This was a very good month of reading, maybe even better than last month which was also a very good month. I feel like I am on such a good reading streak but don’t want to jinx it! This month, I read 11 books and would recommend almost all of them. The way I see it is that everything that gets an A- or above is pretty much a must-read, and if you love a certain genre (i.e. thrillers), the B’s and B+’s are worth reading too. I wanted to add that I really didn’t like the plot of A Very Nice Girl BUT the writing is so good and I think if I were in my twenties or even early thirties I would have enjoyed it more. It’s interesting how your taste changes as you get older.
What’s the best thing you read this month? I loooove your recommendations – tell me what books you’ve loved in the comments section!
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BEAUTIFUL BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every book I’ve read in the past seven years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre. Now you can also filter by GRADE to find exactly what you’re looking for or just peruse my top picks. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list. And of course my big post of everything that I read in 2021.
Everything I Read in March 2022
A Very Nice Girl, by Imogen Cripp
A few of you had suggested this to me and/or asked what my thoughts are and I feel badly giving this a bad review but I just did not enjoy it. I read it very quickly as I just wanted it to end, and to be honest… it put me in a bad mood! It is extremely well written (though I hate the lack of quotation marks) with such astute observations BUT I just didn’t want to read about another messy 25 year old in a bad relationship. That’s just where I am right now. I think if I were in my twenties or even early thirties I might have enjoyed it more (if you’ve read this, I’m so curious to get your take, please share in the comments.
Anna is studying opera at the prestigious London Conservatory, but doesn’t fit in with her peers. She’s constantly broke, working odd jobs to cobble together her rent, and is a little all over the place both with her singing and personal life. When she meets Max at the bar where she sings jazz, sparks fly. He is rich, lives in a gorgeous flat, and darkly mysterious. But, (as so many of us did in our twenties), she doesn’t ignore the warning signs that she might just be in a toxic relationship. She struggles between wanting her relationship and pursuing her singing career. It’s honestly quite sad and a little upsetting (you want to shake her and stop her from making bad decision).
It’s been compared to Sweetbitter, which I loved… but I think the restaurant setting was what made that one so appealing to me.
- Overall Score: B
Liking Myself Back, by Jacey Duprie (out 6/7/22)
Influencer memoirs and books are a dime a dozen and tend to typically be very surface level and oftentimes boring? I really enjoyed this one, as Jacey was not afraid to get real and show the lest glamorous (and often mortifying) sides of blogging, etc. The toll it can take on a relationship. The impact that instagram’s algorithm can have on your mental health. The snark sites. She talked about it all and wasn’t afraid to go deep and get real.
I really appreciated her candor, especially in talking about her relationship with her husband (every influencer makes their marriage look so perfect!), and her mental health. Not very many people (and I get it, I’d be nervous sharing so much too) are willing to get that vulnerable, so I appreciated that. On a less serious note, it was a fun retrospective on the last ten or so years of blogging. I’d always admired Jacey’s work (her fashion week diaries, her ability to share things that seem so “in the moment,”) I appreciated her pulling the curtain back and telling it like it really is/was. I read this in a single day and thought she did a great job. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
- Overall Score: A-
Dress Code, by Véronique Hyland
This book was pitched to me as a book of essays about the fashion world and its history, “from the new look to millennial pink.” And it is about that, but it’s way more than that. It’s one of the smartest books I’ve read in ages, all about things I am super interested in. It’s thought provoking, feminist, and absolutely unputdownable. The author, Véronique, is currently the Fashion Features Director at ELLE but has spent 15 years writing for New York magazine, W, The New York Times, and Harper’s Bazaar. She rather accidentally coined the term “millennial pink” back when that was a thing, only to deeply regret it as she watched it explode into a consumerist term to sell more stuff.
