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October 2017 Reading List.

This was a really, really good month for books. A novel from one of my all time favorite authors, a juicy Gossip-Girl-esque YA read, and a really important book that made me sob. Everything on this month’s list had me fully engrossed, for one reason or another. As always, for more …

The Thousandth Floor

This was recommended to me by so many of you in the comments of previous reading lists…. THANK YOU! It is a part of a trilogy, and many of you described it to me as a futuristic Gossip Girl. So obviously, I had to check it out! I TORE through it. It’s the story of five teens in a futuristic world (Manhattan, 2118) where there is now a giant tower spanning nearly the entirety of the city (42nd street upward through Harlem). The thousand floor tower spans 2.5 miles, with the most expensive, exclusive apartments being on the higher floors.

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Amanda Wakes Up

This is the story of a morning news anchor who goes from the local news to a channel called “FAIR News,” dedicated to (supposedly, at least) providing news coverage from both sides. An election in which the characters are a qualified senator – and a hollywood actor. Sound familiar? Throughout the book there are a lot of ups and downs, misunderstandings, and massive parallels to this past November’s election. What I really loved was that she managed to cover something really serious and make it light and enjoyable to read.

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The Rules of Magic

I was *so* excited when this arrived in the mail. Not only is Alice one of my absolute all-time favorite authors (my mom’s too!), this is the prequel to Practical Magic which I read years and years ago and absolutely loved. It’s the story of Jet and Franny (and their brother Vincent) who later on become the elderly aunts in Practical Magic. It’s a wonderful story (set in New York in the sixties) and I’ve always been fascinated by anything pertaining to witches and/or magic. If you feel similarly, you will LOVE this.

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The Hate U Give

So many of you suggested this one and I am so grateful for that as it’s probably the most important book I’ve read all year. Starr Carter is a black teen straddling two worlds: the poor neighborhood she grew up in, and the fancy (mostly white) prep school she attends. When her best friend is shot by a police officer, her entire world explodes. The story chronicles the thirteen weeks that follow his death – from all sides… how her friends react, how she has to hide the fact that she was the witness, to the grand jury’s decision.

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The Child

An old home is demolished and a construction worker finds the skeleton of a tiny baby. A journalist is determined to get to the bottom of what happened, and in the process she uncovers some pretty major secrets of three women. It alternates back and forth between the different women and their stories (including a couple very unreliable characters). It’s a great thriller, with a major twist. I will say that I did guess the ending, but I have this problem reading thrillers lately where I become determined to figure out what happens.

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The Silent Girls

I will be honest, it took me a little while to get into. That isn’t a bad thing, but I can be really impatient when it comes to my thrillers… I want to devour them, whereas this was a little slower to read. That being said, I really enjoyed it. The plot line is extremely gory… more horror story than thriller and there are several little subplots and mysteries that keep you going. It centers around a detective (whose sister was brutally murdered years and years ago) and a string of ultra grotesque murders that seem to be connected.

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Party Girls Die in Pearls.

I had been in the mood for something fluffy and juicy and while this one was that (it’s a fun Nancy Drew style mystery set in the eighties at Oxford), it was more complex than I had anticipated. It was a really fun read, and I could not put it down. And, I didn’t guess the ending which has been happening quite a bit lately. In the beginning I had a hard time following along (all of the characters – mostly aristocrats had funny nicknames, so it was a bit confusing) but once I got them all straight, I was hooked.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

I absolutely devoured this one – reading it in all of 24 hours. Evelyn Hugo is an aging old Hollywood star (think Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe) and commissions a rather unheard of journalist to do an interview with her. Her story is a wild one – heart warming, glamorous, deceitful at times… you won’t be able to put it down. As her story unwinds, it becomes obvious that Evelyn + Monique (the journalist) have intertwined lives. It’s shocking and raw and real and I can’t say enough good things about this one.

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Startup

Okay this isn’t a great book, but it’s good… and if you’ve ever worked at a startup or tech company, you will love it! This one didn’t remind me of BaubleBar which was (lucky for me) female-founded and a very girl-power culture, but rather the startup “bro” world. I loved this story which involves a young female journalist who manages to take down the (overconfident, egotistical) founder of one of the big NYC startups. It’s satire at it’s finest… funny and empowering, all at once.

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The Lying Game

This book is about four women who were high school best friends and endured a traumatic event during boarding school. Something happens that brings them all back to the town they went to school in, and a little Agatha Christie-style mystery ensues. I really enjoyed it and read it in two days. I will say that I liked The Woman in Cabin 10 a little better, but this is definitely still a great followup. Ruth Ware is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors in the thriller/mystery space!

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Hello Sunshine.

Sunshine Mackenzie is a beloved lifestyle expert and chef with millions of followers on Youtube and social media. The only problem is, she’s living a lie. Oops. And then… she gets hacked. Within two days, she loses her career, her husband, even her home. She’s forced to return to her childhood home in Montauk (and her estranged sister). The book is a tale of her healing process.. and getting back to her old self. I loved it and read it in a twenty four hour period.

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Goodbye Vitamin

This took me a while to get into but once I was into it I was sad that it was almost over (it’s a quick read!) It’s heartwarming, sad, and also very clever. My grandmother had dementia so I could relate to the main character – I was very young at the time but really, it made me think of my mom and what she went through when my grandmother was sick. I loved the writing though.. the author is very smart and had so many amazing little zingers and narratives.. you’ll find yourself re-reading certain bits bc they’re so spot on.

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Girl in Snow

This one is really really dark. It took me a while to get into it as there are so many different characters. The story is told by three misfit characters – all very unique and (in the beginning at least), not particularly likable. A beautiful, popular girl is murdered (found in the snow). The story itself is very eerie and rather unsettling. I thought what made the book particularly good was her character development. Each characterhad so many complicated layers. She really nailed that part. And while it’s slow at first, I ended up loving it.

