Tag: Book Lists

12 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2018

December 17, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 15

new-to-me authors

 

I love discovering a new-to-me author who has an extensive backlist to dig into! Though I’m late to the party on these authors, I’ve already fit in a second book by 4 of them (Maggie O’Farrell, Camille Pagan, Jo Piazza, and Tayari Jones)!

There are more lighter books and thrillers on this list than I normally read, so I’m thrilled to find some new authors that work for me in those genres.

This list does NOT include debut authors…since I already honored them in my Best Debuts of 2018 list.

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!).

12 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2018

Elliot Ackerman (Waiting for EdenMy Review)
Waiting for Eden was my #1 book of 2018. I loved his spare, but powerful writing style and his 2017 novel, Dark at the Crossing, is calling my name.

Alafair Burke (The Wife, My Review)
Y’all know I’ve been frustrated by thrillers with outlandish plot twists and I was thrilled to find that The Wife was a compelling, straight-up thriller with no gimmicks. And, she has a new book (The Better Sister) coming out in April 2019!

Katherine Center (How to Walk AwayMy Review)
I didn’t think I was going to like How to Walk Away because it’s completely out of my wheelhouse, but it was a nice surprise! And, just like Alafair Burke, Center has a new book (Things You Save in a Fire) coming out in August 2019!

Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and LifeMy Review)
Can y’all believe I’m just now getting to Anne Lamott?! I thought she’d be serious since she writes with a bit of a religious lens, but she’s super relatable and funny! I’ve got the audio of her memoir about her son’s first year of life (Operating Instructions) on pre-order from Libro.fm.

Laura Lippman (SunburnMy Review)
I’m always excited to find a new thriller author I like since I’m so picky about them, but I loved the noir, “who can you trust?” vibe of Sunburn. And, she’s got an extensive backlist for me to dig into.

Rebecca Makkai (The Great BelieversMy Review
I know Makkai is kind of a critical darling, especially for her short stories, but I’d never read her before. You can bet I’ll read her again, though…since The Great Believers was one of my Best Books of 2018!

Maggie O’Farrell (I Am, I Am, I Am)
Like with Tayari Jones, I made sure to fit in a second Maggie O’Farrell book (This Must Be the Place) just recently…and loved it! And, I still have Instructions for a Heatwave on my TBR list.

Camille Pagan (Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties)
2018 was a good year for finding excellent “smart Brain Candy” authors and Camille Pagan is one of those. Thanks to Ashley Spivey for putting her on my radar and I fit in one of her backlist novels (Forever is the Worst Long Time) this year as well.

Jo Piazza (Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, My Review)
Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books has been telling me to read Piazza’s Fitness Junkie ever since it came out. I haven’t gotten to that one yet, but did love Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win and am currently listening to her memoir about her first year of marriage, How to Be Married.

Tayari Jones (An American MarriageMy Review)
Just like Oprah, I loved Jones’ runaway hit An American Marriage. I fit in one of her backlist titles, Silver Sparrow, just recently and I think I loved it just as much as An American Marriage!

Iain Reid (FoeMy Review)
I missed Reid’s debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, but Foe had a compelling sense of creepiness and “what is going on?”-ness. I also just noticed Reid has written two memoirs.

Jean Thompson (A Cloud in the Shape of a GirlMy Review)
Thompson was nominated for the National Book Award for The Year We Left Home, but I was late to the party. Her latest novel snuck up on me, despite it’s bleakness, which isn’t for everyone.

What new-to-you authors did you read this year?

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Best Books of 2018

December 13, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 20

Best Books of 2018

 

Last year, I had no trouble picking an obvious #1 book of the year (The Heart’s Invisible Furies)…because:

This year, I had more trouble picking my #1 book. And, not because it was significantly less good than The Heart’s Invisible Furies, but more because my overall 2018 reading was SO much better than last year (I attribute this to tracking my best and worst recommendation sources using my Rock Your Reading Tracker)! There was just more competition for the top spot. I actually considered over half of my top 10 as candidates for my #1 book of the year.

The reason I picked Waiting for Eden is that it’s the book that affected me the most. I even re-read/re-skimmed it for an upcoming guest podcast discussion (more on that later) and it affected me just as much the second  time around. It’s not a book for everyone (you have to be okay with getting metaphorically punched in the stomach multiple times), but if you you’re comfortable with the gut-punching, then definitely give it a try.

This year, I’m not only sharing my own favorite books, but I’m also sharing the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group members’ favorites! You can join the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group (where I share my unfiltered thoughts, sneak peeks of blog posts and members’ trade book recommendations amongst each other) by supporting the blog at the $3/month level on Patreon (more details here).

Finally, I’ve brought back the high school yearbook-style “Superlatives” from previous years (2017201620152014)!

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!).

