Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown. Humans everywhere should read this book. Or better yet, listen to it. I will probably listen at least two more times this calendar year. The premise is that we should all have the language to describe our emotions. I’m not doing it justice. She also has an HBO special about it now if you want a taster while you’re waiting for the book from your library.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. A multi-generational novel that started out a little slow but ended up being a really great listen. It’s about a woman who passes away and leaves a recording of her life story for her two adult children. It jumps between present day and the past for all the characters but it’s impeccably written so it never gets confusing and everything is tied up really nicely at the end. Recommend.
Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford. A memoir written by a woman who grew up with a single mother and her father in prison. It’s always fascinating to read someone’s life story and she is an excellent writer, but I’m not dying to recommend this one. I’ve read other memoirs that I found more impactful.
False Witness by Karin Slaughter. There is literally no better feeling than being glued to my Kindle, that I would rather be reading than doing anything else, and Karin Slaughter always delivers. It’s hard to describe what her books are about without giving too much away, but this is a standalone novel and it was excellent. I’m actually still thinking about the first chapter because it was such a masterclass. I’ll stop but please read it.
Circe by Madeline Miller. Multiple people recommended this to me (both people I know and Brene Brown, who I pretend to know) so I’m not proud to admit that I quit at 40ish %. It’s Greek mythology and I definitely get why people liked it but it was just not my thing.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. I heard him recently on Dax and really liked him so I decided to check out his books. This is super interesting. Definitely more applicable for people in the business world than those of us in the unemployed world, but I love anything about human behavior/social psychology.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. A 30-something woman shows up to her birthday dinner expecting to only see her best friend, but also sees the 4 other people on her hypothetical “dinner list” of the 5 people, dead or alive, you’d want to have dinner with. It goes back and forth between the dinner and flashbacks explaining the people at the table. Same author as In Five Years, somewhat similar vibe. I liked it and it’s pretty short, but the author narrates the audiobook and she really shouldn’t. So I would read it, not listen.
Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel. About two girls studying abroad in Berlin in 2008 in the wake of the Amanda Knox story. I think it’s intentionally kind of dark and depressing but it made it difficult to get into. We’re going to Berlin in June and this book made me not want to go because that’s how depressing it is. I’m really torn on this one because the last 20% I could not put it down and the ending is totally satisfying, but it took a lot to get there. I wanted it to be better sooner.
The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth. Legitimately could not stop listening to this. It’s about, as you might have predicted, a 30-ish woman marrying a 60ish man. He has two daughters around her age so the book is from each of the three female perspectives. It is excellent and I highly recommend listening, especially because one of my all-time favorite narrators (Caroline Lee) does one of the voices.
Comedy, Comedy, Comedy, Drama by Bob Odenkirk. I am a general fan of Bob Odenkirk, who you know as Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. I kind of passively listened to his book and it was fine, but I’m admittedly not familiar with much of his comedy work so I think ideal readers/listeners are those who watched Mr. Show. I did appreciate his reflections on SNL, though, which I found interesting and unexpected.
Arrival Stories by Amy Schumer & Christy Turlington Burns. This is a compilation of stories written by several women, some names I recognized and some I didn’t, about becoming mothers. I read the entire thing in one day partly because it’s short and partly because I really enjoyed it. Recommend!
Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho. This one markets itself as a cross between Crazy Rich Asians and Bridget Jones which was a red flag to me because nothing can compare to the genius of Kevin Kwan. Second red flag was that they had a narrator with an American accent for a character who was supposedly raised in the UK and living in Singapore. I listened to the first few hours to it one day and then, after reflecting about how terrible it was, completely forgot about it for the next week and decided that was a sign to quit.
Stray by Stephanie Danler. I was excited about this because I loved Sweetbitter but this was actually her memoir and I didn’t love it. The timeline was really bizarre and hard to follow and I think she needed to make her memoir journey a little bit more productive as far as self-discovery and accountability goes. Pass.
Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe. This is the story of the Sackler family who owns Purdue Pharma aka producers of Oxycontin aka scum of the earth. This book is really long but it’s impeccably researched and an absolutely insane story so if you like nonfiction I highly recommend it. If you’re not sure, the author was on an episode of the Sway podcast so you can get a good 30 minute dose and then decide. But it’s really excellent.
Beach Read by Emily Henry. I read this immediately after Empire of Pain and, while I definitely needed something lighter coming off such a serious tome, this was pretty bad. I’ll admit it got slightly better as it went on but I genuinely thought it was a joke in the beginning. Much better beach reads with other titles out there.
Next up: The Golden Couple, The Summer Place, and probably Atlas of the Heart again.