5 Types of Books to Read When You’re Super Busy

November 16, 2017 Book Lists 7

5 Types of Books to Read When You're Super Busy


I recently asked y’all on Facebook what your biggest reading problem is these days. One reader talked about having trouble “finding consistent time to read” and said “if a book doesn’t hook me right away, I have a hard time sticking with it until it gets going.” Man, can I ever relate to this! This has been my overwhelming reading issue all year long.

Whether you’re juggling a million holiday commitments and prep activities, trying to fit in reading wherever you can while caring for young children, working a demanding job, or are just going through life events that take up significant mental space, it can sometimes be hard to focus on reading even though you want to. And, even though escaping into a book might be just what your brain needs to de-stress.

In a post earlier this year, I talked about different ways to keep reading when life gets crazy. What I didn’t cover in that post was selecting the right types of books to read when you’re super busy. If I’ve learned anything from my reading this year, it’s that choosing the types of books your brain and emotions can handle at any given moment is critical to successful reading. Sometimes what works won’t be the serious, award-winning novels and that’s okay.

Here are 5 types of books to read when you’re super busy…

Fiction that Grabs You from the Very First Page

These types of books hook you immediately and keep you frantically turning the pages because you must find out what happens right. this. very. instant. These are the books that you can’t put down and force you to put other things aside because you just have to keep reading.

Recent Examples:

Engaging, Easy to Read Novels

While these books aren’t grippingly frantic like the pure page-turners of the previous category, they are still easy to sink into. They have engaging storylines and the language doesn’t require a lot of concentration (i.e. they “read easy”…which is key for reading through life chaos). These books definitely don’t feel like slogs even though some do deal with serious topics.

Recent Examples:

Essay Collections

Essay collections are totally underrated! Each essay can stand on it’s own, so you can easily pick up and put down the collections without losing your place in the story. These types of books also work great for me on audio, which is a great substitute when you don’t have a lot of time to read.

Recent Examples:

Light and/or Juicy Memoirs

Similar to essay collections, you don’t generally have to keep track of intricate storylines in these light memoirs. Plus, you’re probably getting some juicy gossip or mind-blowing “truth is stranger than fiction”-type stories. These tend to also be audio winners for me!

Recent Examples:

Re-Reads of Old Favorites

Re-reading old favorites can be incredibly comforting. And, you probably remember the general plot if not the details, meaning you don’t have to concentrate quite as hard!

Recent Examples: Honestly, I haven’t re-read a book in a few years. But, prior to that, I re-read one Pat Conroy novel (he’s an old favorite author for me) every year.

Do you ever feel so busy that you can’t concentrate on a book? What are your favorite types of books to read when you’re super busy?

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Nonfiction November 2017: Be the Expert…Books about the Reading and Writing Life

November 14, 2017 Book Lists 18

Nonfiction November 2017


Today’s Nonfiction November (hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Julz at Julz Reads, and me) topic is fiction/nonfiction book pairings:

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

It’s not surprising that some of my very favorite authors (Pat Conroy, Anna Quindlen, Ann Patchett) have books on this list. What bookworm doesn’t want to delve into the reading and writing life of their favorite authors…and snag some great book recommendations as a bonus?! There’s something comforting about reading your favorite author’s thoughts about how reading fits into their lives…and realizing they’re echoing your own.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

books about the reading and writing life

Books about the Reading and Writing Life That I Love

A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy (my review)
A collection of Pat Conroy’s writings on books, reading, writing, and life (including letters addressed to his readers)…and his final book published (posthumously). Plus, you get his unfiltered thoughts on various books and authors (he loved Game of Thrones…not Infinite Jest).

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe (my review)
Schwalbe’s collection of essays featuring individual books and how they impacted his life…ranging from serious classics to dark thrillers to children’s books. I added a couple books discussed here to my TBR!

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
A librarian’s letters to the books in her life…both the ones she loves and the ones she hates. And, tons of recommendation lists. PS – it’s really funny.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (my review)
This memoir/essay collection is about much more than the reading and writing life, but both are covered extensively. Anna Quindlen has a grounded, practical outlook and just gets life. Listening to this on audio felt a bit like a therapy session.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Are you surprised Conroy is popping up again? Here he talks about his reading life and the books and people that shaped it.

