Isaac’s Storm, by Erik Larson

I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, but I picked this one up in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Galveston, and I am SO glad that I did. It’s hard to even believe that Isaac’s Storm is non-fiction, because it’s as gripping, vivid, and engrossing as the best fiction out there.

As for content: Erik Larson gives an historical account of the deadliest hurricane to every hit the US, and the effects on the community of Galveston, Texas. By the time I was mid-way through this book, I found myself intrigued by topics I’d never taken even a slight interest in before – storm patterns, barometer readings, the history of the national weather bureau. I love when a book helps me learn and care about new things, and Larson has a really unique ability to create that kind of engagement with his readers.

So even if you don’t typically love to study the weather, get this book and, chances are, you might start. Plus, trust me on this, you won’t be able to put it down.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, by Fredrik Backman

Currently, I only have a daughter, but a parent I trust recommended this book to me and told me I didn’t need a son to enjoy it. And she was right. This book is charming and lighthearted, humorous and relevant for any parent.

Backman is a total jokester, and I know a lot of people would love this book for all the small quips throughout his writing. But for me it was really the anecdotes that made me laugh – the kind of oversights and accidents that all of us sleep-deprived parents are prone to. Things like showing up to work with a toddler because we forgot to drop them at daycare, or the crazy online purchases we make in a late-night panic when our kids won’t sleep… Backman captures these moments with a perfect balance of empathy and exasperation.

This was such a quick and easy read, and was exactly what I needed in a week where I was busy and a little stressed. It’s the kind of book you can read out of order, or take long breaks from, coming back to it when you need a laugh or something that is both light-hearted and heart-warming. I don’t know any parents who wouldn’t benefit from keeping this on their side table.

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