Now that I’m back to being a working woman, I’ve had considerably less time to read. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve still read 1.75 books since last Wednesday, but my pace has slowed a bit. Fair trade-off for gainful employment, don’t you think? In any case, here are some more I devoured during my free week:
- “The Rosie Project” – Graeme Simsion: This book has been on my Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf since I joined the site on Jan. 1, 2016. I finally checked a digital copy out from the library and raced through it in record time. Don Tillman is a particularly enjoyable narrator, and you can guess how smoothly his quest to find the perfect wife through a questionnaire goes. 4 /5 stars for some superfluous parts — though that could be my speed-reading bias speaking.
- “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” – Mary Ann Shaffer: Can you say that title five times fast? I’ve yet to see the hit Netflix adaptation of this fictional World War II story, but the book was quite captivating. It’s structured unlike anything I’ve read before, entirely from letters between characters. An extra-special touch: Before Shaffer died in 2008, she worked with her niece, Annie Barrows, to piece this together. The result is nothing short of stunning. 4 / 5 stars because I predicted a few of the twists, but I enjoyed it immensely.
- “Into the Water” – Paula Hawkins: Author of “The Girl on the Train” is at it again with another twisty-turny tale. At least, that’s how it’s billed. While I love a good thriller, I didn’t find this one particularly thrilling. There are countless references to the water women are found dead in — so many, I literally said aloud, “We get it. There’s water.” I expected every turn and didn’t find this nearly as well done as Train. It’s one I felt I had to read, though, and I’m glad I could judge the hype for myself. It gets 3 / 5 stars.
- “The Death of Mrs. Westaway” – Ruth Ware: My peers rave about Ruth Ware, and this one (they claim) is some of her best work yet. It’s no wonder I took a break from the genre after this novel — I didn’t anticipate every single twist, but I also didn’t enjoy the core story nearly as much as I expected. An inheritance and big secret are usually enough to hook me, but I remained unimpressed. Again, so many references to the cold, I wondered if the editor ever read the story all at once. Chill, cold, freezing, icy… thank you, Thesaurus! At the risk of sounding bitter, this one gets 3 /5 stars because I wanted to read it and didn’t hate myself afterward.
I’m in between jobs this week and have zero FOMO about using it to read, relax and recharge locally before I throw myself into my next gig. I could have escaped to the beach or mountains, but I think my body and brain needed more of a staycation vibe. It’s no surprise, then, I’ve got some recommended reading this week:
“China Rich Girlfriend” – Kevin Kwan: The second book in the “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy gives us a deeper look at the characters introduced in book one. I preferred this plot, probably because it didn’t have to spend so much time explaining familial connections, and Kwan really shines in his detailed descriptions of the ultra-lavish lifestyles. 4/5 stars, because I still crave more realistic dialogue (less “Har-har!”) between Rachel and Nick.
“The Woman in the Window” – A.J. Finn: This one has been all over my Goodreads suggestions and friends’ lists, and I’m a sucker for all of these “girl,” “woman,” “lies,” etc. titles. The main character is a recluse who witnesses a terrible crime nearby… or does she? I anticipated most of the twists but still enjoyed the storyline and characters, so it also gets a 4/5 stars.
“Fates and Furies” – Lauren Groff: Another one feverishly favored all over reading lists, this book is one I actually don’t recommend. I found the two main characters extremely unlikable and the writing so contrived, I couldn’t wait to be done with it. The Florida and New York connections were somewhat redeeming, as was the final third of the novel. Still, not enough to redeem it, so it’s a 2/5 stars from me.
“The Best Way to Save Someone from Suicide”: And finally, the holiday season is no stranger to suicide, particularly as the conversation around mental health continues to grow. But how do you help someone? This piece is heartbreaking, enlightening and well worth the read. As always, there are resources available (including me!) for anyone suffering.
If you’re a word nerd like me, there’s no doubt you’ll love these finds:
- “Turtles All the Way Down” – John Green: As you can imagine, I had plenty of reading material to get through during 11+ hours of flights last week. Bestselling author John Green does it again with this intriguing and unabashed introspection of mental health, adolescence and family bonds.
- “Money Diaries” – Lindsey Stanberry: You already know I love Refinery29’s Money Diaries so it’s no wonder I was full-on pumped for this compilation of firsthand stories and financial advice. From paying off loans to buying a home, it’s a must-have for making cents of complicated topics. You’re welcome.
