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What I Read August 2014

When I was trying to decide what to write today, I realized that it’s pretty much the end of August, which means that it’s time for my monthly reading wrap-up. Then I went to check what I’d read this month and I realized that I’d only started and finished one book! I guess that’s what happens after doing so much reading in July. This month, the only book I finished was Outlander, which I really enjoyed. I know I’ve mentioned this book here on the blog a lot this month, so I’m not going to babble on further; I’ll just point you in the direction of the post I wrote on Claire’s style and this video where I shared my thoughts on the book and TV series (you can also watch it below).

If you want even more Outlander, Roxane Gay (author of An Untamed State) has been writing hilarious recaps for Vulture and my friend Casee Marie has also written very eloquent reviews of each episode so far. Did I mention that I’m obsessed?

After that, I had a hard time deciding what to read next. I had several good options, including The Silkworm, And Then There Were None, and Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, but I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for. All of that indecision means that I didn’t read anything for over a week, until I decided to go with Harry Potter #5. So far, it’s been going a bit slower than I expected, but the goal is finish it over this long weekend.

Up until Wednesday, it was looking like I was going to have a pretty uneventful weekend (which was fine by me). Then I found out that a high school friend is going to be in the city this weekend- yay! I was also invited to a birthday picnic in the park, which sounds like fun. Other than that, I’ll be taking it easy. I hope you all have a relaxing/restful weekend and I’ll see you back here next Wednesday!

Tell me: Got any big plans for Labor Day weekend?

Claire Outlander Navy Blue Coat shoulders

You guys, advertising is no joke. One week ago, I’d never heard of Outlander and although it’s way too early to make this call, I’d say I’m hooked on the show. And I just bought the book too!

In case you haven’t heard of it, Outlander is a new TV series based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon. The main character, Claire, is a nurse during World War II, and after the war ends, she and her husband take a trip to Scotland in order to reconnect. One afternoon when she is exploring some old ruins, she accidentally transports herself back in time and ends up in the middle of a battle between the Scots and the Brits. Of course she’s terrified and right now she’s trying to figure out what the hell just happened. She’s already met a handsome Scottish man named Jamie and saved his life… What can I say? I love historical fiction/period pieces, and I’m a sucker for some romance as well.

Claire Outlander white dress Claire Outlander Hat and Scarf Claire Outlander Gray Suit Claire Outlander Trench Coat Claire Outlander navy blue coat

As I’ve mentioned, I just found out about this series and so far all I know is what I’ve seen in the first episode (which you can stream for free on Starz right now). Right away, I fell in love with Claire’s 1940s style. Costumes are one of the best parts about period pieces, right? I thought it would be fun to take some of clothes she’s worn so far and give them a modern twist. If Claire was walking around right now in the year 2014, what would she wear (WWSW)? From what I’ve seen, she likes classically feminine pieces in neutral colors. However, she’s also not afraid to throw in some masculine elements as well, such as trousers, coats with strong shoulders, and oxfords.

Claire from Outlander

Tell me: Have you guys seen the show or read the book(s)?

(All screenshots via Starz | dress, blazer, trench coat, white shirt, oxfords, scarf)

What I Read July 2014

First things first- I killed it in July (it being a big old pile of books). Thanks to the read-a-thon, I was extra motivated to read and ending up finishing a total of 12 books! I think that’s an all-time record for me, or at least the most books I’ve read in one month in recent memory. This recap is going to be long enough as is, so enough with this intro- let’s get to it.

HARRY POTTER

About- Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts.

Why I picked it- In case you missed last month’s round-up, I’m reading the series from start to finish.

Grade A I think it’s now a tie between this book and the third one for my favorite in the series so far. The last hundred pages were intense and when I finished the book I was freaking out. I texted a few of my friends something along the lines of “Did that just happen? Whaa? Omg!” I’ll also admit that were some tears. I love the first three books but I feel like that was child’s play compared to this one. It just got real.

THE SNOW QUEEN

About- Barrett, a middle-aged man living in New York City who’s unlucky in love, and his brother Tyler, who can’t quite kick a drug habit.

