Got through a couple of good and a couple of not so good books this month. One trend I’m noticing is that almost every current book mentions the pandemic. I think it’s inevitable, but it can be kind of jarring depending on what you’re expecting and/or open to reading. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, every book I read this month either mentioned or was fully focused on the pandemic… and I didn’t know for any of them ahead of time. Anyway, I was curious how authors would handle this and I guess we’re finding out now!

WISH YOU WERE HERE by Jodi Picoult

3/5 Stars

I have always really enjoyed Jodi Picoult’s writing style. For years and years, she was my favorite author. I think I’ve read 90% (or more…) of her books and I always find myself hooked on her stories. This one? Not so much. It’s very much about the pandemic, which I did not know going into it. I downloaded it solely because she wrote it. On one hand, I wasn’t ready for such an intense portrayal of the beginning of the pandemic in NYC and on the other hand, I also just couldn’t get behind the plot. It didn’t feel like a “Jodi Picoult book” at all. (And now that I’m thinking about it, I may have liked it better if I didn’t know that it was written by Jodi Picoult and had a certain level of expectation going in?)

Anyway, the story is about a young woman who has a very set life track she’s been on (get this job, find “the” guy, get married by this age, etc.). But her plans are disrupted, to say the least, by the pandemic when she gets stuck in the Galapagos Islands on a solo trip while her partner is back in NYC on the frontlines as a doctor. I was kind of bored and it felt more like a creative writing exercise than a book ready for publishing?

EMPIRE OF PAIN by Patrick Radden Keefe

5/5 Stars

This book deep dives into the Sackler family and their involvement in the opioid crisis. I had read Dream Land a couple of years ago and felt like I had some understanding of the rise of Oxycontin, but Empire of Pain takes it even further talking specifically about the Sackler dynasty and how their greed led to the opioid crisis as we know it. If you love investigative journalism, 100% read this. It is excellent.

FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS by Oliver Burkeman

5/5 Stars

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t even know how to describe this book other than to urge you to read it. Trust me and just read it. The premise is that if we live an average length life, we will get to live four thousand weeks. Knowing we have limited time, we tend to try to get as much done as possible by lifehacking our way to better productivity. But why do we never feel satisfied or accomplished?! Four Thousand Weeks tackles this by dismantling our need to “get everything done.” I listened to the audiobook and found myself crying at the beginning because it spoke to me on such a deep level! HIGHLY recommend.


2.75/5 Stars

Ugh. Another disappointing book by one of my favorite authors. I blindly got this book because I love Brene Brown, but I ended up hating the format. It also took me forever to get through because it was so dry and almost monotonous. It felt like reading an encyclopedia on emotions. Some sections were poignant, but just when I found myself wanting more, it was already onto the next emotion. I didn’t feel like I had enough time to really sink my teeth into any one emotion since each section was so brief.

JOAN IS OKAY by Weike Wang

3/5 Stars

Joan Is Okay was so-so for me. I can see why people really enjoyed it, and I did overall. But the writing style just wasn’t for me. It was more character driven than plot-driven. It had a little bit of an “Elenor Oliphant” main character, a workaholic doctor at a NYC hospital. The best parts were the main characters musings on being a Chinese-American and trying to belong within her family and two different cultures.


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100% agree with Wish You Were Here! It didn’t feel like a Jodi book at all (besides the twist but it wasn’t a good one, lol!). I was disappointed.


For atlas of the heart— the most useful thing I got from it was that envy stems from fear not anger. This was really useful for me. (At least I think it said that? I tried to find it in the book but it’s too hard to re locate it).

Courtney Jenney

Ooh, interesting! I personally haven’t been a fan of seeing books or tv shows include pandemic-related content. I typically reach for a book or put on a show for an escape – something DIFFERENT than what I’m currently living. I’m sure they’re just trying to stay relevant… but it definitely isn’t my cup of tea!

Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Oh gosh, I don’t think I’m ready to read or watch any pandemic-related media yet! Definitely want to get to Empire of Pain sometime this year though (: My favourite reads this month were Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho and Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura!


I had loved Wish You Were Here, although it was definitely a lot at times.

My first time reading something that acknowledges the pandemic. I’m definitely curious how books will talk about it… or just not… going forward.