Category Archives: Books

Book of the Week: Go the F**k to Sleep

Book of the Week for February 16 – February 22

Go the F**k to Sleep


Why it’s interesting:

Have a kid? Ever been tired? Then, yeah, this book is for you. I highly recommend downloading both the Kindle version and the Audible version. Put the screaming kid in its room. Pour yourself a big glass of wine. Put your headphones in. And enjoy.

Caveat: Eventually, the book will be over and the kid that refuses to go to sleep will probably still be screaming. But you won’t be quite so on the verge of tears yourself.

The blurb:

Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, it captures the familiar—and unspoken—tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. Beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny, Go the Fuck to Sleep is a book for parents new, old, and expectant. You probably should not read it to your children.

If you like this, you might also like:


Austin Kleon: Jurassic Park Theory of Parenting



Glennon Melton: Quit Pointing Your Avocado at Me



Book of the Week: Carry On Warrior

Book of the Week for February 9 – February 15

Carry On, Warrior


Why it’s interesting:

Oh my goodness. This book. If I could, I would buy it for EVERY WOMAN I KNOW. Especially those with small children. Especially those that are Christian, and immersed in Christian subculture. I have not struggled with the things Glennon struggled with. I don’t know what it’s like to get wasted, get arrested, or wake up and realize I’m pregnant and an addict. But here’s the thing: the way Glennon writes—I relate with almost everything she says. As a mother of small children, as a woman trying to figure out how to be a wife, as a writer trying to figure out how to get the right words on the page, as a Christian who is often straight-up angry at the church and the way *we* treat people.

I heard Glennon speak at the Storyline Conference and, honestly, didn’t relate a whole lot to what she was saying, at least not for my own life. I did immediately know I needed to send this to one of my friends, though, and I did, from the handy dandy cell phone in my hand. But then I started reading her blog and decided to use one of my audible credits to get the book for myself. I listened to it mostly while walking the dog and more than once came running in the house, straight to my computer, to see if I could find the blog post that had become the essay in the book (the book is based off her blog, but it’s not verbatim) then shouted for my husband.

I have a bunch of favorite quotes, but I’m going to hold off sharing. I want to know if you read it, or her blog, what do you think?

The blurb:

Glennon Doyle Melton’s hilarious and poignant reflections on our universal (yet often secret) experiences have inspired a social movement by reminding women that they’re not alone. In Carry On, Warrior, she shares her personal story in moving, refreshing, and laugh-out-loud-funny new essays and some of the best-loved material from Her writing invites us to believe in ourselves, to be brave and kind, to let go of the idea of perfection, and to stop making motherhood, marriage, and friendship harder by pretending they’re not hard. In this one woman’s trying to love herself and others, readers will find a wise and witty friend who shows that we can build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.

If you like this, you might also like:



This is Glennon’s blog. And rather than try to find a comparable book, I’m just going to point you there. Your welcome.

Book of the Week: An Untamed State

Book of the Week for February 3 – February 9

An Untamed State


Why it’s interesting:

Told in alternating perspectives from a woman who has been kidnapped by Haitian rebels and her father and husband working (or not) to free her, this is not a story of good triumphing over evil or a person digging deep within herself to fight the bad guys. It is raw and, often, incredibly hard to read. Which makes it impossible to put down.

The blurb:

Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.

If you like this, you might also like:

The Fever


A Book of the Week pick back in November, The Fever has that same “real” feeling that An Untamed State does. And, of course, incredibly writing.

Book of the Week: Help, Thanks, Wow

Book of the Week for January 18 -January 24

Help, Thanks, Wow


Why it’s interesting:

Anne has always been refreshingly honest about her faith, even when that honesty is about the lack-thereof. In this book, she points out the obvious that so many of fail to see: there are only three necessary prayers: “Help”, “Thanks”, “Wow.” And, really, that is what it all comes down to, isn’t it? Written in her amazingly honest and blunt voice (which I LOVE) this is a quick and totally worth-it read.

The blurb:

New York Times-bestselling author Anne Lamott writes about the three simple prayers essential to coming through tough times, difficult days and the hardships of daily life.

Readers of all ages have followed and cherished Anne Lamott’s funny and perceptive writing about her own faith through decades of trial and error. And in her new book, Help, Thanks, Wow, she has coalesced everything she knows about prayer to these fundamentals.

It is these three prayers – asking for assistance from a higher power, appreciating what we have that is good, and feeling awe at the world around us – that can get us through the day and can show us the way forward. In Help, Thanks, Wow, Lamott recounts how she came to these insights, explains what they mean to her and how they have helped, and explores how others have embraced these same ideas.

