Discuss: What Are You Reading?

Aug 13, 2018

Apologies for the delayed post.  I spent the morning fixing the ‘reply’ function in the comments, which I know has been on the fritz for a while.  And since it’s working again, let’s put it to the test with one of our most popular posts: What are you reading?

Share the books you loved and recommend, or the ones you wish you’d skipped over (Hello, Matchmaking for Beginners).  See you in the comments!

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  1. AShley says:

    State of Affairs By Esther Perel. If you haven’t listened to her podcast, you need to. Even if you have never experience infidelity, this book is thought provoking and a quick read. Makes you ask some tough questions if you’re in a relationship…

  2. Megan says:

    First the practical book:
    Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner. As one who grew up in a non-financial literate family, I needed some bare-bone explanations of different financial topics. This helped me understand differences in car insurance options and looking at my student loan consolidation and more topics.I really like the approach Beth takes.

    The fun read: The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve never read it and since finishing the 2nd season on Hulu, thought I’d give the book a read finally.

    • SW says:

      I’m also reading a practical, financial advice book – Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to be Rich.” I like that it’s designed to be a 6 week program with manageable tasks each week. And that it’s not preaching at me to stop having fun/ever buying coffee, etc.

    • anna says:

      Ooooh, interesting! I’ve been reading “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need,” and it’s been helpful, but is very comprehensive, so I’d love something tailored for 20-30somethings. I had tried reading Suze Orman’s book for young people, and it was pretty useless. I know how to manage my credit and that I should open a Roth. I need specifics of how to do the stuff I need to do.

      Also, YAY COMMENTS ARE BACK!!!!!

    • Mary G. says:

      Beth Kobliner is truly a queen! I originally heard her speak on Jean Chatzky’s podcast, HerMoney (which is also great). Beth’s book truly makes personal finances easy to understand.

  3. POMPOM says:

    I’m several years late to the game, but All the Light We Cannot See was riveting. Listened to the audiobook (with a fantastic male narrator) on my commute, and there were days I could not pry myself from my car!

  4. Eleanor says:

    The best non-fiction I’ve read this summer was Daughter of Empire, by Lady Pamela Hicks. If you love watching The Crown, this book is a firsthand account of many historic events told by a woman who was a cousin and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II. Fascinating!

    • SN says:

      I have just finished reading Shashi Tharoor’s “Inglorious Empire”. It was one of the hardest things I ever read-just incredibly painful to finally understand how systematically and quite coldly, the Brits stripped India of every possible resource for 200 years. I’ve seen a lot of the info in other books but to see it all in one place was heartbreaking. What was new to me, in its detail, was the description of the unbelievably punitive tax and tariff structures the Brits put in place.

      We were not taught any colonial history growing up in England and young people there still aren’t taught any. It is an appalling omission. I for one am glad these authors are finally setting the record straight. Every Indian should read this book.

      I also refuse to watch rubbish like Downton Abbey-I know far too much about those people, having read every Edwardian memoir in print. I had to force myself to finish Shashi Tharoor’s book but I am glad I did. As Indians we need to know our history, what my parents generation grew up with, and in the case of my Father, were punished by, for refusing to accept the wholesale rapine and injustice meted out by those people.

  5. Kelly says:

    Currently reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Just picked up Dopesick by Beth Macy to read next.

    Other books I’ve read and loved (and sometimes bingeread) this year: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte, Janesville, Lost Connections, An American Marriage, Homegoing, Bachelor Nation, A Generation of Sociopaths, Pachinko, and The Favorite Sister.

    • m says:

      Seconding Janesville, Pachinko and Homegoing! I’m about to start An American Marriage. I forced myself to finish The Favorite Sister because I loved the author’s first book so much (Luckiest Girl Alive) but I’d find it hard to recommend to others. Will be looking into your other suggestions!

      • e says:

        Ahh, “The Favorite Sister” is in my on-deck circle, solely because of how much I loved Luckiest Girl Alive. Bummer to hear you didn’t enjoy it as much, and would love some more opinions from those who read it!

        • Betsy says:

          Also did not love Favorite Sister despite loving Luckiest Girl alive. It’s uneven, and the characters have nothing to recommend them. 80% of my book club agreed.

