Books We’ve Been Loving 📚

Books We've Been Loving

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

– George R.R. Martin.

Lately, it feels like we’re all a little more confined than we’re used to. Whether you’re quarantining in your house/apartment or heading in to your job and then home, our lives have become smaller.

Check out these books we’ve been loving and live another life or two.

Review of The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig

There is so much to be said about The Midnight Library, but I think the thing that stands out most is how happy it made me feel.

“You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.”

– Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes it just isn’t possible to understand life. Not everything has a rhyme or reason and certainly not one that is easily understandable. We just have to keep moving forward, doing the next right thing, and experiencing life as it comes. A beautiful rumination on life, the choices that we make, and just as importantly, the ones we don’t. The Midnight Library is a feel-good book that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Review of Daisy Jones & The Six

By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six is a fun, fast-paced dive into the tell-all history of the hit band, Daisy Jones & The Six. I defy you not to forget through the telling that this band didn’t actually exist. With the telling of each new song lyric, I just wanted to Google the band and their music. This unique “oral history” of the formation and eventual downfall of an “iconic” rock band of the 70’s, was an un-put-down-able ride.

“She had written something that felt like I could have written it, except I knew I couldn’t have. I wouldn’t have come up with something like that. Which is what we all want from art, isn’t it? When someone pins down something that feels like it lives inside us? Takes a piece of your heart out and shows it to you? It’s like they are introducing you to a part of yourself.”

– Taylor Jenkins Reid Daisy Jones & The Six

Review of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

By Abbi Waxman

A quick, fun read that will definitely not add to the stress of the world, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill  follows book-obsessed Nina, as she navigates twenty-something life in Los Angeles. And really, she’s your typical 29-year old: she loves weekly trivia at bars, is still trying to figure out her long-term plans, oh yeah, and she just found out that the father that she never met has just died, possibly leaving her with a lot of money and definitely leaving her with a lot of family she never knew about.

With no shortage of literary references and quirky wit, Waxman has created a character in which many book-lovers will see themselves. Full of heart and more than a few genuine moments, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill will leave you feeling happier than you started.

“Tomorrow would be better. At the very least, tomorrow would be different.”

– Abbi Waxman, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Review of The Last Time I Lied

By Riley Sager

Emma’s entire adult life has been colored by one summer when she was 14-years old. More specifically, by two weeks in one summer when she was 14-years old. Two weeks into her first summer at Camp Nightingale, Emma ended up the only girl left in her cabin, the other three having vanished in the night, never to be seen again. Fifteen years later, when Emma is offered the chance to return to Camp Nightingale, she can’t resist the chance to find answers at the scene of her childhood trauma.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager takes the reader on a wild ride that will keep you guessing and trying to put the pieces together until the very end.

“Omnes vulnerant; ultima necat. I remember the phrase from high school Latin class, although not because I excelled at the language. In fact, I was terrible at it. I remember only because it sent a chill through me when I first learned what it meant. All hours wound; the last one kills.” 

– Riley Sager, The Last Time I Lied

Review of the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

By V.E. Schwab

The newest fantasy by V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, follows the exceptionally long life of Addie LaRue, a young woman born in the small village of Villon, France in the late 1600s. Addie, desperate to see the world and experience her life, makes a deal with the devil that will leave her immortal, yet cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. How can you make your mark on the world when the world can’t remember you? “What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?” A beautifully written, heart-wrenching tale of loss, love, adventure, and one’s search for meaning.

“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.”

– V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I hear ya, V.E. Schwab! And I’m only being a little dramatic comparing my months-long quarantine to Addie’s centuries-long life of solitude…

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Dripping with old Hollywood glamour, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, is the un-put-downable salacious “true” story behind the scenes of the scandalous life of 1950s Hollywood bombshell, Evelyn Hugo. Now of course, Evelyn isn’t real, but I devoured this story as though she was.

I have to admit, romance and historical fiction aren’t usually in my wheelhouse, but this book grabbed my attention immediately and I just had to know what happened next. For a read that will breeze by in a mix of utter enjoyment and emotions you didn’t anticipate feeling, read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Trust me, I think you’ll be just as pleasantly surprised as I was.

“I’ve never thought of myself as a force to be reckoned with. Maybe I should start thinking of myself that way; maybe I deserve to.”

– Taylor Jenkins Reid , The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Review of Anxious People

By Fredrik Backman

It’s rare to find a book that knocks you off balance immediately with its style and content, but makes you keep wanting to read. Anxious People does that and more. It feels like such a contradiction that a book that deals with depression, feelings of inadequacy, addiction, trauma, and generalized anxiety can leave the reader feeling lighter. Backman has a unique talent to address very relatable feelings through characters that sometimes purposefully feel more like caricatures. Adding levity as a means to address dark, difficult feelings. 

Suicide becomes a  thread that runs throughout. This heavy issue is dealt with without blame or judgement of the victim. Its handling allows us to see the effects even for those on the periphery of the act. An engaging, enlightening read told via an ultimately heartwarming tale centered in absurdity to highlight, well, just normal feelings. A central thesis of the work is this idea that people sometimes are, umm, idiots:

“So it needs saying from the outset that it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is. Especially if you have other people you’re trying to be a reasonably good person for.”

– Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

So the story is maybe a tale of idiocy, its justification, and how that’s essentially the human condition. We act in ways that sometimes seem irrational and detrimental because we all come from backgrounds and experiences that shape us. For better, and sometimes for worse.

“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”

– Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

We need each other, we need to be accepted for who and where we are, and we need tomorrows. The promise and the uncertainty that they offer. 

Review of The Silent Patient

By Alex Michaelides

All I can say is: WOW. This book pulled me in on the very first page and never let go. If you’re a fan of thrillers but also love fully-realized character development, The Silent Patient is the book for you! 

Set in London, this thriller follows the “perfect” life of Alicia Berenson. That is, until she shoots her husband five times in the face and then goes silent. Why would she murder her husband? What secrets are hiding behind her silent mask. Narrated by Alicia’s psychotherapist, this riveting journey weaves together multiple storylines to form one completely thrilling and unforgettable ride. A stunning debut novel from Alex Michaelides.

Along with a captivating storyline, The Silent Patient is full of insight to make you really think about the world around:

“Once you name something, it stops you seeing the whole of it, or why it matters. You focus on the word, which is just the tiniest part, really, the tip of an iceberg.”

– Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

And perhaps some lessons for surviving the current world.

“I need to open my eyes and look—and be aware of life as it is happening, and not simply how I want it to be.”

Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

When you start The Silent Patient, be prepared to stay up well into the night reading. Maybe wait to start until after that big, important meeting. 

Review of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

By Lori Gottlieb

Written by a therapist, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a therapeutic experience in itself. Making clear the idea that no one is beyond needing help, this memoir beautifully steps between a therapists’ own journey with therapy and sessions with her own patients. The result is an incredibly honest view from both sides of the couch. 

Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of therapy or able to take on the investment of time and money it requires. I’m not saying this book is a good substitute (no really, I’m definitely not saying it’s a substitute for therapy), but it contains some valuable kernels of wisdom to help reflect and examine your internal world… Especially with the world as it is right now:

“We tend to think that the future happens later, but we’re creating it in our minds every day. When the present falls apart, so does the future we had associated with it. And having the future taken away is the mother of all plot twists.”

– Lori Gottlieb, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

“…part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”

– Lori Gottlieb, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Covering loss, grief, betrayal, failure, depression, change…this may be exactly the book that we need this year. We all need people and frankly, we might all need therapy!

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