Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

It's funny how you gotta read a book at the right time. I had read all of Sittenfeld's books except for Sisterland. When I first picked up Sisterland years ago, I couldn't get into it. I gave it another try and loved it.

Kate and Violet are twin sisters. The book opens up with a small earthquake rocking their hometown of St. Louis. The sisters both has psychic abilities but have chosen different ways to handle it. Violet publicly predicts that another earthquake is coming. Kate stays focused on her family. An exploration of sisters and choices and what bonds us together.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

I needed one more Elin Hilderbrand book as I was at home resting up earlier this fall.

Dabney is the island's matchmaker but she's going through her own romantic turmoil. There's actually some depth and heart to this story. An easy (but also kinda sad) read.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Winter Series by Elin Hilderbrand

I mentioned awhile ago that I was pretty focused on home and family life there for a good month or so. I wanted something to read that was warm and cozy, and luckily I found the Winter series by Elin Hilderbrand.

Usually, Hilderbrand writes sunny, breezy summer stories about characters on Nantucket. So it's nice to have a winter series. I read all three of them (Winter Street, Winter Storms, and Winter Stroll). And a fourth one, Winter Solstice, was just published so I'm on the waiting list for that.

So if you're looking for a cozy read this fall, consider the Winter series. Light-hearted but not, and they are page-turners.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This book takes place in the upscale community of Shaker Heights, Ohio. When Mia and her daughter, Pearl move in though, they don't really fit in.

Oh wow, this book covers a lot. Teens, class, parenting, adoption. I could not put it down.

Highly recommended.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

A boy-meets-girl story set in New York. Well, it's much more than that. Evan and Julia meet as undergraduates at Yale and move to New York after graduation. Evan gets a job at a hedge fund and Julia works at a non-profit. The financial meltdown hits....and things start to unravel.

This was an above-average read for me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

I think I've wanted to like Elizabeth Strout's work. I hear podcasters rave about her writing. I've read a few of her books, and I'm always left with...meh.

And once again...meh.

Monday, October 23, 2017

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Sam and his little brother, Riddle, are orphans of sorts when they are welcomed into Emily Bell's family. A story about family and the friends who become family.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love by Marissa Moss

Oh my gosh. This was a tough book to read.

Marissa's husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS and this is the story of how she, her husband, and their three sons handled it all.

Devastating and sad. Not really redemptive either. But some things you just get through, I guess.

Sometimes Boomer will randomly pick up one of my library books and read it. He picked up this one and I warned him, but he read it in one sitting. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Owen lives in the basement apartment and Lucy lives on the 24th floor. They meet when their elevator stalls. Owen moves to California and Lucy moves to London...can they stay connected?

A fast YA read.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

Nina Riggs wrote this as she was dying from cancer. It was sad, raw, honest....did I mention sad?

It hit a little too close to home as I am very aware that it's almost been a year since my beautiful friend died from cancer.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

This was recommended to me by several parents of twenty-somethings as well as a few twenty-somethings themselves. Even though the 20s are long gone for me, it was actually super helpful to put some kind of developmental frame on what needs to get done in your 20s so that you're not entering your 30s or 40s lost....

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Re-read: Paris in Love by Eloise James

I don't even know how many times I've read Paris in Love. Whenever I want a fun pick-me-up, I check it out from the library and re-read it. Just noting that I re-read it yet again. It was thoughtful, fun, and plus she's in Paris. Always reminds me of being in Paris with Boomer and we got lost looking for the Eiffel Tower. Boomer kept saying, "It should be around here somewhere..."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage by Jo Piazza

A fun and funny memoir, self-help, and travel book all rolled into one. As a newlywed, Jo Piazza travels around the world trying to figure out what makes marriage works. I was a bit skeptical about this one at first, but somehow it worked and ended up being a pretty fun read.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy

A memoir of an interesting and complicated life. A fast read but was only a so-so read for me.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Wow, this is how far behind I am in posting! I read this in the early summer and jotted down a note about the book: "A fine summer read about a movie star and her many marriages."

Well, it's not summer anymore, but this would make for a fun fall read too. It's kinda gossipy though.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg

Hi there! Phew! A lot has been going on in our family and home life, and it's just been in the last week that I've been able to think a little bit beyond our home. 

I am about 20 books behind, so I am gonna try to catch up by continuing to give you shorter posts each day until I'm caught up.