Best Books of 2018

My #1 Book of 2018

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman (my review)
Most Emotionally Gut-Wrenching

Best First Chapter
Biggest Punch in a Tiny Package
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The Rest of My Favorites

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (review)
Most Memorable Villain
Best Non-Sequel Follow-Up Book (to The Heart’s Invisible Furies, my favorite book of last year)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (review)
Most Readable “Issue” Book

Best New-To-Me Author
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
Premise I Didn’t Expect to Work, But Totally Did
Best Bookend Essays (Opening and Closing)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan (review)
Best New Addition to my “Women Who Get Women” Club

Book I Most Related To
Most Recommended (tie)
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The Ensembleby Aja Gabel
Most Gorgeously Written Debut

Best Ensemble Cast
The Book I Almost Didn’t Read
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The Female Persuasionby Meg Wolitzer (review)
Best Character-Driven Novel

Most Deserving of its Hype
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The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (my review)
Best Book If You Want to Read A Little Life, But Are Avoiding It Because of the Relentless Abuse

Best “Issue” Book
Book With the Most Heart
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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (review)
Best Debut

Best Southern Novel
Best Coming of Age Story
Most Recommended (tie)

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You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld (review)
Best Short Story Collection

Most Perfect Collection for New Short Story Readers
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The Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group’s Best Books of 2018

Not surprisingly, many of my Facebook Group’s favorites of they year lined up with mine! And, a number of the books that almost made my list did make m Facebook Group’s list! We’re all sharing recommendations in the Facebook Group, so you’d expect to see a lot of overlap.

Get access to the Sarah’s Book Shelves Facebook Group by supporting the blog for $3/month on Patreon (more details here)!

Top Books (2 votes each)

  • Educated by Tara Westover (my review)
    I loved this one too…it just didn’t make my top 10!
  • Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
    I sampled this one, but ended up not reading it.
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya (my review)
    I really liked this one, though it’s a hard read. Just didn’t make my top 10.

Others Mentioned

More Best Books of 2018

Eight 2017 Books That Deserved the Hype…and Five That Didn’t
Best Debuts of 2018
Most Underrated Gems of 2018

What were your favorite books of 2018?

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Most Underrated Gems of 2018

December 11, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 29

Underrated Gems of 2018

 

My Best Books of 2018 list is coming on Thursday, but in the meantime, I wanted to give some love to books I really enjoyed, but that didn’t get much attention from regular readers and bloggers.

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

Most Underrated Gems of 2018

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson (my review)
I loved how Thompson wrote about women’s roles in marriage and in the home in this book…and particularly how she talked about the differences in viewpoints between generations. Though she’s been nominated for a National Book Award in the past, this novel didn’t get much attention. But, a few other bloggers I trust did really like it (but not many even read it!). 
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All the Castles Burned by Michael Nye (my review)
I actually can’t think of a single other blogger I follow who read this book. But, it’s a campus novel about a toxic male friendship with some basketball thrown in. Easy reading, but dark. Right up my alley…I included it in my 2018 Summer Reading Guide.

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Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza (my review)
This brain candy novel was one of my favorite summer books! It’s easy reading, but smart and contains astute observations on women in politics. I feel like Piazza got a lot more attention for her previous book, Fitness Junkie, but this one is not to be missed!

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Foe by Iain Reid (my review)
Reid’s sophomore novel is sort of Sci-Fi, but not quite (maybe Sci-Fi Lite?)…but, it’s also a rumination on marriage, which I love. It was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in the Horror category (huh?!), but it finished in the bottom third of the voting, which tells me not many people read it. But, more should because it had me on the edge of my seat in a creepy, quiet way.

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Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead (my review)
I think I did see this one on one Best Books of 2018 list, but it was fairly divisive among readers I know. Some didn’t like the vignette format, some didn’t like the ending, and some didn’t like Laura’s voice (or that we didn’t hear much from Emma). But, it totally worked for me!

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The Distance Home by Paula Saunders (my review)
You’d think this book would’ve gotten more attention since Paula Saunders is George Saunders’ wife at least. But, no. The writing was gorgeous, but I only know of two other bloggers who even read it.

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The Wildlands by Abby Geni (my review)
I saw this genre mash-up around #bookstagram a little bit when it was published, but not nearly as much as I would have expected! It’s a totally unique book and doesn’t really fit into one genre…but that’s what I love about it!

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Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard (my review)
This novel had the feel of a scaled down A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. I included it on my 2018 Summer Reading Guide and Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy did too…other than that, I really didn’t see it around anywhere.

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Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman (my review)
I’m pretty sure I know why this book isn’t getting widespread attention. It’s hard, emotionally gut-punching…and those types of books aren’t for everyone. But, it affected me more than any other book I read this year. It’s outstanding in a very small number of pages. I’m actually re-reading parts of it right now for a book club discussion and it’s hitting me just as hard the second time around.

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Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagan (my thoughts)
Pagan is like a lighter, more sarcastic version of Anna Quindlen. And this book is an easy and fun, but not silly read with small threads of darkness running underneath. I thought more people would’ve appreciated her pointed talk about marriage, divorce, and aging for women.

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What are your favorite underrated gems of 2018?

