10 Books To Read If You're Feeling Romantic


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Valentines Day is at once the nicest and most terrible of holidays. It’s lovely to see people expressing their love for others and sharing special moments, but also unbelievably irritating to see social media feeds filled with cutesy PDA photos and posts. I usually try to avoid my phone as much as possible on V-Day because I just can’t stand the overwhelming influx of romantic captions and snapshots.

If you’re like me, you’re probably looking for something to distract you from social media on the most romantic day of the year. Whether you’re married, single, in a relationship, or somewhere in between, there’s definitely a book for your situation, and I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of great romantic reads for the season of love.

This post requires a little disclaimer for anyone hoping to find only pleasant books about love, because that isn’t really what this is all about. The books in this list, while definitely thematically about love, attempt to show love from a range of angles — the good, the bad, the ugly and the confusing. They aren’t all happy-go-lucky reads that will leave you feeling giddy, but my hope is that they will make you think critically about how love is portrayed in the media and in writing.

Now let’s dive in…


Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

What romance section would be complete without a story about an extramarital affair? Sally Rooney’s debut novel is just the story to fill that void, revolving around a 21-year-old aspiring writer who becomes romantically involved with a B-list actor while also grappling with an endometriosis diagnosis. It’s an eye-opening story about youth, naïveté, and the repercussions of one persons’ actions.

Publisher: Hogarth

Read my full review here.

 

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

A young woman in New York City turns up to her birthday dinner to find Audrey Hepburn, her deceased father, a former university professor, her best friend and her ex-fiance sitting at the table waiting for her. The group of people make up a list she wrote years before when asked who she would invite to dinner if she could invite anyone in the world. Over the course of the evening she, with the help of her companions, explore what went wrong to cause her engagement to fall apart, and she learns to accept what has happened in her life to bring her to where she is.

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Read my full review here.

 

On Chesil Beach By Ian McIwan

This Booker Prize-nominated novella explores the more cringe-worthy side of romance and the awkwardness that can unfold between two people who are unversed in intimacy. Young and newly married couple Edward and Florence are spending their honeymoon on the Dorset shore and, despite being deeply in love, their drastically different backgrounds make physical closeness challenging. As they prepare to consummate their relationship, things start to get lost in translation.

Publisher: Jonathan Cape

 

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally

Well know actors and real-life married couple Nick Offerman (of Parks and Recreation fame) and Megan Mullally (of Will & Grace fame) share the story of their romance in their joint memoir The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. You’ll learn about their love for puzzles and audiobooks, their obsession with dogs, and the complicated realities of maintaining a relationship amidst the craziness of fame and the demanding work schedules of acting. This book is uplifting, entertaining and very cute.

Publisher: Dutton Books.

Read my full review here. 

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne are from the same rural village in Ireland, and despite the differences between them, when they are offered places at a university in Dublin they discover they have an unshakable connection. Over the following few years their relationship is challenged by their drastically different economic standing, the politics at Trinity College, and Marianne’s string of increasingly bad boyfriends. A story about love, friendship, and division, Normal People is a great novel for lovers of modern romance.

Publisher: Faber & Faber

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hollywood darlings, fleeting marriages, dramatic deaths and whirlwind romance — The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo really has it all. In a story that spans decades and continents, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the story of actress Evelyn Hugo who, over the course of an illustrious film career, burns through seven marriages while keeping the story of her real love a secret from the public. Read my full review here.

Publisher: Atria Books

Read my full review here.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It wouldn’t be a list of love stories if I didn’t include this Austen classic. Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest love stories ever told, centering around Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman in 19th century England undergoing a profound personal transformation as she falls in love with a wealthy and emotionally cloistered man named Mr. Darcy. Dealing with superficiality, wealth divide, and the role of nobility, Pride and Prejudice is not only the ultimate romantic tale, but also one of literatures’ true shining stars.

Publisher: Modern Library


 

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

As if love isn’t already complicated enough, imagine having a husband who could up and vanish without any notice and not return for months. The Time Traveler’s Wife is a masterpiece of a novel, telling the story of two people who, despite being deeply in love, struggle to have a life together because of a rare disorder that causes one of them to jump around in time. It’s a story about two people who, under the most abnormal of circumstances, simply want to have a normal life. It was also made into a great movie starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams.

Publisher: Zola Books


 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

With one of the most famous opening lines in literature, Rebecca is probably one of the greatest love-meets-psychological-thriller stories of all time. A young woman working woman is in Monte Carlo when she is swept off her feet by dashing widower Maxim de Winter. She accepts his rushed marriage proposal and returns with him to Manderley, the massive country estate where he lives with his daughter from his first marriage. Despite initially feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, odd events soon make the young heroine wonder if some evil forces are at work attempting to force her out of Manderley, and even begins to question if the spirit of Maxim’s dead wife Rebecca are responsible.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

 

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

What happens when love is lost - when the people who make up your world are suddenly gone? Acclaimed journalist and writer Joan Didion reflects on these questions in her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, which details the year after the sudden death of her husband and prolonged illness and eventual death of her daughter. Despite being heavily focused on loss, The Year of Magical Thinking is inarguably a book about love, and perhaps about love in its most vulnerable form. Didion is a beautiful writer and gives voice to the grief so many people feel when they lose a loved one.

