Books of the Month: July 2020

Can you believe it’s August? Summer is basically over, Christmas is basically here, and it’s much closer to the end of 2020 than the start. I’m not mad about this year going quickly, it’s a bit insufferable, if I’m being honest.

I started this month reading Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and I will be up front with you, I just couldn’t get into it. I loved the first section where Gay describes her time in becoming a professor; I really like her writing style and found many things interesting in what she had to say. The next section about Gender, was weird? She only recapped and reviewed books, mostly on gender, but I don’t know what I was supposed to get from that? I skipped around the book a bit more, but just couldn’t keep going with it. I did find her reviews of the movies, The Help and Django Unchained extremely insightful as to why they weren’t great movies for explaining the history of racism. Has anyone else read this book? I’m curious for other reviews.

Next, I read The Last Flight, which was a great book. It’s about 2 women, both on the run, who cross paths at an airport and trade tickets for each other’s flights. It’s a strong female novel, touching on domestic violence and women standing up to take down powerful men. Huzzah!

I then read The Vanishing Half, and you all need to run out and find this book. It’s 5 stars, an excellent story across multiple generations, with well developed characters. It tackles issues of race, gender, class and so much more. It was such a well written book, I immediately sought out Bennett’s other book, The Mothers. The Mothers was a great book touching on all types of relationships, lovers, friends, father/child, mother/child, and so on. The ending was sort of left unwritten which I typically am frustrated by but in this book, I liked it.

Next, I read Such a Fun Age. It was a story about a twenty something black woman being accused of kidnapping the white child she was nannying. The story was interesting, especially the character and backstory of the white mother. I feel like she had white savior tones, but it was the point of the story; overall, I thought it was well written and made you think. Finally, I read Educated and I can’t even begin to describe how quickly you need to go out and find this book to read it yourself. It’s such an incredible coming of age story, detailing the insane life and family of Tara Westover. It makes me want to hug my parents and honestly cry for all the things she went through. I’m also amazed at the person she turned into, after suffering all that?

I would most recommend The Vanishing Half and Educated, without a doubt. Actually, make sure you read both of them ASAP!

The Last Flight: A Novel by Julie Clark

The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett

The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Educated by Tara Westover

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

I didn’t get to read Poet X this month like I mentioned in last month’s post, there is a very long hold for it on my Libby app. Maybe next month! Has anyone read anything good this month? I would love to hear the recommendation!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 25

I thought I would kick off something new called, Sincerely Seven, where I recap my week, tell you something new or share an article or recipe that I found useful over the last seven days. I’m hoping it will encourage me to write on here more, plus share some nuggets that I found useful or interesting over the course of my week. Without further ado, here are my seven highlights from week 25 of 2020.

  1.  I took a 3 day weekend and it was so lovely to not have work on Friday. Since COVID started, I haven’t taken any time off, mostly because it feels weird taking time off when I work from home. It was well needed and I enjoyed every minute, plus I finally got my hair done so back to blonde baby! Sadly semi wishing I had taken off tomorrow too..
  2. In listening to this week’s episode of Work in Progress, I learned why you shouldn’t eat any more shrimp. I’m officially done, and trying to do anything I can to save the ocean.
  3.  I found this recipe for marinated goat cheese and strawberry crostini this week and it sounds SO yummy. I need to run to Trader Joe’s to get some goat cheese and french bread ASAP.
  4. I personally purchased the book, White Fragility, but then I read this article and have decided not to read it. Just wanted to share since I shared that book title earlier on my blog; I would be curious if anyone has read it, what did you think?
  5. I finished the show “Love Life” on HBO and would highly recommend; Anna Kendrick’s character is very lovable and experiences a lot of character development throughout the show/her love life. I also started “Dear White People” on Netflix; though I’m only one episode in, I really like it so far. Logan Browning plays a very fierce lead, helping to highlight the racial issues on her predominantly white college campus.
  6.  I’m currently reading Normal People by Sally Rooney and I can’t put it down! I also can’t wait to start the show after I finish. Has anyone already read/watched?
  7.  I made this chocolate chip cookie and it’s too pretty not to share with the world (since I’m off social media). You can make them too with this recipe from one of the best bakeries in Columbus, OH.

