Hi there! Long time, no talk—I’ve been behind on posting here as I’ve had a lot going on at work. All good things happening, but has been keeping me very busy. March was a whirlwind for a lot of reasons, and I didn’t have as much time to read as I normally do, so I only made my way through four books. The ones I did read, on the whole, were great, so I wanted to make sure I was able to get an On My Nightstand post up for them. (A spoiler alert is that this month, I’ve gotten back into the swing of reading and will have more great reads to share in a few weeks when I round up my reads for April!)
One quick reminder—I used to use Amazon links in these on my nightstand posts, but going forward, I’ll be linking out to Bookshop. Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on the Bookshop map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop). Their prices are honestly very comparable to Amazon, which is great—and makes it a no-brainer. I became an affiliate on Bookshop, meaning if you purchase a book using one of my links below, I’ll receive a 10% commission—but don’t worry, Bookshop still gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores.
THE FOUR WINDS // KRISTIN HANNAH
Set in Texas during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, it made my heart break for what millions of farmers and migrants had to go through in search of a better life. Elsa had been told her whole life by her parents that she was ugly and would never be able to find a man. Then she meets Rafe. They fall in love and she becomes pregnant. Her parents disown her for falling in love with an Italian Catholic, but Rafe’s family takes her in and shows her what unconditional love from family is all about. As the dust storms roll in and threaten to steal their livelihood, Rafe leaves Elsa, their two children, and his parents behind for a better life in California—without saying goodbye. Elsa is devastated, but as more and more dust storms come, she realizes she needs to take her children out west, too, in hopes they can find a better life.
When they arrive to the Golden State, with millions of other migrants, they find themselves in terrible living and working conditions without must hope—and this story looks at whether or not Elsa and her children can achieve the American dream and make a better life for themselves.
Would I recommend it? My favorite Kristin Hannah book is, and probably always will be, The Nightingale, but this was a great read. I loved American history in school and this one piqued my interest in the 1930s and that challenging time in our nation. Definitely plan to read a more upbeat book after because it is extremely sad and hard to read at points, but so well written.
SOUTH TOWARD HOME // JULIA REED
A collection of essays about her life in the American South, Julia was such a talented writer with a very popular column in Garden & Gun; she sadly passed away last year from cancer. I found myself actually laughing out loud several times while reading this one—especially in the essay where she talks about how the Archdiocese of New Orleans ruled alligator a fish so it could be eaten on Fridays during Lent.
I was an American Studies major in college and absolutely love the lens Julia takes on American society, pop culture, and history in these essays. For those in the DC area, she went to the Madeira School and graduated from Georgetown, so she has a local connection, too!
Would I recommend it? Yes! This was my first time picking up a book by the indomitable Julia Reed, but it won’t be my last.
PRETTY THINGS // JANELLE BROWN
Nina is living life as a con artist in Los Angeles. She watches rich twenty-somethings’ Instagram accounts like a hawk, enters their orbit, and steals enough that they don’t really notice before she disappears. When Nina’s mom is diagnosed with cancer and treatment bills are coming due, Nina cooks up her most risky scam yet: preying on Vanessa Liebling, an American heiress turned Instagram influencer. When Vanessa is dumped by her fiancé, she retreats to her family mansion on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Nina knows Vanessa must have cash on hand at the mansion, so Nina and her boyfriend, create fake identities and check into the guest house on Vanessa’s estate. The pair begin to befriend Vanessa in hopes of conning her—but as the story unfolds, so do multiple layers of deception.
Would I recommend it? I liked this one overall, but it seemed to drag at points for me. If you like thrillers or books with a little bit of mystery, I think you’d enjoy it.
EVERYTHING AFTER // JILL SANTOPOLO
As a college kid, Emily had two passions: music and her boyfriend, Rob. Since then, Emily’s become a psychologist, helping students at nYU with transitions in their life. She’s married to Ezra, a doctor who has dedicated his life to helping children through terminal illness. They hope to have a child of their own and begin the journey of parenthood. But when Emily miscarries, she’s reminded of past trauma and suddenly begins to question everything in her life—including her purpose and who she’s meant to love.
Would I recommend it? I loved The Light We Lost, but was a little disappointed by More than Words. However, I loved this one and tore through it in less than 24 hours. (If you’re dealing with miscarriage or infertility, I might recommend skipping if those topics are triggering, given that’s a central piece of the plot.)