“I’m so grateful to books, and I’m so grateful to have grown up in a family where my love of reading was not only accepted but fostered. Reading fosters such curiosity, such thirst for knowledge outside of one’s own life. Through fiction we discover entire worlds. Entire dreams.
“These days, especially, as we desperately seek to understand each other, I remain convinced that no one who has made reading a part of their lives is ever too far from the ability to see and appreciate the humanity of a stranger and their people. I don’t say this to be a snob (a usually credible accusation when it comes to me), but if I had to pick one thing that has consistently made me and my life better, it is reading. Accessing other people’s stories, other people’s words, other people’s experiences — it opens up your mind in a way nothing else can.” – Clara, colormeloverly and One More Chapter Podcast
Knowing I doubled my goal last year of 50 books, I went ahead and just made 100 books my goal for this year. It didn’t sound like a lot at first until I realized that meant I would be reading a new book every 3-4 days. Nevertheless, thanks to audiobooks that I could listen to while I edited photos or went on walks or drove to weddings, combined with ebooks and traditional print books (my favorite!), I breezed straight into 100 with no problems.
I read an extra amount of memoirs this year, which is not typically a genre that I veer towards so that surprised me. Every single memoir I listened to on audiobook because there is nothing better than listening to the author reading their own words about their own life. And many of those memoirs ended up here, in my top 30! Spare, Thicker Than Water, Tell Me Everything, Mean Baby, I’ll Show Myself Out, All My Knotted-Up Life… In all, Goodreads tells me that I’ve read over 38,000 pages this year!
This was also the year of Harry Potter! I had never read HP as a kid and then, but the time it was back on my radar, I decided to save it to read with the kids. We started over the winter, finishing the first book in early February. We really gained steam and, by September, we finished the seventh book! In the interim, every time we finished a book, we’d watch the movie of it. We also took the kids on a surprise trip to Chicago to the Harry Potter: Magic at Play exhibit and they chose Harry and Hermione costumes for Halloween! (I wasn’t kidding when I said it was the year of HP!) I didn’t add any of the Harry Potter books to this list, but I truly loved them all (and also sort of assume that everyone else read them ages before me).
In no particular order, here are my favorite 30 books from 2023.
These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany
Ahhhh, my first 5-stars book of the year and it is so well-deserved. El-Wardany writes in such a beautiful way and Shazia Nicholls, in the audiobook, reads it with such vibrance and care.
Malak, Kees, and Jenna are best friends and have been their whole lives, but one night, it all changes. As their paths suddenly split, will they ever find their way back to each other again?
This book explores the complexities of faith, tradition, love, and culture. It is a gorgeous story of friendship and family, those we are born into and those we choose.
Spare by Prince Harry
I loved it so much, I read it twice! I preordered the hardcover—which I read immediately upon release—and then I waited for months on the library holds for the audiobook (read by Prince Harry). Both were excellent formats for their own reasons and I’m glad I did both.
As a long-time royal follower, so much I’ve observed from the outside, but reading from Harry’s perspective the true inner workings of what was actually happening behind the scenes was…shocking, to say it mildly.
I loved this book. It is split into three parts: losing his mum, his life in the military, and finding his one true love. Each part has dozens of chapters, so short that some aren’t even a full page. I loved that. It made for such a rich reading experience, especially for a memoir. Nothing dragged. It is a long book, but it was so easy to pick up and put down and also, ironically, not put down (because I’d say, “Oooh, I just want to read this one more chapter because it’s only two pages…”).
I know the media buzz around this book, especially the leaks pre-pub, were wild, and overall, it is an excellent book. It is so well written. It is thoughtful, it is fill with grace (sometimes, in my mind, undeserving especially towards certain family members), and it is self-reflective. It is also funny and juicy in just the right amounts, in ways that makes him feel so very normal even as wildly not normal his life is.
It ended showing someone who is profoundly grateful for their life and where they are and I loved that. I’m not as concerned about what Harry shared and the impacts of that (I honestly think he was very careful in what he shared and how he shared it, especially when it came to family members. He was far more gracious than some of the situations seemed to call for.); I was just enjoying his story and journey.
I highly suggest being part of Elizabeth Holmes’ So Many Thoughts book club for this read. I have especially loved her 7-part audio thoughts break down of the book as she read it. I shared so many of the same sentiments and thoughts and it was great to hear her, with her backgrounds in both journalism and royal style, articulate them so well. The community discussion was thought-provoking and delightful.
