‘Tis the season to get cozy and comfortable with a new book. No matter how hectic the holidays get or what deadlines are quickly approaching, there’s nothing quite like taking some time for yourself and some new reading material. I’ve made it a point recently to try and finish up everything I need to do before 10pm so I can save time at the end of the day to read in bed.
These photos were taken at a local bookstore in Philadelphia, Shakespeare & Co. There’s something so satisfying about getting lost in a bookstore with stacks of books around you (and obviously doing it in a cute outfit). The bookstore is charming, warm and welcoming. I’m looking forward to coming back again to do some work and some literary window shopping. Although let’s face it, I’m sure I’ll go home with a book or two.
With that being said, reading lists are back and we have a lot to catch up on. This post includes everything I read in the past 3 months. I’ve been missing sharing recommendations with you and I’m still reading on a consistent basis so I decided to bring back the monthly reading lists. I love posting about what I’ve been reading and getting suggestions from you on what to read next so stay tuned for more monthly posts.
I’m in the middle of four books right now, which I’ll hopefully be able to include in the next list if I can finish them in time. Have you read anything recently that you loved? I love getting your book recommendations! Leave a comment below. Without further ado, here is everything I read in the last 3 months.
Everything I read in the last 3 months
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
Some books just stay with you months after you read them. I kept seeing the movie in my Netflix queue and avoided it so I could get through the book first. The protagonist is Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old who lives in a poor neighborhood and goes to school at an affluent suburban school. On her way home from a party, she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, when they are pulled over by a police officer. His death becomes a national headline and there are mixed reactions from the public. The book touches heavily on Black Lives Matter and police brutality. I consider myself to be socially conscious but reading the book from the perspective of a community mourning the loss of this young black boy helped me understand on a completely different level.
The author presented a balanced view and didn’t paint the police offer as a monster. She recognized him as a person put in an overwhelmingly dangerous situation that had the potential of escalating quickly. Although I read the book months ago, my mind often wanders to Starr and Khalil in idle moments and I start thinking about recent news in which these events translate to real life.
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
My friend, Maya, recommended this book and it did not disappoint. The author writes about his experience in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust and how he struggled to find meaning when surrounded by inexplicable suffering. There are some meaningful lessons to be found throughout the story. Frankl discusses how suffering cannot be avoided but one can choose how to cope with it by finding meaning and moving forward in life with a new sense of purpose. He also writes at length about how the primary motivator for human beings is not pleasure but rather the pursuit of something meaningful.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
Reading about life in a concentration camp was disturbing. The material was captivating and I kept thinking to myself, how can someone possibly survive this torture? I’m so grateful for survivors who were able to translate their experience into words. The author then goes into a more philosophical portion of the book, which at first was fascinating but eventually I had to take a few breaks. I’m going to be honest and say I had some trouble getting through this section of the book. Overall, I think of it as an important read but be prepared for all your emotions to make an appearance.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
I read this book for a monthly mom book club and I had a lot of trouble getting into it. I felt like I couldn’t relate to the main character and found myself wondering often why she was saying and doing certain things. For the sake of the book club, I continued and I’m really happy I did.
The main character, Eleanor Oliphant, lacks certain social skills and expresses exactly what she’s thinking, without any filters. Unfortunately, it’s often at the expense of other people’s feelings. She tries to avoid all social interaction and has a routine that she adheres to that she finds comfort in. Things start to make sense later in the book as we begin to learn more about why Eleanor is the way she is. Although the character is different, understanding her background and what drives her choices is eye-opening. I recommend reading the book free of judgement for a more positive experience.
Heart of the Matter, by Emily Giffin
I’ve been loving everything that Emily Giffin writes since college and this book is no exception. There are two protagonists-the first is Tessa, a stay-at-home mother whose husband is a pediatric surgeon. The second is Valerie, an attorney and single mother to a six-year-old boy named Charlie. Tessa recently gave up her career to spend more time with her family. She seems to live a perfect life but things are starting to unravel on the inside. Obviously, that’s what makes it all so interesting! Valerie is focused on her career and has given up on finding love after a series of disappointing events. The women do not know each other but a devastating event causes their worlds to connect in unexpected ways. They each find themselves questioning everything they once knew and thought to be true.
I finished this book in two days because I could not stop reading it. We were on vacation in Crete sans kids and I spent most of our time at the beach coming back to Tessa and Valerie. Giffin writes so beautifully about relationships, particularly marriage and motherhood. If you’re looking for a quick read that will make you feel like you’re watching an episode of This is Us, read this book.
