Our Favorite Books

I recently posted about the books I’d read recently for book club, but the majority of my reading is in the picture book category…with some recent forays into chapter books with Tom and Nell, though those have not been the most successful and I need recommendations in the chapter books for young kids department. When I was pregnant with Thomas, one of B’s mom’s best friends (got that?) gave me a bunch of classic board books with a note that said “A read to baby is a loved baby.” I’ve never forgotten that. Since the moment we brought Thomas home from the hospital we read to him every night. I hate to admit that Nell and Peter didn’t fall into the bedtime book routine as early – partly because B would take bedtime books and tuck-ins with the older kid(s) while I fed and put the baby-of-the-moment to bed, but such is life after the first baby, eh? In the last six months, Nell has really started to love books as much as Thomas, though, and Peter is carrying board books around the house with him. I love it.

I tried to pick books that Tom and Nell love equally for this list – Nell enjoys her Angelina Ballerina books, Tom loves his football books, but our favorites are the ones the whole family loves.

favorite picture books

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen. This is hands down my favorite book right now, and “If I Built a House” and a few other Chris Van Dusen books will be making their way to our house for Tom’s 5th birthday. It is clever, it is fun, and paired with the right building material (Magnatiles or Magformers with wheel bases), we’ve got hours of creativity.

The Day The Crayons Quit - This was the book we gave Tom as his “Something to Read” last year for Christmas and it was an instant favorite. It’s illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, who has been a longtime favorite author and illustrator of ours. Which leads me to:

Anything by Oliver Jeffers, but we are especially smitten with Lost and Found and its sweet story of friendship. Though truly, I’m not sure you can go wrong with one of his books.

Duck and Goose. We’ve had this one for years, but we read it multiple times a week. Especially when the book picker is trying to postpone bedtime because it’s a bit longer than many picture books – Duck and Goose, Charlie the Ranch Dog and the Day the Crayons Quit are top choices on nights when the kids are trying to stretch the bedtime routine out a bit.

Caps For Sale - This is an oldie, but a goodie. We love this one. We especially love stamping our feet and shaking our fists when the peddler yells at the monkeys. Books with the McKevitts, man. It’s a good time.

Pete the Cat – Any Pete the Cat, but I’m partial to I Love My White Shoes over the Buttons one – though we own both and the kids love them equally.

One Dog Canoe – This is a fun book – my mom has it at her house and we have a copy at the cabin, so I’ve refrained from buying a copy for our house, too, but Tom and Nell always have me read it to them over and over when we’re at a One Dog Canoe house.

My Father’s Dragon – This was our first chapter book, and it was a good one. I read it just to Tom, and then we moved onto Mr. Popper’s Penguins…which we have yet to finish because I’m not in love and the kids don’t seem to be, either. But My Father’s Dragon was a quick, fun first chapter book.

(*As always, I don’t use affiliate links, so these Amazon links are just for your convenience.)


I have a ton of books saved on a wish list for Tom’s and Nell’s birthdays, so hopefully by the end of June we’ll have even more favorites to add to our list. I will say that I tend to feel a little “Womp womp” about some of the “girl” books we order for Nell recently – so I’d love recommendations for truly charming and adorable illustrations and stories. And chapter books – we need some more chapter books over here.

Books I’ve Read Recently

I haven’t done a book post in awhile, so here are some books I’ve read and enjoyed recently.



Where’d You Go Bernadette – I enjoyed this book and I read it quickly. I did not love this book, but I am glad I read it and it was a perfect vacation read. I think my issue with the book was that I presume the author wants you to connect with the main character, but I didn’t. I could totally appreciate Maria Semple’s satirical style, but again, not a love. But definitely one I would encourage others to read, because you might connect with Bernadette…and even if you don’t, it’s fun.


Wild – This was our last book club book, and it was a good read. I’ll admit to loving the first half and then getting a bit bored. Half of our book club was on the same page as me, and half loved every single page. The difference between our halves? The half that liked it but got a little bored were the types who would never pack up their lives and hit a trail for 4 months. The half that loved every word said that they would love to do the trail, and have awesome stories of adventure trips in their pasts. I’d like to see the movie, too – I’m glad I read this, even if I’m more a glamping kinda girl.

the school of essential ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients – Calling this “recent” on my read list is a stretch, but I loved it and I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention it here. Such a fun story of a cooking class and the lives that come together as a result of it. A wonderful book that makes you want to cook and bake…a lot!

Other books we’ve read (or re-read) recently in book club: Gone Girl (a re-read for me – love the book, and just saw the movie), Little Women (another re-read, but fun to dive into a classic again), The Interestings (I didn’t love it), Carry On, Warrior – fun and thought provoking, but if you read her blog you’ve already read the book.

