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!

Beach reads

I haven’t talked about this on the blog yet, but in seven days, Danny and I will be headed off to Kauai, Hawaii for an entire week!


We visited Kauai for the first time in 2014 and fell in love with the island – so it’s no surprise we’ve managed to find our way back there again. We plan on spending this trip doing much of the same as the last one: snorkeling, hiking, eating fresh and delicious food, and last but not least, my favorite thing to do on vacation: reading on the beach!

Though the term “beach read” can mean “chick lit” to many people, that’s not really how I gauge what I bring to the beach. (Although there’s NOTHING wrong with the latter. And, side note, why isn’t there a genre called “dude lit”? Inquiring minds need to know.) When going on vacation, I will typically bring at minimum three books, plus some extras on my Kindle and at least one good audiobook on my phone. My worst nightmare is running out of books to read on vacation. If I get a lot of relaxation time, it’s not uncommon for me to finish 2-3 books on a single, week-long vacation. I have to come prepared!

I also like to have variety, because my mood determines what I feel like reading at any given moment, and there’s nothing worse than being bored with the books you brought and having nothing to switch to. So after several reminder emails that I had books waiting to be picked up at the library, here’s what I’m looking at:

Beach reads!

OBVIOUSLY it would be impractical to try to travel with this many books (but WOULD IT? whispers the oversized backpack in my closet). The ones I’m leaning towards bringing are The Year of the Flood (I’ve already started reading this one off and on), The Book of Unknown Americans (this is the pick for my book club this month), and The Love that Split the World. Oh and obviously Harry Potter, assuming I don’t finish it before we leave next week (that copy is mine, preordered from Amazon like the HP-loving nerd I am).


I’m also listening to The Wise Man’s Fear (book two in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss) but, considering the 9+ hours of traveling we’ll be doing both ways, I suspect I’ll finish it before the trip is over. Just to be safe, I plan on downloading Truly, Madly, Guilty, Liane Moriarty’s latest book, as well. I have high hopes for that one!

Finally, I’ll grab a a couple of titles for my Kindle from the library – not sure which ones, yet. It usually depends on whatever the library has available. 🙂

What do you like to read on vacation??

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?