Recent Reads

by jenna on January 22, 2014

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

I’ve been reading fantastic books lately! Some of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time, in my opinion.

Because of all our holiday travel over the past few months, I’ve been able to able to crank through book after book. It felt wonderful. Now I’m back in real life and, for the first time in a long time, am not currently reading a novel. Instead, I’ve taken to reading collections of birth stories and other nonfiction “birthy” type books because they a) fascinate me and b) I can’t believe my body is going to go through that in just a couple short months. Wow. I know people say not to read too many books and “just go with it” and I get that, but as for me, I like to know what’s going to happen exactly with my body. Plus, I find them super empowering to read.

But back to fiction for a moment. These five books are killer! I want to start with The Fault in Our Stars because it’s, hands down, the best book I’ve read in a long, long, long time. I read this entire book on a long flight after Christmas and cried when it was over. It’s amazing and beautiful, and I recommend it to everyone I know. The character of the mom is my favorite. Just thinking about her makes me tear up {pregnant sap alert}. Moral of the story: if you haven’t yet read this, read it first! I think you’ll love it.

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The Chaperone was another fabulous read. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you guys know how much I adore historical fiction. This book is a fictional account on the life of Louise Brooks, the silent film star in the 30′s. I devoured every single page on yet another long flight. It reminded me slightly of another book I loved – Orphan Train.

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Calling Me Home is a sweet little novel that also made me cry. Crying while reading is becoming the norm if you can’t tell. It alternates between the past and present. It read sort of like a movie and kept me happily flipping pages.

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The Laws of Gravity was a great read that reminded me of something Jodi Picoult {another one of my favorite authors} would write. So…if you like anything by Jodi, you’ll most likely love this one, too. It’s very interesting and really makes you think.

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Mastering the Art of French Eating isn’t a novel but reads like one! I was crazy excited to get my hands on Ann Mah’s newest book since I loved her last one so much. It’s a memoir of a woman’s year in Paris after her husband gets deployed to the Middle East and she’s left in a foreign city on her own. I eat up books like this. I {obviously} love reading about food and Paris, my favorite city, so this was a no brainer. I recommend this to all my travel and foodie friends out there!

That should keep you busy for awhile! I’m interested to know what great books you guys are reading right now. Anything great and noteworthy?

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryea {happy healthy mama} January 22, 2014 at 3:28 am

Thanks for the recommendations! I added a couple to my list. I just finished reading What Alice Forgot and loved it. I’m getting ready to start Whistling Past the Graveyard for my book club. Everyone whose read it so far has raved about it, so I’m excited.

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Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs January 22, 2014 at 4:19 am

Great recommendations! I’m always looking for new books to read, so this list is much appreciated! :)

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Jane January 22, 2014 at 4:38 am

Going to download all of these right now! Always love all of your suggestions. I just read The Night Film and it was fantastic. Everyone is raving about Goldfinch so I’ll try that next as well.

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Chicago Jogger January 22, 2014 at 4:46 am

Mastering the Art of French Eating looks amazing! Adding it to my list. I purchased Fault in Our Stars for Kindle but haven’t read it yet – sounds like I should :)

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Karen T. January 22, 2014 at 5:25 am

For birth stories, Ina May Gaskin’s book about The Farm with true birth stories is so empowering. I devoured these stories before I gave birth and they helped me believe in myself and my body….such awesome stories of fearless mamas. On another note, my book club is reading The Obituary Writer. It sounds morbid, but it’s not, I promise!

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Madison January 22, 2014 at 5:39 am

I usually try to read most of the books you pick–you are great at picking them out! You should start a Jenna’s Book Club like Oprah. :)

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Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner January 22, 2014 at 5:44 am

I am actually reading ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ right now! I started it on Monday, and I’m three-quarters of the way through. I already know I’m going to cry at the end. The dialogue is just fabulous, though.

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Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 22, 2014 at 6:04 am

Thanks for the recommendations! I am always looking for new books to read :) I have been enjoying reading on the spin bike this week, but I am going to need more books to do it because I am almost done with mine!

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Traci January 22, 2014 at 6:27 am

I’m trying to read 100 books in 2014, but so far it’s been slow going due to being busy. But I am always more thoughtful and generally happier when I’m reading a lot. And okay, it’s time I read The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve been hearing good reviews of this one since it came out. It’s time.

