The 2018 Reading List.

As some of you know, I bought a Kindle in February...for this devoted page-turning reader, buying an e-book device was an enormous development. But I travel a lot, and carrying books along in an already-huge bag was not doable (or good for my poor back!).

 

But now...books! At the push of a button! Goodbye, bank account...hello, hours of reading.

I thought I'd share the books I've gotten through this year and I will continue updating as I see fit. Have you read some of these? Do you want to? Let's talk! Get in touch.

 

Note: I've tried to keep authors together and/or themes together as much as possible. Apologies if this list isn't perfectly organized--if you have questions, just ask!

New books read are pink.

 

History/Biography (separated by family, and when applicable, by time period)
 

  • The Mahabharata, by Krishna Dharma * * * *

    • The Mahabharata is the longest epic ever written. A fixture in Hindu religion and mythology, I wanted to read an English translation (I've been obsessed and know nearly every detail anyway). This was a good translation though some finer points were lost.​​​

  • Elizabeth of York, by Alison Weir * * * *

    • I've had a fascination with the War of the Roses (Game of Thrones was inspired by it!). Elizabeth of York brought the two houses together when she married King Henry Tudor. She was also the mother of fat King Henry VIII. I wanted to know more about her and this book (and all written by Alison Weir) are wonderful insights into history.

  • Becoming Queen Victoria, by Kate Williams * * * *

    • Queen Victoria was actually not meant to become the queen; due to failures in marriages, a lack of children and the eath of Princess Charlotte, she climbed the ranks to become the heiress to the ​throne. This book follows Princess Charlotte, her death, and the ascension of Victoria.

  • Albert, Prince Consort, by Hector Bolitha * * * 

    • Nothing new here in terms of knowledge but I was interested in Prince Albert since I've been on a Victoria kick.​

  • We Two: Victoria and Albert, Rulers, Partners, Rivals, by Gillian Gill * * * *

    • Documenting the relationship between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this book explores the power dynamic between the two and how they ruled over England, often at odds in their approach.

  • A Magnificent Obsession, by Helen Rappaport * * *

    • This book explores the relationship between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, too. It describes the aftermath of Prince Albert's death and how Queen Victoria went into mourning for decades, allowing her grief to influence everything about England for the rest of her reign.​

  • Queen Victoria's Youngest Son, by Charlotte Zeepvat * * * *

    • Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria's youngest son was actually a hemophiliac and I wanted to know what his life was like in Victorian England. What I found out? It was super over-protected and the poor guy was controlled beyond belief.​

  • The King In Love, by Theo Aronson * * *

    • This book follows King Edward VII, Queen Victoria's oldest son, as he embarks on a bunch of well-known affairs and serves as King. I'm still in the middle right now but it has been pretty good! The takeaway is that he was very underestimated in his abilities to be a king.​

  • Matriarch, by Anne Edwards * * * *

    • Queen Mary was the wife of Queen Victoria's grandson. I was trying to learn about the generations between Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, and this book didn't disappoint. It was amazing knowledge and so insightful! ​

  • Edward VIII, by Piers Brendon * * * 

    • I was curious about King Edward VIII (who died as the Duke of Windsor), who abdicated the throne for the twice-divorced American love of his life, Wallis Simpson. This constitutional crisis prompted the current Queen Elizabeth's father to take the throne. It was a good biography, with some detail but nothing new.

  • Princess Margaret, by Theo Aronson * * * *

    • What happens to your life when you're the younger sister of a queen? Especially when your sister is Queen Elizabeth! I read this out of curiosity and while Princess Margaret definitely didn't come out with a favorable opinion from me, the book was great insight into what it's like when you're the "forgotten" and sidelined princess.​​​

  • The Romanov Sisters, by Helen Rappaport * * * *

    • I really enjoyed this book! The book has a lot of details about each princess, their births and childhoods, and the issues the family faced as Russia headed toward a revolution.​

  • The Last Days of the Romanovs, Helen Rappaport * * * 

    • This book gave a lot of insight into what the last few years of the Romanovs' lives looked like. As many know, they were executed in 1917 by the Bolsheviks, but they were taken prisoner before that and their life in captivity is detailed. ​​​

  • Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty, by Robert K. Massie * * * *​

