Book List: My Favorite Nonfiction for a Fresh Start

Book List: My Favorite Nonfiction for a Fresh Start

It’s almost a new year! 2022 is right up ahead, 2021 in the rear view. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to be waving goodbye to this shitty collection of months. It’s been a rough year for me, but things really started to look up these last two months. As January and new year’s resolutions come into focus, I want to offer you this: my favorite nonfiction books for a fresh start! I’m ready to jump into books that help me become my better self this year (and no, none of them will include exercise, I promise you).

How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price

I read this book my senior year in high school. While I think it’s safe to say every teenager could’ve used this advice, it’s also telling that I would pick it up of my own volition. Nowadays, I need my phone for work – I’m constantly texting, calling, emailing for business straight from my personal phone, so I have to say I actually prefer putting it down on my days off. It feels good to physically separate my phone from my body, either by leaving it in another room or giving it to my boyfriend or just plain old leaving it at home (only if someone is with me, though, I’m not that good!). How to Break Up With Your Phone is filled with practical advice, tips and tricks, and the science behind why our relationship with our phones is so bad…and I think all of it is more relevant than ever. I think I’d like to try to say goodbye again in 2022! Get a copy of your very own here.

the witch doesn’t burn in this one by amanda lovelace

Writing all that without capital letters physically hurt me, but you gotta do what you gotta do. And yes, I understand calling poetry nonfiction may be a bit of a stretch…but given the memoir style of lovelace’s work, I’m going to die on this hill. I adore lovelace’s poetry, and the evolution that’s taken form within it over the past few years has been wonderful to read and experience. the witch doesn’t burn in this one is a great fire starter: it gets you angry, amped up, and ready to do something about, well, anything really (but primarily: burning the patriarchy). I encourage everyone to read the whole series, but this is one of my personal favorites given the witchy theme and the burn-it-all-down energy. Get a copy of your own here.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

#Girlboss is your slightly more business-oriented memoir and self-help book, but I love it, even if you’re not on an entrepreneurship path. This book blew up a couple years ago, and I think Amoruso’s personality certainly helped. I didn’t read it until years after it was published, but the business advice and the life advice is sound and entertaining at the same time. I loved her story, her scrappiness, and her drive. I think you’ll find that reading this book will help light the fire of your passions and remind you that you have no reason not to try. Fake it ’til you make it! Just the vibe I’m looking for going into the new year. Order yours here.

Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

I read and fully reviewed Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide several years ago, but I couldn’t tell you for the life of me where the review is now. Gone to the abyss. Poof. Disappeared. Regardless, I do remember thoroughly enjoying the advice and fresh ideas that came from Miller’s book. This trend for increasing productivity and organization is totally hacked in the pages of Dot Journaling, along with some creative ideas to help you build that emotional attachment to your calendars and spreadsheets. If you think dot journaling might fit into your hectic life and change it for the better, Miller’s book is a great place to start. To be perfectly honest though? I didn’t start dot journaling after I read it (but I wanted to?). It’s the illusion of productivity that keeps me going. Grab a copy here.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

Ahhh. Swedish death cleaning. Döstädning to be precise. Döstädning is the practice (and art) of sorting and cleaning one’s belongings before you pass. Even in American culture where we don’t even have a name for it, I’m sure you can think of a few older people who begin to sift through everything they’ve collected over a lifetime as they near the end. And Magnusson’s novel doesn’t make it a dark thing: it’s matter-of-fact, emotional yet practical, and very smart. Even though I do not find myself needing to death clean at the age of 21, I thoroughly enjoyed Magnusson’s wit, and still yet her advice for living a less cluttered life. No matter what stage of being you find yourself in, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is a great way to start your year off decluttering your life. Order a copy here.

I have to tell you, there are actually several other books I wish I could’ve put on this list. If you feel like an overachiever this year, here are my runner-up choices: Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie, Educated by Tara Westover, Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena, Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis, and Me, Myself & Ideas by Carrie Anton. So, so many.

Also, it’s occurred to me while reading this that some people might be assuming these are affiliate links that I get paid for…they’re not. I just love Gibson’s Bookstore, and if my mini-review drives you to buy a book, I hope you’ll buy it from them. Jeff Bezos doesn’t need to go to space again in a cowboy hat. Gibson’s online ordering is fast and seamless, and their staff is wonderful, so I highly recommend them for all your book purchases!

And on that note, friends, I hope you have the most excellent new year. It’s coming soon. Keep looking forward, and get ready to make some big, positive changes for yourself in 2022!

Book List: Holiday Reads

Book List: Holiday Reads

Happy Friday, friends. 🙂 If you’re ready to cozy up with your next great holiday read, I have the list for you today!

