August to November 2020 Reads
Oh boy, friends: What a time it’s been. But guess what? It’s already November! I definitely couldn’t see the forest through the trees in March, but we’ve persevered and made it to the (almost) end of the year. Who's our next president? Who knows. What I do know is that the books below are what I read from August until today. Perhaps you’ll find something in here that strikes your fancy, makes you view the world a different way, or acts as a buffer to whatever stress you might be feeling.
Enjoy and happy reading!!
The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories about Facing the Unknown—Edited by Catherine Burns
I love this series. It’s a collection of short stories, but they’re all told by different people, using totally different voices (since these stories were once spoken and then transcribed) about totally different situations. There are some stories that I could never fathom being real but are. If you’re looking for something inspiring to read—true stories from other people who survived some wild, ridiculous, miraculous, minor-to-major life-changing events—then pick up this collection.
Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself, and Bring More Joy to Your Life—Anne Bogel
I’ll be honest: I have no idea how I discovered this book, but I’m so glad that I did. Not only was it a read that spoke to my soul, but Bogel also has such a wonderful way of writing that made the advice easy to read, relate to, and make sense of. If you’re prone to worry, stress, or overthinking (which I think most people are), then do yourself a favor and read Bogel’s work.
Royal Holiday—Jasmine Guillory
Simply a fun read (leaving you wishing that you could take “holiday” to England and fall in love! Ah romance novels!).
My Favorite Half-Night Stand—Christina Lauren
I cannot remember the last time I laughed out loud while reading (or loved a book as much I as loved this novel). The characters were hilarious, the conversations realistic, and the drama fun to follow (even though we all know how it’s going to end). 1,000% recommend for anyone who loves a funny romance novel. (I’ve also researched all the books that Lauren has written and have added them to my “to read” list.)
The Honey-Don’t List—Christina Lauren
Hi, it’s another Christina Lauren book. (See above.) Another wonderful, fun read by Lauren. I really enjoyed the mix mode of delivery for her chapters (some were news articles, others were standard character point of view, while others were tweets and police reports).
The Way I Heard It—Mike Rowe
I adore Mike Rowe. I grew up watching Dirty Jobs with my dad, and we religiously follow Deadliest Catch. This book is an interesting mix of real-yet-fictionalized stories about other famous people with each “chapter” ending with a bit of memoir about Rowe’s life. It was a really fun read because it allowed me to learn and see so much more of this man I grew up watching.
The Magnolia Story—Chip and Joanna Gaines
I’m not sure if there’s anyone in America who doesn’t know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are. Their relationship and ever-growing business are so inspiring. I read Chip’s book (Capital Gaines) a few years ago when it came out, so parts of their story to becoming the Gaineses that we know today were familiar to me, but the most inspiring part of their story was how much they listened to and believed in God. Oh, and that this massive Magnolia empire of theirs didn’t happen overnight: It took over a decade. Joanna says a really wonderful thing in the book that I think both summarizes everything and is an important lesson to remember as we continue in this journey called life: “It’s funny, though, looking back on it now, because one very simple concept in life never occurred to me as I was walking away: Even locked doors can be unlocked in time.”
Party of Two—Jasmine Guillory
I’m a firm believer in people having to be in certain moods/frames of mind to read particular books. When I started reading this cute novel, I was all for a fun romantic comedy to balance out the rest of the things I was reading, but as I kept going, my frame of mind changed, and the book became annoying. The characters faced problems I couldn’t relate to (really…a senator being famous?). All of this is to say, it’s a cute novel, but because I was tired of reading about happy people falling in love (for whatever reason), I couldn’t get into this the way I have with Guillory’s other books. Hopefully that won’t be the case for you, future reader!
Reading People: How seeing the world through the lens of personality changes everything—Anne Bogel
I love learning about personality types. It’s so fun to find yourself in a particular framework and resonate with it fully, like “Oh YUP I totally am that way!” Bogel obviously isn’t a psychologist or personality test expert; she’s just a curious person providing information on the various frameworks for other curious folks to use as a launching pad for deeper research. I think she also hits on some important points, such as how aspects of our personality can hinder us or imped our ability to (smoothly) interact with others. We may have a foundational personality from which we grow, but I think we can all change and adapt if we want to (and that’s exciting work!).
