Category: It’s Monday! What are you reading?

What I’m Reading Now (12/11/17)

December 11, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 15

I experienced my first Southern snow in a long time this past weekend and it was only a few inches, but dang, it did some damage! It was super wet and heavy and we lost some good sized tree limbs. Our neighbor had a tree pretty much split in half.

I’ve also been working on some fun, new things for 2018…mostly tools and strategies to help you (and me!) pick better books! After my run with hyped books this year, my reading life is screaming at me to figure out a better way. I’m working on some actual tools to help you do this and figuring out how I’ll generally work this theme into Sarah’s Book Shelves next year.

If you’re looking for gifts for the book lovers in your life, I posted my Best Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers 2017 guide on Black Friday! I’ve got you covered with book recommendations, the gift for book lovers that keeps on giving, and bookish gifts that aren’t books. Best of all, you can get all this stuff without leaving your couch!

Hosted by The Book Date.

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

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The Ardent Biblio’s Literary Lifestyle Day 8: Favorite⠀ _⠀ ⠀ Did you expect to see any author other than Pat Conroy in a post of mine titled “favorite”?!⠀ _⠀ ⠀ THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE: a great book (one of my all-time favorites) by a great author (also one of my all-time favorites) given to me by a great friend. I’m constantly pushing Pat Conroy on my blog readers and Lords is my very favorite of his books (so, go read it if you haven’t already!). Thanks, @annestokesbowman, for stocking my shelves!⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ #theardentbiblioreads @theardentbiblio #bookstagram #bookgram #bookworms #instabooks #bookblogger #booklovers #booklover #bibliophile #biblio #bookaddict #bookaddiction #buildsarahsbookshelves #patconroy #lordsofdiscipline

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I finished reading…

Rules of Magic, Daring Greatly

The Rules of Magic
by Alice Hoffman (October 10, 2017)
I am not a reader who normally likes anything related to magic, paranormal, or fantasy, but The Rules of Magic was an exception. The magic is not hokey at all and makes what is ultimately a story about love and family more fun and unique. It’s also got some mystery, tragedy, a family feud, and a bit of history about the Salem witch trials and New York City. It’s an unconventional kind of historical fiction, which is the only kind of historical fiction that appeals to me these days. 
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (September 11, 2012)
I’ve heard so many raves about this life improvement book (I hate the term self-help) about confronting your vulnerabilities. People say it’s life-changing. That’s a lot to live up to and I think there was just too much hype going into this one. Her ideas made sense, but I definitely didn’t feel any life-changing “aha” moments. Also, I listened to it on audio and the narrator drove me nuts.

I’m currently reading…

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J Yates


Grist Mill Road
 by Christopher J. Yates (January 9, 2018)
My first 2018 release! And, I was thrilled that this would be my first because I adored his debut novel, Black Chalk, and have recommended it to everyone under the sun. I’m about 25% through and it’s dark and awesome so far. The opening will open your eyes for sure. 

Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

The Nix by Nathan Hill


The Nix
 by Nathan Hill (August 30, 2016)
After reading the prologue, I thought I’d love this book. And, I did really like Hill’s writing style (other than his excessively long tangents). But, the story really meandered and the thing is just so dang long. A 700+ page book has to really wow me if I’m going to devote the time to it and, while I liked it alright, it wasn’t enough to keep me going until the end. DNF at 40%.

Upcoming reading plans…

For the rest of the year, I’ll be alternating between backlist books and 2018 new releases…unless library holds throw a wrench in my plans, which I’m sure they will despite my efforts to proactively manage them (via suspensions). So, possibly…

Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides


The Virgin Suicides
 by Jeffrey Eudenides (April, 1993)
Believe it or not, I’ve never read this modern classic (though I have read Middlesex and The Marriage Plot). Annie Spence couldn’t stop raving about it in her memoir about books, Dear Fahrenheit 451, so I figured I should see what all the fuss is about. Plus, it’s short.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading Ann Patchett’s essay collection, which is now a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick!

Two Years Ago: I was reading the Beatriz Williams that turned me off of her books. 

How was your reading week?

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What I’m Reading Now (12/4/17)

December 4, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 25

It’s officially Christmas season at our house! This is our first Christmas in our new house, so we’re figuring out our decorating strategy. My husband is something of a Clark Griswald about the outside of our house…we currently have lights on our bushes, Christmas balls on the trees, and a laser light show on the house (that last one could be a bit much, but we’re going with it). And, we’re contemplating a 7 foot tall Snowman for the front yard. Our neighbors are probably so pissed.

