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My reading these last few months has been a little uneven. I’ve fallen behind on some of the books I’ve intended to read and picked up others instead.
This past month, I read fewer print books than I have all year. However, I listened to more audiobooks because of some days spent painting and doing other home projects. That means that my nighttime (print) reading has been curtailed because I keep falling asleep!
My audiobook selections are much more erratic than print books–I try a lot of different kinds and often DNF. In fact, I DNF so often with audio, that I almost never bother mentioning those books on the blog (would it be helpful?).
Luckily, the print books I did get through were worth the effort to keep my eyes open, and some of the audiobooks are also worth a listen if your audio tastes run similar to mine.
On the surface, City of Girls seems all about the glitz and glamour of a 1940s theater--poor and struggling as it is, the Lily Theater is teeming with glamorous and charismatic actors and showgirls. Nineteen year old Vivian Morris is immediately entranced when she is sent to live with her aunt who owns the Lily after she is kicked out of Vassar. She embraces her new wild lifestyle wholeheartedly, until a scandal takes it all away. But City of Girls is much more than just glitz and glamour.
Vivian, narrating from her eighties, continually emphasizes her own naivety and mediocrity, and for a while in this long book it's a little hard to see where it's going. Enjoy the ride through the crazy theater years, and then settle in for the payoff: Vivian proves anything but mediocre, and her wild years serve as the basis for a substantial, independent life unheard of for women in the time, and lived fully on her own terms. A great character and an immersive story, don't miss this one.More info →
Another story of siblings in the 60s, Mrs. Everything follows two sisters, Jo and Bethie, whose childhood roles flip after several traumas. Jo, once a tomboy, becomes a suburban mother, while previously traditional and feminine Bethie jumps into the counterculture.
While not as strong as several other sibling and family dramas I've read in 2019--Jo's evolution in particular never quite gelled for me--Mrs. Everything is a solid offering with interesting characters and relationships that evolve over decades. If you enjoyed book like The Last Romantics or Commonwealth, this might be a good one for you.More info →
I loved this memoir-in-essays by Mary Laura Philpott, who also works as the "book enthusiast at large" for Parnassus Books, the bookstore co-owned by Ann Patchett (can you say dream job?). Philpott is funny, self-effacing, and reflective as she considers her successes, failings, identify, anxieties, and intentional reinventions, even when things seemed to be perfect on the surface. Perfect if you've enjoyed similar memoirs by women like Anna Quindlen.More info →
Like so many of my audiobook listens, I'm not sure The Bookshop on the Corner would have stood out had I read it in print, but I loved listening to it. English librarian Nina Redmond has lost her job--and the world of libraries is changing in ways she doesn't like. She has an idea to buy a van and start a roving bookstore, and when she finds the perfect van in the Scottish Highlands, she also unwittingly finds the perfect place to start her store.
Filled with charming characters, sweet romance, lots of book love, and a setting so vivid you can almost smell the fresh air, this book reached the part of me that adored the escapism of Under the Tuscan Sun (movie version for that one!). Give this one a listen if you love a light story about books and enjoy a good Scottish brogue.More info →
Everything, Everything is a young adult novel that I wouldn't necessarily be inclined to pick up and read, but good plot-driven YA tends to work well for me on audio. This story of a teen girl who has spent her life isolated in her home because of her so-called "bubble-boy disease"--which basically means she is allergic to the world--was an interesting premise, but so much of this story felt implausible. Because it was an easy listen, I just went with it and found it moderately entertaining, but the implausibility and over-the-top teen romance didn't push this into that elusive "YA that adults will also love" category.More info →
I had never heard of "Frugalwoods," the blog of personal finance and frugality blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames, before checking out this audiobook on a whim. In their twenties, Thames and her husband decided to enact "extreme frugality" in order to achieve their dream of living on a Vermont homestead and being financially independent. They saved over 70% of their joint income--no small thing in expensive Boston--and reached their goal in three years.
I found this book--while fascinating and inspiring, especially regarding ideas of consumption, spending, and need--to be uneven. Thames devotes more time than I would have liked to the details of events like job interviews and giving birth and less than I hoped to the specific strategies she used to reduce their spending by so much. On the whole, it was good food for thought, and it did prompt me to visit her blog and dig into the archives.More info →
I'm wrapping two in one here, as I listened to both Hardcore Twenty-Four and Look Alive Twenty-Five. Both are completely predictable, formulaic, but still fun and entertaining addition to the Stephanie Plum series, in which Stephanie is a completely inept bounty hunter. The storylines change slightly, but the drama stays largely the same. Goofy and stereotypical New Jersey characters, funny dialog, and zero forward movement on Stephanie's romances with Morelli and Ranger are the bread and butter of these books. I hardly remember the storylines after finishing them, but I knew what to expect and they were a good choice for a weekend of painting bedrooms.More info →
What are best books you’ve read or listened to lately?