Book Review: Book Girl

BOOKGIRLTitle: Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life
Author: Sarah Clarkson
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 31, 2019

Goodreads Description: When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle’s delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast?

If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl.

Books were always Sarah Clarkson’s delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, and the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she came to realize as an adult was just how powerfully books had shaped her as a woman to live a story within that world, to be a lifelong learner, to grasp hope in struggle, and to create and act with courage.

She’s convinced that books can do the same for you.

Join Sarah in exploring the reading life as a gift and an adventure, one meant to enrich, broaden, and delight you in each season of your life as a woman. In Book Girl, you’ll discover:
how reading can strengthen your spiritual life and deepen your faith,
why a journey through classic literature might be just what you need (and where to begin),
how stories form your sense of identity,
how Sarah’s parents raised her to be a reader–and what you can do to cultivate a love of reading in the growing readers around you, and
20+ annotated book lists, including some old favorites and many new discoveries.
Whether you’ve long considered yourself a reader or have dreams of becoming one, Book Girl will draw you into the life-giving journey of becoming a woman who reads and lives well.

My Review: I really wanted to love this book. What book lover doesn’t appreciate hearing about someone else’s love of books?!

The author made some fantastic points about how reading is knowledge, but that reading should also be for enjoyment purposes. I’m a little jealous of the author’s upbringing – that reading was encouraged. I did not come from a family of readers. They often were confused on why I enjoyed reading so much.

The author gives excellent advice on how to make your reading life more enjoyable too, including doing book discussions and participating in book clubs. She also recommends keeping a book journal or even writing down your favorite quotes. These suggestions are all good ones to make you truly appreciate literature and reading in general.

However, I felt that there was quite a lot of repetition throughout the book. While I love lists and especially book lists, the author’s lists seemed a bit narrow. Yes, I understand that the author went to Oxford, especially after she mentioned it the 50th time, so having an appreciation for C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien is understandable, but they are not the only authors out there. There are so many amazing authors that should have been included. At one point she mentions a book that takes place in North Africa, but it was from the perspective of a missionary not from a local. She did briefly mention Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but there should have been a lot more authors of color included in her lists.

Unfortunately, because of those reasons, this was an overall disappointing read for me.

My Rating: ♦ ♦

Reading the Classics 2018-2022

I have been seeing that a few other book bloggers are challenging themselves to reading more of the classics. I attempted to do the same this year with my 2018 A-Z Classics Reading Challenge and failed. It was just too much, when I’m reading so many other books as well. I am going to try something a bit different. I am creating a list of 50 classics that will consist of the ones from my A-Z challenge and additions. However, I will be giving myself 5 years to complete this challenge. I think that will be much more manageable.

Here is the list (the books in red are the ones that I have completed):

  1. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
  2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  3. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  4. Dubliners by James Joyce
  5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  9.  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  10. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  11. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  12. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  13. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  14. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  15. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  16. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  17. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  18. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  19. The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
  20. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  21. Utopia by Thomas More
  22. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
  23. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  24. Xingu by Edith Wharton
  25. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  26. Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo
  27. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  28. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  29. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
  30. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  31. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  32. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  33. Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
  34. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  35. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  36. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  37. The Odyssey by Homer
  38. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  39. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
  40. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  41. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  42. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  43. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  44. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  45. Dune by Frank Herbert
  46. Death Come for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  47. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
  48. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  49. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  50. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Classics not on the list but also read during this time:

  1. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  2. The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
  3. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  4. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. Adam Bede by George Eliot
  6. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  7. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  8. Stuart Little by E. B. White
  9. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

I am very much looking forward to reading more classics, especially the ones that have been on my bookshelves for years and years. Have any of you read these? Any favorites on this list? 

WWW Wednesdays – October 31, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I did very little reading this week and weekend between work and travel. This past weekend, I took a trip to Austin, Texas for the 2018 Texas Book Festival. (See my post about that event here.) The festival kept me so busy with all the things to do and authors to meet, that I did not get much time to read. It was worth it though.