If you’re looking for gifts for the book lovers in your life, I posted my Best Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers 2017 guide on Black Friday! I’ve got you covered with book recommendations, the gift for book lovers that keeps on giving, and bookish gifts that aren’t books. Best of all, you can get all this stuff without leaving your couch!

Finally, December Book of the Month Club selections are due on Wednesday. As always, I have commentary on all the books (one of which I’ve already read) and my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club Judges to help you choose the right book for your reading taste!

Hosted by The Book Date.

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

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Nonfiction November Instagram Challenge Day 25: Family⠀ _⠀ ⠀ Family is one of many topics Anna Quindlen writes about in her memoir. She also covers marriage, work, female friendships, motherhood, etc. I first fell in love with Quindlen through her fiction (Every Last One is outstanding), but quickly realized she keenly observes life, particularly for women, in her nonfiction. She is grounded, realistic, and just gets it. Listening to this audiobook felt a bit like seeing a fantastic therapist. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a featured book on my 2017 Best Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers list (LINK IN PROFILE) and would make a perfect gift for the fellow women in your life. _⠀ ⠀ What books are you thinking about giving to the fellow women in your life this holiday season? ⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ #bookstagram #bookgram #booktography #amreading #bookworms #instabooks #bookblogger #booklovers #booklover #bibliophile #biblio #bookaddict #bookaddiction #goodreads #nonficnov @kimthedork @doingdewey @catchmybookbreath @randomhouse

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I finished reading…

Everybody's Son by Thrity Umbigar


Everybody’s Son
by Thrifty Umrigar (June 6, 2017)
I’ve heard so many great things about this author. But, Everybody’s Son was completely forgettable to me. It was fine, meh, all those kind of words. I don’t really have much to say about it. But, I still would like to try something else by this author.

I’m currently reading…

Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman


The Rules of Magic
by Alice Hoffman (October 10, 2017)
I’d been so nervous about picking this historical fiction up because magic is most definitely not my thing. But, I’m so glad Catherine at Gilmore Guide prodded me because I’m loving it! The magic isn’t hokey and just makes this story of family and love more unique.

Upcoming reading plans…

For the rest of the year, I’ll be alternating between backlist books and 2018 new releases…unless library holds throw a wrench in my plans, which I’m sure they will despite my efforts to proactively manage them (via suspensions).

The Nix by Nathan Hill


The Nix
 by Nathan Hill (August 30, 2016)
I wasn’t even tempted to read this novel when it came out last year. It screamed long, dense, and heavy to me. But, since then, I saw Amy at Read a Latte‘s rave review where she had the same fears I did (which turned out to be unfounded) and compared it to Donna Tartt. I peeked at the first few pages and think I’m going to love it.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I’d just finished reading my friend, Georgia Hunter’s incredible novel, We Were the Lucky Ones

Two Years Ago: I’d just read one of my favorite books of 2015!

How was your reading week?

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What I’m Reading Now (11/27/17)

November 27, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 22

Nonfiction November (get all the details here!) is still going on, but I’ve gotten burned out a bit on nonfiction. I snuck in a novel last week, then a nonfiction I’d been waiting for forever came in from the library, so I knocked that out. With that done, I think I’m officially retiring from this year’s Nonfiction November. I’ll be sharing mini reviews for all the nonfiction I read this month plus the new books I added to my TBR list tomorrow!

I posted my Best Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers 2017 guide on Black Friday! I’ve got you covered with book recommendations, a special Cyber Monday deal for Book of the Month Club (the gift for book lovers that keeps on giving!), and bookish gifts. Best of all, you can get all this stuff without leaving your couch!

A Way to Help Victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma & Maria AND Knock Out Some Holiday Shopping

Online retailer zulily (they have adorable children’s clothes at great prices, among other things!) is teaming up with Penguin Random House to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria through their “first-ever interactive book fair, running now through December 10.”

“Six sales events will feature a curated selection of children’s books, and each book purchased will trigger a donation from Penguin Random House to First Book (a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and other essentials to children in need).

Shop the Book Fair for holiday children’s classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Christmas Story, The Velveteen Rabbit, Goodnight Baby Jesus, Madelline’s Christmas, and current favorites (at least in my house) Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and Thomas the Train…and much more! Or, visit zulily’s social media channels (FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest) and comment on or like their posts to trigger additional Penguin Random House donations to First Book.

Sponsored by zulily.com

Hosted by The Book Date.

