What I’m Reading Now (3/25/19)

March 25, 2019 It's Monday! What are you reading? 10

I think I’m officially over my Daisy Jones & the Six fiction hangover. So, hooray for that!

And, I cut a major step out of my podcast editing process and I already feel like I can breathe again. My March reading has returned to usual levels (quantity-wise) and I feel like I can live life a bit more. That being said, I’m still planning to go to a bi-weekly podcast schedule for the summer given my family travels a lot on the weekends, but this reduced editing process makes me more confident that I’ll be able to return to a weekly schedule after the summer.

Giveaway

I teamed up with @TBRetc @BeyondtheBookends @perpetualpageturner & @pingel_sisters to give one person a 30 BOOKS…including Daisy Jones and the Six, The Hunting Game, Once Upon a River, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Sadie, and CirceEnter on my Instagram through 3/27!

Podcast

Episode 12, featuring Hannah from @BookNerdNative, where we talk about moving her book collection and shares her three 2019 reading goals!

Episode 13, the Spring 2019 Book Preview with Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books, is coming on Wednesday!

New on the Blog

  • Daisy Jones & the Six Review…the best book I’ve read so far this year!
  • 2019 Rock Your Reading Tracker – I used my “Rock Your Reading Tracker” this year to track all my reading stats in real time and figure out who my best recommendation sources are…and, my reading QUALITY improved 42% from last year! The new and improved 2019 tracker is now available for $14.99…get more details here!

Hosted by The Book Date.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

I finished reading…

The Editor by Steven Rowley

 

The Editorby Steven Rowley (April 2, 2019)
Solid brain candy that’s an intriguing mix of the publishing world and a dysfunctional family novel with some star power thrown in. Mini review to come.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Normal People by Sally Rooney

 

Normal Peopleby Sally Rooney (April 16, 2019)
Y’all, this book is slightly weird (it’s not for everyone), but I’m 100% riveted! I read the first half in a day and could’ve finished the whole thing that same day if I had a big chunk of time to devote to it. It’s reminding me a bit of White Fur by Jardine Libaire (my review) and Tender by Brenda McKeon (my review).
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

 

On the Come Upby Angie Thomas (February 5, 2019)
DNF at 12%
I loved The Hate U Give despite the fact that YA isn’t generally my thing. But, On the Come Up felt too YA for me. The high school lingo made me feel old. I just couldn’t settle in with it.

Upcoming reading plans…

 

Cape Mayby Chip Cheek (April 30, 2019)
This debut novel has gotten next to no press, but Tyler Goodson rated it 4 stars, so I’m giving it a try. A newlywed couple from Georgia honeymoons in a Cape May, New Jersey in the 1950’s and falls in with a group of cosmopolitan socialites.

How was your reading week?

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what I'm reading now
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Podcast Episode 12: Hannah from Book Nerd Native

March 20, 2019 Podcast 0

Book Nerd Native

 

In Episode 12, Hannah from @BookNerdNative talks about moving her book collection and shares her three 2019 reading goals!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Highlights

  • How Hannah purged her physical book collection before moving.
  • How Sarah originally got converted into a strictly e-reader.
  • Why Sarah had to buy books to fill her shelves when she moved.
  • On only buying books you’ve already read and loved.
  • Hannah’s three reading goals for 2019.
  • The rule of thumb for how many pages you need to read per day to read a certain number of books a year.
  • A former Mormon’s (Hannah used to be a part of the Mormon church) thoughts on Educated by Tara Westover.
  • Hannah co-signs one of Ashley Spivey‘s recommendations.

Hannah’s Book Recommendations

Two OLD Books She Loves

Two NEW Books She Loves

One Book She Didn’t Love

One Upcoming Release She’s Excited About

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

About Hannah

Book Nerd NativeInstagram | Blog | Twitter 

Hannah is a Michigander now living in the Land of the Long Leaf Pine, with her husband and daughter, enjoying Southern living to its fullest. She runs the book blog on Instagram called @booknerdnative and enjoys talking books with absolutely everyone. She also loves renting too many library books, anything with peanut butter in it, and of course, is always seeking her new favorite book to read.

