MAY READS

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I admitted awhile back that I wasn’t the best reader this month. Don’t get me wrong, I still finished a good amount of books, but I also had a lot of free time, which I definitely mainly used to watch TV/socialize/nap…ya know, normal person things. But seriously, with Kimmy Schmidt back on Netflix (and a new season of Master of None that I can’t wait to start), I haven’t been as motivated to read lately. That said, I have a stack of awesome books piled up and I know I’ll enjoy them when I finally do dig in!

The books that I did read in May were actually SO good. Get ready to add these to your list!

Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire), by Jen Glantz: I read an interview with the author of this book earlier in the spring and knew I had to pick it up when it came out! The book is about one woman’s journey as a “professional bridesmaid” — that is, she literally began a business after being asked to be a bridesmaid for friends so many times. It was hilarious to read about all of Jen’s real life and professional ventures and her tone reminds me of so many other awesome female writers (if you liked the books by Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey, you’ll definitely like this!). I 100 percent recommend (and learned a lot about all that can go wrong at weddings in the process, haha).

We Could be Beautiful, by Swan Huntley: Ok, guys, I loved this one and texted a bunch of people when I finished it, because it was THAT good. I definitely realize that many people would find the main character (a 40-something, extremely wealthy and entitled New York woman) extremely annoying, but I actually found her and her expectations/standards hilarious. The book follows this one woman’s journey as she finally finds love while taking care of her ailing mother…only to uncover some deep family secrets in the process of getting to know this man. The author writes with such an engaging tone and each character really is full of personality and humor. I’m proud of myself for actually predicting a couple of the plot twists that are revealed at the end of the book (but I still was shocked!) and really, really liked this one.

Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight: This is another popular thriller that examines exactly what happened to teenage Amelia who gets in trouble at school one day and then dies suddenly. Single mom Kate is left putting together the pieces and wondering what was happening to her daughter both emotionally and physically at the time of her death. If you like mystery reads this one is for you–it examines teenage girl friendships and pressures but has a surprising ending.

Cancel the Wedding, by Carolyn Dingman: This book was an easier, beachy read but still fully captured my attention! When a 30-something woman retraces her mother’s past in rural Georgia, she learns a bunch of family secrets that alter her view of her mother and their family dynamic. This is perfect if you want a lighthearted read that incorporates a bit of history, some family drama, and of course, a good love story or two. I honestly had a hard time putting this down each night (and it got amazing reviews on Amazon, so clearly others felt the same way!).

Post Grad, by Caroline Kitchener: I mentioned this one in a post awhile back and am so glad I picked it up. This sociological piece examines the lives of five women as they navigate their first year in the real world after graduating from Princeton. These women come from different racial, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds, yet all face significant struggles and experiences as they start their new lives. The author (who is younger than I am!) writes an engaging, thought-provoking piece that I honestly wish I had thought to do first 😉 I read this book in a day and immediately recommended it to a friend. Pick it up!

The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan: I can’t believe I waited to long to read this. From the moment I read Marina’s first fiction piece, I was hooked. She manages to capture emotions that are complex and powerful while succinctly telling a story and making it believable and real. Each of her characters–whether fictional or not–are unique yet have a compelling story to share, be it about loss, lost love, raising a child, or even working as an exterminator. These stories reach beyond what Marina had experienced herself but are still believable and insightful. Her nonfiction work, which is printed in the second half of the book, is haunting and perceptive. Truly a must read by a talented writer.

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April Books

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The Singles Game, by Lauren Weisberger: I started this one over the summer, couldn’t get into it, and cracked it open again on my plane ride home from Seattle. It was honestly the perfect lighthearted travel book and was engaging enough this time around that I finished it AND Big Law and still had some time to kill! It chronicles the ups and downs of a tennis star in her early 20s as she navigates tournaments and relationships. It was funny because when I started reading the book this summer, I had been interviewing a former tennis player named Charlotte (who also went by Charlie) as part of a work project, just like the main character.

