What we’re reading

If you’ve ever been to our house, you’d likely immediately notice our giant bookshelf in the living room. And if we are good enough friends, you might even get to see the one in our messy bedroom.

To say that books are a big part of our lives is an understatement. To be a good writer, you must be an avid reader – it doesn’t necessarily have to be books you read, but you need to read. All the time.

For us, though, we love to read books. Veronica has a Kindle, but I still prefer the feeling of a good book in my hands. There is that certain book smell that is just too much to give up.

book cake
Our love of books was evident even on our wedding day. In the south we have what is known as a “groom’s cake” in addition to the traditional wedding cake. Craig’s cake was a replica of three books he lent to me (Veronica) while we were dating.


Our bookshelf is adorned with anything from classics  and autobiographies to thrillers and hobbies. I am constantly rereading anything from Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner to Kurt Vonnegut, Sherman Alexie and Larry McMurtry. Meanwhile, Veronica’s Kindle is filled with various authors who write anything from thrillers to vegan and animal rights books. Her favorite authors include Gillian Flynn and Jonathan Safran Foer.

Because of our love for books, we decided to do a quarterly post about what we have recently read, what we are reading and what is next on the docket. I hope you enjoy it!


A look at some of the books we will be tackling this summer.


What Veronica read recently

Every Man Dies Alone: A Novel by Hans Fallada

I’ve been on kind of a reading kick the past few months. I’ve blown through a handful of mystery and suspense novels. These are the easiest for me to read when I am constantly having to keep one eye on Catarina. But I recently strayed from that genre when my sister Tori lent me Every Man Dies Alone. My sister happens to be  a history major. She has quite the collection of World War II books. Specifically books on Hitler. Don’t ask.

This book was a difficult book to read. Not because the style of writing was hard, but because of the subject matter. I got really into it and I had to put it away for awhile because I was too tense.

Anyway, she thought I’d like this book and I did, but it also left my heart very heavy. The book tells the story of German couple Otto and Anna Quangel during World War II. It begins shortly after the fall of France when the couple receive a letter stating their only son has been killed in combat. They are devastated. Their son was drafted into Hitler’s army and the heartbreak the couple feels really resonated with me. Then the couple begins their own little resistance against the Nazis. The tension made it difficult for me to both put the book down and finish it. Despite that I highly recommend this book.

What Veronica is reading

Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail by Carrot Quinn

Author and hiker Carrot Quinn details her trek through the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m still in the process of reading through the book so I can’t say much about it at the moment. I will say Quinn is excellent at describing the brutal experience of walking 2,000 miles from Mexico to Canada. I felt all of her sore muscles, the hunger pains in her stomach and that lonely yet whole feeling she gets every time she’s alone in the night.

What Veronica will read next

Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel by David Guterson

I am a few years behind on this one. I found this book at Goodwill the other day and since I’d heard of it before decided to get it.  It tells the story of a murder that takes place in the 1950s on an island in the Puget Sound. Sounds promising. I know there’s a movie about it, but I haven’t seen it either so no spoilers! I looked up reviews on Amazon and from what I could tell people either loved it or hated it. We shall see where I stand.

– Veronica Sandate Craker

Just a fraction of Craig’s books on our bookshelf.


What Craig read recently

Tortilla Flat (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) by John Steinbeck

The last two years, I’ve struggled to read books. I used to be a voracious reader, but I think I read too much at work or something and I got burnt out. Recently, though, I’ve been forcing myself to read just to get back into the habit. I want Catarina to grow up in a household where reading is the norm, so I guess I need to get back into it. With that in mind, I was looking for some easy, quick reads to rediscover the joy of novels: What better way than to go on a John Steinbeck binge?

In the span of a month, I read Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, Cannery Row, The Winter of Our Discontent and Tortilla Flat. I’d never read Tortilla Flat before, but it was hilarious. If all you have read by Steinbeck are his big, important novels like East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath, then you should check out Tortilla Flat, which offers a light-hearted take on similar themes involving the way of life of poor people in the 1920s in California.

What Craig is reading

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon

I’ve long enjoyed reading books about Ancient Greece, including The Iliad and The Odyssey. So, when I found this book my brother, Mick, had loaned me, I decided to give it a whirl. Historical fiction is a fun read, as it gives you some insight into a different time in life, but does it with a flavor that makes it easier to follow than just a drab recounting of historical fact. In this particular offering, Lyon does just that, drawing the reader in with believable interactions between Aristotle and Alexander the Great, while not losing too much of the actual history.

This book is a bit graphic sexually at times, but that era was full of debauchery. The novel also explores Aristotle’s scientific work in a way that is easy to follow, and I feel like I learned a bit through it. This is a must read if you are interested in ancient times. I’m also reading the sequel – The Sweet Girl – right now. It’s also a real page turner.

What Craig will read next

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster

I can’t say I know much of anything about John Muir, but that is about to change. Ever since I watched the Ken Burns documentary National Parks: America’s Best Idea, I’ve been wanting to delve into Muir’s life. Muir was a major advocate for the national park system, including Yosemite and Mt. Rainier: Two of my favorite parks.

I look forward to learning more about the shape of his life and how it continues to impact mine.

Cat crawling around on her books.


What Catarina read

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Catarina is still not talking, but it is not for lack of reading. This is the first “real” book she owned, with a story line and recurring characters. Her Spokane grandparents – Robbie and Randy Craker – got it for her for Christmas.

What Catarina is reading

Elmer (Elmer Books) by David McKee

Catarina wasn’t sure about this book at first. But now that we have read it 142 times, she seems to like it. It is a pretty funny little tale and has less plot holes than some of her other books, so that is nice.

What Catarina is reading next

Corduory’s Halloween by Don Freeman

We found this for less than a $1 at the Tacoma Goodwill store, so we snatched it right up. Hopefully she likes it right away, though she threw it on the floor a bunch at the store so we’re not off to a good start.

– Craig Craker

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