Currently Reading

Recently Finished

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman – audiobook

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Sarah Weinman explores the theory that Nabokov’s Lolita was based off of the true story of the kidnapping of Sally Horner. This book provides an in depth analysis of Lolita and the story of Sally Horner, which I admit that I had not heard of before. I, overall, enjoyed hearing the comparisons between the two. However, I found two things rather annoying. First, trying to not spoil anything by giving away too many details, the author glosses over the fate of Sally Horner early on in the book and makes you wait until almost the end to find out exactly what happened to her. She should not have mentioned her fate at all until it was time to actually explain that. The second thing that I did not really enjoy was the end section that goes into details of what happened to characters in the book, many of whom were not very relevant to the story, so I cared little about what happened to them. It is a captivating read for readers like me who love true crime and also classic fiction.

Reading Next

I’m hoping to get a lot more reading done this week and weekend. What have y’all been reading this week? If you have a WWW post, please share the link if I haven’t commented already.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

2018 Texas Book Festival

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I decided that this would be the year that I attend my first book festival, and the Texas Book Festival in Austin did not disappoint. There were so many different authors from so many different genres and activities for all ages. When you want to attend all the sessions, it is hard to narrow down your must see/do list. I was fortunate enough to attend the book festival with a friend, who help me have the best experience. Here is what we experienced:

DAY ONE – SATURDAY 10/27

Meet the Indie Next Authors! Featuring: R.O. Kwon, Tommy Orange, Nicole Chung

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Book signing

Earth and Beyond: A Conversation with Scott Kelly in the Texas State Capitol

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Litsy Meetup on the lawn of the Texas State Capitol

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Book signing with Sarah McCoy

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Souvenirs – thanks to Texas Book Festival and Book People Bookstore

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Lit Crawl Austin – American Short Fiction authors play Ex Libris at Stay Gold, featuring Jamel Brinkley, Rita Bullwinkel, Rebecca Makkai, Jennifer duBois, Owen Egerton and Tommy Orange

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Lit Crawl Austin – Noir at the Bar where crime fiction authors read from their recent their novels at Stay Gold, featuring Lou Berney, Max Booth, Meg Gardiner, Mike McCrarry and Scott Von Doviak

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Won a crime fiction novel raffle with signed copies!

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DAY TWO – SUNDAY 10/28

Alternate Realities: Sci Fi in 2018 with V.E. Schwab and John Scalzi

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John Scalzi taking a selfie wearing V.E. Schwab’s cat ears

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The last presentation was amazing, and we were too tuckered out to continue with any more sessions, so we wandered around Austin a bit longer and then hit the road back to Houston. All the author/presenters we listened to were amazing, personable and friendly. We just wanted to be friends with all of them. Now I have to find a place in my house for all my lovely new books!

 

 

24 Hour Readathon Begins! October 2018

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It’s that time!!!! Time for the semi-annual Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon!!!!  As always I’m super excited and ready to go! I’ve got my TBR pile, snacks, and clothing (see photo off to the right) all prepared. This is officially my 5th time participating in this readathon. I do not anticipate making it the full 24 hours, but I am geared up to get some quality reading time in that will help me achieve my yearly reading goals.

Readathon Goals:

  • I want to read for at least 13 hours today.
  • I want to complete 3 books.
  • I want to read at least 500 pages.
  • I want to complete at least 5 mini-challenges.
  • Get Bingo.

Bingo:

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TBR (soooo many to chose from):

Obviously I don’t intend to read all of the following, but I like to have a lot of options to chose from in all different types of reading tools, like physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks. I’ve learned that a variety helps utilize every moment of the readathon to accomplish all your reading goals.

Physical Books

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Ebooks

Audiobook

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If you have never participated in this readathon before, I would recommend that you try it! It’s so much fun!

Here is my first read of the day:

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WWW Wednesdays – October 17, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I didn’t read much this week again, because I went on a mini holiday to visit family, but I am looking forward to catching up on all my NetGalleys, book club reads, and Fall Reading list this upcoming weekend during Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Due to my intense work schedule and the fact that my body does not like me to pull all-nighters anymore, I won’t be able to read the entire 24 hours, but I intend to read most of Saturday. I will be creating my pre-readathon post in the next day or two.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Out by Natsuo Kirino – book

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Four women that work together at a factory outside of Tokyo, Japan conspire together to cover up a murder. This story follows these women and how the murder cover-up changes their lives and the lives of others that have connections to the women or to the murdered individual.

