This past weekend I headed up to Maryland with the three kids to visit my parents. Last year for my birthday before we knew we were moving my dad bought tickets to a show for us to attend together. When we knew we would no longer be in Maryland, I told my parents I would travel back with the kids so my dad and I could go. It was a quick trip as we had to be back for soccer games Sunday, but it was nice to spend quality time with my parents. I also used some time in the car to listen to a bit of my audio book, but I will admit that my book was highly inappropriate for kids. I waited for the moments that Wilder napped and my older kids had headphones on. Prior to this particular book, I had only listened to two other audio books that were kids novels on a road trip we took. As an avid podcast listener, I knew I would enjoy the experience so today I thought I’d share that with you as well as some of the other books that have graced my nightstand recently. Today in “What I’ve Read Lately” I’ll be discussing a couple of non fiction pieces as well as a couple of fictional thrillers. I find after an inspiring non fictional book, I often need to read a quick page turners just to give my introspective brain a break. 😉 (This post contains affiliate links).
Let’s dive into the audio book first, since it’s probably the one I am most excited about! Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson is the follow up to her book, Let’s Pretend that Never Happened, which I reviewed here. While her first book is a memoir, this book focuses on the author’s mental illness, which includes severe anxiety as well as depression. Lawson has a way of approaching such a serious topic with raw emotion, self deprecating humor and wit, and realness and relatability. While I don’t suffer from these illnesses per se, I can certainly relate to the way that Lawson thinks… I tend to let my brain explore roads it really doesn’t need to and I overanalyze every conversation I have, wondering if I said or done the right things. I have never in my life dressed up as a koala bear to hug koalas, nor have I ever carried a taxidermy armadillo hand bag onto a plane as my carry on, yet I still find Lawson extremely relatable. In the book she also replays several conversations between her and her husband, Victor, who is portrayed as the stable and steadfast husband. In all honestly, I hear so much of the conversations Chris and I have throughout those moments. I guess someone has to be the crazy one, and I am glad it’s me in our marriage because I think that makes me more fun, but Chris might disagree.
I truly think we are at a pivotal time in our society where mental illness is being talked about more and more, as it should be. It’s not shameful, and it doesn’t make someone a bad person. Help is always there if we are willing to let people in. In this book the author explains all of the things that she does when she knows she’s struggling, and gives her readers hope for the future. Whether mental illness or depression affects you are not, chances are you know someone who is quietly suffering. I strongly recommend this book to make you laugh, make you cry, but most of all, to give you hope. Additionally, I want to add that listening to it as it was read by the author was an incredibly moving experience. I am so thrilled she overcame her fear of reading her own book to share her real voice on this recording. If you are into audio books, please listen to this!
While we’re on the topic of self help type books, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis is another recent read of mine. I’ve had this book on my radar for a long time and after a very long book hiatus, it was the very first one I picked up. A month or so ago, I was feeling pretty low… I shared a little bit about that here, but I was just feeling “stuck” and doubting my abilities to do much of anything aside from being Mom. As you can see on the very top of the book, it reads “Stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be.” That sentence just stuck out at me because I was believing the lies the voices in my own head were telling myself. (Please see my review of the first book… told you I understood! 😉 ) I shared on social media that I was finally diving into it, and holy moly, there were some thoughts out there! My friends who are much more religious than I am were of the party that didn’t like it and believe that despite its publication as a Christian book, it’s going against God’s teachings. Well, to be totally honest here, I didn’t even know it was a supposed Christian book (my head was in the sand apparently) and I was reading it much more as a self help book. In that mind set, I truly loved this book! The author takes us lie by lie through all of the negative things we tell ourself, and then talks about how she overcame them and how we can, too. I admit that I found her mostly relatable, but sometimes utterly obnoxious and self-aggrandizing. Sometimes I laughed along with Hollis, and other times I rolled my eyes. However, when I finished the last chapter, closed the book and set it on my nightstand, I felt truly empowered. No matter what I want to do in life, I can do it if I believe in myself. That’s the truth Hollis wants us to see once we break down all of those lies. I was in need of a swift kick in the pants and this book was just the thing to leave me feeling pumped and ready to take on the world! You may have not noticed a difference in me, but maybe you have… She gave me the motivation to focus on what I truly want to do, and that’s to succeed at blogging again.
As I mentioned earlier, in between books that cause me to reflect on myself, I like to read page turning thrillers and novels that don’t require me to think so much beyond the pages, at least not about myself and how I need to change!
Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown caught my eye immediately. I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but this one drew me in. Billie Flanagan, a beautiful wife to Jonathan and mother to teenage daughter Olive vanishes while hiking in the nearby forest. Her body is never found, but her shattered phone and a single boot are discovered and she is presumed dead. Almost a year later, while Jonathan is hard at work writing his memoir of their love story, Olive starts to have strange visions of her mother and is convinced she is still alive. Jonathan and his daughter find themselves searching for Billie, and making discoveries along the way about the woman they thought they knew. I am not going to give anything away, but I will tell you that I loved this book up until the very last chapter… I found the ending highly disappointing. I closed this book not mournful that it was over (as so often happens to me) but bitter that it ended the way it did. I still recommend reading it though because it’s a captivating story that will keep you guessing!
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is a short novel about a couple, Marco & Anne, who go to their neighbors for a dinner party, leaving their baby home alone in their connected row home, with only a monitor and physical check ins every 30 minutes. When they arrive home for the night finally, they discover that their baby girl is missing! We’re shown several perspectives throughout this book and lead to believe several possibilities…. the detective covering the case seems to believe Anne who was suffering from severe PPD killed the baby and the Marco helped cover it up. This book was a quick read with an entertaining story. There were some intriguing plot twists, but overall it was a little predictable and the actual writing felt somewhat emotionless. If you read it as well, I would love to hear how you felt about it.
I’ve read several books by T. Greenwood and have truly enjoyed them all. She has a beautiful way of writing and weaving a story together. I actually read Bodies of Water a year ago, but I like to share reviews in fives, so thought I’d add it in here. I apologize because my memory of it is a little bit rough, but this book is the story of Billie Valentine, a suburban New England house wife married to a demanding husband and mother to two adopted girls. One fateful summer, Ted and Eva Wilson move in across the street. They have three kids and another on the way. Soon the wives become friendly, but an illicit affair starts and the families are torn apart. Once again, Greenwood delivers a beautifully written story about the power of love and strength of character. While it was not my favorite of her books, I have found all of hers thus far to be worth reading.
That’s all I have for you at the moment, but I just started listening to Amy Schumer’s book this morning as I went for a run; I figure listening to her tell funny anecdotes will be just like running with a girlfriend, be it a girlfriend who has no filters. (And if we’re being honest, that’s the kind of girlfriend I want in my life!). Tell me about some good things you’ve read!