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Final Girls

Oh my. This was by far, one of the best thrillers I’ve read in ages. It’s sort of like a horror movie meets mystery… flashing back and forth between a horrific event from the past vs. a modern day mystery; with tons of twists and turns along the way. I kept thinking that I had it all figured out, and I kept being surprised. That’s the sign of a great thriller to me!!! The main character, Quincy, endured a horrible massacre where 5 of her friends were killed, but she survives, making her a “Final Girl.” I could not put it down and finished it off within a couple days.

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Commonwealth

This took me a really long time to get into. Like, halfway through. I thought something was wrong with me as this book received SO much praise but I was just “meh” about it. I felt like something was wrong with me as it’s received so so much press! That being said, once I got into it, certain elements of the story started to unfold and I found myself enjoying it more. What I did like about it was it’s complicated, realistic portrayal of family… and how important that bond is.

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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

This was recommended to me by two of the people I respect most when it comes to taste in books. My mom, and Victoria. It follows the story of Li-yan, a young girl living in the remote Chinese mountains. Her family is is tea farmers and we watch her grow up (enduring some of the most incredible difficulties but ultimately persevering – leaving her village to seek an education). Anything I write isn’t going to do it justice so I will just say that what I loved most about it is how much I learned (about Chinese culture and tea farming) but also the way that everything comes together in the end.

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Fitness Junkie

From the team that brought you The Knockoff, this is a funny, witty takedown of New York City’s obsession with crazy wellness trends. I mean, it’s a little crazy how obsessed we’ve all become with wellness. This takes you on the main character Janey’s journey to lose a little weight. It starts with green juice and turns into cultish workout classes, spiritual healers, naked yoga.. the works. There’s also (of course) a cute little love story. It’s fun, it’s light… I read it in a couple days and could not put it down to save my life!

 

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Miss You

This is one of the best love stories I’ve ever read. It’s the story of Gus and Tess, who meet when they are 18 and continue to just *miss* each other for years and years and years (the story ends when they’re 34). It’s one of those stories that is just so wonderful as it is romantic and beautiful but also very real. Both characters go through huge losses and incredibly difficult times… but there’s also this wonderful romantic element. I couldn’t put it down and cried at the end. A bit like The Light We Lost in that way, except this month I was crying happy tears.

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How to Fall in Love With Anyone

I was overjoyed to receive a copy of this book as I loved Mandy Len Cantron’s Modern Love piece. Her book is part memoir, part cultural study – drawing upon her own relationships, her parents’ + grandparents’ relationship, other books and even fairy tales (her takedown of Cinderella is kind of epic). I really loved it, as I really enjoy reading about love and share a lot her beliefs about love. It’s really smartly written, fun to read, and I’d absolutely recommend it no matter what your romantic status might be.

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Tuesday Nights in 1980

This book probably the most accurate and real depiction of life in New York I’ve seen… though it is technically set before I was born, ha ha. Reading it made me wish I lived here way back then. It centers around the art world, and three main characters. There’s a synesthetic art critic (synesthesia is when your senses get crossed… you hear colors, see colors when you taste flavors, etc – it’s fascinating!), an emerging artist, and a young girl who moves to the big city from the midwest. The book tells all three of their intersecting stories… love, loss, and so on and so forth. It’s a must-read.

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Into The Water

This is Paula Hawkins’ highly-anticipated next book after authoring Girl on the Train. Okay so this was hard to follow at first, and I didn’t know exactly where it was going. It was told from the perspective of at least eight or nine different people, so I found myself flipping back and forth. But once I got into it, I was hooked. I will admit that I did guess the ending, but there were twists along the way that I hadn’t thought of. If you are looking for a dark thriller that you can devour within a couple of days, this is it!!!

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The Light We Lost

I think that everyone in some way or form can relate to the main character, Lucy – she’s torn between her free-spirited (selfish) ex, and the more reliable man that she ends up marrying. Don’t we all have one of those… the Big, the Aiden… the guy who makes us feel alive and young but know we can’t depend on versus the reliable guy? Anyway, this is her story… it felt so real and true (and reminded me of stories so many of my married friends have told me), and I will just say that I sobbed the entire last chapter. It’s an absolute must read.

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Fake Plastic Love

This is the story of two college best friends. There’s M – a practical investment banker who puts work over love and prefers corduroys and loafers. And then there’s her bestie, Belle – a wide-eyed and whimsical fashion blogger. The book follows them through college and into their thirties, alongside adventures with their new friend Jeremy. What I loved most about it was the lesson underneath… the importance of living your life as opposed to performing (Belle) or being afraid of taking chances (M). The story is told in a modern-day Gatsby-esque way; you won’t be able to put it down.

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How to Be Married

I will admit, I put reading this book off. I am not married, and being married is not particularly high on my list of priorities now. Reading an entire book about marriage felt kind of… miserable? Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Piazza writes in a way that is realistic, self-deprecating, and funny. My issue with everyone’s idealization of marriage and “the one” is that everything – movies, books, etc. makes getting married feel like the ultimate goal in life, but then what happens afterward!? What I liked about this book was the realistic depiction of love (she writes, lovingly, about how awful her honeymoon was), and also all of the fun little bits of trivia woven throughout.

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Romancing The Throne

This one, by Nadine Courtney Jolie was so much fun to read. I don’t know why I love reading about the royals so much but I do… maybe because it’s a bit of an escape, especially given our own political climate? If  you loved The Royal We, you will love this one! It details two sisters… best friends.. who fall for the same guy – the Prince! It could easily be Kate + Pippa Middleton fan fiction (who knows!?) and it’s the perfect light, fun, summer beach read. You won’t be able to put it down.

