Category: Reading

March & April Reading

I read two books each in March and April, bringing my total for the year to 14! I’m already looking forward to warm summer days at the pool and lots of reading time! Here’s what I read!

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens – This story is told in “Sliding Doors” fashion which I love… present day happenings mixed with flashbacks to previous points in the characters’ lives. This was a quick, inviting read and a great choice for a light romcom novel. 4/5 stars

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb – I loved this book. I had it in my Kindle app forever and just like with Crawdads I’m sorry it took me so long to read it! A fascinating look at a therapist dealing with her patients, her own life issues and her journey through therapy. 5/5 stars

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker by Derick Lugo – This was a pick for a book club that’s an offshoot of my hiking group. Definitely an interesting story – Derick is a New Yorker who in a down moment in his life decides to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. The one thing that was missing for me was how he prepared for the journey. His account goes from making the decision to showing up on his first day with a perfectly outfitted pack. 4/5 stars.

Originals by Adam Grant – I discovered the work of Adam Grant in the last year through Instagram, and organizational psychology has always been my favorite niche in psychology. This is the first book of his that I’ve read, but I’ve also enjoyed his podcast and his appearances on other podcasts. In this book Grant breaks down what non-traditional processes have led to great innovations and groundbreaking thoughts (and there’s a section on how to raise children to learn these skills!). As someone who is an introvert and has always thought about the world a little bit differently and aspires to lead the best I can, I appreciated his insights and will work to incorporate them into my own practice. 4/5 stars

In other bookish news, the physical pile of books that I have in my house that I still have to read has grown a little unwieldy. I’ll be taking some time early next week to sort through them and make a priority reading list for this summer. I’ll update when I know what’s on it!

What have you been reading lately?

February Reading

So somehow it’s the middle of March… but here’s what I read in February (in no particular order)!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – This book was incredible and I was actually mad at myself for not reading this sooner. This novel chronicles the untraditional childhood and early adulthood of Kya, known in her community as “The Marsh Girl.” She deals with an extraordinary amount of loss and parents herself from a young age. I was swept in by her strength and resilience and was so proud of the woman she became. I know a book is powerful when I need a little break before starting my next read (I call this a book hangover), and I had a big one after finishing this novel. (5/5 stars)

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman – Modern Mrs. Darcy included this book in her 2020 summer reading preview, and I grabbed it from my library’s new release shelf at the end of January. This story is told from alternating viewpoints of a single mother and her teenage daughter as they are part of a week-long college tour group. As someone who will parent teenagers in the coming years, I found the insights each character revealed as part of the mother/daughter relationship interesting. This was a quick, light read that I very much enjoyed. (4.5/5 stars)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – This book has been on my TBR forever and I promised myself I would read it before seeing the movie. The author is a young attorney who starts an organization to provide pro bono services for inmates on death row in Alabama in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He profiles black inmates who were wrongfully convicted of crimes and those who he could not save from their execution. His first hand accounts are heart-wrenching and show just how complex the legal system in his state is and how complicated it is for someone to navigate. (5/5 stars)

Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld – I’ve never been a fan of the show Seinfeld, but I adore his standup. This book is the entirety of his standup bits divided by decade, and if you can picture him saying them it’s the best standup show ever. (4/5 stars)

In Five Years by Rebecca Searle – I had high hopes and it just missed the mark for me. I went in thinking this book would be one thing, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The main character of this novel travels through 5 years of her life after she has a dream that flashed her forward. What was disorienting at first plays out in perfect bits towards her living her life authentically. (3.5/5 stars)

Where do I find my next read?

Now that you’ve found a way to challenge yourself to read more, it’s time to find some books!

Podcast episodes – I found the podcast “What Should I Read Next?” about 2.5 years ago and it is incredible. Each episode has the same format – after a get to know you chat with the guest, the host Anne Bogel asks the guest to talk about 3 books they love, 1 book they don’t and what they’re currently reading. Then based on clues she gets from those selections, Anne gives the guest 3 suggestions of books he/she may enjoy. (Side note, she does this on the fly! She has shared on Instagram that she takes notes during the episode and cultivates a list of potential books for the guest during the course of the conversation) You can scroll through the episode descriptions and find guests who you think may have interests similar to yours – I tend to skip the episodes with guests who are heavy into fantasy and horror reading, but if there’s mention of a guest who likes modern fiction with a complicated family story, I’m all in!

