Browsing Tag

linkup

of interest

Show Us Your Books – April 2018

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means – another edition of Show Us Your Books! Before I share what I’ve been reading over the past month, I wanted to let you know about a contest I’m currently hosting. In the Hungry Bookworm Spring Giveaway, I’ll be sending one lucky winner a brand new copy of America The Great Cookbook: The Food We Make for the People We Love from 100 of Our Finest Chefs and Food Heroes by Joe Yonan.

It’s a beautiful cookbook, full of delicious recipes and would be a wonderful addition to your home, or a perfect Mother’s Day gift. If you’d like to enter, you can do so here until April 21, 2018.  

Continue Reading

book review, of interest, recipe

Fandom Foodies Linkup: #MagicalRealFood

Starting today and all April long, I’ll be hosting #MagicalRealFood, a link up through Fandom Foodies dedicated to food found in and inspired by magical realism. According to Wikipedia, magical realism is “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.”

When magical realism is done well, it’s absolutely one of my favorite types of fiction. But magical realism can also be found in other types of art outside of literature – movies, television shows and video games can all have elements of magical realism as well. It’s more common than you may think!

Continue Reading

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Take Place In Another Country

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, a literary list with a new bookish topic every week. This Tuesday’s topic is Books That Take Place In Another Country; for me, that is anywhere other than the United States.  

I love this topic because one of the best parts of reading is the ability to experience a life that’s different from your own. They also provide the opportunity to travel without leaving the comfort of your favorite armchair. While foreign settings often just feed my desire to travel, the food inspiration they provide at least allows me to experience the culture in some tangible way. I decided to look back on books I’ve already read, and when I’ve done a review (and recipe), I’ll link to it below.

Continue Reading

of interest

Show Us Your Books – March 2018

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means – another edition of Show Us Your Books! Before I share what I’ve been reading over the past month, I want to tell you about an upcoming linkup I’ll be hosting in April with Fandom Foodies. Fandom Foodies is a group of “geeky food lovers” that cook using inspiration from movies, pop culture and (of course) books. I’ve chosen to explore the theme of food in magical realism fiction, and I couldn’t be more excited! Stop by on March 31 for the official linkup post. I’m sure it will feature lots of delicious recipes and book recommendations – you won’t want to miss it.

Now, onto the books!  

Continue Reading

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested in Reading

Hi everyone, and happy Tuesday! Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted over at The Artsy Reader Girl. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

This week’s topic is Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading, which is kind of a funny one. I’m warning you ahead of time I’m not going to have much to say about any of them…because I haven’t read them yet! If you stopped by for my list of Books I Really Liked but Don’t Remember Much/Anything About, I imagine this list will be similar.

Continue Reading

of interest

Show Us Your Books – February 2018

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you’re somewhere warmer than I am! I don’t mind wintery weather – as I shouldn’t if I’m going to continue to live in Michigan for the foreseeable future – but sometimes it’s a little more than I can take. We were literally snowed in this weekend; Scott only really left the house to shovel and use the snowblower! (I supported him from the couch…under a blanket…with a book.) I was going to say I’m surprised at the amount of books I’ve read over the last month, but now that we’re talking about it, perhaps the snowy weather has something to do with it. Let’s get into this month’s book list, shall we? 

Continue Reading

of interest

Show Us Your Books – January 2018

Happy second Tuesday of 2018, everyone, and welcome to the first Show Us Your Books of the year! I’m excited to share with you what I read over the holidays and what I’ve gotten into so far this year, especially thanks to some fun reading challenges that I’m hoping will help me read my shelves and get through my TBR.

Before I kick off today’s SUYB, I want to explain how I’ll be rating the books today and moving forward. I’m going to start using my Goodreads rating method here to keep my ratings consistent across every platform. This is how I typically rate books:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars = LOVE LOVE LOVE. I will recommend a 5-star to anyone and everyone and won’t shut up about it. I absolutely need to own a 5-star read, so I can lend it out and have it available for re-reads. I usually have half a dozen or less books in this category each year because they need to be really outstanding to warrant 5-stars.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars = REALLY liked it. I will recommend a 4-star book to someone I think would like it – depending on interests/genre – and like to have them as part of my collection (for the same reasons as above). I’ll probably rave about this one a fair amount as well.

⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars = liked it. A 3-star book was good. I didn’t feel like it wasted my time and walked away with an overall positive feeling about it. I give the majority of the books I read each year 3 stars, and I don’t consider this rating to be a bad one.

⭐⭐ 2 stars = not a fan. This book just didn’t do it for me. It may have been a bit of a waste of time, or it may have been an experimental genre/topic that didn’t work out. I’m not upset about the time I spent reading it; I was likely just hoping for more. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either.

⭐ 1 star = hated it. Pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t hand a 1-star rating out lightly. Like the 5-star books, these are pretty rare.

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

Last Month’s Edition

 

4-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

The Boat People – Inspired by true events, this fictional account of refugees seeking asylum in Canada tackles a timely topic. It did an excellent job straddling the complexities surrounding asylum-seekers and the emotional decisions refugees must face not only at the beginning of their journeys but throughout the process. In short, it was everything I wanted Exit West to be.

The Secret Life of Bees – I adored this coming-of-age story about fourteen-year-old Lily Owens and her black caretaker Rosaleen, as they navigate the troublesome South in 1964 and take refuge in a pink house owned by beekeeping sisters. It was a strong show of female power, heartwarming and uplifting.  

 

3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐

In the Midst of Winter (3.5) – This seemed like the perfect book to read in the cold of December – and it was. It takes place over the course of a week or so, in the middle of a snowstorm in New York; the cold was palpable. Allende weaves together the beautiful and harrowing stories of three very different characters, taking us to 1970s Central and South America and back to present day America. It brings to light the struggles of undocumented immigrants and issues of human rights, and it all starts with a seemingly innocuous fender bender.

The Nest (3.5) – Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney’s novel is the story of four siblings who must learn to deal with disappointment and potential financial ruin when their trust fund, or “the nest” as they call it, is not quite as big as they anticipated. Filled with unlikable characters in unlikely situations (compared to most of us), it wasn’t a story I expected to like. But, low expectations may have saved this book for me and I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying it throughout – even the epilogue, which left me walking away satisfied.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (3.5) – A book about books and so much more than that, I’m looking forward to discussing this one in my book club tomorrow night (for which I’m making actual potato peel pie…stay tuned for that). Through a series of letters, this novel tells the story of a group known as the Guernsey Literary Society, which comes together while Germans occupy their island during WWII. It was like a less tragic The Nightingale combined with everything I wished The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was.

 

Standard Deviation – This was one of those completely random, stumbled-upon books; I can’t even remember how I heard about it. Still, it was funny and entertaining. Katherine Heiny’s novel was a quick read about Graham, his second wife Audra, his son who may have Asperger’s, and all of the random house guests that flit in and out of their NYC apartment.

No Time to Spare – Ursula K LeGuin is an inspiring woman, and though I’ve only read one of her novels, I have every intention of exploring her work further (thanks, in part, to Karen Joy Fowler who is an admirer of hers). As I am not as familiar with LeGuin as I’d like to be, I probably didn’t appreciate this memoir as bigger fans may but it was still enjoyable. As in her fiction writing, she discusses gender equality and meditates on life.

I will not be doing a longer post on this book, but if I were to do so, I would definitely have to make soft-boiled eggs, to which LeGuin devoted an entire chapter. It became very clear that I do not have the very specific tools required, nor the patience to handle a food that requires such delicate precision.  

  

MAUS I & II – I read MAUS I as part of the Literary Feast 2018 Reading challenge, since it was published in the year of my birth; it was the first book I picked up and finished this year. I also read the second MAUS because it just felt right to complete the story.