    • J says:

      Seconding An American Marriage, Homegoing, Bachelor Nation! Also Commonwealth.

      • BBDC says:

        OH Commonwealth yes. Ann Patchett somehow always leaves me thinking about her stories for ages after reading them.

    • Natalie says:

      Agreeing with Pachinko! Amazing! Currently reading The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri ( if you havent read her work, please do! )

      other recent reads to reccommend: Lucky Boy, Goodbye Vitamin, Americanah

  6. Shannon says:

    I’m currently reading Strong as a Mother by Kate Rope. It’s a more feminist guide to pregnancy and the newborn phase, and focuses on self-care, gaining support from your partner and others, and not being a martyr.

    I’m 24 weeks, and the book has been a nice counterbalance to the, “DON’T YOU LOVE YOUR BABY AND WANT THE BEST FOR YOUR BABY so why can’t you just be perfect and stop being a human being in your own right?” mommy martyr books that are out today. (I chucked What to Expect When You’re Expecting across the room, because it was essentially a thousand page panic button/guilt trip. Pregnancy is scary enough as it is without telling me a stray piece of sushi is going to be the Apocalypse.)

    • Cait says:

      A “mommy” book I found tremendously helpful when returning after mat leave was “The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby”. Real women, real careers, breastfeeding/formula, daycare/nanny, every choice celebrated. Really helped me focus.

    • Maggie says:

      I HATED What to Expect as Well too. So glad to know I’m not the only one. I found the Mayo Clinic books way better for the basics. No panicky, worst-case scenario stuff. Just the facts.

      • Shannon says:

        I’ve also had good luck with Expecting 411, which is very simple, not cheesy, and doesn’t overload you with worst case scenarios. Instead, it’s like: This is your symptom (spotting, cramps, etc.) You’re probably fine, but if X happens call your doctor, if Y happens seek help right away. It kept me sane when I was spotting in week 7 (I have a history of miscarriages).

      • Betsy says:

        The Mayo Clinic book was the only pregnancy book I read. The best advice I got was: get one pregnancy book. Ask one or two people you trust for advice. Take their advice, or follow your gut. Ignore everyone else.

        Good luck! It’s overwhelming but I can’t get fired!

    • Tanvi says:

      We loved the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. Good information and refernce book, recommended by our pediatrician as well as other moms. Congratulations mama!

    • HH says:

      I am going to look this one up! (And The Fifth Trimester from the recommendations of others.) I really l liked Expecting Better by Emily Oster. She’s an economist who broke down a lot of the research on pregnancy and gives her assessment of how the research can be viewed – and how you can make decisions during your pregnancy. I bought it around 16 weeks and wish I would have picked it up earlier.

      I didn’t bother with “What to Expect” and am even happier now that I’ve read these comments.

    • Meredith says:

      I’m in my second trimester and have been listing to parenting/pregnancy audiobooks. I enjoyed Bringing Up BeBe and Becoming Baby Wise. This is my first pregnancy and many friends also recommended Baby 411 and Happiest Baby on the Block. The Fifth Trimester is on my list for when I’m closer to my due date.

    • Jen says:

      ooh, if you’re a working mom or mom-to-be, I highly recommend “Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood” by Allyson Downey. Sounds a bit like “The Fifth Trimester” (which I will pick up a copy of stat)… thanks, ladies!

    • Brandi says:

      A friend of mine really loved “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster. Science-based, and really goes into detail!

    • Jules says:

      +1 for Bringing Up Bebe! Reading that in my second trimester now. Entertaining to read and very anti mommy martyr.

      • shannon says:

        I also liked Bringing Up Bebe. But what cracked me up is that French kids basically have an 80s childhood like mine – time to explore, freedom, not too many activities, and parents who will tell them to go play outside so the adults can chat. (It’s a bit of a peeve of mine when a kid barges into an adult conversation and starts endlessly babbling about dinosaurs or whatever – I was raised not to interrupt or monopolize conversations.) Theory: French moms are just 80s moms with better clothes.

  7. Jordan says:

    I just finished Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and loved it! People also love her first novel, Everything I Never Told You, but I liked Little Fires much better.