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Best Debuts of 2018

December 6, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 14

Best Debuts of 2018

 

I’ve always felt strongly about reading debut novels…I love to support these authors and I’ve traditionally had great luck with the debut novels I’ve read.

Last year, two out of eight of my Best Debuts of 2017 also made my overall Best Books of 2017 list. 

I haven’t completely finalized my Best Books of 2018 list, but one of these debuts will for sure make it and a couple others are on the bubble. 

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

I made a grave mistake with this post…

Where the Crawdads Sing

 

Y’all, I can’t believe I did what I’m about to tell you I did. I have no idea how this happened or what came over me, but I omitted one of my MOST favorite debuts of the year from this list…Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (my glowing review). Not only did I forget to include it here, but I DID include it in my Instagram picture for this post that’s going up later this afternoon. And not only that…but, in my caption for that post, I called out Goodreads for “tragically” leaving Where the Crawdads Sing off their Best Debuts nominee list for the Goodreads Choice Awards. Pot, meet kettle.

I kind of feel like I should send Delia Owens flowers or something. Delia, if by some off chance you’re reading this, I’m SO SO sorry. I loved your book and you’ll see it on another, even better, list soon.

And, if you haven’t read this one yet, it’s my #1 Go-To Recommendation on my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide!

On to the rest of the list…

Best Debuts of 2018

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (my review)
Though I got lost in some of the science and engineering details, I was fascinated / horrified at the arrogance of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’s young CEO who viewed herself as the next Steve Jobs, and the lengths Theranos went to to create a “unicorn” despite the absence of a viable product.
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Educated by Tara Westover (my review)
Imagine if you had to choose between getting an education (both the traditional kind and an education about life in general) and having a relationship with your family. That’s what happened to Tara Westover. This one is topping a bunch of Best Books of 2018 lists!

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From the Corner of the Ovalby Beck Dorey-Stein (my review)
This quarter life crisis memoir set in the world of politics might be my favorite audiobook of the year! It’s like listening to your fun friend who happens to have a job in the White House with access to the President give you all the very best anecdotes (plus, a good dose of her love life) over a glass of wine!

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (my review)
The best true crime books put themselves on another tier by telling the story in a compelling, engrossing way and avoiding getting bogged down in overly dry details. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark does just that. It’s up there with The Stranger Beside Me (but not quite approaching In Cold Blood) in the true crime genre for me. Doesn’t hurt that a suspect in the attacks was arrested soon after the book was published.

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Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead (my review)
The key to loving Laura & Emma is loving Laura’s voice and the writing style (which I obviously did). Laura is offbeat, but likable and funny in an awkward way (she reminded me of a less damaged version of Eleanor Oliphant).

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Tangerine by Christine Mangan (my review)
The story of a fraught, obsessive friendship and all the wreckage it leaves behind. It’s kind of a page turner, but not in the traditional sense. It’s taut with emotional and psychological tension…my kind of “thriller.”

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The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir (my review)
The Book of Essie is the type of brain candy I love…a story about weighty topics that reads quickly and easily. Bonus: you get an interesting behind-the-scenes look at reality TV and image management in the media spotlight.

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The Ensembleby Aja Gabel
I almost skipped this book and I’m so relieved I didn’t! It’s about a musical quartet (which I’m not interested in at all…hence the “almost” skip) and is one of those character-driven novels that I couldn’t put down. It’s all about the simmering dynamics of this group and it explores the implications of having an essentially business relationship that supersedes all other relationships in these characters’ lives. And, the writing is drop dead gorgeous…especially for a debut.

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What are your favorite debuts of 2018?

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12 Memorable Villains of Fiction

October 23, 2018 Book Lists 21

Villains of Fiction

 

I love to read dark fiction, so not surprisingly, I encounter lots of villains in my reading. Putting together my 12 most memorable villains of fiction was disturbingly fun! 

Many on this list are adept manipulators, some are well known among readers, and some are not. And, the main character in the book I just finished (A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne) could possibly top this list. But, I felt weird about including him since the book isn’t coming out until November.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

12 Memorable Villains of Fiction

Dr. Alan Forrester
All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (Spoiler Discussion)
Why are psychiatrists so often creepy villains in fiction? This one was arrogant and diabolical, too.

Amy Dunne
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Possibly the most manipulative character I’ve ever read. But, her husband almost deserved her. Almost.

Annie Wilkes
Misery by Stephen King
A terrifying version of fangirl-ing. More power to you if you can get that vision of Annie hammering Paul’s ankles out of your head.

Bull Meacham
The Great Santini by Pat Conroy (my review)
Maybe the worst Dad in literature. But, he also had a sense of humor that made reading him slightly less traumatic.

Double Eagles
Natchez Burning by Greg Isles (my review)
A group rather than a person, but this is a dangerous splinter group of the KKK that reigned in the 1960’s and was even more ruthless than the regular KKK. The fictional Double Eagles is based on the real life “Silver Dollar Group.”