I think history will be kind to Harry and Meghan. I applaud Harry’s decision to break the cycle. It cost him, literally, everything he had ever known. But he broke the cycle. There is so much bravery in that.
Edit to add #1: I got such anxiety in the lead up to and dropping of their security. I felt the same way watching the Netflix doc. It was all so frantic and terrifying, truly terrifying! I will never understand the Palace’s justification for pulling security, especially when their threat level was so high. Of all the poor behavior and lack of support throughout, that is what I come back to as just the unforgivably cruel and dangerous power move.
Edit to add #2: I don’t come from a military family, but I adore how much detail Harry included in the second part about his military life. As much as it meant to me, I imagine it means so much more to anyone coming from a military background/family.
Honor by Thrity Umrigar
Beautiful and horrific. Heartbreaking and healing. As Regina wrote, “Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.” (Lois McMaster Bujold) It’s what resides in the temple of your soul. Honor is pure and never tainted by the ways of the world. Never steal honor’s breath to try to validate actions that defile its very virtue. For honor beckons to sit upon the highest of the high.
In 2018, Smita, an Indian-American journalist, is summoned to India, her country of birth to cover the a horrific story about Meena, a Hindu woman who lives in a small village who has married a Muslim man. Her brothers feel she has dishonored the family and they burn her home, killing her husband and badly disfiguring Meena from the fire. She has been left alone with her small child and her mother-in-law. Meena seeks justice from the court system. Throughout all this we also learn Smita’s own heartbreaking story.
It should come as no surprise that there are incredibly difficult and intense scenes to read. I so badly wanted justice, while also realizing that Meena knew justice was unlikely. She was seeking to restore honor, not justice.
Meena. What a warrior.
Thrity Umrigar has written a contemporary masterpiece that deserves every bit of recognition it is getting.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
The timing of this book becoming available on the library wait list on the same day as the WGA strike starting in real life was extra impactful with the female protagonist being a writer on an SNL-adjacent show and working on her own screenplay. 🤯
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
I’ll be honest, when I first heard Marcellus’ POV, I was like, “Wait, is this a book about an octopus?” And then I fell madly in love with every character, including said octopus, but also Tova, Cameron, and Ethan, and I just did not want this book to end. The way these characters are real and flawed and good and imperfect is inspiring and heart-warming and it may leave you in happy, sappy tears. I don’t know if there’s a perfect feel-good novel, but this one is as close as it gets.
Tell Me Everything by Minka Kelly
As an ardent fan of Friday Night Lights (clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose!), that show was my only reference to Minka Kelly. I truly knew nothing else about her except that she is a gorgeous actress. Listening to her read her book (this is an audiobook must) was a quick and deep reminder to me that everyone everywhere has a story and, for some, that story involves pain and brokenness and abuse. Shiny lights and fame do not mask the real life.
I enthusiastically cosign Elizabeth Jorgensen’s review of Tell Me Everything: “At the end of the book Minka Kelly writes that she’s writing this book because it might ‘hopefully mean something to someone somewhere, struggling to find her place in this world, struggling to understand the cards they’d been dealt and how best to play them.’
“Overdoses, physical violence, her step dad ‘wailing on [her] with the cable TV cord until [she] was bruised and broken’, being forced to make a sex tape. It’s all in Minka Kelly’s past. There are people, though, who believe in her (the daughter of a stripper); there are women who give her space, grace, encouragement and model what life can be like.
“Tell Me Everything is the story wrapped up in one sentence on page 257: ‘Women have never enjoyed the fruits of equality or equity in the history of humankind and it continues to shape the paths available to us.’
“Bravo, Minka Kelly. Tell Me Everything is troubling; it’s unsettling; I couldn’t put it down; truly, you’ve written a powerful tribute to your grace and vision. You—and this book—are remarkable. Thank you for bravely sharing your story with us.”
Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up by Selma Blair
Selma Blair is a WRITER. My god. This book is absolutely beautiful and raw and honest. It’s both funny and sad. There are multiple times throughout the audiobook where Blair breaks and you honestly just want to cry with her. It’s dishy (I always love finding out about other celebrities in real life and what relationships are actually like!) and also vulnerable. I came away with such a deep respect for Selma Blair.