    Next on my list is Molly’s Game. I loved the movie but have only just started the book so I’m not sure yet how well written it is. Full disclosure, I’m from Colorado and my family knows the Bloom family a bit but I never knew Molly Bloom’s whole story before I saw the movie: the intrigue is what sucks you in but the relationship with her dad is what keeps me thinking about it.

    I also read The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker last summer; not happy at all but so good. I also read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra several years ago but it is one of the books I still think about.

    • Kellie Marie Beargie says:

      I LOVED Little Fires Everywhere. I grew up in Cleveland so the Shaker Heights and regional references were almost their own character to me. I need to pick up Everything I Never Told You.

    • Kellie Marie Beargie says:

      I only got as far as Little Fires Everywhere before I jumped into responding, but I also loved A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Such a gorgeous, tragic story. Breathtaking and heartbreaking. I like your taste in books; what else have you read lately?

  8. JuliA says:

    I just finished The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and it was fantastic- she does such an amazing job of telling a story about family, the immigrant experience, and the tig of war between assimilation and tradition.

    I just picked up The One Thing by Gary Keller and it is really helpful in organizing your day to day life and quitting multi-tasking for good. I highly recommend it for any professional.

    • LAuren says:

      If you liked “The Namesake”, try “Unaccustomed Earth”, also by Jhumpa Lahiri. They are short stories, so you have to like that kind of writing but they are fantastic. I still think of the final story trilogy years later, it was so affecting.

  9. Madeline says:

    Oh boy. Here are some that I read recently and enjoyed:
    Girl, Wash Your Face- Girl power!
    The Story of Ove- heartwarming
    Before I Go To Sleep- fun read
    The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
    ANY book by Harlan Coben
    The Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal
    Books by Nelson DeMille
    Books by John Hart (except The Hush. I did not like that one)

    • Kimia says:

      Do you mean A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman? If so, I also hardheartedly recommend this book! Both my husband and I LOVED this book, but have your tissues ready if you’re reading it. I’ve never cried so much while reading a book in my life, and half the time you don’t know if you’re crying because your happy or sad. But you’ll come away with a little more hope for humanity than when you started.
      Also recently read Beartown by Fredrik Backman, which purports to be about hockey in a small town, but is really about rape culture, small towns, parenting, career women, and so much more. The sequel to Beartown just came out and I can’t wait to read that too!

    • Anna says:

      I liked the first couple of Maggie Hope books, but maybe I read too many of them too quickly because after book 3 I was kind of fed up with her character. Great settings, though!!

  10. Hillary says:

    I get emails every day from a blog called Modern Mrs. Darcy with deals on e-books. I’ve been downloading books for $1.99 or $2.99 through daily emails. It’s a great deal!

    Note – I am in no way affiliated with the blog

  11. cait says:

    Current favorite “light” series: Maisie Dobbs (WWI through WWII detective series)

    Non-fiction: “The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan”, about families who dress their girls as boys in Afghanistan to fit into society

    “Mommy” book I mentioned in another comment: “The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby” Loved this book for celebrating all choices and talking about returning to work after having a baby.

  12. Kaitlyn says:

    Now is the perfect time to catch up on the Coromoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter acclaim). The 4th book in the series will hit the shelves in a few weeks. If you’re not a HP fan, don’t worry! They are nothing like them. The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil are crime thrillers and AWESOME.

  13. Maggie says:

    I am devouring Brené Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” right now. It is some nice salve in the toxic world we’re living in. She’s really making me think. I know it’s one of those books I’m going to read over and over again. I also picked up “When Life Gives You Lululemons” by Laura Weisberger. It’s a book from the perspective of Emily from The Devil Wears Prada. I’m pretty excited to read it.

  14. Minnesota says:

    Educated: A Memoir (by Tara Westwood)
    Lincoln’s Last Trial (by Dan Abrams)
    Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (by Trevor Noah)
    Art of the Wasted Day (by Patricia Hampl)
    Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship (by Gregory Boyle, author of Tattoos on the Heart)
    The Hate U Give (by Angie Thomas–keeping up with my teenager)

    And, on a less serious note . . .
    Camino Island (by John Grisham)
    The Perfect Couple (by Elin Hildebrand)

  15. Martha says:

    I read The Bright Side of Darkness by JE Pinto about four teens growing up in poverty, making new friends, surviving negative circumstances, and dealing with what happens after making choices and having/gaining community and support along the way. Also, anything by Chris Crutcher, Lisa Scottoline (especially Devil’s Corner and Look Again,” Jodi Picoult, and Diane Chamberlain (Especially Necessary Lies).