Technically, I do not start celebrating Christmas myself until Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday after Halloween, and no one gives it enough credit. However, I’m sure many people are pouring their eggnog and picking out Christmas gifts long before me…and I know this because they’re all over my Facebook timeline (you know who you are, people). So, I give you: my favorite reads for the holiday season (not necessarily Christmas specific!).

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

This book is such an adorable twist on A Christmas Carol. This will honestly probably end up being the most Christmas-y book on this whole list. Holly Chase has a whole lot of money, but not a lot of love. She’s perpetually mean – until she’s hit by a car and becomes to the new Scrooge. The whole thing ends up being pretty trippy and kind of a strange story, but it’s done well so that you get into the Christmas mood while you read it. It’s a quick read…and you can’t beat that adorable cover art. Get a copy from Gibson’s Bookstore here.

Humans by Brandon Stanton

If The Afterlife of Holly Chase is the most Christmas-y book on my list, Humans is the least. BUT, I will fight forever to keep this title on the list. There’s a reason these books have come out closer to the holidays: not only do they make great gifts, they are simply wonderful stories of humanity that make you feel more human around the holidays. Reading Humans is like a refresher course in how to connect with people, and it’s done in an absolutely amazing way. The books are based off and pulled from the Humans of New York social media accounts. Some are short, one sentence captions, and some are long and flowing stories of strangers. I adore these books and the warmth they bring me around the holiday season. Get a hardcover.

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

I’m going to admit right up front that it’s been many a year since I read My True Love Gave to Me. I think I actually purchased my ebook the day it came out, like seven years ago (holy crap!!). I’m noticing as I’m making my selections that I don’t actually read a lot of holiday books? Do I hate Christmas?? I don’t think so, but apparently I’m not overly enthusiastic about it, either. So this is one of the few *outright holiday books* I’ve ever read, ever, and it felt wrong not to include it when fourteen year old me felt like it deserved at least four stars. *shrugs* I remember particularly enjoying Rainbow Rowell’s story, as I was kind of obsessed with her at the time (as you will see momentarily…). Pick up a copy.

The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

This one I can actually attest to, lol. The Tourist Attraction was a fave of mine last year, when I devoured the whole thing in like a day. It’s very cute and very Christmas-y, and it’ll totally make you want to move to Alaska! We’ve got the whole grumpy-one-falls-for-the-sunshine-one trope small-town-everyone-knows-each-other nonsense…it’s good stuff. I didn’t enjoy the sequel as much as the first, which is why I specifically chose this guy here. You can check out my full review here, and get a copy from Gibson’s here.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Look, people, I’m going to ruthlessly defend this one too. Fangirl is my type of Christmas book. In fact, I often reread it right around Thanksgiving and Black Friday, because it gives me that cozy winter feeling. Last year, I opted for the manga version, and it was just as good. This story takes place primarily around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but love and family is the main focus. And if you don’t relate to Cath looking “tarred and sweatered” in every knit body garment imaginable, then we can’t be friends. I hope you find it puts you in the same state of mind it does for me. Get your paperback at this link.

As much as I hate to admit it, we are actually getting into the holidays. I much prefer my spooky season, but friends, I would like to wish you an absolutely wonderful holiday; enjoy your parties and delicious food; cherish the love and warmth of being with friends and family. Have a wonderful end to your year. ❤

Book List: Spooky Season Reads

Book List: Spooky Season Reads

All who know me, and perhaps all that read this blog, know that spooky season is my absolute favorite. Trips to Salem, horror movies, apple picking, pumpkin spice everything, trick or treating…Halloween is simply my favorite. I couldn’t let the month of October go by without listing some of my favorite reads to get me in the mood.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

Pumpkinheads was an absolute treat to read last year. It’s a super sweet fall romance and has the most beautiful fall art to get you in the spirit. Deja and Josie have worked at an epic pumpkin patch (that more captures the entire spirit of fall, honestly) every September and October for three years. Their friendship has blossomed over that time, but they always say goodbye every Halloween and part ways. This year, their senior year and the last year they’ll be able to spend working at the patch, Deja is on a mission to get Josie to talk to the girl he’s been quietly crushing on the whole time – and they go on one epic fall adventure on their very last day to get there. Rowell and Hicks are literal masters, and even better together. No spooks here, though, just sweet fall vibes almost as good as a pumpkin spice latte. Check out my full review here, and get yourself a copy here.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep is a fun and creepy novel with Hocus Pocus vibes written all over it. It’s like if Hocus Pocus was rated PG-13 (which, who are we kidding ourselves…it probably should be right?!). While it didn’t get tons of attention upon release, I think it probably should have. It was a great spin with incredible Halloween vibes to get you in the ~spirit~ (puns 100% intended). I’ve recommended it to tons of friends over the years because it just delivers the right amount of spook. Get a copy for yourself here.