I’ll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife and Motherhood by Jessi Klein
This was both hilarious and relatable! The audiobook was a delight (read by the author) and I laughed out loud so many times throughout this book. I also teared up at parts because, again, relatable.
“A mothers heroic journey is not about how she leaves but how she stays.”
“I’m just saying, maybe life is easier with a wife,” she says as she recalls all the things that wives do for the family, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
Drowning by T.J. Newman
Terrifying and all my worst nightmares combined but also absolutely unable to put this book down.
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
I wasn’t sure I’d be into this, but considering I loved Divergent, Hunger Games, etc., I should’ve known I’d be HOOKED. It’s very Harry Potter meets Hunger Games. The books (I read the first two in this series, the only ones released to date) are so dense with information that I honestly think I missed a lot because there was just so much to take in and try to understand. It was a buzzy 2023 release for a reason and I’m apparently a softie for a grumpy dragon. (Looking at you, Tairn.)
Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood
Please give me all the nerdy romcom STEM books. Ali Hazelwood is the queen of STEM romance and this is one of my favorites of hers so far. Elsie and Jack were dynamite! I loved their dialogues, hilarious banters, and blazing chemistry! Also, Elsie learning to say “no” truly gets 5 stars. Good for her.
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
I’d give it more stars if I could. This is a treasure of a book.
The storyline was…heartbreaking and also filling, if that even makes sense. It is made even better with the audiobook. Trust me, Deepti Gupta, Kamran R. Khan, Kausar Mohammed are cast so well for their narration parts of and they bring Sabaa Tahir’s story to life. Experiencing the melodies of Punjabi and Urdu is so worth the extra time it takes to savor this book with your ears.
Salahudin and Noor grabbed me instantly from the start, but I can say without hesitation, it was Misbah who made me cry soft tears at the end.
The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue
As my friend Jill said, “These are the kind of stories I love: perfectly paced, no excess, humor, flawed but wonderful characters. A dream to read.”
Thicker Than Water by Kerry Washington
I loved this book and not because it was particularly riveting–I mean, except for the huge dangle at the beginning!–but because it was just so well-written, well-read (memoirs are always an audio book!), and lovely. I have never been a devoted fan of Washington per se even as I have always thought she’s smart and amazing. Reading this made me want to go binge all 7 seasons of Scandal. (A plan I’m going to act on soon!) I have so much appreciation for her self-reflection, her discovery of her own truth, and, as a mother, her determinedness to keep her personal family life private.
A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them by Timothy Egan
The research on this book was incredible and the way it was written was not at all like a typical nonfiction historical lesson. The horrors were difficult to receive as our nation’s actual not-so-distant history.
My friend Gail reviewed this best: “[It is] a work of nonfiction that hits too close to home given its examination of that dark period in American history when WAYYYYYYY more Americans were members of the KKK than our history books led us to believe. (In Indiana, the heart of Klan activity at the time, ONE IN THREE Hoosiers were members of the Klan in 1923. ONE. IN. THREE.)
“It’s easy 100 years on to romanticize the ‘20s as that roaring era of flappers and jazz and the Charleston, but peel back the Gatsby-colored curtain and pick up a book like this (or watch Ken Burns’ “The US and the Holocaust”) and you can realize this was also the same terrifying decade when xenophobia reigned supreme, the KKK was hosting parades like they were going out of style (not just in the Midwest …. apparently the organization was so deep in the pockets of Anaheim, the city was dubbed ‘Klanaheim’), and eugenics was a global movement.
“To say this book—which details the rise and fall of the terrible DC Stephenson, grand dragon of the Indiana KKK—was eye-opening is like saying water is wet. I learned SO much from this read—about my home state, about tolerance, and (sadly) about how we are doomed to repeat history if we do not take the time to learn from it. (To say DC would be friends with Donald Trump today is like saying …. well, you know where I’m going with that analogy).
“What made this book a 5-star read for me was that *very* rare experience where the topic being covered becomes personal in an unexpected way.
“Throughout Fever, Stephenson chronicles the pervasiveness of the KKK in the lives of everyday citizens (you could shop at Klan-approved stores! enroll your children in the Ku Klux Kiddies!) but he also shares the stories of the individuals who put up a fight against the terrorist organization.”
A fantastic read while terrifying in its content. It also never ceases to be shocking every time I read/see/hear how intertwined the KKK was with the church. “Klansmen regularly paid off ministers to preach a gospel of hate.” And the intensity of that relationship is really uncovered in this book.
