February Reads

Guys. My New Year’s resolution was to read every day. I have read every day. It has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There have been only 3 nights I’ve read a single page (That’s what I told myself. At least one page. Every day.) There have been a wealth of nights I have thought, “It’s just going to be a one-page night,” and I read so much more. Those people who say to start small when you’re trying to change a habit might be on to something there.

Ideal Bookshelf 974: Feminists

(Jane Mount’s Ideal Bookshelf – Feminist Edition)

Just Read:

Find the Good, by Heather Lende – Short, sweet, and worth a quick read.

Deconstructing Penguins, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone – I had this on hold at the library for years, years! Not because a million people were waiting, but because there was one copy, and I’m assuming it got lost. I finally broke down and ordered it. While I didn’t agree with everything the authors taught or chose to read with their book clubs, there’s a lot of good here.

You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott – Total quick-read, page turner, in the unreliable narrator, and creepy situations genre that has taken the book-world by storm in the last couple of years. I thought it was (seriously racy) YA, but turns out, Megan Abbott is shelved in the adult sections of both the libraries I’ve visited. I swear Anne referred to it as YA in Episode 63, and I swear The Skimm called The Fever YA when they picked it as a Skimm read. Know that it follows both adult, and young adult characters, if that makes a difference in your selection.

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon – Classic YA. Completely predictable plot. So good anyway. Short chapters mean you can plow through it quickly.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – I love, love, love Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She is equally adept at writing for kids and grown ups. This is a grown up volume, and oh-man, does Amy have a was of noticing the little things that might otherwise slip by unnoticed.

Sabbath in the Suburbs, by Mary Ann McKibben Dana – The idea of sabbath is a fave of mine. This is written by an associate pastor at a church in Northern Virginia, about her family’s experiment with Sabbath and rest. Such a quick read, and I found myself highlighting lines on almost every page.


The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon – Consensus on my bookstagram feed is that this is the better of Yoon’s two books. Loving it so far.

Want to Read:

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood – I’ve never read it and I want to watch the series on Netflix. But, of course, gotta read the book first.

Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow – I have plans to go see it (again – love this show) in D.C. this spring and it’s about time I read the original story.

January Reads


Just Read

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett – This was on so many people’s favorites for the year and I felt very meh about it.  If you asked, I’d tell you it was good, and to read it if you thought you might be interested already.  But I didn’t think the characters had much depth, and while I loved the idea of the church mothers as a chorus in the book, I didn’t think they were played up quite enough either.

Juniper, by Thomas and Kelley French – Oh my goodness gracious, this book.  I loved it.  I was nervous about reading it, having had Gooplet not too, too long ago, and indeed, I found myself SOBBING through parts of it.  But in the good, cathartic sobbing kind of way. The story is gripping, and I was surprised that I found the father’s side of it far more endearing. Highly recommend for anyone, but especially for anyone with a child.

Saving Red, by Sonya Sones – I’ve been reading her since her first book came out. This one was neither her worst nor her best, but it was a quick, mostly enjoyable YA read.


Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich, and Audrey Vernick – It had been so long since I read middle grade fiction, and this one popped up on the Nerdy Book Club’s best of 2016* list.  On my next trip to the library, it was front and center on the new arrivals shelf.  I have impossibly high standards for middle grade fiction (seriously, impossible), and this one is good. I also love how it shows diverse characters without needing to be A BOOK ABOUT DIVERSE CHARACTERS.

Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon – I’ve seen this book mentioned in almost all of my favorite parenting and teaching reads (side note, those two genres of books almost always overlap), so I’ve always wanted to read it.  But here’s the thing.  It’s 706 pages!  So, with any luck, you’ll see it in my “Just Read” post by the end of the year.

Want to Read

Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, because it got a ton of buzz this year, because it just picked up a Newbery Honor, and because it was originally intended as an adult book, and somehow ended up on middle grade shelves.  All in.
*It should be noted that 2016, the year when it wasn’t my job to read middle grade fiction anymore, looks like the best year for middle grade fiction in a long, long time.  I’m eager to read almost every book linked there.


2017 Reading Challenge – The (Somewhat Annotated) Plan

In 2015 and 2016, I took the PopSugar Reading Challenge.  But really, I just read what I was going to read anyway, and looked at how the books fit, or didn’t, into the categories.  In 2017, I’m wondering whether a little bit of planning will take me a longer way.

