- Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler. I wanted to like this - I did. But, meh. This one came with a lot of hype - many saying it was like "The Devil Wears Prada of the restaurant scene." It's a coming-of-age story of a girl that moves to New York to find herself. She's a beautiful writer and I did find the upscale goings on of the restaurant world fascinating. But the love triangle was exhausting and annoying and the main character equally so. A lot of the content was crude and I finished it feeling like I could have done without. Maybe this just means that as far as coming-of-age stories are concerned, perhaps I lean more toward the kind that open with an inspirational Natasha Bedingfield song - no shame, guys. No shame.
- A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. So, it was only when searching for a cover image that I discovered that I mispronounced his name in my head for the duration of the book. (It's "ooh-vah" not "OH-ve" ...I'M SUCH A DUMB AMERICAN). This book was translated from Swedish. I loved it so much. Initially I felt kind of tired of the curmudgeonly old man storyline (it seems to be a popular character in the books I've read as of late) - but I quickly got over that as I fell in love with grumpy Ove and his heart of gold. It's so refreshing to read stories where you love the characters and finish the story with happy tears. This was one of them for me.
- Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty. LIAAAAANE. Whenever anyone asks me for a book recommendation I'm always quick with my Liane faves. Big Little Lies was the first of hers I read (and I think it's still my favorite. ALSO, LOOK: it's going to be an HBO miniseries and the cast is incredible!) Her books are always entertaining and surprising, so I was quick to get on the hold list for this when it came out this summer. I really liked it - but it was definitely s l o w on the upswing. I felt pretty satisfied with how everything turned out, but it felt like it took a while to get there. If you're a Liane fan it's still worth a read.
- Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. This one is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice - I felt very hopeful. I had no idea when I picked it up at the library that Curtis Sittenfeld is from Cincinnati! Not only that, but the entire story takes place in Cincinnati. Every restaurant and street and neighborhood she mentioned I've either been to or driven through - so that was a really fun surprise. HOWEVER. I knew there would be liberties taken, and maybe I didn't realize I was such an Austen purist. But this one just bummed me out. I was talking about it with my friend Betsy and I think the conclusion we came to was that our beloved Bennets were just so unlikable. I expect to not like Caroline Bingley and of course Kitty and Lydia are annoying, but...I just didn't like any of them - and that was sad. So, to my fellow Jane Austen fans I say either pass or proceed with caution ;)
Honorable Mentions: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry: Yes! Especially for book lovers // Dumplin': Really enjoyed this, which surprised me because I really didn't like the first book of hers I read // Everybody Rise - stressssed meee ouuuuuttt // Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - I tried so hard. I did. But I was like 90 pages in and so bored and this one went back to the library unfinished.
AND NOW, TIPS FOR THAT FREE BOOK LIFE:
THE LIBRARY: Before you say DUH, EVERYONE KNOWS THE LIBRARY IS FREE - hear me out. Do you know all the things your library (might be) able to do? First, if you're local (obviously I can't speak for every library - some are better than others). Mine has a a drive-thru. As soon as I became a parent I realized what truly incredible gifts drive-thru windows (please do not make me get out of my car...so many seat belts) and family bathrooms are. I make most of my requests through the library app on my phone. I get an email when they're available, and go pick them up.
Purchase requests: When there's a book available for preorder or one that I'm dying to read and it's not in our budget for me to buy it (likely because I spent all our money on party banners at the Dollar Spot in Target) - I'll request the library purchase it for me. DID YOU KNOW THIS WAS A THING? I've lost count of how many times I've done this now. As soon as it's in circulation I get an email that it's available for me to borrow.
Overdrive + Hoopla: E-books straight to my Kindle. (Her name is Kindle Jenner). I can also request purchases through Overdrive. The added bonus of this is that I never get fined because it automatically returns it after the loan expires in 28 days. There are also a ton of audiobooks, too! You can listen through the app or download it to listen.
Zinnio + Flipster: Download free magazines! Read US Weekly I mean...Real Simple...right on your phone!
AMAZON PRIME / GOODREADS: Okay, so - this is for all the Kindle users. I was a staunch opponent of e-readers for quite some time but clearly my position has changed and that's another story for another day. But, make yourself a Goodreads account and connect it to your Amazon account.
- I love my Goodreads account (add me! I love having new friends with book suggestions) to keep track of what my friends are reading and also what I'd like to read next. On the home screen on my Kindle, it shows my Goodreads bookshelf and will send me an email if one of the e-books on my "Want to Read" shelf is majorly on sale (usually in the $1.99-2.99 range).
- Amazon also has Kindle Unlimited for reading lots of free e-books. I did a free six month trial of it but didn't use it that much. BUT, if you're a Prime user, they have a lending library where you can borrow an ebook (limited one per month) for free and hold onto it as long as you want and return it. I've had good luck with this a few times with books I've been dying to read. UPDATE: They just started Amazon Prime Reading? Has anyone tried this? Looks like they added magazines, too!
OKAY. What should I read next? I have a whole heck of a lot of non-fiction checked out right now but I need some good fiction. GO.