Reading Recap: July 2018

Another month, another stack of reads. This one was particularly good, with my favorite being Us Against You (you probably could have guessed that, huh), a new one from Colleen Hoover, and a stunning debut from Fatima Farheen Mirza. Let’s get to it!

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

While this book was a little outside of my usual comfort zone, I’d heard so many good things that I decided I had to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. Both disturbing and informative, Killers of the Flower Moon tells a true story I knew very little about. The devastating murders of hundreds of members of the Osage Nation is a shameful part of our history, but one we should all be aware of — and something that should be taught in schools. Grann is a masterful storyteller, creating a convincing and haunting narrative that can’t be missed.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

The first from Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint, A Place for Us is a stunning debut. I was blown away not only by the writing, but by Mirza’s ability to so accurately depict each character’s feelings, especially those of a parent. This is a beautiful and gut wrenching story of family, finding one’s place in the world, and figuring out who you are. Beware, the last 80 pages will leave you sobbing. I can’t wait to see more from this incredibly talented woman.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

I was terrified to start Us Against You, thanks to my love of Beartown. I thought there was no possible way it could live up to it — but it did. Backman has a way of writing devastatingly beautiful stories that will wreck you in the best way. It’s difficult to find words to describe what he does, so I’m not even going to try. Plus, part of the pleasure of reading these books is going in with little information and just staying with it, without trying to figure out where Backman is taking you. As with Beartown, this book left me in tears, and with a giant book hangover. Full review on Goodreads. (Thank you to Atria Books for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

The story of Sarah and Eddie is like a cross between Bridget Jones and Eleanor Oliphant, with a surprising twist. I finished Ghosted in a couple sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like contemporary fiction with lovable but flawed characters and an interesting plot, pick this one up. It was the perfect summer escape that I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about for a while.

Reading People by Anne Bogel

I’ve always been partial to a good personality quiz, but only recently have I become utterly fascinated with the various personality frameworks (think Meyers Briggs, the Enneagram, etc.). Reading People, Bogel’s first book, does a great job of giving a thorough overview of the most popular ones, and even provides additional resources to explore if readers want to delve deeper. I listened to this one on audio, which I personally thought the subject matter was perfect for. (An added bonus? Anne narrates it in her soothing voice we’ve all come to know and love through her popular podcast, What Should I Read Next — check it out if you haven’t.) I, for one, was hooked, and will be referring back to this book as I continue my journey of personality discovering.

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

I’ve only recently become a Colleen Hoover fan after years of skepticism and wrongly assuming romance wasn’t a genre I’d like. Hoover has a way of depicting relationships that, while sometimes problematic, you can’t help but relate to and root for. All Your Perfects is the fourth Hoover book I’ve read, and strays a little from her typical theme. This time, instead of being about a budding romance, it’s about a marriage that’s failing. It alternates between present day — as the couple’s marriage is starting to crumble — and when they first met and are falling in love. Full review on Goodreads. (Thank you to Atria Books for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

We picked Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows for my IRL book club and I started it by reading a physical copy. A colleague had mentioned that the audio was great, so when I got a little stuck I decided to give that a try. I’m so glad I did because she was right—listening to it was great. The narrator did a fabulous job of changing her voice for each character, and since there are quite a few characters, this made following along much easier. I found this to be a fun and entertaining read, but a warning for those who might not love steamy scenes: this is chock-full of them.

Sick by Porochista Khakpour

For obvious reasons, I tend to be drawn toward books about people living with chronic illness—particularly women. I was especially eager to read Sick, Khakpour’s memoir, because I know a number of people affected by Lyme disease. Khakpour’s story is a difficult one, full of not just a lifetime of illness, but a lifetime of struggle. At times I had to put it down and step away — it can be difficult to read someone’s story of illness when you live with an illness yourself. While I didn’t relate to her story as much as I’d hoped, I found it fascinating, informative, and painful. Hers is a story that is needed in our society, for many reasons. We have a tendency not to believe women’s physical pain, and Lyme disease seems to be an illness our country has a difficult time understanding. I hope that the more stories like Khakpour’s that are heard, the more we’ll start really listening to both women with chronic illness and those who live with Lyme disease. (Thank you to Harper Perennial for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.)

