This book was a Christmas present and I have to say it is my favorite book I’ve read this year. While it started out slow, I’m not exactly sure why I thought it was slow because there was a home invasion but I wasn’t really feeling it. But then I got to Lo’s time on the boat and wow I could not put it down!
Maybe it’s my unhealthy obsession with the Titanic and tragedies at sea (a story for another time) but I was hook line and sinker for this book. I would describe this book as a psycho-thriller, I was on edge the whole time and just as I thought I figured it out, there was a plot twist to hide the truth yet again.
I will say I had some serious Shutter Island vibes going on here. But I was completely wrong, there’s so much going on here and that’s the least of Lo’s worries.
If you’re looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat that isn’t scary (I’m not good with horror movies) this is it!
Welcome to What I’m Reading Valentine’s Day edition! You might be thinking “The book was called Autumn but it’s February” and well get to that!
Over break I went into Boston and while I was on Newbury Street I stopped by Trident Books. It’s right next to Pure Barre and I don’t know how I never stopped there before!
They have this cute bookshelf at the front of the store called Blind Date with a Book! Ta-da! So I’m writing today to tell you all about my blind date. How this works is that all of the books on this shelf are covered in paper bags and have pictures drawn on them so you have no idea what’s underneath.
The shelf was filled with so many books and I was so torn on what to pick until I saw this:
I took the commuter rail in to the city and on the way home I finished the book I was reading at the time and so I was left with a decision: open the book now and risk tearing the paper or wait until I could show my mom (she’s also a huge fan of Trident Books). Still having 30 minutes left on the train I opened the book. Very. Carefully.
The cover was absolutely stunning. I fell in love with the book almost immediately.
So now onto the real deal…
Autumn by Ali Smith is the first in a series of 4 seasonal novels. Summer has not been released yet which is fitting as it seems summer is years away at this point.
At first glance, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Smith’s writing can be overwhelming until you get used to it. She alternates between the story and another narrative that took me awhile to pick up but I’m so glad I did.
If you like linear plots, this is one you should put aside (unless you want to challenge yourself and expand your bookshelf of course). Smith switches between past, present, and everything in between. This book covered everything from intergenerational friendships, a pop-artist, feminism, and Brexit.
The wise people of Goodreads have put my feelings into words and I will share that with you know: I’m not exactly sure what I’ve read. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed what I read, I’m just not exactly sure I picked up on all of the references she included. I think Smith is a brilliant writer and I will definitely be picking up the other two, and eventually a third, but I don’t think there’s anyway I could have possibly picked up all of the things Smith addressed.
While I was able to understand the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Gluck, and I fell in love with it, the Pauline Body part was just too much for me. If there had been less Body I think I would have enjoyed it more but it tied together Elisabeth’s childhood to finding her thesis. It’s just that it kept going on and on and on.
That being said, I am very excited to pick up the next few books in her series. Something I find extremely interesting about this series is that it’s called a “series quartet” in that they’re stand-alone books that relate to each other as seasons do.
One of the last books I read in 2018 was Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes. I was looking for the third book in the Me Before You series when I went to the library but I stumbled upon this instead.
I’ll start by talking about my love of Paris for One. Moyes did it again, this was both an empowering book about finding yourself and falling in love all at once.
This was one of those books I wished was a million times longer, even more so because it’s a novella and not a full novel. At the same time though, the story was so well done and as a firm believer in quality over quantity I’m content saying this left me wanting more. Maybe we can compromise on a sequel?
Nell was such a lovable main character and made me want to fly solo. While I’ve never been to Paris, I took five years of French in junior high/high school and it felt familiar going to all of the places I had learned so much about. In ultimate Parisian style, Nell finds herself on the back of a moped to to take in all the city has to offer and you feel like you’re right there with her.
Nell reminded me of another lovable heroine I read recently. The way the people in Nell’s life talk about her paralleled the way Eleanor Oliphant‘s coworkers talked about her.
My favorite scenes happened along the Seine with the bateaux mouches that glide along the river. I think when my time to travel to the City of Lights I’ll be finding a locally owned boat for my tour 😉
The short stories however, weren’t as special to me. I felt like there really wasn’t enough to them that they stood out to me. My favorite short story was called The Christmas List. This story followed a woman in search of the perfect Christmas gift but has the most unexpected ending.
