7.18.23 2

On My Nightstand: Spring 2023

Hello + hope you are all having a wonderful summer! I’m back with the books I read in Q2 this year (April, May, June) and there were a lot of good ones that made their way to my nightstand. In Q1, I read 22 books and in Q2, I read 17 books. I think I will exceed that number in Q3 given I have some vacation coming up where I can dedicate my time to reading. (As a reminder, the reading goal I set for myself at the start of the year was 75 books! You can view my tips for reading often here.)

Before I recap all the books I read this spring, I wanted to remind you of my book rating system:

  • Five Stars: an amazing book I could not put down and/or stop thinking about once I finished it; would highly recommend reading it!
  • Four Stars: a great book that stands out above your average read that I would highly recommend reading.
  • Three Stars: an average book that I generally enjoyed, but if you asked me for a book recommendation, I’d probably recommend another title first.
  • Two Stars: a terrible book that was hard to finish; I would not recommend reading it.
  • One Star: a book that was among the worst I’ve ever read. You probably won’t see too many of these because I usually DNF (do not finish) these books and don’t count them towards my yearly reading goal.

I keep track of everything I read in real-time over on Goodreads and via my Instagram Stories if you don’t want to wait for these quarterly book roundups.

As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and am really grateful for the opportunity to partner with Random House in this way. And, as always, you can follow along with what I am reading in real time over on Goodreads.

Happy reading — and please let me know if there’s been anything good on your nightstand lately.


The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley

This is one of the best books I’ve read all year — I loved it and highly recommend you add it to your “to read” stack.

Tanner needs a place to live — preferably one where she can continue sitting around in sweatpants and playing video games all day. She’s got no credit or money, so when an opportunity to work as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman, Louise, falls into her lap, she takes it. But the thing is — Louise wants a caretaker even less than Tanner wants to be one. So the pair start off their living arrangement happily ignoring each other until Tanner starts to notice weird things. Like why does Louise keep her garden shed locked tighter than a prison? And why is the local news focused on the suspect of one of the biggest jewelry heists in American history who looks eerily like Louise?

Thus begins the story of a not-to-be-underestimated elderly woman and an aimless young woman who — if they can outrun the mistakes of their past — might just have one of the greatest adventures of their lives.

Before We Were Innocent by Ella German

looooved this book and stayed up way too late one night before work reading it! I would classify it more as a literary mystery than a thriller — it’s more suspenseful than scary. It also seems to me to be a roman à clef about the Amanda Knox case.

Two years ago, Bess, Joni, and Evangeline had just graduated high school and went off to Greece together to spend one last summer together before college. Evangeline dies in an accident, and Bess and Joni are arrested, but ultimately cleared of having any involvement in their friend’s death.

Ten years later, Joni finds herself tangled up in a crime eerily similar to the one fateful night in Greece, and, as she did back then, she leans on Bess for support. But can they both finally face what happened that summer night ten years ago and all the ways it has impacted them since?

Happy Place by Emily Henry

I loved that this book explored how friendships change as you get older and how they are just as valuable in our lives as romantic relationships.

Harriet and Wyn dated since college, but broke up five months ago — and they still haven’t told their friends. Which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. And because the cottage is for sale, this is the last week they all have together at their happy place. So they decide it’s best to pretend they’re still together to spare their friend’s feelings. It seems like a flawless plan, after all, how hard can it be to fake it for one week…in front of those that know you best?

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson

I absolutely loved Pineapple Street and am craving a sequel so badly! I even randomly recommended it to someone in my apartment building elevator — that’s how much I was thinking about it after!

This book follows three different women in one wealthy Brooklyn family who are each going through a challenge in their life. Darley, the eldest daughter, followed her heart and traded her job and inheritance for love, but is starting to realize she might have given up too much when her husband unexpectedly loses his job. Sasha, a middle class New England gal, married into the family and finds herself cast as a gold digger when she and her husband move into the family’s beloved Pineapple Street brownstone. And Georgiana, the baby of the family, has fallen in love with someone she can’t have — and has to decide what kind of person she wants to be.

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld *

I loved this book so much — I read it before I went to the Eras Tour and seriously considered bringing it to the concert venue because I couldn’t put it down.

Sally is a writer for The Night Owls (essentially an SNL show) who has long given up on love. Enter Noah Brewster, a pop sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signs on as both a host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly as they collaborate on a sketch together. She begins to wonder if there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy — it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her…right?

Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

This would make a great beach read! Sam’s life is on track — her fiancé is a doctor, she’s got a great job in Manhattan, and she is about to tour a wedding venue near her family’s Long Island beach home. Everything should go according to plan, but within minutes of arriving, she realizes something is very off: Wyatt is also on the island. But there’s no reason for a 31-year-old engaged woman to feel panicked around the guy who broke her heart when she was 17. Right?

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Another great read by Annabel Monaghan — I basically read it in one sitting on a flight, and it was delightful! Nora knows the formula for love better than anyone — she’s a romance channel screenwriter, it’s literally her job. But when her too-good-for-work husband leaves her and her two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen. And when Leo Vance, Hollywood’s Sexiest Man Alive, is cast to play her husband, her life will never be the same.


The Kingdom of Prep by Maggie Bullock

I did this one as an audiobook and it was such an enjoyable and insightful listen. This is the epic story of J. Crew from the beginning — including the etymology behind the word “prep” and the history of how Arthur Cinder and his daughter Emily built the store’s catalog business from nothing. I didn’t know anything about this chapter of J. Crew’s history, but found it fascinating — and definitely relevant for anyone building a brand. The author also covers the Mickey and Jenna years, which I was more familiar with — but still found engrossing nonetheless. J. Crew has been a part of my life for so long, and so many of their pieces have been part of my life at pivotal moments. This one was so well done and I would definitely recommend it!

Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune was my favorite book last year, so I had high hopes for this one! I liked it a lot, but would still pick her debut title as my top choice.

Fern has wasted too much of her adult life thinking about Will, who she spent 24 hours with in her early twenties. The timing was wrong, but everything else seemed right. So they made a pact to meet one year later — Fern showed up, Will didn’t.

Fast forward, and life doesn’t look like what Fern thought it would be. Instead of living in a big city, she’s back home, running her deceased mother’s lakeside resort — something she vowed she would never do. The place is in disarray, her ex-bf is the manager, and she doesn’t know where to begin. She needs a plan — and to her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late.

Anna: The Biography by Amy Odell

I did this one as an audiobook, which I really enjoyed. Like many, I have long been fascinated by Anna Wintour — this is a very comprehensive look at her life, from her upbringing in London to her ascent at Vogue. I really enjoyed this one — I ultimately left with a positive opinion of Anna, but thought Odell did not shy away from presenting fair criticism as well.

The Comeback by Ella Berman

After reading Ella Berman’s Before We Were Innocent, I wanted to go back and read her previous novel. When I find an author I love, I really enjoy reading their back catalog! I could not put this book down, but will give a content warning for sexual assault.

Grace Turner was one movie away from being Hollywood’s A List star. So no one understands why, at the height of her career and on the eve of her first Golden Globe nomination, she disappears. Now, one year later, she’s back in LA and ready to reclaim her life. So when she’s asked to present a lifetime achievement award to director Able — the man who controlled her every move for eight years — she knows there’s only one way she’ll be free of the secret that’s already taken so much from her.

Tell Me Everything by Minka Kelly

I did this one as an audiobook — I love hearing celebs narrate their own stories. I am a big Friday Night Lights fan and always loved Minka as Lyla, but didn’t know that much about her life outside of the show. This memoir was so beautifully written — Minka had a rough upbringing with a mostly absent father (Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay) and a mother who was an addict and a stripper and who often left Minka for months at a time. She details her early adulthood before acting — she was a customer sales rep and eventually a nurse — and speaks candidly about her time on Friday Night Lights. I am in awe of her vulnerability and ability to overcome so much stacked against her.

Also the last line of this book — amazing.

The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey

This was Kristy Woodson Harvey’s first historical fiction and I loved it — especially because I find the Vanderbilt family fascinating!

The story flips between the present day and 1914 — there’s a lot of mystery and intrigue that kept me turning the pages. In the present day, Julia’s wedding veil, given to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even this veil’s luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever.

In 1914, socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina after the death of her beloved husband. She is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy — and prepare her free-spirited daughter, Cornelia, to inherit the estate. But Cornelia has dreams of her own — and she’s torn between upholding tradition and pursuing the future that lies outside of Biltmore’s gates.

The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand

I have long loved Elin Hilderbrand, and as long as she is writing, I’ll be reading. I have read every single one of her books, but I have to say, the past several releases have been my favorites — this, 28 Summers, and The Hotel Nantucket were all fab beach reads in my book!

Hollis has what seems like a picture perfect life — she’s the creator of a popular food blog that took off in the pandemic and is married to Matthew, a successful heart surgeon. But after she and Matthew get into an argument one snowy morning, he’s killed in car accident. The cracks in her perfect life begin to show. So, when Hollis hears about a “five star weekend” where you invite your best friend from each phase of your life to join you, she decides to host her own at her house on Nantucket. The story follows each of the women, who are all at a unique crossroads in the mid-life…and it turns out to be a weekend like no other.

The Good Ones by Polly Stewart

I’ve been enjoying thrillers + literary suspense more as of late, and this one was such a page-turner! (I’m also terrible at figuring out where these types of stories will go, so don’t use my opinion on if it’s predictable or not.)

The last time Nicola saw Lauren alive, she was scraping a key along the side of a new cherry red Chevy. That was the night before her friend mysteriously vanished from her home, leaving behind signs of a struggle and a grieving husband and young daughter. Now, 20 years later, Nicola returns to her Appalachian hometown still haunted by the disappearance of her childhood friend and is determined to find out what happened to her friend, once and for all.


Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

This book was published back in 2016, but I recently saw it on display at Barnes & Noble, and was intrigued! It was a super cute read, and I found the protagonist to be very endearing.

Kate’s almost fiancé ditched her and she does not roll with the punches — it seems almost nothing will get her out of pajamas and back into the real world. Luckily, one cringe-worthy job interview leads to a position in the admissions department at Hudson Day School in NYC. So Kate is thrown into a highly competitive culture where she interviews all types of children — and they’re Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer. As Kate begins to learn there’s no room for self-pity during admissions season, those around her find themselves keeping secrets to keep her on her feet.

The Matchmaker by Catherine Walsh

I love Catherine Walsh’s books and will read whatever she writes — but of her four books, this was my least favorite one. That being said, it would still make for a great vacation read!

Katie has lived in her small hometown of Ennisbawn, Ireland forever and has no plans to leave — and why would she? It has a tight knit community, the local pub she works at, a gorgeous countryside, and her beloved grandmother. But plans for a new hotel just outside the village causes uproar. After being laughed off the construction site in her pajamas by the developer, she hatched a plan to save her small town by reviving its famous matchmaking ceremony which will help designate it as a historic site. The only problem? Katie may find herself falling for one of the developers.

Leave a Comment


  1. Adding several of these to my list!

    Published 7.20.23
    • Katie wrote:

      Yay!! Hope you enjoy.

      Published 8.15.23