Hello Stranger by Katherine Center
Well, this book is clever! I cannot really go into it without spoiling things, but talk about a twist! Please go into this blind (pun intended) so you can enjoy the way it is meant to unravel.
As someone who adores a good romance book, I love this quote from Center about her works: “But what I know for sure is that reading love stories is good for you. That believing in love is believing in hope. And doing that—choosing in this cynical world to be a person who does that—really is doing something that matters.”
Happy Place by Emily Henry
Look, I’ll read an Emily Henry book any day of the week. I adore her writing and this one was a highly-anticipated release for 2023.
The book flips back and forth between past and present moments and tells the story of one woman’s search for happiness. Henry fantastically captures the stories of friendship, heartache, love, grief, family, and how they evolve over time. This book is beautiful and will stick with me for a long time.
All My Knotted-Up Life: A Memoir by Beth Moore
This book floored me. I don’t know how else to say it. The audiobook was the way to go with this one, as Beth’s reading of the book just makes it. I grew up Southern Baptist adjacent (Mennonite), and I did her studies when I was younger. My faith has shifted since my childhood and Moore was off my radar for a long time…until the lead up to the 2016 election when people got so upset at her for speaking up against sexual abuse being swept under the rug.
It’s hard to understand women’s ministry in any denomination in American Christianity without understanding the influence of Beth Moore over the last several decades. I had no idea. I was not prepared for what I read.
I expected Southern Baptist drama, and I expected her to share about her abuse in her childhood, and her rise in her writing and speaking, and the pushback that she got, and the pain of finding a new church. I was not prepared for the thread of her husband Keith, who she’s always been pretty quiet about. He gave her permission to share the story, which she handled with honesty and grace.
Beth’s story reminded me a bit of the disciple Peter. Boldness and humility, walking on water and sinking, about to drown. Profound and clumsy, running and tripping, endearing and exasperating, totally enraptured with the person of Jesus.
The stories of God’s faithfulness to her family—most especially to her husband, had me weeping by the epilogue.
To the whole Moore family, thank you for letting her tell this story.
River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer
Motherhood is such a connecting force and this book proves that. Rachel’s circumstances couldn’t be any different from mine but love for your children and the resolve that you’d move heaven and earth to keep them safe – that’s a universal experience.
Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
I truly appreciate that so many modern books are tackling mental illness and mental health in normal ways, making it not a stigma, but a part of a character’s life. Dealing with anxiety myself, I so adored Jacob. I understood him to a certain extent.
I loved Jacob, Brianna’s eccentric family, her nosy sisters, and Jacob’s cigarette addict grandfather a lot! My one beef was Brianna’s trust issues (which, understandable given her ex, but unfair to sweet Jacob) and constantly thinking the worst of Jacob and taking out her frustration on him. He made so many sacrifices for her and I just wanted to take Bri aside and be like, “He is truly as good as he seems. Please trust him.”
You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
Did Jessi Klein make it into my 2023 list twice? Yes, yes, she did. (Also, yes, I know this is an older release, but I didn’t read it until this year and it deserves the accolades.)
Great review from New York Magazine of “You’ll Grow Out of It—“I especially loved this sentiment of Klein’s: “I think for a very long time, including now, there has been this view that writing about the details of women’s lives feels somehow more trivial than writing by men,” Klein tells me, adding that she always believed her own insights and experiences could never pass as quote-unquote “real literature.” Working on Inside Amy Schumer, in a writers’ room where she was free to pitch topics that another sketch show might have rejected, helped her strengthen her voice, and to realize that she had something to say that other women might want to hear. “Even when I was starting out to write a book, I thought, those are books, that’s literature, and what am I going to write?” Klein muses. “How is my stupid essay about Anthropologie going to matter? And I think that’s a really toxic view to internalize. I think the details of women’s lives are as important as anything in all of literature.”
Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood by Jessica Grose
The pages tackle everything from pregnancy, identity, work, social media, and the crisis of the pandemic. There are so many desperate impracticalities that define the experience of modern motherhood and Grose explains how we got here, why the current state of expectations on mothers is wholly unsustainable, and how we can move towards something better.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
“Anyone will tell you the born of this world are marked from the get-out, win or lose.”
Demon Copperhead came into the world in a single trailer, born to a single mother who hadn’t a clue how (or the means) to look after him in the southern Appalachian mountains of Virginia, a place of dire poverty.
