What I've Read Lately (Pandemic Pt. II)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020



I continue to notttt read much at all during the pandemic. In July, I shared reviews of the seven books I'd read (plus four Harry Potter audiobook re-reads) since the initial shelter-in-place order went into effect in March. Since then, I've listened to three more Harry Potter audiobooks & finished only eight others. 

Why? I don't know, really. I still love reading, it just hasn't felt like my jam this year. I'm still working on other hobbies, like cooking & baking & learning Spanish. But reading just hasn't been high atop my to-do list.

I've also gotten halfway through a lot of books that I haven't yet finished: Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America, a surprisingly fascinating look at the Buckeye State's unusual voter demographics; The Herd, a mystery about two sisters & the disappearance of a high-profile entrepreneur; A Year Without a Name, a memoir by Lena Dunham's non-binary sibling Cyrus, & Untamed, the newest memoir by one of Oprah's favorite authors, Glennon Doyle... to name a few. For some reason, though, it feels difficult to actually finish anything these days.

But finish these eight I did, & I liked all of 'em, which makes them worth sharing. My goal was to finish 45 books this year (a super-low number for me, usually), & I have so far read only 33, which makes me cringe a little. I usually read so much! But this has been a weird year, & my focus has been elsewhere, & hey, I learned how to cook.

Anyway. Here are the eight books I read (plus books five, six, & seven in the Harry Potter series, not listed here).

These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling

I loved this charming, offbeat YA story about Hannah, an Elemental witch, & the trouble facing her coven in Salem, MA, where they've lived undetected for decades. Her ex-girlfriend, Veronica, is also an Elemental, & they have to team up to defend their families, which makes for some good old-fashioned teen drama in the midst of this lightly fantasy read. ★★★★★

This Coven Won't Break by Isabel Sterling

Hannah & the gang are back for part two in this series, which continues the story from the first book... but the stakes are higher than ever. Now, Hannah has an essential role to play in helping to ensure that covens around the world don't lose their magic to those who seek to harm them. With her new girlfriend, her best friend, & even her ex by her side, she sets out to save witches everywhere. ★★★★☆

The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Rarely have I highlighted as many passages in a book as I did in this one, a nonfiction work by Taylor, a social justice activist & self-love liberator who has risen to further prominence since the Black Lives Matter protests. She writes: "Radical self-love is not a destination you are trying to get to; it is who you already are, and it is already working tirelessly to guide your life. The question is how can you listen to it more distinctly, more often? Even over the blaring of constant body shame?" Read my highlights & then grab the book! ★★★★★

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

Can you believe that this was my first Brené Brown book?! I have to be honest: I thought she was, like, all inspirational bullshit, without realizing that she is first an academic & a researcher... & very good ones, at that. I was blown away by this book & how honest & thoughtful & real it was. I felt like I connected with, like, single passage, ultimately ending up with 79 book highlights. I think this one will absolutely warrant a reread. ★★★★★

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

This book made me feel big feelings & think big thoughts, & it was an incredible, deep, powerful look into vulnerability, shame, resilience, & other "negative" feelings that don't often get their due. I listened to it on audiobook, so I didn't connect with it quite as much as I did with The Gifts of Imperfection, but it was still an incredibly important listen. ★★★★★

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

I wish this YA book had a different title, because this one doesn't do it justice. Yes, it's partially a love story between the main character Rosa, an eager high school senior, & Alex, a brooding sailor. But it's so much more than that. It's a love letter to Cuba, to growing up bilingual & multicultural. It's a tale of family, about those who love us & those who leave us, whether my choice or by fate. It's about grief & healing. It's about community. And it's really, really beautifully written. ★★★★☆

Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams

Why did I read a book about a global pandemic in the midst of a global pandemic? I don't know, but it was both terrifying & strangely soothing. When Agnes realizes she's in a fundamentalist cult, she leaves before it can kill her. The only problem? The whole world is infected by a strange new disease, leaving her to navigate a new life amid life-threatening challenges. This book got weirdly religious, but ultimately, I actually kind of liked that it was about faith and science, about God and humans. ★★★☆☆

Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson 

Damn, it had been a while since I'd read a good mystery! This one takes place at an elite but eccentric boarding school with a storied history: A century ago, its founder's wife & daughter were kidnapped & have long been presumed dead following a botched ransom. When crime aficionado Stevie Bell shows up at the school, she's intent on solving the crime once & for all. I liked this one a lot but wish I'd realized I was locking myself into a trilogy! ★★★★☆

Tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past. You can also follow my bookstagram account. 

My "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

1 comment:

Lacey Bean said...

I read the Witches books through Feminist Book Club and agree the 1st one was better than the 2nd, but I really enjoyed both of them. The Herd is waiting on my Kindle for me, and I think so is Agnes? I've been trying to slog through my TBR shelves (digital and hardcopy) and haven't hit many 5 star ratings recently, but I just lent Arielle this book - How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness. It was a really good self-help book that wasn't cheesy or had any religious undertones. I really enjoyed it!

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