It’s time for another reading roundup! Today I’m sharing a list of the best books I’ve read this past season.
(I like to post these quarterly, so check out my list from the winter if you missed it).
I had kind of a weird cadence of reading this spring. I’d barrel through three thrillers all in one week and then get stuck on a longer book that would take me weeks to slough through.
I tend to get melodramatic when that happens–lots of heavy sighs and pondering if I even like reading anymore, etc.
Looking back now, though, I realize I actually read a bunch of amazing books the past few months. And I’m relieved to share that I still, in fact, enjoy reading.
Oh, and I know I’ve been complaining about my inability to work through my nonfiction pile all year, so I am excited to share that I finally figured out my strategy.
It’s very basic: I just read one chapter of nonfiction each night before I settle in with whatever fiction book I’m in the middle of. This is a very attainable way for me to wade through the list of books I’d felt too tired to tackle.
Also, I’ve noticed that reading just a little each night helps me retain the information better. The “one chapter at a time” tactic lends itself really well to nonfiction because then I can marinate on that concept for the next 24 hours before diving back in. I’ve even found myself journaling about what I’d read the night before in my morning pages (this is a “free write” I do the second I wake up in the morning–more info on that here).
I shared this little tip a few weeks ago on my Friday morning newsletter which brings me to my very last point before I get on with the list: I always write about my current reads on my newsletter. I would LOVE for you to join the party if you’re not already subscribed. I also share new products I’m loving, random musings about motherhood, and links to the blog. Sign up here. THANK YOU!
Okay, here are the best books I read this spring:
“I thought to myself that there are surely a lot of big things in America. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are big. The Mississippi River and the Grand Canyon are big. The skies over the prairie are big. But there is nothing bigger than a man’s opinion of himself.”
This book takes place over the span of just ten days, although you wouldn’t think so based on its nearly 600 pages. The story begins as the warden of a boys’ reform school drops off a young man named Emmett Watson back at his home in Nebraska. Emmett’s father has recently passed away, and he is eager to reunite with his little brother, Billy, and head out west to start a new life together. Soon after the warden leaves, Emmett realizes that two of his buddies from the school had hitched a ride in the warden’s trunk. His friends have a new plan for Emmett and ask him to help them on a very questionable mission to New York City.
Although it was decidedly too long, I loved the writing and the characters of this novel so much. I would recommend this IF you have a lot of time on your hands, as I think you have to dedicate big chunks of time to it in order to really lose yourself to the plot.
“And what about a person’s life? How do you make a map of that? The borders people draw between themselves. The scars left along the ground of one’s heart.”
This is a really beautiful story, kind of a mystery and family drama rolled into one (my favorite kind of novel). Two estranged siblings, Benny and Byron, reunite to review their mother’s will after her passing. Benny and Byron are baffled when they learn that their mother has left them a Caribbean black cake in the back of her freezer. And they’re even more confused when the lawyer makes them sit down together and listen to an audio file explaining an entire side of her past that the siblings had no idea about.
While I didn’t necessarily fall for any of the characters in this book, I loved the story and found myself googling flights to the Caribbean. This book had me hooked from start to finish, and the ending is phenomenal.
“Is there anything better than iced coffee and a bookstore on a sunny day? I mean, aside from hot coffee and a bookstore on a rainy day.”
An quintessential beach read, Emily Henry graces us once again with a witty, heartwarming rom com. Nora Stephens, a force of a literary agent, accompanies her little sister on a month-long vacation to a small town in North Carolina. Nora’s sole mission on the trip is to bond with her little sister, but she gets distracted when she runs into Charlie Lastra, an editor she knows from the publishing industry back in New York.
I’m sure you can guess the general direction here, but I just loved this book. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but Emily Henry just has this special way of adding depth and humor to romances that makes them truly so fun to read. If you’re heading on vacation this summer, be sure to pick this one up.
“Nothing can grow in the shade of secrets, she would say, love needs light and space to flourish.”
This was my very first Isabel Allende book, and I guarantee it won’t be my last. The book begins in war-torn Spain in the 1930’s, on the brink of Franco’s fascist regime. The story follows two brothers, Victor and Guillem, who fight on behalf of the Republic, one as a combat soldier and the other as an untrained but renowned battle surgeon. The story flows from Spain to Chile and back to Spain again.
I’ve found myself less inclined towards historical fiction in recent years, but this book renewed my interest in the genre. I loved reading about Spain, where I studied abroad in college, and Chile, a place that I know almost nothing about. I found myself very attached to the family by the end.
“Grief was a hole. A portal to nothing. Grief was a walk so long Hazel forgot her own legs. It was a shock of blinding sun. A burst of remembering: sandals on pavement, a sleepy back seat, nails painted on the bathroom floor. Grief was a loneliness that felt like a planet.”
This book was incredible. Ansel Packer is a convicted serial killer on death row. The book takes place over the course of the day of his execution, broken up with flashbacks from the point of view of various women in his life: his ex-wife, the detective who solved his crimes, and his mother.
This psychological thriller was unlike anything I’ve read before–I could not put it down. The characters, the plotline, and the writing were all SO addictive. While the book wasn’t overly graphic, the subject matter is very dark, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for something light.
“But there was always a negative space, a shadow on the sand. That is the way with loss: you can’t undo it, no matter what you have gained.”
This book is about a married couple, Emma and Leo, who have a great relationship, a cute three-year-old daughter, and a mostly normal life. One day, Leo stumbles upon some information about Emma that makes him realize that she’s not who he thought she was. He’s totally shocked and begins to investigate.
I found myself stumped until the very end with this one. This is a great page-turner that has that classic moody British thriller energy we all love. It is, however, kind of sad, so this is another one that I’d skip if I wasn’t in the right headspace.
“The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it.”
I piloted my little “one chapter each night” strategy on this popular book about mindfulness last month, and I have to say that I learned a lot from it.
While some parts were a little “out there” for me, I really appreciated the fresh perspective. The author talks a lot about our relationship with our thoughts (simply put: we are not our thoughts), our reactions to the world around us, and keeping our hearts open in an intentional way. Something that stuck out the most for me was his approach to dealing with negative emotions like jealousy, anxiety, or fear. The author suggests that we accept these emotions when they arise, notice where they are coming from, and then consciously let them go, let them flow right through you. Since reading this book, I’ve found this practice a little clumsy but ultimately empowering.
I’d recommend it, but of course, as always, take it all with a grain of salt.
What is the best book you’ve read recently? I’m working on my summer list and would love to hear what I need to add to it!
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?