After reading Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, I was a bit conflicted. You can read about my torn feelings here. Option B is about her experience of grief after her husband suddenly dies while they are on vacation. I liked Option B so much better. It was like hearing from a different Sheryl Sandberg, and I'm sure she is very changed after this devastating experience. She comes across as much more human, kind, and compassionate. She, along with Adam Grant, offer insights into grief and very practical ways to care for yourself and others.

One important thing I learned was to not say, "Just let me know if you need anything!" to someone going through a tough time. Offer something concrete. This was so helpful. So I texted my neighbor who is going through chemo right now to say, "I have banana bread for you. Can I bring it over? Or just leave it on your porch?"So much more helpful.

Monday, September 25, 2017

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

I first heard about this book by my high school Humanities teacher. I saw it on the library shelf and checked it out. At 856 pages, this is not a lightweight read. And, as the title says, it's a tragedy. A tragedy about Clyde Griffiths and his desperate desire for success and social acceptance.

About 1/3 of the way through the book, I looked up this book on Amazon. The reviews generally had the theme of "Why did I read this book?" Aw man, I should have paid more attention. Because at the end of the 856 pages, I was also bemoaning the fact that I had read this book. It's quite the downer.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Aviva Grossman is an intern who has an affair with the congressman she's working for, and then she blogs about it as well. Whoops.

A fast, enjoyable read but I'm not raving about it. But it made for a decent weekend read.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson

When I lived overseas, I would argue that Grandma's Kitchen, a restaurant downtown that served up American classics (hamburgers, milkshakes, pizza, pie), was "the happiest place on Earth," not Disneyland. Going to Grandma's Kitchen was a tremendous treat, something that I looked forward to weeks in advance (it was about 45 minutes away so I didn't go very often).

Pancakes in Paris is a memoir about how Mr. Carlson opened up an American diner in Paris. Oh, the struggles of a business owner! Kinda stressed me out, but the whole concept is so fun. A fun, easy-peasy read.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham

Heather becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend never wanted to be a dad. But, they come together after their baby is born sick.

A fast-moving read of the journey of their daughter and their relationship.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Reread - Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki

Just noting that I read this again. Loved it and am getting rid of lots of stuff. It's amazing how physical things can carry so much emotional weight. So shedding some emotional stuff as well. Goodbye, shame! :)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A whimsical celebration of life.

Loved it, and was saddened when Boomer told me that the author had died earlier this year.

I will go back and re-read her other book, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

A young adult novel told in verse about a family, basketball, and supporting each other through good times and bad. I read this in a couple of hours.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
in manga form!

Teaches the basics of the KonMari method of tidying up in a super-fun way (even Boomer read it and then KonMaried his closet!).

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Janey Sweet tries to lose weight by trying all sorts of exercise regimens.
Meh, just okay.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

Remember: we're trying to catch up so keeping things short and very to the point!

The story of Padma's life so far.
Ugh...I liked her and her decisions less and less as the book went on.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I've got a backlog of books to catch you up on, so I am going to post a little bit more frequently and also keep the posts shorter than usual! I'm gonna try for two sentences. Here we go!

Two unlikely teenagers meet and fall in love at a very inopportune time.

Loved the ending and immediately asked Boomer to read the book (he did and even stayed up late to finish it!).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

16-year-old Will is blind, and starting his first year at a mainstream high school. It doesn't start off so well, but soon, he's made some friends. He even starts liking a girl, Cecily. Then, he's offered the chance to have some life-changing surgeries that may restore his sight. Learning to see is more challenging than Will expected, and he has to confront even more how people relate to each other and judge each other based on appearances.

A sweet book. I stayed up late to finish it!

Thank you to Nannette for recommending this to me!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny

This is a collection of short stories about singleness, dating, marriage, and affairs. It was fun because some characters made repeat appearances throughout the book.

A good book to check out of the library.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Jacqueline is an elementary school teacher. She thought her marriage was so-so but one day, a police officer shows up to tell her that her husband has died in a car accident in Maui. He was supposed to be in Kansas on a business trip. But that's not it. He was with a lady who also died in the car accident.

Not the most well-written book, but definitely a page-turner.

Another good candidate for some fun summer reading.

Monday, August 21, 2017

According to a Source by Abby Stern

Boomer and I took a few days off and went to a little coastal town to do some extreme relaxing which meant lots of reading (me), playing video games (Boomer), eating and wandering around (both of us).

