Mother of All Mavens

A whole lot o' nothing. And then someā€¦

Oops. I started writing this post way back in July when the summer was stretched out in front of me. And now it’s almost over. But not quite. The days are still long and if you try really hard it’s possible to channel that summery vibe. Especially if you step outside and feel the heat (and humidity. #MonicafromFriends) If you can’t stand the heat, get into the air con – with a fabulous book or three. Here is your MOAM Book Club – Summer Edition. Better late than never…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This book introduced me to Reese Witherspoon’s book club. I know, I can’t believe I typed that either. But it did and I’m so glad because while all her choices aren’t for me (The Library. Half fab. Half agony), this one was amazing. Terrific storytelling about a wild child growing up alone in the marshes of North Carolina. I couldn’t put it down. Neither will youC

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

This debut novel is an award-winning, buzzed-about book by a young and super talented new voice. A college-aged couple of exes find themselves entangled with an older, “cooler” married couple….A lot of feelings are felt and analyzed and while I didn’t actually love it, I appreciated the writing itself so I’m keeping it on the list. Also because Rooney’s second novel was incredible.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This sophomoric outing by Sally Rooney grabbed me from page one and wouldn’t let me go. This is a love story between two high schoolers who become secret friends, then lovers, then exes… on repeat. They drift apart and are drawn back together over the years, from school to college to beyond graduation. I adored it and may have finished it in about 3 days.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in the close-knit Muslim community in Toronto. This isn’t a particularly challenging read, but I’m a Jane Austen fan and this was a frothy, fun read that is perfect for summer – or anytime.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I absolutely adored this epic, award-winning novel. A generational saga set in Korea and Japan, this was a sweeping, heart-breaking and absolutely fantastic study of characters, history, class and family. One story would cede into the next in a totally satisfying way and I can honestly say that despite being over 500 pages, it wasn’t long enough!

Golden Child: A Novel by Claire Adams

Set in rural Trinidad, this is the tale of a family with twin sons: one is a genius who brings his family nothing but joy while the other is a challenging, non-conforming boy who brings nothing but trouble. A series of events leads the family to grapple with the age-old issue of how far they would go to ensure the success if their children? And at what expense? Heartbreaking.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

Four siblings are left to their own devices while their mom endures a period of depression. Another decade-spanning saga of characters that grow apart and reconnect. I fully invested in each of the siblings and, while the book isn’t perfect, it’s a beautifully written exploration of love, loss and family.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Every review of this book compares it to An American Marriage and The Mothers and, frankly, I couldn’t put it better myself. When Althea, the eldest of three girls, and her husband are arrested, the younger sisters must return to their childhood home to care for their teenage nieces as the trial looms. Facing demons, understanding memories and all the angst and emotions that go with it are beautifully layered in this story of family and forgiveness that is page turning and fabulous.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read this story of the rise and fall of the legendary 70’s band? Really?? What are you waiting for? The series? Yes, an adaptation of the “definitive history” is in the works. And yes, it’s fiction. Cleverly written as an oral history, complete with interviews with the band and their entourage, Daisy Jones is the perfect end-of-summer easy, breezy read.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman loses her best friend, she finds herself saddled with his unwanted dog, a troubled and mourning Great Dane. Obviously, I was all over this book. It’s a little trippy and unconventional, but I loved this study of friendship, loss, love and relationships – between friends, lovers, and dogs.

The Secrets Between Us / The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

I had The Space Between Us on my to-read list for years. And I’m so glad I held off reading this incredible story about a disillusioned upper-middle class housewife and her illiterate, long-term maid and confident. Why so glad, you ask? Because by the time I finished the book, 8 years after it was published, the sequel had been released! I was able to keep going with this unbelievable story of modern India, castes, class, gender and friendship. Lucky me – and now, lucky you!!

