November 2023 Book Report

Reading a book and drinking coffee. I have a confession to make. I didn’t finish any books in November.

I started a bunch of them, and they are all in various stages of completion. But I’m going through a dry spell. Most of the books I’m reading at the moment are nonfiction, and I tend to read those books slower than fiction. Typically, I read these books to learn something, and I like absorbing the information before moving forward.

Of course, if the nonfiction book is a celebrity biography or a memoir, all bets are off. I devour those pretty quickly.

For instance, I’m reading “Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection “ by Erica Dhawan, which is about communicating better in a remote working environment.  I’m about 120 pages in and am learning how to respond to vague and confusing emails, avoid digital ghosting, and decide if my message should be delivered via email, text, or a phone call. As a Gen-Xer who is not a digital native but wants to communicate effectively with my younger colleagues, I am finding this book extremely helpful.

Other Books I’m Reading

  • “Hot and Bothered: What No One Tells You About Menopause (and How to Feel Like Yourself Again)” by Jancee Dunn –  is about approaching this season of life with information and a sense of humor. Chapter titles range from “Why Did I Walk Into this Room Again?” to “50, Shades of Gray.” I can’t wait to review this one for you next month. 😀
  • “The Six Minute Memoir: Fifty-Five Short Essays On Life” Mary Helen Stefaniak – I love memoirs and essay collections, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Initially, I bought this for the writing prompts in the back of the book, but as I go through each short chapter, I am enjoying this author’s real-life anecdotes written in great detail.
  • On Brand,” by Aliza Licht  – I’ve always been interested in developing my personal brand as a writer. While I was working, I didn’t have much time to dedicate to the idea. But now that I have some time on my hands as I look for my next career move, I’m getting a lot out of this book, which offers a beginner’s look at rebranding ourselves and sharing our vision with the world. As a side note, the author is pro-Israel and has fantastic content on Instagram to educate and inform people about Israel and the rise of antisemitism. I highly recommend her book and her platform.

That’s it for the books I’m reading. However, it’s not the end of my book report. There’s more. 🙂

Saying Goodbye to Books I Don’t Want to Read

I’m doing some end-of-year decluttering and decided to dig into my bookshelves. I could seriously start a pop-up bookstore because I have too many books. I found books I forgot I owned. I walk into a room, and there is a book lying on the table or piled up in the corner. I don’t want to treat my books this way. I spent good money on them, and they deserve to be read or put away until I can get to them.

I also found titles that no longer interest me. At the top of my donation pile is a recent best seller I know many people loved: “This Time Tomorrow” by Emily Straub. After several attempts at reading this book and similar time travel stories, I’ve decided this is not the trope for me. To be clear, I enjoy books with different timelines — like a character whose story switches from past to present. This back-and-forth writing doesn’t bother me.

I’m talking about actual time-travel stories involving a protagonist literally going back in time through some strange portal and not knowing how they got there and trying to get home. So many of these books are described as being similar to the movie “Groundhog Day.” I know I’m in the minority here, but I really disliked that movie. For me, reliving the same day repeatedly with slight variations in order to learn a lesson or right a wrong is not how I want to spend my precious reading time. So those books automatically land in my donate pile for someone else to enjoy. And more importantly, I’m giving myself permission to not buy those books, even when the titles get rave reviews.

By the way, if you have a trope you don’t like, I am giving you the go-ahead to make room in your bookshelves for books you know you will love.

What book tropes do you stay away from? Friends to lovers romance novels? World War II stories? Violent plotlines? Children in jeopardy? Let me know in the comments. 

Happy reading!


October 2023 Book Report

Yesterday, I enjoyed lunch with relatives who love to read. We exchanged titles we liked and gave a few brief book reviews. I learned that I come from a long line of avid readers, and we all have similar tastes in books. It was a joy to talk about our favorites and how much we love the book clubs we belong to.

This month, I didn’t read a lot of books. I couldn’t settle on something I wanted to read, so finding the right book for my mood took time. Some readers can select a pile of books and read through them. Unfortunately –or fortunately– I get easily distracted by the other books on my shelf. I guess it’s a nice problem to have, so I can’t complain.

Luckily, I picked one terrific book this month and gave it five stars. So, without further ado…

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

If you don’t mind a book with unlikeable characters, this is the perfect read for you. Fair warning: There is no character to root for in this novel, but I promise you they are all fascinating in their own right.

But let me back up. Yellowface is about two talented women writers, one more successful than the other. Athena is an Asian-American woman who has published award-winning bestsellers, has loads of fans, and has attained celebrity status in the publishing world. June published one novel that met mixed reviews and editors and publishers that ghosted her left and right. No one is asking her to write something new, and her dream to become a famous writer is fading fast.

