the year of nonfiction for me this year! For the first time ever, my list has more nonfiction than fiction. I did read some great fiction books though as well! I narrowed my list to my top seven. Let me know if you have read any and what you thought!

Let’s begin, shall we?

These were the three standout fiction books that I read this year, and my most recommended to people throughout the year.

Mexican Gothic is hands down my favorite book of the year – it was just so much everything. Plot, characters, quirk, atmosphere, twisty and scary and horrifying. And this cover is amazingly beautiful. Have any of you seen the Instagram posts where people are recreating this cover? I can understand why, it is so rich and warm and lovely.

My Sister the Serial Killer was a surprisingly amazing read for me. I thought I would enjoy it, but not necessarily love it as much as I did. I think it is such a unique take on family relationships and love, and of course, a bit of creep factor as well.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts was such a fun fantastic read! I loved it so much. It reminded me of a Westing Game for adults.

The Call of the Wild and Free was a book that really changed our lives! If you are a regular reader here, you may have seen my posts where I talk about how it really spoke to me and about how to frame our homeschooling experience. It is not the right experience for everyone, but it is perfect for us right now.

The Creative Family Manifesto is another book that heavily influenced our lives this year. Because of this book, we were inspired to take drawing books with us on picnics and have lazy days drawing away. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination but I am enjoying what I am creating and that is the most important thing…right? Wyatt loves drawing and painting and that is something I want to encourage, and we have art supplies always available to him for when he feels like making or creating. Most nights now he will sit quietly happily drawing away.

The Cider Revival. I just really enjoyed this book! It was a fascinating look at apple orchards and the cider industry, especially all those small cideries out there. Plus, we had a fantastic night of cider tasting after I read this book.

The Salt Path was amazing. I have never read a book like this before. I have read many memoirs of people hiking and walking long distances, but never for these reasons. I loved the journey start to finish, and I am looking forward to reading Winn’s follow up. I am a person who underlines and makes notes in their books and this passage from The Salt Path was just so powerful.

I was a part of the whole. I didn’t need to own a patch of land to make that so. I could stand in the wind and I was the wind, the rain, the sea; it was all me, and I was nothing within it.

What did you read that you loved this year?


Today I am linking up with Anne In Residence for her monthly Currently.. linkup. It’s always a fun way to think about what is happening in my world right now. And for now, our world is very small feeling. We have been close to home, venturing out a wee bit more but not really. This time at home or outside has strengthened our connection with the little creatures that share our small square of land. I feel like we are spotting insects and toads and birds so much more often. And for some reason we have millions of grasshoppers in our yard! I am reminded of that summer in the Little House books, the one where the grasshoppers destroyed Plum Creek. When we walk through the yard, we are proceeded by the hops of grasshoppers moving out of our way with every step. Ours aren’t destructive, just everywhere.

Anyway.. here we go!

Choosing: Our curriculum for the year. We have decided that I am going to homeschool Wyatt this year and he is not a kid who will benefit from online distance learning, so I am plunging in on my own. I have done weeks of research and am very excited to start with our choices. We are also choosing paint colors – the big paint begins around here very soon. With all this time and heading into fall we are going to get started on freshening up some of our rooms, and I am so excited! We have made some unconventional choices for our room layouts (turning our dining room into a den and our living room into a dining room/family room) but now we want to change the colors.

Consuming: Cider! It is the summer of cider around here. I am not sure what that is about but I am enjoying all the different summery ciders. Michigan has two wonderful orchards that produce them and while I like Blake’s Rose a lot, the Virtue Ciders are the ones I usually order. I am also enjoying homemade London Fog Lattes! My neighbor surprised me with the mix from Aldi’s and while I wanted to drink it all in one day, I have been good and spaced it out.

Enjoying: So much time with my little family. And I have even been able to enjoy some socially distanced social time with my girl friends, and my family, which has been wonderful. We have been soaking up nature, going on lazy picnics in the park where we set up under a shade tree, take snacks, and read and draw until little man gets tired of it. I am also enjoying watching the few things I managed to plant grow – my pumpkins especially!

Ordering: Umm.. what am I not ordering now? Lol. Recently aside from everyday essentials, I am ordering art supplies, books for Wyatt and I, birthday gifts, and even a few Christmas gifts from one of my favorite artists. I’ve linked a few standout favorites here!

Arteza Finger Paint Set || Leo the Lightning Bug || The Creative Family Manifesto || Adventuring Together (Amazon Affiliate links)

Remembering: Summer vacations up north, festivals, art fairs, summertime date nights….

Stay safe and kind everyone!

Book Review: The Creative Family Manifesto

Goodreads Summary:

Spark and nurture your family’s creativity–a guide for making creativity an intentional part of everyday life.

When you learn to awaken your family’s creativity, wonderful things will happen: you’ll make meaningful connections with your children in large and small ways; your children will more often engage in their own creative discoveries; and your family will embrace new ways to relax, play, and grow together. With just the simple tools around you–your imagination, basic art supplies, household objects, and natural materials–you can transform your family life, and have so much more fun! This book embraces a whole new way of living that will engage your children’s imagination, celebrate their achievements, and help you to express love and gratitude for each other as a family.