Browse library new books section – My local library has a long case right off the lobby filled with new releases – fiction on one side and nonfiction on the other. I look at these shelves every time I go and will grab one or two that sound interesting or that I’ve heard something about.

Talk to your independent bookstore owner/librarian – Guaranteed the bookstore owner and librarian is a reader and a book lover, and will have recommendations for you! He or she is also knowledgeable about what’s new in the publishing world even if it’s outside of their personal area of interest.

Head to your local thrift store – One underappreciated place for finding books is your local Goodwill or thrift shop! One of my daughter’s dance classes is only 30 minutes long and there’s a Goodwill 2 doors down from her studio in the shopping center, so every few weeks I’ll wander in to see what they have. At that store most of the books are only $1, and I’ve picked up so many that have been on my TBR (to be read) list. Even if you’re starting from scratch with no TBR, cruise the shelves at your local thrift store and see what interests you.

Go back to those well-known book clubs and scan the lists of what they’ve read: Oprah, Reese & Jenna

Book of the Month – This subscription service (which I am *this* close to joining) sends you one of 5 new releases for just $10-15, and then you can add on additional books for $10. The monthly picks are from a range of categories so you can try different genres and see which one you like the best.

Goodreads – Goodreads is the Facebook of the reading world. You can connect with friends to see what they’re reading, but your news feed will also tell you what books are trending in different areas and you can look at other users comments on a particular book to see if it might be for you.

Social Media – There are active book communities on both Instagram and TikTok. Search #bookstagram on Instagram and #booktok to see what others are reading, what they love and what they don’t love. My list of books I’m interested in has grown so much since finding these communities!

Take cues from what movies/TV you enjoy –  See if your favorite series or movie is based on a book (Outlander, Crazy Rich Asians, heck, even Bridgerton!) and dive in! Or read the book before you see an upcoming movie release. I have been holding out on seeing the movie Just Mercy for ages because I hadn’t read the book yet (just finished it over the weekend!), but I also binged Firefly Lane on Netflix last week even though the book has been on my shelf for ages.

 

I encourage you to keep notes either in a book journal or in an online form like Goodreads as you’re working through finding what you like. Keep notes about what works and what doesn’t work so you can further hone in on a genre/story arc/character type that you enjoy the most.

And I’m going to repeat my caveat:

As with making any change, give yourself some grace. Life happens and missing one piece of your reading goal is not something to stress about. They don’t call it “reading for enjoyment” for nothing. Meeting your reading goal shouldn’t be stressful, it should be exciting. Along those same lines, if a book isn’t serving you or giving you joy, it’s ok to put it down. As you are discovering what you like to read, you’ll have some hits and some misses. If you know 75 pages in that something is amiss, don’t feel like you need to finish the next 200 pages. Put it down and make note of why that book wasn’t the one for you. All of these pieces of information will refine your reading preferences and help you be more accurate about your picks in the long run. I wrote about how I did that in this post. At this point, I don’t put books down often because I have a better sense of what I like and what I think I won’t like. Finding your preferences is a journey.

How to change up your reading life

How to introduce more reading to your life and finding what to read seems to me like a chicken/egg problem. You’re not going to read more without having books to read but if you have books to read you also need a plan to get the reading done. So this is going to be a two part series and I’m going to arbitrarily pick which part to start with (the other part will come next Tuesday).

Part 1 – How to make changes to your reading life

I was the kid who always had a book in her hand. I would check out a stack of books from the library and tear through them after I got home. Libraries and bookstores continue to be a place of joy and excitement for me. But there was a period of my life when reading took a backseat (college, working, then working in Philadelphia and commuting 3 hours per day, and having small children). It got to a point where I knew that I missed reading and had to be mindful about how to incorporate it into my life again.

Here’s a list of ways you can be more mindful changing your reading life:

Set a goal – This goal could take any number of forms. Think about how you like to approach challenges and adapt that to your reading life. When I ran my first marathon, the thought of running 26.2 miles completely overwhelmed me. So my friend and I looked at the course map and broke it down to 7 milestones (places where I’d see my family, notable landmarks, etc). I could wrap my brain around just having to be 7 places much more easily than I could having to cover 26.2 miles. So if the thought of picking a “number of books” goal intimidates you, then choose something else.