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The Rules Do Not Apply

I knew before opening this book that it would tear me apart but I wanted to read it all the same. It deals with love and loss in a major way. I am not someone who cries a lot but this made me cry. First we learn about her feminist/slightly unconventional upbringing, and then it tells the love story between her and her ex-wife Lucy… from there she experiences a series of devastating, dramatic losses. I don’t want to tell you everything that happens or I’ll ruin it, so I will just tell you it’s really sad… but also, I think, an important read. If you’ve ever felt like you were watching your whole life unravel, you will be able to relate. It’s messy, heartbreaking, and deeply moving.

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Secrets in Summer

Nancy Thayer is one of my favorite summer authors… her books are easy and fun to read (and usually take place in Nantucket, where Thayer has lived for 32 years!) They’re like a pint of chocolate ice cream – you’ll want to sit down with them and gobble up the whole thing. Last summer, I read (and loved!) The Island House – her books are light and fun. This one has the main character (Darcy) happily living on Nantucket when her ex-husband and his new family move in next door. Drama ensues!

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This Must Be The Place

So, this took me a while to get into. I think it’s because there are so many characters, all with very complicated relationships. So it took a while but once I was in, I was in. The main character Daniel lives in Ireland with his (recluse of an ex-film star) wife. Meanwhile he has his own children who live in California. Things surface from the past and he has to go back to America. It’s a love story, and it’s a little bit all over the place, but it’s worth taking the time to read because the story is really beautifully written.

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How to Pack

My friend wrote a book! Hitha Palepu (the voice behind Hitha on the Go) wrote this one and it is chock full of useful information… information I know I should be using but information I constantly fail to use… like her packing timeline which will guarantee you a stress-free trip (except I packed at 1am for this recent trip to Mexico). From picking the perfect carry-on, to packing your suitcase (and everything in between) it will have you covered. Hitha is a true expert in this space… she’s traveled over 500,000 cumulative miles in her lifetime and knows her stuff. And at under $10, this book makes for the perfect gift for that friend who travels a lot.

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Sweetbitter

I love love loved this book, by Stephanie Danler. It was so real and I could relate to it on so many levels. No, I did not move to New York and get a job waiting tables but I did grow up in a restaurant and work every single job a person could do (from busing tables to waitressing to even yes… dishwashing!) So I related/felt very nostalgic to that part a lot, but also the feeling of what it’s like being really young in New York (not the case anymore) and living in Brooklyn (the main character lived in Williamsburg which is where I just moved). It’s gotten mixed reviews amongst my friend circle but I could not put it down. It’s so real and raw and just wonderful.

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Styled by Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson is one of my all time favorite interior designers. If you are looking to really hone in on your design aesthetic, this book will help you do that. There is a rather lengthy quiz at the beginning of the book… it will help you think about the things you love, how you live/occupy your space, and your overall “vibe.” The other helpful part of this book is that it helps you to master the art of the vignette. A perfectly styled console table… your entryway… stuff like that. I learned a lot of helpful tips and tricks that have been really helpful as I start to design my own space!

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Slightly South of Simple

I knew when I saw that Elin Hilderbrand had called the author “the next major voice in Southern Fiction” that I was in for a treat, and I was. This is the story of three sisters (all in very different stages of life) who return home to their mother’s home in a little town in Georgia. It’s part of a series of three books and I cannot wait for the next one to come out. All of the characters are very endearing (and relatable) and you really do fall in love/invest in each one of their stories. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a few days. This is your perfect vacation book/beach read.

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The Wicked City

If you loved The Dollhouse, you will love this. It alternates between modern day and the twenties during Prohibition. I fell in love with both of the main characters.In present day, you have Ella – who just discovered that her husband had been cheating on her with a prostitute. Back in the twenties, you have Gin (short for Ginger) who has been charged with helping to take down her sadistic stepfather who is also one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers. When I was finished I felt a little bit sad, as though I was saying goodbye to two close friends.

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All The Missing Girls

What I loved most about this psychological thriller is that it’s sold in reverse. Nicolette returns home to care for her ailing father after ten years. Ten years ago, her best friend Corinne had disappeared. Shortly after arriving back home, another girl goes missing. Throughout the course of the book, Nicolette unravels the story of what happened to both missing girls… revealing secrets about her family and friendships. Megan Miranda writes very similarly to Gillian Flynn and there have been a lot of comparisons between the two.

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The Book Thief.

Oh man – this book was beautifully written. Set in Nazi Germany and told from the perspective of Death, you can imagine that you will need tissues. All of them. It follows the story of the main character Liesel (aka the book thief) from age nine to fourteen and what her life was like during Hitler’s rule. It’s heartwarming and funny at times but also heartbreaking. Over 10 million copies have been sold – it’s a classic, I’m not sure how I read it so much later. Be prepared to laugh and cry… it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read in a while!

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In My Kitchen

As a lover and a collector of beautiful cookbooks (this one is so pretty that it would be at home displayed on your coffee table!), I adored Deborah Madison’s latest cookbook. It’s packed with gorgeous (food porn) vegetarian recipes that are both healthy and delicious – and anything but boring. It will inspire you to pay your local farmer’s market a visit… Even if you aren’t a vegetarian (hand raised) you will love it. I made the citrus and avocado salad (with lime-cumin vinaigrette + shredded greens) and received rave reviews.

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How Art Can Make You Happy

Art is such a wonderful, important thing… but it can feel a little intimidating! Art does not need to be pretentious or stressful. This book is full of wonderful tips for visiting museums, talking about art at cocktail parties, and really the most important thing – how to let art wake you up to the world around you, how to fall in love with it, and why we need it so much. It’s a little book which is perfect for your coffee table. I reach for it whenever I want a little pick me up!

 

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Free Gift With Purchase

If you’ve been reading here for long then you know that Jean Godfrey-June is one of my favorites. I’ve followed her writing for years and read her memoir ages ago when it came out. I was reminded of it more recently (while reading Cat Marnell’s memoir) and re-inspired to pick it back up. I’m glad I did. Even ten years later, it’s such a fun read – and an amazing look into the glamorous beauty industry + world of magazines. Jean is such a wonderful story teller, and does so in such a humble (self-deprecating) and relatable way.

