My Week in Books {1/2/20}

After a hectic start to the Christmas Break, I’ve finally had a few days to chill out. Mostly I’ve missed having some time to read, so I’m excited to get as much of that in as I can!

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In case you missed them, here are some links to my recent posts:

Best of 2019 Posts:

What have you been reading (and loving) this week?

Last Week’s Reads:

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📱 The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury) – Pub Date: September 20, 2011 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved Circe and had no idea that Miller had written a book prior to that one. Miller once again proves her storytelling abilities with this tale of the Greeks who go to Troy to save Helen, who was kidnapped by Paris. We also get a closer look into the life of Achilles and his romantic relationship with Petroclus. I wasn’t expecting a romance, but admist the battles and mythology, I was privvy to Achilles and Petroclus’ beautiful relationship. I really enjoyed this book, especially the last 100 pages or so. There were parts of this book that felt like a slog to get through, but I’m sure it has more with the timing (hello, Christmas break!) than the story itself. Miller truly has a gift for the retellings of mythology and I can’t wait for her next book which will be a retelling of The Tempest!

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2020-01-01 at 5.17.53 PM📖 Me by: Elton John (Henry Holt ) – Pub Date: October 15, 2019

Growing up, my mama loved Elton John. His music used to blare through the radio on Sunday mornings as breakfast was being cooked. For me, his music is comfort – reminiscent of a time where life was simple, easy, and happy…of when my mama was still alive. I could not wait to watch the movie, Rocketman, and after having done that, I immediately ran to my bookshelves and started reading his memoir, Me. I’m only a few chapters in, but I am loving this behind-the-scenes look into Elton John’s life.

Also, the movie is amazing! I would highly recommend it, right along with Bohemian Rhapsody!

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

 

It’s 2020! January TBR

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How in the world is it the year 2020? I remember when I was a kid growing up that 2020 sounded so futuristic. I didn’t think I’d be alive to see it (I mean, it was the 1900s and anything in the new century sounded unbelievable to me!). Anyway, here we are! Clearly, I’m alive and well and net even close to being dead…so the joke is on me! 🤪

In terms of goals and intentions, I meant to be more prepared for this new year…but I tend to do better under pressure so I’m going to keep winging it like I always have been!

One thing I’m doing differently is that I’m not setting a quantity goal for the year (I’ll still set something on Goodreads because I love the Year in Review they provide!). I want to focus on quality instead – increasing my average page count per book, amount of pages read overall, and enjoying what I read.

I am also putting myself on a book buying ban. I’m not doing it out of shame or anything other than trying to read the books I already own! To help me do that, I will be participating in the Unread Shelf Challenge hosted by Whitney at The Unread Shelf (more on this in a post later this week). Many of the books currently on my shelf I bought with the intention of reading right away, but then I got distracted by a new release or persuaded by a trusted book source. In full disclosure, I will still be adding some new books to my shelves through partnerships I have with publishers. Also, I was lucky enough to get a few gift cards for Christmas, so if there’s a book I’m absolutely dying to read, I will get it! Last, I already have credits with Book of the Month (<– affiliate link!) so those won’t count on the ban either.

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To help me whiddle down my books, I have a few categories I’d like to try to hit each month:

Other books up for consideration:

There you have it! What’s on your list of hopefuls for the month of January?

 

2019 Year in Review –> 2020 Goals

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By the Numbers:

I read 167 total books this year! I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but it’s true! Last year I read 154 books, and I intentionally made it a goal to read less this year. Clearly, that didn’t work out for me. 🙄 In 2020, my goal is going to be 100 books.

According to Goodreads, I read 56,432 pages and I averaged a 4.0 star rating. (My personal average was 3.9, but Goodreads doesn’t recognize ½ stars so I’m sure that’s where the discrepancy comes in.)

Author:

Out of 167 books read, 130 (78%) were written by women, 35 (21%) were written by men, and 2 (1%) were written by authors who self-identify as gender nonconfoming. In 2020, I want to add a whole lot more diversity to the authors I read. I want more men, gender nonconforming authors, and more diverse authors.

Genres:

As for genres, I like the diveristy in my reading. Here’s the official breakdown: 37% fiction, 12% nonfiction, 11% historical fiction, 16% memoir, 10% thriller/mystery, 10% YA/middle grade, 3% fantasy/scifi, and 1% humor. I want to continue to read widely, but I especially want to focus on reading more #ownvoices in 2020.

