Reading Memories & My Favorite Books From The Past | Book Recommendations

Reading Memories: My Favorite Books From The Past

reading memories

Reading Memories:

Do you remember the books that you read when you got into reading as an adult? I read throughout elementary school and much of high school, but reading for pleasure mostly stopped for me while I was in college.

I had a harder time just keeping up the expected reading required of my courses, so I didn’t prioritize much reading for pleasure except a bit during the summer time. When I finished school and began a regular schedule of full time work, a much quieter evening life ensued…At this time reading became a regular part of my life once again.

So many of these books I read during this time of my life and they are such wonderful reading memories for me. One of my very favorite things about books is how quickly they can bring you back to the time and place when you read them…I remember reading some of these on my bed during summer break in the early 2000s, one at my very first apartment in the “real world” and on our first trip together as a couple with my now husband.

Favorite Books:

Recently, one of my Bookstagram friends asks me for recommendations on older books that I loved. I love having a little inspiration and I had fun looking back at Goodreads to see the ones I had rated when I first started using the (then only) website more than 10 years ago. It is amazing to think how different technology was at the time, and how much it will change 10 years from now!

Below are some books that will forever stand out for me in my reading memories…

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

“On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility. As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?

In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.”

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

“A wonderfully warm and heartfelt debut from a stunning new talent. Everyone needs a guardian angel! Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. Until the unthinkable happens.

Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He’s left her a bundle of notes, one for each of the months after his death, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed ‘PS, I Love You’. As the notes are gradually opened, and as the year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on.

With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing–and being braver than ever before. Life is for living, she realizes–but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you.”

The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand

“Adrienne Dealey has spent the past six years working for hotels in exotic resort towns. This summer she has decided to make Nantucket home. Left flat broke by her ex-boyfriend, she is desperate to earn some fast money. When the desirable Thatcher Smith, owner of Nantucket’s hottest restaurant, is the only one to offer her a job, she wonders if she can get by with no restaurant experience. Thatcher gives Adrienne a crash course in the business…and they share an instant attraction.

But there is a mystery about their situation: what is it about Fiona, the Blue Bistro’s chef, that captures Thatcher’s attention again and again? And why does such a successful restaurant seem to be in its final season before closing its doors for good? Despite her uncertainty, Adrienne must decide whether to open her heart for the first time, or move on, as she always does. Infused with intimate Nantucket detail and filled with the warmth of passion and the breeze of doubt, The Blue Bistro is perfect summer listening.”

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

“In the summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend.

Tully Hart seems to have it all: beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface, they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn; Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become ‘TullyandKate’ — inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the mainstay of their lives. For 30 years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship: jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all, until a single act of betrayal tears them apart…and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And, ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you – and knows what has the power to hurt you…and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget…one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.”

Midwives Chris Bohjalian

“On an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby’s life. She performs an emergency cesarean section on a mother she believes has died of stroke. But what if—as Sibyl’s assistant later charges—the patient wasn’t already dead?   The ensuing trial bears the earmarks of a witch hunt, forcing Sibyl to face the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience. Exploring the complex and emotional decisions surrounding childbirth, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.”

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

“The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.”

Belong To Me by Marisa de los Santos

“The sensational New York Times bestseller from Marisa de los Santos, Belong to Me is a gift for readers, an enchanting, luminous novel about the accidents, both big and small, that affect our choice of friend, lover, and spouse. A story centered around three very different suburban neighbors and what it truly means to “belong” to someone, this eye-opening, unforgettable book is the perfect book club selection—beautifully written, smart and sophisticated women’s fiction that invites discussion as it touches the heart—and the ideal companion to de los Santos’s previous blockbuster, Love Walked In.”

Trans-Sister Radio Chris Bohjalian

“Four people in a small Vermont village are about to have their lives inexorably intertwined by the uncertainties of love…and the apparent absolutes of gender.

Allison Banks, the long-divorced mother of a teenager on the cusp of college, has at last fallen in love. The object of her desire? Dana Stevens, a professor at the nearby university and her instructor for a summer film and literature course. Her daughter watches with pleasure her mother’s newfound happiness, but Allison’s ex-husband, Will, the president of Vermont Public Radio, is jealous. Still secretly in love with his ex-wife, he finds himself unsettled by the prospect of Allison’s attachment to another man.

Yet Dana is unlike anyone Allison has ever been with: attentive, gentle, kind – and an exceptionally ardent lover. Moreover, it’s clear that Dana cares just as deeply for Allison. The only stumbling block? Dana has known always that in actuality he is woman and he will soon be having a sex change operation.