The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett
A very slim memoir in which one of my favorite authors counsels aspiring writers that the key to the castle is simply putting in the work. Not such a bad piece of advice for life in general.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (my review)
Like Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, this essay collection covers lots more than just reading and writing. The Getaway Car is included in this collection and you get to hear the story behind Parnassus Books among other goodies.

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami
Yep, this memoir is about running. But, it’s also about writing and the two are inextricably linked for Murakami.

Books about the Reading and Writing Life That Are On My TBR

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I think this is Lamott’s version of Patchett’s The Getaway Car and Quindlen’s Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. I’m hoping to fit it in this month.

What are your favorite books about reading and/or writing?

Get Weekly Email Updates!

What I’m Reading Now (11/13/17)

November 13, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 19

You’re getting 2 weeks worth of updates today since I skipped last Monday to host the Nonfiction November (get all the details here!) Fiction / Nonfiction Pairings Link-Up. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this focus on nonfiction reading that I tend to neglect throughout the year!

I also got to meet Tara from Running N Reading, one of my favorite book (and running) bloggers, in person for the first time! She was visiting my town to run our local Half Marathon, so we grabbed tea/cider and froze while we caught up outdoors. She is just as darling in person as she is online and I was so happy to put a name with a face. PS – if you like my book recommendations, you’ll also love hers and should follow her blog!

#Nonficnov Instagram Challenge

I’ve been participating in the #nonficnov Instagram Challenge at least a couple times a week, spotlighting some of my favorite nonfiction in a number of categories. And, let’s be honest, the nonfiction I happen to have in physical book form! Follow me (at sarahsbookshelves) and the #nonficnov hashtag on Instagram to follow along!

The winning post so far is…

Nonfiction November Instagram Challenge Day 2: Favorite Recent Nonfiction⠀ _⠀ ⠀ Does last year count as recent?! Hope so… Hillbilly Elegy was one of my favorite nonfiction books of last year AND one of my overall favorites of 2016! I read it well before it blew up following the election (and accumulated a ton of backlash), so had a cleaner slate going in. I thoroughly enjoyed it as the straightforward memoir it is. And, who doesn’t love a bada$$, trash-talking grandma?!⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ #bookstagram #bookgram #booktography #amreading #bookworms #instabooks #bookblogger #booklovers #booklover #bibliophile #biblio #bookaddict #bookaddiction #goodreads #nonficnov @kimthedork @doingdewey @catchmybookbreath @harperbooks

A post shared by Sarah’s Book Shelves (@sarahsbookshelves) on

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

I finished reading…

Forty Autumns, After the Eclipse, Dear Fahrenheit 451


Forty Autumns
by Nina Willner (October 4, 2016)
This memoir about Willner’s German family being torn apart by the Berlin Wall is fantastic. It’s highly readable and the story reminded me a bit of We Were the Lucky Ones, just during a different war. Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry (September 26, 2017)
This memoir is a bit true crime and a bit The Glass Castle. It’s a powerful book, but unnecessarily long. Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence (September 26, 2017)
A welcome delightful and funny read following the intensity of Forty Autumns and After the Eclipse! Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen


How Reading Changed My Life
by Anna Quindlen (January 1, 1998)
I’m over halfway through this 98 page rumination on the reading life. I adore Anna Quindlen and generally love her ruminations on anything, but this one isn’t working for me. It feels like she wrote it for some term paper…

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul


My Life with Bob
by Pamela Paul (June 13, 2017)
DNF at 42%. I loved the beginning where she focuses on her reading life. However, she started moving more into straight memoir and talking less about books and reading. I started to lose interest and got annoyed by her increasing lapses into intellectual snobbery.

Upcoming reading plans…

Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan (September 26, 2017)
I’ve been seeing this story about the Biltmore castle in Asheville, NC around a lot lately and rarely turn my nose up at some “behind the scenes of rich people” reading!

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading a long, but fast paced book about Hurricane Katrina.

Two Years Ago: I finished an eye-opening nonfiction about women in Afghanistan.

How was your reading week?

