August 2018 Reading List


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Several more good titles to add to your list as you wrap up your summer reading (though for fellow Texans, we don’t see summer’s end in sight until October!). Here are my August titles.

America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

Oh, how I absolutely loved America for Beginners! It goes to the top of my favorites list for books published in 2018 (and, for that matter, of all time). The writing is exquisite; I simultaneously wanted to devour the text in one sitting and yet absorb it slowly by rereading passages several times to really soak in the beautiful language (the latter of which I did do a few times). I loved the strong plot, the great character development, the overarching messages about love and life, all of it. Bravo, Leah Franqui—can’t wait to read your future books!

What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan

I really enjoyed What We Were Promised. I loved the well-roundness of each of the characters—I liked that they weren't perfect, that they had relatable internal struggles, that they were all seeking a little something more out of life. I probably could have used a bit more of a climax/game-changing incident, although—no spoilers—there is a good twist in the plot that was engaging. I recommend this book, and I look forward to more of Lucy Tan's work.

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

The Husband Hour is an easy, entertaining read. I like Jamie Brenner and the stories she crafts. There was definitely some predictability in this plot line but there were also some good twists. I read this very quickly because it was fun and fast-paced, but I think if I had to choose between Brenner’s two most recent books, I preferred The Forever Summer.

There There by Tommy Orange

There There is all at once dark and poetic and heart wrenching and raw. Tommy Orange’s writing is beautiful; I had to read this book carefully and slowly, for if I got distracted for even a millisecond, I would miss something important. I loved the way the characters’ lives intertwined. The ending was difficult to process. This story and these characters will stay with me.

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza

** Spoiler Alert **

I absolutely loved Charlotte Walsh and the journey this novel takes her on. I totally agree with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s praise for the book: “CWLTW is daring, confident, and ambitious, just like Charlotte Walsh herself. Jo Piazza has written a main character so honest she leaps off the page. Charlotte Walsh is a woman I won’t soon forget.”

Alisyn Camerota’s praise resonated with me, too: “Charlotte had me from her first feisty line. This novel is the perfect blend of propulsive plot and sharp detail. And it’s particularly timely. Piazza crafts a portrait of what it means to be an ambitious woman today. Charlotte Walsh likes to win, and she won me over completely.”

I also surprised myself by loving the unconventional ending. As someone who generally appreciates/prefers for a novel to be tied up at the end in some way, shape, or form, I was drawn to this book’s lack of conclusion—it was, in a way, more true to real life. Plus, Jo Piazza’s reflections on the ending in the Author’s Note were so poignant and clear that they almost served as an ending in and of themselves.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to get a copy for my personal library!

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story by Luisa Weiss

Pros: I love the way Luisa Weiss writes so descriptively about food. I liked the depths of struggle she shares re: feeling torn between homes and settling vs. striving in a relationship.

Cons: I can’t quite identify why but this book just didn’t resonate with me; neither did most of the recipes, the majority of which didn’t really appeal to me. I thought the honesty with which Weiss wrote lost steam about halfway through; what was at first a compelling narrative became instead a string of anecdotes accompanied somewhat haphazardly with recipes.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

** Spoiler Alert **

My expectations for The Wedding Date were way too high. What I thought would be a rich novel about an impromptu date to a wedding was actually a silly, underdeveloped story about two very immature characters.

Alexa was likable enough but Drew was THE WORST. He was condescending, shallow, and really mean to his best friend, Carlos. He seemed so insecure, constantly seeking affirmation. Just, no.

The storyline was also so unrealistic. It started out okay but then just got nonsensical. Little side plots like Alexa’s city council proposal and Drew’s patient with leukemia seemed meant to create depth but really only served as under-baked distractions from a bad plot.

And YET. I like Jasmine Guillory a lot as a person, so I think I will be interested in reading The Proposal (a semi follow-up to this book that focuses more on Carlos) when it comes out. I know, kind of hypocritical of me after this review, but I imagine reading the sequel will be like reading The Wedding Date: it’s pure escapism, similar to watching terrible TV.

Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York by Sari Botton

I loved this book and its sentiments for New York. The writing was rich and thoughtful and beautiful, and I really liked that each essay stood alone—it made it easy to pick up a few chapters here and there in between reading a novel. I liked savoring the chapters bit by bit, really letting them soak in. Some were funny while others were wistful, but all were poignant + filled with life lessons. I will definitely snagging a copy of this book for my personal library so I can reread these essays again and again!