(Also, I read Anne’s post about planning and thought it sounded wise.)
As best as I could, I picked 3 possibilities in each category PopSugar gave me, and had too much fun putting this list together over the last couple weeks of 2016.  Way too much fun.  I combed my Amazon wish list, my own bookshelves, and the titles of a ton of library books I’ve had to return before I could read them (I always take photos and keep them in an album in my phone so I remember to come back to them some day).  I left some categories completely up to Google.  And in the process, of course, my TBR list grew even longer than it already is.  And I grew so excited about where 2017 will take me in my reading life.
There are a lot of serious books on this list.  But there are also some comfort reads.  There are books for adults, for young adults, and for kids, because I read a mix of all three.  There are fiction and non-fiction books.  There are steampunk novels.  I didn’t even know what those were until I pulled this list together.  And there are Amish romances, but I’ll let you keep reading till you get to those.
I tried hard not to include duplicate authors, because although there are some whose backlists I am dying to get through, that’s not what a reading challenge is about.  There are, I believe, three or four exceptions to that self-imposed rule.
And so many of these titles have some sort of note like, “I never would have picked this up, but…” and I think that’s a great thing.
Cheers, dear readers, and of course, happy reading!
A book recommended by a librarian:
I don’t know yet, I’ll have to ask.
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A book that’s been on your TBR list too long:

Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome (Someone very special to me told me this was one of her favorite books TEN YEARS AGO.  It’s time.)
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (Haven’t loved anything except The Fault in our Stars, but this one sounds like my kind of thing.)
Quiet, by Susan Cain (Perhaps it will shed some light in what happens in the heads of my favorite introverts–my husband, SCL,and Cari Faye.)

