once i start, i just can’t stop

I’m so glad I found this gem of a book! After finishing The Soldier’s Wife last week, I was on a historical fiction roll and this book popped up as one of my recommendations on Goodreads. It’s about a young Italian woman coming to America during the late 19th century and working as a seamstress in Chicago. If you love good historical fiction that sucks you in from the first page on, you’ll love this! I love the author’s use of details about that time period and the character development of Irma. I sorta wish I would have saved this for my flight on Sunday but y’all know me…. once I start a good book I just can’t stop!

On that note, anyone have a good recommendation for a book to take on my trip to the Yoga Journal Conference? I know I won’t have much time for reading once I’m there (gulp) but I have two semi-long flights and need some new material…


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  • Cait H.
    September 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    It’s an older book (like from the 90s) but I’m currently reading “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. It’s like a historical fiction/romance combo. It’s my best friend’s favorite, so I had to give it a shot. Almost done 🙂

  • Sweet and Savvy
    September 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Totally off of this genre, but I recently read The Kite Runner and it is excellent. I am getting ready to start the author’s other book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

    • Sharon
      September 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      The of these books are excellent!!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb
    September 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    i have heard rave reviews of this book, will have to add it to my reading list!

  • Abby
    September 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I just read “Sarah’s Key”. Holy rip-your-heart-out. I don’t get to read a lot outside of my textbooks, but this is one I enjoyed over my break. Amazing.

  • Dee
    September 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    When I first saw the description of this book, I had to add it to my To-Read shelf. Glad to hear you really liked it!

  • Caitlin C.
    September 14, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I just finished “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” by Aimee Bender. It was wonderful – I HIGHLY recommend it!! I think you’d like it a lot.

  • Anna @ Food Fitness and Frolicking
    September 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    This may be way out of your style of reading, but my favorite book is ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus. OR if you’re feeling like reading a suspensful mystery, if you haven’t read Agatha Chritie’s ‘And Then There Were None’ it’s an absolute classic. You’ll probably finish the entire book in one sitting, like I did.

  • Carolyn
    September 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Wow, you do read through books quickly! I’m jealous … my list is a mile long, and even though I read every night it takes me about a month to read an average book. I must be a slow reader ; )

    I still really think you’d like The Book Thief. Historical fiction and a super fast read (it’s actually young adult…but don’t let that fool you).

    My all-time favorite book is Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (takes place in Ireland) (

    • B n B
      September 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      I loved Angela’s Ashes.

  • Cait's Plate
    September 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Cutting for Stone!!

    • Tracy
      September 14, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      I second Cutting for Stone – it was awesome!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    September 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    No help for you on the book but I went to a YJ conference in Estes Park about 8-9 years ago. It was amazing!!! You are going to have such a great time meeting everyone and being surrounded by all that great energy! 🙂

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    September 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I know I recommended this before, so sorry if I sound like a broken record. Little Bee is amazing. It is a moving story that really makes you think.

    • Mel
      September 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      I actually found this at the Goodwill the other day! I’ve heard good things about it on different blogs too.

  • Kara
    September 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I really liked the Hunger Game series-disturbing but drags you in and it’s a super easy read. Outlander was interesting too although not my absolute favorite. If you love historical fiction and you haven’t read any of Sharon Kay Penman’s books-look her up! She’s fabulous. Start with “Here Be Dragons”!

  • Caroline
    September 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Lotus Eaters- Tatjana Soli — soo good!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    September 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Jenna- I love your book reviews, you always keep me well supplied with new reads 😉 Just started The Voilets of March and it’s just getting good 🙂 I’ve got nothing for ya since I seem to always be 1 or 2 behind whatever you’re reading!

    • kelly
      September 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Just finished Violets of March…excellent!

  • Corey @ Learning Patience
    September 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    No suggestions for you but I wanted to wish you a great time at your yoga conference. I’m sure it will be an amazing trip!
    xoxo from Trinidad

  • Chrissy
    September 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Definitely Outlander. I read it based on another blog recommendation, swore I wouldn’t read the rest of the books in the series because they TOTALLY suck you in (I have 3 kids- like a really need another distraction)… but now I am addicted to the love saga of Claire and Jamie… sigh…

  • TanyaS
    September 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    For a heavy read I just finished The Book of Negroes and it was awesome. For a lighter read I’m reading One Good Dog right now, its pretty decent.

  • annemarie
    September 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Between Balloons by Kimberly Russell — sooo good!

  • Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine
    September 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Have you jumped on The Hunger Games Bandwagon? I’m halfway through Catching Fire (the second one) and can’t put it down…the concept is so different than anything else I’ve read—it totally sucked me in! That’s saying something b/c I very rarely enjoy the “popular” books floating around!

    • Susan
      September 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      You need to read the Hunger Games! I’m also recommending The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I should actually re-read them and continue on with the series. After I finished the 4th one, there weren’t others.

