This winter hasn't been ideal for reading, in that it has been so warm! I could have used a few more snowstorms to ensure a cozy reading day…or two. Good thing that hasn't stopped me yet! The local public library is probably one of the most dangerous places for me. I could spend all day there, reading my time away. Growing up, my dad would always say, "You can waste your whole life watching movies." It's true. I know I could do that! But it's even easier for me to spend all my time reading. I have to be careful! It's been a learning process, and now I know to only get a few books at a time. Otherwise, bedtime gets pushed back until way too late!

Anyhow, maybe you're looking for some book recommendations. If that's the case, you're at the right place! I've been reading a mix of literature and non-fiction. Comment if you've read one of these books…or if you have any suggestions for my next trip to the library! And keep an eye out for my mini-reviews on Instagram, using the hashtag #ameliareneereads!

1. First up, "And the Mountains Echoed" by Khaled Hosseini. Oh my. This book was fantastic. I found it on the Book Club shelf, and my eyes gravitated to it after realizing the author wrote "The Kite Runner." (I read that over the summer on my way to Mongolia, and am still trying to get the guts to watch the film.) I loved the mystery of not knowing the characters at the beginning, the interwoven stories, and the bittersweet ending. This book also covers many years, which helps me understand the history of war-ravaged Afghanistan (alongside a few of the other books you'll see below!)

2. Oh my—"The Dressmaker of Khair Khana" by Gayle Lemmon. This is one of the two non-fiction book I've decided to highlight! It's written so well, you'd think it was a novel. When the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996, overnight life changed for women. They were unable to work outside the home and attend school. This is the incredible true story of women who fought for their livelihoods, families, and freedom. An inspiring story, Kamila (the dressmaker) is a woman who changed her neighborhood and world.

3. There might be a theme in my reading tastes lately, huh? ;) This is another true story—biography style. I read this book FAST, and really want to re-read it again, more slowly. "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" is the fascinating story of a young man who grew up in a conservative Muslim home. Over many years, through conversations, and research (in which he discovers hard things about his background) he comes to a point of asking this key question: "Who are you, Lord?" 

4. I'd been wanting to read this book for a long time, on the Instagram recommendation of another photographer! Last time I'd checked, the Ames Public Library didn't have it. Stumbling on "Station Eleven" in the Book Club section, I was more than thrilled! I'm a fan of post-apocalyptic literature, so this was right up my alley. However, it felt a lot more realistic than some! Emily St. John Mandel writes in a back & forth way between characters, allowing you to see multiple sides and yet not understand the full picture until the end. Wonderful for keeping you on the edge of your seat!