    • A classic that is touted in history classes, this book explores the ending of the Romanov Dynasty, and after all the books describing the royals as withdrawn and out of touch, it was a book that finally humanized them. I was taken and even sad to know that Nicholas, an emperor who probably wasn't suited and was soft-spoken, wouldn't make it but held his dignity throughout the revolution. ​

  • Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson * * * *

    • I'm fascinated by the Kennedy's and also disgusted by their history. Power, prestige and perception won over everything...including their oldest daughter, Rosemary, who was diagnosed with learning disabilities and some behavioral outbursts, leading to a lobotomy decided upon by her father Joseph Kennedy. What resulted was a beautiful young woman being reduced to an incontinent, permanently disabled patient at an institution who was never visited by her family. It's heartbreaking but also insightful into her life before the operation. ​

  • The Kennedy Men, by Laurence Leamer * * *​

    • Giving insight into the lives of, you guessed it, the Kennedy Men, the book follows the lives of patriarch Joe Kennedy and how he raised his sons--Joe, Jack (the future JFK), Bobby and Teddy. It's heavy in policy but also interesting because of the personal anecdotes that make these moments come alive--like Bobby's home life being bananas, or JFK having serious doubts over the Bay of Pigs ordeal. ​

  • The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger​* * * *

    • A biography examining the lives of Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwill, and their competitive, sometimes contentious relationship from childhood until Jackie's death in 1994.

Historical Fiction (listed by author and/or topic!)
 

  • The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant * * * *

    • This book hit the bestseller's list a long time ago. Following the biblical story of Dinah (a woman mentioned only once in the Bible), the story weaves itself from the inside of the red tent, a tent where women went when they were menstruating and shared family secrets. It's a really beautiful story and I enjoyed it a lot, though I didn't always understand some of the religious references.

  • The Conqueror's Wife, by Stephanie Thornton * * * * *

    • Alexander the Great was the Macedonian emperor who conquered everything from Europe to Asia in his short 32 years. This book was AMAZING. It described the lives of the women in Alexander's life and how they essentially shaped his entire future through their plotting and that "the Great" title he'd been given through time was truly due to the women.​

  • Nefertiti: ​A Novel, by Michelle Moran * * * *

    • Told from the perspective of queen Nefertiti's younger sister, the story follows Nefertiti's marriage to an insane and cruel king, and through the turmoils of ancient Egypt. I did really like this book, and it adds a few twists in there (like King Tut), that I never saw coming.​

  • Cleopatra's Daughter, by Michelle Moran * * * *

    • Michelle Moran is an amazing historical fiction writer. I love her work. This story follows the children of Cleopatra (and Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony) and what happened to Cleopatra Selene (Cleopatra's daughter)​ after her parents committed suicide. I'd never thought about the children affected by the wars between Rome and Egypt so this book was AMAZING.

  • The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court, by Michelle Moran * * *

    • The second empress to Napolean, Marie Louise, was an Austrian princess who was married against her will to the French dictator. This story explores three perspectives--Napolean's somewhat incestuous sister, Marie Louise herself and the perspective of a West Indies servant who would like to see slavery abolished. The story was great but I would have loved even more closure than received.​

  • The Vatican Princess, by CW Gortner * * *

    • CW Gortner might be one of my new favorite authors. This story follows Lucrezia Borgia (you know that show, "The Borgias" on Starz​?) and her relationships with the men in her family as they marry her off like a prize. I loved this book. There's political intrigue, affairs, marriages, history...so good!

  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel, by C.W. Gortner * * * *​

    • Catherine De Medici has captured my interest since I watched Reign on the CW. An Italian Medici noble, she was the last in her line and married to French royalty. Despite this, however, she couldn't earn the trust of the nation, her husband was a philanderer with a steady mistress, and both her husband and son died young, during a time of political turmoil. I loved this book--as with all of C.W. Gortner's books.​

  • The Romanov Empress, by CW Gortner * * * * *

    • One of the rare five-star books on this list! It was really well-written. This story follows Maria Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia and mother of the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas Romanov. It even imagines her escape as she finally left Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, when most of her family was murdered.​

  • The Lady of the Rivers, by Philippa Gregory * * * *

    • Have you guys watched "The White Queen" on Starz? Okay, well, this is the book and story that occurs just before that series begins...Following Jacquetta of Luxembourg and her first marriage to a Duke, and then her second secret marriage to a lowly born squire, the story has magical intrigues (Jacquetta's family was believed to have descended from the water goddess Melusina) and there's some supernatural elements tied into history.​