We also watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix: The Lion in Your Living Room (about house cats) and Two Days in April (about four college football players preparing for the NFL draft). On Youtube, we watched the most fascinating documentary, The Year of the Quarterback - the Brady 6, about the 2000 draft when Tom Brady was drafted #199. Six other quarterbacks were drafted before him! This documentary shows what happened to all of these other six quarterbacks (none of them are still playing).

Anyway, this was one of the books that I read during our trip. It was a perfect blend of fluff and just enough depth.

Ella is an ambitious entertainment journalist working in Hollywood. In order to keep her job, she needs to report as much juicy celebrity gossip as she can. This pressure starts to interfere with her family, friends, and dating relationships. What cost is she willing to pay in order to keep her job?

If you're looking for a summer, beach-type read, consider this one!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

If you're looking for a fun, summer read, this is certainly a good candidate.

Harper and Tabitha are estranged identical twin sisters who are opposites in how they live. One lives on Martha's Vineyard and the other lives on Nantucket. Because of some family circumstances, they end up switching places.

It's like a grown-up version of The Parent Trap that takes place on islands.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Graham is married to Audra and they have a special needs son, Matthew. Audra talks to everyone and welcomes most everyone into their home (even the doorman when he needs a temporary place to stay). Audra is so friendly that she even befriends Graham's ex-wife, Elspeth.

Quirky, funny, and tender. Don't expect too much plot and closure from this book. The fun of it is in meeting all of the characters that come in and out of Graham and Audra's apartment.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul

Pamela Paul is the Editor of the New York Times Book Review. I wasn't sure what this book would be about. "Bob" stands for Book of Books, and it's a notebook that she's recorded every book that she's read. I thought that it might just be a list of books that she's read and maybe how they've affected her.

But no, she takes us on her journey as a reader. This is really an ode to books and to reading. Yay!

I liked the short chapters. I would read one chapter and then read something else so that each chapter could sit in my mind by itself for awhile until I moved on to the next one.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist by Debra Jaliman, MD

To follow after The Little Book of Skin Care, I checked out Skin Rules as well just to compare what another skin professional says.

This was practical and very easy-to-read. However, I did prefer The Little Book of Skin Care because it didn't suggest using surgery and expensive procedures to fix skin problems.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Little Book of Skincare: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin by Charlotte Cho

I was talking with a friend who has three older sisters. She described how each relationship is different and who she is closest too. It sounded neat, having all of those sisters, but really, I think one sister is enough for me. One older sister who tells me that I don't match, that my socks look funny, that I really don't understand anything about relationships, etc.

Anyway, it was my sister who let me know about this book. It's all about skin care, specificially the Korean approach to skin care. Charlotte Cho describes a ten-step process for caring for your skin. She writes in a clear and slightly whimsical style. I read it in an evening!

This book may or may not change my life. The jury is still out. But, I can tell you that I don't think I was ever really taught how to care for my skin! So I'm trying out the steps outlined in this book, and I will see if it helps.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Celebrating My 1,000th Post!

Yay! Welcome to my 1,000th post!

I started this blog ten years ago. The reason behind it was that I come from a very artsy family. My dad creates stained glass pieces, and now he makes pens! My mom quilts, and my sister is just all-around creative. I read. They actually had a physical product to show for their hobbies. But I didn't have anything tangible to show for my reading (not even a stack of books because most of my books come from the library!). I decided to start this blog to document all of the reading that I do.

I love getting lost in a book. I love learning new things about myself and the world and people. Reading (both fiction and non-fiction) actually helps me in my work as well. Reading still remains the number one way for me to relax and enjoy.

Thank you to you, my fellow readers, for checking out my blog, and sending along recommendations! I hope I've helped you find some good books and steered you away from not-so-good books. :)

I'm including my very first post below just for fun.

April 25, 2007

Welcome to my bookshelf.

I like to read. I wonder if you knew that.

I read paperback books because they don't hurt as much if I roll over them in bed.

I read because it makes me feel more connected to who I am. I like taking in new stories, new information, and new ways of thinking about life. I enjoy having a parallel story sitting in my head while I go about my day. I like reading something that changes how I look at myself and the world around me.

The purpose of this blog is to keep track of the books I have read and my thoughts on them. This blog will not be retroactive. Books described here are books that I have just finished. So welcome to my bookshelf. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Party by Robyn Harding

Jeff and Kim Sanders throw a Sweet Sixteen sleepover party for their daughter, Hannah. There's an accident, and suddenly the Sanders' seemingly perfect life is torn apart.