Publisher: Knopf

What To Read In February

 
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January was an exciting month for book releases, with instant hits like The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker and Looker by Laura Sims pleasing readers around the world. February is set to be just as interesting. A long list of thrillers, memoirs, and literary fiction novels are set to hit shelfs in the upcoming month, and here are my top recommendations for which ones you should check out:

Disclaimer: I have added purchase links for these books on Amazon through my affiliate account. If you click through and make an order, I will make a small commission. This income helps me to run my site and keep it up to date.


The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict

Synopsis: A woman returns home from a weekend getaway to find a strange man has moved into her house. Desperate to get back to her normal life, she becomes obsessed with getting him out. As the days drag on and he continues to inhabit her space, she begins to wonder if the strange events unfolding before her are related to the death of her sister many years before.

Read my full review of The Stranger Inside here.

Publisher: Mulholland Books

Release Date: February 5th

Purchase link:


Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Synopsis: Charlotte’s life is turned upside down when her best friend Harriet’s child goes missing under her supervision. Despite hating Charlotte for her role in the disappearance, Harriet realizes that she may not be able to reunite with her child without her former best friends’ help.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Release Date: February 5th

Purchase Link:


Remember Me? by D.E. White

Synopsis: Fifteen years after leaving her hometown in Wales, detective Ava Cole returns to make peace with the event that caused her to flee in the first place: the mysterious death of her best friend Ellen. Reuniting with a group of friends from her youth, Ava realizes those around her may know more about Ellen’s death than they’ve been letting on. What Ava started receiving strange messages and threats she has to accept that she hasn’t really left her past behind at all.

Publisher: HQ Digital

Release Date: February 6th

Purchase Link:


The Unwinding Of The Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams

Synopsis: Born blind in Vietnam, Julie Yip-Williams barely survived childhood. Against the odds she and her family escape the political upheaval of the 1970s and fled to America, where Julie met a surgeon who partially restored her vision. Years later she graduated from Harvard Law School and began a miraculous career, only to find out at age 37 she had terminal cancer. A mother of two daughters, Williams recounts the horrors of being young and sick, and considers her life through a lens she never imagined having to look through. The Unwinding Of The Miracle is a memoir that sharply contrasts life and death, and explores the unpredictability of the world we live in.

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: February 5th

Purchase Link:


The Moroccan Girl by Charles Cumming

Synopsis: When bestselling author Kit Carradine is approached by MI6 to complete a straightforward task for his country while attending a literary festival in Morocco, he immediately takes on the job. But when Kit finds himself on the tail of Lara Bartok, leader of a violent revolutionary society, he realizes he may be in over his head. Packed with action, adventure and unlikely friendship, The Moroccan Girl is a refreshing take on the spy novel.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 12th

Purchase Link:


The Birds That Stay by Ann Lambert

Synopsis: A reclusive elderly woman is found dead in her home in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. Chief Inspector Romeo Leduc takes on the case and immediately suspects a biker gang in the area is involved. When Marie, one of the murdered woman’s’ neighbours, comes forward with surprising information, the case is linked to a terrible crime that took place in 1970s Montreal and then to one even further back during the Second World War. The Bird That Stay is the first novel is what promises to be a gripping crime series from author Ann Lambert.

Publisher: Second Story Press

Release Date: February 19th

Purchase Link:


The Happiness Project by Pippa James

Synopsis: When 41-year-old Alison’s beloved mother in law passes away, her perfectly planned life is turned upside down. Along with two friends, Alison creates a Happiness Project that will keep her mother in law’s spirit alive and force her to step outside of her comfort zone and meticulous preparation. A funny, charming and quirky novel about love, loss and second chances.

Publisher: Bookouture

Release Date: February 12th

Purchase Link:

Books Being Made Into Movies In 2019


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I’m a sucker for a good film adaptation. To me there’s nothing more exciting than seeing one of my favourite books played out on the big – or small – screen. I remember the intense anticipation I had as I watched the trailers for Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train, and that same feeling has returned this year as excitement begins to mount for major adaptations. Some of my favourite books are being adapted for the screen this year, so I thought I’d share a list so you can start planning when you’ll need to hit the theatre. And for anyone feeling the emptiness of waiting for Big Little Lies and Game of Thrones to return to television, I’ve also included a bonus upcoming television series at the bottom!


Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Premise: Eccentric Seattle mom and former architect Bernadette Branch goes missing before a planned family trip to Antarctica. Desperate to discern the whereabouts of her mother, teenager Bee Branch begins collecting Bernadette’s correspondences from the preceding months and patching together a timeline. What unfolds is the story of a brilliantly intelligent and larger-than-life woman. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: March 22 2019 (USA)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig

Director: Richard Linklater


Devil In The White City by Erik Larson

Premise: The true story of a real-life serial killer who terrorized Chicago as the city prepared for the 1893 World Fair. As H.H. Holmes constructs a grisly castle to hide his crimes, the fair’s designers are working tirelessly to create an event the world won’t be able to forget.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio

Director: Martin Scorsese


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Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Premise: In a deep investigative dive, reporter John Carreyrou uncovers the truth behind one of Silicon Valley’s most promising biotech startups. The story that unravels through his investigation is one of fraud, lies, and secrets, and reveals the true nature of a young female CEO who promised to revolutionize blood testing. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Abi Beaux

Director: Adam McKay


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Premise: Don Tillman has meticulously planned every day of his life, right down to the meals he eats and the route he takes to get to work. His socially awkward behaviour and inability to connect with woman have resulted in a concern that he will never find a good partner. In a bid to find a girlfriend, Don creates a survey to eliminate imperfect matches. Just as he thinks his scientific process is starting to work, in walks Rosie, a strange woman who want to use his expertise in genetics to help her find her real father. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: May 10, 2019

Starring: Ryan Reynolds (rumoured).