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Nonfiction November 2017: Fiction / Nonfiction Pairings Round-Up

November 10, 2017 Blogger Events 9

Nonfiction November 2017


I was thrilled to host this week’s Nonfiction November topic: fiction/nonfiction book pairings:

It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Pairings like this are one of the best ways for me to find new books to add to my TBR and I hope you all found some great new-to-you books this week!

Your Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairings

Next week, Sophisticated Dorkiness will be hosting Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert:
Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).
Join us and hashtag your social media posts with #nonficnov!

 

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Alcohol & Advil: The Heart’s Invisible Furies and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

November 9, 2017 Mini Book Reviews 23

Alcohol and Advil Literary Style
Welcome to Alcohol & Advil, where I pair a book likely to cause a “reading hangover” (i.e. the alcohol) with a recovery book (i.e. the Advil)! For me, the “alcohol” is usually a book that I either absolutely loved or one that punched me in the gut in an emotionally depleting way…and, in this case, it’s the former.

In the case of today’s pairing, you won’t know how truly great a match it is until you’ve read both books. I’m not going to spoil anything by telling you anymore than that.

The Alcohol

Heart's Invisible Furies by John BoyneThe Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Historical Fiction (Released August 22, 2017)
582 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Hogarth Books)

Plot Summary: After Cyril Avery was born out of wedlock to an Irish country teenager and given up for adoption to a wealthy, Dublin couple, he wrestles with his identity and how he fits into the country of Ireland over the course of his life.

My Thoughts: I’ve been looking for a big, immersive novel for a long time now and The Heart’s Invisible Furies is the first one that’s really hit me since A Little Life (my review). It was exactly what I’d been looking for and is hands-down one of my favorite books of 2017! It spans Cyril’s entire life in 7 year segments and, along with Cyril’s story, tells the story of Ireland growing from an intolerant country run by an overreaching Catholic Church in the 1940’s to the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage by popular vote in 2015. It’s heartfelt and emotional, yet unexpectedly funny (Cyril’s adoptive parents are so ridiculously over-the-top that they’re hilarious). It’s highly literary, yet reads like juicy gossip at times. And, it’s filled with the kind of pointed social commentary that confirms John Boyne is an astute observer of life.

But here’s the thing, and I think everyone secretly believes this if they’d just let themselves admit it: the world would be a much healthier place if we allowed each other to do exactly what we wanted, when we wanted, with who we wanted, and didn’t lay down puritanical rules for how to conduct our sex lives.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel that has heart and will stick with you long after the final page. And, don’t be afraid of the length…this one is not a slog at all. I could have read it for hours at a time and, while it’s not a page turner, I was still on the edge of my seat dying to know what would happen to these people next. If you loved A Prayer for Owen Meany and/or A Little Life (minus all the heart-wrenching violence), grab this one immediately!

The Advil

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid
Historical Fiction (Released June 13, 2017)
391 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Atria Books)

Plot Summary: Legendary film actress Evelyn Hugo recruits young journalist, Monique, to write her life story, including the stories of her seven marriages.

My Thoughts: One of my favorite literary finds is a book that’s light and easy to read (I call them Brain Candy), but that’s also extremely well-done and has substantial depth. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the best in this class I’ve read in a long time! Evelyn is an Elizabeth Taylor-type character who did whatever it took to further her career…and she finally wants the whole truth to come out.

I’m not saying the gossip columnists printed what they knew to be a lie. I’m simply saying they were all too happy to believe the lie I was selling them. And of course, that’s the easiest lie to tell, one you know the other person desperately wants to be true.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo goes behind the curtain about how the Hollywood machine really works and exposes how much of what the general public sees is orchestrated for appearances. There’s an Old Hollywood vibe, yet also an undercurrent of feminism. You may not like Evelyn (she’s completely unapologetic about all the ruthless moves she made during her career), but you kind of have to admire her guts, and I did feel sorry for her by the end. It’s not often that a Brain Candy book can make me cry, but this one did. It’s a book I’ll be recommending to tons of people and is going on my Best of the Brain Candy list.

