There are definitely months where I’m guilty of reading a lot of trash. Last month comes to mind, cough cough. 😉 I don’t feel badly about that; sometimes I am just stressed and want to only read junk food books. And reading is reading. You should feel good about reading, no matter what it is you choose to read. This, however, was not one of those trash months. Educated was hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. It was so poignant and raw, deeply upsetting but also deeply inspiring. And then there was the Cuba prep. Waiting for Snow in Havana was an incredible memoir of sorts and Next Year in Havana was fantastic historical fiction.
We can’t leave out All We Ever Wanted which I felt so lucky to receive an advance copy of (and passed onto a lucky group of you guys, over in the Facebook group)! Emily Giffin is just the best – her books never disappoint. It was a really, really good month of reading.
If you’re looking for a book, don’t forget – you can always check out my Book Club Page. I have literally listed every.single.book I’ve read in the past few years…. and you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, etc!) to find exactly what you’re looking for And of course, you can also take a peek at May’s reading list. In case you can’t wait til next month, I always add whatever it is that I’m currently reading to my Amazon Shop as I go… I know it’s nice having everything in one place.
AND! Please comment and tell me what you are reading… your suggestions are my FAVORITE… I shop the comments section of these post – you always have such good recommendations for me, which I really appreciate!
* All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin. (on sale 6.26) This is another advanced copy (which was so exciting for me as Emily Giffin is one of my most favorite, favorite authors. (I’ve read all of her books and even went to meet her like a total fangirl when I was in Charleston a couple years ago.) This one is set in Nashville, telling the story of two families: the well to do Brownings and their son Finch; and the less fortunate Tom Volpe and his daughter Lyla. One night, Finch makes a terrible mistake which affects Lyla.
The story is told from three perspectives: Nina Browning (Finch’s Mom), Tom Volpe, and Lyla. The story covers so much. There’s a little bit of a mystery for parts of it. It talks a lot about bullying. And it shows all the ways a marriage can go wrong and the fact that material things don’t matter as much as we think they do. Like all of Giffin’s books, this one is heartwarming and sweet. Her books always just feel great to read (she’s an excellent storyteller!) and leave you feeling warm and cozy inside when you’re done. I read it this when I was having a bad week and it felt like a giant mug of chamomile tea – just the thing.
Overall Score: A-
* Educated, by Tara Westover. Honestly I don’t remember the last time I read a book that affected me so dramatically. This is Westover’s memoir, and it is so so good. She grew up in the mountains of Idaho with parents who belonged to a radical subset of the Mormon church. They were anti-government, anti-medical establishment, anti-school. Tara never saw a doctor or a nurse, didn’t get a birth certificate until she was 9 years old, and did not set foot inside a classroom until she was 17.
This book is really hard to read at times – it’s also hard to believe that it’s all true because it’s one of those cases where the truth is stranger than fiction. I have been telling everyone I know to read it (and am so grateful to Carly for recommending it to me) as it’s one of the best books I’ve read in ages.
Overall Score: A+ (I’m not sure I’ve ever given one of those!)
* The Summer of Jordi Perez, by Amy Spalding. This book is really cute. It’s a YA read, and a fast one at that. It’s nice to see YA books becoming more inclusive. Seventeen year old Abby Ives is fashion-obsessed, gay, running a plus-size fashion blog… and just landed her dream job as an intern at her favorite boutique. The book covers several relationships – with her friends (the friend drama is seriously relatable… even though I’m twice Abby’s age I could totally relate), with her mother (who runs a healthy living blog/food empire), her new friend Jax, and (most importantly) her co-intern Jordi Perez who she ends up falling in love with (while competing with for a part time job).
This book was a nice break after Educated (which was pretty heavy and hard to read), and what I loved most was how relatable and real all of the relationship dynamics were.
Overall Score: B
* Famous in Love + its sequel Truly Madly Famously (by Rebecca Serle) was this month’s junk food… (and also what we discussed over on the podcast!) Total junk food but so fun. Paige Townsen is an obscure highschool student in living in Oregon when she decides to audition for the movie adaptation of a major blockbuster book series (think Harry Potter or Hunger Games!) Within weeks, she’s off in Hawaii starring opposite Rainer Devon (her gorgeous and dreamy co-star, also one of People‘s sexiest men alive). Soon though, she finds herself in a little love triangle – having to choose between Rainer + her other co-star, Jordan. These books are fun and silly, and who doesn’t love a good love triangle. Also, they’re now a TV show on Freeform. The TV show follows a totally different plot line but of course I still binge-watched the whole thing.