0BE6EFAC-BD59-499D-A148-E84302C23F05

I hope you had a wonderful week and here’s to wishing for another great seven days ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: May 2020

Another month stuck in the Q, another 5 books read. I can hardly believe we’ve been social distancing this long and frankly, still alive and possibly thriving on some levels. I mean, I’ve read 14 books since the start, and that’s pretty awesome if you ask me!

Untamed was incredible, I want so many quotes tattooed directly on my face. I also want her to write a whole book on religion, as well as white women + racism (not by herself, of course, but with activists of color who can help shape the conversation); I think it’s important to discuss and be aware of as many white women dance around the conversation as well as the importance of it, especially in today’s climate. I’m also low key obsessed with Glennon and Abby’s relationship, like where is the Lifetime movie of their romance?! I encourage everyone to read it!

One True Loves was another good page turner/romance book. Basically, the main woman’s husband dies, she grieves and then finds love again + gets engaged, only to find out her husband has been lost at sea and is coming home. I was very torn on who I wanted her to end up with, but it had a wonderful ending, tied neatly with a bow; would recommend for a quick read! Valentine was a book set in the 70’s in West Texas, about a young Mexican girl who is raped by a white young man and of course, everyone in the town blames her for being a slut and ruining his life (EYE ROLL). It was slow and hard to get through at times, I don’t regret reading it, but I don’t think I would tell you to add to your list?

The Bride Test was another great story from Helen Hoang, about an autistic main character, who struggles to make a connection. Would recommend as a quick read/feel good! Finally, Big Summer was a murder mystery that was a little cliche at times and I felt bored in some places; I’m sad because I was really looking forward to this one as a Jennifer Weiner fan. I think this was the author’s first time delving into mysteries? It was not terribly thrilling, but highlighted friendship and body image, especially plus size acceptance in our society. I would maybe recommend if you’re a Jennifer Weiner fan, but even then, not exactly worth it.

If I had to recommend one, it would be Untamed. If you’re not into memoirs/self help, would go for One True Loves or Bride Test

Untamed by Glennon Doyle Melton
One True Loves: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Valentine: A Novel by Elizabeth Wetmore
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Big Summer: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
Any reading suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments, I need some new ideas! I’m reading Godshot next…
Sincerely,
Sara Ann

Books of the Month: February 2020

Another month, another three books. I decided at the start of the month to make a conscience effort to read books by Black authors for this month, all in the name of continuing to broaden my reading horizons as well as celebrating and learning more from Black voices.

New People was crazy; it has a touch of the Netflix show, You, to give some context. I found the plot to be mesmerizing, finishing the book in a matter of a day. I think it was so interesting because the main character was so blatantly flawed and possibly dealing with some mental health issues? I absolutely hate how it ended, please, if you’ve read this, can we discuss?

Queenie is about a mid-twenties woman living in London, trying to recover from heartbreak. It talks a lot about dealing mental health, focusing on yourself, and the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a really good read, especially if you’re a fan of Bridget Jones, though I felt this one touched on a bit more serious theme than Bridget’s escapades.

Finally, I read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, and I have to say, it was very eye opening. It made me aware of how ignorant white people, including myself, can be, as well as made me better understand the privilege in whiteness that can allow one to see the violent history of the world with rose colored glasses, or rather, disregard it entirely.  It mainly discussed black history in Britain, and I’m going to be totally honest that I had no idea Britain even had a past as heavy with slaves and racism as the US. It really made me think of Chelsea Handler’s documentary, Hello Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea, and how important it is for all people to engage (whites and blacks alike) on black history, racism, and white privilege, even if it’s uncomfortable or awkward.

I also want to include the book, An American Marriage, in this post; although, I read it a few months ago. It’s a heart wrenching story about a young black couple and how they deal with the husband’s wrongful incarceration. It very much makes you face the real horrors of how a person’s life can be ruined, something I have never much thought about as a white person.

New People by Danzy Senna

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Bonus: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Overall, I’m glad I focused on Black authors this month; I learned a lot and felt that these books really challenged me to think about white privilege and to see the world through another lens. I hope more people take time to do the same, and have conversations with friends, family, etc to discuss and celebrate black history, not only in the US, but the world.

