Reading Lately: March 2020


Better late than never!

Work Optional: 5/5

Tanja Hester

I've been reading Hester's financial independence blog Our Next Life for years now, so knew I'd like her book. Her voice is practical and compassionate, and her financial advice has just the right amount of detail to be informative but not overwhelming. Work Optional is more of a workbook than a novel, giving the reader exercises, algorithms, and concrete next steps to reach (or define) their financial goals. It's your nosy aunt in book form: what do you want to do with your life? The questions are gentle and guiding, and don't require strict answers - they're only there to be considered, and to help you. The rest of the book is information on financial principles to help you decide what's right for you. Do you need a health savings account? Should you be saving up for a house? For example, I realized that planting more trees and providing better infrastructure for biking are what I find most fulfilling, and that I should have health insurance coverage along with my HSA. No matter where you are financially I think you'll find this book useful!

Love Her or Lose Her: 5/5

Tessa Bailey

Yowza! This book is so hot it might burn 😉. Love Her or Lose Her has an unusual romantic premise: a husband and wife have lost touch, and work together to repair their tattered relationship. There's so much to love about this book. Like so many modern couples they weren't considering divorce for dramatic or scandalous reasons, but just because they had stopped communicating and drifted apart. Unlike most couples, Dominic and Rosie are willing to put in the hard work to fall back in love, documented throughout the book. Their sexual chemistry is so hot, and their vulnerability and development throughout the book are heartwarming and engaging. The supporting cast is also fantastic, and I appreciate that these characters have full and vibrant lives and ambitions outside of their relationship that makes them feel like actual people. Did I mention that Rosie is a woman of color who opens her own restaurant? 10/10 must read!

Committed: 4/5

Elizabeth Gilbert

I started my fourth read of Committed in anticipation of getting married this summer, and while reading it came to realize our wedding would not be happening this year. I'm not sure if maturity or quarantine (or both) changed my view of Liz Gilbert, but this time through Committed rang just a little more hollow. Maybe it's because I know now she's divorced Felipe, or because the prose reads a bit more melodramatic than it used to. Maybe it's because I was so excited to get married while Liz was dreading it, which felt sad. Whatever the case may be, my shiny love for this book dulled the tiniest bit on this reading.

Love from A to Z: 4/5

S.K. Ali

This was a sweet and substantial modern teen romance. Adam and Zayneb could not be more different, but they share important things in common: navigating being faithful Muslim teenagers in the US and UK, the importance of family, and their love for Doha, Qatar, where the book is set. Like any romance, I judged this book mostly on the richness of its characters, who were richer than a fudgy brownie. I also loved the setting and perspective though, and the chance to better understand the hate and prejudice Muslims contend with every day in America. It was heartbreaking. On the flip side it was wonderful to read a book set in the Middle East, to better understand the culture and be transported to where being Muslim is normal. Love from A to Z was a fabulous teen romance with depth.

Not the Girl You Marry: 3/5

Andie J. Christopher

A mostly forgettable retelling of 'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'. Not bad, not good, just ok.

The Starless Sea: 2/5

Erin Morgenstern

This book wasn't bad, it just wasn't for me. The grandeur of the narration felt overdone, the symbology seemed random and meaningless, and the plot was hard to keep track of. I think this is probably a great book that I just couldn't appreciate.

We Ride Upon Sticks: 2/5

Quan Barry

After reading Waking the Witch I've been consuming all the witchy content I can get my hands on. My excitement about We Ride Upon Sticks quickly flamed out though. The book opens by introducing an entire field-hockey team, 11 teens in total, and keeping track of all the characters and their relations is harder than keeping up with the Kardashians. "Wait, which one is the Claw again?", "Who is Becca?", and "Is Julie on the team or just a classmate?" pretty well summarizes my thoughts while reading this book. The premise sounded so fun, I just wish I could have gotten past the character overload and exposition to enjoy it.

So We Can Glow: 1/5

Leesa Cross-Smith

From the narrow-minded opening poem to the confusing, abstract prose, I made it through barely half of this short-story collection before giving up. I had such high hopes for this highly-rated female-focused collection, but was completely turned off by the first piece and completely lost for the rest. Maybe I just didn't get it?