I won’t go into the synopsis as this is a lengthy (over 600 pages!) and eventful novel. However, this is a tale of love and the need for love, it’s about dreams and anger, hate and pain, and what really stands out is how the opioid crisis is responsible for many of those bad feelings, and demonstrates how it wrecks the lives that might otherwise have climbed out of that daily grinding poverty.
The journey for Demon is long and eventful. The writing is so beautiful, exquisite even, but it takes the reader to places so dark, depressing and dangerous with its intimate detail, that you wonder why you find such beauty in it. But it’s there on every page, in every event and every crisis, harrowing yet uplifting.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
The next Little Women. It’s that good.
Now What?: How to Move Forward When We’re Divided (About Basically Everything) by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
I am a big fan of Pantsuit Politics, a podcast hosted by the authors, Sarah & Beth, so it was not a surprise at all that I loved this book. If you are also a listener of theirs, nothing in this book is exactly revolutionary as they are solidifying everything they already stand for and show by example on their podcast. If you’ve never listened to their podcast, however, this book will be revolutionary.
Things I highlighted:
“Researchers found between 1965 and 2012 mothers doubled the time spent with their kids, despite the fact that millions of women joined the workforce and should in theory have less time than ever.” p.36
“Parents of grown children say they only want their children to be happy, but what if those same children find happiness only in rejecting the choices of their parents? What we say and what we expect when it comes to parenting are very far apart.” p.36
“Despite the deep roots of our biology, most of us grow into very different people from our caregivers and siblings. That’s what we’re supposed to do. Raising a child is a creative act in every sense of the word. We are not reproducing ourselves. We’re making new people, as different from each other as they are from us.” p.39
“Consider how you’ve observed conflict in your family. Who taught you how to have a fight and still love each other? How would your other family members answer that question? What are the unspoken rules about conflict in your family?” p.46
“Our stress rises because we see their stress and struggle. We want to honestly tell the children we love that everything will be OK. Yet when we look around us at a global pandemic, rising partisan rancor, the threat of climate change, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and crises in seemingly every single major societal institution, it feels like telling them that would be a lie.” p.69
“By virtue of being a loving adult to a child, you are qualified to talk politics with that child. … You don’t need to be an expert; you need to be the kind of adult with whom a child wants to talk about important things again and again.” p.79
“The beauty of organizations organized around common purposes is in the commitment to stick around anyway. Sticking around anyway helps us grow. It gives us the chance to see what happens when someone else has a better idea, to contribute to a vision we disagreed with, to realize the fruits of messy labor.” p.129
“Establishing some guiding principles for ourselves online along with increasingly limiting our time on social media is helping us feel more grounded and clearheaded.
– We try to share content that we find personally enriching.
– We try to amplify diverse voices sharing good information.
– We pause before wading into trending topics.
– We think carefully about using hashtags in order to avoid opportunism or disrespect.
– We have a long-standing rule against sharing bad content. We don’t repost anything for the purpose of telling people how bad/wrong/ignorant it is.
-We don’t tweet-shame. If someone sends us a less-than-gracious comment, we don’t share it as an invitation for people to defend us.
– We don’t amplify attention-seeking posts that don’t add value to our thoughts.” p. 198
“Anxiety shrinks our timelines. History gives us the chance to expand that timeline again and put anxiety in the back seat where it belongs. The best reported piece is always only part of the story because reporters are always limited in time and energy and resources. They’ve got to tell us what happened now. Historians take their time. Deadlines are few and far between when writing the annals of history. Looking back is an exercise in patient.” p.206
“Beyond what we learn and what we do, it is significant that you exist simply with a heart for improving the world.” p.218
“We strengthen connection not by agreeing or resolving tension. We strengthen connection by recognizing that our unique identities are what bring us together. … When we see conflict as a problem to be solved, we see our connection to one another through the lens of negativity and lack. And yet, conflict is only a manifestation of our connection, and our relationships to one another are not something to be managed or controlled or fixed.” p.220
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
“There’s no greater right for a woman than having a choice.”
Inspired by true events, of course I immediately dove into additional research when I finished this book.
Deep South 1973, Montgomery, Alabama. When Civil finishes nursing school, she is eager to make a difference, especially in her Black community. She gets a job at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, but is shocked to find out, upon a home visit to a shabby one-room cabin, that her new patients are sisters, just 11 and 14.