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

** Spoiler Alert **

There were many things I liked about The Book of Essie, including Essie’s bravery, the author’s ability to address very sensitive & difficult topics in a way that was profound, and the fact that the main character protected her baby daughter in a day and age when many women would have made a different choice. I loved the pace of the book and felt very engaged throughout reading it. It was very well written, too.

There were, however, significant sub plots that did not seem resolved; Liberty Bell’s plot line, for example, was a main focus throughout the book but then basically disappeared. Some of the plot lines were almost too thorough, so when instances occurred, I couldn’t quite grasp how they had happened. I would find myself rereading sections to see if I’d missed something, but I hadn’t. So in these ways, The Book of Essie was lacking a bit. I do recommend it, though.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is very well-written and intriguing. The subject matter and the main character are depressing; while on the one hand you can’t imagine anyone behaving as she does, on the other you can totally conjure up feeling the way that she does if things in your life had gone really, really wrong.

I am glad I read this book because the writing was so good but I didn’t love it because of the dark, often crass content. But there something real about the darkness touched a nerve with me, and that made me appreciate My Year of Rest and Relaxation in a unique way. Also, as despicable as she was, there was something that made me look forward to the scenes with the awful Dr. Tuttle character.

The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir About Death, Grief, and Surviving the Mother of All Losses by Kate Spencer

I thought this book offered wonderful sentiments about grief and healing. Kate Spencer really encourages readers to embrace their feelings, no matter how dark and maddening they may be, which I loved. While I thought the content was great, I dropped a couple of stars from the rating because writing wasn't my favorite and I could have done without some of the cursing/bad language.

Startup by Doree Shafrir

I absolutely loved Startup! I thought it was an extremely well-written, descriptive, captivating story, and I thought all of the characters, even the unlikable ones, were relatable. I read this in two days, stealing away pockets of time to finish it. I'm hoping, based on the ending, that a sequel is in the works—I would totally read a Katya + Sabrina + Isabel follow-up piece!

Image via My Domaine

July 2018 Reading List


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More summer reading goodness! Here’s what I read in July.

By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

** Spoiler Alert **

I really enjoyed this fun, light book. It was a quick and easy read, in spite of it being close to 400 pages. The characters were all lovely in their own way and I really cherished the emphasis Dottie Frank put on the importance of family and togetherness. I like what Adriana Trigiani has to say about Dottie Frank's books: "[Her] books have the fizz of a gin and tonic, the hilarity of a night out at a comedy club, and the warmth of a South Carolina sun. Dip in, dive in, but no matter how you go, you'll love her."

I did reduce the rating to three stars because while there were certainly setbacks and obstacles for the characters to overcome, I thought the ending wrapped up way too perfectly (and also with a lot of unlikely prosperity). I am all for a happy ending, but this was just a touch too sweet for my liking. Also, the plot line regarding Floyd’s three estranged daughters who suddenly reconcile after 20 years and move back to the low country was a wildly underdeveloped plot line that was so unrealistic. Still, I recommend this fun book.

The High Season by Judy Blundell

I was thoroughly captivated by this book. It has depth and wisdom and humor and gorgeous writing, amongst other attributes. I loved watching the twists and turns of Ruthie’s life unfold, and I admired that in spite of the mistakes she made that, in an unexpected way, she came out on top. But I also appreciated that the ending wasn’t tied neatly with a bow, that it was realistic with some questions left answered. 

I love Grant Grinder’s review of this book: “I tore through this book with the sort of obsessive sped that makes you forget about things like eating and sleeping. On top of tackling tough issues like wealth, family, and class, Judy Blundell treats her characters—be they mothers or daughters, socialites or artists—with more honesty and heart than any writer I know. This isn’t a book that you’ll leave on some beach on Long Island’s North Fork—this is a book you’ll be talking about for a long time to come.”

I read through this book quickly because it was riveting, but I could definitely see myself rereading it next summer or the summer after that—there’s a lot of beautiful language to sort through and absorb.

