Happy 2019! I hope everyone had a nice relaxing holiday break and is ready to conquer another year—it’s back to the real world grind for me today, and while I loved the extended vacation, I am excited to get back into my weekly routine and lean into my new job.
I wanted to start 2019 off with a What’s On My Nightstand post since it’s been a while since I did a reading roundup—I may try to do them at the beginning of each month in the new year to better stay on top of them! You can always follow along with what I am reading in real time over on Goodreads—feel free to friend me there.
Each year, Goodreads allows you to set reading goals for yourself, so for 2018, I made it my goal to read 52 books—one book per week. I am happy to say that I accomplished that goal and read exactly 52 books. In the spirit of self improvement, my goal for 2019 is to read 62 books—I can’t wait for a whole set of new stories and worlds to explore in the new year!
Last year, I shared the top five books I read in 2017 in this post, and wanted to do the same this year. These are the books I could not put down and could not stop thinking about once they ended. If you’re looking for a great book to kick off 2019 with, definitely consider one of these titles—I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. (Longer descriptions of these books can be found in past OMN posts here.)
- One Day in December by Josie Silver—this book is included in the recap below, but I couldn’t put it down. I love how it explores the idea that we all start as strangers and that things tend to work out in ways we least expect it. It’s a great read on romance, friendship, and growing up.
- Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren—another great love story, this one stands out among much of the “chick lit” I read this year because it’s so well-written with many plot twists I didn’t see coming. I also love that it follows Macy and Elliott’s love story over the years—and shows how communication really can prevent years of heartache.
- Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton—a wonderful read told across the generations as Marisol who journeys to Havana to spread her grandmother Elisa’s ashes in her homeland. Elisa fled Cuba during the Castro revolution with her family and moved to Miami, and her and Marisol were extremely close. It’s a story I think many can relate to, regardless of whether or not they are Cuban (I’m not!) and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out this year.
- Beauty in the Broken Places by Alli Pataki—this is probably one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Alli and her husband are en route to their babymoon in Hawaii when her husband has a massive stroke en route. The plane is forced to make an emergency landing, and Alli’s whole life changed in an instant. Despite the circumstances, this is a memoir filled with hope.
- From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein—I loved this memoir so much and thoroughly enjoyed that DC as a city had many cameos throughout Beck’s story as Obama’s stenographer, a job she found on Craigslist. It’s definitely a must-read if you want the inside look at the White House.
Let me know which books you loved in 2018—I will be sure to add them to my list for 2019! And, without further ado, here’s a roundup of books I’ve been reading recently.
SOUTHERN SOLSTICE // SARAH SADLER
If you liked Slightly South of Simple or The Secret to Southern Charm, I think you’ll really like Southern Solstice by Sarah Sadler. My friend Emma recommended it to me, and I couldn’t put it down! It follows the story of 24-year-old Larken, who’s fiancé randomly dumps her. She leaves the life they created in the PNW and heads home to Charleston, South Carolina, where her prominent aristocratic family has lived for generations. While in town, she reconnects with her first love, Jackson—while at the same time, begins falling for a passionate surgeon, who just so happens to be her boss.
Would I recommend it? Definitely—this was a really cute, well-written read, and as I mentioned, if you liked Slightly South of Simple or The Secret to Southern Charm, I don’t think you’ll regret picking this one up!
SOUTHERNMOST // SARAH SADLER
A spin off (but not a sequel to!) Southern Solstice, I enjoyed Southernmost just as much—if not more. This story follows Kayla Carter, the mother of Jackson’s daughter. The pair had gotten accidentally pregnant in college, but recently parted ways. Kayla moves to Jackson’s hometown after an ultimatum from him. Soon thereafter, though, she learns he’s broke and has troubles with alcohol. So, Kayla begins a job at a local restaurant, which eventually leads to greater professional and romantic opportunities.
Would I recommend it? Yes! But read Southern Solstice first.
THE OTHER WOMAN // SANDIE JONES
I picked this one up because it was Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick for November. (You can see all of book picks here—I am trying to make my way through all of them overtime!) Emily and Adam are dating, and he seems like the perfect guy. Then, Emily meets his mother, Pammie—and it seems like her main mission in life is to chase Emily away. At every turn and family event, Pammie is undermining Emily, telling her the wrong information, being downright rude, and even going as far as to faking an illness on Emily and Adam’s wedding day. I was so frustrated by Pammie for the first half of the book—it seemed like it was a lot of the same plot, just repeating itself in different circumstances. Then, little by little, you learn more details and things really pick up.
Would I recommend it? I would—especially if you enjoy books with a good plot twist.
WAITING AT HAYDEN’S // RILEY COSTELLO
When I first picked this book up, I’ll admit that I side-eyed it a little bit since it’s the first book where you can shop the characters clothes. I realize that’s a little hypocritical coming from me seeing as my side hustle is running a lifestyle blog, but one thing I love about reading is that it may be the only place in my life that I’m not being sold to. Luckily, the links to buy the characters clothes were minimally hyperlinked throughout the text (I read this book on Kindle!) or footnoted at the end of each chapter.
