On Becca’s Bookshelf // October Edition {+ Introducing A New Series!}

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Welcome to a new series on the blog! I’ve been wanting to share little book reviews each month because I feel like I read and read and it all goes in my brain and never helps anyone but myself. I’m hoping this will be a way to share the best books I’ve read so that you can benefit from my discoveries and mistakes. No reason to keep all the good ones to myself… or the bad ones, for that matter!

Plus it’s always fun to find out what other people read and loved. I hope that this will be a place where we can discuss books, share our favorites, and find some new good reads. Please share if you agree, disagree, or have something to add to these book reviews, or if you have something similar to recommend!

But for now, here are the books that took me from the mellow days of late summer to the curled-up-in-a-blanket books of deep autumn:

Seven books, most of them good, a couple of them rather mediocre, that I read in October:

  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve loved two of Rainbow’s (what an awesome name!) other books, especially the sweet and endearing Eleanor & Park. Landline‘s premise is that Georgie and Neal’s marriage has gone sour and they are spending some time apart over Christmas — until Georgie discovers an old telephone on which she can call her Neal… in the past. Their lengthy conversations reignite their spark, but unfortunately they killed the spark for me. Skip the tedium and dive into Eleanor & Park or Attachments instead, which are far sweeter and better written. (Note: All Rainbow’s books include allusions to sex and quite a bit of language, so read at your discretion!) —  2 stars
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Liane is one of my favorite authors; I’ve read both What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret each in about a day. She is so talented at twisting the everyday life of elementary school families into life-or-death moral dilemmas, weaving together stories with larger-than-life characters and believable situations that get wildly out of hand. As usual, her book was easy to read but left me wondering, “What would I do if that happened to me?” for weeks afterwards. — 4 stars
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I avoided reading this book for as long as I could, thinking, “Why would I spend 432 pages of my life on a horribly twisted marriage?” But Elliott read it and could barely put it down, and when the movie came out, he wanted to see it with me. So I finally got my hands on the book, read the first few pages, and barely looked up. Nick and Amy’s marriage is horrible, but Gillian Flynn does not shy away from showing people as they truly are — selfish and twisted — or from revealing what happens when couples manipulate each other for power in a marriage. On top of that, Gillian is a brilliant writer with a spectacular imagination, and her writing and plot twists will leave you breathless till the last page. — 4 stars
  • Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marilyn Gardner. I loved this book enough to write a whole blog post and a book giveaway for it, which you can read here! Marilyn addresses the life of third culture kids: children who spent the majority of their childhoods outside their passport country. I grew up overseas, and her words unlocked whole rooms of memories and emotions for me. If you have an interest in living overseas or doing cross-cultural work, this book is a must-read. — 4 stars
  • Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. Modern Mrs. Darcy (aka Anne, the author of one of my favorite blogs) recommended this short and sweet little volume for book lovers. Published in 1917, it is the story of a farmer’s sister who decides to purchase a horse-drawn bookmobile and escape her life of household drudgery. Love and literature, of course, find her along the way. Morley writes with rollicking enthusiasm that will bring a smile to your face, and the sweet turn-of-the-century style is a refreshing break from modern literature. — 4 stars
  • Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer Scott. I’d been wanting to read this book for about a year, and finally I had to put it on hold at the library to get my hands on a copy. It’s always checked out! Yet unfortunately I found the book poorly written and implausible. The author spent one semester studying abroad in Paris during college, and — 10 years later — she resurrected the things she learned and describes implementing them into her LA lifestyle. Perhaps it was because all her personal anecdotes made her sound very un-Parisian, and because I had heard all her advice before elsewhere, but I found the whole book unbelievable and unoriginal. — 2 stars

What did you read in October? Share your recommendations in the comments!


P.S. The winner of the book giveaway is announced here!

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19 Responses to On Becca’s Bookshelf // October Edition {+ Introducing A New Series!}

  1. Abi November 5, 2014 at 4:15 am #

    So are you planning on becoming Parisian anytime soon? I’m all for it! ;) just noticing a trend…

    • Becca November 6, 2014 at 7:15 am #

      I’ve been reading so many Paris-related books lately, Abi, and loving them! Just finished “The Sweet Life in Paris,” which is a great cross-cultural observation book as well as a foodie memoir. So wonderful.

  2. Eden November 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    • Becca November 6, 2014 at 7:15 am #

      Anytime… I’ve got heaps!

  3. Carly November 5, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    I’m reading Gone Girl right now and can hardly put it down! Wow it is riveting. I’m totally late to the party with that book, but am soooo enjoying it.

    • Becca November 6, 2014 at 7:16 am #

      I was totally late too, but so glad I joined in. The movie is also excellent, and I think that’s because Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay. I actually think she improved upon the book in a couple of places, and she adapted the book perfectly into the movie.