A few examples of reading goals:
• Number of books – reading XX books per year/month
• Number of pages – reading XX pages per year/month
• Books on a topic – When I was in Key West a few years back visiting Hemingway’s house I had wished I had read some of his books and books about him before I went. What do you have coming up that you can read up on before you experience it?
• Back catalog of a favorite author – If there’s an author you enjoyed at one point, see if there are books of his/hers that you haven’t read yet.
• Number of minutes per day – Aim to read 5, 10 or more minutes per day. Use one of the strategies introduced by NAME HERE in Atomic Habits – attach that activity to one that is already a habit. For example, read 10 minutes right after you pour your morning coffee, or 10 minutes before your kids get off the bus.

Reading challenge – I’ve talked before about the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenges and the RAD Reading Challenge. I’m sure our friend Google would link you to many more options if you’d like to explore. I prefer a structure similar to this year’s RAD Reading Challenge because it encourages you to explore genres and types of books that may be out of your comfort zone. Last year I read 11/22/63 for this type of category in my reading challenge and LOVED it. I had always thought that I would never read a Stephen King book but I’m glad I pushed myself to try it.

Buddy read – I’m much more successful at reaching goals when I know there’s someone/something holding me accountable. Some days I’ll even text my to do list to a friend just to help keep myself on track. One way to do this with reading is to read the same book as a buddy or to just share your goals with each other and report in on them.

Book club – I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now at the words “book club,” but in the age of Covid they’ve taken on some interesting forms. Local book clubs may still be an option, but lots of businesses and organizations are offering discussion groups now too. Check your local independent book store, your college alumni association, and favorite magazine websites for read-together options. And on a much bigger scale there’s always our friends Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Jenna Bush Hager (from the Today Show) who have well known book clubs. Even some of my favorite bloggers and podcasters are hosting monthly reading groups. Lots of options!

What other strategies can we add to this list? I’d love to do a part 2 with your input!

And a caveat:
As with making any change, give yourself some grace. Life happens and missing one piece of your reading goal is not something to stress about. They don’t call it “reading for enjoyment” for nothing. Meeting your reading goal shouldn’t be stressful, it should be exciting. Along those same lines, if a book isn’t serving you or giving you joy, it’s ok to put it down. As you are discovering what you like to read, you’ll have some hits and some misses. If you know 75 pages in that something is amiss, don’t feel like you need to finish the next 200 pages. Put it down and make note of why that book wasn’t the one for you. All of these pieces of information will refine your reading preferences and help you be more accurate about your picks in the long run. I wrote about how I did that in this post. At this point, I don’t put books down often because I have a better sense of what I like and what I think I won’t like. Finding your preferences is a journey.

January Reading

This year I broke my trend of setting my book goal as the last two digits of the year (so in 2021 it should have been 21 books). I have outpaced that goal for the last couple of years and set my 2021 reading goal at 40 books. I’m also participating in a couple of reading challenges this year, and using a reading bullet journal for the first time (which I’ll save for a later post).

I enjoy challenges because they force me to be more mindful about the books I’m choosing and stretch me outside of my reading comfort zone. The Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge for 2021 is much different than the past few years. She asks readers to evaluate their reading life and goals and to shape their own checkpoints for the year. I’m going to save mine for a mid-year check in on my reading. I wrote a few ideas down, but I want to see how this year progresses. The RAD Reading Challenge only has 9 topics and is great for those of you who are new to reading challenges.

I read 5 books in January, and did something with a 6th that I usually don’t do. I put it down without finishing it. In no particular order, here’s my take on each of those 6 books:
The Crown: The Official Companion by Robert Lacey – I love, love, love The Crown series on Netflix. I can’t remember where I heard about this book but it was part of the pile of books that my mom gifted me for Christmas. The author gives what actually happened in each episode of the first season and gives quick looks into the real lives of some of the characters. The book was interesting, but felt disorganized to me. I don’t love when the text of chapters are interrupted with pages of sidebar information. 3/5 stars.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – This book was fascinating! I honestly didn’t know much about South Africa or Trevor Noah, but he fully immerses the reader in his life growing up there as the child of a black mother and white father. He does a wonderful job of explaining the cultural and racial landscape and how his mixed race affected him in various situations. 5/5 stars.

Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller – This book was recommended by members of my Rising Tide group, Tuesdays Together during our October meeting that focused on social media. It’s a bestseller for a reason – the author lays out a step-by-step process to refining your business’s or organization’s brand and how to convey that information through social media. 5/5 stars.