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A book of letters:
Last Days of Summer, by Steve Kluger (Wooden Nickels read this and loved it.)
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell (I’ve started this a zillion times and never gotten very far.)
Dear Mr. Knightly, by Katherine Reay
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An audiobook:
Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin Manuel Miranda
In the Country We Love, by Diane Guerrero (Started.  Got distracted, see below.  Need to finish.)
Harry Potter, by JK Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Gooplet and I have already listened to the first 2.)
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A book written by a person of color:
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon (My literary internet circle is obsessed with this book.  The new Eleanor and Park?  Have to read.)
Between the World and Me, by Ta Nehisi Coates
Changing my Mind, by Zadie Smith (Have been wanting to try one of hers for a while, and I think I’ll start here.  Ever since I read American Housewife, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, I’m super into collections of essays and short stories.)
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A book with one of seasons in the title:
Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright
Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (This has nothing to do with autumn.)
The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
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A story within a story:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (I’ve never seen it.  I mean read it.  Both, actually.  I am living in a pop-cultural black hole here, so this is probably the one I should pick.)
The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Adieh (Honestly, this doesn’t look like something I’d reach for, but I do know a real live young adult who loved it a lot.  So maybe.  Maybe.)
Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke
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A book with multiple authors:
Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick (This made The Nerdy Book Club’s list of best middle grade fiction of the year, and I need more middle grade novels in my life.)
Click, by 10 authors!
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
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An espionage thriller:
(This category is so out of my comfort zone, so power to me if I actually get one read. Two possibilities is plenty–I couldn’t find a third I was truly excited about.)
The Chemist, by Stephenie Meyer (I mean, she wrote Twilight, so maybe I’ll like this?)
The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
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A book with a cat on the cover:
Thought for sure I’d be scrambling to find something in this category that excited me, but I want to read all three of these a lot.  Pumped about that.
Maeve’s Times, by Maeve Binchy (Reading Maeve Binchy is like coming home.  I love her.)
Whittington, by Alan Armstrong
Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
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A book written by an author who uses a pseudonym:
Another category where I couldn’t get excited about a third option.  So two will do.
All the Wrong Questions Series, by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
The Cormoran Strike Series, by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)
Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen (Karen von Blixen-Finecke)
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A best seller in a genre you don’t usually read:
The Martian, by Andy Weir (It’s about time.)
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (I hear it has great 80s references, and that might be what pulls me through.)
Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch (Every time I see this author’s name, I think of Barty Crouch, from Harry Potter. That has nothing to do with this actual book.)
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A book about a person with disability:
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison (And then I can watch the series on Netflix!)
Say What You Will, by Cammie McGovern
Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Have started it twice.  Sometimes I think that means I should leave well enough alone.  Stop trying to make it happen; it’s not going to happen.  We’ll see.)
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A book involving travel:
The Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell (Started it last year and got distracted with other books.  Gotta get back to hygge-ing these chilly months up!)
Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson  (Love his observations on the quirks of daily life.)
The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson (See above.)
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A book with a subtitle:
Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, by Mara Wilson (I love that she wrote a book.  Hand me Mara over Lauren Graham and Anna Kendrick’s books anyday.)
The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude, by Margaret Visser (Always room for more gratitude.)
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A book published in 2017:
TBD, but I do have This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, on preorder thanks to the What Should I Read Next podcast, and heard about The Garden of Small Beginnings, by Abbi Waxman, on my beloved From the Front Porch podcast.
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A book involving mythical creature:
A Wind in the Door, by Madeline L’Engle (Pretending that this would be a new one, because I probably read it in 1994.)
Something from The Chronicles of Narnia (I have only read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I’m sure at least one of these has another mythical creature in it.  Or maybe Mr. Tumnus makes another appearance.)
City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (BookTubers love YA lit, and they overwhelmingly love Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  Worth a try, perhaps?)
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A book you’ve read before that always makes you smile:
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (This book is brilliant.  Last year was the first year in 9 years I haven’t reread it, and I missed it.  And it made me realize it might be my favorite book of all time.)
The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin (I.  Love.  This.  Book.  And it’s in line with much of what I’m looking for in my life in 2017.)
My Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett
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A book about food:
Only in Naples, by Katherine Wilson (Give me all the foodie memoirs; especially the ones set in Italy.)
Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl (I read her novel this summer, but I know non fiction is her sweet spot.  Pun absolutely intended.)
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A book with career advice:
The Most Important Thing, by Avi (I have this from the library.  I dream of reading all 7 stories in one sitting.  I imagine I’ll sob uncontrollably.)
Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, by Paul Bloom (In putting this post together, I sought recommendations from everywhere.  So much so that I don’t remember where this one popped up on my radar.  The author is arguing that babies are born with a sense of morality, and even the beginnings of a sense of justice.  Babies?  Really?  I’m in.)
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A book written from a nonhuman perspective:
Pax, by Sarah Pennypacker (Saw this on a lot of “Best of…” lists for 2016, so this should be good.)
A Nest for Celeste, by Henry Cole
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (Always wish I would read more classics.)
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A steampunk novel:
Had no idea what steampunk even was, and PopSugar realized a lot of people didn’t either, so they gave us this.  All my picks come from their list.)
Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger
Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
Spare and Found Parts, by Sarah Maria Griffin
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A book with a red spine:
Saving Red, by Sonya Sones (I don’t know if this has a red spine, but it has “red” in the title, and red on the cover, and I love Sones’ books, and I was crazy excited to see this new one.)
The Romeo and Juliet Code, by Phoebe Stone
Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton (Started this as soon as it was published and then I stalled out.  Definitely want to finish now that Glennon’s story has a new chapter.)
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A book set in the wilderness:
The Thickety, by J.A. White
The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown (Kidlit that seemed to make a lot of favorite lists in 2016)
To Stay Alive, by Skila Brown (This is a novel, told in verse, about the Donner and Reed parties, on their westward journey.  I love this period of historydeborah
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A book you loved as a child:
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls (Have not revisited this one since my fourth grade teacher read it aloud and I fell in love with it.  And I never listened during read aloud.)
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (Sigh.  Favorite.)
Matilda, by Roald Dahl (Forever and always.)
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A book written by an author from a country you’ve never visited:
Before We Visit the Goddess, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Even more so after hearing Anne tell me it’s a novel told through a series of short stories; see Episode 48.)
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
Forty Rooms, by Olga Grushin (The idea here is that a woman’s life takes place in 40 rooms over the course of her life.  A kitchen where she learned to cook, a dorm room that was the scene of her worst break up, you get the idea.  This book follows a woman through those rooms.  Love that idea, and that perspective.)
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A book with a title that’s a characters name:
Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
Veronica Mars, by Rob Thomas
Juniper, by Kelley and Thomas French (This one is going to be tough, but the true story sounds incredibly compelling.  This couple–award winning journalists–had a daughter at 23 weeks gestation.  Shivers.)