  • The Red Queen, by Philippa Gregory * * * *

    • This book follows Margaret Beaufort, the overbearing and extremely ambitious mother of Henry VII, who was convinced her son was to overthrow the Plantagenets and Woodvilles on the throne and take it for his own...This book is interesting because as a history buff, I hate Margaret Beaufort and think she was a nut. ​

  • The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory * * * *

    • This story follows Jacquetta's daughter Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth Woodville became the queen when she secretly married King Edward IV of England...and their marriage brought a lot of turmoil because of her social status and the very large family she married off into royal houses. Much of the War of the Roses occurred during Elizabeth and Edward's reign.​

  • The Kingmaker's Daughter, by Philippa Gregory * * * *

    • Anne Neville was Elizabeth Woodville's sister-in-law.​ She was used as a pawn as her father and family fought in the War of the Roses, and was married into the enemy's side...and then married King Edward's brother later. The story follows the power struggle and how a woman has to find her voice.

  • The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory * * * * 

    • Continuing on with the War of the Roses, this book stars Elizabeth of York, Queen Elizabeth and King Edward IV's daughter, who married Henry Tudor. Elizabeth of York was the definition of a political bride--she was married to the Lancaster side to unite York and Lancaster but it wasn't exactly a smooth transition. The story is fabulous, full of intrigue (including the appearance of her murdered younger brother)​, love, and power.

  • The King's Curse, by Philippa Gregory * * * *

    • One of the York cousins of Elizabeth of York was named Margaret and she had a role to play in the War of the Roses as well. A Henry VIII (yes, the very king who divorced, executed, and abandoned wives left and right) takes the throne, she falls in and out of favor at court. I loved this book.​

  • The Queen's Fool: A Novel​, by Philippa Gregory * * *

    • This book follows a seer named Hannah, a Jewish woman who escaped prosecution in Spain and survived in Tudor England. Promising her allegiance to Queen Mary and the eventual Queen Elizabeth I, she is torn between loyalty to treacherous royals and her own destiny. I liked the book and it was, like all Philippa Gregory's books, well-researched and written. I grew frustrated with the character a lot, however, and didn't exactly understand her motivations so that was a turnoff for me as a reader.

  • The Virgin's Lover, by Philippa Gregory * * * *​

    • Told from the perspective of Amy Dudley, the wife of Robert Dudley who was Queen Elizabeth I (the famous Virgin Queen)'s lover...it's an interesting book about the politics of the Elizabethean era and how advisors sought to rule over women.

  • The Other Queen, by Philippa Gregory * * * ​

    • This story was told from the perspective of Mary, Queen of Scots. I've mentioned before that I really liked Reign on the CW, and Mary has fascinated me for ages. This book followed her years in capitivity and how she had a tough life, but also a very duplicitous one.​

  • The Boleyn Inheritance, by Philippa Gregory * * * *

    • Everyone knows about Anne Boleyn, the famed wife of Henry VIII who was executed. Anne had a brother named George, who married a woman named Jane. She served at the court of Henry VIII and was a lady-in-waiting to some of his queens. She ended up executed as well and this story follows her fall from grace. I found it really intriguing!​

  • The Last Queen, by Philippa Gregory * * *​

    • This story was dragged out by long patches of history...a bit much, even for me. But it follows Juana of Aragon, the sister of Katherine of Aragon, and how she was married to an insecure Hapsburg prince who wanted her claim to the throne in Spain. It's an interesting book but not my favorite time period.​

  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter, by Julie Drosten * * 

    • I've never read much about any uprisings in Sri Lanka...and this story was full of hope, at first. It follows a strong woman who participated in a rebellion against British occupancy. She is a respected elephant keeper's daughter and is taught the art of elephant keeping from her family, and uses it to assist in the revolution. She also falls in love with a British general/doctor. I did like this book but it's dark, violent and there wasn't​ enough of a balance between storylines to give it proper weight.

  • America's First Daughter, by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie * * * * *

    • Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Patsy, helped him when he lost his wife and her mother. This story follows her, Jefferson's often-confusing actions throughout the Revolution, and highlights the importance of the women behind the ​scenes. It also incorporates Sally Hemings--an addition I was skeptical about at first but the authors did it really realistically. I loved this book.

  • My Dear Hamilton, by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie * * * * *

    • After seeing Hamilton on Broadway, I've developed a bit of an obsession surrounding Alexander and Eliza Hamilton. This story follows their courtship, relationship, and life, and I LOVED it.​

  • Lily of the Nile, by Stephanie Dray * * * 

    • Another story about Cleopatra's daughter, Cleopatra Selene! I liked this one less than ​the one by Michelle Moran but it was still interesting--there was a magical component to it, as this book portrays Cleopatra as a divinely ordained royal who has mystical powers derived from Isis...it was a cool concept though it's execution was okay.

  • I am Livia, by Phyllis T. Smith * * *

    • Livia was the queen of Augustus (the successor to Julius Caesar). This story follows her relationship and some of the political moves she made behind the scenes. I liked the book but it wasn't my favorite read about this time period.​

  • The Daughters of Palatine Hill, by Phyllis T. Smith * * * *

    • I loved this book! It portrays a few different perspectives--daughters of Mark Anthony, Cleopatra, and Octavian...all of whom lived together after Cleopatra's death. Imagine that household! There were a lot of half-siblings of various people in power back then, and this story follows the stories of a few powerful women of that era. I loved the insight into the historical period and how great it was!

  • The Man Who Would Be King, by JP Reedman * * *

    • This book is about the Duke of Buckingham in the War of the Roses. He's a completely unlikeable jerk of a character and his role in history is still questionable. The book was all right, though I hated every one of his moves. :) ​

  • Harem, by Colin Falconer * * *

    • This book was a best seller in Europe...and actually went over a period of history and dynasty that I never really paid attention to: Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire, and how he fell in love with a woman who clamored for power. There are multiple storylines at play and it was definitely an interesting book, though it was really dark and sometimes tough to follow.​

  • Daughter of Sand and Stone, by Abbie Hawke * * *

    • Also another book that followed a historical period I'd never learned about. Zenobia of Syria was a powerful woman who refused an arranged marriage, and instead married for power, hoping to bring about the downfall of Rome and reign as queen. It was a really cool book in terms of a woman who pursues what she wants, but I didn't feel attached to her.​

  • I, Eliza Hamilton, by Susan Holloway Scott * * * * *

    • Once again, the Eliza Hamilton obsession comes through! This book was about Eliza herself...her life and how she fell in love with Alexander Hamilton, learned about his infidelity and kept her life moving forward after his death. I LOVED it.​

  • The Hamilton Affair, by Elizabeth Cobbs * * * *

    • This book was very similar to the above, "I, Eliza Hamilton." At times it was a little uncanny how many similar attributes they had. Still a really good book!​

  • Eliza Hamilton, by Tilar J. Mazzeo * * * *

    • A biography of Eliza herself! I'm in the middle of it but loving it.​

  • Pope Joan, by Donna Woolfolk Cross * * * *

    • Okay, I never thought about a female Pope though I heard the legend when I lived in Rome. This fictional account gives life to Pope Joan, a woman who disguised herself as a man to become educated and rose to the papacy. I loved it, though there were definitely some very intensive parts that my eyes glazed over.

  • Sisi: Empress on Her Own, by Allison Pataki​ * * *

    • This book was about empress Elizabeth, who was known as Sisi and married to a Hapsburg who wanted power. SHer marriage occurred while she was in love with someone else. I liked the story and ho​w she stuck to her guns despite the crappy situation she was in.

  • The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, by Daniel Mark Epstein * * * *​

    • This book was similar to the one below about Mrs. Lincoln. It was an engaging book about the Lincolns through their younger years and courtship​, followed by the turmoil of taking on a presidency during the Civil War. President Lincoln's rise to the presidency was unprecedented at best so to read about it and learn how unique it was...so cool,

  • Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln, by Janis Cooke Newman * * * *​

    • Did you guys know Abraham Lincoln's wife was afflicted with a lot of mental health issues and eventually committed to an institution? Yeah. Me either. She was also a hoarder. This book explores her life and health, and I found it fascinating to read about a president's wife who wasn't the typical first lady.​

  • Carnegie's Maid, by Marie Benedict * * *

    • This book follows a woman named ​Clara Kelley, who takes the place of another Clara Kelley on the way to America...and ends up becoming Andrew Carnegie's household maid. Originally meant to take care of his mother, she and Andrew Carnegie develop a relationship that transcends the boundaries of servant/master, and encourages her to pursue her own dreams. I did like this book but it didn't quite reach the level of fulfillment I was hoping for--something was missing though it was nicely written.

