Best Reads of Spring Semester

My favorite books since January

Reading is a way to discover a whole new world!
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It’s been a while since I did a book review list, so I think in honor of the semester closing out soon, I should share my best picks from the past few months.

Despite classes and work and life in general keeping me busy, I always pick up a book when I have spare time. I find it relaxing and I’m able to turn my brain off from the pressure of the real world while learning a few new things along the way! Unlike watching a screen, reading keeps your brain active and even fiction has the potential to expand your horizons to new ideas and concepts.

In short, I love reading. And I read a LOT.

So without further ado, here are my favorite five books from the spring semester of 2024!

“Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott 

I believe I already proclaimed my love for this novel in a past article about my respect for classic literature. I would like to reinforce that opinion.

Ivanhoe is amazing. 

Set in the Crusades of Europe during the 1100s, the story follows the knight Ivanhoe who, disinherited from his father, seeks to win over his love, Lady Rowena, while battling against the imposter ruler of England, Prince John. Robin Hood also joins the cast of characters.

“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis seemed to have a bit of a moment following the release of the movie “Freud’s Last Session” back in December. I first started enjoying his work when I read his Chronicles of Narnia series in middle school, and lately, I’ve been enjoying his nonfiction works.

“Mere Christianity” is a composite of questions and answers regarding the Christian faith, compiled from Lewis’s conversations on BBC radio in the early 1940s. His writing argues that God really does exist, and I suggest reading the book if you’re curious just what his arguments are.

“Leaving” by Karen Kinsgbury

I have a bone to pick with Kinsgbury and this fictional series that has been forcing me to read book after book because she is consistently leaving loose ends that need tidying up, leaving me with no choice but to track down the next book in the series time after time.

(Intermission to make a point that Fargo and West Fargo libraries need to somehow make their book selection make sense! There is no point in having book two in a five-book series when the other options are not available! How can none of the multiple libraries in the area carry the entire series? (If this situation applies to you, ask for an interlibrary loan!)).

Kingsbury’s series, “The Baxter Family,” is set apart into six different mini-series, as well as a prequel, a handful of standalone titles and a set of children’s books about the same family. “Leaving” is the first book in the sixth miniseries and follows a family friend of the Baxters, Bailey Flannigan, as she leaves home in Indiana following college to pursue her dream of performing on Broadway. 

I recently finished this last miniseries about Bailey’s life after college, and out of all four of Bailey’s books, this was my favorite. The plot moves faster than the following three books and includes more of the other characters instead of focusing solely on Bailey and her love story.

“The Chosen: And I Will Give You Rest” by Jerry B. Jenkins

“The Chosen” is a TV series available for streaming on the app by the same name. It follows the story of Jesus’ ministry on earth and the personal lives of His disciples. “And I Will Give You Rest” is based on the third season of the TV series, written by the show creator’s father.

The creators of the series take into account what is known about each of the disciples—very little information is in the Bible, but it has all the info we need anyway—and fills in the gaps. “The Chosen” gives Simon Peter’s wife a name and a story of her own, adds personality to each of the disciples and gives each character their own struggles and lifestyles to add to the excitement and hardships of following Jesus across ancient Israel.

In this third book, we see Simon Peter and his wife, Eden, struggling in their marriage after an unexpected tragedy. The religious leaders of the time struggled with Jesus challenging everything they practiced, and the Romans who occupied Israel at the time were having trouble seeing Him as more than another prophet. As long as He minds His own business, they’ll leave Him alone.

“Cheaper by the Dozen” by Ernestine Gilbreth Carey and Frank Gilbreth, Jr.

Frank Gilbreth was one of the leaders in industrial-organizational psychology and motion study in the early 1900s, and his wife Lillian carried on his legacy and work following his death in 1924.

The Gilbreths were also the parents of twelve children, something that is quite a feat today as well as a hundred years ago. Two of the Gilbreth children—Ernestine and Frank, Jr.—compiled their experiences growing up in a large, motion-study-oriented family into two books. “Cheaper by the Dozen” is the first of the books, telling the story of their family from a glimpse into their parents’ respective childhoods all the way until their father’s death in June of 1924, when the oldest of the Gilbreth children was eighteen and the youngest almost two. Incidentally, the sequel, “Belles on Their Toes,” is about the children growing up after their father died, all the way through the college graduation of the youngest Gilbreth, and both are equally comical. A light read, but worth it all the same.

I hope you found a book or two here to pique your interest! With summer fast approaching, hopefully, most of us can find ourselves with a bit more free time, and maybe this can lead to picking up a book just for the fun of it. If you didn’t find something to read here, check out your local library or maybe grab an old favorite you already own. Quality reading time is never a bad option.

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