What were your reads of the month? Anything I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: January 2020

So far I have read 5 books in the month of January, and I tried fairly hard to differentiate the selection as best I could. I was most surprised by the latest, The Friend. It was recommended to me by my hairdresser and while it’s a bit unconventional of a book, I really found it enjoyable, tackling some tough issues like love and loss. I also really loved reading, Save Me the Plums. It was an insightful book into the editorial food world and I want to try all the recipes that Ruth sprinkled throughout the book.

Royal Holiday was cute, in a Hallmark-esque movie way and Conviction was interesting, but I did find it tough to get through. I mostly liked it because the central book storyline revolved around a crime podcast, but other than that, I felt the story was a little dull. It did touch on the criticism that women receive when they come out as a victim of sexual assault, which is SO important and I’m glad they made it a point to make that a central part of the storyline as well.

Finally, I was really moved by When Breath Becomes Air, but wow, was it a heavy read. Hearing Paul’s story was heartbreaking but I would recommend reading this book at some point, when you’re in the right headspace. I did like that they tried to keep it positive, discussing his life and his impact on others, but woof, it was rough to listen to his final days, as told by his wife, Lucy.

Full list is below for anyone who needs a new read; if you can only try one, I think I would suggest Save Me the Plums; unless you’re not into food whatsoever, try reading The Friend!

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Conviction by Denise Mina

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

What are you reading now, or have you read anything great in the last few months? Feel free to suggest in the comments below. I love getting suggestions from all genres!

Best,

Sara

Here’s What I’ve Read So Far…

Hello Reader! I don’t know where you are, but I hope you are warm! I’ve been stuck inside due to inclement weather so I’ve been working hard on my book list. These are the ones I’ve already read and crossed off. Here’s what I thought of them…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6ce/66502323/files/2015/01/img_0124.jpgtiny beautiful things.

I said this in a previous post, but run out to your nearest library, book sale, Amazon.com and get your paws on this book. I want to buy it for everyone I know, especially all my twentysomething friends. It’s chalk full of amazing words and advice that anyone could relate to their own life. Strayed will leave you wanting to find love, chase life and forgive not only others but also yourself. Trust me when I say you will want to keep this one on your shelf to reread for many years to come.

This is Where I Leave You.

Another blogger commented that I would L-O-V-E this and, of course, I did. I think I read it in a day. The story is beautifully written and it made me laugh out loud on page and want to cry the next. Tropper did an excellent job of portraying typical family that is full of issues. In a way, it makes you feel thankful for your not so messed up family. I sort of didn’t like the ending because I need a firm resolution, followed by ‘and they lived happily ever after. The End.’ But the end was sort of like, open to endless possibilities, which was the point for the main character‘s storyline. In all, the story, characters and writing were all excellent and I think you should also add this one to your Kindle library, or your Amazon cart or whatever means you fancy for reading, add this now.

The Pact

BONUS! I snuck this book into my reading mix, mainly because the other book from my list wasn’t available and I needed a filler. I’ve been meaning to read this for years and I’m so glad I did. In short, two star crossed lover teens make a pact to commit suicide together. That’s what the back tells you, but this. story. is. SO. much. more. than. that.

If you like Law & Order SVU. Read this.

If you like Romeo & Juliet. Pick up this book.

If you like complicated storylines that you think one thing and then something else happens and you just tear through the book to get to the end. Here’s your story.

Picoult does a flawless job of making this story intricate and complicated and beautiful. I could feel how tormented and alone Emily felt. Not justifying suicide, but I could see how Emily felt no other way out. In short, only one of the teens dies when they commit suicide together and the other is charged with her murder. And the truth isn’t revealed until the end (of course), but you’re lead to believe several different things throughout the book. I felt like I was part of the jury, and at one point, I was convinced Chris killed Emily. Did he?! Read it and see!

I’m currently reading, Yes Please, so you’ll have to check back to see how much I loved that. I can tell you, I’ve already been laughing out loud and I’m on page 107. Side note: This book weighs like 85 pounds, not even close to kidding…

What books have you been reading, Reader? Anything I should peruse?

Let me know in the comments!

Love, B.