Educated by Tara Westover – Wowza. This book has been on my TBR (and my shelf) for a long while. The author grew up on a mountainside in Idaho with very non-traditional Mormon parents who didn’t believe in any government intervention in their lives – including sending their children to school. Westover shares her childhood and educational path through a wealth of stories – it’s a mentally and emotionally difficult read but well worth the time investment. 5/5 stars.

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems before They Happen by Dan Heath – This book was recommended in the latest newsletter from the PA School Board Association, and I was delighted to find it in my local library. The author provides a great framework for looking at issues that may require systemic change or a creative view to solve. He identifies the roadblocks typically encountered in identifying these issues and a list of key questions to ask to solve them. This is a great read for anyone involved in any kind of business or organization! 5/5 stars.

And the one I didn’t finish…

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward – I started this book months ago, misplaced it for a little bit, and then picked it up again in January. The book just wasn’t sitting right with me at this time. I could have forced my way through it, but I’d rather wait and pick it up again at a later date. I feel like there is a stigma associated with putting unfinished books down. I believe that reading should be enjoyable (and yes, even difficult reads can be enjoyable), but forcing myself to read something isn’t worth my time.

What’s the last book you put down without finishing?

(Disclaimer: All links to books are Amazon Affiliate links, so Gingersnaps Bows will make a small profit off each book ordered from that link.)

2020 – The Year in Books

A few years back when I wanted to kick start my reading life, I decided my book goal was going to be the last two numbers of the year. I’ve continued that tradition so this year, my goal was to read 20 books. I’m currently in the middle of book number 30, and I have an ambitious stack of books to read during the holiday break, so we’ll see where I actually end up!

As I’ve written about before, I worked through the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge this year. Here’s what I read for each category:

1. A book published the decade you were born: The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
2. A debut novel: Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
3. A book recommended by someone you trust: My Dear Hamilton, Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie (currently reading)
4. A book by a local author: Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner
5. A book outside your (genre) comfort zone: 11/22/63, Stephen King
6. A book in translation: The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
7. A book nominated for an award in 2020: Clap When You Land, Elizabeth Acevedo
8. A re-read: Acts of Faith, Erich Segal
9. A classic you didn’t read in school: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
10. Three books by the same author: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling

The other books the round out my list of 30 are:

• The Year of No Nonsense: How to Get Over Yourself and On with Your Own Life, Meredith Atwood
• Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons from an Epic Friendship That Went the Distance, Susan Lacke
• Untamed, Glennon Doyle
• Rage Against the Minivan: Learning to Parent Without Perfection – Kristen Howerton
• Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld
• The Queen’s Secret: A Novel of England’s World War II Queen, Karen Harper
• Big Summer, Jennifer Weiner (I love Jennifer Weiner but this book just didn’t do it for me)
• White Fragility, Robin Diangelo
• So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
• The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
• I’m Still Here, Austin Channing Brown
• Americanah, Chimanda Ngozi Adiche
• Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston
• Party of TwJasmine Guillory
• Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, James Clear
• Rage, Bob Woodward
• Beach Read – Emily Henry
• Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

So out of this list what did I love? Here are my 5 star reads (in the order I read them):

• 11/22/63 by Stephen King – As you already saw I read this one to hit a genre that I would typically NEVER touch. But this book is absolutely riveting. It’s long, but well worth the time investment.
• Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – I have always loved her books and this one did not disappoint.
• So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – If you need a primer on race issues in America and what different terms mean, this is the book to start with.
• The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – This book is technically a YA read, but it is powerful.
• Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – this book is light and fun and not what I was expecting.
• Beach Read by Emily Henry – This book took me a minute to get into but had just the right amount of plot twists to make it one I couldn’t put down.

I’m glad I procrastinated so much on writing this post that I can include that Modern Mrs. Darcy introduced her 2021 Reading Challenge yesterday! It’s much less structured than this year’s, and I have yet to work through the planning documents. Definitely check it out if you’re interested in changing up or evaluating your reading life in the new year.

In my (sometimes endless) scrolling of TikTok this fall, I found @alltheradreads. She has her own 2021 RAD Reading Challenge, and she also keeps a book bullet journal that makes me swoon. #goals

And FINALLY (I’m almost done, I swear, although I could deep dive into books forever…), I asked on my IG and FB a few weeks back what books you enjoyed this year. Here’s the list!