I read this book for an IRL mystery book club. While the story is disturbing (so many trigger warnings) and a bit depressing, I found that I still wanted to continue to read it to find out what happens to the four women and whether they really would get away with this crime. It may seem boring and tedious at points, but I believe those pages really help the reader understand the lives of the characters. No character is innocent, so you really don’t know who to root for. Another trigger warning – the end is just as disturbing (if not more so) as the beginning. It is a clever book and not like anything I have read before.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan – audiobook

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Ella Duran from the United States earns a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University in England for a year toward a graduate degree. She is a very ambitious political activist for education but always wanted to study at Oxford so does not hesitate to accept the Rhodes scholarship. While at Oxford, she meets a group of animated characters and develops an attraction to one of her professors. She juggles her Oxford life and her US educational policy ambitions, but begins to realize that Oxford is starting to change her and her life goals.

As someone who studied abroad every opportunity I had and absolutely loved Oxford when I visited last year, I had to read this book. It starts by painting this amazing picture of Oxford, which is in fact a stunning place, and English culture. I found myself laughing at Ella’s interactions with her English classmates and some of the locals. I can’t believe I never noticed how my British friends use negative adjectives to describe something positive (ex. “that is terribly brilliant”). This story soon turned into a romantic story. I didn’t read the blurb that compares this story to a Nicholas Sparks or JoJo Moyes book, so I was a bit caught off guard when the story turned from mysterious to a bit sad. (I may have shed a few tears while listening to it at work). Normally I don’t gravitate to these types of books, however, by that point, I was so invested in all the lovely characters that I had to see the book all the way through. It was amazing. So many emotions, but I loved every moment of it.

Reading Next

I hope you all had a fantastic week of reading! Any thoughts on the books I’ve listed? What are y’all reading? If I haven’t already commented on your WWW post, please include it in the comments below and maybe some of you will be reading with me during the readathon this weekend.

HAPPY READING!!!

A Booklover’s Birthday – 2018

This is going to be a bit of a birthday brag, but this, my friends and fellow booklovers, is what I consider the best way to spend a birthday….surrounded by new books you were presented with.

I received some love from my #JustBecause (#JB) Litsy pen pal group with lots of cards, stickers, bookmarks, and the following packages.

My parents clearly understand my love of Jane Austen and coffee. Plus, who doesn’t love a good tote bag!

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I recently spoke to my BFF about my obsession with Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and my disappointment that I hadn’t read the book first. I also stated that I refused to see the Crazy Rich Asians movie until I had read that book. She decided to help me rectify this situation.

Last but definitely not least, my husband got my three books. He got me Proust’s In Search of Lost Time from my favorite bookstore in Paris – Shakespeare and Company. He also got me two amazing and beautiful first editions that include Dicken’s Nicholas Nickleby and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which is one of my favorite books of all time.

I am so grateful for friends and family that truly appreciate my love of books! Can’t wait to read all of these!

Fall Reading – 2018

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Fall is officially here. There are so many fun events in the world of books during the fall, with book festivals (I’m really hoping to go to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX this year), readathons (like Dewey’s 24 hour readathon), and PBS announcing the Great American Read. With all these fun things happening this fall, I am hoping that this will inspire me to get through the following (or at least a majority of the following) reads:

NetGalley Reads

  • The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory 
  • I Hate You, I Love You by Elizabeth Hayley 
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu
  • Broken Ground by Val McDermid
  • Killer Classics by Kim Roberts
  • Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose
  • A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley

BookishFirst Reads

  • Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante 
  • Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich

Goodreads Giveaway

  • Postcards from a Stranger by Imogen Clark

Book Club Reads

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz √ 
  • Strange Things Done by Elle Wild
  • Out by Natsuo Kirino √ 
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson

Other

  • Different Seasons by Stephen King – ebook
  • The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn – book
  • Bonfire by Krysten Ritter – book
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver – book
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – book
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – book
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – book
  • Raven and Other Favorite Poems by Edgar Allen Poe – book 
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers – book
  • Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward – audiobook
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – audiobook 
  • Kiss Me, Kill Me by Ann Rule – audiobook 
  • My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan – audiobook √ 
  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – audiobook
  • Endurance by Scott Kelly – audiobook
  • The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre – audiobook 
  • The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman – audiobook 
  • Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White – audiobook √ 
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright – audiobook √ 
  • The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington – audiobook 
  • The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard – audiobook 
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – audiobook

What are you looking forward to reading this Fall?

Hope you all have a productive Fall Reading season!!! Happy Reading!!!