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The Dollhouse.

Fellow historical fiction nerds, you will love this! SO many of you recommended it to me, so thank you for that! There are two strong women (both in New York) and the book tells their parallel stories (taking place in modern day as well as the fifties). It’s set at the glamorous Barbizon Hotel (referred to back then as The Dollhouse, as it was where all of the aspiring models, editors, and secretaries lived back in the fifties… now it’s condos). There is a dark secret and a big mystery to untangle, which happens as the novel progresses. Such a good one.

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Since She Went Away

A superbly written thriller. You will definitely get Gone Girl vibes, reading it. Jenna Barton’s best friend Celia disappears from thin air out of her Midwestern town… leaving behind her husband and child. At the same time, Jenna’s son’s girlfriend also disappears. Shady things are going down. Jenna, blaming herself for Celia’s disappearance, dedicates herself to doing everything she can to finding her missing friend. If you loved Gone Girl, you will absolutely love this and won’t be able to put it down.

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How to Murder Your Life.

Holy Moly. Cat Marnell’s memoir is amazing. I was a big fan of hers when she was an editor at Lucky but didn’t learn about the darker side of her life until much later. Cat writes about her life as a beauty editor and her secret life as a drug addict. She recounts crazy story after crazy story in a tone that is relatable, irreverent, and funny. It’s almost like you are talking to your best friend – except your best friend has been in and out of rehab, mental hospitals, etc. It is hard to read at times but such a page turner.

 

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Behind Closed Doors

I will warn you that this book is very emotionally draining and upsetting. That’s your warning, and that being said, I devoured it. It’s incredibly twisted. Think of that perfect couple we all know… a beautiful house, movie star good looks, seemingly perfect in every way. It didn’t help that the main character’s name is Grace, either. It may seem as though I am complaining, but I’m not. It is is one of the most horrifying and terrifying psychological thrillers I’ve read in a while. I read it in 24 hours – needed to know the ending!

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Commander in Chief

The steamy sequel to Mr. President. In January’s reading list I confided that I was a bit embarrassed that I read and enjoyed this so much (the series is basically 50 Shades meets West Wing) but I couldn’t put it down! Not every book I read and write about here is going to save the world. The plot line is pretty implausible (if you can even get past the part where the president is 35 years old and having an affair with a 23 year old), but it really doesn’t matter… it’s fun to read and sometimes that is all that matters.

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Local Girls

This book is the story of four close friends, living in Central Florida. They’re working dead-end jobs, unmotivated, and mostly unhappy. The story alternates between a chance encounter with their favorite movie star (on the last night of his life) and a past incident that broke up their group of friends. What I enjoyed most about it was the accurate depiction of friendships at that age (they were 19) and the nostalgia it made me feel (my childhood wasn’t anything like theirs but I had similar situations in my friendships).

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The Perfume Collector

The Perfume Collector, by Kathleen Tessaro is one of my favorite books. It was a Christmas gift from my mom, and she has the best taste in books. It follows Grace Munroe as she mysteriously inherits an apartment and a large sum of money from a stranger. The tale weaves through London, New York, Monte Carlo + Paris over several decades. It starts out very slow (albeit mysterious so you are still drawn in) but before you know it, you’re taken on all sorts of twists and turns. Perfume plays a big part of the story, which I loved as I spent the first half of my career working in the perfume business!

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Mr. President

Okay, I am embarrassed to admit that I read Mr. President by Katy Evans but you know what? It was a fun read. I was going through a little bit of a rough time at the end of December and I wanted something totally mindless and silly to read. It’s sort of like, Scandal/West Wing meet 50 Shades of Gray. Yeah. I know. Not exactly highbrow and yes, a little bit (scratch that – quite!!) smutty. But it was fun, and sometimes you just need a fun book. If you’re looking for a mindless but steamy romance, pick this up.

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Watching Edie

This book, by Camilla Way, is in a single word, very creepy. I had a lot of anxiety reading it and felt a little sick to my stomach at times. It explores the darker side of female friendships and is also pretty upsetting, but I would still recommend it. It alternate between the stories of two girls (at age 17 and then in their early thirties). You’ll find yourself nervous and a little disturbed but you also won’t be able to put it down. If you loved The Girl on the Train, this one is for you.

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Modern Romance

I was certain that Modern Romance would be full of laughter as it was written by Aziz Ansari (one of my favorite comedians). Instead, it took a really well-thought out, scientific approach to looking at dating and what has changed since our parents’ generation. You’ll certainly laugh quite a bit, but you’ll learn a lot as well. If navigating the world of online dating has you down, I would definitely recommend this book!

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Attached

Attached is one of those books that will really change how you think. It’s different than the typical self-help book in that it’s founded upon extensive research and science. Basically, half of the population can be classified as “secure;” and the other half are either “anxious” or “avoidant.” The book deals with how identifying your own attachment style and how to interact with the other styles. For me, it really made me think a lot about past relationships from an objective and unemotional perspective.. and develop a better handle on what I’d like in a partner going forward.

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The Couple Next Door

This is another creepy thriller (my favorite!) and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. A young couple goes over to their neighbors’ house for dinner… and something terrible happens. There are several twists and turns (I guessed one, the others I did not). It reminded me a little bit of a mix between Truly Madly Guilty and The Widow. I will say that I did not find any of the characters to be particularly likable (this was done intentionally, I think), but still.. the plot was really, really good – and eerie. Don’t read this one before bed!

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The Regulars

This was a reader recommendation, thank you! It really surprised me. The pink cover leads you to think it’s going to be fluffy chick-lit or a fun beach read. I love a good beach read… but this one turned out to be surprisingly smart + feminist, which was a nice surprise. Three best friends discover a drug called “Pretty”, which makes them absolutely beautiful (think of Limitless, but just for looks). Doors open (and close) based upon their newfound prettiness… but it’s not as predictable as you might think. I really enjoyed it and think that it sends a really nice, empowering message to its readers.

