September Reads/The Two Books You Need to Read, Stat!

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This month, I read a whopping TWO books and am totally ok with that. It was an especially busy month with work, work travel, social things, and life things that sometimes just made me want to unwind with a movie, TV show, or nap rather than sit down and read anything, no matter how lighthearted. I also picked up a couple of books that I just didn’t like that much and abandoned them, haha. But mostly, I was slow because I didn’t want either of the books that I did read to end! And you know that’s the sign of a good book. My reading list is so long that lately I just force myself to finish books as soon as I can so that I can move onto the next, but there’s something to be said for just slowing down and savoring each chapter.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was my first September read, and I picked it up after watching the movie on Netflix. I’m not normally a YA reader but made an exception for this book and am so glad I did. I actually mailed it to my sister at college when I finished it because she’d watched the movie this summer and loved it as well (like everyone else!). If you’re behind, the book/movie tells the story of Lara Jean, an inexperienced high schooler whose secret letters to several crushes accidentally get sent out, only for her to have to deal with the repercussions of several guys now knowing how she feels about them. She then begins a fake relationship with one of the guys, which, you guessed it, leads to real feelings. It’s a super cute read and is actually part of a longer series (there are two additional books), so if you like this one (which is under $8 on Prime, so just order it already!), there’s more where it came from!

From the Corner of the Oval was my second read of the month and omg, I am OBSESSED. I actually first heard about the book through Katie and then realized it was a super huge deal at the moment and it would take me forever to get off the library waitlist, which was a bummer. I actually snagged a galley at a used bookstore last week (and was assured that it was the exact same as the published copy) and didn’t want the story to end (I honestly came back from the bar on Saturday night at midnight and kept reading, that’s how hooked I was!). The book is a memoir written by a young woman named Beck, who lands a job as a stenographer for Obama via a Craigslist ad (and I thought *I* was the queen of Craigslist…). She falls absolutely in love with her new world, and majorly falls for a hot male staffer (referred to as Jason), which leads to tons of drama…I won’t spoil the book, but things get MESSY (but very relatable and real). Beck’s observations of Obama are amazing and the story–while largely about her personal life and experiences as a 20-something–made me laugh, cry, and nod. I knew I would find the book interetsing because I’ve read other great memoirs by Obama staffers, but I didn’t expect to want to become friends with Beck–the book truly felt like a conversation, and her approachable tone, honesty, and pride in her work mixed with the right amount of self deprecation made her a relatable and engaging narrator. What made it even cooler is that Beck was living right in my neighborhood on Swann Street during her time at the White House, so I felt like I was retracing her steps with her! Katie and I can’t get over how amazing this book is and continue to text each other observations! Please pick it up ASAP!

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August Reads

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I didn’t read too too much this month compared with earlier in the summer due to an unexpectedly busy Labor Day Weekend and just not having the energy some days, but I still finished some good books that I wanted to share on here! My list for September/October is super long, needless to say!

The Alice Network: This book was SO good. I was on the list for it at the library and had to wait forever for it to be my turn, but I persisted because I’d heard so many great things. The book is about a young woman in the 1940s and a female spy during WWI–it switches back and forth between the two perspectives. The young woman meets the spy when she’s older and relies on her to determine what happened to a missing family member, so the book is also part mystery in a way. I’m not normally a big historical fiction reader, but there are so many books in this genre that have gotten amazing reviews, so I’m trying to be better, and this was a great way to start!

Matchmaking for Beginners: I thought I would like this book a bit more than I actually did–the characters were a bit quirkier than I expected, ha! It was still a cute, quick read that follows the journey of a young woman who is recently divorced (after being married for, like, two seconds to a guy who is totally wrong for her) and finds out that her ex’s great aunt has left her a home in Brooklyn and has specific instructions for how she can go and make the most of her life.

The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories: I picked this one up on a whim at the library and it was just ok in my opinion (but the Amazon reviews are super positive!), and while it was supposed to be a love story, I actually liked the parts about friendship more! It centers around Jacey, who discovers that a man she met during a traumatic event but since lost touch with is officiating her friend’s wedding. The two quickly reconnect and fall in love, only for tons of miscommunication to arise. This story made me want to move a small town in the South and be as adorable and kind hearted as (who decides to adopt three orphaned boys on her own at the age of 25!).

Then She Was Gone: Gah, this one was creepy but so good and definitely is one I’d recommend if you like thrillers. When her daughter Ellie goes missing, Laurel spends years wondering what exactly happened, but her curiosity is amplified when she meets and falls in love with a man who may know more about the situation than he lets on. While trying to create a new life with him, Laurel learns some startling truths about what really happened all those years ago, with snippets of the daughter’s perspective tied in, too.