  16. Tanvi says:

    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Americanah by the same author was even better!

  17. Laura says:

    I decided to read Crazy Rich Asians before seeing the movie and enjoyed it so much I read the rest of the trilogy in a week. I know a lot of people rave about the Neapolitan novels, so a third attempt at My Brilliant Friend is next on my list.

  18. GeeCee says:

    I just finished “Brightly Burning” by Alexa Donne, which is a retelling of Jane Eyre set in space.

    Next up on the TBR pile is “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI”.

  19. Meredith says:

    For folks who read via an e-reader I’ve gotten a lot out of my library membership via Hoopla and OverDrive. Sometimes you have to wait a couple of weeks for popular books but overall its helped me to increase my reading for pleasure.

    I really enjoyed The Nightingale and am in the middle of Sharp Objects.

  20. RK says:

    The best two books I’ve read this summer were Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and An American Marriage. I also wish I would have skipped over Matchmaking for Beginners.

  21. Jessica says:

    I just read “Ghosted” by Rosie Walsh, and recommend it. It’s a unique mix of genres (romance, mystery, family drama), and kept me thoroughly hooked. It’s pure entertainment (though does deal with some serious topics) – the perfect book to take your mind off things.

  22. MAria says:

    I’m listening to “Pachinko” right now, and loving it. I know next to nothing about the Japanese colonization of South Korea, and the characters are so damn likable, and the narrator has a truly intoxicating intonation for me. Earlier this summer I read “We Need to Talk” by Celeste Headlee, “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, “Gone” by Michael Grant (so I could talk about it with my 13-yr-old son), and “Come as You Are” by Emily Nagoski. I loved each of these books for very different reasons and have recommended them to different friends and acquaintances for similarly different reasons.

  23. Megan says:

    I’ve been listening to “From the Corner of the Oval” by Beck Dorey-Stein on my morning runs. While the writing is a bit over the top, it’s a fun listen for summer. I also just finished “Bluebird, Bluebird” by Attica Locke, which won the Edgar this year and was a great police procedural that explored issues of race in East Texas. Happy reading!

  24. Colleen says:

    I just finished “Prarie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder” by Caroline Fraser. I loved the Little House books as a child so it was fascinating to read about the writing of the series and what really took place.

  25. M says:

    The best book I have read in a LONG time is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I also just finished Ghosted by Rosie Walsh and The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams. Both were good quick reads. For non-fiction I loved Killers of the Flower Moon.

    • EmilY G says:

      Yes! I recently read The Great Alone and it is one of the best things I’ve read in recent memory. I cannot stop thinking about it.

      Other good things I’ve read lately:
      The Book of Essie
      Station Eleven
      Priestdaddy

      For YA fans Turtles All the Way Down and the Serpent King are very good.

  26. Elz says:

    I just finished “Little Fires Everywhere,” I’m now reading “The Heart’s Invisible Furies.” Both excellent.

  27. Jennifer says:

    I just finished Varina by Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain. Based on other Goodreads reviews, it’s not for everyone, but I loved it.

  28. JESSY says:

    The Sky Below, Scott Parazynski A great follow your dreams story. He has had a lot of adventures.
    Sisters First, Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Bush
    Anything by Kristan Higgins
    AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

  29. Brandi says:

    I’d strongly recommend avoiding “The Children’s Hospital” by Chris Adrian. I’ve been struggling through it for about 3 weeks now, and it’s just not doing anything good.

    Books I’ve read this year that have been really good:
    Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
    The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
    The Doomsday Key by James Rollins

    And, on the nonfiction side, I cannot recommend this hard enough:

    FEMINIST FIGHT CLUB by Jessica Bennett. It is one of the best work-related books I’ve read in a long time. I laughed, I cried, and I felt empowered.

    • Michelle says:

      I looooove Feminist Fight Club. So much that I gave personalized, annotated copies to my two closest female friends (one of whom is a coworker) for Christmas last year.