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Tam January 22, 2014 at 6:35 am

Also another good read while your awaiting baby, La Leche League – The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Incredible book.

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katie January 22, 2014 at 6:38 am

I am also expecting this summer and I just finished reading Beth Ann Fennelly’s, “Great With Child” and it was absolutely wonderful. After spending time reading other pregnancy related books focused more on the medical details, this was a great change of pace. Fennelley is a poet and the book is so beautifully written- it is actually a collection of letters she wrote to a friend who was expecting. I really think you would love it!

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Ashley January 22, 2014 at 7:01 am

The fault in our stars is on my wish list! I recently finished Me Before You by JO Jo Moyes. I loved it and love a lot of the recommendations you give so I hope you will too !!

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Elizabeth Batte January 22, 2014 at 7:19 am

I read The Fault in our Stars and loved it so much! Thanks for the other recommendations! Right now I’m reading Sister Mother Husband Dog. It’s great! I have my eye on the Goldfinch as well.

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Kelly Mitchem January 22, 2014 at 7:32 am

I read The Fault in Our Stars several months ago and it was so so good! Just like you I cried like a baby at the end!
I have Mastering the Art of French Eating on my list but haven’t started it yet, so glad you said it’s good that makes me excited to get around to it!

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Krista January 22, 2014 at 7:43 am

Just finishing up Tell The Wolves I’m Home. It’s been a great read so thanks for the suggestion! And thanks for writing posts like this. ;)

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Elisabeth January 22, 2014 at 8:39 am

You should read the rest of John Green’s books if you haven’t already! I’ve been a fan of his since his first (Looking for Alaska) and haven’t missed a book yet ;)

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Judith Scott January 22, 2014 at 9:11 am

Jenna, thanks for the list. I always love your choices, and this list sounds amazing.
I just finished a wonderful book A Kick Ass Fairy by Linda Zercoe. She is in my book club, here in Danville CA (for non-locals it’s in the SF East Bay Area). Linda is not only an incredible person, what she has gone through in her life, as chronicled on the pages of her book read more like fiction, but are all very real. At the center of it is her fight against FIVE different kinds of cancer. Please support 1 of our local new authors!

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Kate January 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Hi, neighbor! (I’m in San Ramon :) ) I’ve been hearing that this is a great book.

I read The Chaperone a few months back at the insistence of a friend and ended up really enjoying it. She wants me to read The Fault in Our Stars next, but I promised my mom I’d read While We Were Watching Downton Abbey first. I’m currently reading An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. Wonderful, but I have to be in the right mood, so it’s a bit slow going.

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Bryony @ Bryony Cooks January 22, 2014 at 9:22 am

I definitely cried while reading The Fault in Our Stars. And I loved Orphan Train, so I’ll have to check out The Chaperone. Thanks for the recommendations!

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Laura@SneakersandSpatulas January 22, 2014 at 9:41 am

I love “the Fault in our Stars” book and it was truly one of the best books I read last year!

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Megan January 22, 2014 at 9:52 am

Join our book club at Art by Megan! We have a great group of ladies and last year for 2013, we read 13 novels. Most of us are moms, so that’s quite a feat :)
Enjoy.
Megan

book club link here:
http://www.artbymegan.com/14-2014-book-club-whered-go-bernadette-january-2014/

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Avery @ YoungAspirations January 22, 2014 at 9:54 am

Would love a post on what baby books you’re reading!

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Laura January 22, 2014 at 10:30 am

The Goldfinch was amazing! It is long but I thought it was a page turner and a beautifully written book.

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Tracy January 22, 2014 at 11:30 am

I couldn’t agree more about The Fault in our Stars. Best book I’ve read in a long, long time! A must read.

I always love your book recs! Always winners for me. I just downloaded a couple of these :)

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Danica @ It's Progression January 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

I love your recent reads/book posts – just added a bunch of these to my to-read list!

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mich January 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm

A friend recommended the book Bringing up Bebe…it’s about an american woman who has a baby in France…

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Joyce January 22, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Been hearing such good things about ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’
Have to get on that!