The Ex Wife: This one was also a quick, creepy read (although there have been SO many books about pairs of wives/ex wives lately that the plot line is getting a little eh). The book follows the lives of Jen, the ex wife, and Natasha the current wife (who comes home one day to find that her husband and daughter have left her and has to pick up the pieces). It’s your typical thriller in that you don’t quite know who to trust, but it’s good in that it isn’t 100 percent predictable.

The Queen of Hearts: This book had been in my pile forever, but other things kept taking precedent! If you love a good medical drama, this is a must read. It follows two women who became friends during college, went to med school together, and now are living in Charlotte with their young families while working as doctors. When a man from their med school past moves into town, drama ensues and secrets are revealed that make them question their friendship and how well they truly know each other. The author is actually a doctor herself, which made everything that much more realistic!

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How to *Actually* Read More

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Happy Friday before a three-day weekend! This week was full of fun things and not so fun things–the best part was definitely being handed some super exciting design opportunities (stay tuned!) and going with my mom and sister to see Crazy Rich Asians, which did not disappoint (go see it, now!). The worst part was the AC going out on Tuesday night in 92 degree weather, prompting me to sleep downstairs on the couch and pray that my 9 percent phone battery would make it though the night! This weekend, I have a couple of photo shoots (one at someone else’s place on Saturday for Houzz, and one at my apartment on Monday, which is for one of the design projects that came about, woo!), work at the gym, and then a friend’s cookout on Sunday, which makes me feel more Labor Day Weekend like! In between all of this and running around like a crazy person trying to finish styling my apartment, I’m also hoping to get in a bit of reading, and that brings me to this post!

I’ve written a post about this before, but I thought it would be a fun topic to recirculate given that 1) I’ve been trying to read a lot more the past several months after hitting a bit of a roadblock last fall/winter, and 2) a few other bloggers I follow have posted their own tips!

I have to admit…reading is something that truly brings me a sense of calm and enjoyment. When I was little, I’d look forward to going to the library to pick out more Babysitter’s Little Sister books (anyone else read those?!), and my dad and I read Harry Potter together when it first came out. However, I know reading isn’t truly enjoyable for everyone, and if you’re not a book person, you don’t need to force it! (You’re probably wayyyy more up-to-date on movies and TV shows and other things I’ve cut out a bit more to make time to read!). That said, if you’re not the biggest fan of reading but want to get more into it, just start small. Try an audiobook on your commute (I “read” most of Crazy Rich Asians this way and loved it–even when I was seeing the movie I’d weirdly remember where I was when a certain scene was happening!), or just challenge yourself to read a couple of chapters a week. No biggie!

I definitely go through ruts when I don’t feel as compelled to read at the end of the day, and this is usually when I’m in a busy period at work, have a lot going on personally, or have other things to focus on (I always get really bad about reading for months after a move, for example!). But in general, it comes down to basic prioritization for me. Katie recently said that she used to relax with a TV show and has made a point to unplug with a book instead, and I 100 percent have been trying to do the same. I love being able to finish books and talk about them with you guys on the blog, which provides me with an extra dose of motivation. However, I’m also motivated just by the idea of tackling my  “must read” list. If I don’t ever sit down and just start something, I’ll just feel behind and overwhelmed! If you’re the opposite and have no idea what to read next, visit blogs (a lot of lifestyle bloggers I follow also cover books) or talk with your friends or even just browse through Amazon. Even if I’ve never heard of a particular book but it’s gotten amazing reviews, I’ll be inspired to add it to my cart or wish list. I also have always wanted to write a book one day and am starting to get really close to wanting to sit down and flesh something out, so I also consider reading to be research in a way!

I also love Lauren’s recent post about how she’s made time to read more. I 100 percent agree that getting a library card is a game changer! I have more books than I can count at home but still go to the library all the time–it helps that there’s one near my office. If you want to read more but hate the idea of spending money on something you’ll probably just read through once…well, problem solved! And her point about keeping a book with you wherever you go is also key. I always end up kicking myself when I have to wait for an appointment or am meeting a friend who’s running late and have nothing to read on me. Oh, and always, always bring books with you when traveling, even if you  don’t think you’ll have the downtime. I went on a work trip and read two in a span of a couple of days, simply because we didn’t have a ton of activities in the evening and we had a flight each way. You’ll never regret being too prepared!