Director: Ben Taylor


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The Woman In The Window by AJ Finn

Premise: An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York becomes obsessed with her new neighbours and through her spying accidentally witnesses an event not meant to be seen. She quickly becomes wrapped up in a terrible crime and finds herself wondering if she’s losing her sanity. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: October 4, 2019

Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore

Director: Joe Wright


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Premise: In 1860s Massachusetts, the March sisters endure illness, poverty, life-changing romance, and familial discord all through the love they have for one another. Based on the literary classic, this will be the eighth adaptation of Alcott’s 1868 novel.

Release Date: December 25, 2019

Starring: Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, James Norton, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep

Director: Greta Gerwig


It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario

Premise: Based on award-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario’s memoir, It’s What I Do follows her frightening and inspiring adventures through warzones, across continents, and through the hardships women face when choosing between love and work.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence.

Director: Steven Spielberg.


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The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Premise: A mommy’s group in New York City are bonded by a horrific crime. During a night out one of their children goes missing, and it’s possible one of them is involved in the kidnapping. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Kerry Washington.

Director: A director hasn’t been definitively announced, but producer Amy Pascal (Spiderman and James Bond), is attached to the project. Kerry Washington is also set to produce.


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Premise: A boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As he grows up he becomes involved in a series of increasingly bizarre activities, including art forgery.

Release Date: October 11, 2019

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort

Director: John Crowley


Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann

Premise: When a series of murders wrack the wealthy community of Oklahoma’s Osage people in the 1920s, the FBI takes on its first real investigation. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced, but filming is scheduled to start in spring 2019.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro (rumoured).

Director: Martin Scorsese


TELEVISION: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Premise: Two sisters vie to be star of a reality television series about female entrepreneurs. When one sister ends up dead, every member of the cast is scrutinized for their possible involvement. Read my full book review here.

Release Date: Unannounced.

Starring: Unannounced.

Director: A director hasn’t been announced, but the series is set to be produced by Bruna Papandrea, who worked on Big Little Lies. Papandrea is also attached to the film adaptation of Knoll’s first novel, The Luckiest Girl Alive.


If you want to read these books before they hit the screen, here are Amazon links to buy them.

Disclaimer: If you purchase through these links I will make a small profit as part of an agreement with Amazon. These purchases help me to keep the content of my website the best it can be.

Writers To Watch Out For In 2019


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It’s January; the month of getting excited about things that will slowly lose their allure over the course of the year. Diets, fitness regimes and online shopping bans will fall to the wayside for more than one individual, but if there’s one thing to be – and stay – excited for, it’s the long list of incredible books being released over the next twelve months.

At the beginning of each month I’ll be posting a list of the most exciting books coming out over the next four weeks. You can read my January edition here. Since I often get access to advance copies and digital review copies of upcoming books, my goal is to keep my readers up to date on what’s being released and whether or not they should care. Today’s post follows in the same vein, but rather than focusing on exciting new releases, I want to turn everyone’s attention to some of the most promising writers we should be watching for in 2019.

These writers (who all happen to be women) are so unbelievably talented and inspiring, and their work has really connected with me in the past. They all have upcoming books, and their works cover a range of genres and topics, meaning there’s something for everyone in this list.  

1.       Jia Tolentino. By the age of 27, Jia Tolentino had already earned an MFA, been a deputy editor at Jezebel, and landed a staff writing job at The New Yorker. Her ability to turn complex thoughts into clear words is unparalleled, and she has forged a place for herself as the voice of a generation (although from her Twitter she seems like too laid back of a person to ever think of herself that way). Her writings have covered topics like the Me Too movement and on-campus politics, and she is, in my opinion, one of the best book reviewers out there. Her first book, a collection of essays called Trick Mirror, will hit shelves in August.  

2.       Kate Winkler Dawson. How could I write an author round-up without including true crime queen Kate Winkler Dawson? Her first book Death In The Air explored the Great London Smog and the crimes of a notorious serial killer. In a 2018 interview she told me her second book, American Sherlock, is in the works and will cover the career of one of America’s first forensic scientists.

3.       Laura Sims. An accomplished poet and now promising author, Laura Sims is forging quite the name for herself in the literary world. Her first novel Looker, a character study of a woman losing her mind called, sparked a battle between publishing companies, and reviews have been incredibly positive so far. Sims has beautiful style, a unique voice, and the ability to really get under her readers’ skin.

4.       Karen Thompson Walker. After the success of her first sci-fi-meets-coming-of-age novel The Age Of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker is back in 2018 with a second natural disaster story. Her sophomore novel, called The Dreamers, tells the story of a small college town overrun by a mysterious illness that causes its sufferers to fall into a deep sleep and experience life-altering dreams. Walker’s writing is through provoking and contemplative in a way I’ve never encountered before.

