1. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn- As I mentioned in my last round-up of books I’ve read, I was on a bit of a Gillian Flynn kick for a while. Gone Girl is still my favorite of the books she’s written, but I liked this one too. The story is about Libby Day, one of two living survivors of an attack on her family that occurred when she was just a child. When the tragedy happened, she testified in front of a court that her brother murdered her mother and sisters and based heavily on that testimony, her brother was sent to jail. However, as an adult, Libby is not so sure that her testimony was correct and attempts to figure out the truth of what really happened that night. It’s another dark tale, but you’re rooting for Libby to succeed with her quest.
2. Grace by Grace Coddington- I was excited to start this book that so many people in the fashion community raved about. I watched The September Issue for the first time this year; I don’t know what took me so long since the documentary came out years ago! After watching it, I was even more fascinated by Grace Coddington’s personality and relationship with Anna Wintour and I couldn’t wait to learn more from her memoir. She has led a really interesting life both personally and professionally. It took me a little while to get into it in the beginning, when she’s discussing her early childhood, but once she grows up and moves to London, the story really takes off. Also, the book is peppered with fun little illustrations that she created. If you love fashion and/or are obsessed with all things Vogue, it’s definitely worth a read.
3. Idiopathy by Sam Byers- This is one of those books that you’re not entirely sure that you understood, but you generally enjoyed. It involves a love triangle between three pretty messed-up people, a cattle epidemic, and a mom/blogger who becomes semi-famous. You’re intrigued, right? If you like offbeat stories with a satirical edge, then I think you just might like this book.
4. Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin- This is the type of nonfiction I enjoy- nonfiction that almost reads like fiction. This is a type of travel memoir, written by the author when he moved to Paris for a couple of years. In it he shares his observations about the French, about what life in France is like for a foreigner, and about the people he works with at an advertising agency. His anecdotes are humorous and the book in general only strengthened my itch to travel abroad soon. In the meantime I guess I’ll keep reading books about the places I’d like to go! Also, how great is the title and cover of this book?!
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- I waited for this book for what felt like forever and when I was finally able to download it, I devoured it in a couple days. I was not disappointed- this book is as good as everyone says it is. The main character, Hazel, is a teenager with terminal cancer. Based on that alone, you’d expect this book to be really depressing, but it’s not entirely- it’s funny, smart and heartwarming. Even though you know, or should know, exactly what happens in the end, that doesn’t mean you won’t shed a tear or two (or many) as the book draws to a close. If you’re looking for your next read, look no further- this is it. In case you couldn’t tell, this book was my favorite out of this bunch!
Tell me: What are you currently reading?
Did I tell you guys that I kicked up my reading goal this year? I’m trying to read 30 books this year and so far I’m on track! I’m playing a little bit of catch-up, but here’s what I read in January and February (after this, I’m going to try to do these posts monthly).
1. The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain- This is the love story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley, told from Hadley’s point of view. Before I started the book, I knew nothing of this history of their relationship, but that didn’t get stop me from quickly getting wrapped up in their story. Ernest Hemingway has been written about many, many times over the years, but as far as I know, there are very few books that focus on Hadley, which I why I found it interesting that it was written from her perspective. Even though it’s a work of fiction, the author worked to keep the plot historically accurate. Hadley is a rather likable character, which makes you really feel for her during the highs and lows of her relationship with Ernest. I would definitely recommend this book!
2. Serena by Ron Rash- First of all, I have to say that I didn’t really like this book. I couldn’t give it one star on Goodreads because it wasn’t badly written or anything like that, but I didn’t enjoy the story at all. Set in the mountains of North Carolina, it’s about George and Serena Pemberton and their timber business. They’re both ambitious and formidable and will go to great lengths to make their business succeed. It’s a dark and twisted tale, but not in a way that I appreciated.
3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan- After the previous book, I needed a palette cleanser. I’d heard nothing but good things about this book, which made it the perfect follow-up choice. And I’m glad I chose this book because it was an absolutely delightful read! The main character, Clay, is a young twenty-something living in San Francisco trying to find his purpose in life. One night, he stumbles into a job opportunity at a local bookstore, but this bookstore is anything but typical. I don’t want to give anything more away, because it’s really fun to follow this story as it unfolds, but if you love books or tech or quirky adventures, then this is the book for you.
4. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles- Set in 1930s New York, this is the story of Katey Kontent, a sophisticated, intelligent and witty young woman. In the span of one year, Katey’s life changes dramatically, starting on New Year’s Eve when she and her friend Eve have a chance meeting with a dashing young gentleman named Tinker. The fact that it’s set in New York gave me a little thrill as I recognized many of the locations that the characters mentioned. In addition, the glamour of that era really comes across the page. When I read about Katey and Eve’s adventures out on the town, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to be there with them.
5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn- Since I loved Gone Girl so much, I thought it would be fun to go back and read some of the author’s earlier works. Sharp Objects focuses on a character named Camille Preaker, a reporter from Chicago with a troubled past. When two little girls are killed within the span of one year in the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri, Camille returns to her hometown to get the scoop on the story and is forced to confront her past as well. Gillian Flynn really knows how to write a write a psychological thriller and even though you may see the ending coming a little bit before it does, it doesn’t make it any less twisted.
6. Where’d you Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple- This book is quirky, fun, and told in a series of emails, letters, and other reports, interspersed with the voice of Bee, Bernadette’s daughter. Bernadette and her husband Elgin live with their daughter Bee in Seattle. Elgin is at the top of his field in Microsoft and Bernadette used to be a famous architect, until an incident that occurred twenty years ago. Through the correspondence and Bee’s narration, we learn about what happened to Bernadette in the past and why she has so many anxiety issues. Then, mid-way through the novel Bernadette disappears and Bee is really the only one who holds on to the hope that one day they’ll find her. The characters are so lively in this book and Bee is so innocent, yet intelligent that you just can’t help but hope along with her that everything will work out in the end.