  • Laura
    September 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I’m in the middle of The Soldier’s Wife – LOVEEE ITTTT so thanks for your recommendation! I just read an older book called Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons. It totally sucked me in and is quite long so it should take up most of your plane rides!

  • Linda
    September 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    This one sounds good. I want to read it!

  • Mel
    September 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Hmmm…have you read The Thornbirds? It’s one of those forbidden romance stories drawn out for several decades in 20th century Australia. I love the mini series too from the 80’s. Also, The Things They Carried is an excellent novel which takes place in Vietnam during the war.

    • Mel
      September 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Also, JANE EYRE! Maybe you’ve read it since you were an English major, but it’s next on my to do list. I am dying to see the movie!

      • Lisa
        September 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        I loved the Thorn Birds bool and movie. Totally forgot about that one I read back I’m the day.

        • Lisa
          September 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm


  • Jennifer
    September 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Just finished “The Last Will of Moira Leahy” by Therese Walsh- definitely pick that up!

    Currently reading book #5 in C.A. Belmond’s “A Rather…” series- you should give those a try. Other suggestions include “The Provence Cure for the Broken Heart” and “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society”.

  • Shari @ The Daily Dish
    September 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    This book sounds great. Thank you once again for your recommendations. Most of the books I’ve been reading are chick lit or about food. But, here are my current reviews I’ve posted. 🙂

  • Shari @ The Daily Dish
    September 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    P.S. I tweeted to you since I made your Tamale Pie last night. It was SO awesome. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Jennifer
    September 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Also, I second the “Hunger Games” series suggestions, and raise you all “Divergent” by Veronical Roth. If you thought “Hunger Games” was good, you have no idea how much this can surpass it!

  • Christine
    September 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I just finished the lovely and emotionally gripping new book Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr. It’s about a young girl growing up with her grandparents in rural Wisconsin and learning about racism and xenophobia. I think you’d love it (if you haven’t read it)!

  • Shannon
    September 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I loved The Book of Negroes (I think the title in the USA is Someone Knows My Name) by Lawrence Hill

    • Alexia (Dimple Snatcher)
      September 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

      Now, that’s something I’d be interested in reading!!

      • Hilary
        September 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm

        It is one of my all-time favourite books!!!!!!!! Do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Alexia (Dimple Snatcher)
    September 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake”–>It has flaws but is still worth reading.

    I also love “Caramelo” by Sandra Cisnero–>As a foodie, you’ll appreciate the visceral descriptions of Mexican food!

    “Slouching Toward Bethlehem”–>DUH

    “Come Together, Fall Apart”–> It’s a novella and short stories and is a real beauty! Finished it recently…

    Have you read “Best Food Writing 2010”?! LOVED.

  • B n B
    September 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Just finished Bitter Is The New Black by Jen Lancaster. I don’t know if it’s your type of book, but it’s hilarious, sarcastic and witty. Perfect.

    The Lost Girls, Magic For Marigold (old Judy Blume book – magical like, you might like), Lost and Found.

  • Juliann
    September 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s non-fiction that reads like fiction. Olympic runner in the Air Force during WWII, plane goes down & spends 44 days at sea only to be captured by the Japanese and become a POW. It’s truly an amazing story.

    For fiction, check out Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. It takes place in the 30’s in New York City. I couldn’t put it down.

  • Mama J
    September 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Not fiction, but I think you and many of your readers would be really interested in reading The Jungle Effect, by Daphne Miller, MD (she’s a doc in SF). The book delves into the origins of indigenous diets from around the world and how to incorporate their wisdom into your own diet. SO SO fascinating, and written in such a way that it is not dry at all + you get recipes to go along with! I’m always running after my 2 yr old, so need reads that you can get into in short spurts (like at your conference), and this one is totally working for me!

  • Christena
    September 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    If you here are my favorite books (minus the books I remember you recommending on this site):

    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver-> my all-time favorite modern fiction; it is brilliant – storytelling at its finest.
    Bloodrood by Amy Greene -> this book captured me and pulled me in. I remember trying to prop it up on my lap while using the hairdryer because I couldn’t stop reading it. Set in rural Appalachia. Was so smitten with this book that I actually emailed the author.
    The Secret Life of Bees –> You’ve probably already read this one, but if not, you definitely should. Sweet book.

    • Kathy
      September 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      I second Bloodroot! It was one of my favorite reads of 2010. Also loved The Secret Life of Bees.

  • genki
    September 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I second Cutting for Stone and The Book of Negroes. Both excellent historical fiction.

  • Stacy
    September 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Outlander for sure! I am in love with this series and there are 7 books to keep you occupied for weeks or months depending on how fast you read.

  • lisa
    September 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Have you read the Hunger Games series yet? It’s 3 books total. The books are excellent, and are very quick reads!