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Another graphic novel, and another absolute delight! Werewolf Tam has returned to their hometown to deal with a mysterious demon in the woods. Teen witch Nova is still around, doing her magic apprenticeship with her grandmas at their magic bookshop. When the pair of childhood friends reunite in their effort to stop an evil force much bigger than they imagined, sparks fly in an adorable romance full of magic and whimsy. This one is perfectly timely when it comes to Halloween reads, and it’s spooky while also being sweeter than pumpkin pie. Check out my full review here, and get a copy of your own here.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hill House is classically creepy. You may have seen the show of the same name: as much as I LOVE the Netflix original, for all its ghosts and ghouls, it’s nothing at all like the book. The book is unsettling in a whole new way. Four strangers arrive at Hill House looking for evidence of a haunting: the doctor, his assistant, a young woman, and the heir to the home. Creepy things ensue, but something is just not quite right here. It’s hard to truly convey the wild plot of this incredible novel, but one thing is for certain: it’s the way that Shirley Jackson writes her novels that make them truly horrifying. Get your own copy here.

Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer

Nothing says Halloween like the Salem Witch Trials…to me, anyway. My close friends and I make our annual pilgrimage to Salem, Massachusetts in the autumn months and spend time in witchy shops, walking the grounds of the cemetery, and admiring the Salem Witch House. Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem examines the details of the witch trials, the possible causes backed by science, and the social motivations that fueled the fire in Salem. If you’ve never taken the time to really learn about it, it’s a wonderful introduction, small in size but quality in information. Moreover, it pairs even better with a trip to Salem. Get a copy from an indie bookstore here.

Some honorable mentions that didn’t make my list: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton; The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; The Shining by Stephen King; and My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. If you get to them…enjoy them! Hope you all have the most wonderful spooky season.

Book List: My Favorite Horror

Book List: My Favorite Horror

Naturally, my second book list had to be my favorite horror novels! I read that perfectly odd combination of romance and horror on the regular, so my two favorite genres had to be my first lists of recommendations. This list will hopefully give you a great combination of amazing classics and new favorites.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

I read The Whisper Man years ago, but it stuck with me because of the eerie feeling that follows you long after you finish it. I felt the same way about The Shadows, which I read earlier last month. There’s something so perfect about the way it’s crafted. Mid-read, I was sitting on my couch home alone in the dark, and I couldn’t even stop myself from checking over my shoulder. It just gave me the creeps! North also has the masterful combination of supernatural and a horrible reality – his villains are real, but the magic remains. You’ll see what I mean!

Grab your copy!

The Mist by Stephen King

I read The Mist mid-pandemic. Which was a mistake…or possibly smart as heck, because it made it all the more terrifying. No, I don’t mean to relate COVID-19 to the mist that overtakes the small Maine town, bringing with it creepy creatures that eat people. Very different scenarios. Buuut…the townspeople’s reaction to the mist? Not taking it seriously? Risking the safety of others to hold a certain bravado? That hit hard. Almost comical to read, if it wasn’t so horribly true. Glad to know it doesn’t matter what the national disaster is, there will always be non-believers and cynics.

While this is one of King’s shorter novels, it’s one of my personal favorites. King is a masterful writer, but the more pages you give him, the more he feels the need to drone on about things I tend to not think are important. His shorter books (Gwendy’s Button Box, Elevation, Carrie) are my favorites. It was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but omg it took me like a year, if I’m being honest.

Order a copy from Gibson’s…but prepare yourself to cringe.

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson

Hangsaman is one of those really weird titles I can only recommend to people once I get a good feel for what they read. Jackson was under-appreciated in her own time, which is a shame, because her writing is absolutely incredible, and Hangsaman, in my opinion, is her masterpiece. When Jackson writes, you sense it’s personal. Her books are raw with a feeling of being an outsider, wronged by the world, and it’s even more tragic to know she was very depressed and these works were truly her release. Hangsaman haunts me to this day. It’s a wild ride but it’s something you finish and immediately want to pick up again and reread because you couldn’t possible have absorbed it all.

Jackson’s works aren’t horror in the typical sense, but you will reach the end and feel deeply disturbed. Particularly with this one, practice self care while reading. Grab a copy here (and as it’s one of my personal favorites, be sure to get in touch and tell me what you think).

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

I feel like the natural choice of Grady Hendrix for this list would be The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which of course, you should also read. But no one picks up My Best Friend’s Exorcism first, which is a darn shame! The girl power, the perfect capture of an 80’s nostalgia vibe, and the utter creepiness of this novel are an amazing blend. It feels like Stranger Things meets The Exorcist, and I can’t recommend it enough. It was my first Hendrix, and sure as heck not my last. Hendrix is a master, and as we all know, one of my absolute favorite authors of both horror and just in general!!