Yep, so that’s what I’ve read in the last two months! I’d love to hear any of your book recommendations in the comments below!
As promised, I wanted to share my thoughts on the books that I read in December. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
1. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart – Hmm, this book is a little bit hard to describe. It’s set in New York City, takes place in the not-so-distant future, and focuses on the love story of Lenny (a middle-aged average-looking guy obsessed with staying young) and Eunice (a much younger beautiful Korean girl). In this future society, technology dominates- books are considered “artifacts”- and the youth are revered. Eunice’s youth is part of the reason why Lenny falls in love with her and when things are good between them, he feels younger and more alive. However, when the relationship begins its inevitable downward spiral (not that it started off on such a high note), Lenny really suffers and you feel bad for him. The story is pretty interesting; however, some parts of it dragged for me and on the whole it was rather depressing. My roommate quipped, “Couldn’t you tell that from the title of the book?” but I guess I was still naively hopeful that things might end on a happier note.
2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling- If you’ve read Bossypants by Tina Fey, then I can say to you that this book has a very similar style. Mindy shares some details from her life in a series of brief essays, like how she got started in the industry and her first work experiences when she moved to New York City. If you like Mindy and you’re looking for a light, breezy read then this book will be a good fit.
3. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson- When you find a book on the $1 shelf at your local bookstore, you’re taking a gamble because you may have just found it randomly without any prior recommendations. That’s exactly how I found this book- on a quick visit to the bookstore to pick up some reading material for my trip home to California. Well I think I gambled well because I really enjoyed this book. It’s a love story between a traditional English gentleman, Major Pettigrew, and Mrs. Ali, the local shopkeeper in their small village in England. It’s not love at first sight with these two, but you’ll want to follow along and root for them as they develop from acquaintances to friends to something more.
4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern- Eli tweeted that she was reading this novel at the perfect time for me. I was at home on break and looking for something to read since I had finished the books I brought with me and the local library was closed. First of all, there’s a mysterious circus that appears without warning and is only open at night. Behind the scenes, unknown to the regular circus-goers, two powerful magicians named Celia and Marco are involved in a battle. The problem is that neither of them knows how the battle will end or what the prize is. Also, although they know that they should be enemies, they can’t help but be drawn to each other. The ending isn’t particularly surprising, but Morgenstern’s descriptions are delightfully detailed and each character is carefully crafted. I had a hard time putting this book down and I could totally see this book being made into a movie!
As soon as I stumbled across these gorgeous book covers, I knew I had to share them here on the blog. The Penguin Drop Cap series is a collaboration between Jessica Hische (who has had her work appear in projects like Moonrise Kingdom) and Paul Buckley, the VP Executive Creative Director at Penguin. In this series they’ve reinvented classic texts with bright, bold covers and beautiful typography. I think it would be a dream to be able to purchase the entire collection- they would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s library.
Speaking of books, I still need to share my impressions of the books I read last month- look for that post coming soon!
(first six images via, last image via)
One good thing about being stuck indoors during Hurricane Sandy was that I had plenty of time to catch up on my reading. I went through my pile of catalogs that has been building for months and I was able to mark three books off my to-read list. Each of these books were really different, but I thought it would be fun to share my general impressions of each one and why I would recommend them.
When Victoria recommended this book as her blog, I thought it sounded intriguing and added it to my Goodreads shelf. This book is a little bit of a memoir/journal, in which the author writes about her year-long quest to make a new best friend. In the beginning, she moves from New York to Chicago and realizes that it’s not as easy as she thought to make new friends in your mid/late- twenties. She raises some really interesting points about friendships between women and some of the factors involved in making new friends. When I stopped to think about it, I haven’t made a ton of new friends since I moved to NYC- the majority of the people I hang out with are college friends or work colleagues. Anyway, this book makes you reflect a little bit on your current friendships and what it takes to make new friends. The author’s tone is humorous, a little bit sarcastic and conversational, which makes for a fun and interesting read!
This book is highly praised by the critics and recently won the Man Booker Prize. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, but it’s a sequel to a previous novel, Wolf Hall, so I thought I better read the first novel first. I liked Wolf Hall- I’m generally a fan of historical fiction and I could tell it was really well written. The novel tracks the life of Thomas Cromwell- advisor to the infamous King Henry VIII (you know, the one who had six wives?!). However, it takes place over the span of several years and some parts dragged a bit for me. Turns out, I liked Bring up the Bodies better. The pace is much quicker (less than a year) and the plot is a little juicier now (Anne Boleyn goes from beloved wife to beheaded queen). Maybe I liked the second book better because I was already familiar with the characters, thanks to the first book. Regardless, I recommend that you read them in order, and if you do, let me know which one you like better!
With this one, I actually heard about the movie first. It got pretty good reviews and won the Audience Award at the most recent Toronto Film Festival, so I was looking forward to the movie release. Then I found out that it was originally a book and I definitely wanted to read the book before I saw the movie (Do you like to do that too- read the book first? Or does it not matter to you?). The storyline is kind of hard to describe- basically the main character, Pat, is released from a mental institution and tries to put his life back together. His main focus is to get back together with his wife Nikki, but things don’t go exactly as he plans. That’s all I’m going to say about that because I don’t want to give too much away. The characters are quirky and this is not at all a depressing read- quite the opposite actually.
Tell me: What are you currently reading?