Jake the Bartender
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (my review)
The first of two sociopathic boyfriends on this list.

Joseph Castleman
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer (my review)
A bit of a different type of villain than the others on this list. He’s not downright evil, just completely self-centered, oblivious, and expects to be coddled. His poor wife…  

Miranda Priestley
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
The boss from hell. Except also thoroughly entertaining for readers…

Nate Piven 
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (my review)

Again, not as evil as some of the other villains on this list. But, a pretty unabashed and callous manipulator of women. I remember thinking when I read this, “this perfectly portrays dating in NYC!” 

Oliver Ryan
Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Here’s the first line of Unraveling Oliver, told from Oliver’s perspective:

I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.

Olivia Foxworth (aka the Grandmother)
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Locked her grandchildren in her attic for years. I should probably include Corrine Dollanganger (the mother) on this list as well, seeing as she agreed to her mother’s diabolical plan.

Stephen DeMarco
Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
The second sociopathic boyfriend on this list. But, definitely worse than the first one (Jake the Bartender from Sweetbitter).

What villains of fiction do you love to hate?

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12 Books By Favorite Authors I Haven’t Read Yet

September 25, 2018 Book Lists 45

Books By Favorite Authors I Haven't Read

 

One of the silver linings of discovering a new-to-you author a bit late is that the author likely has a pretty good, if not extensive, backlist waiting for you!  Most recently, this has happened with Anna Quindlen, Ann Patchett, and Kelly Corrigan…and I still have plenty more to go!

And, even with favorite authors I’ve been familiar with for awhile, I haven’t yet gotten to all the books of theirs that I want to read! Here are 12 Books by Favorite Authors I Still Haven’t Read…

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

12 Books By Favorite Authors I Haven’t Read Yet

Jami Attenberg
The Middlesteins
I loved Attenberg’s Saint Mazie (my review) and All Grown Up (my review). Her dry humor is right up my alley and I can’t wait to read her take on a dysfunctional family. Plus, this book is under 300 pages…making it way more likely I might actually pick it up soon!

For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie’s enormous girth. She’s obsessed with food–thinking about it, eating it–and if she doesn’t stop, she won’t have much longer to live.

When Richard abandons his wife, it is up to the next generation to take control. […] Through it all, they wonder: do Edie’s devastating choices rest on her shoulders alone, or are others at fault, too?

Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace
Like many people, The Handmaid’s Tale (my review) blew me away…and it was one of the only classics I’ve read in later life. I downloaded Alias Grace when it was free via a Kindle deal over a year ago and really need to crack it open! The page count (over 450 pages) is probably what’s been causing me to put it off for so long.

It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories?

Kent Haruf
Plainsong
Our Souls at Night (my review) is a tiny, quiet book, but it really spoke to me. I’m interested in seeing what Haruf does with a family story…plus, I’ve heard new things.

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they’ve ever known.

Emily St. John Mandel
The Lola Quartet
I (along with a gazillion other readers) loved Station Eleven (my review). It was the first dystopian novel I’ve ever actually enjoyed. Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy recently read The Lola Quartet from her backlist and devoted a special What Should I Read Next? podcast episode to it. Plus, it’s a literary thriller, which I generally love.

Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s drifting toward bankruptcy and is in no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.

Eilo recently paid a visit to a home that had a ten-year-old child in it, a child who looks very much like Gavin and who has the same last name as Gavin’s high school girlfriend Anna, whom Gavin last saw a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who have been on the run all these years from a drug dealer from whom Anna stole $121,000.

Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood
I loved Murakami’s 1Q84 (and it’s hard to keep me interested for almost 1,000 pages!) and his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I’m dying to see what he does with a campus novel (one of my favorite sub-genres)!

Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

Maggie O’Farrell
This Must Be the Place
I loved O’Farrell’s memoir/essay collection, I Am, I Am, I Am. And, before I even knew about her memoir, I had This Must Be the Place on my TBR list. I snagged it in a Kindle Daily Deal and can’t wait to test out her fiction (hopefully sometime this year).

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn, and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex–film star given to pulling a gun on anyone who ventures up their driveway. Claudette was once the most glamorous and infamous woman in cinema before she staged her own disappearance and retreated to blissful seclusion in an Irish farmhouse.

But the life Daniel and Claudette have so carefully constructed is about to be disrupted by an unexpected discovery about a woman Daniel lost touch with twenty years ago. This revelation will send him off-course, far away from wife, children and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

Ann Patchett
Truth and Beauty
Ann Patchett is one of my very favorite authors. My favorites of hers so far are: Commonwealth (my review), State of Wonder (my review), and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (my review). I read about her memoir of a friendship, Truth and Beauty, in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and am thinking it may be a good audio choice for me.

Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth and Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest to surgical wards to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined–and what happens when one is left behind.

Jo Piazza
Fitness Junkie

I only read Jo Piazza (Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win) this year, but Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books and Susie from Novel Visits told me to read Fitness Junkie well before that!

When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin–the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin–her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. […] As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place?

