2020 Reading List: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A few days before I had my baby I decided I needed a light, fun book to read to take my mind off the stress and discomfort of being past my due date. I had The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang on my wish list in the library’s ebook portal; I think it was recommended to me by a friend years ago. It sounded fun and light so I thought, Why not? Continue reading

2020 Reading List: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This book was a pick for our office book club, and coincidentally it fits in with Black History Month. Not intentional, I swear, but a nice little nod to an important societal recognition.

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones, was likely placed on our list because it received so many awards and accolades and made it’s mark on lists like Oprah’s Book Club. With a resume like that, it’s bound to be good, right?

This book is about a young couple, Celestial and Roy, married just over a year, who are about to figure out their next steps together (job? babies?) when Roy is caught in the wrong place at the wrong time – or as they say in the book – wrong place, wrong race. Roy is misidentified as the man who assaulted a woman at a hotel they were staying at. Of course he didn’t do it, his alibi is that he was with his wife all night, but apparently that’s not enough. Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Celestial is left on the outside to figure out how to go on with her husband in jail. She turns to her childhood friend, Andre, and as the years go on, her marriage breaks down and her bond with Andre is strengthened. But Roy gets out of jail early and expects to return to his wife and his life.

After reading this book, at first I thought that it wasn’t very universal. The title would have you believe that the story could be some kind of representation of marriages everywhere, some relatable universal theme. But I thought that the disintegration of a marriage because of wrongful incarceration did not seem very universal. Continue reading

2020 Reading List: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

I feel like I haven’t read a good thriller lately, so I was ready for this suspenseful page-turner.

Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris is about a couple who is, seemingly, perfect. They have the perfect house, cook the perfect food for their guests, and live the perfect traditional life of not-so-recent newlyweds. That’s what Jack wants everyone to see. A husband doting on his loving, beautiful wife. Continue reading

2020 Reading List: Becoming by Michelle Obama

I have always admired the Obama family, particularly Michelle Obama. Throughout her time in the First Lady spotlight, she seemed to exude a certain presence, grace, compassion, and strength that is often lost or buried in mainstream celebrities. To me, their family seemed to be a solid representation of what a First Family should be.

I’m not here to be political or to force my opinions on anyone. I read Becoming, by Michelle Obama, because I wanted to hear about her life in her own words. I wanted a larger glimpse into the life of this First Lady who represented so many other things. I was not disappointed, and I think, whatever your political stance is, you won’t be either. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

This was supposed to be one of the “best books of 2018” and it was on lists for the O Magazine and Newsweek. I say “supposed to be” because I was just not a fan.

Maybe I missed something. I found Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver to be tedious and slow and disconnected. It was boring. I kept waiting for the plot to thicken, for something interesting to actually happen.  But the only thing that happened was the house kept falling apart and no one, in either time period, was able to actually fix it.

Maybe I missed some deeper meaning. Maybe there were parallels I was supposed to draw, metaphors to decipher, or allegories to interpret. But I didn’t catch them. Maybe because I would read two pages before drifting off, so it took me weeks longer than usual to finish the book.

If I missed the point of this book, then so be it. I don’t have to like everything. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

A summary of this book in one phrase: a tragic historical romance with an unexpected twist.

Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton, was part of our office book club, and I must say that it exceeded my expectations. It was a story of two women from different generations, who end up going through some surprisingly similar events. Cuban-American, Marisol, wants to fulfill her deceased grandmother’s wish to have her remains scattered in her beloved Havana, Cuba. So now that Marisol is able to travel (somewhat) safely to Cuba, she visits her grandmother’s old family friends, falls in love, and uncovers some hidden family secrets along the way.

The story is told from both perspectives of Marisol, as well as her grandmother Elisa. Switching back and forth between past and present, we get a full picture of Havana, then and now – how so much has changed, and yet, so much hasn’t. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

As someone who is about to bring a child into this world and will soon come face to face with all of the difficult questions of how to raise a kind, strong, independent human being, I found this book, The Coddling of the American Mind, to be an important lesson in what not to do.

This book is talking mainly about college students and universities – how young people, members of the iGen or Generation Z, believe they need to be “safe” from differing opinions, “safe” from guest speakers on campus, “safe” from offensive language. There is a pervasive trend in our current culture of people not wanting to have to hear diverse viewpoints. Their argument is that they may be “triggered” by someone else’s words or actions.

So the book explores what this means, how we got to this point and why, and what we can do about it. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Are you currently looking for a good girl friend to tell it like it is, tell you the truth about yourself and motivate you to be better? Rachel Hollis is your girl, and Girl, Wash Your Face is like having her in your living room telling to get off your phone, off your ass, and change your life.

I have heard of Rachel Hollis and of course her recent nonfiction books, but I am not a follower, I don’t read her blog, and I don’t know too much about her. But I was hoping this book would be a nice little pick-me-up and it did not disappoint. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi

Do you eat breakfast with your phone in front of you? Have you picked up your phone in the last 20 minutes? Are you addicted to social media or gaming apps? Do you get panicky if you can’t find your phone (or if the battery is less than 20%)?

Chances are, you answered yes to at least one of those questions. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Creative Self, by Manoush Zomorodi addresses this societal issue.

The book isn’t about cell phones though. Of course, phones are today’s number one source of entertainment and distraction, but the point of this book is that we don’t leave enough time in our day for unstructured thought. We never have to say ‘I’m bored.’ We have the opportunity and ability to jump from one source of media to the next. Facebook to Instagram to Candy Crush to text messaging to email and back again.

When is the last time you actually just – did nothing? I certainly can’t remember. Continue reading

2019 Reading List: Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

I remember very distinct moments in my childhood where I was desperate to fit in. When I was younger, most of it seemed to hinge on having the right things or wearing the right clothes. I wore overalls in elementary school because I liked them, but then I got made fun of and never wore them again. I wanted Ugg boots in the worst way because everyone else was wearing them. But I also just wanted to be part of a group. I wanted to feel like I had people around me, who wanted to hang out with me. I wanted a seat at the lunch table. I wanted friends on the swim team. I wanted people to meet up with in homeroom. I just wanted people to like me.

Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, takes a deep look at this longing to belong and what it really means. Continue reading