At first Allison runs, but overwhelmed by the depth of her passions, she returns. Can the pair’s love transcend both the biologic imperatives that are their bodies, as well as their ingrained notions of sexual preference? Moreover, can their love survive the outrage of the small community in which they live?”

The Pilot’s Wife Anita Shreve

“Until now, Kathryn Lyons’s life has been peaceful if unextraordinary: a satisfying job teaching high school in the New England mill town of her childhood; a picture-perfect home by the ocean; a precocious, independent-minded fifteen-year-old daughter; and a happy marriage whose occasional dull passages she attributes to the unavoidable deadening of time.

As a pilot’s wife, Kathryn has learned to expect both intense exhilaration and long periods alone – but nothing has prepared her for the late-night knock that lets her know her husband has died in a crash. As Kathryn struggles with her grief, she descends into a maelstrom of publicity stirred up by the modern hunger for the details of tragedy.

Even before the plane is located in waters off the Irish coast, the relentless scrutiny of her husband’s life begins to bring a bizarre personal mystery into focus. Could there be any truth to the increasingly disturbing rumors that he had a secret life?”

Good in Bed Jennifer Weiner

“Cannie Shapiro never wanted to be famous. The smart, sharp, plus-sized pop culture reporter was perfectly content writing about other people’s lives in the pages of the Philadelphia Examiner. But the day she opened up a national women’s magazine to find out that her ex-boyfriend has been chronicling their ex-sex life is the day her life changes forever.

Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world, Bruce has written. And Cannie – who never knew that Bruce saw her as a larger woman, or thought that loving her was an act of courage – is plunged into misery, and into the most amazing year of her life.

Radiant with wit, bursting with surprises, and written with bite and bittersweet humor, Jennifer Weiner reaches beyond Cannie’s story and into the heart of every woman. Gut-level real and laugh-out-loud funny, Good in Bed celebrates the courage of the human spirit and features an unbelievably funny cast of supporting characters, the strangest dog you’ll ever encounter, and a heroine you’ll never forget.”

The Double Bind Chris Bohjalian

“When college sophomore Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is changed forever. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography hobby and begins to work at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs that he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel discovers that before he was homeless, he was a successful photographer.

As Laurel’s fascination with Bobbie’s former life begins to merge into obsession, she becomes convinced that some of his photographs reveal a dark family secret.

In this spellbinding literary thriller, rich with complex and compelling characters, Chris Bohjalian takes listeners on his most intriguing, most haunting, and most unforgettable journey yet.”

A Walk to Remember Nicholas Sparks

“It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he’d fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town’s Baptist minister. A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon never would have dreamed of it.

Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter’s life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood.”

What about you?

Do you have books or authors that stand out for you in your reading history? I would love to hear! <3

 

What’s On Your Nightstand? | Book Recommendations & More | Melissa

 The Book Friends Series

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Hello & Spring in Vermont:

Good morning and happy Friday! How was your week? Spring is in the air around here and yesterday we finally had one of those beautiful sunny April days we have been waiting for! Spring in Vermont can be a rollercoaster ride and it isn’t uncommon to still have a mix of winter weather like we did earlier in the week.

We are used to this but it’s tough to welcome snow with the same feelings as we did back in November…its a long 6 months! Someone asked me on Instagram yesterday why we still have baseball practice inside right now for the kids. If you haven’t been to Vermont this time of the year(you are not missing anything!) we are currently experiencing the 5th season of the year…mud season…which if you can guess from its name, is quite the mucky mess! So they try and keep everyone off the fields until it dries out a bit more and usually, by the end of April, we are in the clear, but you never know!

Welcome, Melissa!

Today I am super excited to welcome my friend Melissa to my blog! She was one of my very first book friends on Instagram and it is quite amazing how much we have realized we have in common. She is truly the most wonderful and genuine person and I am inspired by her not only as a reader but as someone who is always trying to try and grow to be the best person and parent she can be.

She also has two boys that are a bit older than my own so it is helpful to have someone who has “been there and done that” when I need some advice or perspective on parenting(which is a lot!) 😉

I hope you enjoy getting to know Melissa today and be sure to follow along on her Bookstagram Instagram feed. She posts the most amazing book chatter and recommendations and is just a lovely person to know!

Nightstand Series Introduction:

Hi, I’m Melissa. I live in Illinois with my husband, our two boys (15 and 12), our old puppy, and our two cats. I work in the field of medical documentation and you can often find me running my kids somewhere or attending one of their meets or games. Free time is a rarity, but when I have downtime I like to do something relaxing, as I tend to get overwhelmed by too much stimulation.

As an 80s kid, I devoured the typical fare of Sweet Valley and Babysitters Club books, one summer reading about 70 of the Sweet Valley High books. However, reading at that pace, you run out of books pretty quickly, so I read just about anything I could find. This included Stephen King, V.C. Andrews, and, once when I was desperate for something to read at my aunt’s house, Hollywood Wives. None of them were really appropriate for a preteen, but that never stopped me!