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A book set during wartime:
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (I’ve started this one before, but oh, do I struggle with any book that takes longer than about 3 days to read.  But, oh, how I love the movie, in all its grandeur.)
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
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A book with an unreliable narrator:
This is going to come across snootier than I mean it to sound, but I have read all the Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Luckiest Girl Alive, insert title with “Girl” in it here that are so popular right now.  So I went in a different direction with this category.
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (I don’t know if I can stomach this one, but I’ve always wanted to try the tale.)
Wuthering Heights, by Charlotte Bronte
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk (Shudders just thinking about it.)
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A book with pictures:
The Man in the Ceiling, by Jules Feiffer
Lumberjanes, vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke Allen (Going with a graphic novel is to be expected here, and this is the series everyone was talking about last summer.)
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A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you:
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds (There is a whole lotta drama about this publishing of this book, that I didn’t realize was happening.)
You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson (Yes, I know it’s a series of essays, and thus, she is not really a character.  But I want to read it, and this is my list, so.)
The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata (I loved Kira, Kira, and then never read any of her other titles.  This is a past National Book Award winner, so perhaps the next place to go?)
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A book about an interesting woman:
The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner (In addition to a fascination with Amish culture, see below, I am endlessly intrigued by Mormons and their faith.)
It’s What I Do, by Lynsey Addario (Was eyeing this when it came out, and, like so many other books, it slipped off my radar.  Note to self: read this!)
A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard
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A book set in two time periods:
The Muse, by Jessie Burton
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton (I’m not entirely sure, but I think all of her books switch between two time periods.  And I’ve been meaning to read one of hers.  She’s one of those authors that Target pretty much discovered, which I think is awesome. Anything that gets people reading is a great thing.  This was her book that sold like hotcakes there.)
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg (I’m not sure this is a true dual timeline novel, but then again, the category doesn’t say a dual timeline novel, does it?  I’ve always wanted to read this tale of life in the south, even more so after I heard someone gush about the way Fannie Flagg writes about food.)
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A book with a month or day of the week in title:
The Wednesday Sisters, by Meg Waite Clayton
Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim
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A book set in a hotel:
Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia
A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster
The Inn at Rose Harbor, by Debbie Macomber (Have never read any of hers and I have a friend who is devouring them.  This looks like such a perfect, frothy, summer read.  Though my life’s dream is to own a bookstore with SCL, running an inn sure sounds charming too, no?)
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A book written by someone you admire:
Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier (This woman took the Babysitters Club Books and turned them into such high-quality graphic novels.  My admiration for her is through the roof.)
A Circle of Quiet, by Madeline L’Engle (Madeline L’Engle, I mean, come on!)
I Thought it Was Just Me, by Brene Brown (I don’t know if I admire Brene Brown, because I’ve never read anything of hers.  A whole lot of the internet admires her, though.  I somehow missed this title, and it sounds like it’s for me.)
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A book becoming movie in 2017:
Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers (Have read the first, but the movie is supposed to be based on more than just that piece of Travers’ series.)
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (Loved the Patchett I read this summer.  Bring on more!)
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A book set around a holiday not Christmas:
A lot of what I could find here were mysteries and romance novels.  I don’t really read those, though I’m not opposed to picking up a bodice ripper.  Stay tuned to see where I get with this category.
The Children of Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren (Okay, so, yes, it takes place during Christmas, but also, New Year’s, so I’m counting it as another holiday entirely.)
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The first book in series you haven’t read before:
Still Life, by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Gamache Series)
In the Woods, by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad Series)
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House Series)
A book you bought on trip:
I don’t usually buy books on trips.  Stay tuned.
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A book recommended by an author you love:
What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell (Recommended by Gretchen Rubin on What Should I Read Next, and here.)
Our Town, by Thorton Wilder (R.J. Palacio works this play into her book, Wonder, and she says she thinks every high school should have to put it on.  I don’t need a stronger recommendation than that.)
First Light by Charles Baxter  (Jodi Picoult recommends it here.)
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A bestseller from 2016:
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub
Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum
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A book with a family member term in title:
The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
Confessions of a Slacker Wife, by Muffy Mead Ferro
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A book that takes place over a character’s life span:
Up a Road, Slowly, by Irene Hunt (In my on-going quest to attack and cross things off of every list ever written, I want to read all the Newbery winners.  And this is one that has just never appealed to me.  So 2017, you’re my year!)
Hitty, Her First 100 Years, by Rachel Field (see above comment)
The Social Animal, by David Brooks
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A book about an immigrant or refugee:
The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez
Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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A book from a genre/sub genre you’ve never heard of:
Okay, so I have heard of this genre.  But I’ve never read anything in it, and thinking about it makes me go, “Wait, what?”  Amish.  Romance.  Yep.  That’s a thing.  How romantic is Amish romance?  Growing up I read one Danielle Steel novel, and one Nora Roberts.  And that’s all the romance I’ve seen.  But Amish culture fascinates me and I have so many questions (and assumptions) about this genre.  So don’t judge me dear readers, but damnit, I’m reading one.  Maybe three!  I imagine I’ll be cracking up the whole time.  Or maybe I’ll love them and never read anything else ever again.  Here are a few that Goodreads deems acceptable.
The Thorn, by Beverly Lewis (I can’t even with that cover.)
The Choice, by Suzanne Woods Fisher
An Amish Buggy Ride, by Sarah Price
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A book with an eccentric character:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (This made the rounds years ago, when it came out, and I never picked it up.  Rereading the description makes me think there are serious echoes of Holes here, and that’s an all-time fave.)
The Children, by Ann Leary
Look Me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison (This is a memoir, so he’s not exactly a character, but I’ve wanted to read this since it came out…..nine years ago.  Robison was always quirky growing up, and it wasn’t till he was 40 that he was diagnosed with Aspergers.)
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A book that’s more than 800 pages:
Let’s be serious.  I doubt I need even more than one book in this category.
Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon
Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
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A book you got from a used book sale:
Island House, by Nancy Thayer
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann D. Wyss
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A book that’s been mentioned in another book:
All of these are mentioned in The End of Your Life Book Club, which I love, love, loved.  I’d love to make my way through all the books mentioned.
The Color of Water, by James McBride
Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (I started this book, and it is so stunningly beautiful.  But it’s slow, pretty writing, which doesn’t make for fast reading, so I dropped it.  Need to come back.)
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A book about a difficult topic:
Columbine, by Dave Cullen (Heard about this on an episode of Sorta Awesome, and apparently the story a lot of us know from watching the news unfold in real time, is not the truth of what happened at Columbine.  I’m intrigued.)
The Girls Who Went Away, by Ann Fessler
Global Mom, by Melissa Dalton Bradford
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A book based on mythology:
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, by Rick Riordan (Norse gods!  My people!)
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (Also, have you seen this?  I couldn’t figure out an empty category in which to place it, so I’ll just leave it here for you.)
The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood (Love the idea here; telling the story of the Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective.)
All pictures are from Amazon