Anna Quindlen
Still Life With Bread Crumbs
Y’all know how much I love Anna Quindlen (see my “Women Who Get Women” Authors Club post). Still Life With Bread Crumbs is one of her only novels I have yet to read.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Curtis Sittenfeld
Eligible
I loved An American Wife years ago, but was initially turned off of Eligible because it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling. But, my interest in it was rekindled when I read and loved her short story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It (my review) this year!

This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. […]

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Elizabeth Strout
Olive Kitteridge
I loved both My Name is Lucy Barton (my review) and Anything is Possible and, if you can believe it, still haven’t read her Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty.

Meg Wolitzer
The Ten-Year Nap
Meg Wolitzer is another one of my very favorite authors and I’ve rated every single book I’ve read by her 5 stars: The Interestings (my review), The Wife (my review), and The Female Persuasion (my review). When I was a guest on The Readerly Report Podcast recently, co-host Gayle Weiswasser recommended The Ten-Year Nap to me since I have toddler age children at home.

For a group of four New York friends, the past decade has been largely defined by marriage and motherhood. Educated and reared to believe that they would conquer the world, they then left jobs as corporate lawyers, investment bankers, and film scouts to stay home with their babies. What was meant to be a temporary leave of absence has lasted a decade. Now, at age forty, with the halcyon days of young motherhood behind them and without professions to define them, Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen face a life that is not what they were brought up to expect but seems to be the one they have chosen.

Have you read any of these backlist-ers? Which ones do you recommend I read first? And, what books by your favorite authors have you not read yet?

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The “Women Who Get Women” Authors Club

September 11, 2018 Book Lists 16

 

Women Who Get Women

 

There’s something about the stage of life I’m in right now that really has me gravitating towards “women who get women.” I didn’t know I needed this kind of writing in my life until I stumbled across Anna Quindlen (well, stumbled isn’t quite accurate…my aunt actually kept telling me I needed to read her). I listened to Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake on audio and kept screaming “yes, that’s exactly how it is” over and over in my head. After I finished the audiobook, I felt like I’d seen a therapist.

I’m now experiencing marriage, motherhood, and a struggle to maintain my own identity through all of that (a struggle that I never anticipated nor even really knew was all that common until I ended up in it). Seeing many things I’d been thinking and feeling put so eloquently on the page brought a tremendous sense of relief…and camaraderie that others struggle with the same things. This is one of my favorite joys of reading.

All that being said, I don’t think these particular authors would have resonated with me before my thirties because I didn’t have the necessary experience under my belt to appreciate their wisdom. So, save these fantastic women authors for well after college…

The “Women Who Get Women” Authors Club

Kelly Corrigan
Tell Me More (my review), Glitter and Glue (my review)
My introduction to Kelly Corrigan was through Tell Me More and she immediately reminded me of a funnier, more irreverent, and more emotional Anna Quindlen. She touches many important life issues: marriage, motherhood, illness, religion, friendship, grief, and loss. And, she said things that inspired me to be better and things that made me feel like I’m absolutely not alone in the moments where I’m not better.

We all kind of hate each other in this minute, me most of all because I taught them the word bitch and I yell so they yell and Edward misses another brawl so they’ll like him more today and he’s better anyway and whatever lust for combat my daughters have comes straight from me and I thought I was going to be a good mom like Michelle Constable or Tammy Stedman and I’m not and according to a parenting blog I saw, yelling is as bad as corporal punishment and particularly destructive to self-esteem so oh my God, what am I doing?

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea
My mom first gave me this book while I was pregnant with my first child. I didn’t quite connect with it then, but I re-read it after having my second child and that changed completely. Lindbergh beautifully vocalized the many conflicted feelings I’d been having about motherhood, maintaining my identity, etc. It’s every bit as relevant now as it was in the 1950’s.

What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. Look at us. We run a tightrope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now! This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of.

Maggie O’Farrell
I Am, I Am, I Am
Through her essays about near-death experiences, O’Farrell imparts wisdom about life, especially for women. She touches motherhood, illness, fitting in, etc. She makes you keenly feel your own mortality. 

The people who teach us something retain a particularly vivid place in our memories. I’d been a parent for about ten minutes when I met the man, but he taught me, with a small gesture, one of the most important things about the job: kindness, intuition, touch, and that sometimes you don’t even need words.

Camille Pagan
Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties
Through Maggie’s story of realizing she had lost her identity after having children and her struggle to regain it again, Camille Pagan talks real talk about aging, marriage, divorce, finding your identity, and piecing your life back together after an upheaval. Pagan reminds me of a lighter, more sarcastic version (her salty humor is on point!) of Anna Quindlen and I recommend this one particularly to the mothers out there.

I had not taken particularly good care of myself over the years, and it wasn’t like I could get a free pass by wearing a pin that said, I look like this because I have been caring for everyone else.

Anna Quindlen
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake (my review), Every Last One (my review), Living Out Loud
Listening to Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake was like seeing a therapist. Quindlen just has such a grounded, practical outlook on life (particularly female friendship, aging, motherhood, marriage, and solitude) that really puts things in perspective for me. She’s probably the President of this club in my book.

