Thursday, January 17, 2013


I'm an English Lit minor, so to say that I love to read would be a serious understatement. The problem for me started during college, when I had to read so many required books for both my Elementary Education classes and to fill the requirements to have a minor as well, that reading for fun just was lost on me.

I made a promise that I was going to start reading for fun more - and that I was going to keep track of what I was reading so that if I needed to make recommendations to friends/family, I could have something to pull from. So I started a goal of reading at least a book a month for fun - usually I shoot really high with goals and set myself up to fail, so amidst a social life, work, and just being stressed for time, I figured this was an accomplish-able goal.

I set up a book journal, mainly because the first book that I read for fun introduced a ton of characters, and I found that writing down what was going on helped me to really enjoy the book so much. Plus, I can be highly OCD, so having an organized list of books I read and notes I made about them appeased the crazy in my head that would happen if I just wrote down notes on notebook paper and stuffed it somewhere.

So in case you are in need of some books, these are a few of my favorites that I HIGHLY recommend. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows.

-Told as a series of letters from a ton of different characters to one specific woman - can get a bit confusing to try to  remember everyone (hence writing it all down), but this book is incredible. 

-Told in two parts - the exact notes I wrote say, 
"Beautifully written and gripping - takes a little while to get into it and sort out different characters, but it so worth the investment. This book is an absolute gem and I would recommend it to anyone". 

-Rating: 4.5/5

The Glass Castle - by Jeannette Walls

-I have a soft spot for memoirs. This book bothered me and really stuck with me. It was one of those books that leaves you thinking, "Wait, something isn't right here." What Walls goes through is abusive in a very strange way that you can't quite put your finger on right away. 

-My notes say, 
"While this was emotionally unsettling, I couldn't put this book down. It is raw, real, and emotional from start to finish. Made me feel guilty for ever complaining that my life was unfair/hard/etc." 

-Rating 4.5/5

Nineteen Minutes - by Jodi Picoult

-This was recommended by a friend of mine, so I decided to read it. Picoult books are a guilty pleasure - she actually is a good writer, but her stories become kind of the same. You know there is going to be a huge twist ending, (hello, My Sister's Keeper, anyone?!), and they're quick reads, which isn't a bad thing. 

-It's told through all different perspectives of residents in a small town after a school shooting (obviously I read this book before the events in Newtown - I don't think I could have handled reading a book like this now in spite of recent events). It flips from past to present events to show progression and character development. 

-My notes say: 
"Not necessarily great/classic literature, but gripping and extremely thought provoking. An easy, quick read that could be good for a book club because of the discussion it could prompt". 

-Rating: 3.5/5

The Bell Jar - by Sylvia Plath

-I am both a feminist and a book nerd, so I do not know how I let this book pass me up for so many years. It reminds me (and my notes even say that stylistically it is similar to) of The Catcher in the Rye, told by a female point of view. The Catcher in the Rye is my favorite book of all time, so it figures that I would like this one just as much. 

-This book is almost hard to read at times, because it is said that this book was really Plath describing her own struggles with extreme depression and emotional disorders/psychosis. 

-My notes say, 
"Plath's descriptions are beautiful and vivid - she effectively uses humor to contrast an otherwise depressing subject. Humor is juxtaposed against the background of suicide, anguish, and psychosis."

-Rating - 4.5/5

Defending Jacob - by William Landay

-Oh my god. I waited to get this book for over a month from our library, and it was finished in seriously two days (granted, one of these days was during a 10 hour drive to South Carolina, but STILL). I was gripped from the first chapter, and Landlay played with my emotions and intelligence, since I was flip flopping over whether or not I thought Jacob was guilty or innocent. 

-I don't want to say too much about this book because the beauty is how it all unfolds. I recommended it to my dad after finishing it, and he read it in a day and a half.

-Rating - 4.5/5 - Seriously, especially if you're not a big reader - try to get your hands on this book!