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Nonfiction November 2017: Fiction Nonfiction Book Pairings Link-Up

November 6, 2017 Blogger Events 37

Nonfiction November 2017


Today’s Nonfiction November (hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Julz at Julz Reads, and me) topic is fiction/nonfiction book pairings:

It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Fiction / Nonfiction Book Pairings is my favorite topic of Nonfiction November and I keep a running list throughout the year of all my ideas for pairings. I hope y’all have just as much fun with it!

Link up your posts below and check out the plans for the rest of the month at here! I’ll be posting a round-up of everyone’s posts on Friday.

Fiction Nonfiction Book Pairings

The Shooter’s Mother’s Perspective of a Mass Shooting

Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold’s mother (Sue) shares her struggle following the shooting and Dylan’s suicide in her poignant memoir, A Mother’s Reckoning.

Jodi Picoult’s novel, Nineteen Minutes, centers around a mass school shooting in a small, New Hampshire town. Chapters are told from various characters’ perspectives, including the mother of the shooter’s. 

On Caring for a Terminally Ill Parent

Dan Marshall’s memoir, Home is Burning (my review), chronicles his journey caring for his ALS-stricken father in hilariously inappropriate detail and with heart-wrenching emotion. 

In Anna Quindlen’s One True Thing (my review), an up-and-coming New York journalist returns home to care for her cancer-stricken mother and comes to understand her much better in the process.

A Family’s Struggle to Survive Massive Wartime Oppression

Forty Autumns tells the story of the author’s East German family’s experience living behind the Iron Curtain…and their heart-breaking separation from their daughter, Hanna, who escaped.

Georgia Hunter’s novel, We Were the Lucky Ones (author interview), is inspired by the true story of her Polish Jewish family, who was split apart during World War II. PS – We Were the Lucky Ones was nominated for a 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Debuts – if you read and loved this book, vote here now!

Beneath the Surface of Seemingly Perfect Teenagers

What Made Maddy Run is the heart-breaking story of a seemingly perfect (if you looked at her Instagram account) teenager who commits suicide during her freshman year on the Penn State track team. This is a must-read for parents of young athletes. And, the book Maddy had with her when she died was…

Reconstructing Amelia (my review) is the fictional story of an over-achieving teenage girl who apparently jumps to her death from her school after getting caught cheating. 

The Intensity of Youth Sports

Friday Night Lights profiles the incredible intensity of high school football in Texas. Plus, it inspired my all-time favorite TV show of the same name!

Beartown (my review) is Fredrick Backman’s fictional story of elite youth ice hockey in Sweden…and the fallout of all that intensity. 

Incidentally, there is another nonfiction book that I’m dying to pair with Beartown, but telling you what it is would spoil one of Beartown‘s central plot elements. Those of you that have read Beartown can probably guess the mystery nonfiction book…

Inside the Lonely Psyche of a Pro Tennis Player

Andre Agassi’s memoir, Open, chronicles his lonely childhood playing tennis under the tutelage of his overbearing father and his continued loneliness on the pro tour.

The main character of Trophy Son (my review), Douglas Brunt’s fictional story about a young tennis star, seems suspiciously similar to Agassi, down to the Greek father.

What are some of your favorite Nonfiction / Fiction pairings?

Get Weekly Email Updates!

October 2017 Monthly Round-Up

November 2, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 16

October 2017 Monthly Round-Up

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

October Reading / Life

Choose the best Book of the Month Club selection for you every time!

…by using this easy template to find your personal, go-to Book of the Month Club judge!

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

Best Book of the Month

No contest…

The Heart’s Invisible Furiesby John Boyne (August 22, 2017)
Fiction, 582 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

PS – last year’s Best Books of October were Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (my review) and The Mothers by Brit Bennett (my review), both of which were among my Top 3 Books of 2016

Best Selling Book(s) of the Month (via my affiliate links)

It’s a three-way tie between…
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (my review)

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott (my review)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (my review)

November Release I’m Excited About

The Senator’s Children by Nickolas Montemarano (November 7)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in October
Book of the Month Club October 2017 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?
6 Book Titles I Love…and 5 I Hate
Backlist Beauties: The Best Backlist Books I’ve Read in 2017 So Far

Overall Posts
Book Club Recommendations
Best Books of 2017 So Far
Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion (#WTFthatending)

October Instagram Post (follow me @sarahsbookshelves)