  • The Kennedy Debutante, by Kerri Maher * * * *​

    • Kick Kennedy, the older sister of John F. Kennedy, loved Britain when she lived there as the daughter of an ambassador. As she falls in love for the first time and WWII breaks out, it's up to her to decide whether she's going to move back to England after being evacuated or whether she'll pursue her duty to her family. This book has received rave reviews and been at the top of charts since its debut. I did like it but somethin​g didn't click completely as I closed it at the end.

Fiction
 

  • The Man in the High Castle, by PK Dick * * * *

    • This book is an Amazon series now. It's a dystopian book, about an alternative ending to World War II and what would have happened had the Nazis won. It was really interesting (and frightening!) to think about!​

Romance/Women's Fiction

  • Where We Fall, by Michelle B. Weinstein * * * *

    • If you're in a mood to cry or feel bummed, this is one of those books that fits those days perfectly. It follows three characters who were friends in college, and how a marriage resulted from a lie, hearts broke, and second chances. 

  • All the Little Lights, by Jamie McGuire * * *

    • This book could fall under Young Adult too. It tells the story of two teens who are bonded as friends and fall in love despite their circumstances--a boy whose escaping family drama and a rough history, and a girl who lives with a mentally ill mother and runs a B&B. There is a seriously freaky twist in the story and I won't lie, it gave me chills. Great book. 

  • Beneath an Indian Sky, by Renita D'Silva * * *

    • A family saga that follows the consequences of a tough choice, this story has heartbreak, decisions, and love at the center of it all. ​

  • Wreckage, by Emily Bleeker * * * *

    • Wrecked on an island? Check. Love story? Check. Twists you didn't see coming? Check. After a ​plane crash resulting in time on a deserted island, two people have to rewrite their time on the island as the press writes a story about them...and the secrets they keep affect their marriages to other people. Loved this story!

  • Ten Year Dance, by Ara Grigorian * * * * *

    • Ara is one of my favorite authors. The story follows a group of friends, specifically a set of best friends, who are coming upon their high school reunion. Love stories blossom, secrets are revealed and chaos ensues.​

  • All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin * * * * *

    • I loved this book. Emily Giffin is one of my favorite authors and I was hoping for some diversity in her next book. This one didn't disappoint! I wrote a thorough review here.​

  • From a Paris Balcony, by Ella Carey * * *

    • T​his book started slow but made more sense as I kept reading. Flashing between Paris a hundred years ago and present day, it tells the story of a woman who married into British aristocracy but jumped to her death from a Paris balcony...and a woman today who wants to know why. 

  • One Day in December, by Josie Silver * * * * *

    • One of my favorite books I've ever read! Two people meet eyes from a bus and a bus stop...and their paths intertwin and continue to cross for years. Love, loss and lessons ensue. The story takes place in London and Scotland and Europe as a whole...and I loved every second of it. It's one of the rare books that made me cry!​

  • The Masterpiece, by Fiona Davis * * *

    • Did you know there was an art school at Grand Central Terminal in the 1960s? Me either! Amazing considering I go through there all the time. ​The story goes through an artist's time there and a woman in today's world, 50 years later, who is trying to make her mark on the world too.

  • Campaign Widows, by Aimee Agresti * * * *

    • A juicy read about politics and the women behind the campaigns...Definitely a fun beach read!​

  • Good Luck With That, by Kristan Higgins * * * *

    • This story was really interesting to me. It follows the death of a friend in a trio--and when she leaves a list that the other two have to complete, all about self-love and accepting their weight, life opens up opportunities for them and makes them face their fears. I ended up loving this book and feeling profoundly impacted by it.​

  • The Proposal, by Jasmine Guillory * * * *

    • A fun read! Nik is proposed to on a jumbotron by a guy she's casually dated for five months. She didn't see that one coming. Rescued from a press onslaught by Carlos and his sister Angela, friendships and love stories follow. Such a good beach read!​

  • Sisterhood Everlasting, by Ann Brashares * * * *

    • This is the final book in the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series and I wanted to finally read the conclusion as an adult...it takes place ten years after the final Sisterhood book and the characters aren't exactly where we thought they'd be.​ But it was a wonderful reminder of how adulthood doesn't always turn out how we think it will at 18, and I loved it for that very reason.

