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.
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.
I acknowledge time flying by nearly every week here, but I just have to say, I was asked about my plans for the fall today and nearly had a full-blown meltdown. I understand June is creeping around the corner but THE FALL? Please, don’t make me think that far. I can barely plan my next hour.
- Overdrive: An added benefit to voraciously reading Refinery 29’s Monday Diaries is that I often learn about apps and services to make life easier. It’s how I heard of this app, and “obsessed” is an understatement. Simply log in with your library card and gain instant access to thousands of options. It’s my first actual foray into e-reading, but I’m beyond excited to dig into more books than ever before.
- MealPal: While I’d heard of MealPal while living in NYC, I hadn’t researched or revisited it since moving here. Then I read yet another R29 MD and, well, now I’m its newest member who’s enjoying $6 lunches (instead of $20 salads). Want a promo code? Sign up here.
- Half-Price Mondays: Memorial Day was the perfect backdrop to join some girlfriends from Tampa at the A’s/Rays game. And wouldn’t you know it? The Treehouse — a beautiful, shiny stadium spot with a full bar and games — offers half-price drinks on Mondays. No mustache required, and it almost made a 13-inning game painless.
- “This Is America” – Childish Gambino: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely already heard and watched this. Breaking news reporting over here, I know. But I haven’t covered it yet with WOs AND Cardi B brought it top of mind with her *shocking* discovery that Donald Glover and Childish Gambino are the same person. Pssst … the video is NSFW, in case you haven’t heard.
Even though I read all day long as part of my job, I find myself grasping for more content to consume during my downtime. Whether it’s a rainy bus ride or relaxing before bed, I’ve been voraciously reading more long-form articles and novels than usual. For example…
- “Who Does She Think She Is?”: Acclaimed author Laurie Penny wrote this essay and I hope you’ll take the time to read it. Spoiler alert for my favorite passage: “…any woman … must find a way to dress which is neither too conservative nor too revealing, not too frumpy nor too frivolous, a way of speaking which is neither ‘aggressive’ nor simpering … It’s almost as if the problem weren’t the behavior or the voice or the clothes but the woman wearing them.” DAMN.
- “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma”: You’ve likely seen this essay from renowned author Junot Diaz shared among your social networks already, so I’m not breaking any ground here by reminding you to again, take the time to read it. The detail and decades of masked pain are heartbreaking and infuriating and excruciating all at once.
- “Keep Your Head Up”: Some co-workers were discussing addiction to technology via smartphones and other devices, when one mentioned this article from NYT contributor Adam Popescu. Granted, you have to read it on a device, but the irony was not lost on us. As much as I love the ability to FaceTime family and stay connected to loved ones, it’s also eye-opening to see what physical damage we’re causing on a daily basis.
- Mark Zuckerberg on SNL: When you need a break from all that weight of the world, this Weekend Update bit from SNL is sure to win. My work husband used it against me in a meeting today and I full on had a giggle fit in front of 20 people. So yeah, you could say it’s a good one. POKE!
The past two weeks were a whirlwind between four flights, four cities and 5,000+ miles. To say I’m tired is an understatement, but it’s a first-world problem I’m grateful to have. Here’s what else I’m thankful for:
- “The Emperor’s Children”: A friend loaned me this 2007 bestseller recently, assuring me I’d enjoy the New York backdrop. She hit the nail on the head, as I quickly pieced together the story’s undercurrent and dreamed of fonder times in NYC. While it was slow to start (for me), I’d still recommend it to anyone in search of an emotionally charged novel.
- “Little Fires Everywhere”: Can you tell I’ve been on planes a lot lately? I devoured this new bestseller in two sittings, and only a little bit because it’s on tonight’s Book Club agenda. The characters are deeply flawed and perfectly human; the analogies are consistent; and the storylines are fascinating. I can’t wait to see what my girls thought of it, too.
- “Riverdale”: Not to worry; I’m not all books and brains over here. It took me forever to get on board with this sinister take of the classic comic books I so adored. But now that I’ve started, I’ve had a hard time stopping. The soundtrack, costuming and cinematography are just a few of the reasons I think you’ll enjoy it too.
- “Wolves” – Selena Gomez f. Marshmello: I wish I had a better reason for surfacing this song besides the fact that I like it. While I still get Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato confused, there’s no mistaking how much fun this bumping, sultry sound is. It’s perfect for a poolside playlist or weekend workout. And yes, all that alliteration was necessary to prove a point 😉