Mini Reviews of Recent Reads – September 2019
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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.
City of Girls: A Novel
An elderly woman recalls her years living in a glitzy theater as a teenager in the 1940s.More info →
Mrs. Everything: A Novel
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 Miss You When I Blink: Essays
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 →
The Bookshop on the Corner: A Novel
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 →
Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living
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 →
Look Alive Twenty-Five: A Stephanie Plum Novel
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?
I looooove the Frugalwoods blog and have been reading it for years–it was so fun for me to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse more at their lives! I can see your point about the book, though—I wonder if she worried about repeating too much the stuff on her blog, so she delved more into the personal side of things going on in the background.
That may be! And I went in pretty blind since I didn’t know anything about her blog. I imagine most people who make a point of reading her book have already read a lot of the blog.
Posting which audiobooks you DNF would be very helpful! Some books just don’t work well on audio, and I would love to know which before I waste time on them!
Thanks for the feedback! I’ll have to start tracking them more closely, and why they aren’t working. I’m learning that I have very particular taste when it comes to audiobooks. I definitely give print books more of a shot before DNFing.
I have had Meet the Frugalwoods on my TBR for awhile! I am on the fence if I want to read it now.. I might just visit her blog first.
My September reads are linked in my name