Other books that I read so far include: Memoirs a Geisha (rated 4/5); The Help (rated 5/5); Little Bee (rated 3/5 - I know people loved this book, maybe I need to give it another shot?); and I'm currently reading Mr. Punumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane.


Any on this list that you agree/disagree with ratings? Or any that you recommend?

Currently listening to: The City - Madeon


Lindsay said...

Yay! Love getting your recs. You need to join good reads!! Kristin Hanna replaced Jodi Picoult as my newest guilty pleasure. I've loved all of her books so far!

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Thanks for posting these - I am always looking for good book recs! Are you on GoodReads? (Or have I asked you that already?)

Ashley said...

The Glass Castle and 19 Minutes are two of my favorites! I need to read some of the others on your list-- been looking for new reads :) Thanks for sharing, girlie! How have you been?! xo

Nicole Linette said...

Wow, this is great. You have marvelous notes, I wouldn't expect anything else from a Lit student, haha! Yeah the leisure reading has definitely lost it's grip on me, but having this epically long winter break has put me back on track! These suggestions are great because I haven't read any except Memoirs of a Geisha (saw the movie first, didn't realize that the novel was such a scandal for betrayal of information!).
I'll probably post about the books I've read, but if you like memoirs and bright, entertaining prose, I would recommend "Around the Bloc" by Stephanie Elizondo Griest. She was my English professor this past semester! I just finished "Mexican Enough" as well. Her website is (I believe..!) if you want to check out what she does!

Enjoy your books!!! xo,

p.s. Yeah I should probably start a book journal as well, I breeze through them wayyy too quickly

Couture Carrie said...

Fabulous selections, darling ~ I need to pick up a few new books!


P.S. I am so sorry about that giveaway - I have contacted Thomas over at the office supplies website and I will let you know when I hear back. Thanks for your patience!

Ms. Dainty Doll said...

Hiya beauty!! I love books, sometimes I think I should have been a lit majour myself!! With small children it hasn't been easy to get to my books, but I am determined to get to one. I just bought one of the Carlos Ruiz Zafon books that I hadn't read yet, I've adored all the others so I hope this one will be the same!! I will check out these, I've read the Bell Jar, loved it!! Have a marvellous weekend doll xox

The Dainty Dolls House

Elle Sees said...

i've never read any jodi picoult! but i've read some of those on your list. i'm currently reading several light books at once--my poor attempt at multi-tasking.

dani said...

The Bell Jar is my absolute favorite book ever. I loved everything about it, plus, as a Psych major, I loved reading it because it literally made you understand what it feels like to be dealing with psychological and emotional disorders!

I'm glad you liked it, too!

Sara Louise said...

I'm adding Defending Jacob to my goodreads right now!

la petite fashionista said...

you are so motivating me to read more! I think it should be me my resolution too-- i think it would help me unwind at night!

HiFashion said...

My favourite post ever! I'm a huge bookworm and was thinking of what to read for my upcoming holiday, so will look into a few of these.
I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a while ago and really LOVED it.

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

This is embarrassing to admit, but I am a lazy reader that only goes through spurts of wanting to read. I guess I just get bored real easy so unless the book can grab my attention right away I'm not having it.

I'll have to check some of these out though!

Claire Kiefer said...

I have the same experience: I was an English major and then went to grad school for writing and now I work in publishing so I "have to" read all the time, which makes me want to watch tv when I get home. :)

The only book on this list that I've read is Nineteen Minutes, and I felt about it exactly as you did. I've read a couple other books by her as well, and you're right--they're good guilty pleasures, and the writing isn't bad.

Now I really want to read Defending Jacob!

I just finished A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton and it was really good but SO SAD. Like sustained sadness all the way through.

I did read a few from your last paragraph: MoaGeisha, The Help, and Little Bee. I thought Little Bee was really good, but it took me forever to read. Possibly because it, too, was so incredibly sad.