Currently, I’m about half way through The Boys In the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I’m enjoying it, but not speeding through it. Next I’m going to need something light and fast, and my book club is always looking for good reads, too. Any suggestions? You can always check out my Goodreads profile to see what I’ve read recently (when I remember to update it…).

Books I’ve Read

I haven’t done a book post in a long time, but I’ve read some great books lately and thought I’d share:


The Language of Flowers

I couldn’t put this book down! I finished it a month before book club, and had to ask for recommendations on another book to read to fill my time because normally I’m finishing the book about 5 minutes before I leave for book club. Loved this book – the way the story is told, the history of the meaning of flowers, and the characters.


This was our book club book last month, and I put off reading it until the very last weekend. Luckily, it was a quick read, but I sobbed my way through it (in a good way). My book club told me that was probably pregnancy hormones, but I was touched by this book. Beautifully written, loveable characters, and enjoyable through and through. I am pretty critical of book endings – I often find that authors either tie things up too neatly or leave too much question with the reader – and this book lived up to my typical “the ending wasn’t as great as the rest of it” feeling, but that didn’t deter my love for this book.


The Birth House


Another book club success – it’s rare that we read three books we all love in a row, but we did it in September, October and November this year! I loved the setting and characters in this book – and I find modern medicine and its influence on birth fascinating (while 100% recognizing that Thomas and/or I would not be here on Earth right now without modern medicine…I still think that Thomas’s birth could have been handled differently if I’d been with my current doctor at the time, but I have come to terms with the fact that my boy needed to be born via C-Section for his health and my own) and really enjoyed how this book looked at the impact of modern medicine on small town women who have only ever known birth at the hands of a midwife.


And now that we have a break from book club reading, I’m enjoying Mary Kay Andrews’ Christmas Bliss. A light, fun Christmas-themed book – easy to pick up and put down, which is absolutely what I need in December. Mary Kay Andrews’ books usually touch on home decor and renovation, a subject I obviously love! We’ve been in the thick of updating the new house – lots of paint and lots of budgeting for upcoming bigger projects (update coming soon!), so unwinding with this book at the end of the day has been a real treat.


What are you reading right now? Any great book recommendations? As always, I keep track of the books on Good Reads – feel free to follow me there!


Updates: Books, Contests, and Blog Business

  • I just finished Mary Kay Andrews’s Ladies Night, which was a really fun summer read. About a home decor blogger, too. It was the perfect summer read, and I devoured it during our weekend at the lake. I’ve always enjoyed Mary Kay Andrews’s books – most of her characters usually take on renovating or fixing up a house, and the story lines are always fun. I make it a general rule that if I’m going to the beach, I take a Mary Kay Andrews book, and this one is perfect for this year’s beach read.  The publishing company is offering a free book and “Ladies’ Night” party kit to one of my readers. If you’d like to be entered for a chance to win the book and Ladies’ Night kit, recommend a book you’ve read and loved recently in the comments below, and I’ll select a winner on Thursday night at 9pm. Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 9.23.29 PM

             Here’s a snippet of a Q&A with Mary Kay Andrews about her books:

          Q: The protagonist of your new novel Ladies’ Night is a lifestyle blogger. How did you come to create such a character? Is she based on anybody we know?

         A: In Ladies’ Night, Grace Stanton writes a lifestyle blog called TrueGrace. She’s a former interior designer who starts blogging as a creative outlet after her business tanks during the recession. Her character isn’t based on any actual bloggers. I certainly don’t claim to be a lifestyle blogger, but on my own blog at MaryKayAndrews.com, I find that my most popular posts are the ones dealing with my junking finds, recipes for entertaining, and my always-in process home decoration and renovation projects. These are my own long-time passions, so it was inevitable that I would eventually dream up a character like Grace.


  • Speaking of contests, the winner or the $50 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card is Melissa H (commenter #2). Thanks to everyone for participating, I loved hearing about what would make your kitchens feel like the heart of your home. Enjoy your shopping spree, Melissa!
  • One last push to move your blogs over to Bloglovin. You can follow my blog on Bloglovin, and it’s really easy to import your Google Reader feed over there, too. Google Reader closes at the end of the month, so get your feeds moved over before you lose your blog lists!
  • In other blog business, Feedburner has been letting me down a lot lately in terms of timely delivery of my RSS feed to readers, bloglovin, etc, so I’ve switched my RSS feed over to FeedBlitz. If you’re subscribing to imperfect for the first time, I’d love for you to subscribe via my new Feedblitz feed.

Don’t forget to enter the contest for the new Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews and a Ladies’ Night kit! Just leave a book recommendation in the comments below – I could definitely use a few more books on my summer reading list, and I”m sure a lot of readers could, too!

March Book Review

I think you could sum March up by saying that it was a decent reading month and I enjoyed the books I read, but that I’m hesitant to recommend them because the subject matters of these books weren’t necessarily widely appealing – whereas I feel like anyone would be able to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (from January) without feeling particularly uncomfortable…does that make sense?