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July Reads

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Happy early August–it’s time for July’s book roundup! I have no idea how I read a whopping 14 books this month, but that means there are plenty to share here–and the even better news is that I really enjoyed most of them! I think that since I had less time spent at home due to a busy month of fun, work, and travel, I was more productive with the downtime I did have…who knows. Anyway, here we go…

Educated: Everyone has been recommending Educated over the past few months, and for good reason. I was enthralled by Tara’s story of her life growing up in a big Morman family in rural Idaho, being “home-schooled” (basically teaching herself how to write and do math, since her parents provided no real instruction), and miraculously making her way to college and beyond. The book does raise a lot of difficult concepts and has extremely uncomfortable moments (abuse by a sibling being one), and in some ways, I almost forgot it wasn’t a work of fiction because parts of it just seem so unbelievable–but in good ways, too. I think part of this is due to the fact that Tara’s life story truly is remarkable, but it’s also a reflection of her talent as a storyteller. Tara manages to accomplish things would already be outstanding for the most prepared student (studying at Cambridge and Harvard alike!), but knowing she had to guide and motivate herself each step of the way makes her story all the more fascinating. If you enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy and are looking for something along the same lines or just want to learn more about a different subset of America, this is a must-read.

Crazy Rich Asians: I had been meaning to read this book forever and even own a hard copy, but somehow I kept prioritizing other novels and forgetting about it (#bookwormproblems). However, when I learned a few weeks ago that there would be a movie based on the book coming out later this summer, I knew I needed to hurry up and start it! The book follows young New York professor Rachel Chu on her journey to Singapore with her wealthy, fellow professor boyfriend, Nick–only Rachel doesn’t really know anything about Nick’s family background–or his money–until she is thrust into his extravagant culture and celebrations. Family secrets and controversies are plentiful throughout the book, and while it’s somewhat of a longer read, it will keep you interested the entire time. I actually started listening to it on audiobook when I was in the car going from North Carolina to Florida, and I enjoyed the storyline and narrator so much that I kept listening to segments on my walks to and from work. I can’t normally focus well when it comes to audiobooks and podcasts, but the book captured my attention right away and the narrator does a really good job switching from one character to another which made it easy to follow along–there are a ton of different characters in this book, and it switches from one person’s point of view to another fairly quickly. I did end up turning to my hard copy to finish the last few chapters of the book–I was getting impatient to finish it and realized I could read a lot quicker than I could listen–and now I’m excited to start books two and three sometime soon.

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Eleanor Olephant is Completely Fine: This book was a little stranger than I could have imagined based on the ending alone, but it was sweet nonetheless. Eleanor Olephant is socially awkward (but thinks everyone else has problems interacting, not her!) and struggling to find her way in life at age 31. She befriends an IT worker in her office and their friendship blossoms, and Eleanor’s life begins to develop more meaning as she stretches outside her comfort zone. Overall, the book was a funny, easy read, though the ending was not what I expected from this type of book–it was a little more thriller-esque than I was prepared for and left me surprised!

Tell Me Lies: I’m obsessed with this book–it may be my favorite of the year, and I don’t know if my writeup can even do it justice! The story centers around two main characters, Lucy and Stephen, and is told from each of their perspectives. Lucy, a girl from Long Islans, meets Stephen during her freshman year of college in California, and the two begin a tumultuous, powerful romantic relationship that starts and stops many times over the years. Stephen is your typical self-obsessed player, though we learn that his issues run even deeper than he may let on. Despite his many flaws, Lucy can’t let go of him and struggles both emotionally and physically during her time in college as she wrestles with her relationship and personal issues from her past. Overall, it reminded me a bit of The Light We Lost in that it was partly chick lit and partly a thought-provoking, nostalgia-inducing read. It’s the type of book that I’d want to write about college–and all of the author’s details are so realistic to me; it’s clear that she also went to a small liberal arts school. I honestly think about the book all the time, even weeks later (during my walks to work!), and just need a friend to pick it up so that we can discuss it!

Sisters First: When I say that I would recommend this book to a friend regardless of his or her political affiliation, I mean it–even though I’m liberal, I loved reading about the Bush twins. The story isn’t all that political–rather, it explores the twins’ close sisterly bond and is peppered with funny, heartwarming stories about their immediate family and the Bush and Welch relatives. I smiled, I teared up a bit, and generally I couldn’t get enough! It was a great way to see who Jenna and Barbara are as people, and I really liked how they owned up to some of their mistakes, shared life lessons learned, and demonstrated that there’s a time and a place to take oneself too seriously, but it isn’t necessary to do so all of the time. Now I can only hope that Malia and Sasha will write something similar one day. 😉

The Kiss Quotient: This book was a little weirder than I thought…it very graphic and not as “innocent” as I imagined, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be about a woman with Asperger’s who hires someone to teach her about sex and relationships. Just be forewarned before you pick it up if you’d rather skip over those types of details–otherwise, it’s a cute and funny read! It’s gotten great reviews and is a pretty quick one to read in a day or so!

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Marriage Vacation: I wasn’t as obsessed with this one as I thought I might be, given that I love Younger (if you didn’t know, Younger is centered around a NYC publishing house, and this book is supposed to be the one that (main character) Liza’s client Pauline is publishing in the show, so it was fun that it was turned into a real-life title! Also, related: the TV show Younger was based on a book by the same name, which I read a few years ago and loved!). Despite not being as glued to this book as I thought I would be, it’s still a fun summer read that explores one woman’s “marriage vacation” as she takes time to live in Thailand and find herself before returning to her husband and kids in NYC (the whole thing is supposed to be a “fictional” adaption of Pauline’s own marriage vacation from her husband in the show, Charles). I loved being able to learn more about the snippets of the book that were mentioned on the show–but even if you’ve never watched and are just in the mood for some good chick lit, you’ll enjoy this one.

The Financial Diet: I’d had this book on hand for a few months and had been meaning to start it for ages…oops! Luckily, it’s a very quick read that is designed to help 20-something women with money. I always think it’s interesting when the people writing these types of books have made major financial mistakes themselves, and Chelsea Fagan did a great job sharing her own struggles and lessons learned rather than coming off as judgmental (the worst!). While a lot of the information was not new to me, I love a good, practical self-help book (this one included recipes, tips on managing money in a relationship, and more).

Playing with Matches: I could NOT wait for this book to come out, as I’ve been following the author, Hannah Orenstein, on Twitter for ages (she’s hilarious! It also turns out that she’s a high school friend of one of my good friends from college, small world), and knew that whatever she wrote would be right up my alley. Playing with Matches was basically a rom-com in a novel and I loved every page of it. Recent college grad Sasha, who is dealing with various relationship challenges of her own, is working as a professional matchmaker in New York City (just as Hannah did) and learning what it takes to succeed in the biz. This book made me nostalgic for living in NYC in my early 20’s, and Hannah hit the nail on the head when it came to creating a likable narrator–there was nothing annoying about Sasha! This is the perfect summer pool or beach read for anyone who’s used dating apps, is curious about what matchmaking entails, or just loves chick lit.

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The Rules Do Not Apply: Ariel Levy’s memoir is moving, inspirational, and addictive as she explores love, loss, and misfortune. Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say that Ariel has been through the ringer–her relationship, pregnancy, and stability all fall apart at the same time upon returning from a trip overseas. I had been wanting to read this book for awhile, and while it’s full of difficult moments, it’s a powerful and engaging read.

Bachelor Nation: In college, my friends and I would watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette in someone’s apartment and take turns bringing various unhealthy snacks and gossiping about which Ashley would be sent home that night (there were always like 8 Ashleys in any given season…and actually, true story: one of my friends’ families ended up going to Ashley H’s wedding in Maine after she left the show). While my Bachelor-watching hasn’t really continued post-college, I was still excited to see that there was a book out exploring all aspects of the show–how it came about, its initial challenges and failures, the scandals, how the audition process works, what it’s really like behind the scenes, and more (why didn’t I think of this as a sociology senior thesis?!). The author didn’t leave out a single aspect, and fans (or just fair-weather fans) of The Bachelor and its spinoffs will be intrigued by this super fun nonfiction book.

The Girl Before: Thriller fans, take note of this one–so creepy! The Girl Before alternates back and forth between two protagonists who lived in the same home a few years apart. It’s clear that something strange happened/is happening in the house, but who is causing the disruption is a mystery. I was actually surprised with how this book played out, which made it a good read–normally storylines are a little more predictable to me, and this one kept me guessing and freaked out for most of the book.

Pretty Baby: I read The Good Girl by Mary Kubica last year and had been meaning to pick up Pretty Baby for ages. It was your typical modern day thriller filled with distrust, loss, and secrets, and I was glued to the plot right away (a middle-aged woman spots a teenager and her baby at the train station, welcomes them into her home, and then begins to wonder if there’s something the teenager is hiding about her past). The woman and her family seem fairly normal until you realize that they have issues of their own, which also come to light.

