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Books

Literary Adventures: Phoenix Books

One of the things I love most about reading is getting lost in the story and being transported into the setting of the book. So anytime I find a bookstore where I can get lost in the books, I am one happy girl. Phoenix Books likely won’t be winning any “Most Instagrammable Bookstore” awards anytime soon, but this is a San Luis Obispo gem!

Phoenix Books is an independent, used bookstore located in downtown historic San Luis Obispo. When you visit, be prepared to sift through a lot of books. Like literally piles and piles of books! Every shelf is packed from top to bottom and then there are stacks of additional books throughout the store…including all the way up the staircase.

A trip to San Luis Obispo, California should include a stop at Phoenix Books where you can explore shelf after shelf of used books.

Planning Your Trip

A few things I learned on my trip to Phoenix Books to help you plan your trip…

•The store is located at 990 Monterey St, in downtown historic San Luis Obispo, and so parking can be tricky. Rather than look around for a parking spot I found it helpful to use one of the nearby public parking structures. I thought the parking structures were reasonably priced at $1-2 for 2 hours.

•Don’t go into the store with your heart set on finding a particular book! This is a used bookstore, so they won’t have every book you want on hand. When you visit, go into the store prepared to spend time getting lost in the rows of books and you will walk away with a treasure.

•Be sure to stop by the loft upstairs to find stacks and stacks of history books. I also thought it was a fun birds-eye vantage point of the rest of the store.

•Budget more time in your schedule than a quick pop-in to the store! Remember, there are LOTS of books to peruse so you want to leave enough time to truly browse the store

p.s. check out my favorite books from 2018 and see more of my travel and book pics on Instagram!

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Book Recommendations – 2018 List

41,599 pages read in 2018.

At the beginning of 2018 I set a reading goal of 156 books and promptly asked everyone I knew for book recommendations. And then I started reading. A lot. Whether I met the goal is a matter of how you want to look at the data. Technically, I entered 195 books on GoodReads (where I track all of my books) during 2018 but only 110 of them were chapter books. The other 85 were picture books as I read one book a day with my 4th graders. So even though I didn’t technically read 156 books for me this year, 110 is still pretty awesome!

I regularly have people ask me for book recommendations so I thought I would take a look back at 2018 and share my favorite books.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the link.

Historical Fiction Book Recommendations

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – This is one of the best World War II historical fiction books I’ve read. The fact that it is inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine moves it even higher on my list of book recommendations. I’m looking forward to reading Lost Roses, also by Martha Hall Kelly in 2019 and discovering the connections to the characters in Lilac Girls.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – This book is why historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I love when author is able to share a piece of history through incredible storytelling and when I finish the book I race to Google to research the historical event. Which is definitely what happened with this book!

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter – Hunter does something not all authors are able to do well, write a story that covers quite a few years and quite a few characters. And the fact this incredible story is inspired by a true story makes it even more remarkable. Another excellent World War II book.
The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith – Set during World War II, this book was quite thought-provoking. Reading made me think about how war might change what you will and will not do for your family.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan – Another World War II book inspired by a true story. Not only was I not able to put the book down, but this book has helped me inspire my travels in Europe.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – Sometimes it’s important for my reading to wander beyond World War II and out of Europe and Hannah did that by taking me to Alaska in the 1970’s. An outstanding read that made me think about right and wrong and whether the line can ever be moved.

General Fiction Book Recommendations

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan – Admittedly, I am a royal watcher…and not just the British Royal Family! Although I would be happy to talk about the awesomeness that is the Duchess of Cambridge anytime!  This book was just a downright fun read and would be a great beach read and a must-buy for any royal fans.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman –  I connected with this book because I’ve definitely had seasons of my life where I was okay with things just being fine. Ng looks at a life that is more than fine.

180 Seconds by Jessica Park – I truly do not think I could articulate just why I liked this book but every time I scanned back over the list of books I’d read in 2018, this one came to the top.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – As an avid reader I love finding new bookstores and connecting with others who love reading, so this book was the perfect dive into an intriguing literary world.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (Young Adult Fiction) – Fun young adult fiction (because sometimes my brain needs a break from heavy World War II reading) that will make you want to head to the nearest airport and hop on a flight to Italy.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (Children’s) – I love children’s books with a theme of friendship because I think that’s so important for kids to read about it. And Brown does an outstanding job with the illustrations (he also has lots of great picture books!) and a compelling story.

After reading over 100 books last year, here is a look at my book recommendations with historical fiction, general fiction, non-fiction and children's!

Non-Fiction Book Recommendations

Finish by Jon Acuff – This was the first book in read in 2018 because I had a couple of big goals (read 156 books, become debt-free) and I wanted 2018 to be the year I actually finished my goals. I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone setting any type of goal.

Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath – Fantastic read on how to create memorable moments and why it’s so important to create those moments.

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines – I enjoy reading biographies and memoirs and after several years of watching Chip & Jo on TV I was excited to read Chip’s book. And it was well worth it. Great to take a closer look at their journey and who they are as people.

The Disney Way by Bill Capodagli & Lynn Jackson – Disney has been successful year after year and decade after decade for a reason. And this book gives you a sneak behind the curtain at Mickey’s house and how to implement the strategies yourself.

Picture Book Recommendations

Here’s the thing…picture books aren’t just for little kids! This school year I’ve committed to reading a picture book every day with my 4th graders and it is one of our favorite parts of the day. Since we’ve already read nearly 90 books this year, it’s difficult to pick just one or two favorites, so here is a look at some of our top favorites from the first half of the year…

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin – We’ll be reading the sequel in the spring!

After the Fall by Dan Santat – A book about trying again even when it’s really hard.

What If You Had An Animal Tail!? – In the words of my students, “It’s both informational AND entertaining!”

The Bad Seed by Jory John – Is it possible to change?

What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada – The process of nurturing ideas until they come to life.

Water Princess by Susan Verde – Raising awareness and inspiring action for global access to clean water.

Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt – Fun read!

Rot, the Cutest in the World by Ben Clanton – You’re perfect just the way you are!

2019 Book Recommendations

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, what books should be on my 2019 reading list? My first goal is to see how long I can go without getting any new books while I read all the books already on my shelves, but then I’m open to suggestions!

Other posts you might like:

Orange County Bucket List

Haiti: More Than an Earthquake

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