  • The Storyteller's Secret, by Sejal Badani * * * *

    • This book was profound and I thought about it for days afterward. A woman in the middle of a divorce goes to India to claim the inheritance left to her mother...one her mother won't talk about. There, she discovers the love story of her grandmother--a village woman who was finally allowed to learn how to read English and fell in love with a British officer. Such a beautiful story.

  • My Oxford Year, by Julia Whelan * * * * *

    • This story...I don't know what it was. The beauty of an American at Oxford. My own Anglophilia. The wonderful character that is Jamie. Just go buy it. ​

  • This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel * * * * *

    • YES, it's a five-star book! SO GOOD. My life was changed when I read it...the parents in this book discover that their fifth child, a son, wants to be a girl. The story follows their entire family as they handle their child's gender identity, treating it as a secret inadvertently and how the entire family reacts as they go through life. It is one of the funniest, realest, most eye-opening books I have ever, EVER read. No lie. Go buy it. It's amazing. I cannot speak highly enough.

  • The Light We Lost, by Jill Santopolo​ * * * *

    • I really liked this book, though I was a little teary reading it. Angsty and so loving, this book follows the story of Lucy and Gabe, who meet in college on September 11th, 2001. Their story spans a decade of love, misses, and their paths crossing over and over into adulthood. It makes you question whether first loves are worth it, whether they're forever, and whether they're real.

Mystery/Thriller
 

  • He Will Be My Ruin, by KA Tucker * * * *

    • I'm not a huge suspense reader but I had no idea KA Tucker (one of my favorite romance writers) could nail this genre. She dragged me into this story and I spooked myself reading it. A girl goes to find out what happened to her best friend, whose death has been ruled as a suicide but that she suspects is something more? Count me in.​

  • Origin, by Dan Brown  * * *

    • I hate to say I was disappointed with this story...but I was disappointed. As any Dan Brown novel is, it was well-written and compelling but there were long expositions and sometimes I felt like I was reading a lecture.​

  • The Forgotten Ones, by Steena Holmes * * * 

    • I was so creeped out by this book. Essentially, it's about a woman who is exploring her mother's unmentioned past...and finds a ton of eerie secrets, involving mental illness, the helplessness of family, and murder. I did like the book and it had me questioning how it could all come together.​​
       

Young Adult
 

  • Fairest of All, by Serena Valentino * * *

    • Want to know the Evil Queen's side of the story before she felled Snow White? This is the book for you. An entertaining and quick read that gives an understanding and sympathetic backstory to a villain...I loved reading this and imagining how events unfolded before Snow White's story took place.​

  • The Beast Within, by Serena Valentino * * *

    • Slightly less entertaining than the book about the Evil Queen, this story follows the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and how he transformed. I liked the story but it wasn't particularly memorable.​

  • Dumplin', by Julie Murphy * * * *

    • I LOVED THIS BOOK. It follows a girl who would typically never be in a beauty pageant; overweight, working at a fast food place, and determined to push back against the norm, she and her group of misfit friends all enter...and their transformations are so much more than physical. Loved it.​

  • Tiny Pretty Things, by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton * * * * *

    • For all the lovers of Center Stage or Save the Last Dance...multiple narrators tell us about their time at ballet school in New York and their fight to stand out--which includes bullying, pranks, and orchestrating more than their positions on stage...It's a little dark, compelling, drama-filled and packed to the brim with characters you love, and characters you love to hate. BUY IT NOW.​

  • Shiny Little Pieces, by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton * * * * *

    • The second part of the story...following the dramatic conclusion of Tiny Pretty Things, now things go to the next levl.

  • My So-Called Bollywood Life, by Nisha Sharma * * * * *

    • I love this book by one of my faves. Winnie Mehta wants to be a filmmaker--she's also just broken up with the boyfriend who was prophesied for her by an Indian astrologer. Now, she wants to organize a film festival, is drawn to another boy at school, and undergoes a ton of chaos along her path to resolution.  ​

  • When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon * * * *

    • Another story about a strong Indian teen! Loved it and wished there were more like this when I was younger!​

  • The Exact Opposite of Okay, by Laura Steven * * * * *

    • One of the best books I've read...ever. This story follows a loud, obnoxious, boisterous, hysterical narra​tor who is filmed in a hookup unknowingly--and becomes the target of slut-shaming across her school and town. I LOVED all the implications of this book and the realistic, hysterical characters. Just go buy it.