My Thoughts:

My husband grew up in a very artistic, creative family. His mother was always painting or drawing or creating pottery (still is) and she passed this talent and love for art on to her children. When I met my husband in third grade, we shared a double desk and he would draw me pictures. I wish I still had them now! My family is full of creative thinkers, but we are not particularly skilled in drawing or painting, except for my brother and my grandmother. Creativity and fun were a huge part of my childhood, but not necessarily art or drawing. I really want to create an environment full of wonder and art and creativity for Wyatt but I felt I needed a little support, and this book had some wonderful ideas on how to incorporate art into our everyday and lifestyle, and really make it accessible to Wyatt.

A few things that really resonated with me: First, to purchase quality materials for the whole family to use and keep them where your child can use them as they desire. That whole idea of keeping things for nice or special doesn’t work with art supplies. It can be discouraging and frustrating to use poor quality versions of things (we have all had that experience with crayons I am sure!) so I took this advice and invested in some better quality sketch pads, watercolor paints, and colored pencils, as a start. I didn’t buy the top of the line, but I didn’t buy the cheapest there was either.

We have already put our new materials to good use! We have been heading to a quiet spot in the outdoors and spending time sketching and drawing together. I am not an artist by any means but I feel by trying along with Wyatt then I am showing him you don’t need to be in order to enjoy it and do it, and that it will encourage and foster a love of art in him.

However, the book also talks about being resourceful in your materials as well! Don’t limit yourself to traditional items, explore places like the pantry and nature – use found items to create art. I know that we have definitely done this in our home, with all of our Fruit Loop creations earlier in the spring.

Other ideas that I love and that I am going to incorporate into our dynamic is just making fun of the everyday. I try to do this anyway, but Soule had a few suggestions that I loved. One suggestion was a family meeting in bed – I kind of love the idea of all of us piled into the bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, discussing what we would like to do that day – and to make sure that you make time for art! I also loved the idea of having toasts for accomplishments at dinner – no matter big or small, if they are a proud moment, let’s toast to it!

Soule encourages families to try it all, basically – knitting, painting, photography, embroidery, plays and theater – the only limit really is your imagination. I found this book to be inspiring and can’t wait to see what we all create together!

My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Last week was sort of crazy – I had my virtual conference, where I watched about two hours of workshops a day. I have lifetime access to them so I can just keep going though so that is good. I learned so much! Then Wyatt had a 90 second focal seizure on Wednesday – it was terrifying for us both. It required another call to his neuro and raising of his meds so please keep your fingers crossed and say all the prayers that this dose is the right dose. Needless to say, my reading was not really on par last week. I did finish my book Honey and Venom, and the review should be up this week. It was pretty fascinating!

Reading This Week:

Then this week I am reading the same books I posted as reading last week, since I didn’t get to them.

Posted Last Week:

I did post once or twice last week – I talked about Paris in July here and then about our Homeschooling, Deer Week Summer Edition here.


We watched The Order Season 2 this week – start to finish. It was so good! Now we have to wait all over again for a season 3 – if there is one! We also watched Nancy Drew, which I am loving as well. For movie night, we watched The Current War (Amazon Prime) with Michael Shannon and Benedict Cumberbatch. It was really really well done – and highlighted to me how little I know about that part of history, and how much Billy knows. The movie is a little confusing I think if you are not familiar with the whole A/C vs. D/C debate, or Tesla’s contributions, at least in my opinion. Billy had to explain some things to me as we watched which made it easier to follow. I really enjoyed the movie though, despite my lack of knowledge, because, well, now I know more!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

This week was a pretty good one, despite everything going on around us. We took the week off of schooling, as I have decided we are going to continue on through the summer, just less formally and with weeks off here and there. Then Billy took a few days off work too, so we just had fun bumming around the crib, as my dad says. Saturday was the summer solstice, so we did some fun sun art, ate summery foods, and then just hung out in the backyard, enjoying the night and letting Wyatt play in the sprinkler. For Father’s Day, I don’t know what we are doing yet honestly- COVID is making things hard. Then this week I have a virtual conference for Charlotte Mason, a homeschooling style I want to learn more about, and of course, we begin our schooling again. It is going to be deer week around here, partially because deer make me think of summers up north, and partially because the new Buck Moon starts today (Sunday the 21st).

Read Last Week:

I loved The Glamourist!!! I loved The Vine Witch last year, and I really enjoyed this return to the world that Smith has created. I still haven’t finished Honey and Venom, but I should finish this week.

Reading This Week:

I probably won’t have a ton of time with the conference workshops, but if I manage to get some reading time in AND I finish Honey and Venom, then I am going to start these.

Our family loves making and creating things, so I am very excited to start The Creative Family Manifesto. And then Opium and Absinthe is one of the Prime Reads free books for the month, and I love Lydia Kang! I was completely sucked in to The Impossible Girl, The November Girl, and a A Beautiful Poison, so I am very much looking forward to reading this one.

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: Summer at Lake Haven by RaeAnne Thayne



We are all over the place with our tv and movie watching right now. We are watching The Order (Netflix), Nancy Drew (CW), and Rosemary and Thyme (Britbox). Nancy Drew the reboot is really fun – kind of dark and grown up and weird all at once. I like when they poke fun a little at the less modern ways Nancy would have accomplished things, like in one scene she goes to pick a lock and it is locked with a key card instead. For our movie nights, we are having a hard time finding anything. We watched I Capture the Castle on Friday night, but then last night couldn’t decide on anything, so we are going to try again tonight, since Billy has tomorrow off. It’s like an extra weekend night! Although I finished off the gummy bears so I need to resupply..

Stay safe all!