• Beach Read, Emily Henry
• How to Be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi
• The Good Sister, Sally Hepworth (comes out in 2021)
• The Dutch House, Ann Patchett
• Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane
• Little Women, Louise May Alcott
• Queen of Air and Darkness, Cassandra Clare
• Time’s Convert, Deborah Harkness
• Midnight Sun, Stephanie Meyer
• I am Every Good Thing, Derrick Barnes & Gordon C. James
• Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld
• Radium Girls, Kate Moore
• The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Kim Michele Richardson
• The Exact Location of Home, Kate Messner
• All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, Leslie Connor
• So This is Love, Elizabeth Lim

Thanks to all who contributed! What are your 2021 reading goals?

Reading update – October 6

I haven’t done a reading update since the middle of July! In another turn of events that just isn’t me… I have 4 books started right now??

I’ve read 6 books since my last reading update:
Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
Party of Two – Jasmine Guillory
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones – James Clear
Rage – Bob Woodward

Quick thoughts on each:
Clap When You Land was an interesting story, but the book is written in verse. It took me a little while to get used to, and unlike a book written in prose you have to really pay attention to figure out who the characters are and how they’re related to each other.

Americanah was so fascinating – story of a Nigerian woman who moves to the US and then moves back to Nigeria. Her thoughts about her own race change with each place that she lives.

Red, White & Royal Blue and Party of Two were fun and quick reads!

Atomic Habits has been on my TBR foreeeeeeeeever… part of me adjusting to the new school year and having the kids at home is changing up my methods for getting things done (housework, my workouts, my actual work). This book is a great guide to make small or large changes to your day.

Rage…. So many thoughts about this one. I thought I would sail through reading this but it took me several weeks to get through. The reporting about Trump’s presidency is insightful and reported from interviews with the president himself, but also those close to him. But this book just expanded everything that I was already feeling about him (which is why it took me so long to read).

These are the 4 that I’m currently working on:
Beach Read – Emily Henry
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek
Sing Unburied Sing – xxx (this book went missing after a weekend camping trip… so it needs to turn up before I can finish it!)

Update on my challenges for this year:
MMD 2020 Reading Challenge (I filled in the books I’ve already read):
A book published in the decade you were born – The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
A debut novel: Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng (I was not a fan)
A book recommended by a source you trust:
A book by a local author – Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner (from Philadelphia)
A book outside your (genre) comfort zone: 11/22/63, Steven King
A book in translation – The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A book nominated for an award in 2020
A re-read – Acts of Faith, Erich Segal
A classic you didn’t read in school
Three books by the same author – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling

My own personal challenge:
Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown (this book was excellent)
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo (this is a great first book if you’re looking for a place to dive in)
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DeAngelo

Other books read this year:
The Year of No Nonsense: How to Get Over Yourself and On with Your Own Life – Meredith Atwood
Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons from an Epic Friendship That Went the Distance – Susan Lacke
Untamed – Glennon Doyle
Rage Against the Minivan: Learning to Parent Without Perfection – Kristen Howerton
Rodham – Curtis Sittenfeld (LOVED)
The Queen’s Secret: A Novel of England’s World War II Queen – Karen Harper
Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner (I love Jennifer Weiner but this book just didn’t do it for me)
Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
Party of Two – Jasmine Guillory
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones – James Clear
Rage – Bob Woodward

Reading Update – July 14

For the last 3-4 years I’ve set my reading goal in Goodreads to the last two numbers of the year (so 17 in 2017, 18 in 2018, etc). I did this when my reading life was struggling as a way to challenge myself. So naturally I set this year’s goal at 20 and I hit it on Sunday!

I’ve written before about a couple of reading challenges I’m taking part in this year. I started off the year with the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge. I hit that one hard in the early months of the year, but shifted gears around May for two reasons. She released her Summer Reading Challenge around mid-month (which was to be my plan for the summer), but then I made a personal shift to better educate myself on racial issues and have been tracking my reading using this google doc.

So… here’s where I am!