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hildebrand

This was a fun, summery read. I always enjoy Elin Hilderbrand’s books, but I didn’t like the hasty ending in this one. I thought the plot came to a screeching halt, which felt really abrupt and disorienting; it made me drop my rating from four stars to three. Nevertheless, this is definitely an enjoyable read.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

This book is deliciously written in a particular style I can’t quite explain; it is a bit unlike anything I’ve read before. I loved Arthur Less’s journey around the world as well as the smart, funny writing (although sometimes it got a bit too racy for my taste), and I really liked the ending (oh, how I super loved the ending—it was surprising yet light, bringing clarity but also simplicity). I am not sure if this book will end up on my favorites list— I want to chew on that thought some more. Regardless, I think this book is worth a read.

The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton

** Spoiler Alert **

I’m not quite sure how to feel about this book. On the one hand, I really struggle to read books where the plot lines center around a mother leaving her children. On the other hand: the writing was excellent, there were parts that made me laugh out loud, and the more I let the story marinate, the more I really believe that the characters would have done just what the author had them do in response to Marion’s embezzling ways (Nathan launching his blog, Ginny acting out, Jane inventing an imaginary friend). I think this book is worth a shot.

Storyteller: 100 Poem Letters by Morgan Harper Nichols

One of my best friends from college sent me this book in a difficult season of life and it was exactly what I needed. The poems seem like they are written just for me; there are so many that took my breath away because they spoke directly to me, profoundly and concisely saying just what I needed to hear in that very moment. I also loved the format of the book, with each poem given a header of who it is for. 

I’ve already purchased Storyteller as gifts for two more friends because the world needs these poems. I will plan to read this book again and again, and I even hope to memorize several of the poems that struck me to my core.

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

All We Ever Wanted was a disappointment. It has no depth. There are certain plot lines that seem to be thrown into the mix under the illusion of building deeper, richer sentiments, and then they are never discussed/elaborated upon again. Nina was the only character I really liked—even though Tom and Lyla displayed heroism in their own way, they were really flat portrayals of actual humans. Also, this is super nitpicky, but Emily Giffin definitely overuses italics and ellipses, which I found to be distracting. The writing is not very strong either. I do not recommend this book.

Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen

** Spoiler Alert **

I hate to give this book such a low rating because I thought Sophia was a plucky character and I really learned a lot about the world of investor relations through this novel (Anna Yen is a strong writer) but I finished the story and was confused about what the message was supposed to be. Women’s empowerment? Career above all else? Money is more important than family and friends? Beating the boys club of Silicon Valley (even though Sophia actually just ends up joining them)?

Also, I am okay with a few plot lines being left unfinished here and there, as that’s reflective of real life, but nearly every single storyline was severed without a resolution - Sophia’s cancer (and her diabetes, come to think of it), her family life, her relationships with Peter and Scott and Jonathan and Kate and the Treehouse team, etc. I also thought Sophia’s career trajectory was wildly unrealistic; while she was talented and feisty in some ways that I admired, based on her lack of experience and accolades I couldn’t believe she was revered the way she was in her industry at such a young age.

While I don’t recommend this book, I would be interested in reading Anna Yen’s future work - I think her writing is good, but the storylines and underlying messages need work.

Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff

This is a beautiful book & an easy read. I come away from Bob Goff’s books with a renewed understanding of how much Jesus loves me—and with a renewed goal of having as many incredible adventures as the author someday! In the midst of the amazing opportunities Goff creates for himself, he experiences life-changing hardship (like the updates he mentioned in the epilogue) and still he perseveres with cheerfulness and a fervent belief in God’s plan for his life, which includes guidance on how to live for His kingdom and love others well.

Family and Other Catastrophes by Alexander Borowitz

This book started off with a bang and then became insufferable. I really enjoyed the first third of it the book, laughing aloud at several parts. But then the language and topics of conversation got so crass that it made it hard to read. Also, there was a ton of build up and character development throughout the majority of the book, which all amounted to nothing—there was very little resolution for any of the characters (least of all the family unit referred to in the title) and for those characters that did experience change, it came about so quickly at the very end of the book that it didn’t seem believable.

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

I was so disappointed in this book, but I did manage to read the whole thing because there were so many twists and turns; it was like watching a bad movie that you can’t help but finish. The plot and the writing were both convoluted—I think I spent the first third of the book trying to figure out what I was reading. I hated the way the book ended, and selfishness seemed to be the general theme throughout. Two thumbs down.