I think Moyes is such an excellent romance writer because she uses strong female leads and throws in a little humor here and there. Another thing Moyes incorporates is the use of the classic plot twist, and it’s one that isn’t what you expected and comes when you least expect it.
This was an exciting read for me because it was my for my first month in a book club! Not only was this the first book we read, I picked it! We pick two books, one fiction and one nonfiction, and surprisingly, no one wanted to read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. So, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman it is!
I had seen this book floating around #bookstagram for a while now and I definitely was not disappointed when this was our book of the month. I looked it up and I thought it sounded extremely interesting: it’s the story of Eleanor Oliphant who can be described as the exact opposite of a social butterfly. She and the IT guy from her office end up saving a man’s life, and the story only gets more intriguing from there. The rest of the book follows Eleanor as she fan girls over a local musician, navigates her weekly chats with Mummy, and deviates from her weekly routine.
While I did start to predict some of what was in store for Eleanor, Honeyman really knows how to keep readers on their toes. There was not one, but two huge plot twists I did not see coming!
For the first 50 pages I was not as thrilled with the book as I had hoped to be. At first I found Eleanor extremely annoying but slowly and surely I fell in love with her. As I mentioned earlier, Eleanor struggles with social skills, and you don’t learn everything about her at once. It takes the entire novel to learn about Eleanor’s backstory which made it feel all the more real to me. Eleanor doesn’t open up to anyone and it felt like as you kept reading and investing your time in her you earned her trust.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone! I fell in love with Eleanor Oliphant and she introduced me to someone else to put on my reading list: A Man Called Ove. I heard he and Eleanor have similar quirky personalities and I cannot wait to pick that one up.
I had The Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Pie Society in my To Be Read pile for quite some time now and I wish I had picked it up sooner!
Historical fiction is my favorite genre and one of my favorite time periods to read about is is WWII. You can see there were pretty high expectations to live up to and this book knocked it out of the park! I fell in love with each of the characters and I can say that now Guernsey is on my travel bucket list.
Just to give you a little background information: Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands. It is not part of the U.K., although they are a British Crown dependency. Guernsey was occupied by the German army from 1940 to 1945. The Germans landed there and thought they would sweep through the U.K. only to realize it would not be that simple. The army continued to inhabit Guernsey until the end of the war.
This novel by Shaffer and Barrows follows the life of a writer, Juliet, who published a series of short stories about life during WWII. She is asked to continue writing her Izzy Bickerstaff books but Juliet wants to venture out and create something new. A resident of Guernsey stumbles upon Juliet’s name in a book and suddenly she is pulled into the life of a literary society in the midst of the German occupation.
One of my favorite things about this book was that it takes the form of a series of letters. It’s a narrative you don’t see often and it was a nice change from the usual.
Another thing that I loved about this book was all of the characters. Falling in love with Juliet and all of the residents of Guernsey was so easy and I could have kept reading about them forever.
It does have a movie adaptation on Netflix but I haven’t dared to watch it, the book was that good! If you’ve watched the movie, let me know if you think I should give it a try!
Let me know what you think of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and be sure to leave any book recommendations in the comments!
I discovered The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle from @between2covers_ on Instagram. I’ve discovered so many bookstagrams recently and I’ve made a bad habit out of adding these snaps to my saved list… it’s only bad because my reading list had at least quadrupled.
I’ll admit what drew me to this book was Audrey Hepburn on the cover but I was reeled in after learning more about it. The Dinner List is about Sabrina who gets to live out the age old icebreaker question of having 5 people, living or dead, with her for dinner.
The main character, Sabrina, chose four people she knew and Audrey Hepburn to join her for dinner in an old school assignment. Little did she know, that school assignment would come to life on her birthday years later. The book alternates between the present, the dinner party, and the past, her life surrounding her boyfriend Tobias. I really enjoyed the premise of the book and I loved that the chapters alternated between “reality” and Sabrina’s past because you got to understand the way her mind worked better. But, about halfway through the book I was over it. I was left feeling like Sabrina’s friend Jessica and I was ready to kick Tobias out of the party myself. To me it felt like Sabrina was so infatuated with the idea of him rather than in love with him.
I have to say, although I was over it halfway through, I would have to recommend this to anyone looking for something to read because isn’t that what a book is meant to do? To make you feel something? Serle did such a great job creating unique and frustratingly-wonderful characters that I was moved and truly felt like I was the seventh person at this birthday dinner.