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The Nightingale

This book left me emotionally wrecked and devastated, for lack of better words. SO many of you recommended it (thank you, thank you!!!) I was up very late two nights in a row reading it and rushed to finish my work this past Monday so that I could sit down and spend Monday night reading. Set during World War II, it chronicles the stories of two sisters, living in a Nazi-inhabited France. One of the sisters is a rebel and the other is more of a rule follower but they both leave their mark and help to save lives in their own ways. Please, please read this. You will laugh and cry and be on the edge of your seat. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in ages and I really truly hope they make a movie out of it.

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

This book was so, so good. So good. It’s one of those books that leaves you feeling really good when you finish it. It was definitely a change of pace as I’ve been reading so many thrillers. The plot centers around a famous musician (Frankie Presto) who dies on stage. The story is narrated mostly by “Music” (yes, the gift of Music, personified…) as well as the other people in Frankie’s life (agents, managers, even modern day celebs you may recognize.. like Ingrid Michaelson). The story takes you through Frankie’s childhood + later years, from birth all the way to his death. The author, Mitch Abom (he wrote Tuesdays with Morrie) is one of my faves when it comes to heartfelt, sweet novels. Everything in the story is connected, and I found myself completely enthralled with it! I really, really loved this one.

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I Let You Go

The publicist for this book noticed my disappointment in The Widow (also one of their books) and said that based upon my feelings there, I absolutely had to this! Anyway… it really kept me on my toes with one crazy twist and then another. The first twist is in the middle and completely threw me off my game. The second came later. I highly, highly recommend this. As I write this, I wish I could re-read it. If you loved Gone Girl and/or all of the Liane Moriarty books as much as I did, you will love this! Order immediately.

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The Girls

This was another reader recommendation and was so creepy! The actual plot isn’t something I would choose for myself (it deals with a Northern California cult in the sixties and a murder). What stood out to me about this one is the way it was written. The author, Emma Cline, has a really beautiful way with words – you’d never believe it was her first novel.

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We Were Liars

Oof. This one really threw me. It’s a shorter book (and from the Young Adult section), and I only picked it up because one of you recommended it in July (THANK YOU, Marisa!) It started out so innocently, detailing a wealthy family’s charming existence on a family island off of Martha’s Vineyard. And then everything sort of just goes to hell, and there is this massive twist. I had the misfortune of reading it right before a party and was so distraught over the ending + twist and had no one to talk to about it!!!

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The Light Between Oceans

This book will break your heart. It is a great book (and an older-ish one, though the paperback just came out) but I picked it up because I had been invited to an advanced screening of the movie, and I always read the book before seeing the movie. I wish I didn’t… it left me in tears. Then again, the movie is pretty heartbreaking as well.

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The Woman in Cabin 10

This might have been the summer of 2016’s big thriller (everyone I know is raving about it!) and I will say that it completely lived up to the hype (with a big twist… yes!) I will say that it’s extremely dark. I got to a point where I couldn’t read it before bed as I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep (I live by myself). But I loved it, everyone loved it, it’s kinda just mandatory that you read it to talk about it!

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Eligible

I love Curtis Sittenfeld and this one took me all of one day to read. Literally. It was a cloudy Sunday afternoon and I was supposed to be working on my blog. Instead, I was reading this. I couldn’t put it down. I just loved it so much. It’s a modern day telling of Pride & Prejudice which wasn’t particularly compelling to me, but I love the author’s work. She does such a great job describing the dynamic between families (especially sisters) and the love stor(ies) involved are also very raw and real. I had to know what happened next and kept reading right on through til the evening, which to me is the sign of a great book.

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Truly, Madly, Guilty

This was the latest from Liane Moriarty, one of my all-time favorite authors. Okay, hear me out. I have read all of her books and this is her worst one. But it’s still really good. I ended up really enjoying it, but it took me a very long time to really get into it. I had a hard time relating to the characters until the plot got juicy (which was about 40% through the book). That being said, I still liked it. It deals with three couples that hang out at a BBQ. Something terrible happens. You see how they all cope, then you find out what happens, then things get resolved, and you learn a few more juicy bits. Her portrayal of the relationships between both the couples and the female friends are very real. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get to the good part.

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Here’s to Us

Elin Hilderbrand’s Here’s to Us is another great beach read. I don’t know how, but I’ve never read any of Hilderbrand’s books and she has written SO MANY! (So many of my girlfriends are die-hard fans). Anyway, this one deals with the death of a celebrity chef and his crazy family (consisting of his three ex-wives and three children from each marriage). Could you imagine, three wives living together in a beach house for a long weekend? Oof. With lots of different stories and plot lines going on with each character, I found myself immersed in this one… I (again) read it in a day.

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The Assistants

I absolutely LOVED The Assistants, by Camille Perri! This was such a fun read that I read it in under a day. If you loved The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll love this. The characters are incredibly real (and likeable) and the story is (while a bit implausible at times) totally crazy and fun. I really hope that they turn this one into a movie as I could completely envision it being such a good one.

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The Widow

Okay okay, I hate saying it, but I was very disappointed by The Widow from Fiona Barton. I am including it here because I still enjoyed it… it was well-written and intriguing to read… but everyone was hailing it as the next Gone Girl. So I read and I read, the whole time, expecting a big plot twist. There was no twist, and I was bummed out. It’s still a good book… but it wasn’t Gone Girl. A word to the literary critics out there – just because a book is ultra dark doesn’t make it the next Gone Girl.. it needs to have a good twist!

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Pretending to Dance

I really enjoyed Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain. It alternates between the protagonist (Molly)’s upbringing in a small North Carolina town + her life in present day San Diego as she tries to adopt a child (whilst dealing with some pretty heavy issues from her own childhood). Although there were a lot of times throughout the story that I was very annoyed/frustrated with Molly, (I’m sure this was intentional on Chamberlain’s part), I eventually warmed to her and I really loved the ending.

