I am really proud of my reading this month because I did something I have been putting off for years. I finally read A Little Life! (My review below…) But I had been putting it off for really one reason, which I’m not proud to admit but here it goes anyway. I didn’t want to commit to reading a really long book because I thought it would mean I read fewer books for the year. I know, I know. Send me to literary jail or whatever.  Guilty as charged. At the beginning of the year though, I thought, “Why am I doing this? You want to read the book, read the book.” And I did and not only that, but I’m glad I did. Anyway, if you need a sign to pick up the book you’ve been putting off for whatever reason, here’s your sign to pick it up and dive in.

TRUTH & BEAUTY by Ann Patchett

5/5 Stars

In December I read Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy and I wanted to follow it up with Truth & Beauty, which is Ann Patchett’s memoir about her friendship with Lucy. I think to get a full picture, you need to read both books… I’d be curious what I would have thought about Truth and Beauty had I read it first. I think I had a much better appreciation for Lucy and why Lucy was the way she was because I had read her memoir first. Female friendships are always so interesting to me and I appreciated Ann Patchett’s candor about her unique, beautiful, and challenging relationship with Lucy. I love Ann Patchett– she’s my favorite author– and I just love the way she writes. This was no exception.

SOLITO by Javier Zamora

5/5 Stars

This is already a front runner for best book of the year. (In fact, I will be shocked if it isn’t my #1 book come December….) Absolutely phenomenal. In Solito, Javier Zamora details his journey as a 10-year-old boy migrating from El Salvador into the United States to reunite with his parents. I truly have no words for how incredible this book is. When I read that Javier Zamora is a poet, it didn’t surprise me. The book has a natural rhythm and the cadence naturally changes as your follow his harrowing journey. I simply could not put this down.

THE GOOD LIFE by Robert Waldinger + Marc Schulz

4/5 Stars

January felt like a good time to read about how to have a good life. This is a self-helpish book about the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness. I am glad I read it and learned some new things, though as a frequent reader of books like this, not everything felt like brand new information. You could probably read a summary of the book and feel just as content, but I’m still glad I read the whole thing. The chapters that stuck with me the most were about relationships– it made me rethink some things within my own marriage (in a positive way, haha that sounds a little grim!) and also with friendships. Who am I spending time with, what am I receiving from each relationship, how can I deepen relationships with the people who matter most to me.

A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara

3.75/5 Stars

I see this book pop up all the time from readers. I had heard it’s tragic and devastating to read…. and with the various trigger warnings I had seen (of which there are many and I almost think you need to assume there is a trigger warning for just about everything), I had a general idea of what to expect going into the book. I have a lot to say about this book and also, now that I’m finished with it, I want to say nothing about it, too.

The major positive for me: It was highly “readable.” I think I assumed that since it was super long, it would be a more difficult book to get through. It was difficult content-wise, but the writing was great and I found myself almost immediately swept up into the novel. At times, I actually couldn’t put it down. I read the book way faster than I anticipated, mostly because I was reading it in hour-long chunks because I’d get so engrossed in it.

The negatives? It was longer than it needed to be, in my opinion, and felt more like trauma porn than an interesting novel. There’s a lot of suffering for the sake of suffering (and then even more suffering) and I just didn’t find the story remotely…. believable? I also grew incredibly frustrated with the various supporting characters, who despite a lot of airtime, never quite felt more than two-dimensional to me.

With that said, I’m glad I read it if only to say that I read it and so that I know what people are talking about when they said they read it. Again, go ahead and send me to literary jail… guilty as charged.

THE MEASURE by Nikki Erlick

3.5/5 Stars

The Measure opens with everyone in the world receiving a box with a string inside. The string length indicates how long you will live. The world finds itself divided between “long-stringers” and “short-stringers.” Should you look and see how long you’ll live? Or should you not open the box? What happens if someone in your life looks at your string without your knowledge? Would you change your big life decisions if you knew you would die soon… or what if you knew you wouldn’t die soon? I found the story both boring and thought provoking. The premise was interesting and could lead to good in-depth conversations (would be good for a book club!), but the actual characters and plot kind of left something to be desired to me.


3/5 Stars

I really liked Lauren Graham’s other memoir Talking As Fast As I Can and I also really loved her novel. This one though…. it didn’t do it for me. I almost think the best chapters could have just been folded into her other memoir or something. Or shared in a podcast interview… or written in an Instagram caption. Not sure if it was worthy of a whole book. BUT, if you’re a Lauren Graham fan you might still love hearing her voice and some of her fun stories again.


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Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Adding Solito to my TBR! My favourite read of Jan was easily Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter, and now I will be rewatching ALL the rom coms in Feb :’) A Little Life is one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read and also one of the most devastating. I was actually thinking of rereading it some time this year!


Meanwhile I like longer reads, because the hardest part for me is starting a book! I always struggle to pick what to read next, and sometimes end up taking days/weeks off in between books. So if I have a longer book going then I always know what I’m reading, and like being able to dip in for just a few minutes without the pressure of picking the next book, haha


Yes! I’m in the middle of the Wheel of Time series and have been for months. I love being able to stay with the characters and watch them develop AND always know what book is next.


I also hesitate to read long books because it will decrease my read books for the year! I try to read them at the end/beginning of the year for that reason which is so dumb! I want to read Fall of Giants but its like 1,000 pages. Maybe this year!

Jules @ The Literary Lifestyle

I love Truth and Beauty SO MUCH and you have me intrigued because I still have not yet read Autobiography of a Face. I felt ok about Lucy having just read the one. I knew she had a lot of demons and that a lot of people you love can also bring complex things to a relationship. As for Solito, I’m wondering if you read or listened? I struggled with the audio so I think I may grab the book based on your glowing review.


I feel so validated by your takes on A Little Life and The Measure!

A good alternative to A Little Life is The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne, a lot of similar themes but the narrator is so funny and makes horrible situations a little lighter. I can’t remember if you’ve read that (came out like 5 years ago!) but thought I might mention for any other readers.

The Measure’s characters fell flat for me as well, and parts of it just felt so cheesy. I ended up DNFing it because I just wasn’t invested, despite the hook of the story being so interesting.

Adding Solito to my Libby queue right now, it sounds perfect!

And finally, on longer books – I got over that same “fear” last year as well and was met with great rewards! It’s almost the opposite for me now, I am seeming to only really LOVE longer books. My most recent 5 stars have been American Wife, Invisible Child, Demon Copperhead, and Age of Vice…and all were over 500 pages. Maybe a coincidence, or maybe just my current reading preferences.

Thank you for sharing with us Carly!


Katie, do you recommend A Little Life? I loooooved Heart’s Invisible Furies, it is one of my favorites. But I’m too scared to take the plunge on A Little Life because of how depressing it sounds.


I honestly don’t think I do recommend A Little Life. What I WOULD recommend you read if you loved THIF (it’s my favorite book of all time!) is Demon Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver!


Somehow both boring and thought provoking is so accurate for The Measure, lol! I think it’s a really interesting premise but the characters were a bit one dimensional. Definitely a good one to discuss, though!


Thank you so much for your honesty about not wanting to read “A little Life” because it was over 300 pages. I also have a Good Reads reading challenge which is much lower than yours. And even so, I’ve started to do the same thing as you: looking at page length so I can make make my reading goal. That criteria cuts me off from reading some books of true value. Time to rethink my reading goals. Thank you!