Today I have another set of book recommendations for you guys! I’ve been keeping up the pace and in September I hit my Goodreads goal of reading 30 books over the course of the year. So, I decided to raise my goal and now I’m attempting to read 40 books this year. I’m happy that I’m keeping up with my reading, since it’s really important to me. As you know, I will be hopping on a plane to Mexico early tomorrow morning, so I’ll have plenty of time to read during my travels. If you have any recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them in the comments! (click the titles below for links to each book)
About- It’s a collection of stories by Leandra Medine, the founder of the popular fashion blog, Man Repeller.
Why I picked it- This was sent to me by the publisher, and honestly I probably wouldn’t have bought it on my own. However, I was curious and it looked like a quick read, so I decided to give it a go.
Grade B- As part of the fashion blogging community, I’m definitely aware of her blog, but I don’t read it regularly. I thought this book was ok. Some anecdotes are a bit funny, but I don’t always love her writing style. To me it seems like she uses some words just because they sound fancier, when she would be better served by a simpler word. Sometimes I felt like there were issues with her sentence structure too. Gosh, I sound like such an English teacher, but these are the thoughts that came to mind when I was reading this book. If you’re a fan of her blog and looking for something light, quick, and easy to read, then you might like this.
About- A young actress trying to make it in NYC.
Why I picked it- It’s written by Lauren Graham, aka Lorelai Gilmore, aka Sarah Braverman. I’m such a fan of her acting that I had to find out what her writing would be like.
Grade A I really enjoyed this. This was another light and breezy read and I was a little sad when it ended. I liked the main character Franny and anytime she talked about struggling to get by in NYC, I could totally relate. If Lauren Graham decided to make a series of Franny’s life and continue the story, I’d definitely read it.
About- Another food memoir set in Paris.
Why I picked it- I will never get tired of these. First of all, it’s set in Paris. Secondly, it contains many recipes throughout that sound absolutely delicious. Also, remember how my friend recommended a different Paris food memoir to me and I read the wrong one? This is the one I was actually supposed to read!
Grade A Like I said, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this genre. For a little while I’m transported to another country through the author’s narrative and this helps ease my wanderlust a bit. Next on my list in this category- Mastering the Art of French Eating.
About- A young girl who’s more interested in living in a fictional world than the real world.
Why I picked it- I loved loved loved Eleanor & Park, so I was pretty excited when I heard the author was releasing a new book.
Grade B+ I find Rainbow Rowell’s work very engaging. I get invested in the characters and I want to see them grow and be happy. She left the ending somewhat unresolved, which can be frustrating as a reader, but I think I do understand why she did it. I also learned about fan fiction, which was a term I’d heard before, but didn’t really know much about.
About- Falling in love with someone without ever meeting them.
Why I picked it- It’s another Rainbow Rowell book.
Grade B- This was my least favorite of her books. First of all, the premise is a little creepy: an IT guy at a company is tasked with checking employee emails for inappropriate behavior. He basically snoops on one of the employees and finds out all of these personal details about her and slowly falls in love with her. The catch is that he’s never met her in person and she doesn’t know he’s reading her emails. I mean, that’s a total invasion of privacy, right (he keeps reading her emails, even when they’re not flagged with anything inappropriate)? Also, I thought her characters were a bit flat and not as fleshed out as they tend to be. However, I believe this was her first book, so I can cut her some slack here; her other books are much better.
About- An old man who takes in two orphan girls and does his best to protect them.
Why I picked it- This was our latest book club book, so I actually didn’t pick this one.
Grade B It was a little difficult to write what this book was about, because there’s not really much as far as plot goes. The book was really well-written and the author described things excellently. When we were discussing this in book club, one of my friends mentioned that it was an short story idea that turned into something much longer. I can see how it’d be difficult to pare this down into a short story, but I also thought it was too long. There are whole portions that I thought could have been cut because nothing was really happening. Then again, it wasn’t really about what happened, but more about certain ideas that the author wanted to convey. So I guess I’m torn. It’s not a book I would have picked up on my own, but that’s the whole point of our book club- to expand our horizons and read outside of our preferred genres.
About- A young woman who moves to America for a better life and in the end returns to her home country.
Why I picked it- I’d been on the library waiting list for this one forever, so I was really excited when it was finally ready. The author is Nigerian and my family is Nigerian, so I thought I would definitely be able to relate to the story. I’ve only heard good things about her work too, so I was really looking forward to this one.
Grade A This book didn’t disappoint. I don’t think there are really a ton of books out there written from this perspective- a Nigerian-American. I feel like I got an extra kick out of this book because I knew about a lot of the Nigerian things she was referring to, but I do think any one from an immigrant family could relate to this. She brings up lots of interesting points about race and describes what it’s like to acclimate to American life. I definitely found this book interesting and I look forward to reading more by this author.
About- A group of students at a liberal college who murder one of their own friends.
Why I picked it- A friend told me that she was reading this book and that it was really great. A little later, I saw this on Flavorwire on a list that was called something like “The 20 Best Books You’ve Never Heard of.”
Grade A- From the very beginning of the book, you know that one of the main characters is going to die, but you don’t know how or why. That’s a pretty great way to hook the reader in. This book is a bit long and dense, but I wouldn’t ever say I was bored. There are layers upon layers, and slowly the author pulls them back to reveal what’s underneath. You can also tell that the author is extremely intelligent from the way she references classical texts thought the novel. It’s not pretentious though- you don’t have to know every reference to understand what’s going on and it is in line with the story since the characters are studying classical Greek. She recently released a new book, The Goldfinch, and the critics are raving about it, so I’ve added that to my to-read list as well.
Thanks for reading all the way through! I won’t be posting while I’m in Mexico, but I’ll see you back here this time next week!