Success Rate:

If you follow Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), you know she’s all about the data. And while I’m not quite as good with numbers as she is, I have been inspired to try tracking my reading a little differently. This year, I had a 74% successful rate for books I finished (like Sarah, I count any book I rated 3.5 stars or higher as successful). When I add in the books I DNF’d that number fell to 57% 😔. Next year, I want to get better at reading books I know are in my wheelhouse. Sure, sometimes it’s fun to be surprised by a book you wouldn’t normally pick up, but I want more quality in 2020!

Book Length:

My average book length is 337 pages and I would really like to see that number higher in 2020. Part of the reason I am making it a goal again this year to read less is because I want to be able to read some longer books and not have to worry about the pressure to meet a number goal at the end of the year (quality vs quantitiy, see above). I also learned this year that, even though big books can feel daunting, they usally end up among my favorites. I have a few books on my shelves that are 400+ pages and I don’t want a reason to skip over them!

Popularity Contest:

The most popular book I read was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which makes sense because it was published in 2011. This was a reread for me and I enjoyed it so much more the second time around! The least popular book I read was Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by Nicole Gulotta. If you’re interested in the writing life at all, I would definitely recommend it!

#bujo:

This year I played around with bullet journaling. Two of my favorite bookstagrammers that bujo are: Allyson (@bookstaandbujo) and Jorie (@jojobuckreads). They take bujo-ing to the next level and I love seeing what they come up with.

Jorie totally inspired me (and everyone else it seems!) with this Book of the Year spread!

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Favorite Books:

And while Know My Name by Chanel Miller is definitely the Most Important Read of the Year, my Favorite Books of the Year were actually City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Fiction) and The Only Plane in the Sky by: Garrett M. Graff (Nonfiction).

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By the Month:

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Honorable Mentions by Month:

January 

  • Waiting for Eden by: Eliot Ackerman
  • The Paragon Hotel by: Lyndsay Faye
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by: John Carreyrou
  • Golden Child by: Claire Adam
  • Sugar Run by: Mesha Maren

February

  • The Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides
  • Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Daughters by: T. Kira Madden
  • The Huntress by: Kate Quinn

March:

  • A Woman is No Man by: Etaf Rum
  • A People’s History of Heaven by: Mathangi Subramanian
  • Next Year in Havana by: Chanel Cleeton
  • The Island of Sea Women by: Lisa See
  • Queenie by: Candace Carty-Williams
  • The Other Americans by: Laila Lalami

April

  • I Miss You When I Blink by: Mary Laura Philpott
  • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by: Mira Jacob
  • Finding Dorothy by: Elizabeth Letts
  • Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim
  • #IMomSoHard by: Kristen Hensley & Jen Smedley
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by: Brittney Cooper
  • Life Will Be the Death of Me…And You Too! by: Chelsea Handler
  • The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by: Melinda Gates

May

  • Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by: Shauna Niequist
  • Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia
  • Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane
  • With the Fire on High by: Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Farm by: Joanne Ramos
  • The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth
  • The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal
  • Mrs. Everything by: Jennifer Weiner
  • Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn

June

  • The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary
  • Fall & Rise: The Story of 9/11 by: Mitchell Zuckoff
  • Summer of ’69 by: Elin Hilderbrand

July

  • The Editor by: Steven Rowley
  • The Gifted School by: Bruce Holsinger
  • American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by: Maureen Callahan
  • Americanah by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Chain by: Adrian McKinty
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey
  • The Lager Queen of Minnesota by: J. Ryan Stradal

August

  • Dear America: Notes from an Undocumented Citizen by: Jose Antonio Vargas
  • More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by: Elaine Welteroth
  • Dry by: Augusten Burroughs
  • Patsy by: Nicole Dennis-Benn

September

  • After the Flood by: Kassandra Montag
  • The World That We Knew by: Alice Hoffman
  • The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001 by: Garrett M. Graff
  • Red, White, & Royal Blue by: Casey McQuiston
  • The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt

October

  • The Dutch House by: Ann Patchett
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by: Linda Holmes
  • The Turn of the Key by: Ruth Ware
  • A Monster Calls by: Patrick Ness
  • The Dearly Beloved by: Cara Wall
  • The Night Circus by: Erin Morgenstern

November

  • Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by: Dani Shapiro
  • In the Dream House by: Carmen Maria Machado
  • How We Fight For Our Lives by: Saeed Jones
  • The Body: A Guide for Occupants by: Bill Bryson

December

  • The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller
  • Recursion by: Blake Crouch

Whew! That was A LOT! I’m curious: have you done a 2019 reading wrap up and/or set your goals for 2020? I’d love to hear them!