All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
I know, another Emily Giffin book but in my defense, we were on vacation and I go through books quickly when traveling. Once I finished Heart of the Matter, I needed more. If you’re looking for a great book club book, All We Ever Wanted is a great choice and will initiate some incredible discussion, especially given events we hear in the news.
The book is written from the perspective of multiple narrators, which I personally love but I know can get confusing. Nina Browning is part of Nashville’s well-off society and her adored and privileged son plans to go to Princeton. Tom Volpe is a single dad raising his high-school aged daughter, Lyla, while holding down several jobs. Nina and Tom’s kids go to the same prestigious private school. Their worlds of course collide. Let’s just say someone takes a scandalous photograph at a party in which there were alcohol and minors. This causes an uproar in the community. Everyone wants to know who took the photograph and what happened that night.
As with all her books, Giffin draws inspiration from current events and lets the reader form their own opinion. This is a must-read. I should mention one caveat-I didn’t love the ending. It felt unfinished to me but maybe that was the point. On another note, I recently found out that Emily Giffin has a new book coming out June 2020 and I am all over it.
The Clean Plate, by Gwyneth Paltrow
Reading Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks makes me want to be a better person. They’re also one of few cookbooks I read from cover to cover. I recently wrote about the cookbook in this post and featured some of my favorite recipes but I also wanted to include it in this reading list because it’s a worthy read. The recipes all consist of simple and clean ingredients that create delicious meals. There are also some great tips on healthy eating as well as the why behind cutting out processed food and added sugars.
A lot of people have issues with Gwyneth Paltrow and her lifestyle but she has been advocating for a clean lifestyle for years. She also provides practical resources and advice for readers who hope to achieve the same on their own. I use this cookbook about once weekly for family meals and still have a ton of recipes left to discover. So far, I personally love the cucumber and avocado gazpacho. So good.
More Than Enough, by Elaine Welteroth
This is a good time to cancel all of your weekend plans and start reading More Than Enough. I pre-ordered this book on Amazon when I first learned about it via the author’s Instagram page. Elaine Welteroth, came to Philadelphia for a free book signing at the public library and she was just as charming and knowledgable in person as she is on social media.
She is a journalist who is credited with infusing social consciousness into Teen Vogue. In her debut book, she discusses identity, race and her journey to becoming a change maker. Her message to all women is that we are enough. Isn’t it nice to hear that sometimes when we’re all trying to do the most? I consider this book a must-read for woman in any stage of their lives who are navigating work, family, and school while discovering their own purpose and truth.
Man Repeller, by Leandra Medine
Can I say something crazy? I know, I’ve been listening to too many Frozen songs but what I’m about to type is crazy. I had this book on my to-read list and physical book shelf since October 2018. It took me almost a year to read it and I honestly don’t know why because the blog, Man Repeller, is incredible and one I read often.
The book is a collection of essays all centered around what the author was wearing at the time. This premise alone is one I could relate to immediately. I may forget the finer details of past events but I will always remember what I wore. I often bring up stories to Julian as “remember when I wore that turquoise shift dress with the belt?” He obviously doesn’t remember. Medine writes about harem pants, gold lamé jumpsuits and embarrassing period accidents (another aspect of the book I can relate to). What I loved most is her unapologetic method of expressing herself via so-called ‘repelling’ sartorial choices. She believes in her core that you don’t need to compromise yourself to fit in and should remain confident in who you are. If you’re a fan of the Man Repeller blog and are drawn to fashion with substance, you will love this book.
The Dark Between Stars, by Atticus
Sitting down in a quiet place with a book of poetry is nourishment for the soul. I first learned about Atticus via Instagram and was immediately drawn to his poems, which are romantic, poignant and deeply relatable. He write about relationships and the process of forming a connection with someone. The words sort of remind you of your more carefree self and the idea that there is beauty and simplicity in life. It’s all very dreamy and whimsical and sometimes that is exactly what you need.
Love Her Wild, by Atticus
Love Her Wild is my favorite collection of poetry by Atticus. I love how he captures the essence of both new love and a committed relationship by focusing on seemingly insignificant moments. Some of the poems are cliché and made me roll my eyes but others are refreshingly simple but meaningful.
“I think it’s beautiful
the way you sparkle
when you talk about
the things you love.”
The poems center around an appreciation of the feminine spirit and beauty. They’re also accompanied by stunning photography that adds to the experience of reading poetry. If you’re looking for something to feed your soul as you drink your morning coffee, you will love this.