Recent Reads Vol. 1

Hi, hello, and happy new month! I'll put this out here right now: this is a book post. So if you're not into book posts, you're off the hook for this one—I'll see you back here tomorrow or whenever I decide to post next.

In an attempt to make myself get through some of the books that I've been saying "it's on my list!" or "I've been meaning to read that!" about forever, I roped myself into a few book challenges for this summer. Luckily, they overlap—even though as I write this on Tuesday afternoon I haven't even technically started the Literary Ladies book challenge yet. But anyway. (Tuesday evening update: Started.)

The Blonder Side of Life
The other summer challenge I joined is the Bookish Side of Life challenge, hosted by the sweet Kels who lives on the Blonder Side of Life. A few weeks back, Kels asked us to set a personal goal number of books to be read in the months of June, July, and August. As I was about to slip behind on my personal goal to read 30 books in 2015 (I'm a slow reader guys, gimme a break), I jumped at the chance.

I placed a conservative bet on myself and said 10 sounded like a nice, round, attainable number. After one month, here's how I'm doing, what I've read, and what's up next:

June Reads*

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Kristen recommended this after she read it, and was kind enough to share her audiobook with me. I listened to most of this book during my 17-hour round-trip drive to West Virginia. It was my first ever audiobook! I was hesitant to try the format (I love the act of reading so much) but I think it's a good option for me when I just want to hear a good story. I'll save the delicious experience of reading for those stories I really, really look forward to though.

The narration was dry, and the content was dense. But, this book had a lot of really wonderful anecdotes and principles that we could all stand to incorporate into our lives a bit more. I don't think I would have gotten through it if it weren't for the audiobook (I don't love reading non-fiction), but I'm glad I gave it a listen.

Recommend? — Yes, but probably just the audiobook.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
I honestly can't remember if I started this book before, but I think I had. Good thing I forget all narrative details about 30 seconds after I attain them. I don't know what that's about, guys. Anyway, I gave this a listen on audiobook too, after discovering my library had a pretty decent selection of audiobooks. I love music, but in the mornings I prefer podcasts or, now, audiobooks. This was a good morning listen, and I got through it pretty quickly.

I don't really have anything profound to say about this book. I liked it; it was heartwarming and heartbreaking in parts; it was a well-told story. It didn't change my life or make me feel like I needed to read more Mitch Albom right away. But it was good, and even though it didn't excite me one way or the other, I'm glad I finally scratched it off the list.

Recommend? — Sure, why not? If you like a good fiction narrative, you'll probably enjoy this.

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
My library had this in audiobook format too, so I grabbed it as soon as I finished Albom. And then it took me embarrassingly long to put two and two together. This author wrote Silver Linings Playbook, which I didn't realize was a book, but whose movie adaptation I love. Like, love. I don't know if I loved this one, but I thought it was great.

It's pretty quirky, and I've read mixed reviews and heard a pretty split opinion about it. It's strange in parts, and also heartbreaking in others, and something about hearing it narrated (in well-employed different voices as well) might have made it more emotional for me. It won't be for everybody, I don't think, and some parts were a little dragged out, but it was easy and I didn't have to think very hard and it was enjoyable.

Recommend? — Not urgently, but sure. Give it a read/listen!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I've read this before, at least twice. And I've studied it, so I remembered a bit of this, but the details and specifics had escaped me. I have a paperback copy so this is what I'd been working on before bed and such. Now, I remembered the majority of the major plot lines—like, in the way that you know before seeing it that Batman is about a caped vigilante in Gotham city—but I haven't read this as an adult. Seeing things through adult eyes and especially with the lens of what's going on in the world today, I was ready to have a very new reading experience with this book.

If you haven't read it, read it. If you haven't read it as an adult, read it. This book is beyond a masterpiece. It is over 50 years old and is set almost a century ago, and it is still profoundly relevant in America. It is funny in places and in ways you would never expect. It is so elegantly written and yet completely lacking in pretense. The first page is one I've read dozens of times because—well, I can't really express why. The first sentence and the second paragraph just...affect me somehow. That might be because I'm strange and dramatic, but I'm more inclined to chalk it up to Harper Lee's genius.

Recommend? — Yes. Unequivocally, yes. Sometimes, the classics are classics for a reason.
(P.S., Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch earned the AFI's #1 spot on the top 100 movie heroes of the 20th century. #FunFact)

I'll add that I spent a good part of this month reading, editing, and editing again a novel that I won't list here, but that deserves to be mentioned, I think. A friend of mine has been nursing this manuscript for a few years and I finally—finally!—convinced him to share it with me and utilize my literary fiction editing services. We're bringing it up to snuff and hopefully it will be available as an ebook for any of you interested (it is a really, really good story) in the next couple of months!

*I counted only the books that I started and finished in the month of June, so May holdovers aren't listed.

Up Next...
I'm diving right into my Literary Ladies book list, which you can find here!

Have you read any of these? If so, what's your take? 
If not, what's on your 2015 summer reading list?


