These what’s on my nightstand recaps are some of my favorite to write here on TOT because I love sharing what I’m reading with you—and shopping all your recommendations! It’s because of these comments and Instagram DMs with fellow readers that I’ve found some of my favorite books. (I also am a huge fan of Grace Atwood’s monthly reading lists, and shop those regularly!)
As always, you can keep up with what I’m reading in real time on my Goodreads account—feel free to friend request or follow me. Goodreads allows you to participate in an annual reading challenge, and mine this year was to read 52 books—one for each week. I’m right on track to reach my goal as I’ve read 42 books so far this year. I’m trying to figure out a goal that will really push me next year to read even more—I’m thinking 78 books, which works out to be about a book and a half a week. Let me know what your reading goals are!
Like last month, I wanted to make note that I’ve been so lucky because over the last year because Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about them, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad—as you can see below!) about them. This month, I’m reviewing one book that Random House sent over and I’ve starred it with an asterisk so you know which ones they are. Any questions about this, let me know!
THE PARIS WEDDING // CHARLOTTE NASH
Rachel has stayed home in rural Australia for the last decade taking care of her ill mother while her peers were all off at college and building their professional lives. She receives an invite from her high school sweetheart, Matthew, to attend his wedding in Paris and bring a guest—complements of the bride’s wealthy family. The catch is, Rachel never really got over Matthew and so she brings her best friend along for support. When she arrives at the wedding, she reconnects with Matthew—who seemingly isn’t over with her either—while simultaneously falling for his wedding photographer. Chaos ensues and Rachel has some tough choices to make about matters of the heart.
Would I recommend it? This was a cute light read, but I think there are better stories out there.
TELL ME LIES // CARLA LOVERING
My friend Sarah recommended Tell Me Lies to me, and I am so glad she did—I read this book in a little under 48 hours. It’s the story of Lucy, a girl from Long Island who decides to attend college far away from home—specially from her mother—at a small school in California. She meets Stephen DeMarco at a party. He’s older, charming, attractive, and bad news. The story follows their romance that begins in college and post-grad life in New York City. Lucy falls head-over-heels for Stephen, but loses a large part of herself along the way due to his manipulative and psychopathic behavior. Stephen, on the other hand, is the type of guy that never realizes his actions, past or present impact others around him. The story is told from their varying perspectives, and gives you just the right amount of new information at a time to make this a complete page turner. If you liked The Futures, I think you will also enjoy Tell Me Lies.
Would I recommend it? I could not put this book down—but, heads up, if you’ve dealt with emotionally manipulative/psychopathic/narcissistic people in past relationships, this novel might be a trigger.
GO SET A WATCHMAN // HARPER LEE
Go Set a Watchman has been on my “to read” list since it was published a few years ago. Initially billed as a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird, which is my all-time favorite book in the classic American canon, it’s since been revealed it was a first draft of the classic. Harper Lee’s editor thought the flashbacks to Scout and Jem’s childhood in this book were the most compelling part of the story, and pushed her to use those flashbacks as the basis for a new novel.
This story begins with a 26-year-old Scout (primarily referred to by her full name in this book, Jean Louise) returning to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City in the 1950s for her annual visit. Atticus is aging, and his sister, Alexandra, has moved in to help take care of him. Jem is dead. Scout’s childhood friend, Hank, is now Atticus’s mentee and is interested in pursuing Scout romantically. While at home, Scout watches Atticus introduce a man who gives a racist speech and she is horrified. The story then goes onto examine Scout’s disillusionment of the South before the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and her complicated relationship with seeing Atticus as fallible for the first time.
Would I recommend it? Eh—I know this was a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, but I honestly was a little disappointed. If you want to know the plot to stay culturally relevant, I thought the Wikipedia page did a good job summarizing it.
THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE // SHAWN ACHOR
My friend Laura recommended The Happiness Advantage to me, and I am so glad she did. In this positive psychology book, Shawn Achor shares seven rules anyone (or any organization) can apply to become happier. He also counters the commonly held belief that success begets happiness and instead argues that happiness begets success, productivity, and overall quality of life. Achor does a great job of balancing empirical research with concrete examples, and gives lots of practical advice about how you can implement his strategies in your everyday life. I will tell anyone who will listen about this book because it’s helped me a lot, both professionally and personally, since I read it about a month ago.
Would I recommend it? ABSOLUTELY. Everyone, regardless of age or occupation, could benefit from this book!
WOMEN & MONEY // SUZE ORMAN*
I feel like I have it together in a lot of areas of my life, but one facet in which I could be more disciplined are my finances. I am kicking myself for not having picked up Women and Money sooner because Suze Orman makes finance so accessible in this financial guide. She first lays out why all women, regardless of if you’re married or single, working or not, need to be in control of their financials and fully aware of their complete financial situation. She then goes into giving great financial advice on saving for retirement, buying a house, buying a car, caring for aging parents, and more. After reading this book, I changed some of my retirement contributions to better match up with her advice and put together a more aggressive savings plan for myself.
Would I recommend it? 100%! Suze presents complicated financial information in a really accessible way and she doesn’t shy away from hard truths.
ROYALS // RACHEL HAWKINS
Daisy Williams is your average high school student from Florida. Her sister, Ellie, is engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. So the palace can keep better tabs on the family’s interaction with the press during their engagement, the family moves to Scotland for the summer. There, Daisy creates quite the stir with the press after a night out partying with Prince Sebastian, which upsets the Queen, as she wants her younger son to married a titled lady. As a result, the Queen insists she fake a romance with family friend, Miles, only things aren’t so fake after a while.
THE PERFECT COUPLE // ELIN HILDERBRAND
Like all Elin Hilderbrand novels, The Perfect Couple is set on Nantucket, and in this story, it’s wedding season. Celeste, the bride, is from a working class family in Pennsylvania, who moved to New York to work at the Central Park Zoo. Her parents, Bruce and Karen make the trip to Nantucket for the wedding, even though her mother is dying of cancer. Benji, the groom, is from the wealthy Winbury family—his father is a successful businessman and his mother is a well-known writer with a trust fund. The night of the rehearsal dinner is a happy time, but the following morning, maid of honor Merritt Monaco is found floating dead in the water outside the Winbury home, and it’s Chief of Police Ed Kapenash’s job to figure out what happened.
Would I recommend it? The mystery is pretty easy figure out, but I still enjoyed this book nonetheless and would especially recommend it if you’re a big Elin Hilderbrand fan like me!
LOVE AND OTHER WORDS // CHRISTINA LAUREN
Love and Other Words flashes between the present day and 15 years ago, when Macy and Elliott meet for the first time as teens. Macy and her dad live in the San Francisco Bay area, but after Macy’s mother dies, decide to buy a second home as a retreat away from their grief-filled daily lives. While touring the home they are to buy, Macy discovers Elliott reading in the closet in her bedroom. He lives in the home next door, and the pair spend hours reading together and forge a friendship that eventually turns into something more. In the present day, we learn they stopped talking for 11 years because of one fateful night—until Elliott runs into Macy, now 29, a medical resident, and engaged to someone else, in Berkeley. Elliott tells Macy he still loves her and believes they are soulmates. As they get to know each other as adults, Elliott comes to realize Macy’s agony of that night all those years ago. This one is a total page turner and there were several plot points I did not see coming!
Would I recommend it? Yes—I could not put this book down!