I was so immersed in this book, if I hadn’t read it in the middle of my semester I would have finished it in a day. It may be practically winter but this would make the perfect beach read!
I almost didn’t pick up The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne. I went in to the library to get Monday Mornings for my class but this caught my eye when I was walking to the desk to check out. They had a whole display on the importance of having a library card and naturally I was drawn to it. My mom used to think I would be a librarian when I grew up, I am one step closer to that because I am working on creating a Little Free Library on campus but that’s a story for another time.
So I saw the cover and was intrigued and this book certainly did not disappoint. It combined so many things I was interested in into one book and I loved everything about it.
Josh artfully strings together his struggle with his faith, Tourette’s, and how exercise helped him to regain control of his life. Before reading this book I never really had learned anything about Tourette’s. I knew that it often caused people to have tics, but that was pretty much the extent of it. I had never thought about the social and psychological implications Tourette’s had on a person’s life.
My personal favorite part of this book was the end. While having to write a 3-5 minute talk on what implicit bias was for a school presentation, Hanagarne was describing the variety of people who came into the library and he summed up implicit bias without even saying the term,
” ‘That Arab _____ over there is trying to steal someone’s wallet, but I grabbed it from him!’ The “Arab” was a refugee from Ethiopia who was there to attend a job-search class with the International Rescue Committee. He was done using the computer and had picked up his own wallet, which he had set on the desk while he worked.”
There are a ton of lessons to be learned from reading and reading this book can teach you a lot. Hanagarne stressed throughout the book the importance of asking questions and this book will answer questions you didn’t even realize you had.
I was assigned to read Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta for my PT Professionalism class and I absolutely loved it. It’s follows seven doctors through their Monday morning meetings, called Morbidity & Mortality, or more affectionately known as M&Ms. The purpose of M&Ms is that from every mistake a lesson can be learned, and what better way to teach that lesson than by having the guilty party on trial in front of their peers.
I felt like this was a book version of Grey’s Anatomy. While there’s less romances in the book you still feel like you’re in the middle of all of the drama. This book has everything from dating in the workplace to that intern you just really want to see success (still crying over O’Malley).
While I found the whole book interesting, I flew through the last 30ish pages. Gutpa throws plot twist over plot twist in the final scenes and the book simply wouldn’t have been the same without them. That’s what really reminded me of Grey’s, it’s as if Shonda had read the original book and told him, “oh no you definitely need to add a major life event to every character the reader could have gotten attached to.”
As I mentioned earlier, this was a book I read for class so I wanted to share a valuable lesson I had learned from it. While an intern was frantically trying to write down the lesson a doctor said, “Don’t worry about writing this stuff down. Just immerse yourself in the situation and you will never forget.” I know I often fall into the habit of writing every word my teachers are saying but there is some truth to this. Experience often teaches you much more than you could ever learn from a book.
I found out about the book Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler from @stylishlyshelby on Instagram! I always “save” insta posts about books and so I have a constant list of things to read.
I was very intrigued when I heard that it was a memoir about a college professor living with Stage IV cancer, Tuesdays with Morrie and The Last Lecture anyone? This book also talks about Mennonite Christianity and the Prosperity Gospel which I found very interesting.
While I enjoyed the story Bowler told, I did not enjoy the actual telling of it as much. She told stories out of order and would go on and on about the Prosperity Gospel when I really wanted to know more about her. Being Roman Catholic and never really hearing about the Prosperity Gospel and Mennonites I also found that learning about that area of Christianity was interesting but I didn’t pick up this book to learn about it. I wanted to hear how the Prosperity Gospel affected Bowler and her diagnosis.
The one take home message for me was about how to treat people with a terminal diagnosis. And the fine line between helpful and a nuisance. As a physical therapy student I found that aspect very interesting.
While I probably will not read this book again I found it to be a quick and interesting read.
Happy Banned Books Week! This week I wanted to give you a rundown of my favorite “most challenged” books! Each of these books appears on the list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books. If you wanted to learn a little bit more about each book open up the PDF version of this post and I have linked the GoodReads Page to each cover art option.
I feel like I have been turning into a bookstagram lately but I promise there is a style post coming your way this weekend! I am still working on a post of my Disney trip which will also be up by Columbus Day weekend!
Here are my honorable mentions for other banned books I have read: