Reader Recommendations with Jenny Wilson / by Madeleine Riley

I cannot believe that it's the last Wednesday of April already! This month flew by, and I am so excited to welcome a new month and (hopefully) spring! Today our Reader Recommendations guest is Jenny Wilsom, whom you may already know as @jennysbookshelf on Instagram. Jenny is here to recommend five of her favorite titles!

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My name is Jenny Wilson and I’m a lifelong Minnesotan. I enjoy my career in logistics at a national retailer, working with great people and being challenged everyday. Outside of work I am a baker, world traveler, and of course voracious reader! I’ve been a big reader my whole life and am definitely an escapist reader. I have 14 nieces and nephews (well technically 13 and 8/9ths) and love my role as favorite Aunt. I recently read a memoir and the author said “I work hard to make sure each one of my friends’ kids likes me more than the adults who provide them with food, shelter, smocked clothing, and Nickelodeon.” This is a perfect description of my style of “aunting!” I am so excited to talk about my favorite books today.

These is My Words: the Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy Turner

I have long called this book my favorite, and it continues to hold that place in my heart. This is the story of Sarah Prine and her family living in the Arizona Territory. Life is hard on the frontier but Sarah is dedicated to improving her and her family’s life. She desperately wants an education and won’t let anything stop her. The book is written diary-style, which really enriched the reading experience for me as you see Sarah learn and grow over the years (don’t worry, her bad grammar and spelling does not last long). This story has always hit close to home for me as my ancestors walked across the Plains to the West in search of a better life. Sarah inspires me and teaches me that possibilities are endless if we just put our mind and heart towards our goal. And then there is Captain Jack; it's a wonderful love story!


Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

My hands down favorite book from 2017! It takes place in 1979 telling the story of Robin, a 9 year old white girl living in Apartheid Johannesburg, and Beauty, a Xhosa woman from a rural village searching for her missing daughter. Their lives intersect and it’s both beautiful and painful to read. Though the events of the book take place nearly 40 years ago, the lessons and themes are applicable today. This book made me laugh, smile, cringe and cry. It takes place in a far away land and its characters’ lives are so different from mine; I’m still thinking about it months later. The topic of Apartheid sounds heavy but trust me when I say this book is uplifting and has it’s funny moments. I have no idea if a sequel is planned, but if so, I would be the first in line to read it. If you haven’t read this book yet, please do!


11/22/63 by Stephen King

Let me start by saying that I am not a Stephen King fan (most of his books sound way too scary for me!) and the premise of this one is a little strange: a high school teacher going back in time to try to stop the assassination of JFK. However, I loved this book! It surprised me by how fun it was and I enjoyed the twists and turns it took. And as a lover of American History, I learned so much about about the 50’s and 60’s. Warning: the language is a little salty and the book is very long; but I loved the experience of really going deep into a story and wondering how it would end. Now I just need to find another King novel that won’t scare me and keep me up all night because he is a fabulous writer.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

There are so many wonderful WWII novels, I feel like it has become its own genre. And I am definitely a fan of them! This one is my favorite because it is so different than many I’ve read, and it’s a true story (honestly, it needs to be made into a movie). This book takes place in Italy and is the story of an Italian boy who becomes the driver for the top Nazi in the country. He had an incredible experience resisting the Nazis, and if it weren’t a true story, I wouldn’t believe it. I appreciated the look at WWII in Italy because you don’t read or hear much about that part of the war.

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I debated including this book because let’s be honest, it’s not going to win any literary awards. But as someone who enjoys a story that helps me laugh, relax, and have a break from the stressful world, I had to be true to my reading style. After a crazy day at work sometimes I don’t want to read a serious book that requires deep thinking, I just want to unwind. Kinsella’s stories always serve me well. She is one of my go-to authors and I always buy her books when they are released. I might be in the minority but my favorite books of Kinsella’s are her non-shopoholic books. This one is about a frazzled bride-to-be who loses her phone, finds the phone of a businessman, and hilarity ensues. The next time you just want to have fun with a book, try Sophie Kinsella!

Thanks, Jenny, for recommending such a wide range of great-looking titles to us! (Sidenote: How many people have to recommend Hum If You Don't Know the Words and 11/22/63 to me before I actually pick them up? Only time will tell.)

See a favorite above? Have a recommendation for Jenny based off her picks? Leave a comment below!