5.       Harriet Alida Lye. It’s no secret Harriet Alida Lye was one of my favorite authors of 2018. Her debut novel The Honey Farm made my “Best Books of 2018” list and gave me a serious reading hangover. Lye announced via Twitter she is in the process of writing her second book, this time a memoir called Natural Killer about her experiences dealing with leukemia as a kid. Her beautiful literary style and unique voice are sure to make this book an incredible read.

6.       Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. The hilarious duo behind the hit podcast My Favorite Murder sent fans into a tizzy in 2018 when they announced they’d written a book. The two women, who have dealt with anxiety, eating disorders, severe health problems and addiction, say the book is a memoir-style backgrounder on their lives and the experiences which led them to become obsessed with true crime.

7.       Sally Rooney. Already a Man Booker nominee before the age of 30, Irish-born Sally Rooney is set to continue making waves in 2019. After an essay on her experience as a competitive debater attractive significant literary attention, Rooney released her debut novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. The book was an instant success, and has led to Rooney being described as the first great millennial writer and an author for the digital age. Her second book, Normal People, hits shelves in Canada later this spring. Young, talented, and unfailingly original, Sally Rooney is definitely someone to look out for.

Thank you for reading this post! Comment below with some of your favourite authors so I can check out their work. I always love hearing from readers and adding more books to my to-be-read list!

10 Longform Articles To Read This Month

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As a journalist, a huge part of my job is staying up to date on news. I don’t just need to track the stories that are breaking locally, but I need to make sure I understand bigger ongoing stories happening around the world. I find reading news articles and longform journalism to be incredibly informative and interesting, and over the past year in particular I’ve tried to incorporate it more and more into my reading routine.

As a young person who has just graduated from university and who has rent and bills to pay, it can be tricky to carve out a budget for subscribing to news outlets. I subscribe to The New Yorker and The Economist currently, and I am constantly checking Rolling Stone and GQ for newly published pieces. Being a journalist, I see the value of news and I’m willing to pay for it when necessary, but of course there are so many scenarios in which people can’t afford to do that.

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I want to start curating lists every month or so of the best and most interesting longform articles on the internet. My lists will include a range of topics, publications, and journalists and will hopefully offer something new and educational for you to read.

Longform is excellent for anyone who loves to read but might not have time to commit to a full on book. There are articles about pretty much everything and anything you can imagine.

Before I get started I want to give a little shout out to a great website that compiles and curates longform journalism. It is very aptly named “Longform.com” and is one of my absolute favourite places to find great articles. Check it out if you have the time.

Now, without further ado, here are 10 articles to read:

For true crime enthusiasts: “Covering the Cops: The World of Miami’s Top Crime Reporter” by Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker February 1986. A deep dive into the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edna Buchanan, lead crime reporter with the Miami Herald. Buchanan is a total badass and a kick-ass journalist. Her story is amazing and this article is absolutely riveting.

If you’re interested in politics: “Children of Ted” by John H. Richardson, New York Magazine December 2018. This article has something for true crime readers and political junkies alike. Ten years after committing his last devastating crime, Ted Kaczynski - more popularly known as The Unabomber - has become an unlikely spiritual leader to a new generation who see has writings and prophecies as something more than just the works of a madman.

For anyone interested in health/wellness: “I’m Still Here” by Clancy Martin in The Huffington Post, December 2018. This incredibly brave piece chronicles the authors’ struggles with suicidal thoughts and learning to cope with a disease that is misunderstood and misrepresented all too often. Although it may not be what some would consider a traditional “health and wellness” article, it offers incredible, profound, and painful insight into a health problem that so many people around us live with. This article is a true example of how journalists and writers can connect with others by telling their own stories.

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For sports enthusiasts: “Friday Night Lights” by Buzz Bissinger, Sports Illustrated September 1990. This is what one might call “an oldy but a goody”. It’s the story of a high school football team in Texas and how one sport was able to bring together people from very different backgrounds.

If you’re interested in film/television: “My Not Top Ten Television List” by Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker December 2018. I truly believe The New Yorker has some of the best cultural critics in the business. Their writing is incredibly insightful, biting and sometimes so funny that it’ll make you laugh out loud. If you’re trying to decide if a show is worth watching or a book is worth reading these are the people you want to turn to for advice. Emily Nussbaum, the magazine’s television critic, is amazing. This article is her take on the best works in television in 2018. It’s sure to make you laugh and you might just walk away with a new show to watch.

For writers: “American Ghost Writer” by Sean Patrick Cooper, The Baffler December 2018. Ghost writing - which is when a writer takes on the task of writing a famous person’s memoir or novel for them - is a very common practice. There are large-scale companies that offer ghost writing services and the market for undercover writers is massive. This piece explores what it’s like to ghost write.

If you love photography: “Let A Hundred McMansions Bloom” by George Steinmetz in The New York Times September 2014. I’ve been really trying to incorporate looking at and reading through photo essays into my routine. I think they’re so beautiful and offer something so unique that couldn’t possibly be explained in words. I found this one, which is about Chinese rice field being converted into luxury villas, to be quite visually stunning and fascinating.