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

  • Rikki and Michaela at The Ardent Biblio put together two super helpful posts for book bloggers trying to figure out Instagram (me!) this month: Taking Pictures of Books and Welcome to #Bookstagram / Decoding the Community. I’ll tell you that I already feel more confident with my book photography (although I have a long way to go), which you’ll see more of this month.
  • I added a bunch of books from Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s list of Fall Nonfiction to my TBR (The Power of Moments, How to Think, The Last Castle, and Dear Fahrenheit 451).
  • Susie at Novel Visits perfectly summed up my Fall reading with her post called The Booklover’s Curse.
  • In non-bookish news, I loved Carrie Gillespie‘s post about skipping wedding traditions. My husband and I skipped a number of them (most of the ones in Carrie’s post) and I wish I’d skipped even more (cutting the cake…awkward)!
  • Well, it wasn’t even Halloween before I saw my first Best Books of 2017 List. Thanks for jumping the gun, Publisher’s Weekly! Also, can’t say I loved this list.

How was your reading month?

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Book of the Month Club November 2017 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

November 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 16

Book of the Month Club November 2017 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.


Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Book Should You Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections that will hopefully help you choose your pick, and tell you which book(s) I’m going to choose. AND, I provide you with the most up to date version of my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges with free, downloadable template (below).

Another month where I’m not super excited about the selections. We have two famous actors writing fiction, which always makes me nervous. Call me cynical, but I wonder about the behind-the-scenes arrangements to get those two books included in this month’s selections. Regardless, you’ll hopefully be able to find a selection that’s right for your taste…or skip this month if not.

Choose the best Book of the Month Club selection for you every time!

If you missed it last month, check out my fun new tool to help you pick the best Book of the Month Club selection for your taste: my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges and free, downloadable template (below) to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

I’ve updated the template since last month to make it even better and added in the most recent judge’s selections, so download the new version even if you grabbed it last month!

…by using this easy template to find your personal, go-to Book of the Month Club judge!

Book of the Month Club November 2017 Selections

Bonfire by Krysten RitterBonfire by Krysten Ritter (Release Date: November 7, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.89 on 381 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

My Thoughts:
Bonfire is a mystery/thriller and has been blurbed by some big names in that genre (Ruth Ware, Blake Crouch, and Mary Kubica). Although, I imagine it’s not hard to get big names to blurb your book when you’re a famous actress. The story sounds like Erin Brockovich crossed with your standard fast-paced thriller. General themes I heard from regular readers on Goodreads are that the writing is great, the story is a total mindf*ck, and that the main character is dislikable (take note if this tends to bother you). Kirkus’s review was decently positive, though not starred. Publisher’s Weekly did give it a starred review. I probably won’t choose this one because of my dicey relationship with thrillers and, when it comes to BOTM thrillers, I’m more of a Judge Sarah Weinman girl than a Judge Liberty girl (see Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges for details).

Future Home of the Living God by Louise ErdrichFuture Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (Release Date: November 14, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.9 on 97 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Tavi Gevinson (Editor in Chief of Rookie Magazine)

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

My Thoughts:
Future Home of the Living God is feminist, dystopian fiction in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and, from what I understand, is somewhat of a departure from Erdrich’s previous work (which focused on her Native American heritage). Erdrich is usually a fairly political writer and this book sounds like it will continue that trend. Michelle at That’s What She Read (a blogger I trust) is currently reading it and said, “it’s definitely different, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it.” General themes from Goodreads reviews include that it’s grim, has gorgeous writing, has great characters, and poses interesting ideas, but some aren’t satisfied with the ending (lots of unanswered questions) and mentioned an unfinished quality to her world-building. I didn’t love Erdrich’s National Book Award Winner, The Round House (my review), so I wouldn’t choose this one for myself.