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A Man Called Ove

I checked out A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (several of you had recommended reading it), and I loved every minute. It was one of the sweetest, most heartwarming books I’ve read in ages. I am not a big crier, but this one had me choking up (poolside, glass of rosé in hand… causing a lot of confusion to my friends). I can’t say enough good things about it… it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read all summer. It will make you look at the older, grumpier people in your life a bit differently.

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What Alice Forgot

I guess it’s safe to say that I’m really, really into all things Liane Moriarty right now. The main character (Alice, of course), wakes up at the gym. She’s fallen off of her spin bike and has forgotten the past ten years of her life… the years between 29 and 39. A lot has changed. She’s estranged from her husband, has three children who she does not remember, and finds all of her new friends to be… rather annoying and obnoxious. I thought it was especially interesting how the book explored the relationships between the characters… managing to portray such a realistic look at what can change in all types of relationships (family, friends, marriage) over time… and the work that you have to put in to repair them.

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First Comes Love

First was Emily Giffin’s First Comes Love. I should note that Emily Giffin has been one of my favorite authors for as long as I can remember. I devoured Something Borrowed and Something Blue and subsequently read every single one of her other books. It had been a little while since her last book so I was very excited to get my paws on this. I read it in a matter of two days. If you have sisters then you understand the complicated bonds between siblings. She hit the nail on the head with this one. I really, really loved it.

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Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls was just re-released for it’s 50th Anniversary. While I never read it the first time around, I am so excited to sit down and read the new edition. That will be my classic, this time around.

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Red Rising

Red Rising is OMGERRRRD my latest YA obsession. It was recommended to me by one of my friends while at a wedding in Hawaii this past September. I ordered it on the spot per her instructions. But my book pile was so high that I only just got to it now. So good. So, so very good. I am reading the second book (Golden Sun) in the trilogy to read while at home this week, and the third book is waiting for me when I get home to New York.

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The Husband’s Secret

The Husband’s Secret was recommended to me by some of you (thank you!!) and I loved it. This also deals with the bonds of family. It kept me on my toes and guessing the whole time. This was my first time reading one of Leane Moriarty’s books so now I’ve ordered Big Little Lies, next!

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The Singles Game

The Singles Game, by Lauren Weisberger (author of The Devil Wears Prada) is such a fun read. Lauren Weisberger is another one of my favorite authors in that I’ve read everything she’s written and usually read her books in under a day or two. I devoured this one in all of two days. This one detailed an up & coming tennis star’s rise to fame (and all the complicated stuff that comes with it). It’s a light, fun read.

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Beautiful Ruins

Lastly, there is this month’s book club book, Beautiful Ruins, which we will be discussing tonight.  I really, really loved this book. It was beautifully written and takes you on a whirlwind adventure (alternating between a tiny coastal town in Italy during the sixties, and modern day America.) Richard Burton makes an appearance and you get a really incredible sense for the film industry… but more importantly, it’s just lovely to read and the character development is exquisite. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

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Unfriending my Ex and Other Things I’ll Never Do

I just started reading Unfriending My Ex and Other Things I’ll Never Do (I started it right before The Book of Life came in the mail) and it is laugh out loud funny… especially if you work in social media. The author, Kim Stolz is a true Internet addict. It’s smartly written and a fun read, but as entertaining as it is, it is a great reminder that we can (temporarily, of course) live without our phones to live in the moment… and that all that connectivity actually leads to us feeling disconnected in real life.

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The Book of Life

This one is for the geek girls. Admittedly, I’ve only just started The Book of Life but have been so. excited. for. it. all. summer. So I had to include it here. Naturally, it isn’t for everyone, but if you are into witches + vampires (like me) and haven’t read the All Souls Trilogy, you must. Unlike most books about witches, it actually isn’t a young adult book. It’s smartly written, rich in historical fiction, and (though I found that the first book started out slowly) a page turner once you get into it.

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The Circle

My book club read The Circle last month, but I couldn’t make it. To be honest, this book freaked me out a little bit.. mostly because I could see it being real. It also made me really think about how much and how often I’m sharing on social media. The main character gets her dream job at a company (that bears a striking resemblance to Google or Apple) and madness ensues. She finds herself going from someone who doesn’t feel comfortable sharing her life online to sharing everything… eventually isolating her family, friends, even some of her coworkers. I found it fascinating. If you work in social media (or for a tech company, it’s a must-read.

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The Last Letter From Your Lover

I tore through this in just a few days. I could not put it down. I needed to know what happened! I’ve loved her other books too.. they’re all beautifully written, and they all make me cry. Similar to The Girl You Left Behind, this one contained two intersecting stories from both modern day and past. In this one, a young woman wakes up… not remembering a thing. Looking for clues about who she is, she begins to find letters hidden around her house from a man she loved (not her husband.) I became obsessed with knowing their fate (hence how quickly I devoured it), rooting for a happy ending. If you’re looking for a book that will make you stay up all night, this is it.

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The Goldfinch

I will tell you that I have not yet finished The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, but that as I write this, I’m rushing to get off of the computer because I cannot wait to sit down with it.  It’s exquisitely written {and over 700 pages long}  but you just want to take your time and soak up every word.  This is the sort of book that will turn you into a recluse.

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With Malice

With Malice is one of those fun YA thrillers that you can power through in a single day. There’s a good twist (one that I did not see coming). I am not sure why but the plot line of this one really disturbed me… more than with my usual thrillers. Probably because the characters were so young, and one of them did something really awful and then couldn’t remember it. You really hurt + feel for her. This is worth picking up, especially if you have a long flight. You’ll fly right through it and be entertained the entire time.