If you like science: “The Squid Hunter” by David Grann, The New Yorker May 2004. This splendid article chronicles one scientists’ obsession with finding and studying a giant squid. It’s whimsical, emotional, beautifully written, and will teach you more than you ever expected to know about one of the most mysterious and mythical creatures on earth.

For tech junkies: “Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche” by Laurie Penny, Breaker December 2018. I found myself very unexpectedly laughing aloud at the absolute ridiculousness and brilliance of this article. Feminist writer Laurie Penny spends four days on a cruise ship with a group of people who have heavily cashed in on the bitcoin craze. What she learns about them is funny, bizarre, and more than a little troubling.

For fashion lovers: “The itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, very litigious bikini” by Katherine Rosman, The Star December 2018. This is my favourite article of the bunch. Katherine Rosman investigates the origins of a crochet bikini that has made millions of dollars for its proclaimed creator. What she discovers is that the woman who claims to have designed the bikini may have actually stolen it from an artisan in Brazil.

Best Books To Gift For the Holidays

The holidays are quickly approaching, and I’m sure there are a lot of people like me who tend to leave gift shopping until the last minute. If money is tight and you have limited time, books are a wonderful way to show your loved ones you appreciate them. Obviously not everyone is a book person or reading fanatic, but I can say with near certainty that there is a book for everyone.

In a few days I’ll be sharing a list of book-related gifts for the real book fanatics in your life, but today I wanted to share a general list of books that will appeal to both intense readers and those who rarely pick up a book. Without further ado, here are the most giftable books of the year:


For political junkies and activists: American War by Omar El Akkad or The Red Word by Sarah Henstra. While these books are wildly different, they both centre around politics and divisiveness. One does it in the form of portraying a near-future America that has been divided by a civil war, the other by taking the reader back in time to a college campus in the 1990s.

Both novels have won awards and been celebrated for their unflinching depictions of the problems in society. Read my review of American War here and of The Red Word here.


For nature lovers: The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye. In her stunning debut novel, Harriet Alida Lye takes us on a journey to a remote honey farm in Northern Ontario. Her main character, a young aspiring writer, works on the farm in exchange for room and board, and over the course of a summer begins to realize that something sinister is going on around her. Read my review here.


For science and business lovers: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. Journalist John Carreyrou uncovers the secrets behind one of Silicon Valley’s most promising biotech startup companies, and the lengths it’s CEO went to to protect herself and her business partners. A nonfiction story that reads like a thriller, Bad Blood is an inside look at the bad side of business. Read my review here.


For the romantics: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones or The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. Praised by Oprah Winfrey herself, An American Marriage tells the story of a newlywed couple torn apart by the American criminal justice system. It’s heart-wrenching, devastating and absolutely beautiful. Read my review here.

The Dinner List tells the story of a young woman who shows up to her birthday dinner only to find Audrey Hepburn, her deceased father, her college philosophy professor, her best friend, and her ex-boyfriend waiting for her. It’s funny, heart-warming and nostalgic. Read my review here.


For anyone who needs a bit of motivation: Educated by Tara Westover. In the standout memoir of the year, Tara Westover describes her childhood in the mountains of Idaho where she was raised by Mormon survivalist parents who wouldn’t allow her to attend school. Despite her start in life, Westover managed to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge and forged a life for herself completely different from the one her family had envisioned for her. Read my review here.


For true crime addicts: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara. Michelle McNamara never got to see the payoff from her deep investigation into the identity of the elusive Golden State Killer. Published after McNamara tragically passed away, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark is a comprehensive look at a serial killer who terrorized California for years. Only weeks after this book was released the killer was finally caught. Read my review here.


For the outdoors-man: The Line That Held Us by David Joy. In this Appalachian noir thriller, a man becomes intricately involved in a revenge plot when he helps his best friend cover up an accidental crime. This novel is about familial love, revenge, poverty and human judgment. Read my review here.


For the comedians: My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh or Transcription by Kate Atkinson. In My Year of Rest and Relaxation literary star Ottessa Moshfegh introduces us to a 24-year-old New York City woman who hates the world so much that she decides to sleep for a year. It a hilarious, vulgar novel about apathy, mental illness, and human nature. Read my review here.

Transcription is about an 18-year-old woman in London who is recruited into the MI-5 during the Second World War. What unfolds next is a series of bizarre, funny, and exciting events that shape the lives of everyone involves for years afterwards. Read my review here.


For thrill-seekers: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. I kind of thought we were done with the Gone Girl spinoffs. How many novels can be written about unreliable female narrators? Then I picked up The Woman In The Window, which tells the story of an agoraphobic woman who witnesses something she shouldn’t, and suddenly I remembered why this genre is so successful. Read my review here.


For anyone who likes the paranormal: Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. This quirky, spooky, and emotional adaptation of Joseph Fink’s hit podcast will offer readers the best kind of escape: one that drags them into an all-consuming mystery. Alice Isn’t Dead follows Keisha, whose wife went missing months before, as she drives a truck across the country in search of her wife. What she discovers is a massive conspiracy that will totally change her life. Read my review here.

10 Books To Treat Your Wanderlust

10 Books To Treat Your Wanderlust

As the colder months approach, I’ve taken to using books as my escape. Since I can’t book a flight to a tropical destination, I read novels and non-fiction about adventure, travel, and self-discovery.