WWW Wednesdays – September 12, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

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I’m assuming that if you are reading this blog post, you enjoy reading. This is the book for all you readers. It touches on developing one’s reading life and what/who inspires it (aka libraries, bookstores and friends/family). It talks about the comfort of bookshelves and the act of giving/receiving book recommendations. I’d Rather Be Reading contains so many beautiful lines:

“For everyone who’s ever finished a book under the covers with a flashlight when they were supposed to be sleeping.” (Her dedication)
“I’m grateful for my one life, but I’d prefer to live a thousand.”
“My simple rows of library records may not be as pretty as personal photographs, but when it comes to remembering – well, they take me right back.”
“Reading is personal and never more so than when we’re sharing why we connect with certain books.”
“Books grace our shelves and fill our homes with beauty; they dwell in our minds and occupy our thoughts.”

This book will be gracing and beautifying my bookshelf for a long long time. I hope you read it and enjoy it as much as I did!

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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I recently read the book Educated by Tara Westover and really enjoyed it. I felt for the main character who grew up in an extremely sheltered and ignorant world with a very abusive brother. I found similarities in reading The Glass Castle. This book was an even more intense read in my opinion. Trigger warnings for individuals who have a difficult time reading about sexual and alcohol abuse. Mostly I think I found it heartbreaking how the parents used their (and sometimes their kids’) money to feed their own addictions instead of their kids’ stomachs. When I read memoirs like this one and Educated, it puts a lot of my own feelings of my childhood into perspective. I don’t know that anyone has a perfect childhood, but I am grateful that I had a childhood that contained a stable roof over my head, food on the table and a good education.

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

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I literally just finished this book last night. It was a quick read for me, as I really enjoyed it. It was a thrilling true crime story with a taste of what New York was like in the late 1800s with Theodore Roosevelt in charge of reforming a corrupt NYPD. (Trigger warning: graphic details related to the murders, including mutilation.) I especially enjoyed the character of Sara, whose main ambition is to be the first woman in the NYPD. The men all try to be delicate around her, but then she will shock them by cursing. It is a wonderful cast of interesting characters with a thrilling and mysterious plot. I am hoping to get access to the TNT series (based off this book) soon. Also, if you are interested in audiobooks, Edward Herrmann – for all you Gilmore Girls fans – does an amazing job!

Reading Next

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading lately?

HAPPY READING!!!!

WWW Wednesdays – September 5, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

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I didn’t get a lot of time to read this past week, as I had family in town for the holiday weekend, so I just focused on completing this epic novel for a book club that meets tomorrow. I found an unabridged audiobook version through my local library’s Hoopla Digital. (I like to plug my local library and its services as much as I can.) This version was longer and contained more chapters than any book copy I own, so I thought this would be the best option. Just a heads up that it is a beast. The audiobook was 52+ hours long. Unabridged physical book copies are more than 1,000 pages. I do wonder what the abridged versions cut out, because I did find sections to be slow, but on the other hand, those same sections helped the ending play out. It was a bit more of a thriller than I expected.

A young Edmond Dantès was set up for a crime of which he was wrongly convicted and sent to prison, which he escaped 14 years later. He then starts executing a plan of revenge against his conspirators.

While I was overall happy with this audiobook version, the narration was not the best. I listened to the version narrated by Bill Homewood. As this book spans both France and Italy, the narrator has to sometimes speak French and Italian. I can’t speak for the French pronunciations, but his Italian pronunciations were terrible – even in relation to locations. I also am not quite sure I always agreed with his voice interpretations. I have heard that there are better narrations, so I recommend looking into that before settling on this one.

I sometimes found it difficult to keep the characters straight, which maybe a symptom of my getting older, but I did find a Spark Notes link that I referred to every now and then, which really helped (see it here). Overall, if it wasn’t for the length and my occasional character confusion, this book was fantastic. It would normally take a month for me to finish a book of this size, but I finished it in just two weeks. With family in town, I found it difficult not to hide from everyone, so I could listen to what happened next.  This is definitely a classic everyone should read.

Reading Next

I am so thrilled to have just received my pre-ordered copy of Anne Bogel’s recent book I’d Rather Be Reading. I’ve been obsessed with her other book Reading People, since I picked it up last year, so I couldn’t wait to read her new one. This might be moved to my Currently Reading list by the end of the day.

What are y’all reading this week? Have you read or have any thoughts on the books mentioned on this post?

HAPPY READING!!!