  4. Nicole England November 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Hi Becca! I’ve put two of these books on hold at my local library. Thanks for the suggestions. I have plenty of late night feedings to read my kindle! I’m looking forward to more of your series as I’m not in the “book loop” right now and generally not sure what is good to check out at the library. I love that we can check out the hard copies, but also the e-copies….so since I’m not really up to braving the library with three in tow yet, I can do still get these books from home!

    On another note, are you still doing the 52 week photo project? I think I’m going to start it up in December for my kids so next year I can give them a book for Christmas. What are you going to do with the pictures?

    • Becca November 6, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

      Great idea with the Kindle and checking books out online! We don’t have a Kindle or tablet yet, but maybe one day.

      I stopped the project on the blog when we moved, but I’ve still taken photos of my kids each week. I’m not sure whether I’ll pick it up again or not! Now we’re almost at the end of the year. I guess better late than never. Right now I don’t have plans for those pictures specifically, but I do have vague plans of making photo books of Sicily, of their Aunt Booie, and of each of them at some point…!

  5. Karen November 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

    I’m excited for this series! I was on a book binge this summer and read a number of your recommendations. I loved The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot and have suggested them to other friends. I just got Big Little Lies from the library and can’t wait to start it. I also enjoyed reading Bread and Wine after seeing it on your site. I am currently reading Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg. It’s a memoir about opening a restaurant with her husband. If you like a page turner/mystery, I recommend the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson. Her non-mystery books are also good.

    • Becca November 6, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

      I really enjoyed Delancey! I think I read it last month. I enjoyed her first book more, though; have you read that one? “A Homemade Life.”

      I haven’t heard of the Jackson Brodie series or Kate Atkinson, so thank you for the recommendations!

      • Karen November 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

        I did read “A Homemade Life” and enjoyed it very much. I think I am drawn to her new book because it has an overarching story (opening a restaurant) and I also used to work in restaurants so I find that fascinating.

  6. Emily November 7, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    That’s good to hear about Gone Girl. I’ve been torn about picking it up and held off for the longest time, but I think I will give it a go after hearing your take!

    I just finished Big Little Lies and know am on to Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist. But, if it’s not too much shameless self-promotion, I’ll link over to a post I wrote reviewing all of my October reads. :)

    • Becca November 13, 2014 at 7:46 am #

      You read some good ones in October! I need to start linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Twitterature as well. Isn’t she the best?! I just sent her a guest post last night; we’ll see if she takes me up on it…

  7. Nicole November 10, 2014 at 2:36 am #

    I’m so glad you’re doing this Becca! It’ll be great to head to your blog for reading inspiration (as it is the source of many other inspirations.. case in point: nutella stuffed sea salt chocolate chip cookies). One of my favorite authors I read a couple years ago was Lisa Genova.. she wrote Left Neglected and Being Alice… books based on devastating diagnoses (which will be fascinating to the nurse in you). If you get around to them.. let me know what you think!

    • Becca November 13, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      Haha, Nicole, those cookies are the best! Thanks for the book recs from Lisa Genova. She sounds like a fascinating author! I’ll add them to my list now.

  8. Bethany November 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Great idea for a series, Becca! I really enjoyed your recommendations the last time you posted about good reads (Bread & Wine, Invention of Wings, The Secret Keeper).

    • Becca November 13, 2014 at 7:51 am #

      Thank you, Bethany. I’m excited about this series, too; I think it will motivate me to think even more about what I read!

  9. Carrie December 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I just picked up Eleanor & Park, and I have to say, I was really disappointed. After a rough start (all the swearing), I was uneasy about it, and after skipping ahead a bit and skimming some chapters, I just didn’t feel like it was a book I wanted (or should) invest the time into reading. I was hoping for a sweet and endearing story as you described, and maybe it is in some parts. But I didn’t feel comfortable reading the not-so-sweet (and a little inappropriate, in my opinion) parts. I am pretty careful about the books I read which is why I love seeing reviews to help me steer clear of a lot of the junk in books today. So I was really bummed that a teen fiction book had so much of that same junk in it.

    I appreciate your reviews and I love your blog – but maybe in the future, you could add a little sentence or two to alert your readers if the book has some questionable stuff in it. Just a thought.

    I hope this comment doesn’t come across as unkind – I don’t mean for it to be that way!

    • Becca December 19, 2014 at 3:19 am #

      Carrie, I really REALLY appreciate this comment. Thank you so much for coming back and thoughtfully sharing your impressions of the book.

      You are so right — there is a lot of junk in that book as the two very non-religious teens navigate a love story without a strong moral foundation. There is a lot of behavior in this book that I would not condone myself. I should have noted that in my review, and I am sorry that I didn’t! I will be more cautious in my reviews in the future to note offensive material, and I will amend my review now, too, in this post.

      Thank you again for your comment. You are one of my most faithful and oldest readers, and I value your opinion very much. Please continue to let me know what you think. Blessings to you and your sweet family this Christmas!

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