Next Week’s Episode

Spring 2019 Book Preview with Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books (airing March 27)

Support the Podcast

  • Share
    If you like the podcast, I’d love for you to share it with your reader friends…in real life and on social media (there’s easy share buttons at the bottom of this post!).
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  • Rate and Review
    Search for “Sarah’s Book Shelves” in Apple Podcasts…or wherever you listen to podcasts!

 

book podcast

 

  • Feedback
    I want this podcast to fit what you’re looking for, so I truly do want your feedback! Please tell me (email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com or DM me on social media) what you like, don’t like, want more of, want less of, etc. I’d also love to hear topics you’d like me to cover and guests you’d like to hear from.

Have you ever had to move your book collection? How’d you do it?

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Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Don’t Skip It Just Because You’re Not a Music Fan

March 19, 2019 Fiction 11

Daisy Jones and the SixFiction – Literary
Released March 5, 2019
368 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Book of the Month (Ballantine Books)

Headline

I almost didn’t read Daisy Jones & the Six because I’m not that interested in music, but I couldn’t put it down and it will absolutely be one of my top books of 2019.

Plot Summary

Daisy Jones & the Six, a hot 1970’s rock n’ roll band, mysteriously broke up after a Chicago concert. This is the story of their rise and fall, told in an oral history format.

Why I Read It

I almost didn’t read it…because music isn’t really my thing. What a mistake that would’ve been! But, so many people I trust (Gilmore Guide to Books, Novel Visits, Annie Jones and Ashley Spivey) loved it that I decided to give it a shot. I also like the oral history format.

Major Themes

Music industry, love, addiction, creativity, group dynamics, life on the road.

What I Loved

  • I almost didn’t read this book because music is not my thing at all. But, Reid made the process of making music and the industry dynamics fascinating. In my opinion, the mark of a brilliant author is one who can make almost any topic exciting to the reader…whether or not the reader is interested in that topic (other examples for me are classical music in The Ensemble, rowing in The Boys in the Boat, and ice hockey in Beartown).
  • The book opens with a segment from an interview with Daisy’s biographer and I don’t think I’ve ever read another snippet that made a character come so alive. I texted a blogger friend right after reading it and said “I’m a goner.”
  • The oral history format made this book. It made the story seem incredibly fast-paced. There’s a quick ricochet between multiple perspectives of the same events that felt like watching a tennis match. And, it clearly illuminated how multiple people can have completely different interpretations of the same events.
  • I thought I knew where this story was headed. There was an easy and obvious reason for the band to break up, but Reid takes the more complicated path, making for a far richer story.
  • Daisy Jones & the Six is not, on the surface, a badass lady book, but that theme kept bubbling up for me in subtle ways. The women in the story (Daisy, Karen, and Camila) all showed immense strength in their own ways and I thought each was her own version of badass lady by the end of the story.
  • There are the rare books that burrow their way into your heart and Daisy Jones & the Six is one of those. The characters are all flawed (some more than others), but incredibly human and nuanced. Reid repeatedly comes up with perfect turns of phrase, and there is an immense rawness to the entire story.
  • I felt the whole range of emotions, which is another mark of a great book for me. I laughed, I felt like my heart was getting ripped out, and I cried.
  • Like many other readers have said, even though I knew it was fiction, Reid made all of it seem so real that I desperately wanted to hear their music, see that iconic album cover for Aurora, watch a video of Daisy and Billy singing together, etc.
  • I’ve only read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest two books (the other one is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo), but they both blew me away even though they couldn’t have been more different. She’s now an auto-buy author for me and I’d like to read some of her earlier work (ex: One True Loves and After I Do).

What I Didn’t Like

  • There was one thing about the ending that I thought was unnecessary and felt like the publisher tacked it on for drama’s sake. It didn’t take anything away from the story, but it didn’t add to it either.

A Defining Quote

Daisy doesn’t value anything that comes easy to her. Money, looks, even her voice. She wanted people to listen to her.

Good for People Who Like…

Oral histories, stories focusing on group dynamics, stories that hit all your emotions, rawness, the music industry (but, not a requirement!)