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The Girl You Left Behind

My mom gave me this book by JoJo Moyes for Christmas a couple years ago.  I devoured it in a matter of days, and cried my face off at the ending {in a good way.}  I really love historical fiction and loved that this one told two women’s stories… one set during the war in France, and one set in present day.  It was my first JoJo Moyes book, and may be my favorite!

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Faithful

I finished this one within a day. I (literally) could not put it down. It’s a coming of age tale in a weird sense – the main character Shelby is in a terrible car crash (she is the driver) that destroys her best friend. She blames herself for the accident, wishes it were the other way around, and is completely and utterly emotionally devastated by it. Gradually pulls herself together… moving to New York City, getting a job, going back to school, and finding love (a few different times). The realness and rawness of the characters is incredible, and with all of Alice Hoffman’s book, a little magic is involved.

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Small Great Things

This is Jodi Picoult’s latest and this time around, she deals with race. It takes place in a hospital + centers around Ruth, a black nurse; and white supremacist parents. The parents don’t want Ruth to touch their child and so she’s reassigned. Something terrible happens, and before you know it Ruth is charged with a terrible crime. Picoult writes (believably) from the perspectives of Ruth, the supremacist father, and Kennedy (Ruth’s white lawyer). It’s beautifully written, a page turner, but most importantly, it will make you think a lot about race and privilege.

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Water for Elephants

Ever dream of running away to join the circus? Okay me neither, but you’ll still love this book. An orphaned, penniless Jacob Jankowski finds himself running away during the Great Depression… jumping onto an old train that is home to the Benzini Brothers circus. It ends up turning into a job (one that he both loves + hates) along with two love stories (one with Rosie the elephant, one with Marlena – the star of the show). I found it hard to put down. It’s now a movie, but the book is even better!

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The Devil in the White City

This is my favorite book. Hands down, favorite. It’s centered around the Chicago World’s Fair (and the history + making of that) so you learn a lot. But also, a very clever serial killer (masquerading as a charming doctor), who uses the fair to lure in his victims. It’s both magical and horrific… and the crazy part is that it’s a true story! If you’ve never read it, it is an absolute must!!

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Leaving Time

I read Leaving Time over two years ago and I still think about it all the time. First of all, I love elephants (and they are central to the plot here). Secondly, the big twist at the end is so major. And of course, Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. Jenna Metcalf is a teenager, searching for her mother who disappeared from an elephant sanctuary. Along the way, she consults a psychic and a private detective, forming a makeshift family. The ending is really, really good!

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After You

This is the sequel to Me Before You, everybody’s favorite. It picks up where we left off after Me Before You… Louisa is an absolute wreck. Everyone I talked to either LOVED it or was not impressed. I personally really loved it. I felt like I got a little bit of closure and liked knowing what Louisa was up to after Will’s death… and I thought the plot + character development were both really interesting. As a character, Louisa can be pretty annoying at times, but if you loved Me Before You as much as I do you will enjoy this.

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But What if We’re Wrong

I am a big fan of Chuck Klosterman (the man is a genius and I just love how his brain works!) I don’t read enough non-fiction so when I do, it tends to take me a long time to get through it. I’m plowing along through this though… it takes an interesting perspective, looking at the present and future through the lens of the past. It will change your perspective and help you remember how little we actually know!

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Rich and Pretty

This book is great – it’s a much lighter read, but it was fun. It’s the coming of age story of best friends from middle school through middle age. (One is very rich, and one is very pretty). I thought it did a really great job capturing the intricacies of close female friendships, which we all know can be both very rewarding and very difficult. It is a little bit slow at times but overall I really enjoyed it.

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Follow Me Into The Dark

This is written by my brilliant friend Felicia Sullivan. I love a good twist (and I know you do too)… this one has TWO. It’s sort of a cross between Gillian Flynn’s work and The Silence of the Lambs, but better written. It deals with two generations of women (both terribly mistreated by their mothers). So you have these fascinating mother-daughter relationships (both wrought with disturbing abuse), as well as the complicated relationship between Gillian and her brother Jonah. Buried in there, there’s a serial killer, the two big twists, and a lot of pain + sadness. It is a masterpiece.

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The 24-Hour Wine Expert

This book is genius! Wine can be so intimidating but this book does an incredible job breaking down all of the important elements and make you more confident in ordering wine (from the different varietals and regions to ordering at a restaurant). You won’t be an expert in 24 hours (simply because you can’t taste that much wine in 24 hours) but you will learn a LOT.

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The Career Code

I read the Career Code in just a few days and I have to say, it has some of the best practical advice I’ve read in a career-book in a long time. It provides advice that everyone can benefit from (like, always look put together as you never know who you will see… and making standing reservations at your favorite restaurants). It deals with everything from the interview process to interacting with colleagues, getting a promotion, etc. The WhoWhatWear girls hit it out of the park with this one!

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The Crossroads of Should and Must

The Crossroads of Should and Must is a must-have book for everyone. This sounds trite but whenever I am feeling at all lost or stressed, I will pick it up and thumb through it. It’s a great reminder of the things in life that are actually important. The things you should do, vs. the things you must do. It always gets me back on track and has really helped me a lot in life in terms of finding meaning in my life and work… and making those tougher calls.

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Half Bad

I bought this book because Eva Chen had it on her instagram, and I could not put it down! It’s set in modern day England where there are two warring factions of witches (one good, one bad) and the main character Nathan is the son of the world’s worst witch, Marcus. He has to track down his father to find out his three gifts and get his own magical powers, before it’s too late. Easier said than done.

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Silver Bay

Jojo Moyes is a favorite of mine and I devoured this one. Set in Silver Bay, an old seaside town… a stranger arrives and romance ensues. But it’s complicated as everyone involved has secrets. I find that many of Jojo Moyes’ books follow a similar pattern (rich man rescues woman who is sad and/or a bit of a mess) but still, they never get old. This is one of her best ones.

