Emily Henry’s romantic Beach Read offers all you hope to find during a coastal getaway. Packed with the flirtatious fun expected in a romantic comedy, Gus and January’s banter have you grinning constantly. Both authors facing deadlines and writer’s block, the former rivals unite in creating a challenge to finish their new books. Clever connections to classic movies, budding love, and a fun story setup keep you glued to Beach Read. To prove the story goes beyond the “everything is roses” layer, it explores deep topics as well. These issues allow character and relationship exploration that seal the book as a full picture of love and personal growth.
Abby Jimenez’s latest romance The Happy Ever After Playlist came into my orbit thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. The quick banter between Sloan and Tucker hooked me immediately. I found myself smiling at their quips, rooting for the relationship to evolve. The Happy Ever After Playlist maintained its fun tone throughout but unpacked some weight later in the story. Seemingly small yet realistic issues came to light, showing the characters making tough decisions to balance personal, career, and relationship goals. Themes of resilience and friendship abounded as Abby Jimenez’s characters moved forward in their lives. The story made a delightful escape as I stayed home and walked through the delights involved with falling in love, stepping forward in a career, and building emotional strength after setbacks by reading Sloan’s story.
Sarah Addison Allen weaves magic into real life, and the enchanting Lost Lake does not disappoint. Emerging from her initial mourning period, widow Kate takes her daughter to Lost Lake for fresh perspective. The destination that used to draw crowds for vacations no longer holds its allure, but it still pulls Kate and Devin into its orbit. They connect with the regulars at the lake as they too face new adjustments. Together, they find hope and resilience no matter their ages. Rich in backstory, small town camaraderie, and love, Lost Lake has you rooting for its characters to reach their next growth point.
I recently reread this classic that also made the first spot on the list of books that brought tears to my eyes. Reading this as an adult affirmed its status in literature. Wilson Rawls wrote a story about a boy worthy of our cheers as he worked to buy and train his hunting dogs. Immersed in the poor, rural setting, I felt a content participant in Billy’s life. I wanted to encourage him on his quest to become the best coon hunter as I saw the people in his life come together for a common cause. Loyalty and dedication abounded as positive themes throughout the story, not only from the dogs but from Billy as well. He made a good example what it takes to overcome odds and meet goals.
Last year I fell in love with Taylor Jenkin Reid’s Daisy Jones & the Six immediately after its release, ready to read it again before I turned the last page. Her prior book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo did not disappoint either. Following a similar interview style format, the story followed actress Evelyn Hugo over the course of her career and husbands. Reid immersed readers in the Hollywood lifestyle and reminded us appearances do not tell the whole story. Though on some levels I couldn’t relate to Evelyn, I found myself wrapped up in her tension to propel her career and to fulfill her desires for her home life. Success in both posed an impossible challenge. Then despite some unlikable characteristics, Monique finds her own resolve strengthening as she interviews the star. The growth there made a great catalyst for moving forward with a proper foundation, one possibly not found in Evelyn’s history. I adore Taylor Jenkin Reid’s writing style and voice and look forward to reading more, especially Daisy Jones again.
Anne Bogel, BakerBooks, BakerBooks bloggers, book club, book review, books, Christian, Christian living, don't overthink it, encouragement, hope, mental health, overthinking, personal growth, reading, self help
I received a copy of Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel from BakerBooks in exchange for a review. I also purchased a copy.
The delightful and bookish Anne Bogel did not disappoint with this book. It exceeded my expectations, giving me ample content to contemplate and apply to my life. In an early chapter she writes, “When it comes to overthinking, the same thing is true for many of us. We’re bothered by it, but we don’t do anything about it because we don’t know change is within reach” (28). She continues to share common obstacles and highly accessible and desirable information to make tangible progress. Using careful research within the chapters and leaving prompts and lines for reflection at each one’s end, she invites readers to do just that. Reading this felt like having a discussion with a mentor, and each time I set it down I felt a renewed encouragement for continued growth and even affirmation for some of the habits I already had in place. I highly recommend this book as well as the reflection and application sections (I know I sometimes gloss over them or intend to return to them later).
I am also a member of Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and recommend that community as well. It feels so good to be among those who are reading. We share the joy of reading and a mutual desire to make the most of our reading lives.
My appreciation for Jodi Picoult has grown in the last couple years. She takes difficult topics and invites readers to contemplate them in ways they might not have otherwise. This story takes a common issue that we tend to not notice. Looking at racism through the eyes of a black nurse on trial, a white nationalist putting that nurse on trial while grieving his son’s death, and the nurse’s lawyer who witnesses prejudice she didn’t realize existed I noticed we all hold more prejudice than we like to think. As the characters interact with each other, they gain deeper understandings of all; I also gained an awareness of my own blind spots and felt encouraged to deepen my empathy. Each person faces very real obstacles, and each person has room to grow. This applies to readers as well. Though tough to read at points, I’m glad Picoult examined such a full spectrum of experiences and urged readers to consider where their perspectives fall and where they may grow in empathy.
Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child warms your heart with its realistic grown up fairy tale. Jack and Mabel live in the 1920s where, rather than encountering a wicked witch, they face the Alaskan wilderness in winter as well as the loneliness of yearning for a child. After the first snow, they meet a little girl named Faina. She lives alone in the woods but befriends this sweet couple. Heartrending yet also hopeful, this story invites you to sit by the fireside to enjoy life and love. In the flickers of the fire, you glimpse the raw pain, tenderness, and joy of marriage.
William Goldman’s classic fantasy adventure The Princess Bride provided the perfect escape for my Valentine season reading. It may do the same for COVID-19 social distancing too. Westley the farm boy and Buttercup the belle of the farm fall in love despite their odds. Though distanced for a time, they reunite when Westley rescues Buttercup from a kidnapping. Together and apart they face numerous foes, providing plenty of humor along the way. Full of comical quotes, Goldman lends a satirical voice to his story. It has delightful love quotes too, such as Westley saying, “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” Westley’s quest to marry Buttercup and the friends they gain along the way have you rooting for each person’s goal. This story has a perfect balance of romance and action that may suit many for a date night to discuss the book or watch the movie.
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts tells the story of a young woman who gives a baby girl birth alone in a Wal-Mart. Gaining the attention of the nation and then new friends in the small town of her temporary “home,” Novalee develops an unconventional family. The support she garners as she connects to the community help her raise her daughter, learn new skills for education and a career (appropriately rooted in the library), and grow personal strength. While the premise sounds odd, the characters welcome you right into their hearts. Their hospitality and support for each other makes you wish you could move into their town too. Novalee demonstrates we all have potential and that it may best come to realization with a support system.