- “We Are Never Meeting in Real Life” – Samantha Irby: The always hilarious Irby does it again with this array of personal essays. It’s completely normal to burst out laughing in the middle of an airport, right? Nothing to see here, just pure enjoyment and entertainment from these ridiculous real-life stories.
- “2002” – Anne-Marie: If you listened to the radio 16 years ago, I can guarantee you’ll love this ode to throwback tunes. From Nelly to *NSYNC and everything in between, Anne-Marie has you covered.
Are you ready for a wild ride? Don’t say I didn’t warn you:
- “Girls’ Trip”: It’s no surprise to see a star-studded cast of Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish straight-up slay the female buddy comedy genre. I finally watched this last weekend and laughed, cringed and guffawed the whole way through. I won’t be that girl (Kate Walsh’s character) but seriously, you must see it.
- “The Last Black Unicorn” – Tiffany Haddish: Inspired by Miss Haddish’s performance (and unforgettable SNL episode), I borrowed a copy of her bestselling memoir. Again, I laughed, I cringed, I was gobsmacked. She writes so honestly and from the heart, and you can’t help but read it in her signature style. Do yourself a favor and get a copy ASAP.
- “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” – Michelle McNamara: By now, you’ve likely heard about the infamous Golden State Killer and his capture, thanks to a national DNA database and unrelenting detectives. One such person was Michelle McNamara, who compiled decades of evidence and information to inspire others to theorize and piece clues together. Her book was published posthumously, just a few months before the killer was named. Seriously, this is one you won’t want to miss.
- “Making a Murderer” Returns: Hold onto your hats and get ready for the next season of this binge-worthy true crime series. The gripping, thrilling documentary sheds a harrowing light on the criminal justice system, its faults and failings. I’m setting my calendar now for the season to come back October 19.
It’s nothing short of a miracle for me to post this before midnight on my coast. A comedy of errors and issues got me here, but I’m keeping my promises:
- Phantom of the Opera: I’d never had the pleasure of seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning show until this past weekend. $40 rush tickets were certainly motivating, but I was in awe of the spectacular special effects, costuming, set design and, of course, talented cast. It’s a must-see before it leaves SF on the 30th.
- “The Heart Is a Shifting Sea” – Elizabeth Flock: After my last breakup, a good friend recommended I read this true tale of three couples in Mumbai, India. The relationships are complex and fascinating, with cultural and religious considerations, countless characters, and the root of love growing in various ways.
- “Mindhunter”: I’m not the last person on earth to binge this Netflix series, but I might be close. After the umpteenth friend urged me to watch, I finally got hooked on this look at the early days of FBI investigators interviewing serial killers — such early days they called them “sequence killers.” It’s chilling, gripping and fascinating all at once.
- Copy Me That: While I’m no Top Chef myself, I do enjoy browsing other’s recipes for quick and easy, yet flavorful meals. My sister-in-law introduced me to this handy app, which combs through the (lovely, but lengthy) personal novels and gets right to the ingredients. It can even create shopping lists from the stored recipes and find new ones based on the ingredients you’re getting. BAM!
My cold is still lingering and SF’s notoriously chilly summers aren’t helping. Here’s what’s trying to break through and clear up my mental Fog-ust.
- “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again”: My bestie here does not go to the movies. Seriously, she hadn’t been to a movie theater in five years. So when she suggested we see this sequel to the 2008 classic, I jumped at the chance. The costumes are fun, the songs are infectious and you won’t be able to watch it without humming along.
- Libby: I severely underestimated how life-changing it is to have a library card again. And with Libby, a new app from Overdrive, I can skip the Kindle app altogether and read right from my phone or iPad on a sleek and easy-to-use interface. #NerdToTheMax
- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”: Thanks fall film previews, I was tempted to dig into Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. My new buddy Libby made it impossible to resist, and I subsequently devoured the first in the trilogy in three nights. At this rate, I’ll be ready for “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” long before its debut in November.
- “When I Kissed the Teacher” – ABBA: This is one ABBA song I didn’t know by heart, but Lily James’s performance in MM2 makes it hard to forget. Who wouldn’t have wanted their college graduation ceremony to go like this? I only wish this lyric video was used in the film itself.