I had a pretty good reading month! I also read every single night before bed since January 1. I’ve been trying to read every night, even if it’s just a page. (I always end up reading more, but having no pressure beyond opening the book and reading one sentence definitely makes it an easy goal to achieve.)



Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

3.5/5 Stars

So I love Barbara Kingsolver. I read The Poisonwood Bible in high school and fell in love with her writing. I equally loved the writing in Animal Dreams. However, the book just wasn’t that memorable to me personally. I actually forgot it was something I read this month until I reviewed my list. It’s about a young woman named Codi who returns to her hometown. She’s lacking direction in her life, her aging dad is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and her sister is caught up in a political conflict in Nicaragua. She ends up falling in love, while facing her own personal and larger family history. It took me a while to get into it– I almost gave up a couple of times, but then the ending redeemed itself for me.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

4.5/5 Stars

loved this book. It’s a great thing to read at the beginning of the year, especially during a pandemic honestly, if you’re wanting to flex your creative muscles. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love) passionately writes about creativity. I just really appreciated her perspective on creativity, inspiration, and making a career (or not…) in a creative field. It really spoke to me and I highly recommend reading it.

Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

5/5 Stars

My first five star review of the year! Friends and Strangers was a book I simply couldn’t put it down. It follows the lives of two women: an author who is struggling with family drama, motherhood, and planting roots in a college town after moving away from Brooklyn and her new babysitter, a college student in a long distance relationship with an older man. I could have read a hundred more pages about their lives, easily.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

3.75/5 Stars

When I posted that I was reading this, a ton of people responded saying how much they loved it. I totally get why it’s a popular book, but I’m just personally not super into “suspenseful” novels with female leads. They’re really trendy right now (Gone GirlGirl on the Train, etc.), so if you’re into that genre, you WILL love this one. (It’s a modern retelling of Jane Eyre too so you might find that part a compelling draw!) It’s about a woman who moves to Birmingham and goes from being a dog walker in a wealthy neighborhood to dating a widower whose wife and her best friend disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

4/5 Stars

Oh boy, this book! It’s a ride!!! Black Buck is a satirical novel about American tech startup culture. It really tackles race and ambition, too. I really enjoyed this one (I listened to it and the narrator is fantastic). Just when you think you know where it’s going, it takes off in another direction. Mateo Askaripour wrote this in such a clever way. At times I found it a little disjointed because there was just so much happening at all times, but it’s totally worth getting on the rollercoaster and going along for the ride.


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Really happy to see your book links go to!!! Adding friends and strangers to my reading list!


I don’t know if you’ve already read it, but the book Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman is really good. I’ve read it a couple of times and enjoyed it equally both times.


I look forward to these posts every month and always add your suggestions to my Goodreads “want to read” shelf!

Erin Rice

I have a question, where did Mike’s Mom get her dress for your wedding. My daughter just got engaged and I loved her dress.


I just finished Friends and Strangers and LOVED it. It makes me want to check every book by J. Courtney Sullivan out of the library. I put her in the same category of author as Curtis Sittenfeld and Jennifer Weimer, and these kinds of books make my life happy right now!


My favorite Barbara Kingsolver book is Animal Vegetable Miracle. It’s her non-fiction account of moving away from Arizona to start a family farm in Appalachian Mountains. It’s such a good pandemic read as we are all tinkering with our own gardens and daydreaming about living off the land. It also made me very conscious about being a locavore, the environmentally friendly way of eating things that are in season in your part of the country to cut down on shipping pollution. It’s educational and entertaining. Thanks for the recs!