Disclaimer: Man Repeller was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes, but these are my honest thoughts and opinions about the book.
I’m trying out a new format for this month’s book post! You can click on each cover to go directly to the Amazon page for that book. Let me know in the comments below how you feel about this new format and/or if you’ve read any of these books!
I did pretty well in May and June- I finished 8 books, so I guess that’s about a book a week! Right now I’m at 20 out of 30 books for my Goodreads yearly challenge. If I keep up with this pace, I might up my goal to 35 or 40 books!
If there’s any season in particular that I associate with reading, it would have to be the summertime. I mean, summer reading is pretty much it’s own category. When I was a kid, my library had this awesome program where you kept track of all the books you read over the summer and depending on how many books you read, you were awarded certain prizes. I was already a voracious reader as a kid, but that program encouraged me to read even more. Man, I miss being a kid in the summertime- it was kind of the best.
Okay, enough with my nostalgia and on to the books I read in the last two months!
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- A week or two before the movie came out, I decided I was going to reread this book because I could barely remember what it was about. The first time I read it was during a high school English class. You’ve probably read this one too or heard enough about it in the last few months, so I won’t recap it, but I was glad I read it again. I picked up on a few new details this time around and the ending was kind of a surprise to me all over again. Even though I managed to finish the book just before the movie came out, I still haven’t seen it! If you did see it, what did you think?
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- In the beginning of May I was kind of on a classics kick, so after reading this post I decide to reread Little Women as well. I’d forgotten how good this book is. While reading it you just care so much about the characters- you laugh when they laugh and you cry when they cry. I’m still not over the fact that Jo doesn’t end up with Laurie in the end because I think they’re a perfect match.
3. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Discalfani- It’s the Great Depression era and right at the beginning of the book, Young Thea is packed up and sent to camp after she commits a terrible indiscretion. For a while you don’t know exactly what she’s done, although that it’s awful enough to make her family send her away indefinitely. Camp is her first real experience away from home and the comfort of her family; she learns how to take care of herself and realizes that she can survive on her own. As I was reading the book, I was enjoying it, but as it came to an end I kind of realized all at once how selfish and self-absorbed Thea is. She does certain things because she wants to and because they make her happy, but doesn’t really consider how her actions might affect other people. Despite my reservations about Thea’s character, I still generally enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it.
4. Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard- I was at a bookstore with a friend a month or so ago and he recommended that I read a food memoir about Paris. At the time, he couldn’t remember the title, but he promised to lend me the book when he found it at home. I started searching online for that book* to see if I could trigger his memory and in doing so I stumbled on to this book. I don’t think I’d really read a food memoir before, but I definitely enjoyed this one. It’s the story of how the author met and fell in love with her future husband in Paris. She talks about what it’s like to live in a different country and, since food is an integral part of this story, what it’s like to cook in a different country. There are recipes at the end of each chapter and I definitely bookmarked a few of them to try at some point. Of course, this book didn’t help with the serious case of wanderlust I’m feeling at the moment, but it was definitely a fun read. (*The book my friend was actually referring to is The Sweet Life in Paris- it’s now on my ‘to-read’ list!)
5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- This was also a great book! I remember being drawn in by the cover during a browse session at Barnes & Noble (I often go there to kill time) and writing down the title so I could look it up later. As you may guess from the title, the two main characters are Eleanor and Park and they couldn’t be more different. Eleanor is a redhead who comes from a broken home and Park is half-Korean and lives with two parents who love each other but who don’t always understand him. Chance brings these two together and it so cute to read about them falling in love. I didn’t actually realize that this was considered a YA novel until after I finished the book, but it does make sense. They may be teenagers, but I didn’t feel that their story was too childish at all. This book is so adorable and funny. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars, I wouldn’t be surprised if you liked this book as well.
7. Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown- Owen’s life completely changes forever when he’s captured by the notorious pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. Owen, a chef, is famous for his talents in the kitchen, so Mad Mabbot forces him to cook a delicious meal for her once a week, using only the ingredients found on her pirate ship. If she likes the food he makes, he’s allowed to live for another week. At first Owen tries to escape whenever possible, but over time he becomes more comfortable in his new life on the ship and learns that much of what he thought was good and right in life, was not actually. It’s so interesting to read about how Owen prepares each meal considering his very limited resources. You might think, “Food and pirates? What a strange combination!” but it totally works in this book.
8. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi- At first I was really excited about this book- I knew the main characters were Ghanian and Nigerian and since my parents are also Nigerian I was looking forward to reading a novel told through that perspective. However, I had some problems with this book. I did not like the first section. I was slogging through it and was about to quit after 40-50 pages or so, but I felt guilty and kept telling myself to give it a little longer before I gave up completely (side note- How long do you wait before giving up on a book that you’re not enjoying?). This is a story about family, specifically about Kweku, his wife Fola and their four children. In the first section Kweku dies and the narrative flashes back and forth between his death and his family’s reaction to the news of his death. I guess I’m glad that I kept reading because I liked it more once I got through the first section. Another one of my problems was the author’s writing style- I still don’t think I’m a fan of the style, but by the time I got to the middle portion of the book I suppose I got used to it. I like to read reviews before and after I read a book and in this particular case there were many people raving about this novel. I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but I wouldn’t say that I hated it either. That doesn’t really help you decide whether or not to read it, but what can I say? I’m conflicted about this one!
Before I forget, the wonderful Eli of Thrift Eye recently allowed me to contribute to her series A Literary Take on Fashion. It’s seriously one of my favorite blog series ever and I’m so thrilled I was able to join in on the fun. Check out my part here!
Tell me: What have you read recently? Do you find that you do more reading in the summer?
Disclaimer: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes, but these are my honest thoughts and opinions about the book.
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?