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My First Audiobook Experience

Over the past few years I’ve had several people suggest that I start listening to audiobooks. In all honesty, I wasn’t a big fan of the idea. For me, the pleasure of reading comes from holding a book in my hands and flipping the pages. I enjoy the way a physical book can distract me from other things going on around me. I figured that audiobooks wouldn’t entertain me in the same way or feel as satisfying to complete. 

But when I was listening to my favourite podcast My Favorite Murder a few weeks ago and heard an ad for the Amazon audiobook app Audible, I figured I’d give it a try. Besides, who am I to pass up a free trial on anything? 

So, using my MFM code, I downloaded the app and two free audiobooks. I chose two books that I already had hard copies of from the local library (just in case I hated the audiobook versions) and I got started right away. 

I listened to Coffin Road by Peter May first. You can see my review for that book here. It’s a very enjoyable book with a great plot and interesting, unexpected twists and turns. 

During my first hour or so of listening, I had a hard time staying focused on the voice telling me the story through my headphones. Tiny little things would distract me and I would have to rewind and start over. I gave up on that first listening session pretty quickly. 

The next day I decided to try listening again as I walked to work, and I found it easier to follow along. This became my routine. I would walk and listen every day. Eventually I got through the entire book. 

Here are a few things that I learned along the way:

-          Audiobooks are probably fantastic for people who commute to work or spend a lot of time in cars. Since I don’t have a car, I can’t say this for sure. But listening made my walks to and from work more enjoyable, so I can imagine it would make car rides more bearable as well. 

-          Audiobooks are not ideal for people who are easily distracted. I’m so used to listening to pre-made playlists and not really paying attention to the music or lyrics. Having to constantly remind myself to listen and pay attention was a little frustrating at times. 

-          The kind of book you pick to listen to REALLY matters. The reason I stuck it out and listened to the whole book was because I wanted to know the ending. I was engaged enough in the story that I didn’t want to give up. 

-          Audiobooks (at least to me) aren’t as satisfying as reading a physical book. I didn’t feel the sense of accomplishment when I finished listening to Coffin Road that I normally do when I finish reading a book. 

-          Audible is a worthwhile investment for anyone with a busy life who wants to stay engaged in the literary world. Being able to fit your book consumption into everyday life while you walk, drive, or exercise is great. Audible offers that opportunity to you. While I may prefer reading hard copies, I also have to admit that I am blessed with the time to do that. I don’t have a family to look after when I’m done work and on weekends, so I’m able to budget in time for reading. For anyone who can’t do that, give Audible a try. It may just get you back into books! 

I’m currently in the middle of listening to my second audiobook (Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath) and I can already say I’m better adjusted to listening and paying attention now. I’m finding it a lot easier to follow and I haven’t had to rewind as often. Stay tuned for a review of that book soon! 

Overall, I’m happy I gave audiobooks a try, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone who doesn’t have the time for reading hard copies.

Mother's Day Gifts for Book Loving Moms

Mother’s day is quickly approaching, and I’m here to help. Don’t let this be another year of last minute gift-shopping and flower ordering. Take a look at the list of creative, book-related gifts that I’ve put together. 

Individual Books: 

A great book is always a good gift. It’s a nice way for your mom to sit back and relax and immerse herself in a story. Here are a couple of current, interesting suggestions: 

1.       The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye. You can check out my review of this psychological thriller and drama here. It’s the kind of story that you really lose yourself in, and it’s a perfect spring read. It’s beautiful, strange, and unique.

2.       Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman. If your mom enjoyed Big Little Lies as much as mine did, than this is the perfect gift for her. It’s upbeat, it’s genuinely funny, and it’s just dramatic enough to be very entertaining. Check out my review here.

3.       It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario. This book is all about love, dedication, motherhood, and the hard choices working women have to make. It is inspiring and powerful and will make you feel strong. I’ve already recommending it to my mom. Read my review here.

4.       One Day Closer by Lorinda Stewart. Full disclosure, I haven’t read this book yet. It’s on my list for this month, and it’s sitting patiently on my desk waiting for me to finish everything else in the queue. BUT this book is about a mother who goes through something no mother should ever have to experience: her child is kidnapped. It’s about belief, love, and an incredible woman who would stop at nothing to have her child returned safely. 

5.        Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This book is absolutely beautiful. It is a sweeping, epic family drama set over the course of decades in Korea and Japan. It is about family, motherhood, and the choices parents have to make to protect their children. See my review here.

Book Subscription Boxes: 

We've all seen pictures of Instagram models opening their fitness and beauty subscription boxes, showing off the face masks and dietary supplements that come inside. They even have subscription boxes for dog-owners that come stocked with toys and treats. It only makes sense that several smart entrepreneurs have created book subscription boxes. 

How it works: You choose how long you want to subscribe for, pay the monthly fee, and each month you get a newly released book and other goodies in the mail. You can sign up for gift subscriptions and have them sent to family and friends as well, making it a great Mother’s Day gift! 

Accoridng to my research, some of the most popular Canadian book subscription boxes are: 

-          The Bookish Box - You can choose from several different varieties of boxes. Some boxes come stocked with book-inspired gifts like mugs, tote bags, and t-shirts, as well as a book. Most prices are between $30-40 for one month. 