I don’t think I’ve simultaneously enjoyed/learned so much from a non-fiction book since reading Cultish (another favorite) a few months ago. Funny enough, Amanda Montell, the author of Cultish blurbed this, describing it as “a sharp, of-the-moment, and curiously profound contextualization of fashion that answers questions I didn’t even realize I had.” She talks about everything from body standards and “empowertising” to scammer fashion and the double standards of fashion and appearances in politics. I loved this book so much! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
- Overall Score: A+
Violeta, by Isabel Allende
I feel badly because on Instagram stories (after getting about 90 pages in), I told you that I was only medium on this and wasn’t so sure how I felt about it. Things turned around quickly: I was on the plane for my flight to Anguilla, and became totally captivated/mesmerized by the story. It is truly (in the spirit of Black Cake last month), a masterpiece, an epic saga of sorts and I loved it so much. It spans a full century; starting with the Spanish flu and ending with COVID-19, a hundred years later.
Violeta is writing to an unknown friend or family member (you find out who it is later), telling them the story of her (hundred year long) life. From her family’s downfall and subsequent exile to the mountains of South America to her first marriage, the births of her children, heartbreak, death… I could go on. It is wonderful. There is so much love in this book but also so much tragedy. The last hundred pages especially, I was reading it alone at dinner in Anguilla, close to tears. I absolutely loved this book and think you will too. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
- Overall Score: A+
This month in Thrillers
Like a Sister, by Kellye Garrett
This started a little slow but it was excellent (and the twist/ending was sooo good!). When Desiree Pierce’s body turns up in a playground in the Bronx, everyone automatically assumes it’s an overdose. Desiree is a party girl, funded by her hip-hop mogul father. But one person knows better: her estranged older half sister, Lena. Even though the two women haven’t spoken in two years, Lena knows Desiree would never venture above 125th street (and that her sister was too vain for needles). She just knows that something off.
Lena is determined to figure out what happened to her sister, and will leave no stone unturned… suspecting everyone from her sister’s best friends, boyfriends past and present… even their father! This is a super twisty mystery, unveiling dark family secrets, making Lena question how well she actually knew her sister. I loved this book as it made me suspect absolutely anyone and everyone.. and left me shocked by the end! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
- Overall Score: B+
The Last Housewife, by Ashley Winstead (out 8/16/22)
Last month, I read Ashley Winstead’s other book – In My Dreams I Hold a Knife. I really enjoyed it, and so when her publicist offered to send me a copy of her newest, I jumped at the chance. This book has so many content warnings, but primarily around domestic and sexual abuse. I typically don’t like books like this (I just think back to that one Colleen Hoover book) but there was a mystery and a dark, mysterious cult and I love a good cult mystery/unraveling.
Shay is 30 years old and has just found out that her best friend from college (who she’d lost touch with but loved dearly) has been murdered. She picks up everything and heads up to Hudson, NY to figure out what happened (with the help of her other friend Jamie, who is now rather conveniently, a true crime podcast host). In the process of figuring out what happened to Laurel, Shay is forced to confront her troubling past. In the process, she discovers (and becomes determined to dismantle) a powerful cult. It was one of those dark, upsetting books that is hard to read (it’s really upsetting at times) but I couldn’t stop going. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
- Overall Score: B+
The Club, by Ellery Lloyd
Oh wow, this one is a wild ride!!!! Ellery Lloyd is a pseudonym for a married couple that writes together and I believe that this is their second book together (I enjoyed People Like Her, it was probably the most realistic/dimensional take on an influencer as the main character that I’ve read so far). This took me a little while to get into but then it got crazy. Imagine that Soho House is a hundred times more elite and pretty much only accepted A list celebrities. Now imagine that they’ve just bought an island for their next house. Think of a community of luxe-rustic cabins and restaurants, just off the coast of England.
NOW, imagine that the founder (Ned Groom) is doing some crazy shady shit behind the scenes in an effort to finance the whole operation. It is told from the perspective of Ned’s most innermost circle and his younger brother Adam… all hiding secrets of their own and it’s a slow burn… working its way from getting things ready for the guests to arrive to full blown chaos as the body count piles up. This is very murdery, very twisty, and a super fun read. I will say that I am kind of surprised that Reese chose it for her book club. It is a fun read but starts slow and goes so far off the rails. It doesn’t feel like a “Reese book” to me! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.
