There is something about the cold weather, a hot beverage, a fleece blanket, and a comfy couch that puts me on a bit of a reading kick. Lately, I am devouring books like there is no tomorrow and have found some good ones to share with you.
The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
I recommend this title to anyone who asks me what they should read next. The Midnight Library is about a woman who attempts suicide and winds up in a sort of purgatory where she confronts her regrets and tries out different lives. The purgatory is in the form of a library, and each book is a life she could have lived. In a Quantum Leap fashion (for those who remember the 80’s tv show), she jumps into these books to experience alternate lives and find out what would have happened if she chose differently. Should she have married her high school boyfriend? What if she stuck with swimming and became an Olympic champion? Would she have made it as a rock star?
I have often wondered what my life would look like if I became a full-time writer out of college. At the time, there weren’t a lot of options careerwise. Content marketing wasn’t a thing back then. Blogs were non-existent. My choices were newspaper reporter or best-selling author. But that isn’t the real reason I didn’t go that route. I thought if I couldn’t be the best at it right out of the gate, why bother doing it. I still struggle with this notion, but I realize it doesn’t matter as I grow older. Anything that brings me joy is worth pursuing.
Anyway, The Midnight Library was a terrific read. I listened to it on Audible, which I found to be quite enjoyable.
Young Jane Young
by Gabrielle Zevin
What a fun and interesting read! This is a novel about Aviva Grossman, a congressional intern, who is caught up in a sex scandal with her boss – the congressman. Sound familiar? The story focuses on how this relationship affected the lives of five women – the intern, her mother, her daughter, the congressman’s wife, and Jane – the person Aviva had to reinvent herself as to carve out a life of her own. While most people focus on the public figure involved in the scandal, this book shines a light on the lesser-known, easier to blame “other woman” in the story.
I was having dinner with an author and my boss at a riverfront restaurant in San Diego when I saw other patrons gather around a small television set hung up high over the bar. On the screen was then-President Bill Clinton at a press conference declaring that he “did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky…” The scandal went from a local news story in D.C. to the national spotlight at a pace not normally seen at the time. From that point on, it was all the rage on every news channel – like the coronavirus is today. There was the “stand by your man” interview with Bill and Hillary, and then the Monica Lewinsky interview with Barbara Walters. We saw how things turned out for the Clintons and watched this young intern become a punchline. Years later, she has reclaimed herself in business as an activist, a public speaker (see her TED talk), and a fixture on Twitter (btw, her posts are brilliant).
I read Young Jane Young in two days. It’s a fast read and an interesting take on how these things take on a life of their own in the age of the Internet.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest
by J. Ryan Stradal
How does one become a celebrity chef? This novel took me into the life of Eva Thorvald, a chef known for her dining experiences that take place in spectacular locations with food and wine that is out of this world. It takes a lot of money to secure a coveted spot on her three-year waiting list. But her guests know that the opportunity is well worth their efforts. Eva’s life leading up to her success is a tale of resilience in the face of heartbreaking moments. I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book by an author who is new to me.
Cooking well is something I struggle with on a fairly regular basis. I am constantly thrown by the age-old question of “what’s for dinner?” I have a shortlist of dishes I make that my family enjoys, but I wish I were more adventurous when it comes to my culinary abilities. Being a good cook includes a recipe of self-confidence, creativity, and the knowledge of what foods go together well. I have two out of three, but that last ingredient trips me up every time.
I listened to this book on Audible. The chapters are few but about an hour long. The story is about a kind of life and way of thinking that has always been a bit foreign to me. Whether you consider yourself the celebrity chef of your family or if only known for your awesome spinach dip, but enjoy a good meal – like me – this is a good book to check out.
If you have read up to this point (thank you), please leave a comment and let me know if you like this idea for a blog post, and I’ll try to do more of them. Reading is clearly a passion of mine, and I’m happy to pass along titles I’ve enjoyed. And if you have read any of these titles, I’d love to discuss them with you.