Rules of Magic by Alice HoffmanThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (Release Date: October 10, 2017)
369 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.25 on 1,952 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Mae Whitman (Actress – Amber on Parenthood)

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

My Thoughts:
The Rules of Magic is the prequel to Hoffman’s 1995 novel, Practical Magic (later made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman), but I hear it can absolutely stand on its own. I haven’t read any Alice Hoffman, but I know she’s beloved by many. I’m generally not big on magical realism and there is some in this book (although I hear it’s not heavy-handed), so I haven’t jumped on it yet. However, I hear it’s ultimately the story of a family, so I’m considering changing my mind. The Rules of Magic got great reviews from two of the bloggers I trust most (Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books and Susie at Novel Visits) and Goodreads readers (they’re raving about Hoffman’s storytelling, the book’s magical quality, the writing, and the straight-up great story about a family). Kirkus gave it a positive (though not starred) review while Publisher’s Weekly gave it the star, saying “the spellbinding story, focusing on the strength of family bonds through joy and sorrow, will appeal to a broad range of readers.”

Uncommon Type by Tom HanksUncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (Release Date: October 17, 2017)
405 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.52 on 341 ratings
Selected By: Maris Kreizman (Book of the Month Club Editorial Director)

Seventeen short stories, each somehow involving a typewriter, which Tom Hanks collects.

My Thoughts:
The second fiction by an actor/ress in this month’s selections…hmm. I’m generally skeptical of actors writing fiction, because I figure it’s not hard for them to get a publishing contract (their names will sell books regardless of the book’s quality). But, I’m hearing people are pleasantly surprised by Hanks’s writing abilities. Goodreads readers said this collection was warm, engaging, had an everyman vibe, but was also unremarkable. Eva at Paperback Princess said Hanks was a good storyteller and managed to do a lot in a small space. Kathy at Bermuda Onion thought the collection was uneven (often a risk with short story collections), but could tell Hanks is a capable writer. Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly both gave it a positive (though not starred) reviews. I’ve had decent luck with Kreizman’s past picks (The Girls and Dark Matter), but she’s not one of my go-to BOTM judges

Artemis by Andy WeirArtemis by Andy Weir (Release Date: November 14, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.88 on 1,057 ratings
Selected By: No judge was listed. This is odd.

[…] Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

My Thoughts:
Artemis is Weir’s sophomore novel following his smash hit debut, The Martian. It’s a fun, adventure story and I hear it’s pretty different from The Martian. However, I tried Artemis last week and only made it through 5% before giving up. The dialogue and jokey banter was not endearing like it was in The Martian; it was just flat out annoying. I don’t think I could stand reading a whole 384 pages of it. Goodreads readers commended Weir on his excellent world-building, but said there were too many corny jokes and Jazz was like a female version of Mark Watney (which readers generally weren’t happy about). Kirkus pretty much skewered Artemis, while Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, saying “the independent, wisecracking lead could easily sustain a series.” There’s some consistency for ya…

What Book of the Month Club November 2017 selection(s) will I choose?

I wasn’t super high on this month’s selections, but I’m going to choose The Rules of Magic since the reviews are outstanding and I hear the magical realism isn’t too heavy-handed.

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Monday, November 6th.

This Month’s Special Deals

In addition to the five November selections, Book of the Month Club is offering two extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

  • The Martian (Andy Weir’s smash hit debut novel)
  • And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie’s classic mystery…some say the best mystery ever written)

NEW MEMBER DEAL: Anyone who purchases a 1-month BOTM subscription will get 1 month free! That’s two months for the price of one––two brand new hardcover books for only $14.99!

HOLIDAY OFFER: 
Buy a Book of the Month gift and get a free book for yourself. (NEW GIFT PRICING: 3 Months for $44.99, 6 months for $79.99, 12 months for $149.99)

FREEBIE DEAL: new members who use this code can get Bonfire, Artemis, or The Rules of Magic free when they join!

How to Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month Club, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month Club’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month Club membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always


Get Weekly Email Updates!

What I’m Reading Now (10/30/17)

October 30, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 12

Nonfiction November officially starts today! Get all the details here! I got a bit of a headstart on my Nonfiction November reading last week, which is a welcome change of pace from all the fiction I’ve been ingesting this Fall.

Housekeeping item regarding Amazon Smile and purchasing through Amazon affiliate links

A reader raised a great question impacting Amazon Smile (where Amazon donates a % of your purchase value to your favorite charity) users: when a Smile user purchases something through my Amazon affiliate links, do I still receive my commission for her purchases? The short answer is NO, unless I create a special affiliate link just for Amazon Smile users. But, I have a work-around.