The Perfect Stranger: I started this one right after The Girl Before and Pretty Baby because I was on a mini thriller kick (I liked this one best!). Leah, a former journalist who has moved to rural Pennsylvania to work as a teacher, is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when a coworker of hers is accused of murder and her roommate goes missing. Quickly, she wonders who she can and can’t trust–what are her students hiding from her, is the detective working on her case as earnest as he comes across, and was her roommate abducted or is she running away from something? Meanwhile, Leah is hiding a scandal of her own from her past, and we’re left waiting to find out what exactly happened that prompted her to leave Boston. This one kept me up late into the night and gave me chills in the way that a good thriller should!

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3 Upcoming Books I’d Love to Read

One of the things I love about browsing for books on Amazon is that there are always tons of new titles being recommended to me…although sometimes it can get a little out of hand when I see how many amazing books there are coming out and think about how many are still sitting on my shelf at home unread! However, I’m making sure to bookmark these titles for the coming weeks/months, because I just don’t want to miss them. Start adding these to your Amazon/library wish list! (I’ll admit that these are pretty rom com-ish, so if that’s not your thing, feel free to skip this post!).

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The Proposal, by Jasmine Guillory: This book is by the author of The Wedding Date, which I read a couple of months ago and loved. It’s always the best when you discover a new, up-and-coming author and then find out that they’re releasing another book that’s already gotten great reviews. This one looks like a hilarious rom-com type of story that will make a great quick, relaxing read.

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Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, by Christina Lauren: Who can resist a book about a guy and girl friend pair who ultimately fall for one another (at least it seems like this will be the case)? This book looks like another cute one by an author I’ve never heard of (which is always fun), and while the plot is somewhat stereotypical, it’s still a book I’d love to pick up.

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Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty: I’ve read many of Liane Moriarty’s books, and while I’ve liked some more than others, I’m always excited to see what the hype is about each time a new one is released. (Btw, who else can’t wait for season 2 of Big Little Lies?!). I love a good mystery with lots of interesting characters in the mix, so I’m excited to see what’s in store this time.

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Summer Staples on Sale

It’s only halfway through the summer (how is it almost mid-July?!), but tons of staples that you can still wear this season are hugely discounted at the moment! I was browsing Jack Rogers sandals the other day and found several cute pairs that are priced below $60 right now–be sure to scoop them up before they go out of stock!

If you’re looking for a pair of the classic sandals, several colors here are discounted.

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I ordered this pair of wedges for only $44 (marked down from $148!)–I’ve been a big fan of them lately, and I like how they reflect the signature Jack Rogers style but look a little bit different and dressier for nighttime events.

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I was also browsing Anthropologie and came across this adorable straw bag for only $40–the price can’t be beat.

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I’m also a big fan of this blue style from Saks Off 5th, it’s majorly discounted!

These polka dot slides look comfortable for this blister-prone gal and are marked down from $195 to $35.

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June Reads

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This month got off to a fast start reading-wise, but things kind of slowed down halfway through. I have my 16-hour round trip train ride to Boston to thank for allowing me to finish several of these! I’m heading to Florida for a few days to spend some time with family for the 4th and have packed a TON of books–I always read a lot down there and am bringing a mix of beach reads and thrillers. July should be a good recap, for sure!

Here’s what I read in June:

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work at the White House, by Alyssa Mastromonaco: This was a great book to read relatively soon after finishing Katy Tur’s Unbelievable a few months ago (you can read my review about it here). This comedic memoir tells the story of Alyssa’s experience working for Barack Obama and is punctuated by her own stories of embarrassment and self-discovery. I always love reading about how people slightly older than I am got started in their field and finished the book feeling inspired by Alyssa and totally missing Barry O. Definitely read it if you love a good liberal political memoir but also have a sense of humor (there are lots of weird stories about not being able to find bathrooms, and the like!).