  • A Girl Like That, by Tanaz Bhathena * * * *

    • A book that challenges the stereotypes of Muslim women...I can't say enough about the impact that this dark, humorous and multi-perspective book left on me.​

  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before, by Jenny Han * * * *

    • Okay, let's be real, everyone's raving about this book-to-movie adaptation on Netflix. But I am a firm believer that no matter how great the movie is, the book will always be more magical. And in this case, the book is super magical. Read it.​

  • P.S. I Still Love You, by Jenny Han * * * *

    • What happens after Lara Jean's letters went out? What happened to the boys? The second part of this series (there's also a third, I just haven't gotten to it yet!) is wonderful and I highly recommend.​

  • Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver * * * * *

    • I read this book in one sitting. The character development was so solid--from girls you hated in high school who become more relatable and loveable, to the deep note that you can't repeat days and every action matters. The lead character dies, then wakes up repeating the same day for a week, finally figuring out that there's something she needs to change about her life. It's amazing and thought-provoking and dark at times. I loved it.​

  • Broken Things, by Lauren Oliver​ * * * *

    • Yikes. This book is creepy. Three friends. A story they get sucked into and a book that the newspaper blames when one of them gets murdered. It's reminiscent of the Slender Man killings a few years ago...creepy and good book. Lauren Oliver does a great job of making you feel uncomfortable and also relatable to the characters.
       

Business/Self-Help
 

  • The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes * * * * *

    • Okay. Everyone knows I loved watching Scandal. ​Most people have watched, if not heard of, Grey's Anatomy. Shonda R Rhimes wrote BOTH those shows...and she wrote this book, so you know it's gonna be good. Basically, she realized she never says yes to anything and finally decided to start saying yes to things she was invited to, asked to do, etc. even if it scared the pants off her. The result is a humorous, relatable, loveable book about taking risks and doing what you didn't expect.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey * * * *

    • A bestseller, this book has obviously done well for a reason! If you're someone who sometimes either struggles with productivity or is looking at their systems of management again, take a read!​

  • Presence, by Amy Cuddy * * * *

    • This book is wonderful in terms of defining who you are and being present in all moments. It was a great perspective-changer and I loved taking the lessons from it and applying it to life.​

  • Building Brand Experiences, by Darren Coleman * * *

    • The title is pretty self-explanatory. Branding is becoming popular and more well-known, with people curating their social media and lives more and more. This was great insight into how to form that, what values to uphold and how to project your brand's essence to an audience.​

  • Influencer, by Brittany Hennessey * * * * *

    • Amazing book. Brittany Hennessey works at major companies, identifying influences and recruiting them to represent brands. The cool part about this book is the applicable knowledge in creating a social media strategy for businesses.​

  • WorkParty, by Jaclyn Johnson * * * *

    • Ugh. Books by strong women. Super heart. If you guys follow Create&Cultivate on Instagram or any other platform (and you should!), this book has a no-holds-barred approach about how the founder, Jaclyn Johnson, got there, including her failures. I love reading about journeys and this book was such a wonderful insight into building growth--with input from other women in the business world!​

  • The Book of Beautiful Questions, by Warren Berger * * * * 

    • If you ask questions like I do (ahem. Hermione Granger 2.0 here.) and also want to consta​ntly grow, then this book is a wonderful one to check out. It's a ton of questions about what you value, why you are the way you are, and how to approach the answers you need to live your best life.

  • Girl Code, by Cara Alwill Leyba * * * * 

    • I love Cara Alwill Leyba. I follow her on social media and listen to her podcasts. Her book, The Champagne Diet, is about building a brand and an experience--and how Cara approached coaching. You can tell she knows what she's talking about. Her book is real, like having a conversation with your best friend, and offers advice on success and failure, and honesty about the hustle.​

  • InstaStyle, by Tezza MB * * * * *

    • One of the most helpful books I have ever read about Instagram management. Insta-star Tezza has a brilliantly pictured book, with live examples and insight from other influencers about how they managed their content. I loved every second of this read.​

 

Poetry

  • Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur * * * * *

    • Has anyone NOT heard of Rupi Kaur at this point? Her poetry is poignant, honest, feminist, raw and powerful. Her words hold the weight of a thousand women as she talks about everything from love to assault to society to self-worth. It's amazing how her poetry can touch a soul. Recommend beyond belief.​