Sunday, January 13, 2019

The 12 Books I Read in 2018 (and the Ones I Didn't)

Last January, I vowed to read 12 books in 2018. Don't get me wrong, I love to read and am passionate about books, but when reading and writing is part of your day job, it can be tempting to skip doing it for leisure. At the same time, being well read is so important for writers to constantly expand your vocabulary and be exposed to different styles and dialects. My hour-long train ride (each way) to work last year definitely helped me meet my goal, which I intentionally didn't set so high that it felt like a chore.

Among these books are classics—like the 1,000 page Gone With the Wind and the short novel And Then There Were None—but there are also just-for-fun beach reads and crime novels. There were also a few books I started and abandoned, because life is too dang short to suffer through a book that doesn't speak to you. Below, I'm sharing a few thoughts on each one. What's on your reading list for 2019?

The Jazz Bird
My favorite era is the 1920s, so this prohibition-era murder mystery novel was right up my alley. Flawed characters keep you constantly questioning who you're really rooting for.

Pachinko
This bestselling historical fiction book is a must-read that's chock-full of insights into events that have shaped the Koreas we know today. It's a long one, but kept me hooked the whole way. A woman on the subway commented while I was reading one day that the plot is a bit melodramatic, and well, she's right, but I didn't mind.

Frances Gould
I wanted to switch things up and read a piece of nonfiction, which I don't often do, and I was interested in this piece about a wealthy socialite who got in bed with the Nazi party during World War II. Her reputation, and her fortune, survived with nary a scratch. It was really interesting to learn about how the other half was affected by the war, and how one woman played that to her advantage, with no regard for who it hurt along the way. It was an interesting story, but I was ready for something lighter when I was done.

The Identicals (abandoned Eligible)
That something lighter came in the form of my favorite beach read author, Elin Hilderbrand. I've read a ton of her books, which mostly take place on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. All of her books, including this one, are easy reads with lots of insights about family dynamics, love, and relationships. Before this, I started Eligible, a modern take on Pride and Prejudice. I accidentally left it on the plane to our honeymoon, and wasn't that enamored by it to purchase the book again, so I went with an old favorite instead.

Gone With The Wind
Holy 1,000 pages Batman. This was the longest book I've ever read, but well worth it. Gone With The Wind has always been my favorite movie, but I hadn't read the book until this year. I loved being able to contrast the differences in plot and characters. While there are a lot of flawed assertions about race and slavery (the book was written in the 1930s), it's a must-read that details the fall of the old south, a woman's lot during that time, and aftermath of the Civil War.

Matchmaking For Beginners
I picked this book as a free Kindle Firsts download, and it was worth the read. The ending was a bit predictable, but the characters were well developed, and I love a good happy ending.

Happiness Project
I read this book many years ago and couldn't identify with a lot of it—marriage, finances, family. I'm glad I gave it a second read, because it really hits home at this point in life. From the many mantras I extracted from this self-help read, my favorite is this one: "The days are long but the years are short."

And Then There Were None
This classic murder mystery is a fun, easy read. No, I didn't figure it out before the ending, but Sean insists he was able to.

Motherhood (abandoned)
When one of my favorite influencers posted about this book on Instagram, I immediately wanted to read it. I really wanted to like this book, but the stream-of-consciousnesses writing style just didn't jive with me. Read a few of the Amazon reviews and be convinced to give it a try by those who connected with her poetic writing. I'm just a traditionalist who needs full sentences, so I didn't get very far into this one before dropping it.

The Execution
I found a book laying around the office that was written by Dick Wolf, the producer of Law & Order. I'm a huge SVU fan and knew I wanted to read it. It was like one big Law & Order episode so I of course loved it. The story is part of a series about the main character, Jeremy Fisk, but I had no problem catching up with the main players.

A Well Behaved Woman
I got to review this book for Quest Magazine, and it was one of my favorite historical fiction pieces. It offers another point of view for a notorious society woman, Alva Vanderbilt. You can check out my review for more insight!

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
For my October book, I wanted to read something on-theme, since Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love colonial history as well, and I really enjoyed this look into puritan New England. It's also a fast, easy read.

Daughters of the Lake
This book was another free read from Kindle advance, and really worth the read. It was a murder-mystery that followed characters past and present with a little sci-fi twist.

Winter Solstice
A beach read for the wintertime? I saw another book by my favorite easy-read novelist, Elin Hilderbrand, in the bookstore around the holidays and had to pick it up. I mean, I read Gone with the Wind, so I deserved a few fun ones, amiright?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Red Beret for a New Year's Coffee Break

Head to Toe: Sweater, jacket, and jeans, thrifted // Beret, Amazon // Clutch, Ora Delphine // Sneakers, Keds

New Year, same me! I have big plans for 2019, so I'm going to need some serious coffee to power through the hustle. Connecticut friends, you have the try Billy's Bakery in Fairfield. It's my new favorite, with yummy New England Coffee and the best pastries, fresh bread, and a full deli for lunch. Plus, it's a female-owned company, so boss babes unite!

But back to 2019. It's only day two, and it's already been a busy start. I'm still trying to think through my goals for the year, and translate some of those abstract plans into concrete ideas. But as long as there are Christmas cookies left, there's still time to iron out your resolutions, amiright? In the meantime, at least my outfit can be thought through. I'm loving this red leather beret Sean got me for Christmas, and it called for a full Parisian-inspired outfit. Bonne année, fashionistas! (That means Happy New Year in French...I Googled it, I don't speak French). Happy New year, fashionistas!