In anticipation of Hurricane Florence dumping massive amounts of rain on Charlotte this weekend, I have a stack of books ready (and water and flashlights and batteries and all of that. . . ). I’m predicting reading will save my sanity if we happen to get stuck without power for a while. I’ve actually been in a little slump the last few weeks and have barely picked up a book. Instead, I’ve been ending my days on the couch watching Tiny House Hunters on Hulu or playing Word Cookies on my phone. I’m banking on this storm to get me back on track. Here’s a list of what I’ve finished lately. . .
chairs // ottoman // bamboo window shades // green paint
Educated by Tara Westover I’m a fan of a memoir that involves triumph over a traumatic childhood. (Think The Glass Castle–my favorite!) The author grew up in a survivalist family living in the mountains of Idaho, ruled by a father with mental illness. A great reminder of how just a few strong, outside voices of encouragement can change the course of a life.
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell I didn’t know anything about this book when I started and it ended up being one of my favorites on this list. An A-list movie star basically goes off the grid with her child, leaving her husband and Hollywood behind for a life of seclusion until she meets the man who becomes her second husband. The story follows the dynamics of their family through the years. There are a lot of characters and the story is told from each of their perspectives, which I loved.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue Such a timely read told from the perspectives of an African couple who has immigrated to the United States and awaiting their papers. It’s interesting to see our country (the good and the bad) through their eyes when pursuing the “American dream” doesn’t turn out to be as idyllic as they had imagined.
The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin I’m also apparently a fan of historical fiction told from the perspective of a famous man’s wife. (Loved The Paris Wife.) This is the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her life in the shadow of her husband Charles (and his ego). I also knew little about the famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping so this was pretty fascinating.
Calypso by David Sedaris I’ve always heard how funny David Sedaris is, but this was the first of his books I’ve read. Each chapter is a short essay–mostly about his family (and aging father)–and is a great pick if you need something easy to pick up and put down without losing track. I don’t know that I’ll read all of his books immediately, but I did enjoy it and he’s a great writer. (This is his newest book; is there another one I should try?)
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf So many of you told me you loved this book when I posted it on my Instagram stories. I usually avoid stories about kids who go missing, but this one was highly recommended and I loved it. It draws you in quickly and you spend most of the book trying to figure out why a seven-year-old girl hasn’t spoken a word since she was a toddler. A lot of twist and turns that would make a good Dateline story–if it were true.
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin As fun and light of a story as you can read about a pretty young intern who becomes involved with her much older boss/congressman and then becomes completely shunned by the country. Sound familiar? Despite the plot, there’s not a lot of sordid detail, just a quick, entertaining read told from her (and her mother’s and the scorned wife’s) perspectives.
Love and Ruin by Paula McLain After reading the author’s The Paris Wife about the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, I couldn’t wait to read this story about his third wife. She was a little more independent and feisty, fighting her way into the field of journalism covering WWII. I didn’t love this one quite as much. Maybe it’s that neither of them (she or Hemingway) were very likable; both were stubborn and a little selfish. With that being said, I think Paula McLain is a great writer and I look forward to her next book.
The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain I’ve quickly become a Diane Chamberlain fan. If you like a fast-paced read with a lot of twists and secrets you won’t figure out until the end, try one of her books. This is the story of three women who are best friends and begins with the suicide of one of them (who had written an unfinished and confusing letter about a huge betrayal years ago). Her two friends make it their mission to figure out who the letter was intended for and what it meant.
Serena by Ron Rash Serena is one crazy lady. I only read this one based on my dad’s recommendation and the fact that it’s set in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1930s. I can’t say much about this except that she’s evil, there were a lot of names to keep up with, and it was not the best pick for a beach read. (Sorry, Dad.) On a side note, did you see the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence? For some reason, I kept picturing Uma Thurman instead while I was reading it.
What have you read lately?
I just finished Paula McLain’s book about Beryl Markham “Circling the Sun”. I love her writing, and Beryl Markham’s story is compelling. Highly recommend! I loved “The Paris Wife” too.
Emily Clark says
Yes! I loved that one, too!
Woodward’s book Fear. Probably not the best choice as I seem to have the attention span these days of a 2 year old. I don’t know what’s happening. I used to read medical data all day as part of my job and had no problem. Now I can’t focus on anything longer than an Instagram post.
Emily Clark says
Ha! That’s how I feel about my attention span lately, too.
Jenny B says
David Sedaris “Me Talk Pretty One Day” is one of my all time favorite books!
Just commenting to say that I LOVE these posts of yours! I always finish them wanting to run to my library to pick up your recommendations. “Sing, Unburied, Sing” is on my to-read list too, though that author’s first book might have been a better pick for this weekend (the setting is a hurricane)!
Cindy in Oklahoma says
I’ve been in a reading slump, too. Maybe it was all those weeks trying to get through “Crime and Punishment”. Ugh. Ugh for how long it took, not for the story, although I do believe the story could have been told in about 100 fewer pages. (I keep trying to read all the books I should have read before even when some of them wear me out.) But, I started reading “A Gentleman in Moscow” a week or so ago due to all the great reviews, and though I’ve not fully eased back into my read before bed routine yet, I see potential for it to find its place on my list of all time favs…
I noticed on the chair you have Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Anything of his is outstanding, of course. Beartown was a really good read and I enjoyed the follow up story also. Us Against You.
I’ve read everything David Sedaris has written and I hooted outloud reading Calypso. My very fav is Me Talk Pretty One Day. I also adore Ron Rash (he teaches at my alma mater – WCU!). One Foot in Eden is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not quite a dark and bizarro and Southern gothic as some of his newer work.
Emily Clark says
So many people have recommended that same Sedaris book today. I’m putting it on my list! Thanks :)
cassie bustamante says
i noticed beartown in your stack- i read that earlier this summer and it took me a while as i had a newborn and limited time, but it was SO good! a different unique read, and really thoughtfully written.
Another David Sedaris fan here. There’s an app called Hoopla that allows you to access and borrow audiobooks from libraries in your area for free. Sedaris reads his own books and his voice adds a lot to the stories. Give it a try if you like to listen to books. Also, I just finished The Woman in the Window and loved it. Thank you for sharing your picks, looking forward to some good reading/listening time. Stay safe.
Emily Clark says
Someone else recommended I listen to him on audio. Maybe I could get on board with audio books if I listened to one of his! I struggle :)
Kim @ Kim Bocko says
We’ve read so many similar books lately! Paula McLain’s book is on my TBR list. I love her voice and can’t wait to dive into this next one!
Lori Grigsby says
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain is so good!
Sandra P says
I love these posts but I don’t have that much time to read. I try to figure out which one was your favorite and go for it. I have to thank you for many good reads :) Would it be possible for you to always say which one is your top pick?
Emily Clark says
I love that idea! From this list, it would probably be The Midwife’s Confession. Her books just draw me in and are so easy to get into. Have you read anything by Diane Chamberlain before?
Just finished This Must be the Place per your suggestion and I really enjoyed it! I love your book suggestions.
I just read The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni and I really enjoyed it. It’s the coming of age story of a boy born with red eyes who is bullied. I actually sat and read for about 4 hours in a row one Sunday – it was that good. Thanks for your suggestions!
Emily Clark says
Never heard of this one. Thanks!