Like Brothers by Mark Duplass & Jay Duplass

To me, this book is the perfect memoir: it is equal parts hilarious (I laughed out loud so many times - Mark & Jay’s karate-themed home video, omg), honest, insightful (both into the indie film scene and their own lives), and inspiring. While this book is very much about the film industry, it is more about the dynamic relationship between Mark & Jay Duplass as brothers, business partners, and best friends. 

I already liked Mark Duplass from his roles in The League and The One I Love (as well as, most recently, his great interview about this book with Gretchen Rubin on the Happier podcast), and I thoroughly enjoyed both Duplass brothers’s work on Cyrus and as hilarious midwives on The Mindy Project. All of this lent to me wanting to read this book, but now, after finishing it, I firmly believe that even if you aren’t yet a Duplass brothers fan, this is a worthwhile read.

There was some language + graphic content that I didn’t love, but the book was so good (I read it in just one day while traveling), well-written, and honest (in a day and age where I think we need honesty more than ever) that I had to give this title a full five stars. Bravo, Mark & Jay Duplass!

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Hmm. I came away from Commonwealth feeling disappointed, wondering what my takeaway from the book was supposed to be. I do enjoy stories about family dynamics, and there were certain sections of Commonwealth that captivated me. But for the most part, I thought the plot really lagged, especially throughout the first half of the book as well as at the end. I gave this book three stars for good writing, and I am interested in reading more of Ann Patchett’s books because of the strong writing displayed here, but I don’t necessarily think I’d go out of my way to recommend Commonwealth.

June 2018 Reading List


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Summer reading is my favorite, maybe because it conjures up images of reading poolside/beachside with an ice-cold margarita on the rocks (with salt!) in hand. Here’s what I read this month (lots of good ones!).

The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

I loved this book, and I highly recommend it. I flew threw nearly 360 pages in two days because I couldn’t get enough of it. The story was wonderful, and I really loved most of the characters and plot lines. I wish I could give this book 4.8 stars because it’s so close to a perfect rating, but the Rachel + Luke storyline felt so empty, shallow, undeveloped, and silly; I got annoyed reading those sections of the book (same with the Nadine sections, which resolved all too quickly in my opinion). Anyway, regardless of my issue with that plot line, I think The Forever Summer is just lovely and I am looking forward to reading more of Jamie Brenner’s work.

Calypso by David Sedaris

This is one of my new favorite David Sedaris books! I love his style of writing—he is so sharp and clever and brilliantly funny, and there are so many moments of hilarity in his books, but there are moments of heartache, too. He is just such a real, well-rounded writer. I love everything I've read by Sedaris over the years but Calypso really captivated me. Highly recommend! P.S. Not sure why Goodreads is formatting this as an audiobook—I can't seem to locate a hardcopy version on the site. But I do think the audiobook would be really fun to listen to—I think I'll check it out.

I’ll Be You Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

Man, I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I thought the writing was beautiful and I really loved the plot line that revolves around Edith’s character, but I found Clare to be an incredibly annoying, unlikable main character. Her relationships with both Zach and Dev were surface-level, and the whole broken engagement plot line seemed really unnecessary and incomplete. Sadly, I do not recommend this book.

How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson

** Spoiler Alert **

I was so excited about this book because I love Kate Reddy (and, by proxy, Allison Pearson), but I was disappointed. While I found many gems + parts that made my laugh, on the whole I really thought this book was underdeveloped and, in some ways, crass. There were minor plot lines that were described tediously and at unnecessary length; conversely, there were major plot lines that appeared - and were then immediately resolved - out of thin air (namely Kate’s whirlwind romance/reconnection with Jack, but also the dissolution of her marriage and her daughter’s self-harm). I also had some serious moral issues with some parts of the book, especially the wild high school party Kate & Richard hosted and essentially turned a blind eye to. I just can’t get on board with this book, even though I desperately wanted to. I would be open to reading more of Pearson’s work since I adored I Don’t Know How She Does It, but I don’t recommend this title.

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham

This is such a fun, cheerful, encouraging book (and it takes less than 20 minutes to read!). This is Lauren Graham’s commencement address to the 2017 graduating class at her alma mater, Langley High. It was bound and turned into a book, and it is equal parts lovely, inspiring, funny, and sweet. Reading this would make anyone’s day a bit brighter. It would make a great gift for a graduate, certainly, but also for anyone in a season of change or anyone in need of a boost.

