Books and reading

Life lately

We recorded on Thanksgiving weekend so we recapped our respective holidays. We both spent time with our in-laws–Abby in Nashville and Sarah at home.

Reading lately

Abby’s been reading the comic book Saga written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It was just the right thing after post-election induced reading slump.

Sarah’s almost finished with The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel of Life of Pi fame. She’s not sure how she feels about it or the genre of magical realism in general. Listeners, please weigh in.

Books and reading

We are both avid readers and delve into what we like to read, how we read, book clubs, breaking out of reading slumps, and favorite books. Here are a list of all the books mentioned in this segment:

Audio books we recommend:

Eating lately

Abby’s been enjoying taco dip, perfect for the gluten-free gatherings of your life.

Sarah’s family plowed through a batch of homemade chex mix the day after Thanksgiving, which is becoming a family tradition.

If you’d like to join in the conversation, you can find us on Instagram @friendlierpodcast or email us at Thanks so much for listening! 

4 thoughts on “Books and reading

  1. Hi ladies! I’ve been an avid listener from the beginning (I’m the friend who started the original virtual book club Abby is in), and I’ve been meaning to come back and comment on this episode! Since both of you so rarely actually buy books, I wanted to offer a different perspective as our house is absolutely filled with books. Even though we easily have given away over 20 boxes of books over the course of our 10+ years of marriage, my husband and I both came into the marriage as bookaholics and haven’t changed. And having an almost five year old son has just meant the opportunity and joy to buy even more books! I’ve tried different tactics, such as every time I buy a new book, I pledge to get rid of an another one and/or I will think of the friend I can send a book to after I finish reading it. And sometimes those work, but more often than not our collection just grows. We are in a place financially where it’s not an issue, but I have had guilty feelings in the past about the sheer number of books on our shelves, plenty of which we have not read yet.

    Lately, though, I have come to peace with our book buying habits for a couple of reasons. One is that we are a military family and move quiet often, and home really is where our books are. My mother once said that having a bookcases filled with books makes a house feel warmer, and I have absolutely found this to be true for us. Secondly, I have read references in a couple of different places that children who have higher interest in books often come from a home with lots of books in the home (aka a “print rich” environment). I first saw this referenced a few years ago in the book Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother and then again very recently in The Read-Aloud Handbook. I got pretty nerdy and looked up a couple of these studies, and rest assured there are lots of things that correlate to a higher interest in books in addition to “print-rich” environments–which include parents that read and being taken to the library! But given the research, I’ve come to accept and actually embrace that if books are the main thing we collect and accumulate a few too many of (and as long as we don’t dispose of them in a landfill) it will only do good things for us as a family.


    1. Rebecca, thanks so much for chiming in. Nice work with the virtual book club; I have benefited from your efforts indirectly as you were the inspiration for ours! I agree that the aesthetics of a house full of books is so appealing–I love the look of full bookshelves. There is something so comforting about it.

      I have heard of some of the studies you mentioned, but haven’t looked too closely at them. We read so much to our kids, they see us reading, and we have a never-ending stack on library books rotating through the house so I don’t worry too much about the lack of books that we own. I would be curious to learn more about the studies, though I doubt I can change my book borrowing ways. 😉 How we all acquire (or don’t acquire) a love of reading is fascinating. Thanks for listening! -S


      1. Thanks for your response Sarah! If you are interested in the studies, there is a recent one I found you can read. Here is a link:

        This study found (among MANY variables which were also correlated) “the strongest correlation for children reading attitude was with number of books at home” (this finding is described on the bottom of page 129). It gets little confusing when they report on the “number” of books in the home, because in the article itself, it states that “The majority of parents (66.5%) were from homes with 25 books or less than 25 books. Parents’ reports on the number of children’s books in the home indicated a fairly high level of book ownership,with 47.3% of children are having more than 25 children books at home. The level of number of books at home of participants is “high” as the overall mean is 2.425 (SD=1.318).” What seems a bit confusing there to me is that they say the overall mean is 2.452–I think they must have standardized the responses regarding number of books to a 5 point scale somehow to match their other Likert items, but they don’t describe how they standardized the averages in the study.

        Anyway, I hope that didn’t get too bogged down in the statistics, but if you want more, that article also reference other studies (Evans 2005 & Purcell-Gates 1996) that suggest that the number of books in the home are important in molding reading attitude. The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease also references a Morrow 1983 study called “Home and School Correlates of Early Interest in Literature” which found a high correlation between number of books in the home and children with a high interest in literature. I can’t link that study because I didn’t find it posted on a free site, only through the University library database where I teach. The Morrow study states, “High interest children were more likely to come from homes where books were found in all parts of the house. Books in the child’s room and in the kitchen were more characteristic of high-interest children than of children in the low-interest group.”

        Since I am a researcher myself, I should definitely state that ALL these are looking at correlation, not causation, so clearly just having lots of books in one’s house will not cause a child to be interested in reading. In my own strictly personal opinion, it’s all those things linked together (number of books, parents interest in reading, being taken to the library, being read to, etc.) that will likely lead to a child being interested in reading.

        I definitely agree that it’s interesting how differently each of us acquire our love of reading, and I would never presume to suggest you change your book borrowing ways! I think it’s great to be minimalist in that way (loved the recent episode about clutter). Plus you clearly have lots of stacks of books from the library sitting around your house constantly, so you likely have the “number of books” in the house variable covered in that way. 😉 I am grateful that there are lots of ways to love being a reader and share that with our kids, including borrowing or buying!!


      2. Thanks for sharing, I will check out the study you linked. I am always happy to have more info on literacy and raising readers. We pretty much never have less than fifty books checked out from the library. I just can’t stop myself when I’m there! 🙂 -S


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