This year I’ve decided to talk more about the books I’m reading. I’m constantly being asked by friends, “I need a new book to read, Alicia,” they’ll say, “What are you reading?”
Just the other day I got a message from a friend who said she trusts my recommendations and needs a few good reads for her long commute.
I have a few great sources for books (publishers, and other book reviewers – this one is my favorite) which is where I start with names of new books and then I vet them further on my own, read (or put down) and finally will put on my own list to tell friends about.
That’s where you come in. I’m going to start sharing my recommends on the blog so you can benefit from great reads! I’ll let you know what’s worth your time.
I love reading, but I don’t have time for boring books. I call it the busy mom book syndrome: as a busy mom I don’t have a lot of free time to read books for fun so I have to make the most of the time I do have. With this in mind, I don’t recommend books that wouldn’t be worth a busy mom’s time.
There are four current books that are well worth your time to read. And not just worth your time, but you should make time for these titles.
Melanie Benjamin wrote Swans of Fifth Avenue which I loved so much I went to see a book talk she did. It was there, last year, that she talked about her next book, The Girls in the Picture. I fell in love with the idea of the book right then and there. Two females fighting their way in the early days of film.
The Girls in the Picture is the story of two strong women in 1910s and ’20s of the film industry in LA. Mary Pickford is the beautiful and famous silent-film actress who was America’s sweetheart of the day while Frances Marion was an up-and-coming film writer. Both are seemingly amateurs at the beginning, and Benjamin walks you through their journey to being stars in the male-dominated industry.
Both women are not only working on solid careers, but they develop excellent business skills that far exceed any of the men they are working with. And, the timing of this book is eerie to say the least, given the recent #metoo movement that started in Hollywood. There’s a scene or two in the book that scream harassment which makes you realize this has gone on for decades.
The chapters alternate between the two women points of view so you get the full effect of the time and the differences between the main characters. There are husbands they deal with, travels, movies and business deals, and known “characters” like Charlie Chaplin that pop up.
I definitely loved this story.
The Great Alone is the next book (publishes Feb. 6) by Kristin Hannah, author of bestseller The Nightingale. If you haven’t read The Nightingale, stop what you’re doing right now and go get it. Really. It’s the best book I’ve read in forever. Every single person who read it after I recommended it, loved it!
The Great Alone is nothing like The Nightingale, however. It’s a completely different story, but you know it’s good because the author is an excellent writer. In The Great Alone she tackles a difficult topic: abuse, but because she writes in a way that is easy to read, she covers the important topic in a way that you can still read it.
The story follows a family of three who move to Alaska to appease the father of the family. He’s an adventurer and Vietnam war veteran who has troubles … oh, does he have troubles. His daughter, Leni, is a teen when they move, and Alaska isn’t the easiest place to move when you’re a teenager.
They deal with the harsh winters living off the grid in a run down log cabin that can hardly be called a home. They have to hunt and prepare for winter for months. But nothing can prepare them for 18 hours of darkness a day.
Leni finds her own way in Alaska, but her father isn’t at all happy about it. The story equally shares sides from the father, the mother, and Leni. There’s so much to relate to in this page turner.
I’m going to tell you now, that people are going to be talking about this book. It’s going to be on the top 10 lists. It’s going to be a big read for the year. Take my word for it and give it a go. Even better, if you’re in a book club, you’re going to want this to be a pick one month so you’ll have someone to talk to about it!
Still Me by JoJo Moyes
Still Me is the third book in a series about an average young woman named Louisa Clark. We first meet her in Me Before You (which is a MUST, must read!). If you’re read it, then you may have also read the sequel After You. Also a great read. Very different from the first book, but good in a different way.
Still Me takes Louisa from England to New York to work as an assistant to a rich woman who lives in a luxury apartment. Luisa is a woman who wants to find, and keep, love, but never really knows how. And, as we find in Still Me, she first needs to learn who SHE IS.
The book is a great, easy read, but is slow at first. Stick with it. There’s an unsuspecting character who all women can learn from. She’s a feisty old woman with a rich past.
Still Me is a great, quick read and one that every woman can take away a lesson.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Eagan
Manhattan Beach is a WWII historical fiction novel written as a mystery. The story starts with Anna Kerrigan, the fearless character whose father takes her along with him to a “meeting” when she’s twelve. Her dad needs to meet Dexter Styles, a mobster.
When Anna grows up we find her working in the Brooklyn Naval Yard. This is when the men went to war and females worked in factories. Anna isn’t happy moving widgets, especially when she doesn’t even understand what the work she is doing is for. She wants to know the work she’s doing is meaningful and helpful.
Anna’s father disappears and she’s the sole provider for her mother and disabled sister. Over time, at the Naval Yard Anna pushes her way to become a diver! Unheard of for a woman to dive. The descriptions of dive training and the now-archaic dive equipment is fascinating on its own.
There’s an interesting twist with Anna and Dexter Styles when Anna’s grown up.
You’ll be encouraged by Anna’s strength and resilience as she navigates a career in a world where only men could have the jobs she wanted. That’s enough reason to love this book, but add in the mystery of her father and Dexter Styles and you have a winner!
Let me know if you read any of these titles. I’d love to hear your favorites!
And, if you want another great list of books … check out my first installment of must-read books.