The Admissions, by Meg Mitchell Moore: Honestly this book threw me for a loop, but in a good way. It follows a family whose oldest daughter is in the process of applying to Harvard, her dream school. But other issues arise throughout as her parents’ pasts are brought to light. While I predicted one outcome, the other left me surprised (and not in the way I’d expected based on a few clues carefully distributed throughout the book). I won’t spoil the ending, but this is a must read–definitely my favorite of the bunch!
So Close, by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus: I feel so-so about this one, which tells the story of a young woman from rural Florida who is thrust into the political scene. I got into it at the beginning and then wasn’t loving all of the twists and turns and didn’t feel super connected to Amanda, the main character. However, I liked that Amanda was a bit different from the usual 20-something protagonist and really has to fend for herself throughout the book.
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, by Adelle Waldman: I love reading about love and relationships from a man’s perspective, and this book certainly did just that (although the author is female). This book came highly recommended from friends and was a quick, enjoyable read (I started AND finished it on a lazy Sunday!). A good alternative to the usual female-dominated books about dating.
You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessie Klein: If you like the funny girl autobiographies that have become popular in recent years (think: Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, etc) you’ll enjoy this book. I had never heard of Jessie Klein before but was throughly entertained by her writing. It makes me want to write my own little piece like this one day, haha.
The Twilight Wife, by A.J. Banner: This was another great thriller and I tore through it in one evening! It examines the life of a 34-year-old who has lost a chunk of her memory in an accident and is trying to piece together the past. But can she trust her husband as he tries to help her remember her previous life? A quick, intriguing read!
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On My Reading Wishlist

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I was browsing Amazon the other day and decided writing down must-reads on a piece of paper because there were just so many books that caught my eye! Sure, my bookshelf is practically overflowing with books I’ve already read and ones I’ve been meaning to pick up for months, but there’s honestly just not enough time to ever feel “caught up!” While I certainly don’t need to order any more books (and am probably better off waiting for some of these to go on sale), here are a few that have sparked my interest lately…let me know if you’ve read any of ’em.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea

The Perfect Stranger

All The Lives I Want

Swing Time

Commonwealth

A Man Called Ove 

Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire)

Sugar

The Bookshop on the Corner 

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March Books

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You guys, I read up a storm this month. Blame it on snow days and vacation days, but I soared through book after book and couldn’t be happier! Here’s what I read:

How to Murder Your Life, by Cat Marnell: I was enamored by this one. It was seriously After Perfect round two in the sense that I couldn’t stop Googling everyone when the book was over! This was partly because Cat is from my hometown — I, too, grew up gawking at Mike Tyson’s house and attended the same large, public middle school that she did, and several of my friends lived in Cat’s immediate neighborhood. I was also interested in reading about her own experience working in magazines (my beauty editor at American Baby often let me attend beauty events on her behalf, but they weren’t in foreign countries like Cat’s!). But obviously the book is about so much more than magazines and glamour. Cat chronicles her struggle with drug addiction, which began when she started taking ADHD meds while at boarding school. I was both fascinated and horrified while reading this book, and I definitely feel like various people in Cat’s life enabled her (lending her money, letting her keep her job despite serious screwups, etc). But, I think at the same time, this good fortunate made the book all the more interesting. Cat continued to deteriorate yet still was responsible for producing quality work, making rent, etc. And, for some reason beyond me, I was rooting for her all the way through. There were a lot of serendipitous encounters that really ended up shaping Cat’s life, and it was also interesting reading about her friendships with up-and-coming stars (just like how the author of After Perfect talked about living with a young Emma Stone). I tore through this book in two days (I opened it as soon as I got out of work and again while waiting 10 minutes for a doctor’s appointment to begin — I was that addicted! Ha…no pun intended!), and I’d highly recommend it. There’s a reason everyone’s been talking about it and why it’s gotten such great reviews on Amazon.