 

December 2019 Wrap-Up

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As one would expect, I didn’t get a lot of reading done this month. Between my son’s basketball season wrapping up to Christmas celebrations and family visiting, I was too busy or too tired to really get to any reading. I am so excited for some down time to pick up some books again – I’ve missed reading so much!

Also, in case you missed it, here are some of my favorite posts from December:

Here’s my December Wrap-up by the numbers:

  • 8 books total (3 DNFs)
  • Average Rating: 3.4 (by far my worst reading month in terms of enjoyment and memorable reads)
  • 5 physical books, 3 e-books, 0 audiobook
  • 6 fiction, 2 non-fiction
  • Genre: 2 contemporary fiction, 1 literary fiction, 0 historical fiction, 1 science fiction, 1 memoir, 1 non-fiction, 0 thriller, 2 young adult
  • Rating: 0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫, 2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️, 1 ⭐️⭐️
  • Author: 6 female, 2 male, 0 they/them

So far this year, I’ve read 167 books and my average rating for the year finishes 3.9.

In terms of enjoyment, it was my worst reading month of the year. Nothing really stands out to me as an unforgettable read, but I would probably choose The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali as my favorite book of the month. The Song of Achilles was also a consideration.

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Here’s the complete breakdown. (Click on the link to be taken to my original review).

If You Enjoy an Atmospheric Read:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫  📖  The Starless Sea by: Erin Morgenstern

The One That That You Think is Nonfiction But Turns Out to Be YA (Or For a Look Into the Opioid Epidemic Through the Eyes of a Teen):

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 Opioid, Indiana by: Brian Allen Carr

For the One That Will Blow Your Mind:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** Recursion by: Blake Crouch

If You’ve Ever Thought About Starting a Podcast (Or Have Been Curious About the Process):

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 So You Want To Start a Podcast by: Kristen Meizner

For a YA Fiction Book About a School Shooting:

⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by: Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal

If You’re Looking For a Memoir About a Beautiful Father/Daughter Relationship and Grief:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** All That You Leave Behind by: Erin Lee Carr

If You Need an Easy Historical Fiction Romance:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 The Stationery Shop by: Marjan Kamali

If You Love a Greek Retelling (and Loved Circe):

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller

DNF (aka: Not For Me and/or Skipping For Now):

📖 *** Africaville by: Jeffrey Colvin

📱*** Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by: Nefertiti Austin

🎧 *** Ordinary Girls by: Jaquira Díaz

 

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

The Most Important Book of 2019

E1454893-F875-46C2-A0FF-C4CA15007341All of my Top Lists of 2019 have already been published (The Best of the Best: My Top Fiction Book & Nonfiction Book of 2019Top 10 Fiction Books of 2019Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2019Top 10 Backlist Books I Read in 2019Top 10 Audiobooks of 2019, and 2019 Honorable Mentions), but I saved the most important for last!

READ THIS BOOK ASAP!

In January 2015, Chanel Miller was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, a student-athlete at Stanford University. For the duration of the trial, Miller was referred to as “Emily Doe”, but with the release of her memoir, Know My Name, earlier this year, she rightfully took back the narrative of her story.

Miller’s writing is brilliant and well thought out. She doesn’t come across as a whiny victim; she simply wants to be seen and known as something more than just “Brock’s victim”. She is anything but that. She is smart and funny and enjoys art. She is loved dearly by her mother, father, sister, and boyfriend.

I believe this book should be added to high school (and college) curriculums, and I believe every mama (of girls AND boys) needs to read it. Miller quite pointedly explains to us what sexual assault is and what it looks like. She teaches us how it penetrates all aspects of a survivor’s life, from her own personal demons to those of her loved ones. And she shows us how our society perpetuates and tolerates a pervasive rape culture.

“What we needed to raise in others was this instinct. The ability to recognize, in an instant, right from wrong. The clarity of mind to face it rather than ignore it. I learned that before they had chased Brock, they had checked on me. Masculinity is often defined by physicality, but that initial kneeling is as powerful as the leg sweep, the tackling. Masculinity is found in the vulnerability, the crying.” (pg 123, acknowledging how the two Swedes, Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonnson, reacted when they witnessed Miller’s assault.

