Reading and Reviewing: August

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Another month of fun books! While I absolutely loved my grad school curriculum, it is so nice to be able to read for pleasure without feeling guilty! As much as I enjoyed our assigned texts, they weren’t quite like the books I cover below 😉 Still working on The Singles Game (moving has kept me from reading much this week!), but I will include it in my September roundup!

The Hopefuls, by Jennifer Close: I was hooked right away! I loved Girls in White Dresses and The Smart One, which I read in years past, so I couldn’t wait for Close’s next release to arrive. The story focuses on two couples, Beth and Matt (the main characters) and their good friends, Ash and Jimmy. Both husbands have large political aspirations which ends up causing conflict in more ways than one. The four are inseparable while living in DC, but as the couples follow each other across the country for Matt to assist Jimmy with his campaign, fights break out and Beth and Ash’s friendship is also tested.

The beginning of the book managed to weave together parts of DC and NYC life in a way that felt like the author had read my mind while writing! I laughed out loud at the descriptions of DC, such as women wearing socks and sneakers on the subway (#guilty), and I also loved reading about the various Safeways that everyone here jokes about (the Social Safeway is in my new neighborhood!). There’s a huge place in my heart for J.G. Melon and Dorrian’s, and reading about these NYC haunts made me get emotional! 😉 But I also started sobbing when I read the author’s description of living in NYC as a 20-something after 9/11, because I thought of a former magazine editor of mine (who is around the same age as main character Beth) and had told me about how her life and relationship changed greatly after that. I like how the book touched on complex relationship dynamics (both with regard to friends as well as romantic partners) and was very “real” while also being a fun read. I totally recommend it!

The Perfect Neighbors, by Sarah Pekkanen: I have loved Sarah Pekkanen for years–she wrote a brief but hilarious monthly column in my hometown magazine (where I interned twice in college!). When she started writing novels a few years ago I was thrilled, and I couldn’t wait to pick up Perfect Neighbors, which looks at the (somewhat secretive) lives of a group of women living in an idyllic neighborhood. One review I spotted on Amazon called out the book’s Desperate Housewives-esque nature, and as a fan of the show, I couldn’t agree more! Definitely recommend this as a beach read!

In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn Scotch: When I heard that this book was about six former Penn students, I had to read it, and for something that comes across as a beach read (at least from the cover!) it actually had a lot of depth. The book focuses on a group of 40-year-old friends who reunite over a decade after losing a member of their group, who somewhat suddenly passed away only a few years out of school. While some of the reviews I read on Amazon were negative, I didn’t think the storyline was boring in the slightest and tore through the book in only a couple of nights. It made me think a lot about my own time in college both on a deeper level but also literally–although I was at Penn as a grad student and not as an undergrad, I still could picture all of the places and characters Scotch mentioned, which made the book extra interesting! Definitely recommend whether you’re fresh out of college or an older adult–you’ll be able to relate!

Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub: I read The Vacationers (Straub’s first book) while on a plane last summer and basically did the same thing with Modern Lovers (I flew through 280 pages of the book during my wait in the gate and two-hour flight!). My friend who started the book around the same time had warned me that it’s a quick read, but in a good way (we also both put off ordering it until this month for some reason but then were eager to dive in!). I had been anticipating Straub’s second novel since I’d heard about it months ago, and Modern Lovers, which tells the story of a set of college friends, now living in Brooklyn with their teenage children, did not disappoint. It’s a book that I enjoyed but also would recommend to adults of any age–the whole premises behind the book is examining relationships among those both young and older.

Rich and Pretty, by Rumaan Alam: I honestly was sort of confused by this book before I sat down and looked at the reviews on Amazon before I placed my order. The name seemed kind of silly, for one (it reminds me of Pretty Little Liars or something for teens!) and also it was written by a man?! Confusing. While the book didn’t get the best reviews on Amazon compared to some of summer’s other big releases, I enjoyed it and found it interesting to read about two close friends who had known each other for over 15 years but were suddenly facing major adult milestones. I think the book was also more interesting to me because of its setting in NYC. Honestly, so many people are reading it that I don’t regret joining the party!

Love and Miss Communication, by Elyssa Friedland: I purchased this book in a used bookstore (love them) near my grad school campus this past spring, and I only finally got around to reading it BUT I’M SO GLAD I DID. This light read tells the story of Evie, a social media and internet-addicted lawyer who ends up losing her job due to her excessive time on online. Between getting fired and soon after discovering some disappointing findings about her ex on Facebook, she decides to quit the internet for good (well, at least for the bulk of the book). Meanwhile, Evie is also struggling to get into a new relationship, dealing with an illness in the family, and trying to make a positive impression on her new employer. There are certainly some unexpected (and kind of unnecessary) twists throughout, but overall this book had me laughing as well as cringing–and it’s definitely a good read for anyone who thinks they could never say adios to Instagram. Compared to other books I’ve read about similar “social media diets,” this one takes the cake. It kept me interested for all 360+ pages and had likable characters (for the most part!).

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