The women have had a like/loathe friendship since college, and jealousy runs rampant between them. One night, while the two of them are having dinner in Athena’s apartment, Athena dies suddenly in a freak choking accident. She leaves behind a manuscript of legacy potential about Chinese labor workers, which June snatches up and makes into her own book. Soon, June –now known as Juniper Song–gets all the attention she ever wanted as a writer. Some are suspicious that this novel was really hers. Juniper/June can fend off her doubters for a while, but eventually, they haunt her until she can’t take it anymore.

Yellowface is a satirical look at the writing life and the publishing world. The author also weaves in extreme narcissism, white privilege, online mystery, and the shocking lengths one will go to keep the truth secret. You don’t have to be a writer to appreciate the twists and turns here, and the ending is immensely satisfying.

I listened to this book on Audible and was entertained from start to finish. If you read and enjoyed “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid, I think you will also like the similar themes of race and privilege, the friendship trope, and social commentary in this book.

Nonfiction November

I’m a big fan of nonfiction books. My favorite is memoir and personal essay collections, but I’m also a history buff and a trivia nerd. This combination of interests leads me to pick up anything I find interesting.

I already blogged about “Surely You Can’t Be Serious: The Making of Airplane!” here, but I’m adding one caveat to my previous review. Buying the book is definitely better than listening to it on Audible. While visiting an indie bookstore, I paged through the actual book and realized it was in a scrapbook format. Kind of like a keepsake or a souvenir and less like a book. Had I known this beforehand, I would have mentioned it because it is difficult to translate that format into an audio version. Nevertheless, I still didn’t care for it because it was more about the writers than the movie, which was disappointing.

I’m also in the middle of a few business books, including “Digital Body Language,” which is teaching me how to best connect with colleagues, customers, and cohorts online. So much miscommunication can happen when a rogue punctuation mark, the wrong emoji, or the tone of a text message is used and incorrectly perceived. Not to mention, rectifying the confusion from that communication can waste valuable time in the workday. Whether through a Zoom meeting, a Slack channel, or a simple email, there are ways to be much more effective, and I know I will be an even better communicator after I finish this nonfiction gem. FYI: I checked this book out at the library, returned it, and bought a hard copy for my bookshelf. That’s how much I want to have it handy when I start working again.

I’m hoping to have a much more productive reading life this month. Sadly, my Goodreads goal is looking like a pipe dream, but I’m still hopeful. As always, I’m open to suggestions, so tell me –what have you been reading lately?



Sunday Ramblings

Leaves on the ground and trees in the fall. What a month this has been! So much has happened, and I haven’t been able to keep up with it all. You would think not working would leave me plenty of time to write 31 blog posts this month. But looking for a job is a full-time job, and it’s pretty stressful and draining. Therefore, I haven’t held up my end of the bargain as I had hoped, but I am enjoying the ultimate blog challenge and everyone who writes for it. I’ve also picked up a few new subscribers. You know who you are, and I thank you.

Some good news is that my husband landed a new job. I’m very excited for him, and so proud. I admit it also takes the pressure off of me a little bit now that one of us is employed. Unfortunately, I’m hitting a wall with my search and have received a number of “you are great, but we filled the position” types of emails. These emails are kind of like the “it’s not you, it’s me,” lines from back when I was dating. I keep telling myself that job wasn’t the right one for me and I’m still on my way to finding something I’ll love.

In other news, I got a COVID-19 booster shot on Wednesday, which knocked me out. I forgot to take Tylenol after the shot and paid for it dearly. Four days later, I’m still feeling some side effects. But I think I’m over the hump.

And I’m still trying to get over the Phillies not making it into the World Series. That was a real bummer. With everything that is going on in the world, baseball was a wonderful distraction.

My reading life is a bit stalled, but I did finish two books this month. I also bought a few more books than usual. I’ve been so good at not buying books. I don’t know what came over me, but I can’t say I’m sorry. I’m also still a regular at  my local library. I need to tackle that stack of books next before their due dates come up. I borrowed a newly-released 800 page biography about Madonna. I’m a fan, but I’m not sure I’m that much of a fan. I attended one of her concerts many years ago and consider it one of the worst shows I’d ever been too. I love her music, but she outright refused to play any of her classic hits. That was a missed opportunity for me. Anyway, I doubt I’ll get through the entire biograph, but you never know. I am big on 1980s nostalgia which might keep my interest. Stay tuned.

Finally, I love the fall weather. Even this this weekend was rather warm, I enjoy the leaves changing colors and the scenery. When I’m running errands, I take a little longer to enjoy driving around my area. I feel fortunate to live in a part of the country where we get to experience all four seasons.

Someone remind me that I said that last statement when we are under a foot of snow. 🙂

I think that’s it for tonight. See you all tomorrow.



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