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Lori January 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Hi Jenna, I believe that what I learned about pregnancy and birth through The Bradley Method is one factor that REALLY helped me feel confident about the whole thing. Knowing exactly what is going on in the body really helped get me through it. I was able to think rationally about what was happening. I don’t know if you are hoping for a drug free delivery but I do believe that educating yourself about birth is a great step to take to hopefully have one. Of course there are things out of our control that determine the way our birthing experiences go. I think it’s smart to read lots of birth stories, too, and not just happy natural ones. Those are very inspiring and motivating but even for the healthiest of us who are *sure* it will go well, it’s smart to know the different scenarios that can happen so that we’re prepared for dealing with them, just in case. I think that Georgia of Documenting Delight wrote beautifully about her feelings after a cesarean birth (3rd birth after 2 natural, uncomplicated births). It really made me realize that I wasn’t as prepared as I though I was for a situation like that. I wish you the best birth experience, Jenna! It is amazing!

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Alexandra Aimee January 22, 2014 at 5:21 pm

The Chaperone looks great! I love historical fiction too :-) Have you read any of Lisa See’s books? Snowflower and the Secret Fan is a great cry-while-you-read-it historical fiction.

– Alex at Brainy Girls Beauty

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Emily @ Life on Food January 22, 2014 at 5:32 pm

I have been eying several of these books for a while now. I have several flights coming up so I will be downloading up a storm.

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Analiese January 22, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I absolutely loved The Fault in Our Stars. I think you would really enjoy The Sky is Everywhere and Eleanor and Park based on the books you enjoy!

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Erin January 22, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Love these recommendations, and would also love to know what “birthy” books you’re reading – I’m due riiiiight after you in May. :)

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Jaclyn January 22, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Jenna,
Thank you for posting some book recommendations. I live in Toronto and we are experiencing a DEEP freeze – it’s all I can do to cuddle up by the fire with a book. My Kobo (like Kindle) needs some new material so this will be a great start!
Many thanks from your Canadian friend!

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lindsey January 22, 2014 at 8:49 pm

I just finished Ella Minnow Pea… it’s an epistolary novel and such a humorous delightful book! You’ll have no problem knocking that one out (if you haven’t already)Plus you’ll learn a ton of new words :D . Overview:
Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,*“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop

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Mary J January 22, 2014 at 10:30 pm

I hadn’t had a new absolute favorite book since reading ‘The Power of One’ by Bryce Courtenay 20 years ago…that was until I picked up ‘the Fault in our Stars’. An amazing read, such a genuine novel with exceptional prose. *love*
John Green’s other novels are also very good, infact some people will argue that ‘Paper Towns’ may be even better than FIOS. Not myself, having read both, FIOS still comes out on top, but my 13 yr old daughter who devours every book in sight disagrees ;) and she also LOVED FIOS.
I also love historical fiction so I look forward to picking up the Chaperone. I have to suggest ‘the Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B’. If you haven’t already read it? It tells the story of the girl who becomes the wife of Napolean Bonaparte, starting with her life when she was a young girl, the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, Napolean’s rise to power, and his exile to Elba…while following their love story. Such a great read.
Also, Margaret George. My favorite author of historical fiction.
I really enjoy your blog, both the food and the book entries are wonderful – what better combination could there be?!

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Betsy January 23, 2014 at 3:43 am

TFIOS – one of my favorite fiction reads. I have three copies just so that I can lend it out to friends. Read it two years ago and … have you noticed the uptick in the name “hazel” for new parents? I have THREE friends with baby Hazels. Great read!

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Denise January 23, 2014 at 5:19 am

Agree Jenna. Absolutely loved “The Fault in Our Stars”!

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colleen January 23, 2014 at 6:37 am

Reading “The War on Moms” (it’s a couple years old). I struggle with balancing a job and a family, with a husband who works all the time, but there are so many in this book that are worse off than me: people who cannot find childcare, people who work all day to come in at the poverty level. It just makes me want to offer free childcare myself and help people! Also reading “This is the Story of a Perfect Marriage” – although I have not read any of Ann Patchett’s novels, this is a great collection of essays.

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Jess January 23, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Love, love, love, The Chaperone! I got 3 of my girlfriends to read it to, and they loved it as well! The Fault in our Stars was amazing too! My next read is Orphan Train, so I can’t wait to read it. If you want an easy read, the Divergent series is really good. I could not put the first book down! It was absolutely fantastic! I’m still reading the third one, so I’m reserving judgement on that one right now.