  1. To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of my favorites. I've read it numerous times and I get a little more out of it every time.

  2. totally agree about how to win friends and influence people. i'm not good with non fiction at all, but i do think it's a book everyone should read, especially if they lack common sense or courtesy (which you don't!).
    I found out Silver Linings Playbook was a book well after I saw the movie and it's been on my list ever since (I'm trying to wait until I forget the movie a little bit) so I'll check out his other one first.
    I love what you said about To Kill A Mockingbird. In ways, I wish I had read it when I was younger (I might have, I don't remember) but in other ways I'm so glad I read it as an adult where I could really understand and appreciate it, especially with what is still going on in the world today. I still haven't seen the movie though.
    I will definitely read your friend's book when it's ready!

  3. My husband read the dale Carnegie book and it's one of his absolute favorites!! I need to reread to kill a mockingbird I feel like I missed a lot in high school! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  4. My book club is reading To Kill a Mockingbird and the new one - something about a Watchman? Anyway, we're reading them next month. I remember reading Mockingbird in high school,'s probably good that we're re-reading it. I think it's an American Classic.

    I just finished a lot of depressing books, so up next is The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster - she's hilarious. A little long winded at times, but generally pretty funny, which I need right now.

  5. I've had the Carnegie book on my shelf for years, but I can't bring myself to actually sit down and read it. I've heard what you echoed, it's very dry and dense. But I keep holding on to it. I've read To Kill A Mockingbird in high school, but I don't really remember a lot of it. I'll have to re-read it. Are you planning on reading the followup, "Go Set a Watchman"?

  6. I will totally reread How to Kill a Mockingbird if the sequel is released.
    My favorite Mitch Albom book is Tuesdays with Morrie, hands down all the day long and I'm a huge Albom fan.

  7. did you know harper lee has another book coming out? a continuation of mockingbird and i'm in line 172 for it at the library (hasn't even come out yet at the library and already this waiting is bullshit)

  8. That's exactly why I want to read To Kill a Mockingbird again (and every other book from high school). I say "again" but don't really mean it because I'm not sure how much I got out of it the first time and I remember zero details anyway. I think it will be a much more meaningful experience that I can really appreciate this time around (especially with the world the way it is right now, like you said).

  9. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven was a wonderful book! I do need to reread To Kill a Mockingbird. It's been a long time.

    30 books in a year is not a slow reader, btw. I read (hahahaha) somewhere that most people don't even read one book per month. So you're WAY ahead of the game.

  10. I regrettably have not yet read any of these! I think I read to Kill a Mockingbird in school a million years ago... but that doesn't really count. I recently read "The Timekeeper" by Mitch Alborn (the first book I've read of his), and I really enjoyed it. It's a weird kind of feel-good read... more from a philosophical or spiritual standpoint.

    I'm currently in a bit of a "girly" phase with my reading list: I just downloaded "Luckiest Girl Alive," which I've heard great things about. I'll be sharing a reading list post soon (probably next week), if you want some ideas!


  11. 30 books in a year as a slow reader?? Whoa!! I used to devour books until the end of high school, and back then I would have probably understood the statement, but now I have so little time for reading it's embarrassing. I don't think I even manage to read 10 books a year. That's so sad. :/

    On a second thought, it also probably has to do with the fact that we didn't have this much entertainment available when I was a kid. I mean, yes, there were movies and there were TV series (but only those you felt committed enough to watch on TV!), but I loved spending my time with a good book. Nowadays there's just too much content on the Internet I don't want to miss, a a large portion of my day is spent in front of the screen, even when it has nothing to do with what I'm working on. And I swear I didn't mean this to sound like "oh, back in my time things were better", nor do I think so. It's just that this is the first time it struck me. I wonder if I'd be such an avid reader if I was 10 now. :/

  12. youre making me feel like I should try to real to kill a mockingbird again. I haven't been able to get through it. shame on me I know!

  13. To Kill a Mockingbird is hands down one of my favourite novels like ever!!! I really need to give it a re-read!

  14. I've been slacking on reading "real" novels (read: not free romance bs from Amazon) for a while now so I'm trying to get my hands on and read errrything! I've got 4 books waiting to be read and am trying to work my way through P&P.

  15. Not sure if my first comment went through b/c I wasn't signed in when I typed it....anyway, I've had Dale's book on my list for awhile, just haven't found it in the library yet. Although i may take your advice and listen to the audiobook version. Thanks for linklin up with me!

  16. im listening to how to make friends on audiobook too. taking me forever! even though it was written eons ago, it still has some timeless advice i am trying to implement!

  17. I really need to read To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm annoyed that it wasn't part of any of my curriculum in school as I'm fairly certain I'm the only person with a degree in English who hasn't read it. I think 30 is a respectable amount of books to read!

  18. I'm so glad you're joining the Literary Ladies challenge! I just joined that (and the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge) early this week! You can see the book I chose here - - I'd love to hear what you end up choosing!


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