  30. Marlene says:

    I just finished The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan. It is so beautiful. It is YA, but don’t let that put you off. I’ve started A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I struggling with changing my reading gears because these books are so dissimilar.

  31. CArly says:

    The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn… if you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn/ The Girl on the Train I highly recommend this!

  32. Kara says:

    If anyone enjoys true crime books, I read American Fire by Monica Hesse earlier this summer and it was really good in my opinion. It’s not an “edge of your seat” thriller by any means, but the history behind the little town and the fallout between the couple facing trial for setting practically their entire town on fire is interesting.

  33. SC says:

    I generally only read non-fiction — the last one I finished was “American Heiress” which was about Patty Hearst. Well-written and interesting, especially to someone like me who wasn’t around when that incident occurred.

    I just picked up a fiction book called “The Skin That Fits” that was written by my former boss — I’ll make an exception for him!

  34. NEENS says:

    Mystery/Beach Read:
    Something In the Water – Catherine Steadman

    Tear Jerker:
    When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

  35. Jessica says:

    Must read: Bad Blood. Holy. Smokes. Amazing.
    Honorable mention: Little Fires Everywhere (Not as good as Ng’s “Everything I never told you” but still excellent)
    Skip it: The Great Alone (Such a disappointment after Hannah’s “The Nightingale”

  36. Courtney says:

    “The President is Missing” by James Patterson and Bill Clinton. Let’s be honest, it’s silly but a perfect end of summer read.

  37. Erin says:

    Warlight by Michael Ondaatje – set in London in 1945. I’m only a chapter in but I’m hooked!

  38. Kristen says:

    The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (movie coming out soon, and is the first in a series)

    Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

    Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

    Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

    The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

  39. Whitney Gibbs says:

    Have you read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande? For the subject matter the storytelling is excellence but it also opened my eyes to so many things. Like end of life decisions with parents, deciding your quality of life, taking control of your destiny. It’s also so impacted my patience with the elderly people in my life.

  40. Jess says:

    I’ve read SO many good books this summer. I took full advantage of the summer sale at Politics & Prose. My favorites:

    -The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe (fictionalization of the true story of the first Black woman to attend Vassar)
    -The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer (persuaded by this review in The Atlantic, the book did not disappoint (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/the-persuasive-female/556847/))
    -The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (I got on a Wolitzer kick. I really identified, for better or worse, with the Jules character.)
    -Hunger by Roxane Gay (Breathtaking. I could only read in small doses because I found it so profoundly affecting.)
    -Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (A political scandal from the woman’s perspective. A thoughtful but easy read.)

    • M says:

      +1 for The Gilded Age and The Interestings! I’m on the waitlist at the library for Female Persuasion and Hunger has been sitting on my bookshelf unread waiting for the nerve to tackle it… I agree – I have generally found her work to be very affecting.

      Will look into Young Jane Young!

      • Jess says:

        I also read Roxane Gay’s Ayiti and Difficult Women this summer. Both were also excellent. Hunger just happened to be my favorite of my Roxane Gay reads this summer. I have Not That Bad on my bookshelf, and will be reading that soon.

  41. Lacey says:

    I’m a pretty big book nerd. I”m currently reading The Stand by Stephen King and The Book Thief. I’m listening to The Widows of Malabar Hill.

    I read… a lot. Some books that have stood out that I’ve read so far this year are The Broken Girls by Simone St. James and The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (I also read many different genres). My favorite audiobooks are Lincoln in the Bardo, Born a Crime (Highly, highly recommend on audio) and The Good House: A novel (great beginner if you are not used to audio).

    Books that were meh: The Immortalists (there was too much hype for me to really enjoy it, I think), Not That I Could Tell and The Rules of Magic (turns out I may not like Alice Hoffman’s writing style).

    Sorry for the long comment, I just love books.

  42. CYNTHIA says:

    The audio book titled tHe Last Original Wife is just so much fun to listen to. Try it!

  43. Keilexandra says:

    I just finished reading the last book (so far) in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence series and I’m so sad that there are no more. If you like fantasy at all, I highly recommend the first book *Three Parts Dead* by Max Gladstone. Bonus: the magic system is based on corporate law.

  44. Zoe says:

    The Health and Happiness Society series by Katie Cross – deceptively deep books disguised as chick lit, it’s like fictional therapy.

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