Florida by Lauren Groff

This is a beautifully written book. I expected no less from Lauren Groff, as I thought Fates and Furies was gorgeously written as well. I wasn't so crazy about Fates and Furies, but since I enjoyed the writing so much I knew I would want to read more of Groff's work in the future. This book almost had a poetic-like quality to it, and I found that I had to really focus to absorb all of the nuance and loveliness each chapter had to offer. I loved that this was a collection of stories; it helped me absorb the plot lines more fully. My favorite chapters were "At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners," "Above and Below," and "Yport." 

If you're diving into this book, I recommend reading it without any distractions; it required all of my focus and attention.

In sum, I think how Lisa Zeidner summed the book + Groff's writing up in a review for the Washington Post captures the essence of the work the best: "With this collection, she stakes her claim to being Florida’s unofficial poet laureate, as Joan Didion was for California."

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Another enjoyable read by Liane Moriarty. I love the twists and turns in Moriarty's books, and I always really enjoy the character development she works into each plot line. I especially appreciated reading the sections about Grace, which addressed and accurately delved into the reality of postpartum depression. 

As is the case in some of Moriarty's books, sections of The Last Anniversary dragged/felt repetitive. The story seemed to shift from being all about Sophie to being all about Connie & Rose's family, and while that makes sense in a way, it was also a little distracting.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

** Spoiler Alert **

This is a book that will stay with me. To steal from Anne Bogel’s review, which perfectly sums it up in three words, it is “complex, wistful, melancholy.” I particularly loved the final chapter from Rafiq’s point of view - it was so heartbreaking and beautiful. I would have enjoyed hearing more of Huda’s perspective. This was a slow read for me, as there was a lot to take in. I recommend it for readers who want to dive deep, focus, and savor a book. I can’t believe that author Fatima Farheen Mirza is just 26 years old; her writing is so good that I think readers have a lot to look forward to in terms of this book and future projects.

Image via This Is Glamorous

May 2018 Reading List


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Books & books & books—here’s my reading update for May 2018.

Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota

A very fun, thoughtful, smart read. I flew through this one. The romance plot line was a little shaky for me but Amanda’s journey in journalism really made me think. Recommend!

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

I am sad to report that I did not like this book, even though it was very well-written (aside from the instances when the language was overly flowery and sections were filled with obscure references). I am unclear on how readers are supposed to feel about Rupert Falkes - he’s initially a lovable character who I came to abhor (plus, certain sections regarding his affairs and relations were way too salacious). The storylines about the five sons felt so scattered and inconsistent; really, just three of them seemed to matter, and even those seemed out of place in the grand scheme of the book. Anyway, I don’t recommend The Heirs, though I do commend Susan Rieger for the good writing.

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore

This is a great book. It serves as an excellent cautionary tale of the go-go-go lifestyle our society claims is valuable, of the sentiment that busyness defines our worth. This book especially takes a hard look at this topic as it relates to teenagers, and I thought the social commentary that Meg Mitchell Moore provided through the captivating plot line was compelling. There were also a few great little twists that I really enjoyed, and I appreciated that all loose ends were tied up when the book concluded.

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

I love Jenna Bush Hager so I was interested to read this, but it was choppy, not very well written, and all over the place. This book didn’t seem to be about sisters; instead, it reads like Jenna and Barbara’s two separate memoirs haphazardly smushed together. There were some fun insights and cool stories, but ultimately I do not recommend Sisters First.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Good, gripping book. Excellent writing, interesting plot line, exciting twist at the end. I thought some of the sections dragged a bit, hence a slightly lower rating, but I recommend this fast-paced thriller nonetheless.

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

I really liked this book, and I thought it was a fantastic debut novel for Kimmery Martin. I especially valued the themes of friendship and forgiveness that were woven throughout the plot. While one plot line was kind of predictable, there was another one that definitely caught me by surprise.

I’m Happy For You (Sort Of…Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma

I enjoyed this book and took lots of notes while reading it. There were a ton of good gems in here. I did come away wanting a little more in terms of proactive ways to combat comparison—I think I went into the book hoping the content would help me push through my comparison issues, but in some ways it just identified the struggle a bit more. It did make me feel less alone in my comparison struggles, that's for sure. I thought the random quotes + input from friends/readers throughout the chapters was a bit distracting and would have preferred reading the book without those tidbits.

