Blackberry Winter and Book Recommendations

My goal this year was to read 6 books. (I can hear you laughing, but I needed a reasonable goal after last year’s book reading fail). I wanted to read 2 for pleasure, 2 health related and 2 for personal growth. To get things rolling, I decided to start off with the fun ones. I read Gone Girl and though I sped through it, I was disappointed in the ending. The next book I chose was Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio.

I picked it after many of you recommended it and after I saw it was Julie’s book club pick.

So what did I think? Don’t worry- no spoilers!

First of all, it’s an easy read. I flew through it in a week, reading just during naps or while biking at the gym. I liked the way it was tied into the past and that the narrator switches from past to present every other chapter.

I was a little hesitant about the story at first because it centers around the disappearance of a young child, a topic that scares the heck out of me, but luckily I didn’t find it to be too melancholy. There are certainly a few heart-wrenching moments, but also parts that you made me smile.

The story is very entertaining. Though I wouldn’t call it predictable, there weren’t any twists that caught me off guard. I felt more like ‘ok, I get it,’ how did it happen? The ending left me satisfied, which I appreciate.

Overall, it was an enjoyable, easy read. I think after The Fountainhead (seriously, my favorite book ever), a lot of books seem too light. I think it is good because it’s gotten me back into a reading habit, but I’m ready for something with a little more depth.

I fear this makes me sound like a book snob (I assure you that I’m not- I couldn’t even read 10 books in a year), but I sometimes I prefer a book that makes me think, too.

Now that I’m back in the reading habit, do you have any suggestions of books that will make me think, teach me something about health or encourage introspection or personal growth?

Please list all your favorites! Smile



  1. Britt says

    My all-time favorite book is Atonement by Ian McEwan. I hadn’t seen the movie when I read it (otherwise it kind of spoils it) and once you really get into the meat of it, it’s amazing and STILL makes me think. A close runner up is Gone With The Wind. It’s about a million pages and I wished it was longer!

  2. Jen says

    I am reading a non-fiction book, Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. It is about parents who give birth to children different than them- for example autistic children, deaf children, prodigies, etc- and how they react, and develop a relationship with their child (or not). I’m finding it so fascinating and it has absolutely changed the way I relate to my (healthy) children as well as to people with disabilities. It’s a very long book but worth it!

  3. says

    I’m currently rereading The Alchemist, which is a “life lessons” kind of book. Also actually recently read 1984 for the first time, which I’d recommend if you haven’t. And I’m following up with 1Q84 which is good so far. Also being currently read (I always have multiple going) is Portrait of a Lady, which is interesting, but I don’t know that I’m in love. Loved Catherine the Great (a biography) which I read in Feb. I honestly can’t remember things I read longer ago? I know I liked Shadow of the Wind. Or Sheltering Sky. Or Many Waters (young adult).
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  4. Rebecca says

    I just read Blackberry Winter too (thanks Julie!). I had pretty similar thoughts as you did. After reading The Violets of March also by Jio I found it a little bit too similar and not especially exciting. Hope you’re having a wonderful vacation!

  5. says

    I hope you are having a wonderful vacation. I need some new book recommendations so bad as I have some business trips coming up and its the only thing that gets me through flights as I get so bored flying.
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  6. says

    I also love The Alchemist! The Language of Flowers is my favorite fiction book I’ve read in a long time. Wild was an amazing read (by Cheryl Strayed). I’m reading Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed now.
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  7. says

    My Sister’s Keeper will definitely make you think, if you haven’t read it already. Lately, I’ve been on a Kristin Hannah kick and she may be my new favorite author! Loved Winter Garden and True Colors. Just finished Night Road and it was really good.
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  8. says

    The Fountainhead is your favorite book?!? That’s interesting on a lot of levels. Plenty of people I know (and myself included) count Atlas Shrugged as their favorite, but I’ve never heard anyone giving the nod to Fountainhead. It is genius in its own right though.

    Have you read Ayn Rand’s Anthem? That’s probably the most depressing book I’ve ever read. Definitely not a vacation page-turner, but a must-have.
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  9. Lauren B. says

    As one of the commenters above said, My Sister’s Keeper is fantastic. In fact, anything by Jodi Piccoult is relatable to today’s current events, thought-provoking, a page-turner, and entertaining at the same time. Other favorites from her would be The Pact and Nineteen Minutes.

  10. says

    I loved The Poisonwood Bible–but it is intense, I had to take breaks!–and The Language of the Flowers. I have been enjoying Sarah Pekkanen’s books, which are sort of ‘faux deep’ in that they are quick and easy and attempt to have deeper meaning, but you can take them at face value, too. :)

    I really want to read Pandora’s Lunchbox, which is about the rise of processed food in America, and I also want to read Sugar, Salt, and Fat (I think that is what it is called)…love books about the food industry!
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  11. jodie says

    I too LOVE A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Amazing. Im sure you heard about the woman who ate school lunch for a year? I read her book-quick and well, sad but good for a mom to read probably! I agree with The Alchemist. Thought provoking…Blink and The Tipping Point.

  12. says

    Hi Britt– Hope you’re having a great vacation! I love churning through books and look forward to checking out the recommendations. The four best fiction books I’ve read lately: Rules of Civility (beautifully written but easy to read-might be my favorite book other than Pride & Prejudice), The Paris Wife (based on Ernest Hemingway’s life with his first wife, Hadley), Beautiful Ruins (well-written book above current and old Hollywood glamour that bounces between LA and the Cinque Terre), and What Alice Forgot (the easiest read but a wonderful story of what’s important in life). However, you requested Health (sorry!) and personal growth. I don’t really like self-help books. Well, I like the first 50 pages and then think they get repetitive. However, I’ve read two books by our pastor, Andy Stanley, in the last year that have been impactful and I would recommend: Fool’s Gold (about the power of tithing — whether to church or other non-profits meaning to you – it’s been a game changer for us) and Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide (about “cheating” on your family with other detractors – work, technology, etc. Things that take your focus away from what’s important.). Both are great!
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  13. Pam says

    “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz and “Seven, A Lesson in Excess” by Jan Haymaker both excellent. Also, “1000 Gifts”, on being grateful.
    Health related, “Quantum Wellness” is wonderful.

  14. Elizabeth says

    Have you read any John Irving novels? They are a little strange but good reads and definitely depth. Go with A Prayer for Owen Meany or World According to Garp or Cider House Rules.

  15. Macrae says

    Hey Brittany!

    I was a nanny for a year and read and read! For a serious book, ‘The Book Thief’ is amazing. A little girl growing up in natzi Germany mixed with her curiosity in books and reading…so good! For a fun, heartwarming story read ‘Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. I assure you will love it :)

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