readers are leaders (unofficial book reviews)

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over the course of my adventures abroad, i managed to read not one, not two, but THREE whole books of the non-us-weekly-variety. i know, go me! they’re a bit of an eclectic collection of literary pieces (so be warned), but each enjoyable in their own way. so if you’re looking for something new to queue up on your nook or kindle or other electronic reading device, here’s my two cents (or would it be six cents?) on my latest reads.

i was told there’d be cake | sloane crosley

image via: blessed by jess.

image via: blessed by jess.

this came to me on the recommendation of a dear friend. so coupled with my prior knowledge of crosely’s work, i had pretty high hopes for this book. unfortunately, it did not live up to its original hype. maybe i hold witty writers to a higher standard after four reads through tina fey’s bossypants and weekly perusals through drewber’s spot-on bachelor recaps, but aside from a few rogue giggles, crosley’s collection of essays documenting life as a twenty-something navigating urban life fell flat. and it saddens me to admit that, but it’s the truth. so if you’re looking for a laugh, save your money and just go read a few posts on i’m not here to make friends instead. you’re welcome.

it’s not you: 27 (wrong) reasons you’re single | sara eckel

image via: good reads.

image via: good reads.

okay so given the title, you’ve probably already formed some sort of opinion about this book. and maybe some sort of opinion about me as to why i might be reading it. well let’s just call out the elephant in the room. i’m a 28-year-old single gal and i would be lying if i didn’t occasionally question why it is i’m still unhitched. so, you know, color me intrigued.

anyway, i know better than to take “self-help” books too literally. there is one and only one handbook on how to navigate singlehood and it certainly wasn’t written by a freelance writer living in new york (unless God lives in manhattan). but after reading and enjoying her piece from the new york times earlier in the year, i figured her book might be equally as entertaining. and truth be told, it was. i’m not saying that every single girl should go out and buy this book and adopt sara’s words as their new life philosophy. hardly. but there were a few moments throughout those 200+ pages that i really felt understood. furthermore, eckel is a beautiful writer, so it’s an easy and pleasurable read.

in perusing amazon’s comments section, i stumbled upon a review that captures my overall sentiments about sara’s piece beautifully: “…this book is the opposite of advice, and more like a very human connection in a book form. I think there is wisdom here beyond just singleness, into how to live with more grace for our selves and others, to let our hearts long and be open while also appreciating and savoring the sweetness of life even when it is hard (source).” as far as pep talks are concerned, she’s certainly no coach taylor (but then again, who is?). but sara eckel is pretty effective in her “i speak from experience” counsel. and for that reason, i recommend this book whole-heartedly.

me before you | jojo moyes

image via: i'm charming you.

image via: i’m charming you.

so i saved my favorite of my three reads for last (obvi). gah, this book, y’all. it is so good. but to be completely honest, it did take a bit of convincing for me to pull the trigger on purchasing it for my nook. after reading the fault in our stars, i wasn’t sure if i was ready for another emotional girl-unexpectedly-falls-for-her-total-opposite-guy-friend (i’m trying not to spoil it here). but then i read a review from one of my favorite contributors on grantland and her enthusiasm for this novel was so visceral that i couldn’t help but be intrigued. so i purchased it and queued it up about mid-way through our australian travels. i am not exaggerating, i could not put it down. i would suggest to M that we should go back to the room to “nap” just so i could have an opportunity to delve back into its pages undisturbed. but the further along i got through moyes’ novel, the more saddened i became. not because of the subject matter, though that didn’t help matters, but more due to the realization that my time with louisa clark and will traynor was coming to a close.

i mentioned before that i finished me before you while waiting at the gate to board my flight back to america. and that i had more than just one tear streaming down my face upon its completion (it was probably somewhere between being misty-eyed and a full-on sobfest). given the stirring emotions of that afternoon alone, i would take my reaction with a grain of salt…BUT i did just recently receive a facebook message from a friend who said she had read one of australia recaps where i mentioned my affections for the book and had taken my advice to read it herself. turns out she balled like a baby and then proceeded to (in jest) blame me for the recommendation. so be warned, me before you will induce tears. but ruined mascara aside, it will touch you in ways that, for me, few novels before it have. in juliet’s recap, she references a quote from liesl schillinger, a regular contributor for the new york times. in schillinger’s review of me before you, she opens with the following line, “When I finished this novel, I didn’t want to review it; I wanted to reread it.” my thoughts exactly.

i’m not gonna lie, i’m feeling pretty accomplished with three whole novels already under my belt in 2014. turns out, reading that doesn’t involve a textbook or instructional guide can be pretty entertaining. and yes, “reading” that doesn’t involve a photo of kim kardashian’s backside or lady gaga’s barely-covered front-side can be pretty entertaining, too. while i have just dipped my toe into the bat by jo nesbro, M’s recommendation and gift to me for the plane ride home, and still have a barely-opened copy of the boys in the boaton loan from a member, i’m always looking for book suggestions to add to my “must-read” list. so keep ’em coming! after all, readers are leaders, guys.

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