Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Book-Lover's Holiday Gift Guide

It's that time of year again (hooray!) and if you're anything like me, you're at least attempting to get your holiday list checked off without having to panic in mid-December. No worries, because I'm here to help. Below you'll find gift ideas (both books and bookish things) for all of the bookworms in your life. And while we'll all be celebrating around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow, now is a great time to seek out these easy-peasy gifts. 

P.S. As always, I encourage you to shop local at your independent bookstore, however I understand that many readers -- including myself -- sometimes purchase books from big corporations such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In that case, I would encourage you to keep an eye out for steals & deals on Black Friday!

 For the Mystery Lover

For fans of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Louise Penny's Still Life is the perfect gift. This is the first in a (growing) series of twelve novels about the elegant Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, and my current favorite series (currently working my way through the eighth).

Other ideas: The Charles Lenox Mysteries (review here) & The Veronica Speedwell series (review here)

For the Nonfiction Fanatic

Though I am not a huge fan of nonfiction, I have a few go-to recommendations. Empty Mansions always tops the list. Fascinating, mysterious, and great for any reader interested in stories of wealth and the gilded age in America. You can read my review of it here.

Other nonfiction titles that top my list: In the Heart of the Sea (review here) & these two happy reads

For the Dystopian Die-Hard

For grown-up fans of the genre, Drew Magary's The Postmortal is a little-known but excellent work of dystopian fiction. It's totally outside my wheelhouse but I flew through it and found it very impactful.

Other ideas: Station Eleven & one of my all-time favorite classics (not dystopian but similar tone)

For the Historical Fiction Devotee

I'll admit that my tendency within historical fiction leans towards the lighter side (I prefer it to be a fun escape rather than a serious historical exploration), so if you have a bookish friend with similar taste, I'd recommend any of Michelle Moran's books, including Madame Tussaud, Cleopatra's Daughter (review here), and The Heretic Queen

Other historical fiction finds: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy & The Tudor Trilogy

For the Janeite 

For fans of Jane Austen, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a clever and intricate novel with a heroine that reminded me very much of Elizabeth Bennet.

Other ideas: The Flight of Gemma Hardy (based off of Jane Eyre) & The Austen Project series

For the Contemporary Fiction Fan

This book has been big in my reading circle (a book club pick from this summer), but I haven't seen much about it on other platforms. Its focus on past lives puts it somewhere on the line of supernatural fiction, but it's examination of society's approach to death and the afterlife and the relationship between parent and child anchors it firmly in the realm of contemporary fiction. In one word: contemplative.

Bookish Gifts (That aren't Books)

For the audiobook fan, a subscription to Audible or a favorite book.

Beautiful Book Collections

Penguin Clothbound Classics (love the whimsy!)

Customizable Harry Potter Sets (warning, expensive)

In Bloom Book Collection by Rifle Paper Co. (my personal favorite & on my wish list)


As always, if you're looking for a personal recommendation, feel free to contact me at I'm happy to help both gift lists and wish lists alike.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations (if you're in the U.S.), and see you back here next week for some more bookish talk!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A New (Online) Book Club!

Hello reading friends.

I have something to share with you today that has been a huge game-changer for me and my reading habits as of late.

If you've followed me for a while, you may already know how much I love Anne Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. Anne is my favorite book blogger, but she also writes about life, personality tests, fun things around the web, and other things that make my heart happy.

In addition to writing fabulous reviews, Anne also hosts my favorite podcast (she's obviously very talented), What Should I Read Next?, where she asks ordinary bookworms to share three of their favorite books, one book that they hate, and what they've been reading lately. She then digs through her extraordinary wealth of bookish knowledge to recommend three new reads for her guests.

Anne recently launched a new book club for readers of her site to come together and discuss all things books together. I was first debating whether or not to join the book club (it costs $10 a month), but I bit the bullet when I saw that November's book club pick was Rebecca, I knew I wouldn't be able to resist.

What I love about the book club is that not only does Anne pick a new book each month and set up forums for discussions, she actually selects a "flight" of books to accompany each month's read. That way, if you've read the book already (I read Rebecca over the summer), you have two other books that pair well with it to continue discussion of similar themes.

There's also space to talk about general book-related topics, share recommendations, etc. Essentially, it's everything you've ever wanted in a book club (ahem, people actually reading the book!!) but it's convenient if you're in a season of life where that in-person book club isn't going to happen.

I love being able to take a peek at the discussion threads during my lunch break or at night before I hop into bed with my own reading.

I find that since I've joined the book club, I feel more excited about my reading because I know I have people to discuss it with. That connection is meaningful to me, especially because I don't have a huge circle of fellow bookworms in my personal life.

My current read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club!

If you're looking for an extra space to discuss the books that you love, consider joining the book club!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

If you liked that, read this!

If you liked:

Read this:

If you're a fan of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, I highly recommend Helen Russell's The Year of Living Danishly. I just finished reading the latter over the weekend and thought it was so good that I carried it with me and (not exaggerating) pulled it out at every opportunity to spout facts about the Danish way of living to anyone within a five foot radius. 

I loved The Happiness Project when I read it two years ago and found it really helpful in reflecting on and improving my own happiness scale, and I've been drawn to any and all books that promise further revelations about personal happiness. I haven't yet read Rubin's second book, Better than Before, but it is on my list for vacation reading (hopefully) before the new year. There are two things that draw me to nonfiction writing: interesting facts (see above) and self-improvement tips. The Year of Living Danishly has both, while also convincing me that I need to move to Denmark at the earliest opportunity. I got this recommendation from my favorite podcast (hosted by my favorite blogger) and am so glad I picked it up. Highly recommended for those readers who are currently staring down the barrel of a long, cold, dark winter, as Russell writes about winter blues and how the Danes combat them because (spoiler alert) they spend months in near-constant darkness and still come out #1 on the worldwide happiness scale. Now that is impressive, and just another reason why living like the Danes is big on my goals list.