Though graphic novels aren’t my genre of choice, I tend to end up reading one almost every year. I’m always surprised when I don’t really like them, especially these since the ones I choose are so critically acclaimed. I just found it hard to get into, I suppose; the style didn’t evoke as much emotion as I would expect from a story about concentration camp prisoners. That being said, both were quick reads (as graphic novels are) and the content was clearly heartfelt and personal. It’s an important story to be told.

Britt-Marie Was Here – I wanted to like this more than I did, probably because I love Fredrik Backman’s writing (especially A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry). Like all of his novels, there was quite a cast of characters, some likable and some not. Britt-Marie fell in both categories intermittently, though of course she grows more endearing as you get to know her. I certainly enjoyed the story, but I wish there’d been a different ending.

When the English Fall – I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish lifestyle, so when I saw this dystopia about what happens when the power grid goes down and no one but the Amish are situated to survive, I knew I had to pick it up. I read it in a few hours – it was quite riveting for the most part. I think I was hoping for more about how the rest of the world was surviving, aside from the bits of information brought in to the Order from the outside, and in that, it fell short.

 

2-Star Reads ⭐⭐

Manhattan Beach (2.5) – Jennifer Egan may not be my author. I didn’t like her much-acclaimed A Visit from the Goon Squad, and while this one was a bit better, it wasn’t really my thing either. A historical novel set first during the Great Depression and then in WWII, it primarily follows the young, fearless Anna Kerrigan. There are several chapters that focus on other main characters, but her story was the most interesting to me; I especially enjoyed her journey to become a female scuba diver and wish it was a bigger focus of the narrative.

 

Books I Didn’t Finish

None!

 

Books I’m Reading Right Now

I haven’t actually picked anything up yet, since I just finished When the English Fall last night, but my plan is to dive into another Book Challenge by Erin selection – I’m leaning towards The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because it’s been on my shelf long enough!

What did you read last month?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’m Looking Forward To in 2018

Hi everyone! We’ve made it to the end of year (almost)! What a wonderful year in reading it’s been… and now since it’s Tuesday, it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

This week’s topic looks to the future and all of the books that await us on the other side of the new year: Books I’m (Most) Looking Forward to in 2018. This list skews a bit towards the early part of the year, and also includes a few books-becoming-movies that I’ve been meaning to read.

 

The Spring Girls by Anna Todd – releases January 2

In the remix tradition of the cult favorite movie Clueless and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible comes a modern retelling of the beloved story of the March sisters, delivered with Anna Todd’s signature style. With plenty of sass, romance, and drama, The Spring Girls is the perfect chance for you to revisit Little Women or discover this cherished story for the first time.

I’ve always loved the story of Little Women, thanks to the 90s movie starring Winona Ryder (among others). When I read the book for the first time years later, I felt like I struggled through it. I’m hoping this modern retelling ends up evoking the spirit of the story that I’ve always enjoyed.

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – releases January 9

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Like They Both Die at the End before it, I’m always interested in books that explore the topic of death (you can blame my college writing teacher), and this concept looks like a good one.

 

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas – releases January 16

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

If you’ve been a blog reader for a while, you know feminist dystopias are in my wheelhouse. I’m just hoping I like this one better than The Power.

 

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure by Shoba Narayan – releases January 23

When Shoba Narayan, a writer and cookbook author who had lived for years in Manhattan, moves back to Bangalore with her family, she befriends the milk lady, from whom she buys fresh milk every day. These two women from very different backgrounds bond over not only cows, considered holy in India, but also family, food, and life.

In this charming true story about two women and the animal they share, readers are treated to an insider’s of view of India. The Milk Lady of Bangalore is also a window into our universal connection to food and its sources, the intricacies of female friendship, and our relationship to all animals.

This is the first of a few memoirs on this list, and it also appears (from the outside) to be the most light-hearted. Honestly, it had me at “writer and cookbook author.” It sounds wonderful and I’m looking forward to cooking some Indian food to go along with it!