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

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I finished reading…

Unraveling Oliver, Strangers in their Own Land


Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent (August 22, 2017)

After reading that eye-opening first line, I thought I’d be getting a dark thriller. It’s dark, but it’s not a thriller. It’s a story told from different perspectives, a character study that peels back many layers, and all the pieces came together like a symphony. You’ll be seeing this one pop up on a future recommendation list!
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild (August 16, 2016)
Different than I expected. Didn’t realize so much of it was about environmental pollution in Louisiana. Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Everybody's Son by Thrity Umbigar


Everybody’s Son
by Thrifty Umrigar (June 6, 2017)
This pick from my Must Try Before the End of 2017 TBR list was available for immediate download at the library…plus, I was totally drawn in by the Prologue, in which a young boy is abandoned in a sweltering apartment with no air conditioning for a couple days. I’ve only just started it, but I have a good feeling about this one.

Upcoming reading plans…

If no library holds come in, I’ll be reading something from my Must Try Before the End of 2017 TBR list. Likely The Rules of Magic.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I’d just finished my inaugural Anna Quindlen, who has now become a favorite author!

Two Years Ago: I took the week off!

How was your reading week?

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What I’m Reading Now (11/20/17)

November 20, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 21

Nonfiction November (get all the details here!) is still going strong (last week, I shared my favorite Books on Reading and Writing) and I’ve still got some posts to come! But, I’m starting to burn out of actually reading nonfiction. I’ve switched to reading fiction for a bit, though I’m still listening to nonfiction on audio.

I’m also hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever, so will be stressing out about that all week! Hosting parties is not my forte. But, my family’s Thanksgiving gathering is always laid-back and informal, so I’m banking on that to cover up my inevitable hosting flubs!

Finally, my Best Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers 2017 guide is coming on Black Friday! I don’t know about you, but I never go to stores on Black Friday. Can’t think of anything worse. With my holiday gift guide, you’ll be able to knock out your shopping for all your book lover friends and family without leaving your couch! Something I’m always thankful for…

Hosted by The Book Date.

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

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️It’s a 5 star Alcohol & Advil pairing…possibly the first 100% 5 star one I’ve ever done! The Heart’s Invisible Furies will slay every emotion you have…you’ll laugh and cry and everything in between. And, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will fix you right up afterwards…it reads easy, but the story has lots of depth. You’ll probably start out hating Evelyn, but don’t be sure you’ll end up there. Also – you have no idea how truly perfect a pairing this is until you’ve read both books. LINK TO MY REVIEWS IN BIO.⠀ _⠀ ⠀ How do you recover from a book that absolutely slays you?⠀ _⠀ ⠀ Alcohol & Advil is my feature 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.⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ @johnboyne @hogarthbooks @tjenkinsreid @atriabooks @bookofthemonth #bookstagram #amreading #bookworm #instabooks #bookblogger #booklover #booklovers #booksofinstagram #bookgram #bookblogger #bookaddict #bookaddiction #fiction #bookofthemonth #bookofthemonthclub #BOTM #heartsinvisiblefuries #sevenhusbandsofevelynhugo

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I finished reading…

How Reading Changed My Life, Black Dahlia Red Rose
How Reading Changed My Life
by Anna Quindlen (January 1, 1998)
It pains me to say this, but this is the first Anna Quindlen I’ve ever not liked. I hope it will be the last. Mini review to come.

Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Marie Eatwell (October 10, 2017)
This investigation into the still unsolved Black Dahlia murder in 1940’s L.A. hit my true crime spot. It’s not perfect, but a pretty fascinating and maddening read for true crime or L.A. history buffs. Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent


Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent (August 22, 2017)
My library hold for this dark and demented story came in at just the right time. It’s exactly the change of pace I needed after lots of nonfiction. I’m 25% through and still not quite sure where it’s is headed, but I can’t wait to find out!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Senator's Children by Nicholas Montemarano


The Senator’s Children
by Nicholas Montemarano (November 7, 2017)
DNF at 49%. This story about the two daughters of a U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate came recommended by one of my go-to book gurus and it was fine, but I’m never in the mood for “just fine” during the last 2 months of the year. It’s a time when I’m looking for a latecomer to sneak into my Best Books of 2017 list. So, on to the next…

Upcoming reading plans…

I’m not sure. I have a bunch of library holds that could come in any day. I also have a list of 2017 books to at least try before the end of the year, which I’ll be sharing on Tuesday.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was hosting last year’s Nonfiction November Book Pairings and didn’t do a Monday update.

Two Years Ago: I’d just read one of my favorite Nonfiction November reads of 2015.

How was your reading week?

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What I’m Reading Now (11/13/17)

November 13, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 20

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

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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?

