What’s On My Nightstand (4/29/19): Books, Shows, and Podcasts I’ve Been Enjoying

So Much Life Blog - what I've been reading

I know that I just posted one of these a few weeks ago with all of my book, show, and podcast suggestions, but I read SO many great books in April and I need to share them with you!

(I haven’t consumed as many movies/netflix shows/podcasts this months, so this is going to be a strictly book/audiobook blog post.)

I had 6 flights and 2 road trips in April, so I consumed tons of audiobooks, and (nearly) all of them were fantastic!

Psst: if you want to see all of the books I’ve been reading in 2019, click here. And here are the links to see all of my book suggestions from 2018, 2017, and 2016.

1. Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl

Yay! Ruth Reichl just released another memoir! She is one of my all-time favorite food writers, and every time she writes a book, I devour it.

Ruth Reichl was the last editor-in-chief of the now shuttered Gourmet Magazine, and Save Me The Plums is her memoir about the whole journey at Gourmet.

If you have the option to listen to the audiobook version of this, do it! Ruth narrates her own book. Her voice is deep, raspy, and filled with love and sincerity. I adored this book!

2. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Magic!! I almost want to pick it up and re-read it right now. And I’m not even kidding: this is the BEST audiobook I’ve ever listened to! It’s an all-star cast with a different person narrating for each member of the band.

Taylor Jenkins Reid has quickly become one of my favorite fiction writers. I love the her heartfelt stories. To me, they’re just the right amount of ease and lightheartedness mixed with real, raw emotions. I’ve read every single one of her books, and I was pumped to find out that this book was just released last month!

Daisy Jones & The Six is about the rise of an iconic 70s rock band, their beautiful lead singer, and the real reason why they split up at the height of their popularity. The story is so realistic and beautifully crafted. I was aching for a time that I never actually lived through, ha! (I was craving 70’s rock music for a few days after I finished this book.)

Now, Daisy Jones & The Six is pretty similar to her last novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. (I loved that one, too!) They’re both memoirs about famous people, and in both novels, I found myself googling the main characters just to make sure they weren’t actually real! Nope…all fictional. But Taylor Jenkins Reid sure knows how to write a great book and create characters who seem so real.

3. One Day In December by Josie Silver

Here’s the thing about this: it’s marketed as a Christmas love story, but it’s hardly about Christmas at all! So it’s actually a great one to throw into your pool bag in the summer. However, if it ever was made into a Christmas romantic chik-flick, I think it has the potential to be up there with some of my favorites, like The Holiday. It was so sweet and cute, a little predictable, and all-around fun to read!

Here’s the plot line: Laurie is riding home on a bus when she locks eyes with someone on the sidewalk outside. She doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but then suddenly she kind of does. After spending a whole year trying to find this mystery man, he shows up on her doorstep…madly in love with Laurie’s roommate, Sarah. (DUN DUN DUN!)

Ok, I told you: it’s all a little cheesy and predictable, but the story weaves through a looong 10 years that are honestly full of quite a few twists that I didn’t see coming. If you love easy, sweet, romantic books, grab a copy of this one.

4. The Girl With Seven Names by David John Lee Hyeon-seo

WOAH! Ok, this one is absolutely crazy and I binge-read my way through it.

Hyeonseo Lee was born and raised in North Korea, in a border town right next to China. She lived through the brutal communist regime, regular public hangings, and the famine of the 1990s. At age 17, curious to peek into what else was out in the world before she officially became an adult at age 18 by Korean standards, she escaped to China.

Oh my soul…the journey and the struggles and the loss that she experienced in the next 12 years were so eye-opening for me. She is a strong woman, and she’s only one of the many who are still fighting to escape North Korea to create a better lives for themselves.

This would be an excellent choice for a book club in order to open up a lot of interesting conversations about borders, freedom, and human rights.

5. The Lost Husband by Katherine Center

Katherine Center, I don’t know what to think of you! Half of the time I love your books (Happiness For Beginners was so good!), and then other ones just totally fall flat.