Why I picked it- I was curious to read something by Michael Cunningham. I know that he wrote The Hours and that was critically acclaimed, so I wanted to read one of his books and see what I thought.

Grade B If you’ve been reading these recaps for a while, you’ll probably know that I prefer a plot-driven novel. There’s not much plot in this one, but I still liked it. I can see why he’s received a lot of praise because the writing was really beautiful. I found myself marking lots of passages and thought that his descriptions were enticing. If elegant prose is at the top of your list of qualities you look for in books, I’d say give this one a go.

WHO COULD THAT BE

About- Lemony Snicket (who’s also a character in the book) attempts to solve a mystery, but unfortunately he asks all the wrong questions.

Why I picked it- My roommate has been telling me to read this for a while and the read-a-thon was the perfect opportunity to do so, since this is a quick, easy read.

Grade A- I think Lemony Snicket (the author) is very clever. I like his wry humor and the way he slips in teaching moments in a non-obvious manner. A Series of Unfortunate Events was one of my favorite series as a kid and I still prefer those, but this series is delightful too.

THE FIVE PEOPLE

About- A man dies in an attempt to save a little girl and when he reaches heaven he meets five people who were influential in his life.

Why I picked it- I knew this was made into a movie or tv mini series, so I was curious to check out the book.

Grade C- I was not the biggest fan of this book. I thought that it was so sappy and a little bit preachy. I think this could have been a nice story, but the approach was so heavy-handed and over the top, that I just got frustrated. Anyways, it was a quick read and now I know what it’s about!

DON

About- One twenty-something trying to make her way in the world and figure out adulthood.

Why I picked it- It sounds like the story of my life.

Grade B I liked this book- I thought it was humorous and very relatable. In some areas, her life is a lot like my life, so I could definitely sympathize. I think the title of this book is great and contrary to what it says, at the end of the book I had hope that things would get better. It was a nice reminder that I’m not the only one trying to figure it all out.

WELL READ WOMEN

About- Portraits of famous women in literature and quotes to accompany them.

Why I picked it- I wanted this book since I first heard about it and then several months later, I randomly got a free copy of it at work.

Grade A I thought this book was gorgeous. Each of the portraits was so lovely and I enjoyed reading all of the quotes, particularly the ones that I recognized. There were several characters that I hadn’t heard of, which led me to do some googling and look up a few books. I added some books to my ‘to-read’ list thanks to this book!

WHEN DID YOU

About- A continuation of the series, Lemony Snicket continues to solve mysteries and fight crime.

Why I picked it- It’s a series (this is book 2 of 4).

Grade A- This one was also delightful. I spaced out the Lemony Snicket books during my read-a-thon because it was nice to switch between heavier and lighter reads. The third book comes out at the end of September, so I’ll be looking forward to that.

HEARTBURN

About- A woman finds out that her husband is cheating on her and she has to decide what she wants to do about their marriage. Oh, and the kicker is that she’s 7 months pregnant when she finds out!

Why I picked it- I went through a Nora Ephron phase a month or two ago and I watched several of her movies. I’d never read any of her books, so I thought it was time to give one a try.

Grade A- Nora Ephron is so funny. She’s describing a terrible time in this woman’s life and yet somehow the story is still light-hearted and humorous. Rachel, the main character, is a food writer and there are recipes sprinkled throughout the book, which I liked. I loved the writing style- it’s very conversational and feels a bit like someone’s sharing a juicy story with you. I’m definitely going to pick up another Nora Ephron book because this one was great.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE

About- You guys have seen the movie, right? Right?!

Why I picked it- I only found out recently that the movie was based on a book and I knew I had to read it because I love the movie so much.

Grade A I think this is one of the rare cases where the movie was actually a pretty good adaptation of the book. The book is a hoot and also has the story within a story set-up that the movie does. Unsurprisingly, the book goes more in-depth to the background story, which I found really interesting. The style is such that the narrator is very self-aware and inserts himself throughout the story, which makes it a little hard to tell what’s real and what’s not! If you liked the movie, I am pretty sure that you’ll also like the book.