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

The tagline of this novel is “friends come and go…ambition is forever”. Kinda cheesy, but kinda fun in a single-white-female way! Two friends: one has it all. One wants it all. BFF’s become frenemies. You know the drill. Except you don’t. Read on…

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

I love me a multi-generational family drama. This one starts in the 70’s and follows a couple, their four daughters and their extended family as they navigate the ups and downs of marriage, sisterhood and relationships. Throw a secret adopted kid into the mix, add some serious dysfunction, and then try to put this one down.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Just when he thought he’d come to terms with the end of his 15-year marriage, Toby Fleishman finds himself charting new territory when his ex-wife disappears. People are loving this perceptive story of marriage, relationships and the narratives we tell ourselves. I felt the lead up was way too long and the big reveal, when it comes, was underp-explored. Still, everyone keeps asking if I’ve read it and loved it. Yes, I have. But no, I didn’t.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Years by Ruth Reichl

This memoir traces Reichl’s rise through the food-writing ranks: from freelance foodie, to NY Times restaurant critic, to helming Gourmet magazine from its peak to its demise. Entertaining, (ahem) dishy, and delicious – plus there are recipes!!

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Oh, Elizabeth Gilbert. How I love your writing. And how I long to edit your storytelling. There’s such great juicy stuff in this book, and it’s a quick and engaging read. I loved world of the 1930’s NYC Theatre set. I loved the premise of a “naughty girl” sent from the suburbs to stay with her flamboyant aunt. I love that she found her freedom – sexual and otherwise – and met a slew of compelling, wild characters. But I hated the narration/framing device. Like Eat, Pray, Love – I loved the Eat, loathed the Pray, and liked the Love. Two outta three ain’t bad….

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

This timely “me-too” story of feminism and friendship is bound to be adapted for TV sometime soon. It already reads like an episodic TV series. Even as I devoured it, I couldn’t believe I liked it. There’s more than a hint of Big Little Lies in these pages and though it isn’t nearly as great, there’s something about this tale of corporate cover ups, ambition and sisterhood that had me hooked.

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

Disclosure: I am a massive Ian McEwan fan. He could write out a grocery list and I’d read it. Even when he’s flawed, he’s fab. This book is set in an alternate version of 1980’s Thatcherite London and revolves around a threesome: Charlie, a lazy and lost day trader, his neighbour Miranda, with whom he’s in love, and Adam, a far-too-human AI bot. Intriguing, philosophical, and, as always, crazy clever. McEwan has re-written a history. And while it isn’t quite on par with some of his other works, it’s thought-provoking and brilliant.

AUDIBLE: I’m obsessed with my Audible app. I spend way too much time walking my beast dog and Audible has made me want to walk even more. I have no doubt these books are just as good in print, but holy shit are they compelling in the ears!!!

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Brilliant journalism. Phenomenal narration. The author has sent 8 years embedded in the lives of three very different women in this study of female desire. Sounds like a movie, reads like a novel and is non-fiction at its best.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb: A Therapist, HER Therapist and Our Lives Revealed.

The title says it all. The author is genius in every way and I loved everything about this book – except the narration. I wish I had read this on the page instead of listening. But once I got over the voice I got really into it. You will too. Amazing on every level.

You Don’t Look Your Age…and Other Fairy Tales by Sheila Nevins

O.M.G. Spit takes, snot rockets and overall laugh-out-loud bits of this book put a spring in my step and a smile on my step. Nevins’ essays on aging, errors, and other nightmares is accompanied by a star-studded cast of narrators and is sensational. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. And you’ll laugh some more.

Life Will be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler

This is Chelsea’s story of her year of therapy and self-discovery. She narrates her own story with bravery, gusto and hilarity. Dark, funny and sad all at once. I’m a fan.

2 Responses

  1. Thanks Car, loved your descriptions as always.
    Made notes. Also love Audible. The eyes are going!
    Did you ever review Educated?

  2. Hurray!! Can’t wait – I guess while you are reading, I am watching TV! Been waiting to read the Ian McEwen and a few others. LOVE Normal People (who couldn’t I). Thanks for this!

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