Overall Score: B
* Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire. This is an older book (the author wrote it around 2000) but a friend who’s opinion I really respect told me I had to read it before going to Cuba and so I did. It’s dense, hard to read at times, and took me a long time to get through. If you’re thinking about going to Cuba (or just interested in Cuba), this is a must. It’s a Cuban boy’s memories from growing up in an affluent family in Havana in the fifties before he was a part of the Peter Pan Project where 14,000 Cuban children were airlifted out of the country in 1961.
The original plan was to be reunited with family in 3 months; no one thought Castro would stay in control for as long as he did. It ended up taking three years for his mother to join him and his brother (his father stayed behind; refusing to leave his possessions). He lived with a foster family and then in an orphanage; ultimately ending up with his uncle. The kids, growing up were so wild and violent with each other. Constant fighting, going car surfing… it was definitely something different. And his memories are just beautifully written. I really, really enjoyed this one.
Overall Score: A
* Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton. Another book about Cuba, this one being historical fiction. This one, I liken to the Cuban version of The Dollhouse (another favorite). It alternates between modern day and 1958 right before/during/after the revolution. It’s the story of Elisa (growing up very wealthy in Cuba during the Batista era – her father, a sugar baron) and Marisol – her granddaughter. Marisol sets foot in Cuba for the first time in her life at age 31 to scatter the ashes of her beloved grandmother. She gets to know the city, she meets an alluring man, and she uncovers some huge secrets that her grandmother had been hiding.
The author’s description of Cuba is so perfect that it made me feel like I was right back there. And the plot itself was really good. There were (two!) love stories and quite a bit of mystery. If you’ve been to Cuba, it will make you nostalgic, if you haven’t, you’ll still enjoy it. Highly recommend!
Overall Score A-
Disclosure: I received advanced copies of The Summer of Jordi Perez and All We Ever Wanted.
photography by Trent Bailey.
I’m excited about Emily Giffin’s new book! I loved her books growing up and was recently reintroduced to her (can’t believe I forgot about her!) when a few bloggers began mentioning All We Ever Wanted. I’m definitely reading that! 😀
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
She is one of my favorites!!!
I’m excited to read Educated, thank you so much for the recommendation! For me last month was a trash month as I re-read some of my favorite books from childhood, the Immortalks Quartet and Protectir of the Small by Tamara Pierce.
Have a great Thursday, xAllie
It’s amazing! Think you’ll love!
Educated was one of those books that left me in awe. So moving and at times, truly unbelievable. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time. I also read the Wife between us which I thought was just ok. Maybe it’s because I found the story line close to the Last Mrs. Parrish ( anyone else?) and enjoyed the Last Mrs. Parrish more. I am now reading The room on rue Amélie which I am really enjoying.
I completely agree. It was incredible.
Funny – I read The Wife Between Us and THEN The Last Mrs. Parrish and had the same experience except yes, I liked The Last Mrs. Parrish more. They’re so similar!
I felt exactly the same!
Yessssss! So many great books!
Thanks again for suggesting Educated. Such a great book.
Since you liked Educated so much, you’d probably enjoy The Glass Castle & Half Broke Horse. I did a search and didn’t see them in your previous book reviews, so forgive me if you’ve already read them 🙂 but it’s along the same lines of a very unique and unbelievable upbringing.
Yes, such a good comparison here! I’ve found that a lot of people have read The Glass Castle but very few have read Half Broke Horses, which I actually enjoyed even more! I always try to get the word out about that fantastic book.
I loved half broke horse too! I’m so glad I read both. It brought a lot of perspective on her mom.
I have read THe Glass Castle but haven’t read Half Broke Horses yet so thank you guys for the rave reviews! Adding to the list. I also picked up Hillbilly Elegy. TOO MANY BOOKS AND NOT ENOUGH TIME! 😉
LOVE everything Emily Giffin writes, so I’m happy to hear that you loved her latest! Definitely wanted to check out Educated too. Sounds so interesting! I’m currently reading The Hating Game, and it is so cleverly written…the perfect escape.
Me too – she is just the best!!!
I’ve heard good things about The Hating Game! xx
LOVED The Hating Game!!
okay i finally ordered it because so many of you say i have to read it! Becca (my podcast partner!) hated it so we will see!!!
I keep hearing excellent things about ‘Educated’ but the plot doesn’t sound interesting to me at all, so I’m conflicted about whether I should try it out!
I was finally able to get my hands on ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ (which I’m sure you’ve already read), and thought it was good but maybe not as great as it was hyped up to be. The best book I’ve read recently was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I’d never read anything by him before but this was such an incredible book!
briana | youngsophisticate.com
11/22/63 by King was an unusual pick for me but once I started it, I couldnt put it down! You should read Educated…..its probably the best book Ive ever read.
