This was my favorite month of reading in a very long time. I’m pretty critical with my reviews but everything I read this month got an A- or higher AND I gave two books an A+ rating which I never ever do. I highly, highly recommend everything on the list (though The Governesses is a little strange so it’s probably not for everyone). This list contains the best thriller I’ve read in AGES, Michelle O’s memoir, and A Sky Painted Gold which was so good that I read it in one sitting. And while My Brilliant Friend took longer to read, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Yes, ever. So beautifully written. Gahhhh, I love all of these books!
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it, so it includes every.single.book I’ve read in the past few years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, etc!) to find exactly what you’re looking for. I always add whatever it is that I’m currently reading in real time to my Amazon Shop.
And of course – last order of business! Tell me what I should read next! Your suggestions are the BEST.
The Memoir Everyone is Talking About…
Becoming, by Michelle Obama.
It’s difficult to put into words how much I loved this book. I had obviously heard wonderful things about it and admired her for a long time, but I don’t read a lot of memoirs and I didn’t want to read something just because everyone else was reading it. But once I started, I was sucked in. I inhaled it. I found myself wanting to get home from whatever I was doing just to read it. Michelle is such an eloquent, graceful writer. She takes us all the way through her childhood and early family life, through her Princeton years, to meeting Barack and their love story, the years before he ran for office, and their years in the White House.
It’s so humbly and thoughtfully written and her realness is just incredible. I’ve never read a “political” book like this, and that’s probably because she doesn’t consider herself a political person. Reading this book reads a lot like sitting down with your good friend Michelle and how her and her ordinary family came to lead such an extraordinary life and do incredible, amazing things. Can’t recommend it enough!
- Overall Score: A+
The Best Thriller I’ve Read in Oh So Long…
The Woman Inside, by E.G. Scott.
I have talked at length on the podcast, etc. about my frustration with thrillers lately. It’s been hard to find one that really keeps you up all night and constantly has you on your toes. I picked up this one and was like… FINALLY!!!! If you’re looking for the next Gone Girl-y thriller, I have found it for you. Rebecca and Paul have been married for twenty years and both have their fair share of secrets. Paul’s been unfaithful and Rebecca’s been fired from her job and has a nasty pill-popping habit. It all just unravels from there. Women in the neighborhood start disappearing, Paul & Rebecca’s lies and secrets intensify.
It’s fast moving and fun, there’s a murder (and then another murder and a HUGE twist), and I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil it. If you’re looking for a thriller, order this ASAP – it’s the best one I’ve read in ages. AND it’s already being made into a TV series, which I cannot wait to watch. I will say that the ending frustrated the hell out of me (but not enough to make me dislike the book). If you’ve read it and want to talk about the ending, message me!
- Overall Score: A
A French Book and an Italian Book; both Beautifully Translated.
The Governesses, by Anne Serre.
This was a strange little book! I’d wandered into Albertine (a French book shop) on The Upper East Side and was instantly drawn to it – mostly because of the smallness of the book, and the description on the back: “a hypnotic tale of three governesses and the sensuous education they provide.” It was originally published in 1992 but only just translated into English this past October. It’s only 100 pages long but still took me a while to read. There were words (and concepts) I didn’t understand, so I would pause and look them up as I read. It felt a bit like reading a fairytale – you want to devour every detail. I’ll tell you that it is a bit weird (the governesses essentially attack strangers in the woods to have their way with them), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I think it’s important to read more books that take us out of our comfort zones and makes us think a little. I really want to challenge myself to read more books like that this year. Books you can’t necessarily breeze through, and books that make you really think. The NY Times review of the book (they call it seriously weird and seriously excellent!) says everything better than I could say myself, so definitely read that!
- Overall Score: A-
My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante.
This is book one of The Neapolitan Quartet. It’s also now a series on HBO which I cannot wait to watch. A friend (with much more highbrow taste in books than I) had suggested it, promising me that I would love it and it wasn’t too out there. He was right; I couldn’t put it down. There are two things that really struck me about this book. Nothing major actually happens within the plot; but it’s still completely captivating and a page-turner. It’s just the very simple, beautifully written story of two girls, growing up in the fifties in Italy. This book covers their childhood through adolescence and the remainder of the series will cover the rest of their lives. The second thing that struck me was that it’s a translation.
The book was originally published in Italian and translated to English. It’s amazing to me how the translator (Anne Goldstein) was able to translate it and keep it so vibrant and beautifully told. Oftentimes when books are translated to English, they lose something and can feel a bit flat/harder to read. Not the case with this one. What I loved about it is the storytelling and how perfectly Ferrante (and Goldstein) captured the nuances of friendship. I was so excited for book 2 that I made my sister take me to a bookstore in Minnesota so that I’d have it for the plane ride home. I will just say that you should definitely carve some time out of your calendar to read these books; they’re perfect for a wintery weekend where you stay inside reading all day!
- Overall Score: A+
A Can’t Put Down Fiction Read with Serious Gatsby Vibes
A Sky Painted Gold, by Laura Wood.
Oh my goodness. Becca raved and raved about this one on the podcast and I wasn’t so sure I could get into it for the first 30-40 pages. And then I sat down with it and just fell in LOVE, to the point of staying in all night and finishing it one sitting! It’s 1929 and seventeen year old Lou is growing up in the English countryside of Cornwall… used to a simple life. She sneaks into a nearby mansion to read and write, only to have its occupants (the wealthy and fascinating brother + sister duo Robert and Caitlin) nearly catch her.
An unlikely friendship transpires between the three of them and Lou is suddenly immersed in a glamorous world of parties, trips to London, beautiful clothes, and shiny new wealthy friends. But can she ever really fit in? It made me nostalgic for The Great Gatsby, had the MOST satisfying ending, and was just a very fun read. Please read this book, you’re going to love it!
- Overall Score: A