It doesn’t make sense to create two Amazon Affiliate links for every item I link to, but did you know that if you click one of my affiliate links and end up buying something different than the item I linked to, I still get the commission? So, I will include one Amazon Smile affiliate link in the disclosure section of every post (see below for example). Using that link (rather than the regular affiliate links throughout the post) to make purchases will ensure Smile users donate to their charity and that commission on their purchases gets to me (all at no additional cost to them).

Let me say this one more time to make sure we’re clear: my general Amazon Smile link will take you to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but you can search for whatever you actually want to buy and I still get the commission on your purchase. So, don’t be alarmed when the Smile link doesn’t take you directly to the item you want to purchase!

It bestills my heart that one of my readers cares enough about making sure I’m getting the appropriate commissions from her purchases to email me with this issue. Thank you, Becky! And, please feel free to reach out to me with any additional questions.

#Buildsarahsbookshelves Library Update

I’m putting together a very selective library for my new (but small) built-in bookshelves and am sharing each book I acquire on Instagram (follow me at sarahsbookshelves)! And, I’m trying to acquire all these new books at rock bottom prices.

Here’s my hodgepodge pile…where I try to blend blue, green, and rainbow into something that actually goes together! Someone with a better design eye will have to tell me if I succeeded…

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

I finished reading…

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid (June 13, 2017)
Perfect follow-up to The Heart’s Invisible Furies! It’s definitely in my top echelon of brain candy books. Mini review to come.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul


My Life with Bob
by Pamela Paul (June 13, 2017)
I’m about 40% through this memoir by the editor of the New York Times Book Review. I loved the beginning where she focuses on her reading life. However, she’s now moving more into straight memoir and talking less about books and reading. I’m starting to lose interest and getting annoyed by her occasional lapses into intellectual snobbery. We’ll see how much farther I continue…

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Artemis by Andy Weir


Artemis
 by Andy Weir (November 14, 2017)
I loved The Martian. I was psyched Weir had a new book coming out. Alas…I made it about 5%. The dialogue and jokey banter was not endearing like it was in The Martian…just flat out annoying. I don’t think I could stand reading a whole 384 pages of it.

Upcoming reading plans…

Forty Autumns by Nina Millner


Forty Autumns
by Nina Willner (October 4, 2016)
I’ve already kind of started this memoir about Willner’s German family being torn apart by the Berlin Wall and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be great.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading a couple books others loved, but I didn’t.

Two Years Ago: I was reading a raunchily hilarious AND heart-breaking memoir.

How was your reading week?

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Nonfiction November 2017: My Year of Nonfiction So Far

October 29, 2017 Blogger Events 25

Nonfiction November 2017

 

Welcome to Nonfiction November 2017! I’m thrilled to be co-hosting again this year along with Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Julz at Julz Reads. Nonfiction November is my favorite reading event of the year and I always welcome the change of pace from reading lots of new fiction releases all year long…and never more so than this year! So, here’s my year of nonfiction so far…

Hop over to Julz Reads to link up your introductory post!

My Year of Nonfiction

So far this year, I’ve read 35 Nonfiction books (37% of my total books read), 27 of which were audiobooks. Audiobooks seem to have almost single-handedly (well, 77%) saved my nonfiction reading this year!

Most of my nonfiction reading this year has been memoirs or essays with some investigative journalism, sports books, and life improvement thrown in.

Favorite Nonfiction of 2017 So Far

Stranger in the Woods, Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake, Born a Crime

It’s a tie between…

Most Recommended Nonfiction Book of 2017

It’s a tie between…

This year, I haven’t read enough…

Narrative Nonfiction, which is my favorite type of nonfiction! 

And, the reason I haven’t read much of it this year is that narrative nonfiction doesn’t work quite as well for me on audio as other types of lighter nonfiction. And, so much of my nonfiction reading so far this year has been on audio.

This year, I’m hoping to…

  • Reading more nonfiction in book form (rather than audio)
  • Read more narrative nonfiction
  • Get a change of pace from reading mostly new fiction releases this year
  • Discover new-to-me blogs
  • Start making my Nonfiction TBR for 2018!

What are your favorite Nonfiction books so far this year?

Get Weekly Email Updates!