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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Where I Buy Books for Cheap

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After posting this picture on Instagram the other day noting that I’d scored many of the above books for $2 or less, I got a TON of questions about where I score books for cheap, so I thought I’d do a post about it!

While most of these came from my church’s sale over the weekend (and I have another pile on my desk at work thanks to our school book fair–I’ll share those when I eventually carry them home!), there are lots of great ways to buy current titles without spending $$$ for something you’ll likely just read once.

Here are a few of my tips:

1) Sales and thrift stores. Yard sales don’t often have a ton of book options in the scheme of things, but it doesn’t hurt to take a peek. However, thrift stores like Goodwill are a great place to shop for books. I’ve almost never walked out empty-handed, and I own a lot of books already! Most stores have a whole section dedicated to books and most of them are fairly new and in good condition (though you do have to sift through the dated travel guides and textbooks). For $2 or $3, though, it’s worth it to do some exploring.

2) Amazon. I’m not talking about Amazon Prime here–I rarely purchase books that way unless I realllly want to read something ASAP (like if I’m going on a trip or am participating in a book club). Below the Prime option, you’ll also see pricing for used books from other sellers. They can go for as little as 99 cents (plus shipping, which is usually about $3.99)! This is a great option if you don’t want to head out to an actual used bookstore or have a specific title in mind (obviously when you’re at a place like Goodwill, you really never know what you’re going to get). Books usually ship within 1-2 weeks and I’ve never had any issues!

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3) Thriftbooks. I shared this site with a few of you who sent me messages because it’s truly amazing! One of my college friends (who I don’t think would ever set foot in a thrift store–ha!) has also gotten hooked and always sends me Snapchats of the titles she’s ordered. Books are priced starting at around $3.50, and you get free shipping if you spend over $10! If you log in with your account, you’ll accumulate points every time you make a purchase and will eventually receive $5 off after you’ve spent $50. I’ve gotten everything from novels to coffee table books on there for way less than what I’d pay on Amazon. Shipping is fast and reliable, and it’s a great site to know about if you love to read as much as I do!

Still trying to get into the swing of reading? Check out this post. Admittedly, I fell off the bandwagon big time this fall and am trying to make it part of my routine again now that I have so many books to dive into (the colder weather will likely help, too). Happy book shopping!

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My Favorites on Sale at Nordstrom

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Nordstrom is having a big sale again with 40 percent off a bunch of amazing items! (It’s the perfect motivator to get a jump-start on your holiday shopping). Here are a few of my favorite pieces on sale at the moment. As we all know, Nordstrom sale items don’t always last long, so scoop things up while they’re still in stock!

1) This top is under $20 and would be equally cute for work and play. Pair it with a statement necklace or some fun pants for a holiday party!

2) This sweatshirt reminds me of Paris and all things chic. How cute are the little bows on the side?

3) You can’t forget about the home section when shopping Nordstrom.com; their items are just too good! Check out this preppy Turkish towel, which would look amazing draped over an accent chair or on the edge of your bed.

4) A GINGHAM blazer. Oh. my. gosh. This is too cute and is actually office-appropriate, which is a priority for most of my friends when shopping these days.

5) The cutest little tray for entertaining. It retails for $40 on other sites, so scoop it up for half price here! It would make a great hostess gift for the holidays, too.

6) Practical? Eh, depends who you ask. But I’m on the “leopard is a neutral” bandwagon, so these are at the top of my list. 😉

 

 

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August Reads

Had to bring an old favorite with me to Paris!
Had to bring an old favorite with me to Paris!

I’m was a little behind on reading last month…I actually didn’t crack open a single book when I was in Paris (!) but did get through a few on the plane and toward the end of the month. A few were work/life-related and not necessarily interesting for the blog, but there are a couple that I’ll still share here because I think they’re generalizable for everyone.

10% Happier, by Dan Harris: For work, we had to read two books this summer, and this was one. A few of my coworkers started it earlier on and were raving about it (one even passed it along to her boyfriend!), plus, Dan Harris is a Colby alum, so I knew I’d like his work. 😉 In short, this book chronicles Dan’s experience discovering meditation (which he first couldn’t wrap his around but grew to love). I considered taking a meditation class last fall and think I’d enjoy trying it at some point, so it was interesting reading about someone else’s experience and also examining how other people manage stress as a whole.

Careergasm: Find Your Way to Feel-Good Work, by Sarah Vermunt: Shelby gave me this book for my birthday after having bought her own copy, and from the cover (and hilarious title) I knew it would be a good one, and I was right—I felt super pumped up and ready to #GSD when I was finished. The book is truly for people of all ages—whether you’re halfway through your career or just starting out. It encourages you to step back and take a look at what makes you happy—in the workplace and life in general—and also evaluate what makes you stressed and irritated (and to consider your physical reaction, too, as you do this evaluation). The overall takeaways are: Don’t hold back from pursuing that passion/dream, don’t waste time doing something that you don’t love, don’t be afraid of what others think (easier said than done!), and don’t not try something just because you’re afraid you’ll fail. Sarah shares her own ups and downs while giving professional advice (she works as a career coach), and the book overall kind of reminds me of The Big Life, which I reviewed in last month’s roundup.

Stories I’d Tell in Bars, by Jen Lancaster: I didn’t know much about Jen Lancaster but picked up this book because of its amazing reviews on Amazon (I always read the reviews, and when one commenter noted Jen’s clever take on the Lilly Pulitzer for Target sale, I was sold!). This comedic memoir is full of stories and anecdotes that will leave you nodding your head in agreement (she makes some great observations on millennial culture but makes it very clear that she feels bad for us, hah). I’m now excited to read her other work (I think I actually have a copy of one of her other books, Bitter is the New Black, which I’ve been meaning to start forever!).

How to Pack, by Hitha Palepu: I was silly and actually didn’t pick this up until after I’d come back from Paris, but hey, I suppose the tips are always going to be useful! This book has been mentioned many times throughout the blogsphere and while I feel like I’ve gotten to be a much better packer, who couldn’t use some helpful hints? I liked how Hitha began her book classifying the different types of packers–although I’m pretty sure I kind of fall into all of the categories–I’m either over-prepared, under-prepared, or sometimes, a little impractical, so her tips were very useful!

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