 

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – releases February 20

An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

I’m always drawn to stories about those who live just outside mainstream society. I love learning about those ways of life, and this one is told not from an outsider’s perspective but from the perspective of someone who lived it. Doesn’t this one sound fascinating?

 

The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum – releases March 6

In this genre-bending novel, there is no such thing as chance and every action is carefully executed by highly trained agents. You’ll never looks at coincidences the same way again.

What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it’s all part of a bigger plan? What if there’s no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don’t know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?

Enter the Coincidence Makers—Guy, Emily, and Eric—three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets.

I love that the author decided to explore this topic! I expect this to be one of those books that sticks with me even after I’ve put it down – hopefully not as haunting as The Word Exchange, but given that it’s not dystopia, I’m sure it will be lovely. 🙂

 

Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann – releases March 6 (in US)

In Too Afraid to Cry, Ali Cobby Eckermann—who was recently awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world—describes with searing detail the devastating effects of racist policies that tore apart Indigenous Australian communities and created the Stolen Generations of “adoptees,” Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their birth families. Too Afraid to Cry offers a mirror to America and Canada’s own dark history of coerced adoption of Native American children, and the violence inflicted on our continent’s Indigenous peoples.

It looks like this book has been out in Australia for quite some time, but it’s being released in the US this year. When I was looking at upcoming books this one caught my eye.

 

The Elizas by Sara Shepard – releases April 17

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

I’m not usually drawn to mysteries outright, but given that the protagonist is an author, I’m intrigued. I adore stories that explore the blurred line between what an author writes on the page and what could happen in the real world as a result.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – movie release August 17

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

I’ve heard wonderful things about this book and honestly have been meaning to pick it up since it’s debut – now that the movie’s coming out, I need to make sure to get it from the library before everyone else catches on!

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – movie release 2018 TBD

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

This book has been on TBR and on my shelf for at least two years now, and I’m excited the movie is finally coming out to get me motivated to pick it up and read it. With Julianne Moore involved, I’m hoping for the best.

What books are you looking forward to?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

 

of interest

Show Us Your Books – December 2017

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for this year’s last edition of Show Us Your Books, where I briefly recap what I’ve read since last time, giving you a sneak peek of what I might be reviewing on the blog next. I read a lot more than I expected to in November, and honestly a lot of that is due to my participation in the Thanksgiving Readathon, where I managed to tackle a surprising 5 books in 5 days. Since I already recapped those 5 in my wrap-up post, I won’t do it as much here, but I’ll still share a few brief thoughts on each. 🙂

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, January 9, 2018.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

Last Month’s Edition

Engrossing Reads

A Homemade Life – Molly Wizenberg’s food memoir was truly the only book I read this month where I was into it 100% and walked away loving it. Racing through it for the readathon may have compounded this love, but I’m standing by it. In the meantime, I’m still deciding what to make to accompany its review… For those who’ve read it, I’m open to suggestions! The recipes all sound seriously delicious.

Young Jane Young – Any book that makes me laugh out loud is usually a good one, and this novel by the author of The Storied Life of AJ Fikry did just that. The story-telling was surprising (in a good way), and I always appreciate a story that revolves around strong female characters. I don’t think I went in with any expectations – having only heard of it in passing – and I’m glad I picked it up.  

 

Passed the Time Just Fine

Everything Everything – I’m probably the last person in the world to read this popular YA novel, especially since it came to theaters over the summer. The story was predictable, until it wasn’t. I was totally surprised by an unexpected turn of events about two-thirds of the way through, which I thought gave the novel a little more heft.

Seven Days of Us – I read over Thanksgiving too, as a sort of kickoff to the Christmas season. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I still thought it was an interesting read. I’m looking forward to making mince pies in my upcoming blog post about the novel, so look out for that closer to the 25th.

