Reading Lately: October 2018


My lucky-book-streak continues this month, with some truly fantastic fiction and a small dash of self-help. I also just got about 9 books in from the library all at the same time, so am looking forward to spending the weekend curled up with some tea and a lot of books!

Quick aside: did anyone else follow the Great American Read series by PBS? I loved the diversity of their list of 100 books, and while I was disappointed that Harry Potter didn't 'win' it was a fun series to follow along with.

Here's what I couldn't put down:


Courtney Summers

I'll admit I'm not the most perceptive consumer when it comes to mysteries and thrillers. I never see the twist coming, and am putty in the hands of the author / director. 'Sadie' was no exception, and I loved this YA thriller. The main character, Sadie, was amazingly layered and unique, and I loved reading the story through her voice. Her narration is also juxtaposed with a journalist telling the story, and I appreciated that it didn't feel like the 'storytelling within storytelling' crutch was used too much. His narration felt genuine, and gave you both a new perspective on the story and little dribbles of new information along the way. I was so wrapped up in hearing the end, I literally got to work 20 minutes late this morning because I had to finish it. Highly highly recommend!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Hank Green

I adore the Green brothers, and while I wouldn't consider myself part of the fandom I consume a lot of their content, including reading John Green's books growing up. As such there was a lot of hype around Hank publishing a book, and I was excited not just to read the book as a book but to read something that someone I kind of care about in a celebrity type way wrote. It felt more personal somehow than just reading any-old book. I don't know why I didn't expect the book to be great, but I didn't, and hot dog was I impressed. Hank's debut novel is amazing. I love his protagonist and narrator, April May, who is layered and human and flawed but very likeable. I loved the commentary on fame, and how fame changes you and what the experience of fame is like. I loved the whimsy of the sci-fi / mystery robot plot. I loved the voice of the novel, the funny throw-away lines and how unique each characters way of thinking was. I can't recommend this book highly enough, whether you're 13 or 30.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Maria Semple

While I liked this better than Maria Semple's previous books, I wouldn't say you have to read it. It's a sweet story about a dysfunctional family (who live in Seattle - it was so fun to recognize all the place names!) and the crazy antics and adventures the family finds themselves in. It's being turned into a movie, and while I can't say I resonate well with the characters I do think this will look great on screen. It was a fun read, and could be a fun film - that alone makes it worth reading!

From the Corner of the Oval

Beck Dorey-Stein

I was pleasantly surprised by this book - not because I thought it would be bad, but because I thought it would be different. Rather than focusing on the political insight and intrigue of working directly with the President, 'From the Corner of the Oval' focuses much more on Beck's personal life, as well as her incredible experiences as part of White House staff. It reads more like a memoir than an episode of the West Wing, and while some may find this disappointing I read so much of myself in Beck's story. I loved hearing her struggle to find a sense of identity, to earn respect in a tough job, and to find meaning in her work. She's a talented writer with a fascinating story.


Chris Bailey

I was expecting this to be a kind-of-dumb self-help book, telling me I wasn't disciplined enough or whatever and that if I was just more focused then I could focus better. It's actually a great, data-driven book that includes exercises for improving focus and the science behind them. The author is also humble and grounded - he doesn't claim to have all the answers, or that every exercise will 'cure' you somehow. He encourages the reader to try each exercise and use the ones that work best for them. He also emphasizes that any lack of focus isn't your 'fault', or even a 'bad' thing, but that it is something you may want to have more control over than you currently do. I found the book effective in giving me strategies to focus on a task for longer, to be more present in my life, and altogether a very pleasant read.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

Amy E. Reichert

I listened to this audiobook in it's entirety on a round-trip drive to Portland, and it was perfect for that trip. It's one of those candy reads that provides lots of room for imagination, and is sweet and satisfying. I liked that the characters felt real and believable (definitely not a given in the romance novel genre), and I loved the food theme. The heroine was strong and independent, the hero flawed but loveable. It was more chaste than I was expecting, and more of a rom-com book than a proper romance novel. A quick and easy read, if you find yourself between better books.