LIGHT OF THE DIDDICOY

About- A young boy moves from Ireland to Brooklyn, where he has to join a gang in order to survive.

Why I picked it- This was a book club pick. We haven’t actually met to discuss this yet, so I’m curious to hear what everyone else thought.

Grade C+ I’d never heard of this book or this author before, but when I posted on Goodreads that I was reading this book, I got several comments from strangers about how much they enjoyed it! I think they were excited that someone else is reading this book because it has very few ratings on Goodreads. I felt pretty neutral about it. It’s not the kind of book that I would have picked because the subject matter doesn’t interest me that much. I also found the writing a bit difficult because it features dialogue in an Irish accent. Once I got used to the language, it got a little bit easier to read, but I still didn’t find it very exciting. There were a few poetic passages that I appreciated, but I had difficulty connecting with the characters.

LANDLINE

About- Georgie, a television writer, experiences a rough patch in her marriage during the Christmas holidays.

Why I picked it- Rainbow Rowell.

Grade A- After I read Eleanor & Park (if you haven’t read it yet, you should!), Rainbow Rowell quickly became one of my favorite authors. I immediately went back and devoured her previous two books and I was super duper excited for this new one to come out. Can we talk for a second about how gorgeous the cover is? Seriously, whoever designs her books should pat themselves on the back. That was how I discovered E&P in the first place- I saw the cover when I was browsing at Barnes and Noble one evening, looked up the title when I got home, and soon after read the book. Anyways, I digress. Rainbow Rowell has a way of immediately drawing the reader in, which is something I love about her writing style. She’s also able to take serious topics and add levity. Even though this book is about a marriage that’s falling apart, I thought it was far from depressing. She writes both YA and adult fiction, so if you haven’t read one of her books yet, I highly recommend that you do.

FRIENDSHIP

About- Two best friends living in New York City and just trying to get by.

Why I picked it- This book was getting some good buzz, so I snagged a copy from work.

Grade A- I ended the month on another great book. This is the second book on this list that mimics real life for me- set in New York City, poor twenty-somethings, and working in publishing. Check, check, check. This book examines a friendship between two women, with its ups and downs. I could definitely see some of myself in the main characters, which was a fun experience for me, but also a bit disconcerting. I thought this was funny and realistic and sad and touching. Her characters aren’t perfect, which is what makes them so human. This book reminded me of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and of GIRLS, so if you like either of those things, you might like this too.

Tell me: What was the last good book that you read?

Disclaimer: Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse was sent to me by the publisher for review purposes, but these are my honest thoughts and opinions. Also, I received copies of The Snow Queen, Landline and Friendship for free at work (I work for a publishing house), but that doesn’t affect my review and again, these are my honest thoughts and opinions about these books.

Rifle Paper Co. x Puffin in Bloom I’ve professed my love for Rifle Paper Co. many times here on the blog. I just love their aesthetic and pretty much every single item they produce. When I saw that Anna had designed covers for a series of classic books, I just had to share them here. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Last May I made an effort to read more classics. I read The Great Gatsby in anticipation of the movie and I also read Little Women. I’d forgotten how delightful Little Women is and I’m so glad that I reread it. I want to make it a goal of mine to read more classics again this year. There are so many that I haven’t read and I’d like to start tacking my list. I’m not sure yet if I want to dedicate one particular month like I did last time, or maybe aim to read one classic a month for several months?

I’ve also been thinking that I’m going to allow myself to buy pretty editions of the classics that I read. I feel like I’m willing to spend a little extra money for a cover that I love since it’s a classic and I plan to keep it in my collection forever. There’s not a ton of space in my small NYC apartment, but one day I dream of having the space to display all of my books properly. I’m plan to buy the entire Harry Potter series soon too since I’m reading them. I’ve been borrowing them from the library, but I already know that I want to own the books as well!

Tell me: What’s your favorite classic?

(These Puffin in Bloom editions will be available on August 28th!)