The immoral and shameful overreach of the U.S. government on the reproductive rights of mostly Black and poor women and young girls through forced sterilization is the central focus of this book, told in dual time lines, 1973 and 2016.
Take My Hand is an unforgettable story inspired by true events of the Relf sisters, though they represent only two victims among so so so many.
The Winners by Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman can write a story!! I never know how he’s going to unveil the web he has created, but it always leaves me gasping a bit and always, always teary.
Some quotes I highlighted while reading…
“We help if we can, when we can, to the extent that we can. It’s a particular sort of job, but also a particular sort of person.”
“We’re your mothers. We loved you first. Maybe everyone else loves you now, but we loved you first.”
“Our children never warn us that they’re thinking of growing up, one day they’re just too big to want to hold our hand, it’s just as well we never know when the last time if going to be or we’d never let go. They drive you mad when you’re little, yelling every time you leave the room, because you don’t realize at the time that whenever someone yells ‘Daddy!’ that means you’re important. It’s hard to get used to not being important.”
“That isn’t so strange, when you’re scared to seek refuge in your happiest moments, and her happiest moments are her son’s. Sons never understand that.”
“Sons never understand that that’s the biggest word in the world. ‘Mom. Mom. MOM!'”
“When we are little we grieve for the person we have lost, but when we’re older we griever even more for ourselves.”
“Everyone I know with any sense has two families, the one they were given and the one they chose. You can’t do anything about the first, but you can damn well take responsibility for the second.”
“He misses having somewhere he belongs, even if it was a lie–sooner that than being lost in the truth. We all have a hundred fake personalities depending upon who we’re with. We pretend and dissemble and stifle ourselves just to fit in.”
“I was thinking how crazy freezers are. Just think, if you put a piece of meat with a best-before-date of tomorrow in the freezer, then leave it for a month, then when you take it out it’s still okay to eat! It’s like you’ve stopped time! Freezers are time machines!”
“All children are victims of their parents’ childhoods, because all adults try to give their kids what they themselves enjoyed or lacked.”
“Mothers have no armor to get them through life because they give every last bit to their children, by the end of their teenage years, there isn’t even any skin left, so every feeling of loss cuts right into her flesh now.”
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
“I can’t praise the merits of this new book enough: It’s so refreshing to read a parenting book that’s less about the kid (because believe me, there are PLENTY of those out there and I’ve read more than a few of them) and more about the actual pressures of being the PARENT——aka, what kind of mega changes are in store for you when you accept that title of being someone’s mom or dad (one of, if not THE most, sudden and dramatic changes of adult life.)
“Senior folds in narratives of parents she meets along the way, some whose stories sound familiar to my own or that of other family members, as she dives into universal topics affecting most adults when they enter the parenting ring: a loss of autonomy (it’s SO HARD to go from being an adult who’s had their 20s full of ME time, to becoming a parent who has to be on his/her game for someone else 24/7); the way having a child affects one’s marriage (this chapter alone was worth its weight in gold); to what IS AWESOME about having kids (“they create wormholes in time, transporting their mothers and fathers back to feelings and sensations they haven’t had since they themselves were young; also, see “how cool it is when your 3-year-old starts asking you philosophical questions”); and, for this mother of a toddler at least, what is in store when it comes to some day having a teenager in the house.
“I think what I came to appreciate most about this book was the INCREDIBLE amount of research and detail Senior poured into it. She’s done her homework, it shows, and on the shelf of parenting books that are out there, I hope it allows hers to rise quickest to the top.” (Reviewed by my friend, Gail. Copied and credited because I couldn’t have said it better.)
Reign by Katharine McGee
Out of the entire series, this was the weakest book, IMO, but it still pulled me all the way through to the end without truly knowing how things would end up. I have always loved the 4 female perspectives and there’s just so.much.drama. (Honestly, it felt like the ending was teeing up for another? I had to double check that it is indeed supposed to be the final book.) But seriously, any author who can create a character like Daphne and then also make our hearts soften ever so slightly toward her deserves a lot of credit.
Talking at Night by Claire Daverley
My friend Gail calls this book a “magic unicorn” read “in large part because it is SO rare to discover a novel that reads both like literary fiction AND a truly compelling romance.” And she’s absolutely right. It has mountains and valleys; it is devastating and tender; it is so real (so much so that I often forgot the characters are a work of fiction, which was also, in its own way, heartbreaking to come back to reality from).