Welcome to Round 16 of this little series I started of all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately! Here you’ll find everything from the books I’m currently reading to the products I’m loving to the shows I’m watching (which, spoiler alert–won’t be very many or very exciting, since I’m not a huge t.v. or movie watcher). If you want to check out past editions of the series, click here.
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- It’s Amazon Prime Day today (Monday) and tomorrow! In years past, I haven’t been able to participate (not being a Prime member and all), but this year, they let me sign up for a month of free Prime (again). As I’ve done this in the past, I didn’t think they’d let me again, but they must have waived the rules for the time being. I also got a free $10 credit for signing up this time (if I installed the app and signed in through it), which was a nice bonus. If you want to check out if the same deal is available to you, you can check that out here. (Matt was hoping that Prime Day would magically allow him to make one of his dream purchases, but I think that even Amazon Prime Day isn’t going to bring that to pass.)
- If you’re going to be buying books on Amazon Prime Day (which is the only thing I’m buying, #nosurprisethere), make sure to try out the promo code PRIMEBOOK19 for $5 off of qualifying book purchases of $15 or more.
- I know I’m SO behind on this, but Matt and I recently signed up for a free month of Netflix (we haven’t had Netflix in well over a year), so I was finally able to catch the Netflix movie of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which I read last summer (along with the rest of the trilogy). I thought the books were a lot of fun, but I actually think I loved the movie even more. I used to be a huge chick flick fan (I even did a post on themed chick flick movie marathons to watch), but in recent years, I haven’t loved how crass and inappropriate many of them have gotten. But this one? This one was totally adorable. Kind of makes me want to read the books again!
Current and Recent Reads
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
One thing See is excellent at is exploring the depths and complexities of various female relationships, and doing so in a richly vibrant cultural setting. This book is no different—it explores the friendship and later falling out of two friends who grew up on a small Korean island as part of the local (and all-female) diving collective. This story spans several decades and many big world and local events, and the culture she explores is fascinating. This wasn’t a 5-star read for me (mostly because I felt I’ve read this story before by See, just in a different setting), but if you’re new to her work, this wouldn’t be a bad one to start off with. Fair warning: See’s books often have pretty graphic and brutal descriptions of events such as war and devastation, and this book had one particularly intense scene that was hard to get through.
Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl
I was SO excited when my hold for this one finally came in, and I finished it in about a day, I was so excited. I discovered Reichl’s writings a few years back, and I have since been trying to get my hands on everything she’s written. Reichl is a food writer who used to work as a restaurant critic for The New York Times and then later was made the editor of Gourmet magazine. This particular book describes her years working at the famous food magazine, and while I missed the fact that the book didn’t have as much of the food writing that she’s so good at, this was still a fun, compelling read.
How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper
Summer for me is a time for generally lighter reading, and as I’d just finished The Island of Sea Women and needed something a little less heavy, I picked this one up right after. Main character Andrew works for a government agency that goes into homes where the occupants died alone and tries to figure out if they have any relatives or friends to contact (and if not, they arrange for a funeral service and burial). Despite the depressing-sounding job, this book is actually quite funny—Andrew, thanks to a misunderstanding during his initial job interview, leads his boss to thinking that he has a wife and two kids at home when, in fact, he goes home to an empty house every night. When a new coworker starts and they start to build up a friendship (and possibly something more), Andrew must choose whether he lets the world know about the lie he’s kept going for years, or whether he should continue on with business as usual. Most of the book was at 3.5 stars for me (I didn’t love how much language there was in it), but the ending was so satisfying that this one rounded out to a solid 4 stars. See Also: What’s On My Summer Reading List (2019)
Atomic Habits by James Clear
There is a reason this one is so popular right now and on many bestseller lists—it is GOOD. I’ve read a decent number of books on habits over the years (what can I say? I’m a bit obsessed with the subject), but this one blows them all out of the water. Basically, Clear breaks down habits into 4 parts and then moves through how you can maximize your results by tweaking various (small) things on all four parts of a habit. I love that this book makes habit change seem downright simple, and I am DEFINITELY planning on buying this book for my own library, which is high praise indeed (as I hardly buy books at all anymore). If you only plan on reading one book in your life on forming better habits (and breaking bad habits), make it this one.
Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
This nostalgic memoir about the author’s childhood growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950’s (and about her fanatic love for the Brooklyn Dodgers) was so delightful. I wasn’t sure how into it I’d be (I mean, I like baseball, but I’m not obsessed with it), but when I started the book, intending to just read one chapter, I just…kept going. This book is a beautiful story about the magic of childhood, the difficulties of growing up, the importance of having a tight-knit community, and so much more. I really loved this one.
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Another light summer read, this one is a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling following two Muslim-Canadians who couldn’t seem to be more opposite at the beginning—one, a devout son who wants nothing more than for his mother to arrange his marriage, and the other, a free spirit who is already older than the typical marrying age and who wants to make her own decisions in life. While the ending wasn’t my favorite (I felt it was a bit clunky and that the pacing was a bit off), most of this book was a 4-star read for me (though the ending ended up taking it down to 3.5 stars). Still, a fun read, and considering I usually “don’t do” Austen retellings, that’s saying something. See Also: 12 Love Stories For People Who “Don’t Do” Romances
Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes
This is one I started after a friend on Goodreads gushed about it, and while I haven’t gotten too far into it, it definitely IS thought-provoking. This is basically an in-depth look at how, despite what some people might think, homemaking and being a homemaker is not anti-feminist, and how it’s actually the answer to a lot of the ills plaguing society today. This book definitely is living up to the “radical” in its name on many points, as it takes a much more extreme view on many things than I do personally, but it’s still pretty interesting thus far. The first half is pretty academic and the last half is supposed to be more practical. I’ll be curious as to see how my opinion on this one shakes out.
The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir by Katrina Kenison
I have a slight obsession with the idea of finding beauty in the seemingly mundane moments of the everyday, so this memoir seemed like it would be right up my alley. So far, I think I’m probably right on this one, even if I’m only about 25 pages into it. This is a memoir written from the point of a mother who’s got several years on me, and she writes about the transition from having small children to having teenagers, and how that coincided with the restlessness she felt at middle age. While she’s describing a different stage of life than the one I currently find myself in, I’m still appreciating the insight, and the writing is beautiful.
How’s your summer reading going? Any books worth passing along?