Order yours here.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Did you like The Haunting of Hill House? The show, not the (also amazing) book by Shirley Jackson. Then you need to read Home Before Dark. It has the same vibe, and it made my skin prickle with the creepiness of it. I love a good haunted house, and this book does it perfectly. Sager has a knack for making you afraid of what lurks around every corner. I’m a pretty dedicated reader of his by now, and you can certainly catch me with every new publication. Home Before Dark was the book that got me hooked, and it still remains my favorite! Everything Sager writes reads like a horror movie you’re watching unfold on screen, and being a horror movie fan as well (of course!), I simply can’t resist.

Get your copy from Gibson’s here.

The awesome thing about this list is that I can easily recommend not just these titles but the authors themselves. If you’re a horror lover, of both the classics and these modern marvels, these are my go-to authors. Are you a horror lover? Have you read the titles on my list? What would make it on yours?

Have an awesome weekend, peeps. 🙂

Book List: My Favorite Contemporary Romances

Book List: My Favorite Contemporary Romances

Howdy, friends!

Prepare yourselves – today you’re getting your very first book list! I’ve prepped a list of some of my very favorite contemporary romances, for those of you just falling in love with the genre (pun intended) or those looking to reread some of the best. Without further ado, the best of the best!

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I’m sure it’s a surprise to absolutely no one that I’m putting The Hating Game first on my list. Despite never writing a full review of this incredible romance, I reference it regularly when I’m trying to judge books critically…because it’s just the best. This is the book I recommend to friends when I want them to get hooked on the genre. I love the tropes of an office romance and an enemies-to-lovers, and you literally can’t top the wit, warmth, and humor of Sally Thorne. Also, OMG THEY’RE MAKING A MOVIE??

You can order a copy of this masterpiece from a local indie bookstore here (Jeff Bezos doesn’t need your money friends. If you don’t want to buy from my local indie bookstore, buy from yours! <3).

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

I remember picking up Fix Her Up at Barnes & Noble and thinking, “I’m probably not even going to like this.” I think we all know I hate a silly heroine, and Georgie being a *literal* clown didn’t exactly entice me to pick it up. But, I liked every other book on the romance display, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I might love this one too. So I took it home, and literally devoured it in a few hours.

Tessa Bailey is one of those rare, consistent winners. The first one on this list, in fact: every book I’ve read of hers has been amazing and held that same humor and feel from the previous book. They’re just wonderful, enjoyable reads, and Fix Her Up is the one that got me absolutely hooked.

Grab a copy here.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Noticing now that the trend for this list is “consumed all the words in less than eight hours”…”shirked all worldly responsibilities in order to read”…”the book that helped me see the sunrise for once”.

And of course, The Friend Zone is no different. Literally couldn’t stop myself from consuming Kristen and Josh’s story at record pace. Abby Jimenez has put out tons of more awesome books since, so don’t miss those either, but start with The Friend Zone if you want to absolutely fall in love. I should mention, most of her books should have a trigger warning for some sad content. Read the description to see what I mean, and buy a copy of your own, right here.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Oh my god, the first book on this list I actually have a full review for! It’s a miracle!! And surprising, too, as The Bromance Book Club is actually a little older than some of the reads on this list. However, I actually got hooked on Lyssa Kay Adams a bit late in the game. I grabbed this gem, and within 24 hours I was driving my ass back to Target to pick up Undercover Bromance, desperate for my next fix of Lyssa.

This series is a rare thing: not only feminist romance, but feminist romance almost entirely from the male perspective! The premise is a bunch of celebrities, sports players, and other powerful Nashville men start a romance book club so that they can better understand the women in their lives. Do I really need to say anything more??

Get your copy here, and read my full review of this book (and subsequently, every other one in the series!) here.

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

You Deserve Each Other was my very first review on this blog!! Way back in August of 2019 this book kept me up until the sunrise, laughing and crying. Hogle wrote with such a personal touch, it felt painfully real and emotional to read. This one hit on that same enemies-to-lovers trope, with the same humor as The Hating Game, and it felt so reminiscent of it that it took up special residence in my heart. The antics had me laughing out loud as I read, and I rarely do that!

Get your copy of this awesome read here, and read my full review here!

If you’re looking to get into the genre and looking for new favorites, start with these incredible authors. One thing I absolutely adore about modern romance is the feminist angle: one thing I pick up on as I look over the list of my favorites is how badass these women are! If your leading ladies need to be as tough as you are for you to sink into a good romance, you’ve come to the right place. I love that the characters on these lists have lives *beyond* their love lives, and the glimpse we get through these novels highlights strength and a well-rounded character.

If you were writing a list of your favorite romances, where would you start? What would make it on your list? I want to hear them! (Almost certainly because they should also be on my to-read list!!). I had to seriously cut this down just to get it to five books…the first list was so much longer! Let me know if you want another one with all my honorable mentions. 😉

Have a wonderful weekend friends!