The last three things I’ve read (plus why I disappeared again)

Three books you should read ASAP. Also, why I disappeared again.

It’s been a while. Again. I swore once things settled down with the move out to Colorado, I’d regularly write again.

Whelp.

Things didn’t settle down, because almost as soon as we were unpacked, we decided to move (AGAIN) for new job opportunities. Moving for the second time in six months, starting a new job, and beginning my first semester of graduate school has meant that not only is my house literally a trainwreck, but I also haven’t had much time for writing!

Hopefully, that will change now.

In the meantime, here are three quick books I have managed to read in my spare time that I think you should pick up ASAP:

1. Young Jane Young, by Gabrielle Zevin

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I was too young to remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but this book was extremely powerful nonetheless.

Not only does it highlight the double standards for women caught in scandal, but it also touches on the eternal nature of the internet and the practical challenges of picking your life back up after a terrible mistake. In many ways, it read like a cautionary tale about the realities of women’s reputations, but at the same time it was clearly a call for societal change.

I found myself wondering: Should we really crucify someone for the rest of their life because of a mistake they made when they were in their twenties? As a society, it’s also crucial that we recognize that the things we say online – the shame we cast on an individual – has the power to derail a life. We must wield this power cautiously, carefully, and compassionately.

But beyond being thought provoking, this book was hilarious. The audiobook is particularly great—I was cracking up on my morning commute so many times throughout the book. The only thing I didn’t like was the “choose your own adventure” section at the end. I actually checked out the physical book from my library before realizing that the other “options” were actually not options at all—they had strike-throughs (aka, you couldn’t “choose any adventure” other than the choices Aviva actually made), but that was unclear in the audio version. When I finished the audiobook, I was left wondering if there were sections of the book I hadn’t read until I got my hands on the physical book.

Overall though, I highly recommend this book. It was engaging, funny, thought-provoking, and timely.

2. Reading People by Anne Bogel

Reading People book cover

I love Ann Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next and her eBook deals Modern Mrs Darcy. I’ve even toyed with the idea of joining Anne’s online book club, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. That’s why it’s weird that I don’t actually read many of her blog posts (sorry Anne!), but I love following her everywhere else online (is that weird?). Anyway, this is her first book, and it’s about personalities, which I love studying. So obviously I had to give it a try. It’s also exciting to see someone whose blog I admire be successful in writing her first book.

Going in, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy an overview of different personality typing systems, since I’ve studied things like the enneagram pretty thoroughly already. Good news: Reading People was pleasantly insightful and relevant to both the personality obsessed and the beginner. What I particularly liked was Anne’s emphasis on the purpose behind personality typing: Learning to understand yourself and others better to strengthen relationships and get off the crazy-person spin cycle.

After Reading People, I recommend more in-depth analysis of the personality typing systems to learn more (The Road Back to You is a fantastic enneagram book), but as a general overview, Reading people is certainly helpful.

I also learned some things I didn’t know before—I’ve never heard of HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) before, and I also enjoyed her section on introverts and extroverts. Overall, whether you’re a personality junkie or don’t know what personality typing system might best suit your needs, this is a good overview book.

3. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Murder at the Vicarage book cover

Since yesterday was the premiere of the new Murder on the Orient Express movie starring Kenneth Branagh (I saw it, loved the cinematography, and would recommend it for the most part), I’ll recommend my favorite Agatha Christie book I’ve read this year: The Murder at the Vicarage.

Every year, I try to read a few Agatha Christie books to slowly chip away at my lifelong goal of reading all 70+ of her works. I love her standalone titles, and I love Hercule Poirot. But for some reason, I have avoided Miss Marple stories like the plague. I suppose something about a little old lady solving mysteries hasn’t appealed to me—and I have no idea why.

Anyway, I finally decided to give Miss Marple her due, and boy, was I disappointed. Not in the book, but with myself. WHY HAVE I WAITED SO LONG TO READ MISS MARPLE?! The world may never know.

The Murder at the Vicarage is perhaps one of my all-time favorite Christie novels. It’s funny, twisty, and I never saw the ending coming. I also highly recommend this title on audiobook!

Great audiobook narrators, Part 1

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”

— Lemony Snicket

Picking a good audiobook isn’t just about picking the right book.

It’s about picking a voice you can listen to for the next 12 hours. I’ve written about it before, but a narrator can make or break an audiobook.

Struggling to find something you’ll enjoy? I’ve done the hard work for you.

Here are some of my favorite audiobooks by narrator:

 

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Rosamund Pike, Pride and Prejudice

Not only is Rosamund Pike my favorite Jane Bennet of all the Pride and Prejudice film adaptations, she is a marvelous narrator. Her voice is melodious and her voices for different characters are marvelous. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice more times than I can count, but listening to Pike’s narration was like hearing it for the first time. Her voices are excellent, and her delivery impeccable.

Use your free 1-month trial from Audible and fall in love with this classic again!

 

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Carey Elwes, As You Wish

If you’re a fan of The Princess Bride (especially the movie), you’ll absolutely love this audiobook. Carey Elwes (aka Wesley) narrates the story of The Princess Bride‘s journey from book to movie production. His humorous stories, wonderful voice (who could resist Wesley??), and storytelling ability is a wonderful tribute to the movie and its fans.

What I especially love about this particular audiobook is that many of the original actors narrate sections of the book from their perspective. The story of making the film is almost as hilarious as the film itself.

 

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Rob Inglis, Lord of the Rings

I love Rob Inglis’ narration. Every time I press play, I feel like I’m being wrapped up cozy blanket by the fire with a mug of tea, listening as Gandalf reads me a story. While I absolutely love Lord of the Rings, there are definitely some thick/slow parts that audiobook helps you power through.

Also if you, like me, love Lord of the Rings but hate reading the songs and poems, you’re in luck. Rob Inglis actually sings every song, so you can finally appreciate Tolkien’s poetry instead of just skipping over it.

 

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Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

If you love listening to writers read their own books, listen to a copy of Between the World and Me next. I honestly don’t know if I would have recognized all the emotion, heartache, and passion Coates writes with if I hadn’t heard him read his own words aloud.

Beyond the fact that Coates is an excellent narrator, Between the World and Me is an excellent book, and it’s one you need to read. I didn’t have the slightest understanding of what it was like to be black in America before reading this book. I probably never will, fully. But this book was a good place to start. Listen to Ta-Nehisi Coates, and let Between the World in Me draw you one step closer to understanding, compassion, and hope.

 

Who are your favorite audiobook narrators?

 

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