During college and the early years of adulthood, my reading for pleasure slowed down drastically. It wasn’t actually until my youngest was a toddler that I picked up reading anything besides parenting books and articles again. We were visiting the library and, as my kids played, I noticed someone had left an adult book in the children’s section. After realizing no one was coming back for it, I took the book, Lauren Weisberger’s Chasing Harry Winston, home with me, finished it that night, and rediscovered the thing I had loved so dearly as a child. I would love to say that my reading took off again after that, but things tend to get in the way, especially when you’re a parent, so I continued to read but probably only a dozen or so books a year.

The last couple years, as my children have gotten older, I’ve found myself with a little more free time and discovered a little corner of Instagram where people are positive, kind, and happy to geek out with you over books fondly referred to as “Bookstagram”. I quickly fell in love, started my account @readalotwritealot, made some great friends and have grown my to-be-read list exponentially!

What are you currently reading?

The books on my nightstand only represent a few of the books I’m reading in April. I began There There last fall as a library book but only made it three chapters before having to return it. I’ve since picked up my own copy and am determined to find out what happens in the rest of the book! Bird Box was a Christmas gift and my husband keeps asking if I’m ever going to get to it so he can finally watch the movie, so I know I need to read that one soon!

The Silent Patient is one I’ve only heard good things about and I’m always up for a good psychological thriller. WITCHDOCTORPOET is the only book I’ve actually started so far. April is National Poetry Month and I was gifted this copy by the author and saved it to read this month. I’m loving the poems! Last, but certainly not least, is On The Come Up. Last year, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give was one of my favorite books and I’m very excited to dive into her sophomore novel.

I jumped on the e-book bandwagon when they first became popular but quickly went back to regular books and hadn’t actually read any until this year. This month I’m working on some ARCs which include Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything and Fredrik Backman’s Things My Son Needs to Know About The World as well as my Amazon Prime First Reads Pick One Word Kill. I’m rediscovering the ease of reading on a tablet and enjoying not having to wear my reading glasses!

What are you listening to?

I had never done audiobooks before last year, but it was actually at Genevieve’s suggestion that I finally started listening to them and I never looked back! I’m currently listening to The Good Neighbor which is about Fred Rogers and read by LaVar Burton. I don’t think it gets any more 80s than that! I’m also planning to listen to Glenn Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior for my book club later this month.

What else is on your nightstand?

My nightstand, which is actually a piece of furniture that used to be in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, currently looks a lot more organized than it normally does! The Hello Kitty bin holds my reading paraphernalia, favorite candy, and odds and ends. My visor is from one of my favorite vacations and my IKEA reading lamp is perfect because I can set it on the bed and it moves with me as I stretch from one reading position to another. I love to write and I don’t idle well, so notebooks and a coloring book are a must.

Also pictured is a little jewelry dish that a friend gave me. I love earrings, bracelets, and necklaces and almost always have bobby pins in my hair, so this is the easiest way to keep the cats from stealing those things. Not pictured are the million little things that are sentimental to me stashed below, the water glass I always have at night, and many oils, lotions, and lip balms. I’m a very pale girl with dry skin. Hydration and multiple applications of moisture-retaining agents are a must for me!

Thank you so much for inviting me to do this, Genevieve! You’re one of my favorite people on Bookstagram and I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know each other in real life, too! <3


Thank you so much for sharing today, Melissa!! xo

What’s On Your Nightstand? |Book Recommendations & More | Elisa

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Hello & Checking In:

Good morning and happy Friday! The kids don’t have school today because of parent-teacher conferences and we are expecting a larger March snow storm today and tomorrow. I have lived in Vermont almost my entire life and I still get surprised when we have snow in late March and early April…I am not sure why! Once we have that sneak peek of spring weather it is easy to forget that it doesn’t come that easily around these parts. 😉

This week’s book friend on The Nightstand Series:

Today I am so excited to introduce you to my friend, Elisa! Her oldest and my youngest are in the same kindergarten classroom this year. It is always fun to have mom friends that have kids in the same situation as you so you can discuss boring details that only they truly understand. We often text each other because we forget something or feel like we dropped the ball and it is always nice to know you are not alone!

Elisa is so sweet and is always up for an outdoor adventure with or without the kids. She loves coffee as much as I do and is always up for a 4:45pm cocktail and then popping by the grocery store on our way home at 7pm..we know how to have fun and get things done!