Other Books You May Like

Two other oral histories (nonfiction):
Live From New York: An Oral History of Saturday Night Live by James A. Miller and Tom Shales
These Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James A. Miller and Tom Shales

Another book about musical group dynamics:
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel (my review)

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What I’m Reading Now (3/18/19)

March 18, 2019 It's Monday! What are you reading? 13

Welcome to my first post-Daisy Jones reading week and the hangover (at least for fiction) is real. I read a great recovery book that was nonfiction…good call going for something totally different. But, now I’m having trouble settling into fiction.

Thanks so much to all of you who completed the 2019 Reader Survey! I’m going through the results now and will be sharing them in a post in the next month or so.

Podcast

Episode 11, featuring Katharine from @ReadWithKat, where we talk about her experience living with cystic fibrosis and her real life book club that’s been going strong for 10 years, came out last week! Of course, it came out on the day of the Instagram/Facebook outage, so give it a listen if you missed it!

Episode 12, featuring Hannah from @BookNerdNative, is coming on Wednesday!

New on the Blog

  • March 2019 Books to Read (and Skip)…I’ve got some of both this month, but I’ve also got what has a great chance of being my #1 book of 2019!
  • 2019 Rock Your Reading Tracker – I used my “Rock Your Reading Tracker” this year to track all my reading stats in real time and figure out who my best recommendation sources are…and, my reading QUALITY improved 42% from last year! The new and improved 2019 tracker is now available for $14.99…get more details here!

Hosted by The Book Date.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

I finished reading…

what I'm reading now

 

I Miss You When I Blinkby Mary Laura Philpott (April 2, 2019)
I loved this one! Very relatable for me and an excellent book to recover from my Daisy Jones hangover (since it was so different). If you like Anna Quindlen’s nonfiction and Kelly Corrigan, keep this one on your radar! Mini review coming.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Columbineby Dave Cullen (March 1, 2009) – AUDIOBOOK
It took me forever to listen to this one (it’s 16 hours), but it was well worth the time. Sue Klebold’s memoir, A Mother’s Reckoning, resurrected my interest in the Columbine shooting and Columbine was an excellent companion listen. Especially fascinating was the detail he shared about the shooters’ histories prior to the shooting, the media’s response and inaccuracies, and a police cover-up. Meticulously researched and an iconic true crime book.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

The Editor by Steven Rowley

 

The Editorby Steven Rowley (April 2, 2019)
I just started this novel about an up and coming author whose debut novel is acquired for publication by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. So far, I really like the writing…smart brain candy. PS – Rowley’s debut novel, Lily and the Octopus, was a big hit. The Editor is Rowley’s sophomore novel.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

what I'm reading now

 

White Elephantby Julie Langsdorf (March 26, 2019)
DNF at 19%
It was fine, but it needed to be more than fine for me to continue. I didn’t care much about what was going to happen. Also, it immediately followed Daisy Jones & the Six, which is a terrible position to be in.

I’m Fine and Neither Are Youby Camille Pagan (April 2, 2019)
DNF at 50%
I loved Pagan’s last two novels (Forever is the Worst Long Time and Woman Last Seen in her Thirties)…and she was on her way to becoming a go-to brain candy author for me. But, her latest book was run-of-the-mill. What I loved her previous books was that she took familiar tropes to unique places, but this one was shaping up to be just the familiar trope…without the unique spin on it. A disappointment for sure.

Upcoming reading plans…

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

 

On the Come Upby Angie Thomas (February 5, 2019)
The author of The Hate U Give‘s sophomore novel just came in from the library and I’ve been hearing good things. Although, I’m nervous because it’s set in the world of hip-hop music, which I’m not interested in at all. Then again, I wasn’t interested in 1970’s rock n’roll either and I loved Daisy Jones & the Six, so I’m going to give it a try (also, I loved The Hate U Give).

How was your reading week?