-          Fresh Fiction - This book subscription box gives you a lot of bang for your buck. They currently have a one time box deal that's $27.95 for a beautiful box filled with 5 to 7 print books and e-books. It's a great gift! 

And, because my parents are in the U.S., I’ll add that my recommendation for American subscription boxes would be Book of the Month. BoTM currently only ships within the United States (although I've been checking the site regularly to see if they're going to start shipping internationally any time soon). For a three-month gift subscription you pay $44.99 and your mom will get a list of books available for the month and gets to choose which she wants. The books are brand new to market, and the packaging of the boxes is beautiful. 

Audiobooks: 

My final gift suggestion is an Audible gift subscription. Audiobooks are great for busy moms. They’re portable, accessible, and entertaining. If your mom spend a lot of time traveling or commuting, or just wants something new to listen to when she exercises, this could be the perfect thing for her.

How to read more

Reading has always been my favourite hobby. It’s entertaining, it’s portable, and, when you’re reading a really good book, you can escape your life for a little while and become absorbed in something completely different. As technology has changed and e-books have become popular, it has become even easier to read constantly.

When I was eighteen and went away to university for the first time, I almost completely stopped reading for pleasure. Most of the reading I did was for school, and I was distracted by Netflix and my social life. For the next three years I struggled to get back into my old hobby. Every time I started a book I found myself not really focusing on the story or forgetting about it altogether. Holiday breaks were the only time I really felt like I had a chance to read.

It wasn’t until a semester spent abroad in my third year of university that I realized time wasn’t actually the problem. Even at my busiest I had short amounts of time that I just wasn’t using wisely. I was lucky enough to travel around Europe during that semester, and I realized that if I took all of my spare moments – the ones sitting in bus stations or waiting for a plane – reading, I could actually accomplish a lot. That was the year that I finally got back into reading.

Since then I have been making note of things I can do to improve my reading goals. Even this semester while I am busy with school and my job I'll be able to read often, and here are the tricks that make it possible: 

1.     Always have a book (or an e-book) with you. You never know when a few moments could arise that you could spend reading. I always take books to appointments and on transportation, and I always pack one in my backpack for school. Even five minutes of free time can be useful.

2.     Read things that you care about. I used to try to force myself to finish reading every book I started, even if I didn’t feel absorbed in it by the time I was a few chapters in. This slowed me down because I would struggle to finish a book that I couldn’t really care about and wouldn’t start something new, and I would go for a few weeks without reading. Now I make more of an effort to seek out books on subjects that I am interested in to lower the chances that I wouldn’t enjoy the book. I have also stopped forcing myself to try to finish things that I really, really don’t enjoy. I would rather focus on what I do enjoy.

3.     Try to take advantage of books you are reading for school or work. This one REALLY helped me. I always resented having to read for school. It annoyed me that I couldn’t choose what I was reading. Once I finally accepted it as a chance to read and learn about something new, I found that I actually enjoyed a lot of the books I was assigned for classes.

4.     Find a reading space. I currently have a chair in the corner of my bedroom surrounded by candles, my favourite photos, and a pretty wall hanging. This is a place that I 100% dedicate to reading. When I sit in my chair I don’t let myself watch television or scroll through my phone, I just read.

5.     Make it fun. Read a book at the same time as a friend so you can talk about it together. Read a book that you’ve heard is being turned into a movie or a series so that when it comes out you can be even more excited for it. Reading doesn’t have to be academic or scholarly, it can be genuinely entertaining.

6.     Set a goal. This one really helped me. When I started using Goodreads and tracking what I was reading and working towards a goal every year, I found that I was much more committed to it.

7.     Make it a habit. I had always seen people suggesting this as a way to become more physically active. The idea is that if you dedicate part of your day every single day to something, it will become normal for you. I read every night before I go to sleep (unless I am pulling an all-nighter writing a paper or having a night out with friends). It’s a good way to wind down the day and now it’s a routine. 

2017: My Year in Books

There may only be one thing that everyone agrees on about 2017: it was a crazy year. Nothing was untouched by the whirlwind of the past twelve months. Politics, conflict, and natural disasters stole many of the headlines in the past twelve months, and it doesn’t seem like any of it is going to let up as 2018 begins.

This year was also pretty intense for me personally. I finished my undergraduate degree in history and political science and moved to Jasper, Alberta for the summer. I found out I had been accepted to a Master’s program in journalism part way through the summer, and in August I packed up my things and headed out to Canada’s east coast to start school in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Working full time or attending school full time can mean giving up hobbies and activities that you enjoy. The past year I have struggled to keep up with my reading goals. I initially planned to try to read 50 books in 2017, but decided I would settle for 30 when I realized how busy work and school were going to keep me. I will also admit that television shows like Shameless, Game of Thrones, and Big Little Lies really cut into my reading time this past year.

I finished 2017 having read 33 books (a list of which can be found here https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/7902089), a number I am pretty happy with considering everything that was going on. I read some incredible books in the past 12 months, and I am happy that I focused on reading non-fiction – something that I have gotten more into in the past couple of years. I read about religion, war, crime, and a wide range of other topics, and I found that each book actually contributed to what I was learning about in school.

So, as 2018 begins and I start my new reading challenge here are some of the highlights of 2017 in terms of books! Keep in mind that these are not books that were published in 2017, but rather books that I read in 2017.