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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?

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What I’m Reading Now (10/23/17)

October 23, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 26

Y’all, I’ve never hauled a$$ through a book faster in my life! I realized I had 3 days to finish The Heart’s Invisible Furies before it was due back to the library and I was only halfway through it’s 582 pages. I put aside everything else during my free time to get this done…and I did it!

I also started running again for the first time since my injury in June. I’m taking baby steps and doing run/walk intervals, but it feels good and hard to get back out there. I’d sort of forgotten how running isn’t that fun when you’re out of running shape.

Don’t forget Nonfiction November is starting a week from today! Get all the details here and get your Nonfiction TBR lists ready!

And, in case you missed my most recent Favorite First Lines Instagram post, it’s one of my very favorites I’ve read lately! Follow me at @sarahsbookshelves for more of my favorite first lines.

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

Ranger Games, Reading People, Heart's Invisible Furies


Ranger Games
by Ben Blum (September 12, 2017)
This is one crazy story (a couple U.S. Army Rangers rob a bank). A bit overly long (not not even close to the point where I’m dying for it to be over), but entertaining and has some interesting insights to chew on. And, keep this one in your back pocket as a great “Dad” gift for the holidays!
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Reading Peopleby Anne Bogel (September 19, 2017)
If you’re interested in personality types such as the Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, StrengthsFinder, etc and how to your personality types to your own life, Reading People is an approachable place to start. It doesn’t go deep into any of these types, but it’s a good overview that can help you decide where you might like to go deep. I listened to it on audio, but recommend either coupling that with the paperback or e-book or just reading it so you can spend more time determining which personality types apply to you.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Heart’s Invisible Furiesby John Boyne (August 22, 2017)
THIS BOOK! It’s the big, immersive novel I’ve been looking for all year and it’s absolutely fantastic! In the top echelon of 2017 books for sure. It’s heartfelt, unexpectedly funny, and powerful. It’s one of those rare novels that will stick with you for a very long time. Review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid (June 13, 2017)
Taylor Jenkins Reid is not an author I normally turn to, but I’ve been hearing such raves about Evelyn Hugo. Plus, I suspect it’s exactly the recovery book I need following The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

Upcoming reading plans…

Switching gears to Nonfiction November!

My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul


My Life with Bob
by Pamela Paul (June 13, 2017)
The editor of the New York Times Book Review talks about “Bob,” her book of books where she recorded every book she read for years. She talks about how the books she read shaped her own life.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading the books in my last installment of Alcohol & Advil!

Two Years Ago: I was reading a book I wanted to throw across the room by the end…and one I’m still angry I wasted so much time on.

How was your reading week?

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What I’m Reading Now (10/16/17)

October 16, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 30

Oh man…my library holds are rolling in (don’t you love how they all invariably come in at the same time?!) and I’m hoping I can get through them before Nonfiction November starts!

On that note, join us for a month celebrating the often pushed-to-the-backburner genre of Nonfiction! There will be themed link-ups, a book swap, an Instagram challenge, and lots of nonfiction reading…learn more here.

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

Sing Unburied Sing, Daring to Drive
Sing, Unburied, Sing
 by Jesmyn Ward (September 5, 2017)

I felt the same about this National Book Award Finalist as I did about A Gentleman in Moscow and Exit West. Full review to come later this week.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif (June 13, 2017)
This is one eye-opening, heart-breaking, and enraging read. And al-Sharif is one brave woman. She started the campaign for women to drive in Saudi Arabia and this book is the story of her life as well as a stark portrayal of the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia. Perfect for anyone who loved The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (my review) and excellent on audio.

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I’m currently reading…

Ranger Games by Ben Blum


Ranger Games
by Ben Blum (September 12, 2017)
This is one crazy story (a couple U.S. Army Rangers rob a bank). A bit overly long (not not even close to the point where I’m dying for it to be over), but entertaining and has some interesting insights to chew on. I’m almost finished with it. And, keep this one in your back pocket as a great “Dad” gift for the holidays!
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Upcoming reading plans…

Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne


The Heart’s Invisible Furies
by John Boyne (August 22, 2017)
This hefty novel has been getting raves from bloggers I trust and my library hold finally came in! I’m trying, but failing, to keep my expectations at a reasonable level. Who am I kidding…I actually think this is my last hope for a clear Best Book of 2017.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I finished reading one of my favorites of 2016…and was about to start another!

Two Years Ago: I was in a bit of a slump…kind of like right now!

How was your reading week?