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March 2019 Books to Read (and Skip)

March 14, 2019 Mini Book Reviews 12

March 2019 Books to Read

 

Here’s what I wrote before finishing Daisy Jones & the Six:

March was a bit of a down month for my new release reading, but I kind of expected that going in. There just weren’t a ton of March releases I was looking forward to. Then, a couple I had hopes for didn’t pan out. I actually finished two March books I ended up not liking, which is rare for me. But, they were quick, easy reads, which makes me less likely to DNF them.

Here’s what I think now:

I think I might have found my #1 book of 2019! It’s going to take something really special to top this!

Hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

Favorite Book of March 2019

Daisy Jones and the SixDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Fiction (Release Date: March 5, 2019)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Book of the Month (Publisher: Ballantine Books)

I’d planned to include Daisy Jones & the Six in this round-up, but once I read it, I had so much to say about it that I decided it needed it’s own full review. So, that’s coming early next week…stay tuned!

 

 

 

Also Read This One

A Woman is No ManA Woman is No Manby Etaf Rum
Fiction (Release Date: March 5, 2019)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Harper)

Plot Summary: A dual timeline story of a Palestinian mother (Isra) and daughter (Deya) growing up in Brooklyn in a household that tried to strictly adhere to traditional Muslim custom (i.e. arranged marriage at a young age, men valued over women, women confined to the home, physical and emotional abuse, etc).

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying A Woman is No Man is a feminist’s worst nightmare…in the sense that women are still treated this way in some cultures even though it’s 2019. I’d heard it was brutal reading before I started it and it was. Women are treated like unpaid servants / slaves by their own families (i.e. husbands, fathers, and brothers) and constantly made to feel ashamed…just for being a woman. They have no agency or choice about what happens in their lives and even the older women in the book perpetuate the cycle by forcing their daughters into marriages similar to their own. I’m shuddering wondering how much of this story is autobiographical for Rum (this NPR interview leads to me believe at least some of it is). But, how brave of her to speak out and try to change the cycle. Her female characters also show immense bravery to attempt to change their futures and it’s this small ray of hope at the end of the book that made all the brutality worth it. In a way, A Woman is No Man ended up being a badass lady book. In addition to being a window into this hidden culture, A Woman is No Man has some suspenseful story hooks that kept me turning the pages…and, I loved that books and reading serve as such a balm for these women amid such oppression. If your book club can stomach the brutality, this would be an excellent choice!

I was born without a voice, one cold, overcast day in Brooklyn, New York. No one ever spoke of my condition. I did not know I was mute until years later, when I’d opened my mouth to ask for what I wanted and realized no one could hear me. Where I come from, voicelessness is the condition of my gender, as normal as the bosoms on a woman’s chest, as necessary as the next generation inside her belly.

Skip These

Before She Knew HimBefore She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Fiction – Mystery / Thriller (Released March 5, 2019)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (William Morrow)

Plot Summary: A woman with a history of mental illness and erratic behavior (Hen) suspects her high school teacher neighbor (Matthew) of murder.

My Thoughts: Y’all know psychological thrillers are risky for me, but I liked Swanson’s previous novel, The Kind Worth Killing. Unfortunately, Before She Knew Him turned out to be exactly the type of psychological thriller I can’t stand…the one with a plot twist and/or ending that ventures into eye-rolling / outlandish territory. The ending to this one struck me as a total gimmick. After reading two of Swanson’s thrillers, I’ve noticed something he does with his “villains”…he gives them a motive for their bad behavior that most rational people would agree with, but that the villain takes to an extreme most rational people never would. He did this in The Kind Worth Killing and again in Before She Knew Him. While I appreciate the thought-provoking element of this approach, I’ve had trouble really buying into the motive in both cases. Yes, I agree that the victims weren’t necessarily good people, but I just couldn’t buy into someone taking “justice” against them to such extreme lengths. And, this calling card isn’t even the outlandish gimmick I was referring to earlier…that’s something else entirely. I guess the good news is I did fly through this novel…mostly to see if he could end it in a surprising, yet believable way. I’d hoped this one would go on my Summer Reading Guide, but it sadly doesn’t cut it.

They had a secret, the two of them, and there is no better way to start a friendship than with a secret.

