Well this turned out to be a very good month of reading – I read 10 books! Compared to September, which was half consumed by The Overstory, I flew through a lot of these. While I loved The Overstory, it was dense and heavy so I needed to lighten things up a bit. This month was a good mix of steamy, emotional, and sweeping. I have linked each book to Bookshop.org, which supports local bookstores if you’re inclined to purchase them. But don’t forget about the library, I read 6 of these books on my Kindle app after borrowing from the library! The plan for November is to try and get through some of the books stacked around my apartment, but I’m heading back out to Portland (and thus Powells) so I’m sure that stack will only grow…oh well.
Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, Elyssa Friedland
This is the story of two families who run the last Jewish resort in the Catskills and the drama that ensues when there’s an offer on the table for them to sell. It reminded me so much of the time my family went to Kutcher’s Resort with a tad more glamour and family squabbles. The nostalgia factor was high! If you loved when Marvelous Mrs. Maisel went to the Catskills, you’ll love this book!
Saints for All Occasions, J. Courtney Sullivan
Immigrating from rural Ireland to Boston, Nora and Theresa Flynn experience the world like they never have before. When Theresa becomes pregnant, Nora comes up with a plan to save her and her future. The book jumps between timelines and characters to tell a story of sacrifice and secrets that can rip a family apart.
A Lot Like Adios, Alexis Daria
This book is STEAMY and oh so good! The chemistry between old childhood friends Michelle and Gabriel literally leaps off the page and you won’t want it to end. It’s the second book from Alexis Daria – her first was You Had Me at Hola – and it’s part of the same universe of characters, which is something I love since it gives me more insight into characters from other books I’ve read (Jasmine Guillory does this too!). Do not read this one in public, you’ve been warned!
A Special Place for Women, Laura Hankin
I wanted to like this one so much more than I actually did. It starts off Jillian, a journalist looking for an outlet to emotionally escape from the death of her mom, trying to get a coveted invitation to an exclusive, secretive women-only social club. Once she gets in, with the help of her childhood friend Raf, she discovers an even more powerful inner circle that pulls the strings. I almost DNF’d this one, I didn’t like any of the characters or the ultimate “twist” in the plot but I know a lot of other folks who did enjoy it. Once you’re done, you can also listen to the Bad on Paper book club episode for more discussion.
The Party Crasher, Sophie Kinsella
This was a very fast read for me – like, half a day. But it was surprisingly full of emotional moments as Effie and her siblings deal with their adult parents getting divorced, the new woman in their dad’s life, and the selling of their magical childhood home. And, of course, there’s Effie’s old high school sweetheart who broke her heart and shows up at the exact right moment to help her sneak around to find a sentimental childhood treasure at the “house cooling” party being thrown before the sale is final. This was a short and sweet read with the perfect amount of emotional punch.
The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert
Yes, that Elizabeth Gilbert. As in Eat, Pray Love. I actually read the first 80 pages or so of this book last year and couldn’t get into it. But this time, I couldn’t put it down. It spans the 18th and 19th centuries with the Whittaker family, who are experts in botany with a fortune from the quinine trade. Alma Whittaker, the eldest daughter, becomes interested in the theories of evolution and falls in love with a man who leads her on a spiritual journey that results in her sailing to Tahiti looking for answers.
The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave
I could not put this down, I had to know how it ended. Hannah and her step-daughter Bailey learn that the man they knew as a husband and father has been lying for years, about almost everything. When Hannah gets a note from Owen that says “Protect her” and then he subsequently disappears, Hannah has no idea what to do or who to trust. But ultimately she and Bailey take matters into their own hands to figure it out. Another very quick read for me and fast-paced story telling.
The First Husband, Laura Dave
I needed something to occupy me on a very slow day and since I had just finished The Last Thing He Told Me, it was easy to look up the author and see what else she had written. This one centered on a travel writer whose long term boyfriend breaks up with her (this is not a spoiler, it happens on like page 10) and how she moves forward. It had a nice undercurrent about following your gut and listening to your heart over your head sometimes. Plus, there’s a superstition involving Roman Holiday. Gotta read the book to see if it remains intact.
The Masterpiece, Fiona Davis
Historical fiction is my jam, along with a double-time period structure, so this was right up my alley. Clara Darden is an art teacher and illustrator living her dreams in New York City at the Grand Central Art School host before the Depression. Virginia Clay is a newly divorced, single mom trying to raise a teenager in New York City in the 1970s who stumbles upon an old painting at the now abandoned Grand Central Art School. I loved this as a break from my typical WWII historical fiction.
The Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany, Lori Nelson Spielman
This one has been on my list for a while and it was a lovely read about family expectations, finding our own path, and an incredible trip to Italy for a love story six decades in the making. Be sure to read the acknowledgements, there’s a great story about some parts of the novel that are based in real life!
I’m going to do my best to post my monthly reads here going forward, but for the last year I’ve been sharing them on Instagram and have them saved to a highlight. It will probably be slow going, but I’m going to try and migrate some of that over here! Happy reading!