There comes that moment when we finally know what matters and, perhaps more important, what doesn’t, when we see that all the life lessons came not from what we had but from who we loved, and from the failures perhaps more than the successes.

Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things, Brave Enough
Strayed is warm, relatable, and non-judgmental in her counsel and most people will find something in her writing that pertains to their own life past or present. Her advice generally boils down to the overarching theme of “be your true self.”

Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.

Meg Wolitzer
The Wife (my review)
The Wife explores the power dynamics of marriage. It’s about living life as a “babysitter for a successful man’s ego,” being married to a “gigantic baby,” and explores the role of “the wife” in society and the expectations and pressures that come along with that. It tackles the conundrum many women face of choosing to harness their talents or devote themselves to their families…or some balance between the two.

Everyone knows how women soldier on, how women dream up blueprints, recipes, ideas for a better world, and then sometimes lose them on the way to the crib in the middle of the night, on the way to the Stop & Shop, or the bath. They lose them on the way to greasing the path on which their husband and children will ride serenely through life.

What type of authors do you most identify with right now? What other “women who get women” authors do I need to read?

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16 Character-Driven Novels I Couldn’t Put Down

September 6, 2018 Book Lists 28

Character-Driven Novels

 

These are not the novels that are driven forward by action…the yearn to know what will happen next. Rather, these are novels that I can’t put down because I just can’t stop reading about these characters. But, the end result is the same as an action-oriented page turner. I flew through the pages…no matter how many there were (and some of these are LONG books).

As I was putting this list together, I realized how many of my very favorite books were on it…leading me to realize that character-driven novels I can’t put down might be my favorite type of book out there. Part of the allure is that character-driven novels can easily feel slow and boring. It’s rare to find a character-driven novel that grabs you so hard you can’t put it down.

A couple other random observations about the books on this list:

  • 9 were on my Best Books of the Year lists (and another two will probably make this year’s list).
  • 4 gave me big enough reading hangovers to qualify them for the Alcohol sides of my Alcohol & Advil posts.
  • 10 have a spot on my real life bookshelves…which are (surprisingly) not very crowded and only my very favorites make it onto the shelves!

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

16 Character-Driven Novels I Couldn’t Put Down

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (my review)
Spanning 30 years, the story of four male friends (Willem, J.B., Malcolm, and Jude) trying to make their way in New York City while dealing with the implications of Jude’s tragic childhood. 
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
During a Little League baseball game, Owen Meany kills his best friend’s mom when his foul ball hits her in the head…and this is the story of their journey from there.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (my review)
An ill fated christening party is the catalyst that ruins the Keating and Cousins marriages…and creates a blended family trying to navigate their new world.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (my review)
The story of June Reid, who loses her entire family (her daughter and her fiancee, her boyfriend, and her ex-husband) in a horrible tragedy on the night before her daughter’s wedding.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (my review)
A sweet, calm, and uncomplicated novel about two older people (Louis and Addie) who stopped caring what everyone else thought and did what they needed to do to be happy.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (my review)
Four childhood best friends from the small town of Little Wing, Wisconsin reconnect at a wedding and try to find their places in the adult world.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Female Persuasionby Meg Wolitzer (my review)
Greer is a shy college student still in love with her high school boyfriend when she meets Faith Frank, an icon of the women’s movement, who changes the trajectory of Greer’s life.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (my review)
A group of gay friends and their female friend (Fiona) navigate the AIDS crisis and deal with the death of one of their own in 1980’s Chicago…and decades later, Fiona sets out to Paris to find her estranged daughter and encounters the past in the process.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (my review)
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.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (my review)
Jules Jacobson becomes best friends with five teenagers at a summer camp for the arts in the 1970’s, remaining friends despite completely different experiences in adulthood.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (my review)
While seventeen year-old Nadia Turner is mourning the shocking loss of her mother, she starts a relationship with Luke Sheppard, her pastor’s son, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid (my review)
Legendary film actress Evelyn Hugo recruits young journalist, Monique, to write her life story, including the stories of her seven marriages.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (my review)
In a Detroit suburb, the five enigmatic Lisbon sisters commit suicide over the course of a year and the neighborhood boys who were obsessed with them try to understand why.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer (my review)
On a flight to Helsinki to watch him receive a prestigious literary prize, Joan decides to leave her famous novelist husband, Joe, after a decades long marriage. 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (my review)
When Claude, the youngest son of a family of five boys, starts to realize he wants to be a girl, the family must learn how to best support Claude and adjust to the situation.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (my review)
The story of Zelda and author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s relationship as told from Zelda’s fictional perspective.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What character-driven novels have you not been able to put down?

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10 Contemporary Books I’d Love to See on School Curriculums

August 28, 2018 Book Lists 19

Books I'd Love to See on School Curriculums

 

I hate to admit it, but I remember very few books I was required to read in high school and college. On the bright side though, I’ve read so many books over the past few years that I’d love to see on school curriculums! Books that address important issues, but are also just straight-up awesome books that readers can effortlessly become engrossed in.