Insightful and honest as only Anne Lamott can be, Help, Thanks, Wow is the everyday faith book that new Lamott readers will love and longtime Lamott fans will treasure.

If you like this, you might also like:

Bird by Bird


Bird by Bird is one of those books that “all writers should read” but I really think it’s a book that anyone who is alive can get something out of. Because, yes, writers need to be reminded it’s okay to do shitty first drafts, but isn’t a lot of life like that? We know what we want to accomplish, we try and it sucks, but we can tweak it. (It’s not just me, is it?)

Book of the Week: Dark Places

Book of the Week for January 11 -January 17

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark places

Why it’s interesting:

Holy crap. Dark Places is one of those books that you start and you can’t put down, even when it’s creepy and awkward and you don’t think you want to read anymore and you need to go to sleep or participate in life.
*One caveat: there seem to be some editing issues. I can’t tell for sure, and I actually would love to have a discussion about it. There are places where I felt like the wrong tense, or maybe even wrong word, was being used. But, then again, much of the book is told from a marginally sane person’s perspective. So maybe that was the point. Tell me what you think.

The blurb:

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

If you like this, you might also like:

gone girl

I mean, I get that it’s almost cliché to recommend Gone Girl at this point, but I did really love it. And the two books are similar enough that I can confidently say if you like one you’ll like the other.

Book of the Week: Non Picks

Not-so-much Books of the Week for January 4 – Janaury 10

Where did the idea that once you start a book you need to finish it come from? Assignments from school? I’m really not sure. But I distinctly remember my aunt telling me in high school that i don’t have to finish books I don’t like. It doesn’t matter if the book is good or bad, if I’m not enjoying it, life is short and I should move on.
I think it’s worth reiterating: this isn’t about whether the book was good or bad most of the time, usually it simply isn’t right for me. I’ve had a couple lately I’ve quit, and one I’m thinking about quitting, and I’m going to tell you about them. Not so much so you don’t read them yourself, because you might love them. That’s the same reason I don’t post bad reviews (at least, not very often.) One man’s pass is another’s best of the year. But I want to pass on the permission: if you don’t like it, put it down and grab something you do like. There’s millions of options out there.

Art, Inc.

I was pumped to get this book from the library. I listened to a podcast with the author and I loved the premise. i’m trying to make money in the creative field. Perfect, right?

Not so much. it was too basic for me. It has a TON of good information. It was just stuff I already knew.

Creativity, Inc.

(Not related to Art, Inc.) This actually didn’t look that good to me, anyway, but my husband really wanted it. I grabbed the audiobook for our 52 hour car trip. Besides the fact that I cannot jive with the narrator’s voice, it’s just not interesting to me. It sounds like he was trying too hard to sound like Stephen Covey and really, I just want to hear about how awesome Pixar is.

Orange is the New Black

I haven’t completely given up on this book yet, but I’m very close. I LOVE the TV show, and I love hearing about some of the plot points from Piper Kerman herself. However, none of the anecdotes so far have been developed into any real story. It’s just a very dry “this happened, then this, then I went here.” There’s actually a lot of potential with the manuscript, obviously, it’s how the show got made. It just falls short for me as a memoir.

Book of the Week: Dear Committee Members

Book of the Week for December 28-Janaury 3

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher


Why it’s interesting:

I’ll admit it, I put this book on my too read list based simply on the fact that i live in the same town as the author, not so much because I was actually intrigued by the subject manner. Schumacher is a teaching at the University of Minnesota, in the Creative Writing program, which was the first program I tried to get in to (I only applied once, and was rejected, along with more than 99% of the other applicants. And I was NOT ready the year I applied.) But anyway, her affiliation with the program also made me want to read the book.
It starts out a little slow, but the style— recommendation letters— are so short that it’s easy to press through. And then all of a sudden you’re hooked and want to know what’s going to happen to this guy (the writer of said letters) and his students, friends, and colleagues. It was a quick and addicting read. I hope you enjoy it.

The blurb:

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can’t catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville’s Bartleby. In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. We recommend Dear Committee Members to you in the strongest possible terms.

If you like this, you might also like:


The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. I had a really hard time coming up with a book to pair this with, and the Amazon recommendations didn’t really help until I got to this one on the fourth page. But it does seem like a good option. I read it about the same time last year and had a lot of the same feelings about it as Dear Committee Members.