Tomorrow There Will Be SunTomorrow There Will Be Sun by Dana Reinhardt
Fiction – Brain Candy (Released March 12, 2019)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Pamela Dorman Books)

Plot Summary: Best friends and business partners Peter and Solly and their families vacation in a private villa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to celebrate Peter’s 50th birthday…and things inevitably go wrong.

My Thoughts: This book has been compared to Siracusa, a vacation book which I loved, and The Vacationers, a vacation book which I didn’t, so I was curious to see where it would land. It was definitely more The Vacationers with some Do Not Be Alarmed thrown in. But, I felt like I’d read this book before. There wasn’t much unique about it. It’s your average vacation book where there are simmering issues amongst the vacationers, but without anything truly compelling or writing that stands out. There is a bit of plot involving some local gang politics and I wish the whole book had centered more around that, which would have made it a different book, but I think more unique and intriguing. Unfortunately, I started skimming around the 60% mark.

I didn’t plant the devil grass, neither of us did, but we let it spread untended.

The DNF’s

White ElephantWhite Elephantby Julie Langsdorf (March 26, 2019)
DNF at 19%
It was fine, but it needed to be more than fine for me to continue. I didn’t care much about what was going to happen. Also, it immediately followed Daisy Jones & the Six, which is a terrible position to be in.

 

 

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this month?

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Podcast Episode 11: Katharine from @ReadwithKat (Book Clubs & Living with Cystic Fibrosis)

March 13, 2019 Podcast 2

Read with Kat

 

In Episode 11, Katharine from @ReadWithKat joins me to talk about living with cystic fibrosis and her real-life book club that’s been going strong for 10 years.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Highlights

  • Are we Team Lyla or Team Tyra (Friday Night Lights)?
  • Living with Cystic Fibrosis…and how it impacts Katharine’s reading.
  • An online book club for readers who like to read seasonally (Bookly Club).
  • Katharine’s real life book club, which has been together for 10 years!
  • Why Sarah dropped out of her real life book club.
  • Two things we think might be the secret sauce to keeping a book club thriving (and one of them is totally counterintuitive).
  • Katharine’s experience singing karaoke with author Elizabeth Gilbert.

Katharine’s Book Recommendations

Two OLD Books She Loves

Two NEW Books She Loves

One Book She Didn’t Love

One Upcoming Releases She’s Excited About

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

About Katharine

Katharine Scrivener HeadshotInstagram | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

Katharine lives in Baltimore with her husband and miniature schnauzer. She works in higher education doing communications, and spends the rest of her time hoarding books (and reading as many as she can). She runs the instagram account @readwithkat, and is also 1/4 of @thebooklyclub. Katharine is also a cystic fibrosis patient and advocate, sharing her story of life with CF at local events and online. Her dream is to open up a bookstore.

Next Week’s Episode

Hannah from Book Nerd Native (airing March 20)

Support the Podcast

  • Share
    If you like the podcast, I’d love for you to share it with your reader friends…in real life and on social media (there’s easy share buttons at the bottom of this post!).
  • Subscribe
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  • Rate and Review
    Search for “Sarah’s Book Shelves” in Apple Podcasts…or wherever you listen to podcasts!

 

book podcast

 

  • Feedback
    I want this podcast to fit what you’re looking for, so I truly do want your feedback! Please tell me (email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com or DM me on social media) what you like, don’t like, want more of, want less of, etc. I’d also love to hear topics you’d like me to cover and guests you’d like to hear from.

Are you in a real life book club? Do you ever have trouble keeping it thriving?

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What I’m Reading Now (3/11/19)

March 11, 2019 It's Monday! What are you reading? 27

My reading has been really good overall this year…I’ve finished very few books I didn’t like (although two were this month) and I haven’t even DNF’d all that many books (only 3 so far this year, which is not many for me). But, there haven’t been many books that have truly blown me away either. Last week, I finally had the “blow me away” reading experience I’d been missing. I was so enthralled in a book that I pushed a lot of other stuff aside to read and finished it in two days.

