The Unpretentious Reader


What I read on vacation

I managed to read three books while we were in Kauai – and surprisingly, I didn’t read any of the books I brought with me! At the last minute I downloaded a bunch of books to my Kindle (my love for public libraries knows no bounds) and those are the ones that ended up capturing my attention over the ones I brought. Go figure.

Here’s what I read:

Fear Nothing

Fear Nothing, by Lisa Gardner

This is the second book I’ve read in Gardner’s Detective D. D. Warren series, about a 30-year-old murder case and its possible link to a present-day serial killer on the loose. It was a quick and entertaining read, but unfortunately I was able to guess who the killer was early on. I hate when I’m able to do that! As far as mystery/crime thrillers go, though, I like Gardner’s work when I need something that quickly hooks me.


Wizard at Large

Wizard at Large, by Terry Brooks

I started reading Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom of Landover series years ago but only read the first two books (out of six), so I’ve been meaning to finish the series for a while now. I love Brooks’ Shannara series and grew up reading them – between Brooks and Madeleine L’Engle, I was hooked on reading at a very early age. I have to say that I don’t love the Landover series nearly as much. It’s kind of a “take it for what it is” fantasy series – short and sweet, entertaining, but not exactly challenging for the mind. Regardless, I know I’ll finish the series because I’m just interested enough in the story to keep reading.



Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff

This book has been on my to-read list for quite some time. I usually love stories that span over several decades, and that’s exactly what Fates and Furies does here, but with a twist – the story is told from two different viewpoints, almost as two separate books sandwiched together. It’s a book about marriage, flaws, the lies we tell ourselves and to each other, the things people will do for love, and how two people can live the same marriage but have vastly different experiences. The writing was beautiful, engaging, and the voice was unique. I really enjoyed this one and finished it in about 48 hours!

10 books you can’t put down

Over the past year or so I read a number of books that hooked me right from the beginning and didn’t let go until the end. It’s the best kind of reading experience, if you ask me. While it’s true the books that make you work the hardest often provide the most rewarding payoff in the end, some days I just need something easy that invites me in, something that causes me to look up after an unknown number of pages and hours and question, “What time is it?”

These are some of those books.


Everything, Everything
Everything, Everything

by Nicola Yoon

YA fiction about a girl who has “bubble baby disease” where she cannot leave her home, because she’s fatally allergic to the world. She lives as full of a life as she can, confined to her house with her mom and full-time nurse, but one day someone moves in next door that has her questioning everything.


Bird Box
Bird Box

by Josh Malerman

Horror/thriller. It’s a post-apocalyptic world, there are just a handful of survivors, and something is lurking that has killed the rest of mankind. The things we can’t see are sometimes far scarier than the things we can, and Bird Box does (in my opinion) a phenomenal job of playing up this idea. I had nightmares about this book, and maybe that will scare you off, but it was one of those books that had me thinking about it for DAYS afterward.


Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Tell the Wolves I’m Home

by Carol Rifka Brunt

A beautiful, thought-provoking, poignant coming-of-age tale about love, heartache, and loss. Set in the late 1980s, a 14-year-old girl loses her beloved uncle and eventually finds healing in a new and unexpected friendship. It’s emotional and raw and I absolutely loved it.


We Were Liars
We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

I read this from start to finish on a flight from SLC to Nashville. It was just SO GOOD. A group of friends from very well-off families spend their summers on a private island, where they refer to themselves as The Liars. Mystery lies under the surface, though, and one girl tries to discover the truth of things. It’s a sophisticated, not-your-typical YA fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


The Truth About Alice
The Truth About Alice

by Jennifer Mathieu

YA fiction that explores how easily girls are judged, perceived, labeled, and written off as a certain type of person. This book follows the story of Alice and the rumors that are flying about something she may or may not have done one night at a party. It’s a truly brilliant, sobering, insightful look into high school rumors and the havoc they can cause. This is another one that I read entirely in one sitting.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

Christopher is an extremely gifted 15-year-old autistic boy who decides one day that he absolutely must solve the murder of his neighbor’s dog. The book follows his thought processes and challenges as he investigates the murder, and I found it to be charming, well-written, and endearing. I listened to the audiobook, which is read by a British person, and that’s definitely how I recommend reading the book if you can.



by Emma Donoghue

Told from the perspective of a 5-year-old boy whose entire world is “Room,” you soon learn that this boy and his young mother have been held captive for years. I didn’t think I would like this book initially, but the author brilliantly tells an engaging, consuming story and you quickly forget you’re listening to a 5-year-old’s voice. I won’t say too much for fear of ruining the plot, but, man – I absolutely loved this one. I have yet to see the film, but it’s on my list.