MMD 2020 Reading Challenge (I filled in the books I’ve already read):
A book published in the decade you were born – The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
A debut novel: Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
A book recommended by a source you trust:
A book by a local author – Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner (from Philadelphia)
A book outside your (genre) comfort zone: 11/22/63, Steven King
A book in translation – The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A book nominated for an award in 2020
A re-read – Acts of Faith, Erich Segal
A classic you didn’t read in school
Three books by the same author – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling

MMD Summer Reading Challenge:
Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner (I love Jennifer Weiner but this book just didn’t do it for me)

My own personal challenge:
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown (this book was excellent)
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo (this is a great first book if you’re looking for a place to dive in)
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DeAngelo

Other books read this year:
The Year of No Nonsense: How to Get Over Yourself and On with Your Own Life – Meredith Atwood
Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons from an Epic Friendship That Went the Distance – Susan Lacke
Untamed – Glennon Doyle
Rage Against the Minivan: Learning to Parent Without Perfection – Kristen Howerton
Rodham – Curtis Sittenfeld (LOVED)
The Queen’s Secret: A Novel of England’s World War II Queen – Karen Harper

A Pivot in my Summer Reading

As a big fan of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and the What Should I Read Next podcast, my original pan for this summer was to use her Summer Reading Guide to enjoy some new releases in categories I might not usually read. I still absolutely recommend this option if that’s your speed. But right now it’s just not where my heart is. The recent strengthening of the social justice movement has really hit home. It’s time for me to stop living in my white privilege bubble and read, learn and take action to make this world a better place. That also includes educating and having conversations with my children.

I compiled all of the reading recommendations that I’ve gotten from friends and seen on social media into a google document. I’m sharing this document (here) as a read-only because you’ll see that I have columns of notes for myself. Feel free to make a copy to use for your own purposes. I’ll continue to share my reading progress here. I’m in the middle of So you Want to Talk about Race and I have a few books for my kids that should arrive early this week that I’ll read next before I pass them off to them. A group of friends from my college sorority will also be reading How to be an Antiracist together so we can talk about it. My reading will also include fiction by non-white authors.

I’ve heard from friends who are POC that they’re afraid that white people like myself will stop at reading about these issues and not take action. I understand that fear and take it to heart. I know for myself that I need to be educated on an issue before I take action. I also understand that there are small steps I can take now. To that end, I will be choosing an organization to donate 50% of all sales in July and will match that with a personal donation. More on this to come!

How has this issue affected you and what steps are you taking?

What I’ve Been Reading

I decided in December 2019 that I was going to take on the Modern Mrs. Darcy (MMD) 2020 Reading Challenge as a way to add some structure to my reading life. I also promised my kids that I would read the entire Harry Potter series this year so I found a way to weave that into the challenge. I read the first book around the time that it was released, but never read any of the others. My boys have both read the entire series and all 3 kids have watched the movies many times, so it’s time for mom to catch up!

Here’s what my MMD 2020 Reading Challenge list looks like so far (I filled in the books I’ve already read):

A book published in the decade you were bornThe Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
A debut novelEverything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
A book recommended by a source you trust:
A book by a local authorMrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner (from Philadelphia)
A book outside your (genre) comfort zone11/22/63, Steven King
A book in translationThe Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A book nominated for an award in 2020:
A re-readActs of Faith, Erich Segal
A classic you didn’t read in school:
Three books by the same authorHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling

I was nervous about taking on a Steven King book – I’m not a fan of horror movies and this is the longest book I’ve ever read BY FAR. But this story is gripping! I did not love Everything I Never Told You. In hindsight I’m thankful I read it in one day because the story is difficult and depressing. I’ve read a lot of Erich Segal’s novels – he’s also the author that wrote the 1970’s movie Love Story – I find his stories and characters engaging. The Doctors is another favorite of his and I may have to reread that one also.

The one category that I’m stuck on is “a classic that you didn’t read in school.” I requested Jane Eyre from the library this spring and was only a few pages in when I gave up on it. I think I need something that’s more of a modern classic with text that isn’t so difficult to understand (a lighter read for these trying times). What suggestions do you have for me? Drop them in the comments below.

Other books I’ve read this year outside of the 2020 MMD challenge –
The Year of No Nonsense: How to Get Over Yourself and On with Your Own Life – Meredith Atwood
Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons from an Epic Friendship That Went the Distance – Susan Lacke
Untamed – Glennon Doyle

Modern Mrs. Darcy also just released her Summer Reading Guide today! It’s broken down into several categories and my plan is to start by reading one book from each category and then go around again. You can get the guide here! I already have Big Summer on order and requested a few other ebooks from the library.