December Discussion #HWRbooks: The Stationery Shop

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Roya’s mother had always said that our fate is written on our foreheads when we’re born. It can’t be seen, can’t be read, but it’s there in invisible ink all right, and life follows that fate. No matter what.” (pg 4)

Have you ever wondered what life would have been like had one tiny little thing played out differently? Would if you wouldn’t have made the train that day where you ended up meeting your future spouse? Or would if you wouldn’t have gone on that blind date where you totally hit it off with that special person? Or would if your country wouldn’t have experienced a coup the day you were supposed to meet your beloved at the town square?

The Stationery Shop is a book that inadvertently explores that idea. Roya is supposed to meet her boyfriend, Bahman, in the town square at a particular time, but on that same day, there is a staged coup to overthrow the Iranian leader. They never end up meeting and, as a result, both of their lives drastically change direction.

Roya moves to the United States with her sister to pursue an education. Bahman ends up marrying a woman of his mother’s choosing. Through a mutual friend, Roya and Bahman keep track of each other’s lives. When that friend dies, their “connection” to each other is lost. Life goes on (as it does) until Roya encounters a man that strangely reminds her of her long lost love. Will she finally find out what happened that day, sixty years ago, that changed the direction of her life forever?

“We do not always get what we want, Roya Khanom. Things do not always work out the way we planned. Those who are young tend to think that life’s tragedies and miseries and its bullets will somehow miss them. That they can buoy themselves with naīve hope and energy. They think, wrongly, that shomehow youth or desire or even love can outmatch the hand of fate. The truth is, my young lady, that fate has written the script for your destiny on your forehead from the very beginning. We can’t see it. But it’s there. And the young, who love so passionately, have no idea how ugly this world is. This world is without compassion.” (pg 127)

What worked for me:

  • I loved the theme of fate woven throughout the entire story. I’m very much intrigued by the whole “sliding doors” concept (remember that movie?!?!)…I’m always wondering, “what if this had happened instead, how would that have affected this…”
  • The characters! I loved them all in their own way (well, except Mrs. Aslan. I don’t see any redeeming qualities in her.)
    • Roya and her independance and strength to pick herself back up after all her heartbreak.
    • Bahman for his activism and for standing up so strongly for his beliefs. And for continuing to love Roya through the years in a way that inspired him to create a bookshop reminiscent of where they met.
    • Zari for her foresight and endless amounts of warnings.
    • Walter for his patience, support, and acceptance of Roya and her past
    • Fakhri for his bookshop and his small hand in Roya and Bahman’s budding romance.
    • Roya’s parents for their modern thinking – for accepting their two daughters (in a society that values a son more than a daughter) and for wanting them to be educated and independent!
    • Jahangir and his dedication to his friendship with Roya and Bahman.
  • The political information throughout the novel. I went down a rabbit hole on Google to read a little more about the coup mentioned in the book and I was fascinated by what I learned!
  • Learning even just a little bit about Iran and its complicated history. I would love to learn more! A glimpse into the Iranian culture was fascinating!

What didn’t work for me:

  • Simplistic in its delivery…from the overall story to the language and syntax used. It just felt a little shallow to me, and maybe I noticed it more because it had such potential to have a lot more depth.
  • For me, the pacing fell apart towards the end. It took awhile for the story to build up and then it speeds through the last 25% of the book. I missed the depth the first half of the book possessed and wish it would have carried through to the end.
  • Mrs. Aslan – I understand that she had a mental illness and that was the driving force behind her dispicable character, but for me, she wasn’t convincing. Instead of feeling that sympathy, I questioned her diagnosis of mental illness and wondered if she really just suffered from narcissistic and manipulative behavior.

Overall, this was a great book and I would recommend it to others. The few things I didn’t like about it weren’t deal breakers. Thoughout the story, I had hope for Roya and Bahman ending up together, but even when they didn’t, it was satisfying to know that they both had happy and fulfilling lives. The story came full circle by the end and it was the perfect feel good story admist the craziness of the holiday season!

Discussion time:

Below, you’ll find some discussion questions. Please reply and discuss at your leisure. Beware…there could be spoilers!