The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

While this book (and author) certainly has its haters, the ratings don’t lie – and I 100% fall into the “I absolutely loved this” camp. In case you’ve been living under a rock and aren’t familiar with the plot: a teenage girl has cancer and one day meets a boy at a cancer support group. It’s a YA love story that will make you cry, and the movie is – surprisingly – a great complement to the book.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn

Another one that you’ve certainly heard of, Gone Girl absolutely lives up to the hype. It’s full of twists and turns, betrayal and shock, and I could never have predicted what was going to happen (and I love it when a book surprises me). I read this over a weekend and thought about it for days afterward. If you haven’t seen the (phenomenal) movie adaptation, I’d recommend reading the book first, for sure.


Me Before You
Me Before You

by Jojo Moyes

Oh, Jojo Moyes. You have captured my heart and I will read everything you ever publish, no questions asked. Me Before You is a story about Louisa, a woman in her late 20s, who’s just lost her job and by a series of events ends up taking a job as a caretaker for a man named Will. Will is in his early 30s, and two years previously, was in a terrible motorcycle accident which left him as a quadriplegic. The story is beautiful, well-written, and simultaneously funny and heartbreaking. I found the sequel After You to be just as good.


What are some of your favorite, can’t-put-down books?

15 books on my reading list

15 books to read

Wonder – About a kid born with a facial “difference” who starts attending a mainstream school. I’ve seen multiple bloggers recommend this book, so it’s time to add it to my list.

All the Light We Cannot See – I bought this book over a year ago, with every intention of reading it right away…but it’s still sitting on my shelf, collecting dust. I’ve heard so many good things about it, and even though WWII fiction can sometimes take a while to hook me, I’m still very much interested in it.

A Little Life – Sometimes I want to read a book solely based on the fact that it’s won a number of awards and/or been talked about constantly, and such is the case with A Little Life. I anticipate this being a difficult but important read.

The Fifth Season – I’m a sucker for a good epic fantasy, and I’ve been hearing great things about this one by N. K. Jemisin.

All the Birds in the Sky – Highly recommended by one of my favorite authors, Rainbow Rowell, and that’s pretty much all it takes for me to put a book on my reading list.

Fates and Furies – Basically every blogger out there has recommended this book, and the premise is really intriguing. I’ve had my name on the waiting list to borrow this from the library for a while now, but there are still 20 people ahead of me! 🙁

The Year of the Flood – It took me years, but I finally made the plunge into the world of Margaret Atwood, and now I’m sorry I waited so long. I chose to read the first in her MaddAddam trilogy, Oryx and Crake, and while I wouldn’t classify it as an easy read – you have to take your time with her writing – it was really, really good. So this is the second in the series.

Carry On – As mentioned, I love Rainbow Rowell, and this is her most recent book published last year. It’s actually a spin-off from my absolute favorite novel by her, Fangirl, which follows a young woman in college who writes fanfiction. Carry On is like the continuation of that fanfiction, but in Rainbow’s voice, not the character’s from Fangirl. It’s very meta. Haha.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – I read/listened to my first David Sedaris book last year (Me Talk Pretty One Day) and really loved it. I plan on listening to this one, too, because his delivery is just fantastic.

Americanah – Another that I know virtually nothing about but want to read because it’s won so many awards and gotten so much attention. Generally with these overhyped books I just dive in without learning much about the premise or plot first. I like to experience it as much as I can without prior bias!

Last Night in Montreal – I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel early last year and positively loved it. The plot, the characters, the setting…everything. I have high hopes for this one.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town – A journalist investigates a string of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula, Montana over a four-year period. Certainly not a “feel-good” read, but very much a necessary one. We have to do better as a society.

One Plus One – I’m a huge Jojo Moyes fan. After devouring The Girl You Left Behind, I read Me Before You and then anxiously awaited the sequel, After You, which I’ve since read and loved. I’m sure I’m going to adore One Plus One just as much as the others.

Big Little Lies – Some friends and I started a book club last year, and the first book we read was The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I thought it was a super fun and clever read, and I really want to explore more of her writing. Big Little Lies has great reviews!

A Knight of the Word – I’ve been a Terry Brooks fan for as long as I can remember. Last year I finally started branching out to some of his non-Shannara titles and read the first in The Word and the Void series. I enjoyed it, though perhaps not as much as his Shannara series, but enough that I definitely want to keep reading!


Qs: What books are you most looking forward to reading? What should I add to my list?