I’d Rather Be Reading—Anne Bogel
I’ve never read a book about reading books before, but I enjoy Anne Bogel’s work (clearly, as this is the third of hers on the list), and the book itself ended up being a fun, light read. It’s always a pleasure to see yourself in someone else’s words, and the only people who pick up a book titled I’d Rather Be Reading are ones who relate to it on a soul-level. If you’re one of those people, then I recommend you check it out.
The Likeness—Tana French
Guys. Tana French novels are good, BUT THEY’RE SO LONG. This book could have easily been half the size if French got to the point faster. The Likeness is a sequel to her debut novel In the Woods (which I talked about in this blog post), so I enjoyed that she connected the two well, but Lord almighty she likes to draw things out. Still a fascinating plot (even if it took forever to get there). That said, I’ll still read her other works.
American Predator—Maureen Callahan
Callahan is now one of my favorite nonfiction writers: This book was amazingly well written. However, due to the incredibly disturbing nature of what she was writing about, my brain decided early on in this reading to pretend everything was fiction, rather than a past reality. If you’re a fan of true crime shows and murder mysteries, I highly recommend this book. HIGHLY.
Twisted Twenty-Six—Janet Evanovich
I love a good Stephanie Plum series novel. I finished this book within 24 hours. I cackled to myself as I read some of the lines. I love Janet Evanovich. These books are hilarious and fun and such a great mental break after you read something heavy (which, in my case, was American Predator).
A Spark of Light—Jodi Picoult
I’ll be honest: I originally picked up this book earlier this year but couldn’t get through the first “chapter” (they’re not traditional chapters but rather giant sections—it makes sense when you’re reading). I love Picoult, but the going backwards through time thing wasn’t working for me. When I picked it up again recently, the time thing still annoyed me, but by the end of it, I was (once again) praising Picoult for her ingenuity and amazing ability to tell a complex story full of diverse characters. She never disappoints, even when you doubt her mode of storytelling.
Fools Rush In—Kristan Higgins
I forgot how much I love Kristan Higgins novels. I laughed, I cringed, I cried, and then it was over, and I was so sad. Such a funny, relatable, beautiful story. 10/10 if you’re looking for a wonderfully easy yet addictive read.
The Forever Summer—Jamie Brenner
I’ve been reading books from my “To Read Shelf” while waiting for library holds to come in, and this book was…underwhelming. It wasn’t bad—per say—but it also wasn’t like good. It was easily the most dramatic thing I’ve EVER read. It reminded me of the daytime soap operas my mom watched while I was growing up: plenty of flair for the straight ~dram~ and lots of miscommunication. IDK GUYS. It was a quick read, but it wasn’t my favorite read of all time (although I did cry at one point, so Brenner got me there).
On Second Thought—Kristan Higgins
11/10. A wonderful read, but one that left me with just one pressing question: Where’s my Daniel the Hot Firefighter?
all we ever wanted—Emily Giffin
meh. That’s all I’m going to say; another underwhelming book with a main character that annoyed me.
The Nightingale—Kristin Hannah
I described this book to a friend as “an amazing read, especially if you’re okay with crying a lot.” It’s about love and relationships of all forms during World War II in France written by the amazing Kristin Hannah.
tiny beautiful things--Cheryl Strayed
Technically this doesn’t belong on this list as I read it once before a few years ago, but as I was going through my boxes of books recently (one day they’ll all sit proudly on rows and rows of shelves), I came across it and was compelled to give it a second read (which I historically don’t do: reread books). It’s a collection of advice column pieces written by Cheryl Strayed under the pseudonym “Sugar,” and there’s just something so profoundly accurate and heartbreakingly honest about every letter as well as her responses. Even if I couldn’t relate to the situation described in the letter, there was bound to be something I underlined or starred in Strayed’s response. I highly recommend this collection. It’s easy to mix into your other reading duties, and I think you should.
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