Summer Reviews

I read a lot of excellent books over the summer. For some reason I thought it was only fourteen, but it was in fact sixteen. I don't want to bore anyone with lengthy reviews, so here's the quick(ish) rundown:

1. Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton- A memoir about Hamilton's journey towards opening her own restaurant after a rough childhood and young-adulthood. She has an MFA in creative writing, so this is not only a great story but well-written as well.

2. Back of the House by Scott Haas- Haas is a psychologist that goes behind the scenes of a restaurant and figures out what makes everyone tick. It's a sort of chronological case study that's pretty fascinating, up until a small section at the very end where he gets a little off track. Still excellent.

3. A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin- This book is also from my chef memoir kick, although this one is more about Ruxin's philanthropy and charity work in Rwanda. I haven't read much about this particular area of the world, so I thought it was particularly interesting. 

4. The Life-Changing Magic or Tidying Up by Marie Kondo- I did a post on this already, but basically the bottom line was that instead of changing my life it just made me a little more motivated to throw out things. 

5. Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran- This is a fabulous collection of different authors detailing why the have chosen to make their life's work about writing. I did a separate post on this book as well. 

6. The Secret History by Donna Tartt- I loved The Goldfinch when I read it last year and enjoyed this book about a group of highly-intellectual students at a small east-coast liberal arts college who commit a murder. I thought it was a tiny bit to drawn-out towards the end, but still outstanding. 

7. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng- I wrote a review for Penguin on this a few weeks ago, discussing how it was equally heartbreaking and impressive. This novel about a young lady who is found dead in a pond and the way her family deal with this will make you at least consider crying. 

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- If you haven't read it yet I'm not going to waste the time telling you what it's about (unless you're not from the US... then you have a pass). 

9. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee- I also wrote a detailed post about this novel here, but the bottom line was that I thought the writing was sloppy, the characters flat, but the racial implications a lot more realistic than TKAM. 

10. The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp- I loved his Happiest Baby on the Block book, as it was one of the only ones I read and used when Sawyer was little. I found this one less helpful and I'm not sure if I can see myself following some of the strategies he provides. But who knows. If toddler-hood ends up too painful I might be desperate. 

11. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan- This book has been compared to Where'd You Go Bernadette, which I thought was a fun, tongue-in-cheek read. I can see the similarities in the sense that this is also a good-natured satire. It's downright ridiculous at times, like when portraying the wealth in Singapore, but still the perfect "beach" read. 

12. Still Alice by Lisa Genova- I talked in this post about how this book scared me silly. Losing your memory is devastating and this hit home, considering it's an issue in my family right now. It was obviously well-researched.

13. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume- I talked here about how I thought this was a book that would have probably been more nostalgic for me if I read it as a preteen, which I did not. 

14. The Martian by Andy Weir- I loved this book about an astronaut stuck on Mars (and I'm not a sci-fi reader). It's not exactly well-written, but I adored the characters, the struggle, and emotionally invested up until the very end. I hope the movie is good. 

15. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume- I have mixed feelings about Blume's recent adult novel about a town in New Jersey that was devastated by three plane accidents during the fifties. There were some really interesting characters and subplots, but as a whole I thought it was a bit long and paced poorly at times. 

16. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- I just finished this novel for book club and thought it was the perfect example of books I can appreciate but not necessarily like. The writing and characters were impressive, but I'm not a huge historical fiction reader and I've never had a soft spot for WWII like some people. Still, I'm glad I read it. 


  1. My roommate is currently reading The Life-Changing Magic or Tidying Up and she suddenly had an urge to donate things to Goodwill.

  2. I was really wondering about Happiest Toddler on the Block because I really loved the first one as well. I followed the major must do's and felt like they all worked. I'll have to skim this one before I buy it. Thanks for the review!

  3. Everything I Never Told You is on my list! that's a bummer about In the Unlikely Event, it's next on my list.
    LOL @ 'unless you're not from the US'. I'm not, though I am almost 99% sure I read it in high school but I couldn't remember so I read it again recently.

  4. Crazy Rich Asians can be pretty over the top sometimes (like a teleseria or something) but it was still a lot of fun to read. Will you be reading the follow-up novel?

    My copy of The Martian just arrived, I may read it next (been going back and forth for some time whether or not to read it but after seeing the trailer, yeah, it convinced me to check it out :)).

    Great mini-reviews, thanks for sharing your thoughts on them :)