I would’ve killed for books that fit schools’ definitions of curriculum-worthy literature, but that I also loved reading when I was in school!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

10 Contemporary Books I’d Love to See on School Curriculums

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (my review)
Because it deals with a mind-blowing number of important “issues” (i.e. marriage, race, class, incarceration, love, friendship, family, grief, fidelity, recovery) in a totally organic way…wrapped in a straight-up, engrossing story.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe (my review)
Because it shines on mental illness through a teenage character that high school age children will be able to relate to.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (my review)
Because it portrays the experience of a partially immigrant family living in a predominantly white community…and the tensions that introduces to the family dynamics. Plus, school age children dealing with the death of a sibling, sibling dynamics, parents projecting their own ambitions onto their children, and women trying to balance family and career dreams.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Grit by Angela Duckworth
To show that people have far more control over their own destinies than they think…and reinforce the most important ingredient for success.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (my review)
To show the range of emotions a single novel can evoke. Plus, a background on the Catholic Church and homosexuality in Ireland and the experience of homosexuals in general.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (my review)
Because, like An American Marriage, it tackles a number of important topics (grief, losing a parent, faith, friendship, race, trauma, and teen pregnancy), but this time through the eyes characters that school age children can relate to.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer (my review)
Because it explores the power dynamics in a marriage and women balancing career and family (probably better suited to college age students).

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Because Strayed is warm, relatable, and non-judgmental in her counsel and most people will find something in this book that pertains to their own life. This is the book I always wish had been around when I was in high school.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (my review)
Because it’s one of the rare books about World War II that is hopeful…and it’s based on a remarkable true story.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan
Because it’s a cautionary tale about immense pressure at a young age, depression, high achievement, social media, and teen suicide. 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What contemporary books would you like to see on school curriculums?

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My Favorite Nonfiction Audiobooks

August 7, 2018 Audiobooks 22

Favorite Nonfiction Audiobooks

 

Audiobooks are a relatively new addition to my reading life, but they’ve enabled me to read 25-30 more books each of the past two years…so, they’re a welcome addition! And, it seems many other readers are figuring out how to work audiobooks into their reading lives as well because audiobooks is the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry.

I initially didn’t think audiobooks worked for me because I tried listening to fiction while exercising and had trouble following the stories. Once I tried listening to nonfiction (generally lighter nonfiction) at other times of day (while driving, getting dressed and ready for bed, doing chores, etc), I was off to the races with audiobooks! So, I thought I’d share my favorite nonfiction audiobooks! And, if you’ve had trouble concentrating on audiobooks, I’d highly recommend trying some light nonfiction before giving up entirely!

And, I’ll continue to update this list as I find more great nonfiction audiobooks!

Latest Addition (September 6, 2018)

The Residence The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower
Nonfiction (Released August 7, 2015)
10 Hours and 16 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: A portrait of life in the White House for the first families told from the perspective of the residence service staff.

My Thoughts: I love a good behind-the-scenes of anything Presidential book, especially the ones that don’t really get into politics…and I’ve read a lot of them. The household service staff brings a unique viewpoint, since they see the first families at their most unguarded. Perfect if you’re interested in the inner workings of the White House (especially if you liked Ronald Kessler’s books, In the President’s Secret Service and The First Family Detail)!

The List

Memoirs

Beautiful, Terrible ThingA Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite
Memoir (Released July 11, 2017)
6 Hours and 41 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Waite’s story of her marriage to a psychopath / sociopath (Marco).
My Thoughts: There’s cheating and then there’s cheating as part of a pattern of psychotic or sociopathic behavior. Jen discovers her husband is cheating on her soon after having their first child. Then, she discovers a whole web of lies and starts to realize he’s not the man he seemed. I listened to this book on audio and was absolutely riveted…I ignored new podcasts to listen, something I don’t normally do. Jen chronicles her slow process of realization and recover, which definitely made me wonder if some people I know are also sociopaths. 

A Mother's ReckoningA Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold
Memoir (Released February 15, 2016)
11 Hours and 31 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold’s mother (Sue) shares her struggle following the shooting and Dylan’s suicide in this poignant memoir.

My Thoughts: I was initially skeptical of this one (would she just try to excuse her son’s actions?) and, while she did search for a “why?”, there was much more to this extremely complex story. I was riveted.

Born a Crime by Trevor NoahBorn A Crime by Trevor Noah
Memoir (Released November 15, 2016)
8 Hours and 44 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s memoir about growing up as a mixed race child in apartheid South Africa.

My Thoughts: Born A Crime is technically a celebrity memoir, but it’s actually not that at all. It is a heartfelt, funny, sad, and warm story about growing up as an outcast in an incredibly oppressive place.

Daring to DriveDaring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif
Memoir (Released June 13, 2017)
10 Hours and 17 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: al-Sharif 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.