So anyway, I started March out with The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls for book club. I thought it was a beautifully written memoir and a pretty easy read – considering that it covers some tough years and events in a woman’s upbringing. One woman in my book club mentioned skimming the book frequently – that it was uncomfortable for her, while I thought the book did a pretty decent job of glossing over what were most likely pretty gruesome events and wasn’t bothered by them. So there’s that – I really enjoyed the read, but it’s not a universally appealing book.

And I followed The Glass Castle with Faith by Jennifer Haigh. Another good book that I really enjoyed. It centers around the typical scandal that has plagued the Catholic church. But the book is about far more than a sexual abuse scandal – I viewed it as being more about family and relationships. I will say that I grew up in, married in and am actively raising my family in the Catholic Church – a few reviews I read said that readers were lost in the history of the Church and its traditions, but I had background knowledge of that going in, which might have helped my enjoyment, but again, I’d be hesitant to recommend it to anyone but my sister.  

And to follow up the heavy subject matter of the first two books, I ended the month with a fluffy, beach read. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews. It was enjoyable enough, but even as Mary Kay Andrews beach reads go, not her best. My mom found this author when searching for a good beach read two years ago, and we love the Southern settings and slightly home decor related books. But this one lost it’s touch – combining voices, regressing to middle school girl talk, and later in the book incorporating a slew of typos and grammatical errors. So while it definitely fit the bill of fluff I was looking for, it wasn’t the best fluff I’ve ever read.

So 2 for 3 for me this month in terms of good books – but I have no idea how other people would feel about them.  You’re going to run right out and read all three of these, now, aren’t you? :) Any good reads on your list lately?

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February Book Review

February was a slow reading month after my January reading craze. This is partly because the first book I read in February I didn’t love, and partly because B and I finally caved to peer pressure and watched Downton Abbey – season 1 and halfway through season 2. We’re hooked: I drink tea during our nightly Downton Abbey fests and say ridiculous things like, “I think we should refer to each other as Lord and Lady McKevitt.” I’m so dignified.

But anyway, on the reading front:

I started the month with The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg. I didn’t like it, maybe because I’m just coming up on my 10 year high school reunion so relating to a 40th was tough. Or maybe because I just didn’t like it.  Anyway, I had heard lots of good reviews, but I didn’t mesh with the characters.

And I ended the month with March by Geraldine Brooks. I was excited about it because of the Little Women tie-in, but it took me a good while to get into it. In the end I enjoyed it enough, but not enough to allow time to squeeze a third book into February.

What was the last book you read? Did you like it?
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January Book Review

I thought I’d start keeping track of the books I read this year – I foresee my reading tapering off a bit come June, but for now let’s see how it goes. I read in spurts – good books get me on a role, and slow books bring a halt to my reading. January was a good month, though. I’m trying to strike a better balance of work-time and personal-time (working from home, I find that any down time usually becomes work time), and am hoping to work less in the evenings and read for pleasure more (B’s in his last year of an Executive MBA program so when he’s in class or studying, I have lots of time to read – or work – or watch TV) after we get our champion sleeper in bed for the night.

Sense and Sensiblity by Jane Austen -

We read this for book club and the English Lit major in me liked it and dissected it page by page – it drags on at points, but it’s a solid classic. I didn’t find myself particularly invested in the outcomes of the characters, though – so while it was an enjoyable read, it’s not on my favorites list.

Angelina’s Bachelors by Brian O’Reilly -

This was a fun, food-centered, fluffy read. Wouldn’t be a great book club suggestion just because there’s not much to talk about, but it was a fun, light read to follow-up Sense and Sensibility, and not as tedious as some “chick-lit” can be.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows -

This is my book club’s February book and I devoured it in 3 nights. One of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time (maybe since The Help two years ago). It’s not a tough read, but the stories that unravel are enchanting and I fell in love with the characters. That’s a huge factor in me loving a book – a book can be technically good and I can appreciate the prose, but if I’m not in love with the characters, or at least have an interest in how they fair by the end of the novel, I rarely love the book (case in point for me, The Lake of Dreams). But, this one wrapped me in from about page 10 and I am plotting an escape to the Channel Islands and Guernsey ASAP.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton -

At the suggestion of my sweet cousin (she’s yet to lead me wrong with a book recommendation, which is impressive since books are so personal!), I added this to my library queue. And I loved it. I started slowly just because I’d packed January with books and was a little burnt out when I got the library notice that it was available, but by 75 pages in I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. It was a great read and another one close to the top of my recent favorites list. It’s artfully written with gorgeous parallels to a piece of classic literature (that’s all I’m saying on that one).

What did you read in January? Anything I should add to my February list? (PS – I try to keep track of the books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read on GoodReads. I’m not always great about keeping it up to date, but there’s that in case you’re interested).