As always, you can see what books I’m reading and eagerly anticipated on my Instagram account, @kathareads.

What was your favorite book you read recently?

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January 2018 Reading Recap

Ever since starting my Instagram account dedicated solely to books (aka bookstagram), I’ve been getting a LOT more reading done. And since I could talk about books all day every day, I figured posting a monthly reading recap would be a good way to give this ol’ blog a little much-needed revival. So let’s get to it!

Beartown by Fredrik Backman –I’m not sure where to even begin with how to talk about my love for this book. Everyone said it was amazing, yet it still took me by surprise. The depth of feeling it evoked, the love I developed for every single one of the characters — I simultaneously didn’t want it to end but couldn’t wait to see what happened. In the beginning I was a little frustrated with how slow the story was to develop, but I quickly recognized — and came to appreciate — how necessary and intentional that was. The time Backman spent developing each character, as well as Beartown itself, made you know them intimately and care for them deeply. This was quite a first book for 2018. I’m not sure how anything else I read this year can live up to it — it has earned a firm place in my top 10 books of all time. All I can say is READ IT.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman — I read this immediately after Beartown so it had a lot to live up to. To my surprise, it exceeded my expectations; I LOVED this book. Eleanor is a troubled girl with a more than quirky personality that made me laugh and cry. It didn’t take long to fall in love with Eleanor and it was impossible not to root for her. Watching her discover herself, and develop a truly special relationship with Raymond, made this one of the most charming, heartfelt, and delightful books I’ve read in a while. We could all stand to be a little more like Eleanor.

Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Feel Just Fine  by Michele Lent Hirsch — As a young woman living with a chronic illness, I jumped at the chance to read this. Living with cystic fibrosis has had an enormous impact on every aspect of my life, both in the tangible sense and in the way I view my life and plan for the future. It can be incredibly isolating to live a life that feels so different from your peers, and I’m always searching for any kind of media in which I might be able to get a glimpse of myself. (Thank you to Beacon Press for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn –A loose translation of Jane Austen’s PersuasionBy the Book is a light, fun, entertaining read from author Julia Sonneborn. If you like a charming romance and are a book nerd, this might just be the perfect palate cleanser for you. (Thank you to Gallery Books for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (audiobook) — This was my first audiobook and it was perfect. As someone who has trouble staying focused, listening to fiction has proven difficult. But the subject matter combined with Rubin’s calming voice kept me engaged and interested. Plus, I found this book to be incredibly helpful — I’m for sure an Obliger who falls prey to rebel tendencies when I reach burnout. I feel like now I’m better equipped to establish systems to help keep me accountable and from reaching burnt out so quickly. I highly recommend The Four Tendencies for anyone, especially those interested in learning more about personalities.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas — I had a copy of this book for a couple months before I finally picked it up, I only wish I’d read it sooner. Red Clocks tells of a harrowing future, one that feels eerily close and all too possible. With short, powerful chapters, Zumas tells the story of five women and the impact of the Personhood Amendment, a law that governs women’s bodies to an extreme (a very real extreme). I flew through this book, both eager and terrified to find out what happened to the biographer, the wife, the mender, and the daughter. As a woman who has pondered the ways in which our government could dictate what I do with my body, I read this book with a lump in my throat, unable to stop turning the pages.  (Thank you to Little Brown for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny — The second book in the Inspector Gamache series was equally enjoyable as the first. I like how we’re starting to get to know the key players better, especially Armand. Losing myself in Three Pines will always be a treat, but I’m eager to keep reading since most fans say the books tend to get better with each one. (If you’re an LP fan, let me know if you agree!) Even though I’m only two books in I’m glad I started the series and am excited that there are still many more ahead of me.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid — As someone with a chronic illness, health care is a necessity. My life depends on medications that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year, not to mention doctors appointments, hospital stays, lab tests, bloodwork, etc. The issue of access to affordable health care has been on my mind for years, particularly during the past 12 months as the current administration tried to repeal the Affordable Car Act. (Full review on The Bookly Club.)

All in all it was a great month of reading. In the meantime, you can follow what I’m currently reading on Goodreads or at @kathareads. Come let me know what books you’re reading and loving!