The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica: I’d been meaning to read this one forever, and it was a super quick but interesting read for me. My friend had read it awhile back and loved it, and she kept warning me that a twist was coming. I was a little confused when I had 40 pages left in the book and hadn’t encountered any major surprises, but there it was…on the last page! Definitely keep reading all the way through. The book (which is about a young professional woman in Chicago who goes missing) will leave you shocked for sure.

The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena: I picked this up from the library and also sped through it. Again, someone goes missing (in this case, a baby, who is left home alone while her parents are at a party next door) but you’re left with a surprising revelation at the end about why. This book has been getting a lot of hype, and for good reason!

All The Missing Girls, by Meghan Miranda: Lots of mystery books for me this month! I had really high hopes for this one, but just didn’t love it. The story is told in backwards order, which is an interesting technique, but it still didn’t keep me hooked. I was a little surprised when I learned what had actually happened to the first missing girl, but the book just seemed to go on and on and didn’t thrill me.

The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes: Let me start by saying that I love all of Shonda’s shows (I’ve watched several seasons of all three and have been borderline obsessed at times) but I just wasn’t drawn into her memoir. It’s a pretty short, easy read, but it didn’t hook me in the way her shows do. But I did learn a lot more about Shonda’s life and personality (she’s a huge introvert), which was interesting background. I’ve been hooked on re-watching Grey’s lately, too, so it only seemed fitting to pick up her book!

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett: This popular new book focuses on a teenage girl growing up in California and follows her into adulthood. Her mother has recently died, and she is living at home with her distant father before starting college halfway across the country. Without giving too much away, it’s an interesting coming of age read that examines the significance of early romantic relationships and the power of friendships. I really enjoyed it!

A Window Opens, by Elisabeth Egan: I LOVED this book, but I have to warn you, I was sobbing at the end. Like, woah. I kept putting off finishing the book (well, for short periods of time — I loved it so much that I tore through it in a couple of days!) because I knew what was going to happen and that it would be upsetting. For me, the main character was super relatable (she’d also been an editor for her college newspaper and, at the beginning of the book, was serving as the books editor at a major women’s mag in NYC!). Maybe that’s why I was so invested! The novel was centered on her changing financial situation and the challenges that ensued, a new job that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, an ill, aging father, and the difficulities of managing family life and a stressed out husband. I promise the book isn’t as depressing as it sounds — but for a piece of fiction, it was very honest and introspective (while still being a fun, chick lit-like read). Upon Googling the author, I learned that the main character mirrored her pretty closely, which helped make the story very realistic.

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Good as Gone, by Amy Gentry: This is yet another thriller (if ya couldn’t guess from the title!) and tells the story of a girl who was taken from her bedroom as a child only to return to her family home at the age of 21. I didn’t love how the story was told from multiple perspectives (and different characters frequently went by different names, too, which made things confusing!), but it was still a good mystery read that definitely threw me for a loop!

The Futures, by Anna Pitoniak: I also loved, loved, loved this book. It tells the story of a young couple, Evan and Julia, who recently graduated from Yale and start a new life in New York City (Evan has been offered a prestigious job in finance, hence the punny title). The book examines the struggles associated with postgrad life, and, being set in 2008, also takes a look at the financial crisis and its impact on so many workers, young and old. Evan and Julia’s relationship is tested throughout the course of the year, and each are faced with stress and difficult choices both in and out of the workplace. Parts of the book were a bit stressful for sure, but I sped through it because I couldn’t get enough of the characters! I liked how some chapters are told from Evan’s perspective and some are in Julia’s voice, and I think the author did a great job capturing both main characters’ thoughts.

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Reading and Reviewing: February

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After Perfect, by Christina McDowell: I was infatuated with this book and could not shut up about it while I was reading (it took me maybe 2 nights?!). I’m pretty sure I’ve googled the author’s family dozens of times since–I was just so intrigued with her story! This nonfiction memoir chronicles a young woman’s privileged childhood which is suddenly ripped to shreds when her father is prosecuted due to illegal financial activity. The family becomes bankrupt, the author is forced to drop out of college, and her entire family structure unravels. She also grew up right near where I did (and in the same town where I work), which made the story extra interesting.