Last week, I shared that, though I love doing the podcast and it’s gotten a great response, maintaining my current pace of running the blog and producing the podcast weekly without extra childcare was probably unsustainable over the long-term. I floated the idea of moving to a bi-weekly podcast schedule for the summer and no one freaked out. So, that’s probably what I’ll do starting in late May. I’ve also just made another change to my editing process (which is the part of the podcast that takes the most time), so we’ll see if that helps as well. Thanks for all your feedback and support!

Podcast

Episode 10 of the Sarah’s Book Shelves Live podcast, featuring Kelly from The Well-Read Runner, where we talk about Marie Kondo’ing your TBR list and your physical book collection, came out last week!

Episode 11, featuring Katharine from @ReadWithKat, is coming on Wednesday!

New on the Blog

  • Why I Start a New TBR List Every Single Year – companion post to podcast Episode 10!
  • If you’re missing Pat Conroy, check out these two books!
  • 2019 Rock Your Reading Tracker – I used my “Rock Your Reading Tracker” this year to track all my reading stats in real time and figure out who my best recommendation sources are…and, my reading QUALITY improved 42% from last year! The new and improved 2019 tracker is now available for $14.99…get more details here!

Hosted by The Book Date.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

I finished reading…

what I'm reading now

 

Before She Knew Himby Peter Swanson (March 5, 2019)
Ugh. I was lukewarm liking this thriller (even though I definitely had some issues with it) up until the end, but the ending completely jumped the shark, which is my major beef with psychological thrillers in general. Mini review coming.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (March 5, 2019)
Y’all, I almost didn’t read this book because music isn’t really my thing. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE!! I read it in 2 days, was utterly mesmerized, and it’s my favorite book of 2019 by far. Full review coming.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

White Elephant

 

White Elephantby Julie Langsdorf (March 26, 2019)
I’m about 10% into this suburban neighborhood drama and it’s fine/average so far. The writing is decent, especially for brain candy, but it’s on coming on the heels of Daisy Jones & the Six, which is a tough act to follow. This book needs to find a purpose for me to continue…I’m going to give it 25% to find that purpose.

Upcoming reading plans…

I Miss You When I Blink

 

I Miss You When I Blinkby Mary Laura Philpott (April 2, 2019)
This memoir/essay collection about women “having it all,” yet not being happy, is getting tons of rave reviews from people I trust (Annie Jones, Tyler Goodson, Ann Patchett, and Ashley Spivey). And, you know how much I love “women who get women” memoirs. So, I have high hopes for this one. I’ve actually already read the first two essays because it was my Kindle book while I was reading Daisy Jones & the Six in hardcover and they’re good!

How was your reading week?

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Why I Start a New TBR List Every Single Year

March 7, 2019 Discussions 26

Why I Start a New TBR list every single year

 

I used to have a spreadsheet of books I wanted to read (i.e. a TBR list) that numbered well into the hundreds. Every time I heard about a book I was interested in reading, I added it to the spreadsheet. Books only came off the spreadsheet when I actually read them (i.e. way more books went on the spreadsheet than ever came off).

When it came time to choose a new book to read, I consulted my spreadsheet. But, I realized I didn’t remember what half the books on there were about or why I’d ever added them in the first place. Plus, I wasn’t using any kind of categorization system, so I literally picked through hundreds of options every time I chose a new book. It was exhausting.

A couple years ago, I tried out a new system…and, realized I’d gradually stopped consulting my massive spreadsheet entirely. And, the best part about my new system? I start a new TBR list every single year!

Why I Start a New TBR List Every Single Year

  • Every year, I start a new TBR list that’s housed in an email draft in my drafts folder (just because it’s the most convenient place for me to access the list from my laptop and my phone).
  • The TBR list has a few different categories that are useful for helping me choose what to read next. More on this below.
  • At the beginning of the year, I consult last year’s TBR list and move any books I didn’t get to, but still really want to read over to the following year’s list. I don’t take this part lightly. In 2019, I moved over less than 10 books from my 2018 TBR list.
  • Since I started doing this, I’ve found that some books I removed from my TBR list have come back around to me. And, that’s the sign of a book that’s worth making time for…when it comes back around to you.

