9.01.2020

What I've Been Reading


For as long as I remember, I've been a reader. I remember getting books like Chicken Soup for the Soul for Christmas growing up and sitting and reading the entire thing in a day. My favorite books as a young adult were Lurlene McDaniel, they were actually really sad and often about cancer and young love, but I read all of them. Not sure what that says about me? And going back even further, of course the Goosebumps series were a favorite! 

I'm sure that my parents reading to me as a kid was a big influence and part of why I love to read as an adult. I remember my Dad reading us The Call of the Wild, Balto and more. Andrew and I read to Graham a lot, and have since he was born which I hope helps instill a love for books and reading as he grows up. 

My favorite thing about reading is getting lost in the story. I love a book that captures me right from the start and getting caught up in the characters to the point where I can't stop reading. Sometimes I'll find myself staying up until one or two in the morning when I can't put a book down. 

As you'll see from this list, my choice of book changes with my mood. I always love a WWII novel. If I had to choose, it might be my favorite genre. Then sometimes my curiosity gets me and I'll read a biography, or other times I just want to escape in a classic beach read romance. There are a handful of bloggers I've followed for many years who share the books they read and I've found we have similar taste so I always trust their recommendations (Liz Denfeld and Carly). I also follow Reese's Hello Sunshine Book Club for inspiration as well. My friend and I started our own mini book club (it's just the two of us lol) but we love chatting about the books we read and sometimes coordinate reading them at the same time. 

I've gone through phases with reading. Sometimes I'll read at least a book a month if not more, and other times I'll go through a slow spell and only read maybe one or two all year. When Graham was born I stopped reading I think his whole first year. Too tired to read every night before going to sleep. But late last year I picked it up again listening to audio books when I drove to San Francisco for work, and reading on my ipad before bed. That got me back into the habit and I've kept up the momentum since. This is my best year in a while (maybe ever?) and I've already read 17 books in 2020. 

I thought it would be fun to share my recent reads in case anyone is looking for a new book, and also to have a record of it for myself. I do keep track over on Goodreads, although I want to be better about adding books in real time and including the date I finish it so I can see how many books I read each year. 

Read:

The Hideaway, Lauren K. Denton - I love a book that is narrated by different characters and goes back and forth between different time periods. This was a sweet, feel good story.

All The Flowers in Paris, Sarah Jio - I really liked this one, it was another one that was set in two different time periods. I love how the stories came together in the end. 

Winter in Paradise, Elin Hilderbrand  - This was when I was looking for an easy "beach read" and it didn't disappoint. I got hooked right from the beginning and read it quickly. 

What Happens in Paradise, Elin Hilderbrand - The second book in this series was also great, but I wish I would have waited to start them because I didn't realize the 3rd book wasn't out yet! I'm waiting until next month to see how the story comes together in the final book. Another fun, easy read. 

City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert - This one was slower to start, but I really liked the strong female characters and by the time I finished the book I did really enjoy it. Plus I loved reading about life in New York City at that time. I didn't realize until afterward it's the same author as Eat, Pray, Love which I never finished. Maybe I should give that one another shot?

Beach Read, Emily Henry - I think this was my favorite book on the list. I'm not sure why, there was nothing remarkable about the story necessarily, but the way it was written and the character development I just really loved them. It's the kind of book you keep thinking about the characters and wishing you could find out how the story would continue. Like I wish they had an Instagram account so I could keep up with them lol. 

The Guest List, Lucy Foley - Another great read from Reese's book club. This one I got hooked fast, great character development and I was totally surprised at the end! The best kind of mystery read. 

The Winemakers Wife,  Kristin Harmel - This one was good, I always enjoy a story during this time period. It definitely wasn't the best one I've read, but I did enjoy it. 

The Unbreakables, Lisa Barr - This one was a fun read, easy to just get lost in the characters and story. It was one recommended by Liz Denfeld and I always love her suggestions. A classic vacation read.  

The Idea of You, Robinne Lee - Another fun one, and a little spicy! I think this one fits the romantic "beach read" stereotype pretty well. 

Open Book, Jessica Simpson - As Someone who loved The Newlyweds show, I had to read this. I actually liked it more than I thought I would. I always love learning more about people and their lives behind the scenes, especially celebrities. If you like Jessica Simpson it's worth the read. 

The Baker's Secret, Stephen P. Kiernan - this one was just okay, along the same lines of The Winemaker's Wife. I like the time period and it kept my interest, but I didn't love it 

An American Marriage, Tayari Jones - I didn't love this book, I'm not sure I guess I just found it so sad. It was very 'real' life and just not a very happy story. I think I read it early on during quarantine too, when I was looking for something a bit more uplifting. 

Ask Again, Yes Mary Beth Keane - I loved this book. It was one of the first books I read this year and a page turner for sure. I loved the character development and I would stay up late reading because I just wanted to know what was going to happen with the characters. 

Next Year in Havana, Chanel Cleeton - I had this downloaded for months before I actually read it, I'm not sure why it just didn't grab my interest at first. But it's the most recent book I finished and it was actually pretty good once I got into it. Another one with parallel story lines from different time periods, and I enjoyed how it came together. 

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid - This was a good, easy read. It had some timely themes that were thought provoking. It wasn't my favorite book of the year by any means, but I did enjoy it. 

The Light we Lost, Jill Santopolo - I had to read the description to jog my memory on this one, so not sure what that says about the book. But it was a good story, another one that felt very 'real' and sad at times. Looking back I think part of how I felt about books I read this year was a reflection of the current state of the world with Covid-19, racism, quarantine and everything 2020 has thrown at us. Maybe I would have enjoyed some of them more during a less heavy time. 

The Secrets We Kept, Laura Prescott - this book was just okay. I actually think I stopped reading it for a while and picked up something else because it couldn't keep my attention. The description seemed right up my ally, but I just couldn't get into and was looking forward to it being done so I could read something else. 

Next Up:

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, Austin Channing Brown. I bought this when it was recommended by Reese Witherspoon and it's next after I finish White Fragility. 

I'll have to check my Goodreads for what is next on my list. 

Currently Reading:

White Fragility, Robin Diangelo - I bought this as an audio book, but since I haven't been driving much I'm not quite finished. I've been listening while I fold laundry or clean house. My goal has been to read at least one book a month to help become a better ally to people of color and to learn and understand systemic racism better. 


I would love to know what you've been reading. Any suggestions for me? 

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