  1. Fate is a huge theme throughout the book. What are your thoughts on fate and how it related to Roya’s life? Did it seem like her life was mostly guided by fate, by her own personal decisions, or by entirely other influences?
  2. Mrs. Aslan had a huge influence on Roya and Bahman’s relationship. Do you respect Bahman for standing by his mother, or do you think he should have stopped letting her manipulate him and lived his own life?
  3. How do you feel about Fakhri’s role in breaking up Roya and Bahman? Do you think he owed Mrs. Aslan or do you think he should have stayed out of it?
  4. Going back to the idea of fate…do you believe in fate? Do you think there’s only one path written for us or multiple options that will be just as good? Do you think Roya would have had a better life with Bahman?
  5. What frustrated you about the book, the characters, or the choices made? How would you have changed it? What would you have liked to see happen?
  6. What are your overall thoughts on the book? What would you rate it? Would you recommend it to a friend?

Stay tuned for the January selection which I’ll be announcing on January 2, 2020! I hope you’ll join me for the buddy read and the discussion to follow!

2019 Honorable Mentions

I’ll be finishing the year having read roughly 170 books. So believe me when I tell you that picking the top 10 best books of the year can be really hard! I did it, but I also wanted to take a moment to let you about a few more books that didn’t make my final cut.

I’m sure I left out a book here or there that’s worthy of being mentioned, but I hope you’ve enjoyed the various lists I’ve put together for you!

Here are some links to the other posts already published:

Now, on to the Honorable Mentions of 2019!

 

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The World That We Knew by: Alice Hoffman

I love how Hoffman writes magical realism, and this one was a perfect blend of that magical element and historical fiction!

The Paragon Hotel by: Lindsay Faye

I loved this one and it would have made my Top 10 List had the syntax not taken so long to get the hang of. It was a totally new perspective on Portland, Oregon than I’ve ever heard and I was fascisnated.

Mrs Everything by: Jennifer Weiner

I was expecting something on the lighter side when I picked this one up, but found it surprisingly deeper. I also thought it would be more popular than it was, but either way, I really liked this one!

Summer of ’69 by: Elin Hilderbrand

I had never read Hilderbrand prior to this one and many of my book twins didn’t love it, but I personally did! I loved the time period and the setting and found it to be the perfect escape earlier this year!

 

Memoir:

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How We Fight For Our Lives by: Saeed Jones

Jones has a powerful way with words and this memoir touched my heart. I listened to the audiobook; Jones narrarates it himself and that adds to the overall impact of the book.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by: Jose Antonio Vargas

Vargas is a journalist and his intelligene shows through in this book. He brings a new and valuable perspective to the issue of immigration and it’s absolutely timely.

Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn

This is a tough one  because it wasn’t a total homerun for me; however, it was well-written and an important perspective to the coming out conversation. I also lived vicariously through the story because a summer in Montauk sounds absolutely fabulous!

All That You Leave Behind by: Erin Lee Carr

Many mentioned this one as a good book that handles grief…and while I agree, it wasn’t among the top memoirs I read this year. I loved reading about the relationship Carr had with her father and there were some great takeaways for me.

Long Life the Tribe of Fatherless Daughters by: T. Kira Madden

This is an extremely open and honest look into Madden’s coming of age story. It’s full of trigger warnings (addiction, rape, assault, etc), but also so very well written and good! I highly recommend it!

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by: Brittney Cooper

I also listened to this one on audiobook and it is narrated by Cooper. She is so smart and I learned A LOT from this one!

 

Best Book Club Choices:

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Golden Child by: Claire Adam

I personally think a book club pick should be divisive, controversial, and full of discussion topics. This book fits all of those things…and more! The ending will leave you reeling and it’s sure to ignite a lively conversation at your book club meeting. It’s also a story that sticks with you long after you’ve finished it!

The Dearly Beloved by: Cara Wall

Not my favorite book I read this year, but it’s full of lively discussion topics. Wall tackles issues of faith and everyone should be able to find themselves somewhere in one (or more) of the characters.

The Need by: Helen Phillips

This one is best to go into blind. You don’t want to know much about it as it could potentially spoil the overall effect. Once you’ve read it, you’ll definitely want to talk to someone about what happened…a great choice for your next book club selection!

The Gifted School by: Bruce Holsinger

Not only did this book gain a lot of attention this summer, it also did a fairly good job of dividing its readers. Some seemed to love it and others could have done without. While I fell firmly in the middle immediately after finishing it, I have found that its premise has grown on me as the months have passed. Regardless, there’s a lot to discuss here and it would be an excellent choice for a book club!

The Farm by: Joanne Ramos

Books that fall under the dystopian genre (an imagined state or society where there is great injustice and suffering) are perfect choices for book clubs. They meet all the requirements of division and controversy. Add in topics that are hot political issues and you have a definite winner. This one will challenge your beliefs and give you some great conversation!

