Hello, July! I’ve been thinking a lot about where I was this time last year and I’m surprised by how fast this past year flew by. It’s been a really hard year, that’s for sure. I’ve never felt more lost or alone in a long time. For that reason, I haven’t been reading as much. I finally picked up Eat, Pray, Love to pull me out of my funk and, while it helped, it wasn’t the cure-all I was hoping for. That being said, let’s hope July is a month filled with more books, more positivity, and more self-love.
Still interested in joining our Virtual Book Club? Click here and I’ll add you!
What are you reading this month?! Y’all always have the best recommendations!
The one that spoke to my soul…
Places I Stopped on the Way Home (Memoir 5/5)
“Sometimes I think of how I will describe New York to my children. I will tell them that the city was in so many ways, and for such a long time, the best and worst thing about my life. That it was a sort of perpetual question in pursuit of an answer. And that in attempting to answer it, I turned and faced myself.”
In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots a decade of her life in New York City - from falling in love at the Lincoln Center to escaping the roommate (and bedbugs) from hell on Thompson Street, chasing false promises on 66th Street and the wrong men everywhere to finding true friendships over glasses of wine in Harlem and Greenwich Village.
Weaving together her joys and sorrows, expectations and uncertainties, aspirations and realities, the result is an exhilarating collection of essays about love and friendship, failure and suffering, and above all hope. Join Meg on her heart-wrenching journey, as she cuts the difficult path to finding herself and finding home.
THIS BOOK. IS INCREDIBLE. Every single 20-something needs to read this. You will laugh, you will cry, you will send passages to all your friends talking about how that’s so you. Read this ASAP - I promise you’ll love it!
The one that lives up to the hype…
Eat, Pray, Love (Memoir 5/5)
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
This is obviously a very popular book, but I’m behind the trend and have neither read the book or seen the movie! As mentioned above, I’m having a really hard time and this was the perfect pick-me-up. The writing is lovely and I really related to Gilbert’s journey. I would recommend if you need to get out of a funk or know someone who does!
The one that convinced me to book an appointment with a therapist…
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (Self-Improvement 4/5)
One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.
As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients' lives -- a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can't stop hooking up with the wrong guys -- she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.
We read this in May for Virtual Book Club and, while I thought it was about 100 pages too long, I thought it was a really great book to open the doors up to discussing mental health. I think this book would be perfect if you’re thinking about talking to a therapist, but aren’t sure it’s for you. Gottlieb talks about therapy in a way that everyone can relate!
The one about juicy family drama…
The Mother-in-Law (Drama Fiction 4/5)
From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.
That was five years ago.
Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.
But the autopsy finds no cancer.
It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.
Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?
I went into this book thinking it was a thriller and was a bit bummed when it turned out to have a (very) small twist. However, I think this book has major Big Little Lies vibes and overall really enjoyed the story! It kept me captivated from beginning to end and is perfect for anyone who has a strained familial relationship.
The one that made me feel bundles of empathy…
A Spark of Light (Drama Fiction 4/5)
The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.
After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.
But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order to save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester, disguised as a patient, who now stands in the crosshairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.
Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.
This was our pick for June Virtual Book Club and I really enjoyed it. The reverse chronological order really wasn’t necessary except for the small twist in the end. I could’ve done without both. It explores issues of both abortion and gun violence and I walked away from the book feeling like I learned a lot of information.
The one that kept me on the edge of my seat…
No Exit (Thriller 4/5)
On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.
Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.
Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?
There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?
Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.
But who can she trust?
This book is deliciously creepy! It is a pretty absurd story but is as messed up as it comes. If you love the gory thrillers that keep you on your toes then you’ll really enjoy this!
The one that mamas would relate to…
I miss you when I blink (Memoir 3/5)
Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.
But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right,” but she felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?
In this memoir-in-essays full of spot-on observations about home, work, and creative life, Philpott takes on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood with wit and heart.
Meh. I’d likely pass on this one. I wasn’t too excited about it. I related to a bit of it, but it seemed a bit old for me. I think anyone in a motherhood stage of life would really enjoy this book or audiobook. Bonus: the audiobook is read by the author!
The one about Munchausen Syndrome by proxy…
saving Meghan (thriller 3/5)
Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others, including her husband Carl, claim she's obsessed and can't stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter's expense.
Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, clashing medical opinions begin to raise questions about the puzzling nature of Meghan’s illness. Doctors suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what's going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?
As the Gerards grow more and more suspicious of each other and their medical team, Becky must race against time to prove her daughter has a deadly disease. But first, she must confront her darkest fears and family secrets that threaten to not only upend her once-ordered life…but to destroy it.
This book centers around Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, which I think is interesting but really didn’t turn into a great book. I wouldn’t recommend.