I started off 2020 with a goal that I needed to be more well-rounded in regard to how I spend my free time, so I set a goal for myself to read at least one new book per month. I started off hot, and like most “resolutions,” puttered out to forgetting that the book on my nightstand wasn’t just a convenient place to sit my glasses every night.
Fast forward to March 2020, we’re all stuck in our homes unless your job is considered essential, and even then, you’ve probably found yourself with more free-time than you’re used to. We’re all trying not to murder our spouses, drinking wine at what could probably be considered inappropriate hours on occasion and watching wild documentaries about lions, tigers and murder for hire (insert Dorothy saying, “Oh my!” here). Quarantine has left me with zero excuse to not be reading the crisp, new stack of books that I just HAD to order from Amazon in January.
Here’s a complete list of my quarantine reads – and an honest review of what I liked, some I didn’t really care for and the ones that are coming up next! You know I hate when people feel left out, so don’t worry – even if you don’t like sappy love stories, there’s one or two in here for you too! I even included the links from Amazon for anyone who wants to give them a shot.
GRIT – Angela Duckworth
This one couldn’t have been at the top of the stack at a more perfect time. A slow start to the year, struggling with motivation in other aspects of my life and wow – Angela gave me quite the reality check that I needed to really set my focus. I am a big structure person, this quarantine has really thrown a wrench in my “routine,” but this book really helped shift my perspective. If you’re needing a book to completely shift your mindset about how you look at situations you’re handed, overcoming any self-doubt and focusing on your true goals – this one is for you.
“I’m going to grow up to love my work as much as you love yours. I won’t just have a job; I’ll have a calling. I’ll challenge myself every day. When I get knocked down, I’ll get back up. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I’ll strive to be the grittiest. In the long run, grit may matter more than talent.”
Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes
This one was slow to start and I mean slow.. I put it down a few times but felt obligated to keep going because naturally, I wanted to know what happened. Margery is a badass, Alice is naïve and thankfully, her friendship with Margery really helps her grow, it just takes time time.. a lot of time. The author did a great job of somehow keeping me enticed about this traveling library and a band of women who everyone in the town had it out for. I’m glad I finished it, although the ending is rather predictable once you get into the thick of the story – this is still a very well written piece of work.
UPDATE: Just found out that this author is potentially being sued for stealing this work from someone else! Another book is VERY similar, and supposedly better written, that obviously I’ll be adding to my list – “The Book Women of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richardson.
“There is always a way out of a situation. Might be ugly. Might leave you feeling like the earth had gone and shifted under your feet. But there is always a way around.”
Girl, Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis
Rachel Hollis was all the rage with her “Girl Wash Your Face” book but truthfully, I couldn’t get into it – I just couldn’t really relate to her first book because I felt like it was very much about being a mom and clearly, I am not one. BUT anyone who knows me, knows that every other phrase out of my mouth is, “I’m sorry.” – So I felt this one could be fitting for me. Something that REALLY spoke to me with this one (among a bit of fluff that kindof made me roll my eyes, if I’m being honest) was that you have to MAKE time and stop waiting for “free time.” I have struggled with being self conscious, worrying that someone is going to be offended if I realize that I have the same dream that they do, after they’ve declared it as their own, and I am always SO WORRIED about people being upset with me – even if its because I chose to do something that I felt was best for me. Rachel does a great job in this book by not really justifying those feelings, but giving you the tools to overcome those thoughts and focus on yourself, your potential and not giving a crap about what other people think (I know, you’d think at almost 30 that I’d be over that by now but, alas, I am not). A great read if you look past some of the silly parts!
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
Really excited to watch the Hulu series for this one – I will be the weirdo pointing out differences to my husband who will have no clue what I’m talking about, its fine. I also think I’m late to the party on a few of these books, but forgive me, its been an embarrassing length of time since I have actually sat down to read a book from start to finish.. Let me have my moment.
I felt like this book started really interesting and gets you roped in, things get a little hairy and then.. I am REALLY hoping for a sequel of some sort because this girl has a TON of questions. I enjoyed the book as a whole, I think the character development is so damn good, and the way certain people grow on you over time is always a favorite of mine in stories like this BUT, I need answers. My biggest pet peeve in any TV series, movie, book – whatever – is unresolved conflict. Don’t let that scare you though, I think this is a very well written book!
A Good Neighborhood – Therese Anne FowlerWhat a profound question – What exactly IS a good neighbor? And even further, how do we live next to someone that we simply disagree with everything they stand for? From the beginning I knew I was going to struggle putting this book down – All the complex issues of our current society are front and center and witnessed first hand. Two families from complete opposite upbringings and their only common ground is the line that divides their properties (pun, intended). I like stories that give a real, honest perspective to real issues of today, rather than sugar coat and make everything look like sunshine a rainbows – this was raw, real and very much relatable! Definitely a “grass isn’t always greener” vibe, but definitely a deeper meaning. Overall, this was a great book – I read it in less than a week! I’m looking forward to reading Fowler’s other book, “A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts,” and it was also recommended that if you enjoy this book, you should also read “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Ten years in the making, this was a 2015 Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction – Another book with historical tones that really, really grabbed my interest. A beautiful (almost) love story, written about the horrors of World War II, where a blind French girl and a German boy meet when France is occupied by the Germans. Doerr gives spectacular detail, metaphorical scene setting and stunning character development. As described in his Pulitzer announcement, “He illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.”
Fail Until You Don’t – Bobby Bones
“Truth is we feel like everyone is always watching and judging us. Nope. People just care about themselves. You’ve likely seen someone really botch a presentation or be really nervous speaking in public and never given it a second thought once it was done. Return the favor to yourself.”
Okay, I’ll be 100% real, I was completely ready to take half of this book with a grain of salt and let it be the story of another celebrity who made it and makes it look easy – Wow, how wrong could I have been? This was one of the most transparent autobiographical slash self help books I have ever read – and I read this one in about a week. The story of how he rose to fame is awesome, and to be honest – when he talks about his stand up days, I thought his jokes were hilarious.. but that probably speaks to my weird sense of humor, it’s fine. His obsession with being uncomfortable and using it as a motivation was such a good perspective. Some of these self-help and motivational books can seem corny, but this one was well written, and has some great messages. Definitely read this one over whatever you’ve considered buying – You won’t be disappointed.
There it is. My list of what I’ve read and things I plan on picking up – I have “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng up next – and after that, well I’m open to recommendations! If you buy any of these or have read any and loved or hated them, leave some comments and tell me what you thought!