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng: Ok, I wasn’t sure if I would like this book or not, but I’m SO glad that I read it. I’d been on the waitlist at the library for months, finally got a copy, and decided to crack it open on a long train ride home from Boston (funnily enough, the girl next to me was sitting there reading it too, and we ended up talking about it for a bit!). While we both had been a little worried that the book would be “boring,” I was honestly so enthralled the entire time. The book tells the story of the Richardson family, living in Shaker Heights, Ohio (which is right near where my mom spent her middle school years!), as well as their tenants, Mia Warren and her teenage daughter, Pearl. After a local family brings an abandoned baby into their home, the town is divided on whether she should be returned to her birth mother or raised in her new family–and Mia is personally connected to the issue in more ways than one. Meanwhile, the teenage children of the book are making their own decisions about what family means to them and how they wish to shape their lives. Without giving too much away, the book prompts the reader to consider how they define family and the complicated decisions we each make as a result of our own familial bonds. The book was a thought-provoking read without pinpointing a “right” or a “wrong” side, and it really encouraged the reader to consider his or her own values and moral obligations. I could see it being read and discussed in a college class (#sociologymajor) across many disciplines and keep thinking about the many issues it raised.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson: This is another book I had been meaning to read for ages. It’s a quick self help read that I think raises tons of relevant issues. When should we care about things, and when should we just move on? There was one quote I really liked (I took a picture of the page, because I had to return the book to the library!). It said, “We should pick our battles carefully, while simultaneously attempting to empathize a bit with the so-called enemy….We should prioritize values of being honest, fostering transparency, and welcoming doubt over the values of being right feeling good, and getting revenge.”

When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger: Hear me out, but I remember reading The Devil Wears Prada WAY back when during the summer after my freshman year of high school (I know, I feel old!) and just not loving the writing–I did love the movie, though, and reference it all the time. I was super excited for Lauren Weisberger’s new book to come out (which I hadn’t realized was technically about Andy Sachs’ friend and coworker, Emily) and was even more thrilled when Simon and Schuster included it in a little summer reading package that they sent to me at the end of last month. As soon as I started the book, I was hooked, and I genuinely looked forward to reading it each day because I found it so amusing (and terrifying!). The book follows Miranda’s former assistant Emily (in her new life doing publicity for stars), her friend Miriam, who has quit her high-powered law firm job to raise her children in Greenwich, and Miriam’s friend Karolina, the wife of a senator, who lives in Bethesda and finds herself in trouble when she’s presumed to be driving under the influence. The book celebrates female friendship, the struggles women face, and brings to light the crazy, complicated lives of Greenwich’s elite (you’ll laugh and shudder). Highly recommend it for the beach this summer!

Limelight, by Amy Poeppel: This was another book that I’d been curious about but went into a bit skeptical because I didn’t like the author’s previous work. I thought I’d love Small Admissions, which everyone had been raving about last year (I especially thought I’d enjoy it working at a private K-12 school!), and just could NOT get into it at all. I did keep the book, though, so maybe I’ll give it another chance. However, Limelight totally captured my attention–I loved it! I snagged a copy at my favorite used bookstore in NYC, and the woman working at the register told me that she had just finished the book and loved it. The story follows Allison Brinkley and her husband, teenage daughters, and elementary school-aged son, who have just relocated from Dallas to NYC. Unfamiliar with the city, Allison struggles to find a job and her bearings, but one day ends up with an unexpected gig, serving as the PA for a teen popstar. You can guess that undoubtably tons of ups and downs follow, and all the while, Allison is trying to balance her own family life with basically raising someone else’s kid. I found the book funny and engaging and would totally recommend it for the beach or summer travel.

When Katie Met Cassidy, by Camille Perri: I had loved Camille Perri’s first book, The Assistants, and was excited to read more from her. This book tells the story of Katie, a newly single, traditional girl from Kentucky who is working as a lawyer in New York City, when one day in the office she meets a lesbian woman named Cassidy…and has all kinds of questions. Despite their differences, the two women form a bond which leads to more, shocking Katie and changing her outlook about herself and her relationships. I thought this was a very sweet read that broke the mold but also raised important questions and issues.

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May Reads

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Thanks to Memorial Day Weekend, I read quite a bit this past month! A lot of these were more light-hearted reads (with a good thriller and thought-provoking nonfiction read added into the mix), but it was fun to read some rom com-type books (which used to be the only kinds of books I would read), especially with beach read season right around the corner. Below is a recap…

Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve been a longtime fan of Sophie Kinsella (seriously–my best friend and I started reading her Shopaholic series in the 7th grade!) and am always excited when I hear a new book of hers is coming out. While this one wasn’t one of my all-time favorites (there are many of hers that I just tear through and end up reading multiple times), this story was cute and humorous thanks to Kinsella’s signature writing style. It tells the story of a couple in their early 30s who have been together for 10 years and are happily raising young daughters when they find out that they could easily live to 100 and therefore have 68 more years together. This sends them into a panic–they love each other, but spending that much time with one person strikes each of them as terrifying–and they (humorously) try to spice things up as a result. Meanwhile, a family secret is uncovered that alters the dynamic of their relationship at the same time. If you’re a fan of rom com-like books or just want a fun read, I’d definitely suggest this one!