2016 Reading Challenge, an Update

Dear readers, it’s reading week.  Which will likely last well beyond a Monday-Friday’s worth of blog posts.  Books are the best.  Cheers.

You know the deal.  PopSugar posts a reading challenge each year, and I count myself in.  I check in with you all halfway through the year to let you know how I’m doing, and then again at the end of the year.  More on my 2017 reading goals tomorrow.  Here’s how I finished up 2016.   How I didn’t read a single dystopian novel is beyond me.

Penguin English Library.

A book based on a fairy tale

A National Book Award winner – Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo (well, it’s a finalist)

A YA Bestseller – With Malice, by Eileen Cook

A book you haven’t read since high school

A book set in your home state

A book translated to English – My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

A romance set in the future – Happily Ever After, by Kiera Cass

A book set in Europe – Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

A book that’s under 150 pages

A New York Times bestseller – The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey

A book that’s becoming a movie this year

A book recommended by someone you just met

A self-improvement book –Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes

A book you can finish in a day – Tales from the Back Row, by Amy Odell

A book written by a celebrity – I Feel Bad About my Neck, by Nora Ephron

A political memoir – Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance (well, it’s sort of, unintentionally political right now)

A book at least 100 years older than you

A book that’s more than 600 pages

A book from Oprah’s Book Club – Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton

A science-fiction novel

A book recommended by a family member – Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz Weber (recommended by my Pops)

A graphic novel – Dare to Disappoint, by Ozge Samanci

A book that is published in 2016 – When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalinithi

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation – American Housewife, by Helen Ellis

A book that takes place during summer – Summerlost, by Allie Condie

A book and its prequel

A murder mystery – Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

A book written by a comedian – You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein

A dystopian novel

A book with a blue cover – After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A book of poetry – Booked, by Kwame Alexander

The first book you see in a bookstore – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

A classic from the 20th century – Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne

A book from the library – My Year of Running Dangerously, by Tom Foreman

An autobiography – Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland

A book about a road trip – Love that Boy, by Ron Fournier

A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park

A satirical book – A Window Opens, by Susan Egan (not true satire, but it pokes some fun at suburban life in all the right places)

A book that takes place on an island – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy – Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo

And the stuff I’ve read that doesn’t fit these categories:
Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave; Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson; Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; Small Victories, by Anne Lamott; George, by Alex Gino; I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron; Sparkly Green Earrings, by Melanie Shankle; Little Victories, by Jason Gay; Maybe in Another Life, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult; The Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler; Grace, not Perfection, by Emily Ley; My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Stroud; The Light of the World, by Elizabeth Alexander; This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett; The History of Great Things, by Elizabeth Crane; Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist; The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion;  Delicious, by Ruth Reichl; Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight; Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull; Keep Me Posted, by Lisa Beazley; A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd



November and December Reads

These past two months, I was in a complete reading rut.  I used to stress that I’d never touch a book again, or that less reading meant I was watching too much TV, but now I don’t worry as much.  I always come back to books.

You know I love this. via Happy Monday. Hope you have a good week. xo:

Just Read:

You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein – Loved it.  Flat out, loved it.  Don’t know that anyone not born in the 80s would feel the same, but I was, and I loved this.  Also, anyone who includes a chapter about attending their first barre class in so much (hysterically accurate) detail wins.

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult – Oh, Jodi.  My first Jodi was My Sister’s Keeper.  I read it when it came out in 2004.  I hit Jodi right when she hit her stride.  Where Disney had The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, Jodi was on a roll with My Sister’s Keeper, Vanishing Acts, The Tenth Circle, and Nineteen Minutes.  I eagerly awaited the release of each novel, and in between, I went back and read her earlier books.  And then, I kept reading the new one each year, but they lacked that same “can’t put it down” feeling that those others held for me.  Until this one.  It’s so relevant.  It’s so well-done.  I’m calling it my fiction read-alike to Hillbilly Elegy, and it’s making me want to read this, this, this and this, too.


Counting Thyme, by Melanie Conklin – This one came recommended by my aunt.  It’s a middle grade novel about a sister who moves across the country to New York so her younger brother can participate in a medical trial for kids with Neuroblastoma, a horrifying cancer about which my aunt knows far too much.  When she was telling me about it, I wanted to read it first because of the family connection, and second, because I realized I hadn’t read a middle grade novel in ages.  I’m enjoying it.

