Our Reading Lives

The Right Book at the Right Time

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

This is a guest post from Dana Lee. Dana lives East Haven, CT with her rescue cat Belle. She works for that Ivy League institution down the street and tries to read as many books as possible in her free time. Audiobooks and print books get equal love. Also, she judges books by their covers and makes way too many playlists. Twitter: @lucyhenley115

a tree grows in brooklynAbout a year or so ago, I picked up the audiobook version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I’d always meant to read this book, not because it’s a classic, but because my late grandmother would talk about it a lot. She came of age during World War II and I finally made the connection that reading it might bring me closer to her memory. I sobbed through the audiobook and loved every minute of it, brilliantly performed by Kate Burton.

A few weeks later in an unrelated incident which may have been the Daily Deal on Audible and purchased because it had the word “books” in the title, I picked up another audiobook called When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win WWII by Molly Guptill Manning and was immediately engrossed. I literally had one of those, “Hey, Betty Smith, I know her” moments. So I learned that Smith basically became a rock star because Brooklyn was printed in miniature and sent all over the world for soldiers to read and either cherish or pass on to the next guy.

I had this lovely book epiphany, picturing my teenage grandmother trying to find a quiet moment between her family responsibilities, school, and the war effort to read this era-defining novel and my 20-something year old grandfather traversing the battlefields in Europe with this small book in his pocket. These two people from the same neighborhood who hadn’t met yet connecting us through the decades with books. Sigh.

Since then, I try every once in awhile to combine a non-fiction with a semi-equivalent fiction. Some recent combo meals include: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley with the current news cycle, and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance with All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. You get the idea.

What book combos have you tried to enhance your reading experience? (Psst…it works with tv shows too, I’m currently working on the Stranger Things/Meddling Kids combo).