  • Kamaile
    September 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I am in the middle of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and LOVE it. It’s set in New York City 1938.

    • Sharon
      September 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      I just finished this book and really liked it.

  • Savannah
    September 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult. I haven’t finished yet, but it’s great so far and an easy read.

  • Madeline
    September 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian” by Marina Lewycka” …sounds weird, but it’s hilarious, won a bunch of awards/prizes and is very well-reviewed. A comedic novel of sorts…

  • Louise
    September 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Wow you already have so many amazing recommendations but I just had to throw mine in too!

    I have read ‘Sister’ by Rosamund Lupton ( ) about three times now and it tugs at my heart strings and makes me cry every. single. time. It’s not historical but it is such a touching book with some good plot twists. Just have tissues handy! xx

  • April
    September 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, Mudbound by Hillary Jordan and The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff. Non-historical fiction but SOOOOOOOOOO good = Friendship Bread by Darien Gee. Happy Reading.

    Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill is one of the best books I read last year.

  • Lora
    September 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Anything by Lisa See…I just tore through “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”, “Shanghai Girls”, and her latest, “Dreams of Joy”. Could not put any of them down!

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    September 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Love books set in Chi!

  • Allison Schentrup
    September 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I just finished The Help and it was incredible. (I haven’t seen the movie but I hear it’s almost as good as the book. )

    I second the person that said Little Bee. That book is so engaging, and it’s one of those that you still can’t stop thinking about the ending after you finish it.

    Also, Let the Great World Spin is a great one that takes place on the day that Philipe Petit walked across a tight rope between the twin towers about several seemingly unrelated characters whose lives intertwine in unpredictable ways.

    I just realized all of these books are the type that have chapters that are told by different characters which I don’t typically like (the jumping back and forth can be distracting) but all of these books are great, and I hardly noticed that aspect at all.

  • Martha Ann
    September 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Try “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s WW2 and it’s amazing!

  • caroline
    September 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Historical fiction…hmm…have you read any Philippa Gregory?

  • Cari
    September 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Safe Haven- by Nicholas Sparks.

    Tear jerker… but very good.

  • Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef
    September 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    i’m almost finished with “the air between us” by deborah johnson. it’s about racial segregation in a small town in MS during the 1950s…it’s a mystery about a hunting accident and has great character development. i highly recommend it, even though i haven’t quite finished it!

  • Katrina
    September 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Sounds great!

  • Chandra
    September 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Since you like historical fiction you may like The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton and The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. All three books are set in England at the turn of the century. They are not a series, but similar in style. I enjoyed them 🙂

  • Casey
    September 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Let the Great World Spin! You won’t regret it 🙂

  • Beth B
    September 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin – you will not be able to put it down!
    I wish every book I read was as good as this one.

  • CheezyK
    September 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I see Thornbirds has already been recommended (although I don’t think it’s the best example of Colleen McCullogh’s work anything of hers is good). Also, Bryce Courtenay’s work is great – particularly the books set around the WWII era if that’s what you’re into at the moment, he does tend to go into quite a bit of gory detail though which isn’t for everyone. Personally the first place I look when I’ve really liked a book is it’s cover, other books by the same author or books written by the authors who provide the recommendation quotes also tend to be either about similar subjects or written in a similar style.

  • Sarah
    September 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I am halfway through “Well are all welcome here” by Elizabeth Berg and it’s amazing. It has everything you love in the book- loosely based on a true story, historical relevance, set in the South (Mississippi) and incredibly complex characters.

  • Melissa
    September 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I am about halfway through “Lady of the Butterflies” by Fiona Mountain. Very engaging historical fiction!

  • Lee Harrison
    September 14, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Have you read _The French Wife_ by Paula McLain? It’s about Hemingway and his first wife. Get the free sample on your Kindle.

    I happen to be obsessed with Chinese culture. I loved _Shanghai Girls_ by Lisa See. Don’t let the cover art or cheesy title throw you off. This is an important work of historical fiction. This title is cheaper in paperback than on Kindle.

  • Stacy
    September 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I definitely recommend The Hunger Games. I had avoided reading it because I was worried that there was too much hype and I wouldn’t enjoy it (usually read historical fiction) but I’m into the third book and totally obsessed.

  • Kimberly
    September 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I HIGHLY recommend Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children!
    Quick and spooky read! It is amazing!

  • Nancy in Naples
    September 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Almost finished with The 19th Wife . . . it’s about Brigham Young and all of his wives . . .this is the 19th and it’s her story. Really good!

  • Kiah
    September 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I love your book recs–I’m reading A Stolen Life right now. You were right, it is pretty disturbing, but also very powerful.