Book of the Week: The Son

Book of the Week for December 8-December 14

The Son by Philipp Meyer


Why it’s interesting:

This book has gotten so much critical acclaim it’s hardly even worth noting at this point. I will admit, I bought the audio version mostly because I knew I “should” read it, but I didn’t think I was necessarily going to like it. Plus, it’s LOOOOONG. (577 pages. It’s approximately the size of a phone book. I’m a mom. And a writer. And I have a job. 577 pages takes a long time to read!) The reason I didn’t think I was going to like it, but bought it anyway, was because a few years ago Richard Ford’s Canada received a similar amount of acclaim in the writing and book world, and I did not like it. I can appreciate it from a educational perspective, and I expected to feel similarly about this book.

I started it on the end of a three-hour drive up north. I’ve been listening to it whenever I can (the audio file is 18 hours long). Picasso has been getting extra-long walks so I can listen more. The other day in the van, I put the radio on the kids’ favorite pop station, turned the speakers in the front off, and listened to it through my phone’s speaker. I’m completely wrapped up in it.

It’s three (at the end, four) different narratives, told simultaneously: Eli’s, his son Peter’s, and his granddaughter Jeanne’s. The time frame spans the 1800s (Eli’s) up to the last few years (Jeanne’s). (Telling you the fourth would give too much away. Sorry.) The thing that I really love about it is this: each story could stand on it’s own. And it’s weaved in a way that gives the reader insight that the characters don’t have, without it feeling gimmicky or overdone. And there is no point when you go: Oh! That action caused this and this and this and now we’re here in present time and it really started 200 years ago. It’s real. So real, it’s hard to remember it’s fiction.

Also, in a lot of ways, it’s a western. Not at all my thing, but so beautifully written that I am completely able to overlook the genre.


The blurb:

Philipp Meyer, the acclaimed author of American Rust, returns with The Son: an epic of the American West and a multigenerational saga of power, blood, land, and oil that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family, from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the to the oil booms of the 20th century.

Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply evocative, The Son is a fully realized masterwork in the greatest tradition of the American canon—an unforgettable novel that combines the narrative prowess of Larry McMurtry with the knife-edge sharpness of Cormac McCarthy.

If you like this, you might also like:

The Invention of Wings. Also historical fiction that doesn’t feel like fiction. I read it in September. I’ll need to do a Book of the Week on it sometime soon, it was one of the best books I read this year.


Book of the Week: Kind of

I don’t have a single book of the week to give you this week, and I might not for the rest of the year. We’ll see.

Here’s my reasons:

  1. The book I just finished was not very good and I don’t recommend it. It has good reviews, but I didn’t think the writing was very compelling, the interesting parts of the plot were underdeveloped, the twist was obvious, and there was a lot of repeated introspection with very little action. Plus, I have a problem with the husband having multiple affairs over the course of the marriage but the wife had one ten-week tryst and him finding out about it seven years later is what brought down the marriage.
  2. There are so many best books of the year lists. They’re fun.
  3. Beyond her reading, I love Rae’s blog, and I think you should check it out.

So…instead of Book of the Week, I present…Say It Ain’t So: Rae’s quest to read 100 books in 2014. (Spoiler alert, she’s going to make it!)

Click over to her blog (this link will take you to all the posts tagged for the 100 books goal). She’s read some great ones (and a few duds). I’ve read many of the same books (although no where near 100 books this year) and generally agree with her reviews. Plus, she’s funny. And if you like antiques or vintage at all you’re going to love her blog.

Book of the Week: The Fever by Megan Abbott

Book of the Week for November 24-November 30

The Fever by Megan Abbott


Why it’s interesting:

We all know how much I like fiction based on real life.  The Fever: A Novel was loosely inspired by a mysterious outbreak in LeRoy, New York. Megan write an article about it for Huffington Post and there’s more information about it on her website. After reading (and loving) Dare Me, I’ve had this book on my To-Read list for a while (I almost bought it based off this interview) and just got the email from the library on Saturday that my digital copy was waiting.

I haven’t done much else this weekend besides read.

It’s addicting. The pacing is phenomenal, the characters development is far beyond what Abbott did in Dare Me (and, again, I loved that book) but with very little exposition. It’s incredibly hard to put down. I usually read while I dry my hair in the mornings and I couldn’t today because I knew if I did I wouldn’t stop and I wouldn’t get anything done today. I’m looking forward to the kids’ bedtime tonight so I can finish it.


The blurb:

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, THE FEVER affirms Megan Abbott’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation.”*

*Laura Lippman


If you like this, you might also like:

Dare Me.  I don’t know how I heard about this book, or whether it’s inspired by anything real, but it was my first introduction to Abbott’s work and it’s also masterfully written.