Love Stephen King! Give Educated a try – it was hard to read but so moving!
Love following along!! You have to read Lilac Girls- it’s a commitment, but was one of those books that totally changed me! (like Educated did for you^)
Ps. Can’t wait to get my hands on the newest Emily Giffin!!
ahhhh Lilac Girls is in my TBR pile and I keep forgetting about it!
Last month I read Circe (which I really liked), Not That I Could Tell (slow start, but okay), Then She Was Gone (which was a page turner for me and I read in one sitting) and listened to The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes on audible (good, frustrating, good – lol). The Perfect Mother is sitting on my nightstand. I’m taking a class over the summer, so my reading will likely slow down a bit.
I can’t wait to read Circe, have you read Achilles? I haven’t read that one yet but thinking I’ll start with it.
I have not read Song of Achilles, yet, but it is definitely on my list now that I’ve read Circe. Also, I am involved in the bookstagram community and the word there is that you do not have to read Song of Achilles first.
I keep hearing great things about Circe! Thanks for the recs!! xx
I had Educated on my kindle and bumped it to the top after seeing your IG post. It was so incredible. The writing blew me away and when I finished I googled and read all I could about the author. It WAS hard to read at times (ok ..a lot of times it was so painful I wanted to strangle her parents). Really an A+. Also just read Final Girls and it was an easy read but only a B imo. LOVE LOVE this monthyl post. its my favorite and I look so forward to it!
Right now I am reading a nonfiction about the sleeping sickness in the early 1900’s (remember the movie Awakenings) and it is fantastic. Encephalitis Lethargica. Its called Asleep. older book.
oooh that sounds so good!
I did the same thing!!! Such an amazing book. And felt the same about Final Girls! xx
My favorite post of the month! I am going to have to check out Educated. It doesn’t sounds like my usual thing, but if you are giving rave reviews, I am willing to give it a try. I’m reading All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, so I am ready for next week’s podcast!
It wasn’t my usual thing either but it was so so so good – definitely read it!!!
I HIGHLY recommend you read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I have read it 14 times and it just makes me feel good about life and friends and makes me want to go to Paris. It is the perfect Young Adult book and I can’t say it enough to people! Plus the author is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. I think you’ll love it based off your other book picks. It feels like a Grace book to me.
Thank you so so much for the suggestion! I will check it out! x
Love your recommendations! And I am so excited about the new Emily Giffen book since I live in Nashville. Getting that one as soon as I can!
Oh good! You are going to love it!!!
One of the best books I’ve read lately was Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.
Another great one is A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.
Thank you so much for the suggestions!!!
I’m reading “You Belong Here” (think the happiness project, but for the town you live in). Wish I had read it when I first moved to San Antonio, because I didn’t give San Antonio a fair chance for the first four years I lived here.
Aw that sounds interesting! Thank you!
Hey Grace, this is so random and annoying but do you remember the name of the blogger who wrote the peice about enjoying lowbrow media a while ago? I remember loving her blog but forget it now!
I think it was The Fashion Magpie!
That’s the one, thanks so much!
I have recently enjoyed The Ensemble (great debut contemporary fiction), and The Silent Companions (if you want something supremely creepy and atmospheric). I have Next Year in Havana on my nightstand. My dad was part of the Peter Pan Project, so for personal reasons, I really gravitate toward fictional and non-fictional accounts of Cuba. I hope to make my way to Cuba with him one day!
oooh I hope read it!!! that is so amazing that your father was a part of the Peter Pan Project – wow.
Currently reading the 11th Floor (thx for the rec) and next on to An American Marriage!
SUCH a good one! x
These are my favorite books of the month! Whenever they come out, I take a leisurely weekend morning to order them on both of my library cards so I have a chance to kind of read along with you. As always, can’t wait for next month’s reads!
PS I’m currently reading Hey Ladies! – it’s a cute, quick read about female relationships, all told through emails and texts. It’s one you don’t really have to focus on, which is nice after an intense read! I’m also simultaneously reading This Is How It Always Is, which is a bit tougher to get into, though I’ve heard good things.
aw i’m so happy to hear that! xx
I really liked Educated — and loved The Sound of Gravel — I may have already commented with this one on a previous post — but wow another great memoir.
Thanks for the suggestion – will def check that out!
Are you reading Marriage Vacation? I know you’re a Younger fan too—it’s the book that Charles’ wife is working on with Liza. They actually turned it into a real book (interesting article on it here: https://www.amny.com/entertainment/younger-marriage-vacation-1.18966956), and I thought it was really cute! Devoured in two afternoons.
No but that came up in the Bad on Paper Facebook gropu! I am so excited about it!!!