  • Jessica
    September 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Have you read “The Forgotten Garden” or any of Kate Morton’s books? About a woman searching for her grandmother’s history after she finds a book of fairy tales. Simply magical, a must read.

  • Brandy
    September 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Have you read Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer ? It sounds fitting for the weekend!

  • Chelsea
    September 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley!

    It’s post WWII England, a mystery, and the detective is mischievous and imaginative and will make you want to turn back into an 11-yr-old. I didn’t know I would find one of my favorite heroines ever when I began reading… and it has “pie” in the title = automatic win

  • Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter)
    September 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    This looks really good! Hmmm, as for recommendations.. I have read some great views for The Leftovers and am adding that to my own personal ‘to read’ list!

  • cathy
    September 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    any novel by wally lamb. although you may need a trip around the world to get through them if reading while flying!

    • Charise
      September 15, 2011 at 5:32 am

      Hah! I DID read a Wally Lamb book on a trans-Atlantic flight. It was the perfect length.

  • Jill
    September 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    If you like historical fiction; I just finished a book by Lauren Belfer called ‘A Fierce Radiance’–it’s about a woman who was a photographer for Life Magazine durng WWII and a murder mystery involving the discovery of penicillin…it was a perfect mix of romance/mystery/history and it incorporated actual historical figures too–I loved it!

  • Michele
    September 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. It’ll definitely appeal to your love of historical fiction.

  • Shannon
    September 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I have read a few of your book suggestions over the last few months (Gap Creek, Sarah’s Key, and Those who Save Us). All have been excellent. In keeping with the theme of the holocaust, I’ve been reading any book I can on it. Currently Im a little over halfway through with The ZooKeepers Wife. Have you read it? I would be interested in hearing your review.

  • adrienne
    September 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    The Language of Flowers is an excellent book that I couldn’t put down…and it takes place in SF and the wine country.

    read about it more here:


  • Paige
    September 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a great read.

  • Kate
    September 14, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Since you are coming to Colorado, and you are on a historical fiction kick, I have the perfect book for you!

    Read The Bride’s House by Sandra Dallas. Not about a bride, but about a beautiful victorian house in the mountains of Georgetown, Colorado and the three generations of women that come of age in this house. And, I am from Colorado, so I know that many of the historical points in this book are true.

    Have a great time in this state of mine, let me know if you need recommendations of things to do, see, eat!

    Other good reads to add to the list if you haven’t read them:
    -Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet- Jamie Ford
    -The Glass Castle- Jeanette Walls
    -A Dog’s Purpose- W Bruce Cameron

  • Sarah
    September 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    There is a another historical fiction set on the channel Isles “The Guernsey Literay and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows. It is quite a quick, easy read but it is charming. Enjoy your trip.

  • Jbird
    September 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Did you ever finish reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close??

  • neha
    September 15, 2011 at 1:58 am

    have you read Love Walked In or Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos??? She’s AMAZING 🙂

  • Melissa
    September 15, 2011 at 3:43 am

    i second the entire Diana Gabaldon series, starting with Outlander. it will take you forever to read all of them (they’re massive) and one more is coming out soon..but that just makes it all the better because you wont want them to end:) one of my all time favorite series

  • sara
    September 15, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Jenna – This is an old one but if you haven’t read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins I highly recommend giving it a try, its old world, modern, epic and other worldly all at the same time.

  • Katie
    September 15, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I just started reading this book about 2 days ago and am Almost done! It’s fantastic! Sad at times but, shows how resilient we are! Love it.

  • Hannah
    September 15, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I’m in the middle of Devil in the White City by Erik Larson – the true story of the 1893 worlds fair in Chicago. But it’s written like a perfect historical fiction piece. I’m really loving it, great character development, creepy/cliff hanger plot, amazing visuals. I absolutely recommend it.

  • Dolores
    September 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

    As someone recomended before “My Enemy’s Cradle” by Sara Young was outstanding! World War 2 era book. I loved it.
    Also, “Hearts of Horses” by Molly Gloss was very good. Historical Fiction. Western Frontier-ish. You do not need to be into horses to enjoy this one.

  • Jill
    September 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Jenna, thank you for all of your book reviews. I’ve read some amazing books because of your recommendations. I especially loved “The Secret Life of Bees”, “Midwives” and “Secret Daughter.” Plus I have a long list of other books I want to read.
    I just started reading “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” by Beth Hoffman. It’s great so far. It’s one of those books you can’t put down. It’s set in Savannah, Georgia and I absolutely love southern settings. I would highly recommend this book for your flight.
    By the way, I hope you have a great trip!

  • Lara @ TresLaLa
    September 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I really liked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jaime Ford.

  • Hermaine Micic
    January 30, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Sacred Hearts By Sarah Dunant is a mezmerizing book. I loved it and would reread it!

  • Joan
    July 3, 2018 at 6:06 am

    Just finished Snow in August. Very good