How I Organize My TBR List

Here’s how I organize my TBR list. This format won’t work for everyone (i.e. it probably won’t work for you if you’re not a blogger yourself), but it works for me. And, some variation can work for most people.

By Publication Date 

I divide this portion of the list by month. I keep track of when books are coming out, who recommended them to me, and if I have them in ARC form. Here’s an example…

February

  • Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken – 2/5 pub date (Tyler Goodson loved, Southern Living Best New Books Winter 2019, Liberty on ATB, Bustle 2019 Fiction, EW Anticipated) – ARC/DNF
  • American Pop by Snowden Wright – 2/5 pub date (Southern Living Best New Books Winter 2019) – Coke family novel – ARC/DONE
  • The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer – 2/5 pub date (Georgia Hunter on my podcast, EW Anticipated, Novel Visits, Amazon Best Books of Feb) – ARC/DONE

This works for me because I generally read by publication date for the blog. But, you could organize this section in whatever way supports how you like to read…seasonally, by mood, by genre, etc!

Nonfiction November / Audiobooks

Anytime I hear about a nonfiction book I’m interested in, I add it to this section of my TBR list. My audiobook listening is 100% nonfiction, so I fit a lot of nonfiction in there. I also save some nonfiction to read in hard copy form during Nonfiction November (details here).

So, when I’m looking for an audiobook, this is the only part of my TBR I need to consult, which narrows the choices to a manageable number. Same for Nonfiction November!

Possible Summer Books 

Every May, I put out my annual Summer Reading Guide, so I’m always on the lookout for books that would be a good fit for it.

Anytime I hear about a book I think could be a good fit for summer that isn’t already on my radar (i.e. it isn’t in my “By Publication Date” section), I add it to this list.

Backlist

As you probably know, I read far more new releases than backlist books, but I keep saying I want to read more backlist.

I do focus on backlist reading every December when I’m no longer reading new releases and this is the portion of my list I consult during that time.

Right now, Tell the Wolves I’m Home (recommended by Ashley Spivey when she came on my podcast) and The Age of Miracles (since I loved Karen Thompson Walker’s new book, The Dreamers) top this list.

“Must Try Before the End of the Year” List

This section is my personal favorite! It’s where I put books that I missed when they came out, but I’m hearing so many raves about that I definitely want to at least try before the end of the year.

This is the part of the list I turn to around mid/late November when I’ve stopped reading new releases and ARCs. I also put a lot of books from this list on hold at the library and work them in throughout the year as the holds come in.

How do you organize your TBR list? Would you ever consider starting a new one every year?

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Podcast Episode 10: Kelly from The Well-Read Runner (How to Marie Kondo your TBR List)

March 6, 2019 Podcast 0

TBR list

 

In Episode 10, Kelly from @thewellreadrunner joins me to talk Marie Kondo-ing your physical book collection and your TBR list…and, as always, share her book recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Highlights

  • How Kelly uses reading challenges to prioritize her TBR list.
  • The reading challenge that will help you Marie Kondo your physical book collection.
  • How Sarah organizes her TBR list…including why / how she starts with a new TBR list every year.
  • How Sarah Marie Kondo’s her TBR list (stay tuned for a blog post about this tomorrow!).
  • The right way to pronounce Jodi Picoult’s last name (I’d been pronouncing it wrong for years!).
  • Kelly’s favorite running books.

Kelly’s Book Recommendations

Two OLD Books She Loves

Two NEW Books She Loves

One Book She Didn’t Love

One Upcoming Release She’s Excited About

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

About Kelly

Well Read Runner Blog (no longer active)Instagram | Twitter 

Kelly is a stay-at-home mom to two boys (ages 7 and 5) living in Rochester NY. Before that, she worked in higher education administration.  When she’s not chasing her kids around, she loves assisting at their elementary school as a literacy volunteer (helping kids grades K-4 with reading/writing skills) and being an enthusiastic (but not scary) PTO mom. She’s also an avid early-morning runner/triathlete.