The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory: Ugh, this book was so cute that I had to keep putting it down because cynical me couldn’t handle its adorableness (what do you mean two people who meet randomly in an elevator immediately decide to maintain a long distance relationship?!). But I still completed it in one day; it was the perfect, light-hearted read about two career-oriented people who meet right before a wedding, “fake” being dates, and decide that they actually do like each other enough to keep things going as they head back to their homes in Berkeley and LA. Of course, there are some bumps in the road, but I loved the ending. It would honestly be an adorable movie (though the plot is similar to basically everything in the rom com section on Netflix!).

A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, by Sally Franson: I had high hopes for this one after having heard it described as being similar to the tv show The Bold Type (one of my faves), but I just couldn’t fully get behind it. It follows the personal and professional journey of young woman who works in marketing in Minneapolis (not in NYC, which is different in a good way!). I guess I’m somewhat mixed in my review–the narrator is annoying and just not likable, but at the same time, she raises some realistic points about what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace. There’s a cute romance involved but the narrator just has too many other issues to sort out, and while the book kept me engaged (I read it on the plane), I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.The book seemed to cycle on and on without really going anywhere significant, and there were a lot of unnecessary details that reminded me of things I think of as “ideas for future books” but probably wouldn’t make the cut in the final version, if that makes sense.

Hey Ladies, by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss: I also thought I would love this book and based on the Amazon reviews, I’m one of the only ones who didn’t. Obviously it’s supposed to be a parody of sorts about female friendships, but again I found the characters out of touch (though that was sort of supposed to be the point) and think that this book could have gone in a totally different direction and had a lot more substance. To my IRL friends–given that I didn’t like this book, you guys won’t either (too harsh?!); while it was entertaining, I just don’t think it would resonate with the women I know (who care about issues far greater than brunch and SoulCycle!), even as an “ironic” read.

Dear Madam President, by Jennifer Palmieri: This NYT bestseller (which I snagged from the library after little wait!) was a super quick read, but it packed a punch. It’s set up as a letter to the first female president, whoever that may be, written from Jennifer, who was the director of communications for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 (she also previously worked as the communications director for Obama). The piece describes the horror Jennifer and the rest of Hillary’s team felt in the days after the 2016 election while also imparting wisdom for women that honestly can be interpreted to apply to any work setting. If you’re looking for an inspiring read with a political twist, this is it!

The Woman in the Window, by AJ Finn: I had been wanting to read this since January–seriously, it took forever to get off the waitlist at the library–and almost caved and ordered it on Amazon but knew it would be worth the wait. The narrator, a woman with agoraphobia, thinks she sees a murder across the street, but all evidence states otherwise. Is she making things up or did something actually happen? The book was a little slow at the beginning, but it captured my attention and made me wonder what to actually believe. Like any good thriller, there were a few pivotal twists–that I didn’t expect at all–and a flawed narrator who you still can’t help but like.

Romancing the Throne, by Nadine Jolie Courtney: I decided to pick this one up after reading Katie’s review on her blog, and it was the perfect post Royal Wedding read. It follows two sisters in boarding school–who have an adorably close relationship, until both fall for the same guy (who happens to be a prince) and drama ensues. It’s more of a YA read than my usual picks, but it was a good guilty pleasure book for sure–and it’s perfect for royals fanatics!

Oh, and one more–this wasn’t really a full “book,” given that it was an extended copy of the speech that Lauren Graham gave at her high school, which is right across the river from me in Virginia–but I also read In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It. Despite its short length, it was an inspirational read nonetheless–and I actually learned quite a bit about Lauren Graham in the process as she wrote about failure, finding a passion, and the gratitude she has for her career.

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Spring Shopping Favorites

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Happy Monday! It’s back to the grind after a fun little getaway to Bermuda for a work trip last week. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to go but also that my passport was up-to-date! It expires next spring, so I need to get that taken care of…I would’ve been so disappointed if it was expired and forced me to say no to this experience!

Now that spring is finally in the air (as is tons of pollen…), I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites for the season. I’m lusting over all of these but am trying to curb my shopping a bit this month since I have a few trips coming up in June.

I’m a sucker for a good wicker bag and I spotted this one on Kate’s blog awhile back. It’s not back in stock but looks like it will be on its way later this month, so I’ve signed up for an alert. You would NEVER believe that it’s under $20!

By mow everyone probably knows about my obsession with all things cane/rattan, and these shoes do not disappoint…plus, they look pretty comfortable!

Speaking of shoes (which is funny, because I’m really not a shoe person…bags/tops are more my speed), these lemon slides look PERFECT and may have to go in my shopping bag…(actually, the palm leaf pattern is equally adorable, so now I’m undecided!).