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One + One

This felt a little bit like the movie Little Miss Sunshine (quirky family, crazy roadtrip) but only if you add on a single mom and turn it into a romance. Make sense? It’s a classic Jojo Moyes romance… you won’t be able to put it down!

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Eleanor & Park

I thought this book was really, really cute. It’s a refreshing look at young love and made me remember what it was like to be young. This one is supposedly written for teens, but I think it might be written for grownups just for the very reason that it takes us back. It chronicles a slow-budding romance between Eleanor and Park from the day they sit next to each other on the bus (ignoring each other, at first).

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The Maze Runner

Everybody raves and raves about Hunger Games and Divergent, but this series is just as good! The unsung hero of the YA adult world, if you will. A boy wakes up in a box and in an unknown land… unable to remember anything. Craziness obviously ensues. There are three books in the trilogy and I guarantee you’ll be hooked. I didn’t love the movie but the book is so good!

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The Tipping Point

This is one of those books I just reach for again and again. Malcom Gladwell is a genius and I love his thoughts on how the world works, and how the littlest things can make such a big difference. It’s a must for marketers, but really just for anyone who wants to understand the world + how people work a little bit better.

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Big Magic

This is the latest one from Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love). I really enjoyed it, possibly more than I enjoyed Eat Pray Love as it’s packed with useful information. If you’re in a creative rut, looking for ways to be more creative, or feeling out of ideas… this is a good one to read!

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Charlie, Presumed Dead

This one was a little bit weird, but so good. It follows two girls (both girlfriends of Charlie, who yes… is presumed dead) on a wild goose chase around the world as they try to figure out what happened to their (presumably dead) boyfriend. It’s strange and weird but fun all the same.

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The Oh She Glows Cookbook

This is my other go-to cookbook, if only for her tomato soup recipe. I’ve learned so much from this one. I’m not a vegan but I try to eat a plant based diet most of the time. The tomato soup is one of the creamiest, most delicious soups I’ve ever had. Who knew that cashews + vegetable broth could make for such a delicious alternative to dairy!?

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A Modern Way to Eat

When two of your (fit, ultra-healthy) friends who have never met recommend the same cookbook to you, you listen. This cookbook is packed with over 200 feel-good vegetarian recipes that are easy to make, satisfying, and completely delicious!

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Bountiful

This cookbook was a gift from my friend Felicia and it’s one of the most beautiful cookbooks I own. The recipes are incredibly healthy (mostly plant based) and the photography is just stunning. I actually keep it on my coffee table for that reason.

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It’s All Good

This is my favorite cookbook, mainly because Gwyneth Paltrow took so many of my favorite things (meatballs! Houssin sauce! Muffins!) and reimagined them into healthier versions of themselves that are actually completely delicious. It’s a must.

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I Was Told There’d Be Cake

Sloane Crosley is one of my favorite authors and I really loved her book of hilarious + witty essays. I bought it years ago when it first came out and pick it back up from time to time when I want a good laugh.

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Straight to Hell

This one was authored by John LeFevre (the genius behind the legendary Goldman Sachs Elevator twitter account.) I couldn’t put it down and found myself gasping more than once because I couldn’t believe some of the things he wrote could possibly be real. It’s amusing and terrifying all at once. If you loved The Wolf of Wall Street, read this.

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The Royal We

I could not put this book down. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did as I’m not particularly Royals-obsessed, but I read it in 36 hours and then convinced all of my girlfriends to read it. It’s Kate Middleton fan-fiction in the best sense of the word. Be prepared to fall in love with the characters!

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The Luckiest Girl Alive

This book was hailed as 2015’s Gone Girl, and while I won’t say that it quite lived up to that level of hype (has any book actually succeeded in being the next Gone Girl?) I really enjoyed it. It takes you on a wild journey; alternating between growing up in Philadelphia + the protagonist’s life in New York.

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The Knockoff

You know a book is really good when you are late to dinner because you got out of the shower, sat down in your towel, and thought to yourself… “I’ll just read a few more pages…” only to finish the entire book. This happened. As someone who spent the last four years working in fashion/tech, I really enjoyed this one. If you work in the industry you’ll find yourself nodding your head and laughing as you pick up on uncanny resemblances for some of the characters. It’s like The Devil Wears Prada, but better.

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Everybody Rise.

I’ve always been fascinated by New York society and the social-climbing that (I would imagine) comes with it. This was juicy. You find yourself loving and hating the main character all at once as she tries to pass herself off as old money… making some really terrible decisions along the way. Clifford has been called a modern day Edith Wharton and I can totally see why. It’s set in Manhattan in 2006 and provides an inside look at the Upper East Side, designer wardrobes, debutante balls, society etiquette, and so much more. I was transfixed, and couldn’t put it down.

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A Discovery of Witches

So this book is not exactly Young Adult in the sense that it’s written really well. It’s sort of like, Young Adult for grownups. My friend Hitha recommended it and all of my girlfriends + I devoured it! Diana Bishop is a scholar (descended from a family of witches but unaware of her powers) who unlocks/discovers a hidden manuscript. A wild ride ensues. Bonus points for a really, really hot vampire… Matthew Clairmont, we love you!

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Summer Secrets

I’ve been a big Jane Green fan for years now, ever since reading Jemima J, and was excited that she had a new book coming out. I read it in one day. It follows the main character from her late twenties into her forties, dealing with her battle with alcoholism + single motherhood…  after a shocking family secret is revealed. Similar to Everybody Rise, she makes a lot of mistakes… but you really come to root for her. I fell in love with both of the main characters.

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Eight Hundred Grapes

I read this one while in Sonoma, which was fun as the book is actually set there. Do you know when something goes wrong in your life, and then you expect things to get better and they just keep getting worse? That’s what happens here. The author has a life changing event, and returns home only to find secret after secret unraveling at her family’s winery. I thought it was very real and raw and managed to perfectly capture the complexity of relationships. That being said, I still managed to finish it within an afternoon.

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