The story on this one was really cute—two childhood best friends, Andi and Jack, fall in love during college, only to realize that maybe they met when they were too young. As their post-grad lives seem to pull them in different directions, they decide to take a break and set a date to meet at their favorite restaurant, Hayden’s, in five years. They’re only to come back to Hayden’s if they want to give their relationship another shot. The story follows their lives over the intermediate years—and I loved to the suspense of seeing if they would both return to Hayden’s.
Would I recommend it? 100%! I loved this book—and the shopping aspect did not detract from the story at all.
A LIFE LESS THROWAWAY // TARA BUTTON
I picked this non-fiction read up after Meg Hall recommended it on her Instagram stories. It’s a great read on the lost art of buying for life and how today fast fashion and marketing really contribute to us replacing items that don’t need to be replaced and buying things we don’t really need, which in turn, really has a huge environmental impact. It also goes into a lot of the history of planned obsolescence—for instance, lightbulb manufacturers realized their product was too good, and made a pact to lessen the life of the lightbulb. If any of the manufacturers broke the pact, they’d impose fines on each other. It was a quick read, but I learned a lot—and have been thinking a ton about my consumption habits since then!
Would I recommend it? Yes—especially if you want to rethink how you’re living and interacting with your belongings in the new year.
ONE DAY IN DECEMBER // JOSIE SILVER
This was Reese Witherspoon’s December book club pick—and, as mentioned above, was one of the best books I read all year. One day in December, Laurie sees a man at the bus station. Their eyes meet and it’s an instant of pure magic, but then her bus drives away. She spends the next year of her life looking for the boy from the bus station. Then, her best friend, Sarah, introduces her new boyfriend Jack to Laurie, who turns out to be the boy from the bus station. They both recognize each other from the night the year before, but don’t acknowledge it. The story then covers the next ten years of Jack’s, Sarah’s, and Laurie’s life—and explores how fate impacts our lives and loves.
Would I recommend it? STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND PICK THIS ONE UP ASAP!
A SUMMER IN SONOMA // ROBYN CARR
I picked this book up when it was on sale on the Kindle store for $1.99 and read it while I was in San Antonio. It follows the lives of four lifelong friends who live in Sonoma, California and are all experiencing different struggles that your mid-30s can bring. One friend is thinking about leaving her lazy husband, one friend was recently attacked by a date and finds herself falling for the man that saved her, one friend is secretly battling cancer, and one is ravaged by money problems.
Would I recommend it? It’s a cute read—but I think there are better stories out there!
PLAYING WITH MATCHES // HANNAH ORENSTEIN
My friend Emma told me she wanted to read this book and I added it to my list, mostly because I loved the cover! Sasha Goldberg is a recent grad who takes a job at NYC matchmaking firm, Bliss. While using Tinder to find dates for her matches, she finds her boyfriend’s profile and realizes he’s been cheating on her. As a rebound, she begins dating one of the matches she set her clients up with—which is in clear violation of Bliss policy. Chaos ensues! This is a great coming-of-age tale and an interesting look at the modern dating landscape.
Would I recommend it? Add this to your beach read list.
THE ADULTS // CAROLINE HULSE*
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of a program with Random House where I can select a few of their new titles to read each month. I’m under no obligation to post about them and always give you my honest review. Recently, I read The Adults, which I wasn’t a huge fan of—so much so, that I decided to stop about two thirds of the way through. The plot sounds like it’d be intriguing—Claire and Matt are divorced, but they want to give their daughter, Scarlett, a Christmas to remember as a united family. So they, along with their new partners, Pat and Alex, pack up for a Christmas at Happy Forest holiday park. Seven-year-old Scarlett brings her imaginary giant rabbit, Posey, along for the trip. After a few too many drinks and conversations about the past, the police are called to investigate a dispute. I really wanted to like this story—especially since it was described as Love Actually meets The Holiday, but truthfully, I didn’t really see those comparisons at all. Scarlett’s conversations with Posey were draining to me after a while, and didn’t add much to the story—and I never got invested in the adult characters. Once I realized I didn’t care how things ended, I decided to put this one down.
Would I recommend it? No—I rarely don’t finish books, but I had no desire to see this one through!
BECOMING // MICHELE OBAMA
I was initially on the library list for this one, but realized that by the time it was my turn to check it out, it’d probably be 2022—so I went away and bought it. This memoir written by Michelle Obama talks about her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago, her time at Princeton, a majority white and male institution when she enrolled, how she met and fell in love with Barack Obama, and their amazing ride to and in the White House. Though Becoming has been talked about a lot in the media lately, I’m glad I read it myself—there are so many stories that haven’t been talked about ad nauseam that Michelle shares, and I loved getting an inside look at what it’s like to be First Lady.
Would I recommend it? Regardless of your political affiliation, I think everyone can take something away from Michelle’s story and her process of becoming.