My Thoughts: This is one eye-opening, heart-breaking read and is perfect for anyone who loved The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (my review).

Gift from the SeaGift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Memoir (Released 1955)
2 Hours and 26 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Lindbergh reflects on motherhood and being a woman during her solo vacation in a beach house.

My Thoughts: My Mom gave me this slim book when I was pregnant with my first child seven years ago and it didn’t make much of an impact on me. But, Will Schwalbe made me want to try it again in his Books for Living. The second time, it spoke directly to my core…maybe because I had seven years of motherhood under my belt by then. A must read for every woman trying to balance being a mother with maintaining their own identity.

Glitter and GlueGlitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
Memoir (Released February 4, 2014)
5 Hours and 38 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Corrigan’s shares her realizations about motherhood and her own mother while serving as somewhat of a surrogate mother to two Australian children who had lost their own mother.

My Thoughts: While Glitter and Glue didn’t blow me away quite as much as the first memoir I read by her (Tell Me More), I still relished sinking back into Corrigan’s signature brand of heartfelt, relatable, and sometimes irreverent observations about life and motherhood. Corrigan hadn’t given much thought to what it’s like to mother someone or quite appreciated her mother until she stepped into the role of surrogate caring for two children who had lost their own. If you like women’s life observations-type writing (think Anna Quindlen, Cheryl Strayed), Kelly Corrigan should be next on your list!

Lots of Candles Plenty of CakeLots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
Memoir (Released April 24, 2012)
7 Hours and 7 Minutes

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary:
Anna Quindlen talks about her experience as a woman in her own life and applies it to women everywhere.
My Thoughts:
Listening to Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake was like seeing a therapist and falls into the same category as Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. Quindlen has such a grounded, practical outlook on life that really puts things in perspective and this book would have made my overall Best Books of 2017 list had it been published that year!

My Year of Running DangerouslyMy Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman
Memoir (Released October 6, 2015)
6 Hours and 27 Minutes

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary:
After CNN Correspondent Tom Foreman’s daughter challenges him to train for a marathon with her, he ends up running 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, and an ultra-marathon in one year.
My Thoughts:
Not only is this memoir about an impressive running feat, but it’s a sweet story of a father and daughter connecting over a shared hobby.

Tiny Beautiful ThingsTiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Memoir (Released July 10, 2012)
9 Hours and 41 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary:
A compilation of columns from Strayed’s time as the Dear Sugar advice columnist for The Rumpus.

My Thoughts: Strayed blends empathy, truth, bluntness, and humor to form a perfect blend of “yes, that’s exactly how it is” observations about life and useful, non-judgmental advice about how to live it. I’m generally not an advice column type of person, but this audiobook (read by the author) earned 5 stars from me!

Who Thought This Was a Good IdeaWho Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
Memoir (Released March 21, 2017)
5 Hours and 58 Minutes

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary:
The behind-the-scenes memoir by President Obama’s former Deputy Chief of Staff.
My Thoughts: 
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is technically a political memoir, but it really doesn’t include any politics. It’s more a juicy, behind-the-scenes look at working in the White House and on Obama’s campaign trail sprinkled with tips on making the most of your career…all told through the voice of someone you’d love to grab a glass of wine with!

Investigative Journalism

False ReportA False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong
True Crime – (Released February 6, 2018)
10 Hours and 6 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary:
The true story of a woman (Marie) who was charged with lying about a rape and the detectives who were responsible for her case.

My Thoughts: A False Report is excellent true crime mixed in with a bit of history of rape investigation and would make a great companion read to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (my review).

Mockingbird Next DoorThe Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
General Nonfiction (Released July 15, 2014)
8 Hours and 11 Minutes

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary:
Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills was improbably accepted by famously private Harper and Alice Lee when she visited Monroeville, AL for a story and ended up living next door to them.
My Thoughts:
This story is as much about Mills’ journey to friendship with the Lees as it as about Lee herself. As I was listening, I almost felt like I was in To Kill A Mockingbird. For a real treat, pair with Episode 172 of From the Front Porch podcast about Annie Jones’ visit to Monroeville and a breakdown of what’s happened with Harper Lee’s estate since she passed away.

Stranger in the WoodsThe Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
General Nonfiction (Released March 7, 2017)
6 Hours and 19 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: The true story about Christopher Knight, the man who lived alone in the Maine forest for 27 years before finally being arrested for stealing food and essentials from nearby vacation homes.

My Thoughts: This story is strange, but completely captivating. It’s like a mash-up between a wilderness story and a study of the introverted personality trait and came extremely close to making my overall Best Books of 2017 list.

What Made Maddy RunWhat Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan
General Nonfiction – Sports (Released August 1, 2017)
7 Hours and 36 Minutes
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: The 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.

My Thoughts: This story is absolutely heart-breaking, but is a must-read for parents of young athletes…and, really, parents of all high-achieving young girls in the social media age.

What are your favorite nonfiction audiobooks?

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