Traveling always kicks me into binge reading mode. From reading on the plane, to spending hours in bed devouring a new book that I can’t put down, I love using a change of scenery as an excuse to unplug and spend less time with my laptop and more time with a book in-hand. This year I had a goal of reading 10 new books during the two week period that I was in New Jersey and Portugal and not only read some really great books, but also got so many amazing suggestions and questions from you guys on ’em.
In an effort to not only inspire my own reading (I’m working on creating a habit of reading at home vs. only when traveling!), but also help out in case you’re in need of a new read, I wanted to share a roundup of my recent reads + my thoughts on them. I’d also LOVE to hear about some of yours so please leave a comment below with any other suggestions.
- ‘What Remains’ by Carole Radziwill: This memoir reflects on the tragic life of members of the Kennedy family, following the story of Carole and her husband Anthony, who was John F. Kennedy Jr.’s cousin. Carole’s journey to become a member of the iconic American family from a humble suburban upbringing is full of vivid details and tells a really beautiful story of love and friendship through some very trying times.
- ‘Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore’ by Robin Sloan: A really fun, light read that takes place in a magical bookstore in San Francisco that’s home to a secret reading society. I really loved the character development and bookstore descriptions that make it really easy to visualize the store’s interior and quirks.
- ‘Beartown’ by Fredrik Backman: If you’ve read A Man Called Ove, you’re already familiar with Fredrik Backman’s writing and will love this one! The novel tells the story of a serious hockey town and the pressures put on teenage athletes (and also the excuses often made for them).
- ‘My Lovely Wife in the Psychward’ by Mark Lukach: I found this memoir to be a really real perspective on mental illness, and how incredibly unpredictable it can be. Mark and Giulia’s story is the perfect example of not knowing what might be happening behind the scenes in someone’s life and the unexpected twists love can take.
- ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ by Celeste Ng: A novel of stories within a story as you follow along with the intertwined lives of two families in the utopian town of Shaker Heights. I did think the book was a bit slow to develop (you’ll have to get through a lot of character background and plot development before it really gets good) but very quickly flips into a book you can’t put down.
- ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ by John Green: I loved The Fault in Our Stars (and the movie!) so much and devoured John Green’s newest novel which tells the slightly heartbreaking story of the impact of anxiety and OCD on the teenage main character, Aza. Her day to day struggles and worries gave an inside view into the mind of someone struggling with mental illness and the impact of teenage friendship.
- ‘The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane’ by Lisa See: A novel with a dose of Chinese history/culture mixed in as you learn about the lives within rural tea farming areas of the country and all of the tradition baked into the process that has been passed down throughout generations. Really beautiful writing and See did a phenomenal job weaving the plot line throughout both the past and present.
- ‘Sourdough’ by Robin Sloan: (I actually didn’t realize that I had read two of Robin Sloan’s books until compelling this list!). This was a fun read for someone who lives in San Francisco with sourdough at the center of the storyline and many all too real references to the tech world. This novel was a great, quick read that kept me entertained throughout with its humor and mystery.
- ‘The Perfume Collector’ by Kathleen Tessaro: I’ll admit that I judged this book by its cover and almost didn’t want to read it, but the story was really lovely and very well written with a dreamy setting in Paris in the 1950’s. The storyline does flip between past and present, chapter to chapter, which does take a bit of catching up initially as the characters are being developed, but I loved learning more about the complexities of fragrance and the dedication involved with becoming a master perfumer.
- ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath: Somehow I made it through college with an English minor (and Journalism degree!) without ever reading Sylvia Plath and needed to change that immediately after chatting about some of the classics with a friend. Esther’s story takes a haunting twist after following a very expected path, providing a peek inside Plath’s own mind and her struggles with mental illness.
- ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman: This book came recommended by a few people when I asked for book recommendations on Instagram but guys, I struggled a bit with this one. Overall it’s a good read with women at the center of a dystopian future but the pace moved a little too slow for my liking, which meant it took forever for me to get through.
- ‘The Light We Lost’ by Jill Santopolo: I’m a sucker for a good love story and this one developed really beautifully throughout the novel, telling the story of an explosive kind of love that ends up not being sustainable long-term, but stays with us always. Warning: this one will make you cry though!
Have you read any of these? What’s next on your reading list?