Want to Read:

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett – Just came in for me at the library, and I know I’ll need to get started because they’ll want to keep it moving.  Can’t wait.

Mrs. Bixby’s Last Day, by John David Anderson – I’m a sucker for a teacher story, and this one sounds like it will tug at my heart.

(image/shelf goals)

October Reads


Just Read:

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance – As a rule, I do not discuss politics.  Ever.  So all I’ll say is Appalachia, and the people who live there, have gotten a lot of attention lately, for reasons both political and not.  This book was fascinating.  A look into a culture that has been around for quite some time, and is often misrepresented and misunderstood.  I love the way Vance writes honestly about his family and his hometown.  He doesn’t apologize for his family, nor does he try to sugar-coat them.  It’s his story, so of course, I can’t paint broad strokes and say I now understand all about the hillbillies of Appalachia, but Vance’s story is a great one.

Someone Could Get Hurt, by Drew Magary – If you haven’t read Magary’s annotated guide to the Williams Sonoma catalog (it comes out every holiday season), you are missing out.  Magary is hysterical.  He says the things we’re all thinking, excessive expletives included, and wouldn’t dare say out loud.  Thank goodness someone is speaking these truths.  I attacked this one, a couple chapters at a time, before bed over about a week.  And there were multiple times I feared I would wake my husband because I was laughing so loud.

The Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler – This is like The Happiness Project (a favorite of mine) with a family twist.  I loved this book.  Feiler’s writing is honest, and most important for a book like this, it’s not preachy.  I guarantee if you read it, you’ll find one or two ideas you want to bring into your own family.  That said, I’m a big-picture person, and took away a couple of over-arching ideas that make me warm and fuzzy inside.  First of all, families (and the dynamics associated with them) are always changing and it’s supposed to be that way.  Move with the cheese, anyone?  And second, families should be safe spaces.  You don’t have to get everything right, you just have to be loving, and try your best.  I would put a copy of this book in just about anyone’s hands.


The Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell – This title screams my name.  I’m a total sucker for books where people try things for a year, and I am absolutely taken with Scandinavian culture.

Want to Read:

Modern Love, by Aziz Ansari – I’ve started and stopped Parks and Rec about a zillion times, and that was the extent of my knowledge of Aziz Ansari for a while.  But this summer, my husband and I watched and adored Master of None, and I recently listened to his podcast on Freakonomics.  I don’t mean to sound unintelligent here, dear readers, but he’s much deeper than I gave him credit for.  (Did I think he was true to Tom Haverford?  Do I really not know how TV works?)  Excited to get my hands on this one.


What I Read on my Summer Vacation

LOL, I went nowhere, really, except for our annual beach vacation, which was cut a tad shorter than I would have otherwise liked because one of our party stopped sleeping.

I digress.  Already.

I always have my phone in hand, which means I always have a book at the ready, thank you Kindle App.  And so I got a lot of reading done this summer, mostly while holding a baby who chose to only sleep on me.  Whatever works, right?

I am incredibly picky when it comes to books.  I’ve read a lot of them, which means the odds the next one I choose will change my life is slim.  Only a handful of books can do that, and I’m not likely to come across them very often.  But the search for the next one is always so enticing that I keep on keeping on.  Here are my 3 and 4 star picks:
Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty: I was so skeptical about this one because all I had read by her was The Husband’s Secret and I did not love it.  But this was the best page-turner I read all summer.  I couldn’t put it down, and if I had to, I kept thinking about the plot.  It’s about a group of elementary school parents, and while what happened to them seems far fetched, the ways in which they interact hit close to home.

Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan: I have loved this author for years now, and her latest installment was captivating.  It’s three separate stories, about how three characters from different time periods come to love a particular instrument.  That sounds kind of boring, but because of the history the characters live through, the stories are rich and compelling.

Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne: I came across this while browsing the library’s website, and borrowed it simply because it was a classic I had never read.  I’m hit or miss with classics, but so many people I know have talked about the humor in this book.  It’s delightful and oh-so-charming.  I can’t wait for Gooplet to grow up so I can read it to him already.

Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull: This one did that thing a lot of non-fiction books do, where they go on for a little longer than I think they really should.  But there are some great anecdotes about the Disney and Pixar movies I love.  What was most fascinating to me is that someone suggested The Princess and the Frog not be called that because boys wouldn’t go see a movie with “princess” in the title (or any girl’s name).  Whoever was making the big decisions stuck to their guns, but in fact, the movie got great reviews, and tanked at the box office.  And so Tangled became Tangled, not Rapunzel.  And Frozen is Frozen, not Elsa and Anna.  Fascinating!

Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight: Another page turner, and though I could see the ending as it drew nearer, I’d still recommend it.  The story pieces together what happened to a high school girl, Amelia, who jumped off the roof of her fancy private school.  It struck me as Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars.

With Malice, by Eileen Cook: In the same vein as the book above, this one looks at a girl who wakes up from a car accident with no memory of what happened.  And it turns out she is being accused of murdering the passenger in the car, her best friend.  Again, a fairly predictable plot, but a fun read nonetheless.

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion: I had seen this book recommended in so many places and was happy to finally get through it.  Which I did in just a couple of days.  It’s such a cute and quirky read about a man, who the author implies has Aspergers, and his search for the perfect wife.  He creates an extensive questionnaire to find the best possible suitor, and then meets Rosie, who, of course, meets hardly any of his qualifications.  And yet.

Summer Reading

Summer is always a season of reading for me, and this summer, it seems like there are so many great books on the horizon.  Here’s what I’m hoping to get to.  I have a ton of these titles on hold from the library right now, and I promise to swing back and keep you posted on what pans out.

Reading on the beach | #lyoness | Travel now: https://www.lyoness.com/branche/travel:

(All titles best enjoyed with an ice-cold glass of Joy the Baker’s summer water.)

My favorite thing to do in the world! Lie on the beach with a book in one hand, a drink in my other! ☀️:

Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub – I loved The Vacationers, and I bet this will be equally fabulous.  Straub has a way of writing about people today that makes you feel like she’s rolling her eyes at us, while smiling at the same time

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – This has been all over Instagram because the cover is so darn beautiful.  Modern Mrs. Darcy says this is “a rare bird–a literary page turner.”  I can’t wait.

Opening Belle, by Maureen Sherry – Reese Witherspoon bought the rights to this one, so I’d better get started before it becomes a movie.

The Island House, by Nancy Thayer – I read The Guest Cottage last year solely because the girl on the cover looked like she could be me.  And I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Looking forward to breezing through this one, and pretending I’m on Nantucket.

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante – Have you heard of the series?  I hadn’t until my aunt mentioned it, but then it started popping up everywhere.  I wouldn’t have picked this up otherwise, but I’m interested to get my hands on it. Now I’m next in line for the first book, and realizing if I like it, it’s going to be a couple months before my number comes up for book two.  Should have thought of that ahead of time.

Here’s to Us, by Elin Hilderbrand – I’m going to confess something, and I hope you won’t judge me.  I’m not a huge Elin fan.  I love the beach, I love chick lit, and I have nothing but sweet, sweet love for Nantucket.  I’ve started a bunch of hers, but they haven’t held my interest.  My hope for this one comes in the form of Jess, one of my favorite bloggers, who wrote some recipes for the books.

In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume – This one came out last summer, which means you might be able to score it without having to wait at the library.  I am a huge fan of Blume’s Summer Sisters, and hope this novel for adults holds me just as much.

*Speaking of which, Reese is turning Big Little Lies into an HBO series.  I flew through it in a weekend about a month ago.  As someone with an in-depth knowledge of an elementary school, I found it hysterical in that it’s not too far-fetched to think something like what happened there, could actually happen.  I’ll leave it at that, and tell you I hadn’t loved any of Liane Moriarty’s books until this one.  I adored it.  Time to try What Alice Forgot.

(picture one and picture two)

2016 Reading Challenge

Last year, I took PopSugar’s reading challenge.  Didn’t finish.  Didn’t care.  It wasn’t really about trying to fill in each of the categories as much as it was about seeing how much what I was reading was or wasn’t particularly varied.  PopSugar came back with a reading challenge vengeance in 2016, and I am, of course, along for the ride.  We’re just over halfway through the year, and I know I promised you a summer reading post, and I really will get that to you, but first, here is how I’m doing.  I’ll be back at the end of the year with a final update on this list.



And as always, you can keep up with my reading as it happens on Instagram.

  1. A book based on a fairy tale
  2. A National Book Award winner
  3. A YA Bestseller
  4. A book you haven’t read since high school
  5. A book set in your home state
  6. A book translated to English
  7. A romance set in the future – Happily Ever After, by Kiera Cass
  8. A book set in Europe – Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  9. A book that’s under 150 pages
  10. A New York Times bestseller – The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey
  11. A book that’s becoming a movie this year
  12. A book recommended by someone you just met – The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey
  13. A self-improvement book –Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
  14. A book you can finish in a day – Tales from the Back Row, by Amy Odell
  15. A book written by a celebrity – I Feel Bad About my Neck, by Nora Ephron
  16. A political memoir
  17. A book at least 100 years older than you
  18. A book that’s more than 600 pages
  19. A book from Oprah’s Book Club
  20. A science-fiction novel
  21. A book recommended by a family member – Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz Weber (recommended by my Pops)
  22. A graphic novel
  23. A book that is published in 2016 – When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalinithi
  24. A book with a protagonist who has your occupation – American Housewife, by Helen Ellis
  25. A book that takes place during summer – Summerlost, by Allie Condie
  26. A book and its prequel
  27. A murder mystery – Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
  28. A book written by a comedian –
  29. A dystopian novel
  30. A book with a blue cover – After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  31. A book of poetry – Booked, by Kwame Alexander
  32. The first book you see in a bookstore
  33. A classic from the 20th century
  34. A book from the library – My Year of Running Dangerously, by Tom Foreman
  35. An autobiography – Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland
  36. A book about a road trip
  37. A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
  38. A satirical book – A Window Opens, by Susan Egan (not true satire, but it pokes some fun at suburban life in all the right places)
  39. A book that takes place on an island – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
  40. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