- Overall Score: B
Notes on an Execution, by Danya Kukafka
I love, love, loved this book. Please read it. This was a thriller, but not like most of the thrillers I read… it’s more of a… literary thriller? I loved it… probably one of the best books I read this month. I will also tell you that it made me feel a little bit sick to my stomach. Sick in the same way that true crime can read, because in a way it read almost like true crime? Don’t let that deter you: I still loved it.
Ansel Packer is on death row, scheduled to die in twelve hours. The book takes us through the perspectives of several people (including Ansel’s) to show us how he got there. We learn about his background and traumatic childhood- abandoned by his mother, growing up in the foster system. We meet Saffy, the little girl who was once in foster care with him. And grew up to be the detective who is determined to nail him. We hear from her mother, and come to understand why she did what she did. We meet Hazel, his wife Jenny’s twin sister, who had a little crush on Ansel – until she didn’t. It’s chilling. It feels like it could be real. It’s dark and upsetting but so, so good. The sort of book you’ll think about for months after you read it. Highly, highly recommend this one! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
- Overall Score: A+
This month’s Romance
Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
This has been all over Instagram and is quite beloved by a lot of my friends (so I felt a little bit badly sharing my take) but it just didn’t do it for me. The writing (especially the sex scenes, or any talk where the main character was fantasizing about the other main character) felt verrrry cringey at times. On Instagram I joked that it felt like it was a teenager trying to be sexy. That being said, the plot was great. So if you are able to just skim through the cheesy stuff, it’s a very enjoyable book.
Chani Horowitz is a writer and ten years ago she interviewed Hollywood heartthrob Gabe Parker for an unconventional (but wildly popular) profile piece. Unconventional in that the two ended up spending the weekend together, with her passing out at his house… ever since then, people have wondered, “what actually happened!?!?!” Ten years have now passed and they have both married and divorced, Gabe’s gotten sober, and a lot has changed. But now Chani been tasked with writing another profile of him. She is not sure how to handle it, but of course sparks fly. This was not my favorite but I did really enjoy the plot (who can resist a famous person/non famous person romance?). If you like romance, read this. If you are more of a thrillers or literary fiction, skip it. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
- Overall Score: B
Olga Dies Dreaming, by Xochitl Gonzalez
If you listened to the podcast, you know that Becca and I both raved and raved about this book. It was just, so lovely. It tackles so many important issues (AIDS, sexuality, Puerto Rican culture and history), but is packaged as a lighthearted, fun book about a wedding planner, her many suitors, and her closeted politician brother. And it IS (at times!) light and fun, while also being serious. Both/and. I really loved it. This is a very complicated family story.
Brother and sister Olga and Prieto (both doing great things in New York: Prieto is a congressman and Olga is a top wedding planner) were abandoned by their mother, a radical anarchist. They struggle to balance their social ambitions with the sadness over their absent mother, all in the wake of Hurricane Maria. I really loved it, and it’s great as an audiobook… featuring very strong performances from three Puerto Rican actresses (this is another one that feels more like a performance than being read to). Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
- Overall Score: A-
Taste, by Stanley Tucci
This book was just… completely lovely! I am a huge fan of Stanley Tucci (and could listen to him read the dictionary to be honest) but loved getting to know him and his story better. I had no idea of his previous marriage (and losing his wife to cancer) or his own personal journey with cancer. And you know I love a foodie memoir. The way he talks about food will make you hungry (and it will make you want to travel), and I (somewhat randomly), I really enjoyed learning about the food he ate on set and when he traveled for work. I also loved all his stories about his friends (you know, Meryl… Ryan and Blake).
No gossip but fun stories, and you will feel like he is your old pal by the end of the book. I will say that my only complaint is that if you do listen to this book, which I would recommend, you are going to want to buy a hard copy as well just for the recipes. So many recipes – it’s part memoir, part cookbook! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon!
- Overall Score: A
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photography by Laura Saur.