Elisa has amazing taste and is the co-owner of a local interior design company, Corduroy + Pine Interiors. She always has a new project underway at her own house and it made me laugh out loud to find out that she painted her bedroom wall just for the photos for this series…I think she was going to do it anyway but there is nothing like a little time sensitive motivation! I hope you enjoy learning more about Elisa today!

Introduction:

Hey, it’s Elisa! I also live in Vermont with my husband and three kiddos – two boys (6 and 4) and a girl (almost 3). I was mostly a SAHM for the past 6 years but recently started an interior design company with a good friend. I still stay home with my two youngest a couple days a week. As a family, we love to get outside whether for a walk/hike, playing at a playground or exploring a new place. I love coffee and red wine. I prefer to drink them out of the home, but also enjoy curling up on the couch with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. These days, I probably read food blogs more than I do books. I’m always on a search for a good new recipe for myself (vegetarian) or something the kids will actually eat.

I go through phases with reading. I’m currently in a rut (a year-long rut), but hoping the books on my nightstand pull me out of it. Before moving to Vermont in 2011, I lived in DC and started a book club with my grad school friends, after graduating of course. This was the turning point for me in regards to reading as an adult. I started with one book a month and soon found myself reading 3-4 books a month. Then we moved to Vermont, bought a house, had a baby and reading just wasn’t a priority, sleep was. Ha! About three years after moving here, I organized another book club with some friends and we went strong for 2+ years, but then life happens. So here I am looking at my nightstand and feeling excited and hopeful.

Currently reading:

Truth be told, the books in the picture only represent half of the books on my nightstand, but they’re representative of all the books. I’m currently between two books, Becoming by Michelle Obama and Oh Crap! Potty Training. We’re getting ready to finally get my youngest out of diapers and probably a little late to the game. I bought this book when we were in the midst of training our middle child because it was not going as easily as it did with our first, particularly at night. It’s been our parenting philosophy that if we’re getting rid of diapers, then we’re getting rid of diapers which means no pull-ups. This was fine for our first, but our second was more difficult and I needed more advice on how to train for night time and this book helped so much. I’m currently re-reading sections as we get ready to train our youngest.

I love a good memoir and have so much love and respect for our former First Lady so when her book came out, I added it to my Christmas list. I ended up getting it for my birthday in early January. My husband says he ordered the large print by accident, but I’m wondering if he’s trying to tell me something. I did just turn 39, hmm… I’m loving it so far, I just wish I made more time to read it. Like a few other guest bloggers wrote, I don’t make nighttime reading a priority. By the time the kids get to bed and I finish all my other chores or work I wasn’t able to get to, I’m exhausted and/or just want to watch a show with my husband.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain and The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin, I’m borrowing from Genevieve. She recommended these books to help me get back into reading. They both sound really fascinating. I love historical fiction novels, so I think I’m really going to enjoy The Aviator’s Wife.

The last book in the stack is The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber. I bought this about a year ago and sadly haven’t really started it, but feel strongly about this topic. As our kids get older, we want them to truly understand the value of a dollar, the importance of saving, and family value of ours, giving back. When I bought this book, I also bought each kid a give, save and spend coin bank. Maybe this will be the year I read the book. As anyone else read this? I haven’t heard any personal recommendations about this, instead, I’m trusting the reviewers on Amazon.

What’s on my Kindle?

What’s a Kindle? Kidding. But seriously, I haven’t read a book on a Kindle or other electronic device, and not sure when I will. I really enjoy holding a book, and also try to limit my screen time.

What are you currently listening to?

Like books, I go through phases with podcasts and the only audiobooks I’ve listened to are from the Magic Treehouse collection – do these count? I’m not sure I was a good pick for this blog series, ha. I’m an NPR junkie. I love to listen to it in the car when not with the kids. I’ve recently started listening to the podcast, Brave Little State, by VPR and really enjoy learning more about our state.

What else is on your nightstand?

What you see or what is really there? In the picture, you’ll see a decorative box that hides my peppermint lip balm from Beautycounter, a dollar because you never know when the tooth fairy might need to show up and some random pieces of jewelry. Also pictured is our not-so-stylish landline phone for when the school calls to cancel or when a family member needs to get ahold of me. The real reason the phone is there is that I’m a paranoid person. When my husband travels, I like the security of having a landline phone close by. Not pictured – my Fitbit charger, cell phone charger, dust bunnies, and a random sock or other articles of clothing.

My nightstand is actually a cedar chest that my grandfather had built for my grandmother as a wedding gift. It’s not the most functional nightstand since there’s no drawer and I have to remove everything off the top when I want to access the storage compartment, but it’s perfect for the spot and an heirloom.

Thanks for inviting me to write for the series, Genevieve and for the motivation to finally paint my bedroom.


Thank you so much for sharing, Elisa! <3