The Dreamers by: Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers is a great choice if you like to speculate about what is acutally going on. It’s not so outlandish that it doesn’t feel realistic – it seems as if such an epidemic really could happen! This is an imaginitive novel that will liven up any book club meeting!

 

Fiction, With More Substance:

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A Woman is No Man by: Etaf Rum

This one has stuck with me since I read it. Powerfully done, it really touched my heart.

The Last Romantics by: Tara Conklin

There are many deeply flawed, but relatable, characters in this story and I loved it! I couldn’t put it down!

Very Nice by: Marcy Dermansky

This book was like a soap opera – full of drama and eccentric characters – I could not stop reading this one. I think I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning because it was that good! I hope someone picks it up to make it into a movie because it would be excellent!

Patsy by: Nicole Dennis-Benn

So many parts of this book made me angry and made me want to throw it across the room. However, the writing is excellent and the issues it talks about are so good and I ultimately appreciated the growth all of the characters showed.

Queenie by: Candice Carty-Williams

This book requires patience and trust on the part of the reader. For awhile, it’s just irritating and it will make you want to DNF…but if you stick with it, it begins to blossom into a beautiful story that will change your heart.

Sugar Run by: Mesha Maren

I found this story facisnating! Many didn’t like it, but I found it meditative. I especially enjoyed the main character and was rooting for her throughout the book.

The Other Americans by: Leila Lalami

Worthy of much more buzz than it got, this book gave me a lot to think about.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal

I still haven’t read Jaswal’s first book, but if it’s anything like this one, I’m in for a treat. Light and sweet, it’s also very deep and meaningful. I related to the element of grief and I thought the story was well done.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by: J. Ryan Stradal

Again, I haven’t read Stradal’s first book, but many argue it’s even better than this one. I liked this one so much so I’m excited…I can’t imagine how it could get much better!

Red At the Bone by: Jacqueline Woodson

When an author gives mulitple perspectives surrounding the same time period or event, I’m automatically interested. Add Woodson’s writing ability to that equation and you’ve got a great book!

 

Nonfiction:

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Fall & Rise: The Story of 9/11 by: Mitchell Zuckoff

I’m a big fan of reading anything related to the events surrounding 9/11 and this one is well done! I preferred The Only Plane in the Sky, but also think they offer different things (while also reiterating some of the same things).

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by: Bill Bryson

This book was so fun! Factual information can be fairly boring, but Bryson has a way of relaying that information and I couldn’t put it down!

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by: Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I probably liked this one the more because it was set in Colorado so I was familiar with a lot of the landmarks Fajardo-Anstine talked about. However, the short stories were interesting as well and I enjoyed reading them (that coming from someone who isn’t crazy about short story collections)!

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by: John Carreyrou

I think everybody has heard of this story by now and for good reason! It’s a fascinating look into the Pheranos scandal in Silicon Valley. Carreyrou is a talented writer and this one almost reads more like fiction!

 

Thriller/Mystery:

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Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim

This book made me question how far I would go to protect my children. It’s an interesting question and one that I’m not sure you can answer until you’re put in a position that requires you to make a choice.

The Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides

I loved this psycholically twisted mystery and it made me appreciate the thriller genre in a whole new way!

The Doll Factory by: Elizabeth Macneal

One of the most atmospheric reads I had this year, there was something about this one that kept me reading. Ultimately, it’s a very slow burn and it won’t be for everyone, but I really liked it!

The Chain by: Adrian McKinty

I think it’s every parent’s worst nightmare to think about their child being kidnapped. But would if you had to kidnap another kid in order to get your child back? That’s the premise of this book and it had me hooked from the beginning.

The Whisper Man by: Alex North

A lot of people thought this was super creepy. I wasn’t all that scared, but I still enjoyed it as a thriller and couldn’t wait to find out how it ended.

The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth

There is a mystery to be solved in this one, but it’s much deeper than that. There’s a lot to unpack here and I really enjoyed it!

 

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Evvie Drake Starts Over by: Linda Holmes

A romance done right usually gives me all the happy vibes and this one did not disappoint. It was light and fun and I really enjoyed reading it!

The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary

Maybe my favorite romance I read this year, this one has it all! I loved the characters and the progression of the story. It wasn’t cheesy and didn’t have dialogue that made you roll your eyes as you read it. I loved everything about it.

Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey

Out of the three, this one is probably the cheesiset, but it still didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying myself while I read it.