Next Week’s Episode

Katharine from Read With Kat (airing March 13)

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How do you manage your TBR list?

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2 Books to Fill the Pat Conroy-Sized Hole in Your Heart: Our Prince of Scribes and The Lost Conroy

March 5, 2019 Mini Book Reviews 8

pat conroy books

 

If you’re new to this blog, Pat Conroy is my all-time favorite author. If you’ve been here awhile, you know how very much I love his work. So now that I can’t read any new work from him (he died of pancreatic cancer in 2016), I’m reading books about him.

The more I read about him, the more I realize how complex a person he was. He was beloved, but could also be cruel to those closest to him. And, that’s the dichotomy these two books really illuminate. Our Prince of Scribes focuses on the reasons people adore him and The Lost Prince delves into his dark side. Reading them more or less simultaneously was perfect for me because sometimes I needed some Conroy sunshine during the difficult portions of The Lost Prince (there are some parts that Conroy fans will find very hard to read…at least I did).

Two Books to Fill the Pat Conroy-Sized Hole in Your Heart

Our Prince of ScribesOur Prince of Scribes edited by Nicole A. Seitz
Nonfiction – Essays (Released September 15, 2018)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: University of Georgia Press)

Plot Summary: A collection of essays celebrating the life and work of author Pat Conroy…written by fellow writers and people in the publishing industry.

My Thoughts: Pat Conroy was one of those larger than life personalities who owned the room the second he walked into it. He wasn’t flawless by any means, but he was never without an entertaining story to tell (sometimes of questionable truth) and he made people thankful they were in his orbit. He tirelessly mentored and championed other authors and described himself as a “blurb slut,” writing blurbs for gobs of authors just getting their start. And, that’s the general theme of these essays. Most of the essays were written by authors he championed and others who worked with him over the course of his career. They knew him in that capacity…and not nearly as well as his inner circle, one of whom you’ll hear from in the next book in this post. So, this collection is mostly a celebration of his good qualities and avoids his dark side. The essays had a sameness to them, which on the one hand showed me he had a consistent personality, but also leads me to recommend you read this collection in little snippets. My one complaint was I wish there was a short bio for each contributor at the beginning of each essay.

Every good novelist has a massive ego—it’s an essential tool for the job—but Conroy’s ego was contained in a package of sweetness, comedy, and full-Irish savagery that made him irresistible.

Lost PrinceThe Lost Prince: A Search for Pat Conroy by Michael Mewshaw
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released February 26, 2019)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Counterpoint Press)

Plot Summary: Author Michael Mewshaw had a decades-long friendship with Pat Conroy until Conroy asked Mewshaw to do him a terrible favor, after which they didn’t speak for 6 years. Pat asked Michael to write about what happened, so this book is Mewshaw’s way of fulfilling Conroy’s request.

My Thoughts: Y’all know how much I love Pat Conroy (he’s my all-time favorite author), so you can imagine I was a little nervous to read a book that examined some of his flaws. But, this is a riveting story and an excellent compliment to Our Prince of Scribes. While the essays in Scribes are written mostly by people in the literary world, The Lost Prince is written by arguably one of Conroy’s closest friends (who is also an author, but their friendship goes far deeper than that). The Mewshaws lived in Rome with the Conroys (and much of the book takes place in Rome) and their families were best of friends. This story is far more intimate…and nuanced than the stories in Scribes. It shows Conroy at his best and worst…the worst being a side those in the literary world (to which Conroy gave himself entirely) didn’t see much. Mewshaw portrays Conroy as a complicated and difficult man…one that could enthrall every single person in his orbit, but also deeply hurt the people closest to him. The end of the book is riveting and horrifying and sad. It was certainly hard to read some parts (particularly Pat’s emails to his daughter, Susannah), but I’m glad I’m getting a more full picture of Conroy as a man, not just an author. That beings said, I’m very glad I was reading Our Prince of Scribes at the same time to take away some of the pain.

No sparrow ever fell in any dark forest that Pat didn’t volunteer to help. But all too often he failed to notice that the woods were on fire and his own house was in flames.

How do you feel about reading about the lives of your favorite authors?

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