What I've Been Reading Lately

I had a lot more time to read during the past month. I got a new sectional couch which became my comfy new reading space. If you ever said you didn't have time to read, well now you do! It's a great excuse to turn off the news and escape into a book.

I love sharing my love of books with you and I think these books will help you pass the time that you are stuck at home.  This list has a little bit of everything. Once I start a good book I really look forward to reading a chapter every day. I tend to read right before bedtime so my eyes are not looking at the blue light on my phone. I'm not a huge TV watcher, I mean I watch a few shows but I don't have cable. I only have netflix and hulu so that frees up my time. On planes and waiting in airports I always read, but don't find much time on vacation as my vacations are very active city exploring vacations.  I read my kindle in bed in the dark, but also love a good hardcover book as I can feel how much progress I'm making through the book. I prefer to bring a hardcover book on vacation.

My mother always took me to the library as a child and today we're both big library users. The wait times are long for new/popular books, but I just add myself to the list and have less of a preference. While the library is closed right now, I'm still getting kindle books from them. There's also the Free Little Library, which is a free book sharing library that people put in front of their homes around town and it looks like a large bird house. I've heard some did close, but others put hand wipes inside and then others put non-perishable food inside as well. I tend to deposit a lot of books into those.

I've read a lot of really good books this year that I want to share.  They are in order of online sales popularity.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This book has been on my to read list for a long time but it wasn't until I saw the series with  Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington pop up on Hulu that I knew I had to hurry up and read the book before watching the show. This book delves into complex mother-daughter relationships and secrets; in a 90s suburban setting outside of Cleveland. And to the degrees to which we can hurt people without ever attempting to. "The firemen said there were little fires everywhere," Lexie said. "Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident." There's a podcast to listen to as you watch the show.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I read this book on my 10 hour travel days to and from Oaxaca.  Alicia Berenson is happily married but then one day inexplicably shoots her husband. After which she refuses to speak and thus is admitted to a psychiatric unit. After six years of silence, Theo Faber a criminal psychotherapist, set his goal on working with her to reveal the mystery of why she killed her husband. This psychological thriller was a fast read and the twist at the end was completely unexpected.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
This is my fourth book that I have read by the famed British novelist, author of Me Before You which became a movie staring Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke. It's historical fiction about the mobile book library led by women on horseback in the rural mountains of Kentucky in the 1930s. It's not something I think I would have  picked up if it wasn't a Reese Witherspoon bookclub pick.  but I really enjoyed this powerful feminist book. The book came with some controversy because another book was released shorted before it of the same topic and people thought JoJo plagiarized. For instance both books have an African American woman in the program, which was not stated anywhere in the factual information. But Jojo is getting a movie deal for her book.

Run Away by Harlan Coben
This NY Times bestselling author has written 30 books and is a master pageturner.  This is one of his shorter books, not part of a series and the book draws you in right from the start.  Upper East Side living Simon Greene's daughter, Paige is addicted to drugs and ran away with her abusive boyfriend. But then one day by chance he sees her in New York's Central Park. Simon becomes a desperate man, stopping at nothing to save his child and his family and the cost is higher than he ever imagined. Expect nonstop action and a high stakes plot! This compulsive page turner had kept me up every night as it was hard to put down.

Conviction by Denise Mina 
This is a crime thriller about Anna McDonald who is a podcast junkie. Anna's husband has just left her for her best friend and he has taken their children with him. One day the podcast hit too close to home. It was a crime that involved a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean and multiple murders and a name that Anna recognized.  Anna travels to Île de Ré, an island off the west coast of France to help solve the mystery. This book was so fast paced I read in 3 days. The book tries to dive into crime podcast culture, which is a genre I listen to.

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams
True story of Anna Delvey, a young con artist posing as a German heiress in New York City—as told by the former Vanity Fair photo editor who got seduced by her friendship and then scammed out of more than $62,000.  Despite her very aloof demeanor, Anna travels in the circles of the rich and powerful in NYC. She always seems to be able to get into the best clubs, restaurants and hotels. She likes to be seen, yet it is not clear who Anna really is. If there's one thing about New York, it's that you meet a ton of rich people all the time. New York City has the most billionaires in the world, so why would Rachel have any doubt that Anna isn't a trust fund baby? Anna was eventually convicted for fleecing hotels, banks, etc. out of over 200K. This non-fiction book has been optioned for a Netflix show, produced by Shonda Rhimes.

The scent keeper by Erica Bauermeister
Emmeline has a charmed childhood raised by her father on a remote island, secluded from the rest of society. To say he is obsessed with scents is putting it mildly. He has a machine that creates different scents and he has stored a whole bunch of them in their house. The older Emmeline gets, the more she has this feeling that something else is out there although given her upbringing she is absolutely unprepared when certain events thrust her into the real world. I was a bit concerned about whether or not I could possibly enjoy a story that revolved around scents but it reminded me a lot of Where the Crawdads Sing as the  descriptions are lyrical - a little mystical and poetic. The story had such a vibrant and unique vibe to it. "Scents were like rain, or birds. They left and came back."

Dominicana by Angie Cruz
A story about a teenager in the countryside of the Dominican Republic who is forced to marry an older man and move to NYC where she knows no one and doesn't speak the language. It's loosely based on the author's mother's story. It's a very heart wrenching story of an immigrant experience. There were so many historical references that I found interesting for NYC in the 1960s. The author created an instagram page of pictures of Dominican women in NYC in the 1960s and has asked for community submissions. The author doesn't use quotation marks for conversation so that was a little difficult to follow.

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop
 Katie Cleary is an Olympic skier who has a tragic family secret. The secret becoming public at the same time as a career ending injury which leads Katie to flee the US to Buenos Aires under a different name. The story alternates between present day and flashbacks with Katie's family. The book consists of a wonderful cast of ex-pats and colorful characters who enjoy dancing Tango in Buenos Aires. It's a fall from grace and a love story.

When the library opens, I'm first on the waiting list for these two books:

Untamed by  Glennon Doyle
If you could judge a book by its cover…this book is beautifully written and cathartic. It grounded me and made me feel a little calmer. It was like having a conversation between my soul and her soul. It’s messy and empowering. Every chapter is a new lesson, a new realization, a new AHA moment. 

She wrote a book about breaking free from existing structures and thus wrote the book outside of the standard book structure. I read a few chapters a day as it’s not told in chronological order. Many are short chapters of just 3 pages. Untamed has sort of a slow build, momentum builds exponentially in the second half of the book. 

This was Reese Witherspoon’s April book club pick and at the beginning of the pandemic Glennon was on a number of IG lives and Brené Brown podcast so I knew immediately this was a book I wanted to read. So many pages are dogeared.

This is her third memoir and she said she only writes a new book when she has grown as a human. Glennon is a writer, speaker, philanthropist, activist, recovered alcoholic/binge eater, starving addict. The book covers everything from friendship, to marriage, addiction, parenting, intimacy, art, religion, racism, bravery, justice, privilege, integrity, and parenting. 

I think this is a book that people seem to either love or hate. She empowers you to do hard things. This is a love letter to our hearts. 

Open book by Jessica Simpson
I wasn't a big fan of her music and didn't watch her reality show but everyone has been buzzing about how freaking good this book is. She shares so much  celebrity tea and talks about her decades-long personal struggles with her weight and alcohol addiction. The reviews all say that she doesn't hold back and how they're surprised at how good it is. She narrates the audio book herself if you want to listen to it instead.

Related posts:
The Body Book by Cameron Diaz
Strong Is the New Beautiful by Lindsey Vonn
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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