How to Behave in a Crowd – The cover of this novel initially caught my eye when I was perusing in a bookstore one evening, so I made a note of it and found it later at the library. On a bit of a stories-about-family-dynamics kick, this made its way into the Thanksgiving Readathon too. The tale narrated by an eleven-year-old boy in a family of brilliant older siblings was both heartbreaking and charming.

My True Love Gave to Me – I don’t often read short stories, but I saw this collection on a list of Christmas-y books from Carly Blogs Here and it piqued my interest. I enjoyed more than half of the stories, disliked a few and was meh about others. The stories I liked I really liked and it was a relatively quick read since it’s YA. If you’re looking for something to get you in the holiday spirit, I suggest giving it a try!  

Hunger – Having been a fan of Roxane Gay’s other work, I didn’t hesitate to pick this up when I saw it on a shelf of new releases at a recent trip to the library. Every woman struggles with feeling comfortable in her own skin, and Gay’s memoir about her weight, her relationship with food and how she got here is deeply personal and raw. It’s also relatable and particularly poignant in today’s social/political climate.

 

Not Worth It

I read both of these during the readathon, and while the speed with which I read them and their close approximation to books I liked much better may have exacerbated my dislike, I just wasn’t a fan of either of these.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend –  Since my wrap-up post, I’ve met with my book club, and honestly, no one really enjoyed this book. In fact, the more we talked it through, the less I liked it. Characters felt one-dimensional, the setting and plot felt a bit absurd, and books weren’t as transformative as I think we would’ve hoped. Perhaps if it wasn’t compared to AJ Fikry my expectations wouldn’t have been as high, but either way, it fell flat.

The End We Start From – I think something I’ve learned from the few books I’ve disliked this year is that it’s not my favorite thing to be stuck in an unknown world and be unable to empathize or relate to the characters. This one lacked characterization and as a result the whole thing felt very far away and unrelatable. On a positive note, it was literally the quickest read of the year.

 

Did Not Finish

The Power – As you may recall from my last SUYB post, I was pretty determined to finish this book after having already read 200-ish pages, despite not being very into it. My lack of enthusiasm kept me from picking it back up, and I’m okay with that. I read a lot this month, most of it worthwhile, so I’m glad I didn’t let this one hold me back. (I’m not the only one who felt that way, and I too am looking forward to the release of Red Clocks to fulfill my feminist dystopia quota.)

 

Currently Reading

The Boat People – I’m only about a fifth of the way through this book, which I’m reading courtesy of NetGalley before it releases on January 9, but so far, I’m a fan. It’s a debut novel inspired by real events and follows a group of refugees who flee their dangerous homeland to find safety in Canada. It already promises to be more like what I was hoping Exit West would be, and let’s hope it continues to be worth the read.

 

What did you read this month? Which books did you enjoy most? Least? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’m Thankful For

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

If you’re in the U.S., it’s also almost Thanksgiving and this week’s topic gives me a chance to reflect on the books that have made a difference in my life. That is, the Books I’m the Most Thankful For.

Obviously, I’m extremely thankful for books in general and the authors that write them, those who so deftly create worlds and characters and scenarios different from my own (and even those that mirror my own experiences), allowing me to walk away with a new perspective, or in some cases, the comforting feeling that someone else gets me. I appreciate the entertainment or escape they can provide and the empathy and emotions they illicit. I think we can all agree, books are amazing things, right?

That being said, I’ve culled down the list of books I love and tried to take a look at books I really appreciate and why. Let’s check it out:

1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – Though I’d already been reading for a while, this was my first chapter book as a child. It immersed me in a story that went beyond what I had ever read before, one that continued beyond one short story. Not surprisingly, it also sparked a love of (obsession with?) horses that would last through middle school. Black Beauty absolutely cemented my already-budding love of reading, and I will forever be grateful for that.

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – This classic taught me that books can deserve a second chance, even if you didn’t like it the first time. In middle school, my best friend Katie and I decided to read this together, and while she adored it, I got frustrated with the complicated language and slow narrative (just before it got good, it turns out) and didn’t finish it. She explained the rest of the story to me, and I felt like I’d missed out. Years later, during college, I picked it up, stuck with it and fell in love with it too.

3. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Somehow this novel ends up on every list I make lately, but that just shows the impact it’s had on me. I didn’t expect to like this book, let alone love it as much as I did. I’m thankful for this story because not only does it tackle tough issues in a relatable way, above all, it helped me look at the world – and myself – differently. I haven’t stopped recommending it ever since.

4. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks – This is the first book I remember both laughing out loud at and crying about while reading it. Aside from The Notebook, it’s the only Sparks book I’ve enjoyed (and I have since stopped reading them), but it is still one of my favorite books overall. This is one of the first books I ever recommended – to my dad, and I still remember both of us laughing to the point of tears over one of the passages – and being able to share in the appreciation of a story together has led me to join in several book clubs (virtually, and in real life) and, ultimately, start this blog. And, of course, I still recommend books constantly.

5. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – I’m including this novel because it taught me not to give up. I don’t remember exactly what led me to read this book a few years ago, and looking back, it’s not something I’d normally choose. The story is kind of bizarre (as magical realism can sometimes be) and it works with split narrators/points-of-view and, oh yeah, it’s a thousand pages long. Despite not always being sure what was going on, I stuck with it and ended up rooting for the characters and becoming completely absorbed in the writing style. While I have nothing against DNF-ing a book that just doesn’t work, I’m glad I stuck with this one. When the payoff is worth it, it’s usually really worth it.

6. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling – It probably comes as no surprise Harry Potter made the list. There are so many reasons to be grateful for Rowling’s bestselling series, but for me, it was a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself for the first time. I tore through the first four books, long after the rest of the world fell in love with the boy wizard, and I was shocked and awed to see the turnout at my first (and certainly not last) midnight release for the fifth installation. Each new release gave me something to look forward to, and even now, the series provides me with a comforting world to dive back into whenever I want.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I’m eternally thankful to Cline’s sci-fi novel for keeping me entertained on the bus ride from NYC to Philadelphia and back again, when I had to travel there for my best friend’s wedding a few years ago. This book was so immersive, time just flew by and the four hours I spent on the crowded buses didn’t seem so bad. Beyond that, this is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s forward-thinking and nostalgic all at the same time. It’s versatility has led me to recommend it countless times, and as a result, I’ve enjoyed many spirited conversations about its various plot points. For me, RPO is a book that keeps on giving.

8. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon – This dystopian novel surprised me when we had to read it for book club recently. It combined the importance of language and our reliance on technology in a way that entertained me and freaked me out at the same time. It made me examine how dependent I am on my cell phone (and I know I’m not alone in this). I’ll go into more detail in my full post next week, but it’s on this list because I appreciate that it’s prompted me to take a break from my phone now and then and to be more conscious of having a reason to pick it up.

9. Voracious by Cara Nicoletti – I threw this food/book memoir on my wish list one Christmas without much thought aside from it seemed like something I would like. (Thank you to my wonderful then-fiance, now-husband Scott for actually gifting it to me!) Of course, I enjoyed it and it’s still a book I think of often. While everyone knows food often plays a role in great literature, it was the first time I’d seen such a blatant combination of food and books. It planted the seed in my mind that eventually became this blog, and I would not be here writing this post if I hadn’t read it two summers ago.

10. On Writing by Stephen King – As an aspiring writer and an insatiable reader, I’m so grateful for this memoir. Not only does Stephen King share stories of his own ups and downs as an author, he instills it with excellent advice about how to hone your craft and persevere. When I first borrowed it from the library, I was so excited to find his lengthy list of book recommendations at the end that I took pictures of it until I could procure my own copy. A dedicated reader himself (for one cannot write well if one does not read), his suggestions have prompted me to discover some books I may not have otherwise picked up.

Which books are you most thankful for? I’d love to hear some of your picks in the comments below 🙂

I hope all of you enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family! Until next time…

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.