My favorite reads in my 41st year

notes from a book stack 2015

With my 42nd birthday approaching, I am looking back at the books I read in my 41st year and sharing with you a few that you might enjoy reading, too.  My tastes are eclectic but perhaps the variety offered in this list will lead you to something you’ll love reading, too.

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman.  I love to listen to audiobooks on my commute and mysteries and thrillers are especially captivating.  This mystery by Laura Lippman does not disappoint as it explores the disappearance of a man whose businesses may not have been all that on the up and up and whose mistress disappears ten years after he does.  What happened to Felix Brewer?  What happened to his mistress, Julie? And what does it all mean to his family today? The lead detective, a retired investigator working cold cases, untangles a complex web while also endearing himself to the reader.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell.  I’ve worked my way through Rainbow Rowell’s books since discovering Eleanor and Park a couple years ago.  Landline involves a mystery phone line that connects tv screenwriter, Georgie McCool, to the past just as her marriage begins to fall apart.  Can she reset her course?  Fix her marriage?  Go another way?  Tender and sweet.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.  So, this one slayed me.  Left me sobbing on a plane with the flight attendant wondering whether or not to call for help slayed me. Henriquez sets her story in an apartment complex made up of immigrant families and focuses the narrative on one family who has moved to the United States for a new start for their wounded daughter.  As the families get to know the newest residents and offer support, we get to know their stories as well.  A gorgeous, heartfelt rendering of the hope and heartbreak that comes with starting over.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira.  I LOVE an epistolary novel and this one is brilliantly conceived and delivered.  When her English teacher instructs the class to write a love letter to a dead person, Laurel pens a letter to Kurt Cobain, her dead sister’s idol.  Soon, she is writing everyone from Amy Winehouse to Amelia Earnhardt as she works through the grief and guilt she feels at the lose of her sister and navigates her own evolving life.  So touching.

Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott.  I read a lot of Anne Lamott this year and loved them all but this one really grabbed me.  It’s a journal of her grandson’s first year that includes observations and missives from her son and readily incorporates her sharp wisdom and hilarious self-deprecation as she navigates the love and crazy that comes with welcoming another being into our hearts.  An added bonus is that I listened to this as an audiobook and Anne’s the narrator.  Loved having Anne in the car with me!

Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper: A Novel by Hilary Liftin.

This one is practically ripped from the headlines.  A young, up and coming actress, Lizzie Pepper, gets called to a meeting with a big-time Hollywood heartthrob who happens to be the face of a- ahem- One Cell, an organization that some liken to a cult.  They fall in love (or do they?), marry, have children, build a life.  But what happens inside the shiny walls?  In her ‘memoir’, Lizzie Pepper tries to set the record straight.  Fun read for those who enjoy a little look at Hollywood culture.

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner.  A love story that chronicles a couple from when they meet as children in a hospital through their sliding door moments throughout life.  There’s nothing quite like remembering first love and holding it close, even as you consider its flaws.

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower.  This inside look at the happenings within the residence of the White House is riveting, heartwarming, humanizing, and eye opening.  Plenty of inside scoop on how everything from how meals are prepared to who was the highest maintenance President and First Lady.  While I love all the details in this book, I most loved getting to know the people who run the home that houses our democracy—what quiet, lovely guardians of our country.

How to Live an Awesome Life by Polly Campbell.

With warmhearted humanity and humor, Polly Campbell offers inspired guidance on how to thrive in your current astonishing life (no weight loss, new degree, cosmetic surgery or new job required).  Good news: the key to awesome living, and thus greater happiness and more meaning, has little to do with what you have and everything to do with what you notice, honor, and consider.  Campbell provides convincing evidence and effective, efficient exercises that you can complete in minutes for a powerful mindset shift.

Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer by Heather Lende

The bright sweet cover was a lovely start and it was just all a joy ride from there.  This sweet book is a lovely reminder of what’s important in life told through the eyes and hearts of a lovely cast of characters including the author and her own family.  A feel good read perfect for the end of the year.


How about you?  What books from this year do you have to recommend?

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2 responses to “My favorite reads in my 41st year”

  1. Anna Guest-Jelley

    Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf is a book I’ve been recommending to everyone I can. I read it this fall and immediately went back on the waiting list for it at the library so I could read it again (something I rarely do!). Quite possibly the best novel I’ve read in a decade.

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