Quarantine has me spending a lot of time reading! I read 12 books in April, which means I’m now right on track to meet my goal of 100 books for 2020. But if I keep this up, I’ll be ahead of things fairly soon. This is the first time in several years I’ve been ahead for this goal, which feels great! I am loving the opportunity to read more, and hope I can keep this as part of my routine even when I start getting out more.
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals, by Rachel Hollis: I read this for my work book club, and absolutely loved it. While I was worried it was going to be really trendy, I completely agreed with Rachel’s perspective on life – I feel like we’d be best friends in real life! I highlighted so many passages in this book, like: “I am a very goal-oriented person (as if you couldn’t tell) and it had honestly never occurred to me that not everyone was. Oh, sure, I get that not everybody leaps out of bed at 5:00 a.m. like a jack-in-the-box as I do, but I just assumed that everybody was always working toward something.” THAT IS SO ME! I was worried from the title that this was going to be a “be who you are and don’t do anything differently” book (I really hate those), but it was quite the opposite. It was about trusting your gut but also always striving to improve. I found this really motivational and now can’t wait to read Rachel’s other books and listen to her podcast!
The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose, by Chris Wilson: What a PHENOMENAL book. Though my taste at the moment has run toward lighthearted novels with a happy ending, this book pulled me in right from the first few chapters, dark as they were. Chris’ attitude in prison is absolutely remarkable, and provides incredible inspiration for those feeling like they don’t have the freedom they want right now. I love that his philosophy is to control what you can and not worry about the rest – even in a maximum security prison under the worst of circumstances, there was surprisingly a lot he could do to work on himself! This book also provides a lot of hope that individuals CAN change, quite dramatically, and that just because you were one person yesterday doesn’t mean you have to be that person today or tomorrow. I loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone I know.
How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center: This novel really surprised me! While I had expected from the genre that it would be fairly light and fluffy, it tackled some pretty serious topics… but in a realistic way. I was pretty annoyed with how Margaret and other seemed to easily let Chip off the hook, but I loved seeing how Margaret’s attitude evolved throughout the book. Kudos to the author for pulling in research on the set point of happiness. And finally, loved this quote, which is perfect for these tough times: “When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for someone else.”
Things You Save in a Fire, by Katherine Center: My second book by this author and just as delightful as the first! I also loved the little nod to “How to Walk Away” in the beginning of this book. I didn’t get into it quite as quickly as “How To Walk Away” (mostly because the main character was almost a caricature), but by the first quarter, I was hooked – Cassie’s reasons for being so hard hearted became more clear. I ended up finishing this in one (long) night on the couch.
Full Circle: From Hollywood to Real Life and Back, by Andrea Barber: I heard Andrea’s appearance on Ali on the Run promoting this book, and it sounded really interesting, so I picked it up the next day… and read it in one day. Great memoir! I don’t know if Andrea is not “big enough” to have a ghost writer or if the ghost writer just did an amazing job making this seem really honest and authentic. Her take on Hollywood and mental health was really candid and refreshing, and I applaud Andrea for being honest about her anxiety and encouraging others to do the same. Definitely recommend this book!
A Princess in Theory, by Alyssa Cole: This came highly recommended by a friend, but after reading the first chapter, I put it down, intending to give it up. The names were so weird it seemed like science fiction, and the initial “reaching out via letter” that happens in the first chapter seemed so fake! But then another friend recommended it, so I decided to give it a shot… and it definitely got better. In the end, I loved it as a nice, relaxing chick lit novel with a few interesting twists and turns (though I knew from the beginning who the “bad guy” was), and read it in one day.
Logging Off, by Nick Spalding: Cute novel, though at first I found Andy really annoying with a complete lack of self awareness. If you can get past that, he gradually improves, and there are some interesting points about just how dependent on the internet / technology we’ve all become.
The Swap, by Robyn Harding: I wasn’t entirely sure who to root for in this novel, as the initial protagonist (Low) certainly has her own set of problems. I found it really hard to understand why both Low and Jamie were so obsessed with being friends with Freya in spite of how capricious she was about their friendships? I was definitely expecting a twist, and kept wondering who the villain was going to turn out to be. Fortunately, the ending was satisfying with how things got wrapped up.
Every Monday Matters: How to Kick Your Week Off with Passion, Purpose, and Positivity, by Matthew Emerzian: I didn’t read this book in the “one chapter a week” way it was intended, but still found it really easy to digest and draw inspiration. I ended up taking a lot of notes for activities to follow up on. This is especially great during coronavirus as a way to think about ways you can stay focused on the positive and keep growing as a person! I would highly recommend this because it’s short and sweet but still very motivational.
The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire, by Allison Pataki: Loved this historical fiction novel! Like most, I had never heard of Desiree, and I was fascinated by how she stayed connected with Napoleon even after their relationship changed (trying not to give spoilers). I found this book hard to put down; it was a great way to learn more about the French revolution and what it was like to become royalty during this time.
Chocolat, by Joanne Harris: I tried to watch the movie last week, and just couldn’t get into it… but then the book popped up from my holds at the library, and I decided to give it a try. I liked it so much better! It still wasn’t my favorite (I found it weird the way it changed perspectives with no direction as to who was speaking) but I was glad I gave the book a chance.
Less, by Andrew Sean Greer: Wow, I just DID NOT get the appeal of this book. The writing was excellent, and I loved some of the analogies / metaphors / similes, but the plot was terribly boring and never drew my interest. I finished it only because at first I figured it MUST get better, and then by the time I realized it wouldn’t, there was so little left I thought I might as well see it through. But I can’t recommend it at all.
Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.