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Natalie January 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Have you found ‘Birth without Fear’ blog yet? She’s on fb, IG, and Pinterst also. I just had my 2nd son 5 weeks ago, and couldn’t get enough of all the birth stories! And, pretty dang proud I got the VBAC I wanted so badly! ;)

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Torrie @ a place to share... January 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm

just added every single one of these to my wishlist. love your book recommendations. i just finished ‘the language of flowers’ yesterday… i loved the concept & idea of being so utterly knowledgeable/mesmerized by flowers… by the meaning behind each one… & the emotions that they induce.

{haven’t commented in a while, but still here!}

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cecile January 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I loved the FIOS. I’m reading Where’d you go Bernadette? Funny and sad at the same time. The story is read as letters and emails. You will enjoy it!

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Jessie January 23, 2014 at 7:20 pm

We just read that for book club. Really good book!

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Corrie Anne January 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Loved the Fault In Our Stars… curious about some of the others now!!!

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Coty and Mariah@quirksandtwists January 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I get so giddy when you list your favorite reads. They all look like dandy reads!

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Jessie January 23, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Read The Fault in our Stars and LOVED it! Thanks for the recommendation!

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Chelsea January 23, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Just read Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes and really enjoyed it. If you like her other books, you’ll like this one. Thanks for the recomendations!

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Stephanie @ Long Distance Baking January 23, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Love love LOVED Fault in our Stars!! I just got Julia Child’s My Life in France and can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing! You have great recommendations!

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diana newman January 23, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Hi! I just ran across your blog on bloglovin’ and I absolutely love The Fault in Our Stars as well. When I first read the book, I read it all in one sitting and thought it was just beautifully written and I cried at the end as well for many reasons but a lot just because it was over. I love reading and I’m definitely going to be checking out some of the others you’ve recommended :) thanks so much for the information :)

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Luv What You Do January 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm

I have the fault in our stars on my night stand table right now. I can’t wait to read it!

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Cassie January 25, 2014 at 6:46 pm

I love this post! I’m always looking for new suggestions. I just finished ManRepeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls by Leandra Medine and I started The Lowland which I already love. It’s so unlike anything else I’ve read. I was falling asleep reading last night because I just kept saying “one more chapter one more chapter”.

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PamL January 26, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Don’t know if you ever read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s from 2008. Great historical fiction–one that I remember well. It’s written a little differently- it’s all letters from one person to another. Took a bit to get used to, but I really enjoyed it.
Also, if you love historical fiction, Elizabeth George Speare is a classics author who has written a few novels that are maybe geared more towards young adults, but are absolutely awesome historical fiction. The Witch of Blackbird Pond is my favorite, The Bronze Bow is awesome, and Calico Captive is the third. All set in different times, all captivating, all classics.

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Shannon R January 27, 2014 at 6:29 am

LOVED The Fault in Our Stars! So beautifully written! Definitely need some tissues for that one.

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Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit January 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I’ve been needing a new book to read and I saw somewhere else that ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ was a great one. I’ll have to look into getting that one!

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sherri January 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm

i really enjoyed reading bone river by megan chance. it’s set in the mid 19th century on the coast of southwest washington. healer by carol cassella is also another good read.

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Kim January 28, 2014 at 7:21 am

Have you read The Book Thief yet? It was really good. Right now I’m reading Goldfinch. It’s super long, but the story really draws you in.

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Caitlin January 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Mastering the Art of French Eating has been on my to-read list for awhile now! I added the ones from this list that were not already there. Thanks!
The Fault In Our Stars was beautiful and amazing. I don’t know if it’s one of the best books overall I’ve ever read but definitely the best WRITTEN book if you can understand the difference! I have hopes the movie will be great. I don’t cry while reading but I know if I did then that book would’ve done me in. I know the movie will.

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PamL February 6, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Just finished Calling Me Home. The ending–have to say I totally didn’t see that coming and it was a tearjerker! Very touching book. It’s interesting to read books about black/white relationships in that time frame (1930s-40s). I can’t tell if it really is true to life (since it is fiction) or if some of it is our perceptions from this time period…..put back in time. Don’t know if that makes any sense. Anyway, it just makes me think about it.

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Hannah R. March 22, 2014 at 8:33 am

I know im a little late on reading this post but I had to tell you that I totally agree about The Fault in Our Stars. Hands down a favorite of mine. I bought it for a few people for Christmas after reading it. And for for the first time in my life I even read it a second time to my husband. He loved it too.

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