 

My 2017 Favourites:

 

Non-Fiction: Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden.

I am pretty late to the party on this one, and I’m sure plenty of people have already heard all about this book, or seen the movie that was made from it. Black Hawk Down is the story of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu when the U.S. military intervened in Somalia. The book has all of the potential to be overwhelming – there are so many characters and so much history and politics involved that at first it seems like the story may lose you. But Bowden is a master at his craft. He gives each person involved such vivid description that they are easy to keep clear and distinct in your mind. Bowden also beautifully and eloquently pierces through the fog of war and gives a clear, linear description of the battle. My personal favourite thing about Black Hawk Down was the true journalistic commitment to impartiality. Bowden explains why the U.S. was in Somalia and the motivations of the soldiers fighting there, but he also dives into the complex history that created the conditions present in 1993. Black Hawk Down doesn’t read like American propaganda, it reads like a combination of military history and horror. I was devastated when I finished this book because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find anything to follow it with.

 

Fiction: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.

Emma Donoghue is one of my favourite authors. Her previous books Room and Frog Music are some of my favourites. Room, which was adapted into a film starring Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson, managed to turn some very disturbing subject matter into a beautiful story about love and family and recovery. What I really admire about Emma Donoghue is that she doesn’t shy away from tough subjects. The Wonder follows the same tradition as Donoghue’s other books. It is the story of an English nurse who travels to a small village in Ireland to meet a young girl who claims to be performing a miracle: surviving for months without eating. The novel incorporates the incredible history of Florence Nightingale and her pioneering efforts to train nurses, and also studies the impact of religion and faith on a small community. There is a real sense of mystery to the book – you want to keep reading to find out what is going to happen – but the real draw for me was the relationship between the nurse and her patient and how determined the nurse, Lib Wright, was to be great to her job.

 

Hardest read: Shake Hands With The Devil by Romeo Dallaire.

In many of my political science courses in university we talked about the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s. It was a subject that I admittedly didn’t know much about. I started to do a bit of research and realized how tragic and horrify the whole ordeal was. Canadian military General Romeo Dallaire was in Kigali throughout the genocide, and his experience has stayed with him ever since. Shake Hands With The Devil is Dallaire’s personal account of the genocide and the regrets he lives with now. This book wasn’t easy to read. I had to renew my loan from the library a few times to finish it. It was heartbreaking and detailed and complicated in a way that not many other books I’ve read are. As a lover of military history and international relations, this book is very important to me, and it has made me open my eyes to the realities of military intervention and human rights.  

 

Most enjoyable read: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

The Kind Worth Killing is a suspenseful, exciting novel. It is about two people who meet, seemingly by chance, and decide to help each other get away with murder. This is the perfect book for anyone who, like me, is waiting for Gillian Flynn to release a new novel. Peter Swanson created the kinds of characters that hopeful writers like myself hope to be able to create one day. They are complex and multi-dimension, at one moment terrifying and at another relatable. This book was fun to read. I couldn’t put it down.

 

Here are 10 other books that I read in 2017 that I would recommend:  

1.     Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer.

If you like: true crime, law, women’s rights, politics.

The hook: Jon Krakauer explores the issue of campus rape culture and how hard it is for women to seek justice after an assault.

2.     Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

If you like: American history, war/military studies, adventure, sports.

The hook: An NFL player turns down a multi-million-dollar deal to enlist in the American military and fight in the War on Terror. After he dies the American government goes to great lengths to hide the circumstances of his death.

3.     The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

If you like: science, medicine, nature.

The hook: An exciting and horrifying true story about a devastating virus that wreaks havoc on the human body and how it almost caused a tragedy in Reston, Virginia.

4.     The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

If you like: science, medicine, nature.

The hook: The true story of the incredible scientists and doctors who eradicated one of the deadliest diseases in human history: smallpox.

5.     13 Hours in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff

If you like: war/military studies, American history, adventure, action.

The hook: A recounting of the 2012 attack on an American CIA compound and diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. The story is told from the perspective of the security contractors who defended the compound and outpost over a thirteen-hour period against hundreds of attackers.

6.     Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger

If you like: sports, politics, religion, family stories.

The hook: A high school football team in Odessa, Texas spends a season training and working to become state champions. Bissinger explores the racial, political, and economic circumstances in Odessa and how they relate to football.

7.     The Lion, The Fox, and the Eagle by Carol Off

If you like: politics, war/military studies, journalism.

The hook: The stories of three powerful Canadians and the roles they played in the Rwandan genocide, as well as the conflicts in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

8.     Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

If you like: thrillers, family stories, crime, mystery.

The hook: Two people have died in a river that runs through town. One is a teenager girl, another a single mother. The sister of the latest victim arrives in town to deal with the aftermath and becomes involved in solving the mystery of her sisters’ death.

9.     Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

If you like: family stories, adventure, strong female characters.

The hook: The author of The Glass Castle wrote this true-life novel about her grandmother’s wild, exciting life.

10.  Generation Kill by Evan Wright

If you like: journalism, action, adventure, war/military studies, American history.

The hook: A Rolling Stone journalist is sent to join up with a unit of American Marines who are some of the first soldiers to invade Iraq in 2003. Evan Wright witnesses modern war from the front lines of battle, and learns about the soldiers who are representing America in one of the most controversial wars in history.