Good morning! I’ve been meaning to share my recent READS post with you because I’ve read so many fantastic books lately…and I haven’t shared one of these posts in a long time! (The last one I shared was in July, and you can see that post here.)
The past few days have been full of SO much reading because I’m on maternity leave this week (today is actually my official due date; still no baby, though) and binge-reading is way more fun for me than binge-watching a tv show. Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy binging on a great Netflix show every now and again, but for the most part, I get much more joy out of plopping myself down on the couch for an afternoon and spending a few uninterrupted hours reading straight through a book.
So here are the books I’ve been enjoying lately:
1. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: I absolutely adore Liz Gilbert’s writing, and I was SO happy to see that she had a new fiction book coming out as one of the big anticipated novels of summer 2019. I scooped up a copy as fast as I could!
This novel takes the reader into New York City in the 1940s and follows Vivian, a 19-year-old girl who has (more or less) been kicked out of her home by her parents and sent to NYC to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns and operates a theater. Vivian quickly falls into the New York social scene by befriending the playhouse’s showgirls, and she indulges in all of the magic that NYC nightlife has to offer her….but not without making some mistakes, growing, and learning along the way.
City of Girls essentially follows Vivian from a teenager into her old age; it’s a long story! But I couldn’t put this book down. Liz Gilbert is such an expert at crafting a different world, and I felt like I was living in 1940s New York while I was reading this book. I whole-heartedly recommend this one!
2. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin: I picked up this book wanting some light, easy chick lit (Emily Giffin is the author of some pretty fluffy books, like First Comes Love) and I had zero expectations of this one having any depth to it. But…
I was pleasantly surprised! There’s a lot more to this book than the cover portrays, and I absolutely loved it. All We Ever Wanted deals with some pretty heavy concepts like social media behavior among teenagers, wealth and entitlement, and parenting in the digital age.
The story takes place in Nashville, and follows the Brownings, an “old money” family who live in a mansion, buy their son a luxury car, and spare no expense to ensure he’ll end up on the Ivy League route to success. And then there’s the Talones, a family made up of a single dad and his daughter who is on financial aid to attend Nashville’s most prestigious high school. When a social media scandal breaks out between the Browning son and the Talone daughter, the two families end up in an ethical war (and the whole community feels the need to weigh in…) to ultimately decide: who is at fault here? And whose future might be compromised?
While there is some depth to the story, this is still an easy, quick read and would be a fun one to throw in your vacation bag next time you have a flight to catch.
This is one of those books that jumps back and forth between modern times and 1942 Poland. Alina and Tomasz are teenagers and engaged when World War II breaks out in Europe. Although neither are Jewish, both are caught in the injustice of the Nazi occupation and experience loss and hardship like nothing they’ve known before.
The thing that made this book SO good (to me) was the part of the story that takes place in modern times. It weaves effortlessly into the historical portion of the book (in a very surprising way…but I can’t say anything else!), but it’s honestly just a beautiful part of the story to enjoy by itself. I loved the chapters that took place in current era United States just as much as the chapters that took place in the 1940s in Poland.
4. Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms by Kate Northrup: My friend Kaileen, who is a mom of two toddlers, recommended this book to me one day when we were eating lunch together. She’s very in touch with the spiritual/magical/”woo” world (she actually just launched a podcast called That’s Pretty Woo), and she and I have a very similar taste in books. So I got a copy right away!
This is not a typical self-help book about time management. Kate Northrup states that masculine and feminine energies are different, because masculine energy is based on a 24 hour cycle, and feminine energy is based on a 28 day cycle (the menstrual cycle) which loosely defines our four phases of creation depending on where in the cycle we are. This is why, she argues, there are certain phases when we feel like creating, networking, and doing “outward” activities, and other phases when we feel the need to turn inward, investigate, complete projects, and rest.
She gives 14 different experiments for the reader to try that all revolve around doing less in order to produce more. (Reminds me of the Hurry Slowly podcast that’s I’m so obsessed with.) I picked a few experiments that resonated with me, and I’m currently giving them a try. All-in-all, I picked up LOTS of helpful ideas from this book. I’m sure I’ll use them even more as I enter into motherhood in the next few days.
5. March by Geraldine Brooks: This is a novel that won the 2006 Pullitzer prize for fiction. I hadn’t heard of it until a book club that I’m a part of decided to read it for this month’s meeting…. I love being in a book club with friends because it introduces me to so many books that I might otherwise not have found!
This novel retells the story of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott from the father’s perspective. While Little Women is mostly about Marmee and her four daughters, March follows the story of Mr. March, the father of the family, while he is away fighting in the Civil War.
Quick note: the Little Women movie has been remade and it’s going to be released on Christmas Day this year, which is why my book club decided to read this book! I haven’t read Little Women in about 18 years, so I’m going to go find my old copy from my upstairs bookshelf and re-read it before the movie comes out. The holiday season seems like a cozy time to do this.
5. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land: This memoir had been on my to-read list since it was released in January 2019, and I’m happy I took the time to read it dive into a world that is so unlike my own. Stephanie Land is a single mother who works as a maid and is in the cycle of poverty. Reading her story made it clear to me how our current economic system is not set up to help people in poverty climb out of it…the cycle keeps people there, and it continues for generations.
She spends a lot of the book writing about her interactions with the clients whose homes she cleans, and it was such a good reminder to me that the tiniest thing can make a difference in someone’s life. I’m not just talking about monetary things, like leaving decent tips… I’m also talking about emotional actions and how we can change someone’s day with a kind word, a smile, or even a polite conversation.
This was Stephanie Land’s first book, but if she ever releases another one I would definitely read it. I flew through this book!
6. Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand: Oh hiiii Elin Hilderbrand! I’ve read so many of her summery novels that take place in Nantucket. They’re all fun, easy, and pretty quick beach reads, and I decided to read one more to wrap up my summer 2019 season of reading.
This one came out in June of this year, and it’s her first historical fiction novel. She set the novel in 1969 because that’s the year she was born….its also the year that American soldiers were being deployed to Vietnam, man walks on the moon, and a whole slew of other historic events are happening. The story follows 4 siblings and is very Elin Hilderbrand-y…haha! There’s some drama, some scandal, and a lot of relatable moments. Her books are, to me, the perfect light, easy summer reads when I just want to relax and not have to think very hard. 😉 And she’s written approximately 13 billion books, so there’s always at least one available at the library for me to download to my kindle.
7. Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World by Jeff Gordinier: Ok, first things first….the title of this memoir is a leeettle bit intense. Haha! It was a well-written book and I enjoyed binging my way through it in one sitting (it’s short – designed to be read on a plane ride) but it wasn’t as suspenseful as the title suggests.
Jeff Gordinier is a New York Times food writer who finds himself befriended by René Redzepi, chef of Nona, the restaurant that has been called the greatest in the world. The books recounts their 4-year journey of traveling around the world to discover the greatest food available to humankind. Hungry is the perfect book for anyone who enjoys reading about food and wants to dive a bit deeper into the mind of one of the biggest and brightest foodies of our generation.
Looking for more book suggestions? Click here to see all of the READS blog posts I’ve ever published. And here are some quick links to see all of the books I read in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Happy reading, friends!