Suspenseful and fast-paced, but it seems to fizzle out at the end. Still, it made for a quick weekend read.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey

I owned this book for 15+ years and never read it, so I recently gave it away. And then I wanted to read it. I checked it out from the library and read it in three weeks because there was a hold on it, so I had to return it. Funny how a deadline changes things.

If you're interested in determining your path in life (well, as much as you can), working toward goals in all areas of your life, and having significant relationships with others, there's gonna be something for you in this book.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Gracious: A Practical Primer on Charm, Tact, and Unsinkable Strength by Kelly Williams Brown

I loved Kelly Williams Brown's book, Adulting, so I was looking forward to her newest book, Gracious. She writes about dealing with others, yourself, hosting, and being a guest.

Overall, she gives helpful advice about how to handle various situations. However, there were WAY too many cutesy footnotes that started annoying me pretty quickly.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro

A memoir and meditation on the writer's marriage, past and present.

Thoughtful and emotional.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki

Fumio Sasaki was depressed, stressed out, and unhappy even though he was surrounded by tons of books, camera equipment, and stuff he thought he wanted. He gets rid of most everything and finds contentment. He finds that he has more time, freedom, and less energy devoted toward comparing himself with others.

He includes 55 tips for getting rid of your stuff. He also writes about the benefits of owning less.

Super-easy to read. If you're looking for some motivation to clear some clutter in your house, you might be interested in reading this. I just finished reading this two days ago and I've already given away 30+ things. And that includes my high school yearbooks. Yes, I recycled all four of them. And let me tell you, it felt SO good.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

This is all about how trauma and abuse affects the physical body. And ways that the body and mind can heal.

Super informative, encouraging, hopeful, and well-researched. Plus, the writing style makes it easy to read despite the heavy content.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman

My undergraduate major was Political Science, and for a bunch of my classes, reading The New York Times was recommended reading. It was so cool. As students, we could buy a subscription at a very steep discount. I got a key to the little newspaper locker on campus, and I would bike by each morning and pick it up.

It was in one of my Political Science classes that I was first introduced to Thomas Friedman's writing when we were assigned to read The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

In Thank You for Being Late, Friedman explains how our world and technology developed to where it is right now and how come it's so hard to keep up, along with what's being left behind.

I really liked this book until the last 100 pages where Friedman writes about his hometown in a memoir-like style. It was such an abrupt and disconnected turn and it felt like a different book.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible by Mark Batterson

My church small group went through an abbreviated version of this book in a video series. I read the book as we went through it.

Do you believe in miracles? Batterson focuses on seven miracles found in the book of John and also writes about how miracles can still show up today, if we're open and willing to look for them.

If you're looking for an encouraging book in the Christian life genre, this one is pretty good.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Alice buys a lottery ticket for her friend, Teddy's 18th birthday. What are the chances? But he wins! $140 million at that! As Teddy begins to explore life as a multi-millionaire, we see how he changes, and how his friendship with Alice changes.

I wasn't too happy with a part of the ending. It seemed a bit forced and contrived to me. Well, I guess I am always rooting for the underdog.

Overall, a unique and fast Young Adult read. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Marin stays alone in her college dorm over winter break because she doesn't want to go home to San Francisco and be reminded of the losses that she carries. Her friend, Mabel, flies out to check on her. Over the the course of several days, what happened back at home is slowly revealed.

Short and clever with emotional punch. Family, loss, and who becomes family to us when we don't have any.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Always by Sarah Jio

I can always count on Sarah Jio's books to be fast and un-put-down-able. They can be kinda cheesy and predictable as well, but when I'm just looking for a fast, engaging story, sometimes I can put that all aside.

Kailey is out to dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at a fancy Seattle restaurant. As she's leaving, she gives her leftovers to a homeless man sitting outside who she then recognizes as her ex-boyfriend who had suddenly disappeared years ago.

A great book to curl up with on the couch, or to read by the pool.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

The final book in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series. It's been awhile since I read the last one in this series, so my memory was sorta foggy about what the story was about, but it didn't take long for me to remember Lara Jean and her sisters, Margot and Kitty.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is about Lara Jean's senior year in high school. So prom, college application and acceptances, and whether or not to break up with her high school boyfriend.

This was a walk down memory lane in terms of re-living high school, so although the book was highly readable and moved along quickly, my internal angst level rose as the story went on, hahahha.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner

I read this back in 2012 (you can read my review here). I'm not sure why I read it again, because I didn't really like it the first time. Ah well, sometimes you feel like a nut.