There are so many good books I’ve read over the years that I’d love to recommend to you all, so I thought I would do a roundup here (inspired by Mackenzie’s list from last week, definitely check it out for further recs!). Now that I’ve started blogging, I plan to continue my monthly book posts, but just consider the below a list of my favorites from the past, oh, two years?!
I love nonfiction books (I always say this is because I was a sociology major!). Here are a few of my somewhat recent faves…
Bringing Home the Birkin: Such a cool story about a man who makes a living purchasing the elusive Birkin bags–and other Hermes products–and re-selling them online. It had me hooked!
The Happiness Project: I had this on my bookshelf for the longest time before reading it and am glad I took the plunge! Gretchen Rubin always leaves me feeling inspired.
The Woman I Wanted to Be: DVF’s personal story and background is incredibly moving and she has accomplished so much in her career–you don’t have to live and breathe fashion to appreciate this book.
Mad Women: A good book and a great conversation starter! A fascinating take on what it was like to be a woman at an ad agency during the 1960s.
Modern Romance: Not to be confused with Modern Lovers, ha! This one actually does include sociological research and is an interesting take on dating today.
Another month of fun books! While I absolutely loved my grad school curriculum, it is so nice to be able to read for pleasure without feeling guilty! As much as I enjoyed our assigned texts, they weren’t quite like the books I cover below 😉 Still working on The Singles Game (moving has kept me from reading much this week!), but I will include it in my September roundup!
The Hopefuls, by Jennifer Close:I was hooked right away! I loved Girls in White Dresses and The Smart One, which I read in years past, so I couldn’t wait for Close’s next release to arrive. The story focuses on two couples, Beth and Matt (the main characters) and their good friends, Ash and Jimmy. Both husbands have large political aspirations which ends up causing conflict in more ways than one. The four are inseparable while living in DC, but as the couples follow each other across the country for Matt to assist Jimmy with his campaign, fights break out and Beth and Ash’s friendship is also tested.
The beginning of the book managed to weave together parts of DC and NYC life in a way that felt like the author had read my mind while writing! I laughed out loud at the descriptions of DC, such as women wearing socks and sneakers on the subway (#guilty), and I also loved reading about the various Safeways that everyone here jokes about (the Social Safeway is in my new neighborhood!). There’s a huge place in my heart for J.G. Melon and Dorrian’s, and reading about these NYC haunts made me get emotional! 😉 But I also started sobbing when I read the author’s description of living in NYC as a 20-something after 9/11, because I thought of a former magazine editor of mine (who is around the same age as main character Beth) and had told me about how her life and relationship changed greatly after that. I like how the book touched on complex relationship dynamics (both with regard to friends as well as romantic partners) and was very “real” while also being a fun read. I totally recommend it!
The Perfect Neighbors, by Sarah Pekkanen: I have loved Sarah Pekkanen for years–she wrote a brief but hilarious monthly column in my hometown magazine (where I interned twice in college!). When she started writing novels a few years ago I was thrilled, and I couldn’t wait to pick up Perfect Neighbors, which looks at the (somewhat secretive) lives of a group of women living in an idyllic neighborhood. One review I spotted on Amazon called out the book’s Desperate Housewives-esque nature, and as a fan of the show, I couldn’t agree more! Definitely recommend this as a beach read!
In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn Scotch: When I heard that this book was about six former Penn students, I had to read it, and for something that comes across as a beach read (at least from the cover!) it actually had a lot of depth. The book focuses on a group of 40-year-old friends who reunite over a decade after losing a member of their group, who somewhat suddenly passed away only a few years out of school. While some of the reviews I read on Amazon were negative, I didn’t think the storyline was boring in the slightest and tore through the book in only a couple of nights. It made me think a lot about my own time in college both on a deeper level but also literally–although I was at Penn as a grad student and not as an undergrad, I still could picture all of the places and characters Scotch mentioned, which made the book extra interesting! Definitely recommend whether you’re fresh out of college or an older adult–you’ll be able to relate!
Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub: I read The Vacationers (Straub’s first book) while on a plane last summer and basically did the same thing with Modern Lovers (I flew through 280 pages of the book during my wait in the gate and two-hour flight!). My friend who started the book around the same time had warned me that it’s a quick read, but in a good way (we also both put off ordering it until this month for some reason but then were eager to dive in!). I had been anticipating Straub’s second novel since I’d heard about it months ago, and Modern Lovers, which tells the story of a set of college friends, now living in Brooklyn with their teenage children, did not disappoint. It’s a book that I enjoyed but also would recommend to adults of any age–the whole premises behind the book is examining relationships among those both young and older.
Rich and Pretty, by Rumaan Alam: I honestly was sort of confused by this book before I sat down and looked at the reviews on Amazon before I placed my order. The name seemed kind of silly, for one (it reminds me of Pretty Little Liars or something for teens!) and also it was written by a man?! Confusing. While the book didn’t get the best reviews on Amazon compared to some of summer’s other big releases, I enjoyed it and found it interesting to read about two close friends who had known each other for over 15 years but were suddenly facing major adult milestones. I think the book was also more interesting to me because of its setting in NYC. Honestly, so many people are reading it that I don’t regret joining the party!
Love and Miss Communication, by Elyssa Friedland: I purchased this book in a used bookstore (love them) near my grad school campus this past spring, and I only finally got around to reading it BUT I’M SO GLAD I DID. This light read tells the story of Evie, a social media and internet-addicted lawyer who ends up losing her job due to her excessive time on online. Between getting fired and soon after discovering some disappointing findings about her ex on Facebook, she decides to quit the internet for good (well, at least for the bulk of the book). Meanwhile, Evie is also struggling to get into a new relationship, dealing with an illness in the family, and trying to make a positive impression on her new employer. There are certainly some unexpected (and kind of unnecessary) twists throughout, but overall this book had me laughing as well as cringing–and it’s definitely a good read for anyone who thinks they could never say adios to Instagram. Compared to other books I’ve read about similar “social media diets,” this one takes the cake. It kept me interested for all 360+ pages and had likable characters (for the most part!).
I was absolutely speeding through books last month, so I decided to make a part 2 to my original July post…now let’s just see if I can keep this reading streak going in the fall!
Spinster, by Kate Bolick: I saw this book on the shelf at my local library and had remembered hearing about it at some point. I brought it home and was really enjoying it (this is another book that was made for a former soc major!), when I came across a part where Kate mentioned her small, liberal arts college in Maine. I immediately took to Google and realized that she had graduated from Colby in 1995, and our alumni magazine had done a profile on the book a few years back. Such a small world, and an interesting take on being a single woman in today’s era mixed with factoids about some of the “spinsters” that inspired Kate herself. I have to admit I skimmed through many of the more historical chapters, but that was just because I was so fascinated with Kate’s own life that I preferred to read the more autobiographical pieces.
Meternity, by Meghann Foye: Speaking of Colby authors, the writer of this book is also an alumna of my college! I had the opportunity to meet Meghann a couple of times when I worked in magazines in NYC, and I love her take on the industry (I’ll have to say as a 22-year-old, I was pretty oblivious to some of the dynamics she describes with regard to working mothers!). This book tells the story of Liz, a single, 31-year-old editor who has had enough with her coworkers dashing out of the office to deal with kid-related responsibilities and decides to take matters into her own hands (yes, this means wearing a bump under her outfits each day) to get the “me-time” off she believes she deserves. This book has received a substantial amount of criticism with regard to its subject matter, but I greatly enjoyed reading it (it’s a light, quick read that I can totally see being made into a rom-com). I kept waiting for Liz to get “caught” but the big “reveal” went over more smoothly than I had expected!
After You, by Jojo Moyes: I jumped on the whole Me Before You bandwagon back in January, and I couldn’t wait to pick up the sequel this summer (actually, I did wait a bit and found it on sale for 50 cents at a thrift shop—score!). I had read reviews that said the second book wasn’t as good as the first, but I disagree—I loved hearing the rest of Louisa’s story and laughed along as I read about her new employment journey (working at an airport bar), romantic escapades, and membership in a grief support group. Some of the humor actually reminded me of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series (gotta love those British writers!). This book definitely raised a bunch of stronger emotions for me as well, and on a deeper note I could relate to a lot of Moyes’ (or Louisa’s) observations about grief, which made this a thought-provoking read.
Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date, by Katie Heaney: Wow, ok, this book round-up really has a whole single/girl power/soul-searching theme to it. BUT let’s get to this next one. I had heard about this book when it first came out a couple of years ago and was always curious about it but never got around to picking it up. Plus, the back flap of the book compares Katie to Mindy Kaling and Sloane Crosley (both of whom I find hilarious), so I figured I couldn’t go wrong reading it, and I was right!
20 Something 20 Everything, by Christine Hassler: This book was exactly what I needed to read after being in a bit of a funk. Christine Hassler hit the nail on the head within the first few pages of the book as she listed the “symptoms of a twenty-something crisis” and I nodded along in agreement with quite a few of them (while also realizing, ‘Oh, other people feel this way, too!’). This is definitely a must read for those of you in the same boat! It’s also an easy read to skim…I jumped around and read through a few sections and will make a mental note that the others are there, should I want to flip back in the future!
I love reading and often spend time pouring over the latest releases on Amazon—I am looking forward to reading this, this, and this at some point over the summer. I think it’s fun to own books in hard copy, but the cost can add up, so scouring used book stores or my local library’s dollar sale rack is for sure the way to go (I also love discount websites such as Thriftbooks—seriously, check it out, it has some great deals!). I really need to go to the library more in general and stop buying books, though! ANYWAY. I love Jackie’s book review posts and wanted to share a few favorite, recent reads of my own (and I guarantee more of these posts will be coming your way throughout the summer!):
Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler: When I ordered this book from Amazon (oops…) I was so excited. I spent the month of June working as a hostess at a tavern-like restaurant in Philadelphia, so I couldn’t wait to read a book about the restaurant industry. I was proud of myself for understanding the on-the-job lingo and raced through the first half of the book, but after some point I got kind of bored and wasn’t as enthused as I had been when I picked it up earlier in the week. However, considering that this book has been topping every blogger’s summer reading list, I’m still glad I picked it up.
Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed: While I still have yet to read Wild (I know, I know…it’s in my pile, I promise!), I had read rave reviews of this book by Cheryl Strayed (from when she was an anonymous advice columnist) and finally ordered it at a deep discount. As a former sociology major, I am often drawn to nonfiction books, and this one—which does touch on some heavy subjects—did not disappoint. In answering her readers’ questions, Cheryl draws on her own life experiences to a great extent, and it will be interesting to read Wild equipped with this knowledge about her background.
The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: I saw this book on display in Barnes and Noble for weeks before I discovered it in a used bookstore for only $8…score! I tore through this book in about a day and a half and absolutely loved it. It’s an easy read about an extended family going through some tough stuff (the aftermath of an accident, money woes). There’s a reason that this one is also up there on everyone’s summer book list (oh, and it’s even better when paired with a Cookie Butter Donut, but maybe that’s just my opinion).
The Assistants, by Camille Perri: Having served as an assistant in the NYC media world myself, I was eager to pick up this book, which I finished a couple of weeks ago. While I enjoyed it, I was disappointed that the plot centered solely around one incident in the office that created tons of drama for the main character and her group of friends. I guess I had been hoping for more day-to-day banter instead of focusing on one major indiscretion. I also wasn’t super into the author’s writing style, which likely colored my opinion of the book a bit as well.
MWF Seeking BFF and Jennifer, Gwenyth, and Me, both nonfiction by Rachel Bertsche: I read MWF Seeking BFF this past spring and immediately told all of my friends to go out and read it (I promise this is not a jab at any of my BFFs- I love you all, but most of you live in other cities, so I needed to follow Rachel’s lead!). I thought Rachel’s technique of trying to make a new friend each week was ambitious but also fascinating to hear about—too bad Bumble BFF didn’t exist while she was writing the book, it likely would’ve eased the process a ton, haha. I found myself nodding and laughing along while reading this and may have considered emailing Rachel and asking her to be one of my BFFs…it was that good. I read Jennifer, Gwenyth, and Me a few weeks later, which while also intriguing (again, I’m a former soc major over here!) was shorter and didn’t give me the same “YES I GET YOU LET’S BE BFFS K THANKS” vibe as the first book. In this book, Rachel emulates the lifestyles of some of her fave celebrities, chronicling her findings and challenges. Overall, it’s a unique idea and a fun, quick read.
Stay tuned for another book post in the coming weeks…I’ll be over here trying to make another dent in my huge to-read list!