Welcome to Over the Brim: a life filled up and overflowing. I'm Shanda, a mama creatively living and loving in Nashville, TN, sharing bits and pieces along the way.  I love Jesus, truth and beauty, books, coffee, and being intentional with my family. I value vulnerability and togetherness and so, I write here and invite you in. 

let's talk about novels {favorite 2016 reads}

let's talk about novels {favorite 2016 reads}

A good novel, a good story can be a transformative experience. I love experiencing the creativity and vulnerability of the author and letting it take me places I could never go on my own, letting me see through other eyes. I read some great novels this year and I'm excited to share a handful with you today!  

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick - This book came out in the middle of 2016 and was a debut novel. I had no idea when I read it that it was new, or that it was her first novel (at least published). I don't want to tell you too much, but it's a brilliant story of a man who has just lost his wife. In going through her things he finds a treasure of her's that leads him on a great adventure, while learning things about his wife (and maybe more importantly, himself) that he never knew before. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - I read a few WWII novels this year and I was torn on whether to include this one or All the Light We Cannot See in this list. I'm mentioning the latter (which I must add won a Pulitzer) because I honestly do not know for sure which one I enjoyed more and I may only have leaned toward The Nightingale because I read it more recently and my love for the characters is still fresh in my mind. It moves between present time and 1939, WWII. It's a story of family, friendship, love, brokenness, heroism, and fear. Horrible things happen, but beauty is not lost.

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry - I know. I'm cheating by listing 4 books together, but they are short books and they really need each other. The first and third were my favorites, but they are all very worth a read. This is a futuristic dystopian series, written for teens (and anyone appreciating a good piece of literature). The first two books seem to fairly separate stories, but the third book starts building connections and the fourth book finishes it off nicely. I can't wait for my son to be old enough to read these! I have a feeling we will read them aloud as a family. (My husband loves them too!)

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (followed by Glory Over Everything) - The books are so well written and the characters are so engaging. If you are looking for happy feelings, you won't find them. If you are looking for an engaging story about hard things, you got it. The story begins with a young girl (7 years old, I think?) whose parents die on a ship heading to the US from Ireland. The newly orphaned girl arrives and is sold as an indentured servant to a plantation where she lives and works in the Kitchen House with slaves, who become her family. It is her story and their stories, all wound up beautifully (and terribly).

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood - One thing I learned about myself this year is that I like stories about elderly people. This was a GREAT one of those. It is about a woman who is 104 years old, and an unusual/odd young boy who assigned to help her around the house as a service project. They become great friends who teach each other much. You find out very soon in the book that horribly sad things happen and the rest of the book is a story of loss, healing, hope, and friendship. (The book jacket will give away more than I did here, so if you aren't sure you can handle the sadness and need to know more, check that out.)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - This is an apocalyptic story in which a deadly flu pandemic strikes and wipes out much of the population and, rather quickly, the world basically falls apart. It's a story of loss and survival. It highlights the value and necessity of art in the world and, as it flashes back and forth through time, we learn how everyone and everything is connected. It's very well written and as soon as I finished it I thought, "Ohhh I hope they make a movie out of this!"  

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - You may have seen me talk about this book on instagram a couple of months ago. This is considered Young Adult literature. It is the story of Maddy, a teenage girl who is allergic to the world and has been her whole life. Her world consists of her sterile home, her mother, and her nurse, until a new family moves in next door and things gradually begin to change. There are characters you will love, twists you won't expect, and a quest for true identity. ** Disclaimer: Before you go hand it to a young adult (teen) in your life, read it yourself as you may or may not find all of the content appropriate. ;) 

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zezin - I just love a well done book involving a book store! A. J. Fikry, a very enjoyable character, is the owner of his local book store. This is another story that involves the loss of a loved one, A. J.'s wife. We see his struggles to figure out what life is about without her and how he, and his struggling business, will ever survive. The answer shows up in a rather unexpected gift. Read it. Love it. 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - Backman has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I read 3 of his books this year and all were great, but this was my favorite. It's the story of a man who loses his wife (I'm seeing a theme here) and is ready to give up on his own life. Through the power of community and friendship, he learns to embrace a new hope and purpose. Reading this book inspired me to be intentionally neighborly, especially to the elderly in my community. AND bonus, it's been made into an independent Swedish film, with subtitles. (The book was originally written in Swedish, but the translation is awesome!) My husband and I recently got to see it in Nashville and I loved it almost as much as the book.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - This book is SO beautifully written, I almost don't even care what it's about; but, it's written as a letter from an aging and dying father, who is a minister in a small Iowa town, to his very young son who will live most of his life without his father. He shares his wisdom, his pain, his passion, his love, his faith, his life... There is a section, I'd quote it but I can't find it, about grace that really landed deep in me. I'm not sure if this is what it said or if this is what I took away from it but... Grace is only true grace if it never ends. The Lord pours His grace on you and you pour it right back out on others. If you try and keep it for yourself, you haven't experienced grace. So much beauty and meaning lie in the pages of this book. It won a Pulitzer. Obama lists it as one of his favorite books (and I know that may or may not impress some of you, but I'm just saying, it's amazing). I haven't gotten to the two follow up books, Home and Lila, but I will very soon! 

What are your favorite novels? I'm always looking for suggestions!  Leave a comment.

Reading through my shelves in 2018

Reading through my shelves in 2018

come out of hiding {advent}

come out of hiding {advent}