Small Admissions, by Amy Poeppel: I had such high hopes for this book and did not like it AT all. Since I also work at a private school, I thought I’d absolutely love the storyline, which is about a young woman working in admissions. However, the main character was a mess, parts of the book were oddly hard to follow, and it was somewhat funny but definitely not my favorite. I was surprised I didn’t like it since it has such good reviews on Amazon, but oh well….

My Not So Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella: I LOVE Sophie Kinsella, but this book wasn’t my favorite (I’m a big fan of her Shopaholic series and loved Twenties Girl!). However, I’m always going to read Kinsella’s new releases, and this one had a cute, rom com-like storyline filled with twists and turns. It also makes me want to stay at a bed and breakfast in England like the one where the main character works.

Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick: I absolutely loved Anna Kendrick from the moment I saw her in “Pitch Perfect” (although my mom had been a fan of hers even before!), and I really enjoyed her autobiography. I didn’t realize that Anna was from Maine, where I went to school, and her self-depricating tone and hilarious stories made for an overall enjoyable, quick read.

The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines: This one was another quick read but I loved how both Chip and Joanna’s voices were tied together as they took turns narrating and commenting on each other’s remarks. I learned a ton about this famous couple and had no idea that they both got into design in their twenties…I had assumed that they were building and decorating since they were little kids, haha. If you’re a “Fixer Upper” fan, you have to grab a copy of this book!

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Reading and Reviewing: January

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I got off to a good starting reading at the start of January, but it kind of fell to the wayside by the end of the month as my work piled up! Here’s to a less busy second half of February! In the meantime, these are a few of my faves:

Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld: This book is a “modern telling” of Pride and Prejudice that follows a family of four adult sisters and their respective love lives. Each sister ends up making drastically different choices and aspects of the book definitely surprised me a bit! The story was pretty long, but I thought the ending, which focused on the middle sister Mary, was hilarious. Anyone else think so?

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance: I’ve mentioned this book on here a few times already, but it’s because it was THAT good. I tore through it in about a day and found it so fascinating. As a former sociology major, I was enthralled by the author’s tale of his childhood in Appalachia and how his upbringing shaped his family and the person he became. This is truly a must-read and a book that makes you feel smarter and more informed just by reading it. I was recently in the process of verbally recommending it to someone only to be stopped and told that they’d read it already! Don’t miss out– go add it to your cart on Amazon stat!

The One That Got Away, by Leigh Himes: I LOVED this book! I picked it up at my favorite used bookstore in NYC because the title sounded somewhat familiar (I mean, it’s a common title, but I was pretty sure I had heard of this specific book!). I loved the way the author explored the “what ifs” of a woman’s life and illustrated how completely different things would have turned out had she married a rich, famous man from her past. I also loved that it took place in Philly and talked a lot about Center City, Penn, and the Philly suburbs. #throwback Plus, the ending definitely threw me for a loop!

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware: As I mentioned earlier, this one definitely reminded me of The Girl on the Train. After seeing it on Instagram this summer and fall, I couldn’t wait to read it. I finished it in like a day and was creeped out–but fascinated–by the storyline.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story, by Liane Moriarty: I love Liane Morarity, and her stories never seem to disappoint (although I like some of her books better than others). I thought this story about a woman dealing with her new love’s stalker (yeah, a bit confusing sounding but I promise it’s super easy to follow, haha) was hilarious and a fun “chick flick” type of read.

Now to tackle the many books on my to-read list…I don’t know where to start! I can’t wait to dive into Small Admissions first, though!

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How to Read More

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Lately, I’ve been an avid reader, finishing book after book while also creating a gigantic to-read pile. However, while I loved reading growing up, college obviously meant that I had to prioritize “real” books, and there was little room to read for pleasure. After I graduated and lived in New York City, I enjoyed reading the free books I’d pick up at work (advantages of working in publishing!) but I didn’t really go out of my way to read, unless a favorite author of mine had released a new novel.