I’ve been breezing through books and want to read this and this…adding to my wish list! I think Slone Crosley is hilarious and am bummed I couldn’t attend her book talk in DC in April!

Ok, I’m not getting this exact chair, because $$$$, but I want to find one like it for reading outside/inside. I sat in one in Savannah and fell in love. I’m so excited to spend more time out on our roof as the weather warms up!

What’s on your spring shopping list?

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The Big Book Recap

You know when you just feel so behind on something that you keep putting it off because it no longer seems relevant? That’s how I’ve felt with this book post. I’ve been reading a lot more these past few months than I had been in the fall, and my book roundups are always a favorite, but I’ve been so bad about logging everything on here.

Right after I moved, I was also in the middle of a job search, trying to get to know my new neighborhood, and the like, and reading fell on the back burner–I found that I was much happier watching a Grey’s Anatomy episode on Netflix than curling up with a book! My old job was also much more reading/writing intensive, so I didn’t always want to come home and sit down with a book or even craft a blog post.

BUT here we are! I’ve finally taken the time to crank out a monster book roundup for you guys and will try to be more consistent with these going forward. I personally like publishing monthly reading lists on here because it helps me keep track of everything I’ve read in a given year. Note that in some cases, I haven’t thought about a book for months, so the Amazon description may do better justice than anything I could write at this point. (So admittedly, this is more of a list than a full-blown recap!).

In no particular order, here’s what I’ve read:

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The Last Mrs. Parrish – How come thriller characters are always so likable at the beginning and then become INSANE by the end? This is another example of that! I was hooked and absolutely thrown for a loop when I realized what the other characters knew by the end.

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Unbelievable – An amazing depiction of the craziness of the 2016 election and what exactly it was like being a part of the Trump campaign as a reporter. You don’t have to be any kind of political junkie to enjoy this read–I honestly felt like I was there with Katy through every interview, trip, and meltdown.

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Gone Without a Trace – A woman picks up the pieces after she realizes her boyfriend has left their shared home and taken everything with him…but is someone watching her, and is it him? The ending will shock you!

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My Husband’s Wife – Complete with multiple stories in one that all tie back together, this is a great read for thriller-lovers. Again, betrayal is a common theme here…

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Fitness Junkie – This was a fun parody about what it’s like living in a fitness, green juice-obsessed world. It’s the perfect rom-com type of book that will leave you nodding along and laughing. The overall premise about the main character needing to lose weight is a bit ridiculous, but that’s part of the absurdity of the book.

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Still Me – Ugh, such a good read. I love all of Jojo Moyes’ books but especially the Me Before You series, and this was the perfect ending to Louisa’s adventures (plus, this time she’s in NYC, which made it extra fun to read!).

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Text Me When You Get Home – This was a Girls Night In book club read, although I couldn’t end up going to the actual discussion. It’s an insightful read on female friendships and how much we matter to one another–it’s heartwarming for sure!

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Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman – This is a Girls Night in book club read from forever ago. I loved it–but I also love Anne Helen Petersen–so I knew I was in for a treat before I even cracked it open. Each chapter is focused on a famous woman (ranging from Melissa McCarthy to Kim Kardashian) who has been deemed “too” something. Petersen discusses the implications of these labels and stereotypes; the discussion we had as a book club was super gripping!

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The Wife Between Us – I’m putting this on here even though I’m only halfway through it right now, but I’m already enjoying it. Like a lot of thrillers, it switches back and forth between two narrators who share a current/former husband and each have a secret they’re hiding.

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Hello Sunshine – This was a rom-com like read about the difficulty that ensues when a famous chef’s life falls apart after she’s proven to not be as talented as everyone thinks. I loved it when I picked it up but became a little less interested over time.

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Unstuffed – This is a self help book that several people had recommended on Instagram, so I was curious and picked it up. I ended up mostly skimming through because it was hard for me to stay interested in every chapter. It also had a lot of religious messaging that didn’t really resonate with me, but overall some of the tips about managing stress and clutter were useful.

My favorite? I’d have to say The Last Mrs. Parrish. Unbelievable and Still Me were close seconds (and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m really skipping around across genres!). The Last Mrs. Parrish was such a good classic thriller that kept me up late into the night. Unbelievable is a must for anyone fascinated by the outcome of the 2016 election, and Katy Tur is a likable narrator. Still Me = sob city but so good, as are all of Jojo Moyes’ books.

What have been your favorite reads lately?

 

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