Book Report: August 2017

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I'm very happy with the amount of reading I got done this month! I read a total of nine books, which is definitely the most I've read in a month so far this year. It happened to be one of those situations where I was really into everything I picked out and only ditched two books. When I put together my list of favorite books at the end of the year, I'm pretty sure there will be several from this month's Book Report!

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
I had read one other book from this author (her debut, Commencement) and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to read this story about two sisters who immigrate to the States from Ireland in the 1950s. The narrative is split between their early lives as immigrants and later in life when one sister is the matriarch of a large family and the other has become a cloistered nun. This is a fairly small story about an Irish Catholic family and the interpersonal dynamics between them. I really enjoyed this one and think it'd be a great beach read for those who are looking for something less fluffy than the norm. 

Perennials by Mandy Berman
I was instantly drawn to this book because of the cover and the setting at a summer camp, which evokes a lot of nostalgia for me. The plot follows two childhood friends through their experiences as campers and then as camp counselors. Overall, it's a look at female friendships as well as the blurred line between childhood and adulthood. Honestly, I was disappointed with this one, primarily because I had no connection to or empathy for any of the characters and was ultimately kind of put off by the entire storyline.

Touch by Courtney Maum
I can say now that this will be one of my favorites of the year. The story follows Sloane, a renowned trend forecaster whose long-term boyfriend is a sort of pretentious French intellectual. Sloane gets hired to work as a forecaster for a huge technology company where her instincts tell her that humans crave a return to intimacy as opposed to more of the same isolating technologies. I think so many people need to read this book and that anyone who is interested in fashion, beauty, art, philosophy, and tech would love it. 

The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Batuman's novel is about Harvard freshman Selin, who studies Russian, makes friends with a Serbian girl named Svetlana, and has an email-based relationship with her Hungarian classmate Ivan. I love the way this book was written and can certainly understand how it relates to the book's title. It really captures the essence of a naive, insecure young girl with a crush on a person who she clearly should not pursue. I would be very curious to discuss this book with someone younger than a college student to see what their take on it was because I imagine it's one of those stories that you interpret differently based on your experience in life. Although, keep in mind that this is so much more than just a book about a girl with a crush.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
You all know I'm obsessed with Kevin Kwan's books and I could not wait to read the third book in his trilogy. I feel like this might be the only series I've read in which all three of the books are equally good. This one in particular follows the entire Shang-Young family as they head to Singapore where matriarch Su-Yi is dying. They are there primarily to find out who will become heir to the family's massive estate and, of course, drama ensues. 

Beyond The Label by Maureen Chiquet
I pick up a lot of career oriented books and am not often that impressed as I find many of them to be too basic and narrow and not focused enough on shaping the big picture of your career. However, this book by Maureen Chiquet was exactly the career book I've wanted and needed all these years. Part memoir, it follows her career from L'Oreal to Gap to finally becoming CEO of Chanel. But aside from telling her own (very interesting) anecdotes, she provides excellent advice on the big picture ways to not only excel at your career but how to shape it and build it into something you personally enjoy and take pride in. This one is an absolute must for anyone pursuing a career in beauty or fashion.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
I read about 65 pages of this last month and had to put it down when I was in the middle of moving. I picked it back up this month and read the rest of it within an afternoon. I wasn't a huge fan of Emma Straub's first book (The Vacationers) but really enjoyed this one! Set in Brooklyn, it follows a couple, Elizabeth and Andrew, and their friend Zoe with whom they were in a band in college. They are now neighbors in Ditmas Park and have been approached to sell song rights to a movie producer who wants to make a film about their late bandmate Lydia, who had gone on to be incredibly famous. The book follows the adults whose storylines revolve around middle age, lost ambitions, and the boundaries of relationships. It also follows their kids, Harry and Ruby, who form their own relationship. This is a good one if you're looking for a really contemporary story with a lot of New York vibes.

You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
I finally started reading Jen Sincero! I wanted to begin with You Are a Badass, but it wasn't at the library so I picked this one up instead. This is not necessarily your typical personal finance book as it focuses more on your attitude surrounding money. It does get into manifestation which isn't for everyone, but I believe that most people could stand to work on their attitude towards money. I personally liked the manifestation aspects and have actually been putting them into practice recently. I think this is a great book for everyone, but especially people in their twenties who can benefit from cultivating a positive financial mentality.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I have, of course, been hearing about this book for years now as it's been a pretty high profile one. I finally managed to get my hands on it and absolutely loved it. The story follows two very different sisters who live in France throughout World War II as well as a little bit about their lives after the war. It was beautifully written that I can't wait to read more books by this author. I said on Instagram that there is nothing like a WWII book to put things into perspective which is why I always thinks everyone should read them. If I had to suggest any WWII novel that I think would have mass appeal, it would be this one. The bonus is that, while there is, of course, a lot of suffering, I found that The Nighingale featured more empowerment than most books set in this era.