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What I’m Reading Now (10/9/17)

October 9, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 20

I’m seeing so many people on social media talk about how they’re thrilled Fall weather is finally coming…well, don’t count me among them! I’m loving this Indian Summer and will gladly wear shorts a bit longer. My reading is looking up a bit…I think. I’m on the precipice and it could go either way.

Last week, I started a new Instagram series. I love the first lines of books and agree with authors Doug Brunt and Pat Conroy (and I’m sure many others) who say the good ones tell you almost everything you need to know about the book. So, I’ll be sharing favorite first lines from my reading on Instagram. Follow me at sarahsbookshelves!

Hosted by The Book Date.

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I finished reading…

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit


Fear
 by Dirk Kurbjuweit (October 3, 2017)

Whew – first book I’ve confidently liked since August! It’s got a Herman Koch vibe (more Dear Mr. M than The Dinner). Mini review to come.
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I’m currently reading…

Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward


Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward (September 5, 2017)

I’m almost finished this National Book Award Finalist and I can totally see why it’s racking up critical accolades. The writing is raw and vivid and the story is a sad portrait of hard lives. Yet…I keep zoning out. This is becoming a pattern for me with certain types of books.

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I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak


Seven Days of Us
 by Francesca Hornak (October 17, 2017)
DNF at 27%. This one was so-so and an easy read. It would’ve been easy to keep going, but I didn’t want to waste my time on yet another easy, but forgettable book. On another note, it’s the 3rd book that got lots of buzz at this year’s Book Expo America that has bombed for me. Hmm…maybe a recommendation source to ignore in the future?

Upcoming reading plans…

Ranger Games by Ben Blum


Ranger Games
by Ben Blum (September 12, 2017)
I was planning to save this true story about a seemingly normal Army Ranger who up and robs a bank for Nonfiction November, but I desperately need a change of pace. So, I’m starting early.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading one of my favorites of 2016…I was also on a reading hot streak!

Two Years Ago: I read one of my go-to recovery books!

How was your reading week?

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What I’m Reading Now (10/2/17)

October 2, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 16

Fall books are still proving tough for me, but I’ve now found at least a few I actually enjoyed! Usually, at least one of my Top 3 books of the year comes from the Fall release crop, but I’m thinking that may not happen this year. On a better note, I started watching USA’s The Sinner and am totally hooked! It’s dark, twisty, demented…and perfect!

I posted less than usual on the blog last week, but it was because I was working hard on my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Club JUDGES, where I compiled every BOTM judge’s selection track record into an easy-to-use guide (and Excel template) that will help you find the judges that are most compatible with your reading taste! October selections are out…check out my commentary on all the books and the judges guide (including free template) to help you choose the perfect book for your taste!

#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.

Round 1 of my shelves is complete and, last week, I shared the “blue books” shelf! This just includes my “A List” books…I’ll be adding more books and some decorative things for Round 2.

Hosted by The Book Date.

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I finished reading…

Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall


The Best Kind of People
 by Zoe Whittall (September 19, 2017)
A pretty good read, though not perfect. I think this one would make a great book club selection. Mini review to come.
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I’m currently reading…

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit


Fear
 by Dirk Kurbjuweit (October 3, 2017)

Finally, something is working for me! Herman Koch (author of one of my favorites, The Dinner) recommended this German thriller and it surprisingly does remind me of the tone of Koch’s books. It’s rare that an author’s blurb actually pans out like this! I’m almost halfway through and, so far, it’s more story of a family rather than thriller, but there is definitely a good amount of suspense.

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I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Manhattan Beach, Lie to Me

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (October 3, 2017)
Despite all the awards and the fact that this book is an October Book of the Month Club selection, I thought it was slow and introduced too many characters too quickly, causing me to glaze over. Some trusted blogger friends who read farther than I did also said it was a slog. DNF at 9%.

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison (September 5, 2017)
Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy said this psychological thriller was “best in class” for “domestic noir,” so I gave it a shot despite my general hesitancy about this genre. But, through the first 9%, I thought it was pretty standard psych thriller fare and put it down.

Upcoming reading plans…

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak


Seven Days of Us
 by Francesca Hornak (October 17, 2017)
This debut novel features a family cooped up together over the holidays and is supposed to be “warm, wry, and sharply observed.” Kind of reminds me of This Is Where I Leave You or the movie Christmas Vacation. Those are the fantastic examples…I’ve also found that a lot of books like this fall flat. Hopefully, this will be one of the winners!

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was having a letdown following two 5 star books in a row.

Two Years Ago: I read one of my top 3 books of 2015!

How was your reading week?

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