The Lost Husband was my 5th (I think) novel to read from her, and I think I’m going to go ahead and press pause on reading any more of hers for now. This one really didn’t do it for me. 🙁

It was ridiculously  predictable (I mean, there’s fun and easy chick lit, and then there’s just boring…) and the one suspenseful moment I was waiting for ended up being a complete flop. Honestly, this one was kind of a waste of time and I wish I had put it down halfway through when I realized that.

6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

This is only the second book I’ve read from Kristin Hannah, but now I’m pretty convinced that I need to read more! I LOVED The Great Alone, and I also loved the first book of hers that I read, The Nightingale.

I’ll admit: the plot line itself didn’t initially draw me in. This didn’t seem like a book I would enjoy (it’s set in the wild Alaskan frontier, and I’m not big into super outdoors-y  books.) But The Great Alone is on lots of bestseller and recommended-for-you lists, and I’m a sucker for peer pressure. And once I started reading it, I fell in love.

The Great Alone is a beautiful story about a family of 3: father is a former POW who doesn’t know how to deal with his with his PTSD, mother is madly in love with him and will follow him every time he decides to pick up his family and move “just one more time” for a fresh start, and daughter, mature past her years, is the glue that holds everyone together.

They inherit some land in Alaska and decide that this is the fresh start they really need. The wild frontier of Alaska is exciting at first, but as winter and darkness close in, mother and daughter start to realize that the biggest danger might be living inside their own home.

My only compliant about this one? I feel like it was about 20% too long and there were just a couple extra plot lines that made the book go on too long. But I’m happy to overlook that because this story was just so darn good!!

7. The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

Sally Hepsworth has been recommended to me lots of times because I love Liane Moriarty! I read one of Hepsworth’s books a few years ago (The Secrets of Midwives) and was really disappointed. I gave her a break for a while, and decided to try out another one of her books this month: The Family Next Door.

Um, I kind of hated this book too! It had a little bit of suspense, a little bit of humor, a little bit of mystery, and somehow none of it really meshed together for me. Just like Katherine Center, I think this is an author who I’m going to put on hold for a while.

8. There There by Tommy Orange

Just like with The Girl With Seven Names, There There was eye-opening for me. I think this was an important novel for me to read in order to show me an area where I was uninformed.

It’s written by a Cheyanne and Arapaho author. It’s his first published novel, and it was a finalist for a 2019 Pullitzer Prize. I mean….can we just reflect on that for a moment?

There There follows a lot of different Native Americans who are living around the Oakland area. They’re dealing with issues that are common for Native Americans: alcoholism, depression, unemployment, substance addictions, and more. The book weaves and twists and all connects in the end with one big Pow Wow.

This isn’t a “light” or “fun” or “easy” read, but it’s necessary. I feel like every human living in the United States should pick up a copy of this and read it.

9. Wish You Were Here by Renée Carlino

This is one of those kinda-really-sad romance chick-lit books (haha…you know the type?), so if you don’t like any sadness in your books, steer clear of this one!

I LOVED reading Swear On This Life a couple months ago, so I picked up another Renée Carlino book to read. I think that her writing is really sweet, sincere, and I like the characters she crafts.

This one is about a girl who meets a guy, has a one night stand with him, and then doesn’t see him again…but she can’t stop thinking about him for some reason! The ending was (I’ll admit) very predictable, so add this one to this list of Quick Books That Are Kind Of Sad But Could Make Good Vacation Reads. 😉

Ok, that’s it for now! 9 books in 3 weeks…haha. Maybe I’ll take a little break and watch some Netflix next month. 😉

But…just in case I decide to do more reading, what should I add to my book list next?

Let me know!

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4 years ago

I’m reading The Great Alone right now and just requested The Girl with Seven Names!!

4 years ago

[…] last time I published one of these posts was back in April, so it’s time for an update! Psst: you can always go to my reading […]