And the stuff I’ve read that doesn’t fit these categories:

Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave; Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson; Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; Small Victories, by Anne Lamott; George, by Alex Gino; I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron; Sparkly Green Earrings, by Melanie Shankle; Little Victories, by Jason Gay; Maybe in Another Life, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

February Reads

Whilst hanging out among friends a while back, one mentioned she loved reading, but hated finding new books to read.  You know in TV shows, when you hear a screech sound, like a record player coming to a complete halt?  (Does anyone even understand that reference?)  Because that’s what happened when she made that comment.


I’m all about the hunt for the new greatest book.  Maybe in part because it’s such a rare find.  The more I read, the less likely it is that this book will be one I remember over so many others.  But I’ll read anything in my path in the name of finding greatness again.

The particular comment got me thinking that maybe there are others who feel this way too.  That reading is wonderful, but finding the right book to read is a chore.  In that case, let me gently point you toward Anne Bogel’s (aka, Modern Mrs. Darcy) new podcast, What Should I Read Next?  I’ve been listening, and I love it.  In it, she asks her guests to name three books they love, one they hate, and what they’re reading now.  Based on their responses, Anne gives a couple of suggestions for future reading.  I’m loving the diversity of books guests have mentioned so far, and more than anything, I’m loving the suggestions and new to me titles.

With that in mind, I’m bypassing telling you what I’ve read, and what I’m reading this month, because, dear readers, to be honest, neither is incredibly interesting at present, and I’m giving you a nice long list of what I want to read next.  If you, like said friend, hate the threat of having to search for new reading material, take a look at this list, and see what strikes your fancy.

Want to Read

From Episode 6, with Tsh Oxenreider:

The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap, by Wendy Welch – because Anne recommended it on one of her podcasts, and it sounds like it is made for me.  It’s a memoir (you had me at hello) about a couple who leave their high powered jobs behind in the name of renovating an old white house in order to open a bookstore there.  Or basically, it’s about people living out Sous Chef Lauren’s and my life-long dream.

The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle – because Tsh mentioned it in conjunction with a school her son is attending.  Tsh didn’t go into specifics, but it sounds like this school (and excuse me, where are you, and can I work here and send my kids to you?) requests that parents read certain books in conjunction with their children’s educations.  First of all, LOVE.  Second of all, this book sounds so interesting, because to hear Tsh describe it, it sounded like a parenting book, and one toward which I was about to nudge my husband.  But then, to look it up on Amazon, it sounds like just a general non-fiction book (with perhaps huge implications for the raising of children).  No matter what it is, count me in.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin – because I love books that mention books.  When Tsh mentioned it as a story she loved, I was intrigued because of the premise, but upon looking it up, was surprised to see that it was written by the author of a YA book I enjoyed about ten years ago.  This sounds different from my usual picks, but I figure it’s worth a shot.

The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton – because I’ve heard enough about her at this point, that it’s time I read one of hers.  If I’m not mistaken, this was one of those Target picks that caught on like wild fire, a la Sarah’s Key.  (If you’re not familiar with the influence of Target’s book picks, take a look here.)  Kate Morton has gone on to write many other novels, but this seems like the place to start.

From Episode 5, with Deidra Riggs:

These is My Words, by Nancy Turner – because it’s about a young girl’s coming of age as she travels to Arizona between 1880-1900.  I love stories of people traveling west, and am fascinated to see how this one plays out over 20 years.

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jaqueline Woodson – because I started it last year and never finished.  I didn’t hate it, I just did that thing I do sometimes where I get distracted when I hit the middle of a book, and I never come back around to it.  It’s a memoir in verse, and it seems to have caught some attention outside of the kid-litosphere, which is a place in which I love setting up camp.  I don’t remember being particularly taken with the verse aspect of it, but there’s something about it that seems to have hooked people across a more broad range of reading worlds, so it’s worth revisiting.

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd – because Anne mentions that Oprah is a fan, and do I ever need another reason to check something out?  But here’s the thing.  I did not love Secret Life of Bees, and I actively disliked The Mermaid Chair.  But here’s the other thing.  This story sounds truly compelling.  Enough that it’s worth checking out from the library.