It’s kind of ironic that graduate school was when I started reading a ton again, but I think I was craving some extra relaxation in my life. Luckily, my pattern of reading to relax has continued into this year (although it slowed down a bit when I first moved).

Reading is kind of a personal thing in that I know people who easily read 10 books a month, while others struggle to read that many in a year. But reading shouldn’t be a competition; it’s supposed to be fun, after all! (Now I sound like a librarian). However, for those of you who are looking to read more and aren’t quite sure how to fit it into your schedule, here are a few of my tips:

-Set a goal. Generally, I’m a pretty goal-oriented person, so if I set a goal to read a certain number of books per month, I do my best to meet it. Obviously, the number may change based on the length of a book. This month, I felt like I was spending a ton of time reading, but many of the books I picked up were a bit longer and took much more time to finish. Now that I have a blog, I like to read as many books as possible so that I can review them for you all! I get a lot of my book recommendations from blogs, so I love to share my recs with others in return.

-Share recommendations with friends. Honestly, all it takes is finding a good book to get you back into the reading groove. If you’re looking for an interesting story that has gotten a lot of press lately, pick up Hillbilly Elegy. One of my friends was reading it and I decided to pick up a copy for myself, and wow. So good! I’ll do a full review on it later in the month.

-Carry a book with you. This tip is kind of obvious, and I don’t really do this myself, but if I had a long commute that didn’t involve a ton of transfers, I would definitely be reading on the train/subway. I have friends who do this and it’s a great way to pass time. Pick up a real book or a Kindle, toss it in your work bag, and you’re good to go.

-Join a book club. Whether its through Meetup, your college alumni association, or even your office, signing up for a book club will hold you accountable to finish that novel! Plus, it’s a great way to socialize and enjoy snacks and wine. 😉

If you have more tips or book recs, send ’em my way…

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Reading (and reading and reading)

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In New York this past weekend, my friend Allison and I made sure to visit our favorite used bookstore in the city. It’s actually located in the basement of one of the public libraries (Webster, if you’re wondering!) and has the BEST deals on books. Most are between $2 and $4, and new releases run about $7. I picked up $40 worth of books (a great deal when you think about how much books cost at Barnes and Noble, but a little difficult because I then had to transport them all back home!) and now my to-read list is growing and growing.

Above are most of the books I picked up this weekend, but I already have an even bigger pile on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I love to post book reviews on the blog, so keep an eye out for plenty more coming soon! I’m trying to branch out from my usual feel-good books and start more mysteries and obscure novels, but honestly my stack right now is all over the place genre-wise.

What are you reading and loving? I’m all ears.

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Beach, Please

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Summer may be nowhere in sight, but that doesn’t mean that winter days have to be completely dreary. I’ve spotted such adorable beach-themed home decor lately, and the fun prints and bright colors are sure to brighten up the most blah winter days. I purchased the beachy print pictured here from TJ Maxx because it reminded me of Gray Malin’s work (with a much more manageable price tag!). It’s currently hanging in my living room, but at the rate I move things around, who knows where it will end up next 😉

Happy shopping!

Beach print//Anchor plaque//Flamingo tote//Striped tote//Nautical sheets//Beaches book

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On My Reading List

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It often feels like my reading list is never-ending (although I did make a good dent in it over the holidays!). Above are a few books I hope to dive into in 2017, spanning a mix of genres. Have you read any of them? Some of these have been on my list for far too long, and I’ve just been waiting for the right time to start…oops!

Also, since a few people have asked me where I like to buy books on the cheap, I’m going to make a plug for Thrift Books. I’ve already gotten a few friends hooked on this site, and it’s definitely worth exploring. They have great deals where you can rack up points and ultimately receive a discount after spending $50. Also, anytime you order $10 worth of books, shipping is free! Don’t forget to sign up for their emails in order to receive further promo codes (they hand them out frequently). Happy book shopping!

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