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

This was a fun, very well-written read. This book made me want to hop a plane to Sicily so I could spend a week solving mysteries & drinking Prosecco with Poldi. Recommend!

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

I loved this book! I don’t typically gravitate towards short stories but I’ve always really enjoyed Curtis Sittenfeld’s work (Prep, The Man of My Dreams, and Sisterland in particular) so I added this book to my list and absolutely gobbled it up. Sittenfeld’s writing is so good, and she paints the most vivid picture of what her characters are going through; I feel like I’m in the room with them as they interact with one another. I love how the Washington Post describes Sittenfeld and her “astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads.” Yes, that—exactly!

Photo via Laura Bamford for Cup of Jo

April 2018 Reading List


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Yay for books! Here’s what I read in April 2018.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of Us is absolute perfection—add it to the top of my favorites list! I simultaneously wanted to gobble this story up and savor it slowly: I wanted to gobble it up so I could devour the story quickly (I truly couldn’t put it down), and yet I wanted to savor it slowly so it would never have to end. This is beautifully written, evocative, emotional, intelligent—really, it’s a masterpiece. Recommend, recommend, recommend!

P.S. Upon further reflection, I think one of the things I loved most about this book was that the characters had consequences for their actions. They made choices—some good, some bad—and all had some sort of resounding effect, which is just how real life is. This added a richness, another dimension, to the characters and their lives. It made all three plot lines so believable, relatable, and heart-wrenching.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

This book is just fantastic, and it’s certainly a title that I'll read & read again. I heard about this book through Anne Bogel's podcast, What Should I Read Next. I read Wild many years ago and while I liked some aspects of that book, on the whole I struggled with many parts in it. Anne interviewed someone on the podcast who felt the same way as I do, and she suggested her interviewee read Tiny Beautiful Things, citing the gorgeous writing and the insights into Cheryl Strayed's background as reasons for doing so. This intrigued me, so I added this book to my list—and I LOVED it. I kept sneaking moments to read it. There are certainly topics and verbiage choices that are crass/do not align with my belief systems, but if you are familiar with Cheryl Strayed's writing and personality, that comes as no surprise and, thus, did not bother me too much. I highlighted the heck out of this book—there were so many good insights and lots of wisdom—and I know I will be recommending Tiny Beautiful Things to fellow readers for years to come.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Pros: Really interesting story, well-written, quick read. Cons: I didn’t get sucked in, and I’m not totally sure what the hype is about with this book. I did like it, though, and I think it’s worth reading.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A beautiful, captivating book that explores love, brokenness, and the many, many different ways that families can be planted, nurtured, and bloom. I loved this, especially the ending, and I have a whole new respect for the meaning and language of flowers. Highly recommend!

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

I went back and forth on how I should rate this book. On the one hand, it's so well-written and very captivating (the character development and plot lines were both excellent, making me not want to put the book down for the majority of my reading experience), which makes me want to give it all the stars. On the other, the subject matter is very dark, and it gets even more dismal/shocking as the book progresses—until the end, that is. No spoilers here, but I found the end to be very redeeming. I was almost ready to throw in the towel about 80% in due to the depressing nature of the content, but I felt pulled to finish the book and I'm glad I did. Even though there were difficult parts for me to read and process (I especially found the language in Simon's chapter regarding his personal life and relationships to be unnecessarily crass), overall I felt that this book was a literary victory that's worth a read. That being said, highly sensitive readers should be prepared for difficult content and a recurring theme of death.

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

What a fun, fun book! This was exactly what I needed after reading back-to-back books with really serious content. I devoured this book (I read it in just over 24 hours)—I got sucked into it the way you might binge-watch a great Netflix show. So funny, easy, lighthearted, and entertaining. Highly recommend!

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell's writing is beautiful, and I can't wait to read her fiction. While I think this book is a literary success, the topic (seventeen brushes with death) is obviously dark and, pending your current life situation, potentially difficult to read. I came away with an understanding of what O'Farrell wanted to accomplish from a literary perspective, but that doesn't mean it's not kind of depressing. I am giving this book three stars because of how beautifully written it is and how interesting O'Farrell's perspective is, but I don't think this is going on my favorites list—at least not right now.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

A beautiful book with excellent writing + a moving storyline & such good character development. An all-around win—highly recommend!

Image via This Little Street