There’s nothing pandemic-like about any of these book recommendations. I simply did a lot of reading at the beginning of this pandemic (dating back to March 2020) but, since then, have drastically scaled down my consumption- not by choice. Below is just a succinct list of books that either made me cry, laugh, got me thinking or kept me going through all the craziness. They are all memorable to me which is why they are appearing on this list. Instead of doing a full review on each, I will just write a sentence or two about what I remember about the book!
Fairytale Interrupted: What JFK Jr. Taught Me About Life, Love, and Loss by RoseMarie Terenzio
This book is a rare portrait of JFK, Jr. It is written from the perspective of his former assistant who knew his and Carolyn Bissett’s relationship intimately. She was one of his closest confidants at the time of his sudden death. Her perspective is a personal one, but I appreciated her scintillating, tell-it-like-it-is honesty.
Happy Go Money: Spend Smart, Save Right and Enjoy Life by Melissa Leong
I find a lot of finance books are numbingly boring and numerical, but this one was full of humour and highly relatable. Melissa talks about personal examples of how she was able to put her approachable financial strategies into play, which (I think) helped normalize budgeting and saving to the masses.
America’s Reluctant Prince: The Life of John F. Kennedy Jr. by Steven M. Gillon
I seem to have a thing for JFK, Jr. He was such a fascinating character and inspired so many people in his short life. He seemed to be a dashing man of infinite passions- from politics and journalism to fashion and sports.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson*
This book made me laugh out loud. Jenny Lawson is a writer whose blog took off at the inception of the blogosphere. She talks openly about her struggles with depression, but she does it in such a candid and fearless way. She also has a hilarious obsession with taxidermied animals. Trust me, it’s a whole thing!
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Love, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur
A strained relationship between mother and daughter is the backdrop of this illuminating memoir. This one surprised me, but I ate up every word! Also, because the author writes beautifully about her family rituals with preparing and cooking delicious meals together around the matriarchal table.
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, Larry Sloman
One of the best rock ‘n’ roll memoirs I’ve read to date. Okay, I haven’t read many but this was a doorway into such a different world that we are not privy to everyday. Anthony Kiedis writes in great detail of his struggles with addiction and fame.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
I’m not particularly a fan, per se, but her openness in this book sucked me in. I enjoyed her level of transparency. She talks at length about her struggles with alcoholism and how that affected her output in relation to her kids. Outside of this, she also inspired me from a feministic point of view. She built a billion dollar company and superseded her ex-husband’s former-boyband fame- not too shabby.
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad
A difficult subject to read, but one that isn’t talked about enough. I felt sorry for Nadia and all that she endured during her years of captivity. This was an eye-opener; difficult to believe it is non-fiction.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land*
This book got mixed reviews but I quite enjoyed it. Stephanie writes from the viewpoint of marginalized individuals; those living below the poverty line often get pigeonholed as society’s failures. Stephanie provides much-needed perspective for people who can’t understand why sometimes the ‘system’ fails those who need most assistance and keeps the poor where they are- a vast distance from society’s richest.
A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose by Samra Zafar, Meg Masters
I picked up and put down this book a couple times before I read it through to the end. After I finished it, I was so glad I picked it up again. Samra’s story is proof that it is never too late to gather yourself up and start your life over- even when no one else has faith in your strength.
Going There by Katie Couric*
Okay, so she really does go there. And I, happily, went with her. This was the most recent memoir I read. There was so much buzz about her book and how her ‘nice girl’ persona is shattered in this book, but my take on it is that perhaps nobody really knew Katie. People just wanted to see the bright-eyed, beloved morning talk show host that she is most often remembered for. In her book, Katie really lays it bare and holds nothing back. She talks a great deal about success, failure and, unfortunately, death. She offered a juicy peek into how daytime television is really run behind the scenes, but she’s also incredibly strong and inspiring given all that she’s lived through so far in her life.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens*
This book was so raved about in the press and I didn’t even know what the heck a crawdad was. It took me a long time to get into- not going to lie. I wasn’t used to the colloquial cadence it was written in and I stayed with it much longer than I typically would with similar books, but I’m so glad I did. My heart yearned for more at the end- a very good sign it was a memorable book.
Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher
This was a fun, thrilling read. It was very fast-paced and highly digestible. I got into it right away and never stopped until I finished. This is a good one if you’re looking for a distraction.
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
Another great thriller. I loved Sally Hepworth’s writing- she is very readable and her plot line was intriguing.
How Not To Fall by Emily Foster
I loved this book. It is very much along the lines of teen angst and teetering on too-hot-to-handle, but at the heart of the book is just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.
The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham
A great book to sink your teeth into. Imagine if you were a do-good midwife and Hitler’s camp enlisted you to assist his secret lover in delivering his love child? The premise of this book grabbed me from the very first page.
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher*
This one had me guessing until the end. It definitely had me on my toes!
The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham*
This book broke my heart. Broke. My. Heart. I cried like a baby and couldn’t stop for a long time. It was so good, but I know it isn’t for everyone. There’s so much historical trauma here, but it was such a real and searing portrait of the lives of lost children in the mid-20th century. The book stayed with me for a very, very long time after I finished it.
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