What I Read in September

Remember when I was so excited that it was September and fall was coming and then it was like 98 million degrees every day this month?! Yeah… not the best. But in my efforts to avoid any and all outdoor activity, I DID read like 5 million books this month, so there’s lots to share here! Woo!

Here’s what I read this September!

ps— affiliate links are included!


my top rec:

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

my 2019 goal progress:

24 books this month

136/175 total (I bumped my goal up from 150 to 175!!!)


The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: Fiiiiinally checked off another category of #aradreadingchallenge with this one— an author with the same name! I have loved other books by Rachel Joyce and this one was no different, even though it did take about 100 or so pages for me to really get into it. This storyline isn’t incredibly unique (quirky, older shop owner has a knack for “reading” guests to the shop and knowing exactly what music/book/etc they need in that moment) but it was charming nonetheless, and the end had me squealing I loved it so much!


Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand

rating: ★★☆☆☆

review: A quick little end of summer read, and a pretty “meh” one at that. Three in their 40s, a yearly night swimming ritual, a disappearance, and a lot of unraveling of lives and secrets as a result. Just felt solidly okay, nothing great, nothing awful (except the whole affair with a much younger human thing...).


Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: An easy, breezy one night read (200% influenced by @hannahreadsmoer reading lots of Sarah Dessen this summer) — it felt slightly reminiscent of parts of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants storylines to me (divorced parents with new families, spending a summer in a new place with a mysterious love interest, teen girl cliques and boy drama, etc) and I liked it! Definitely would have loooved this one as a teenager.


Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

rating: ★★★★☆

review: Flew through this one and really enjoyed it! Four women confessed to a murder of one man, and throughout all the parallel plot lines and unraveling lives, I didn’t see the ending coming! It wasn’t super dark and twisty but focused more on the females, their friendships, and their personal drama, with transcripts from the detective’s questionings woven in throughout to add the drama. The ending still has me questioning and wondering!!

thanks to: BookSparks for sending me this one as part of #FRC2019


The Little Book of Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting by Joe Gillard 

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: This little book is a GEM — the definitions of old and lost words combined with hilariously accurate old paintings and LOL-worthy example sentences had me cracking up and wanting to totally bring these words back. This would be the perfect gift book for anyone who loves words!

thanks to: Random House for the free book!


The Nine by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

rating: ★★☆☆☆

review: The Nine is a story of motherhood, of elite schools and secret societies, of privilege and finding your place in the world, of letting go and learning and loving, and of scandal and sacrifices. It was solidly okay in my opinion, but I think not being a mother and not being of the elite education world at all disconnected me from the story and major themes of this one. There would be so many good book club discussions to come from reading this one with others, for sure! If you’re reading this one, let’s discuss!

thanks to: BookSparks for sending me this one as part of #FRC2019


Hope in the Dark: Believing God Is Good When Life Is Not by Craig Groeschel

rating: ★★☆☆☆

review: This is probably going to be a pretty bummer review buuuuut I just have confirmed I am not a fan of this guy. I heard him speak at GLS and wasn’t obsessed but thought the subject matter of this book was interesting enough for me to give it a shot... but it just confirmed how i felt. Not a fan. It felt trite and overly simplistic, and like it came from such a comfortable place of privilege that it wasn’t compelling or convicting at all to me. It just didn’t resonate with me at all or feel truly genuine and it frustrated me. Maybe it’s just my own bias of feeling wary of such prominent and privileged white male pastors who seem to churn out books on hot topics, giving the impression that it’s more about looks and making a buck than it is about true calling and connection to the content... but ANYWAY.


The Wonder of Now by Jamie Beck

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: I was honestly was surprised by this one — the cover totally threw me off and I thought it was a memoir instead of the fiction book I was expecting! Turns out, it’s fiction after all! But then I thought it would be a sexy or steamy romance, and it wasn’t that at all either. WHERE WAS MY BRAIN?? Who knows. What this book WAS, however, was the story of an adventurous woman post-breast cancer on a European book tour of her raw and vulnerable memoir and the publicist with his own emotional past who accompanies her on the trip. You can probably guess how it plays out from that sentence alone, and there wasn’t much in this one that surprised me, but it was an enjoyable one night read once I finally understood what i was ACTUALLY reading.

thanks to: BookSparks for sending me this one as part of #FRC2019


Confess by Colleen Hoover

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: The CoHo summer continues! (I only have one more in my possession and then I’ll be on the hunt for the rest!) — this one was better than the Hopeless/Losing Hope duo, and felt like the Hoover I’ve grown to truly love (deep themes woven into love stories with nuance and honesty and grit) and enjoy. I found myself surprised by this one several times and loved that. I especially love how Collie (can I give her a nickname now that I’ve read like 500 of her books? yes? cool.) found an artist to feature and represent one of the main characters — much like she found a musician to write songs for another book — it’s just such a cool collaborative endeavor that adds a unique spin to the book and brings it all to life. (PS— there was a sexual assault scene in this one, so trigger warning for that!)


Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others by Barbara Brown Taylor

rating: ★★★★☆

review: BBT is my girrrrrrl. Finally got around to reading her latest book just in time to hear her speak at @evolvfaith in a few weeks! This one is the story of her teaching a Religion 101 class at Piedmont College and how her own faith evolved as she spent years exploring and teaching the faiths of others. I had never heard the term “holy envy” before but found it so striking — even as a lifelong Christian, there are things about other faiths, practices, and beliefs that I admire, respect, am drawn to, and am intrigued by. The whole idea of “holy envy” is just that— that the learning of other religions would enlighten and enrich our own, that the things I love about other practices would influence and improve my own, that the faith and strength and belief of others would encourage and solidify my own. There is so much to be gained from others and I’m so grateful for the discoveries shared here that remind me to keep discovering on my own, too.


Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption edited by Daniel Jones

rating: ★★★★☆

review: This one is a great collection of Modern Love columns (plz tell me you know about this column from the @nytimes or the podcast!!) — heart-wrenching, humorous, poignant, wistful, wise, and just so, so very human. These are stories of love gained and lost and everything in between, and they are such a beautiful picture of humanity and emotions and just life. Big fan.

thanks to: Random House for the free book!


The Boundary-Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise by Danielle Shroyer

rating: ★★★★☆

review: I looooved this one and am so glad to have discovered Danielle Shroyer! Her way of walking through Scripture to illustrate how God moves and works and gives us great hope was so enlightening and inspiring and felt really fresh— no boundary holds God and he does so much more than we could dare to dream, and walking through the Old Testament to pull out those themes and threads was so cool to me. Give me allllll the books + Bible teaching from brilliant women, pleaseandthankyou. Cannot wait to hear more from her in a few weeks!


The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman

rating: ★★★★★

review: I nearly ran out of flags reading this one— it’s THAT good. I’ve had this one for months but it needed to be read right now, and I’m grateful for it. I savored this one (as it should be) and resonated deeply with her wise, warm way of inviting us all into a truer and better way of living, one grounded in Jesus and guided by love as we take little steps forward day by day. Hear me when I say that none of that is how I naturally live, but it is truly a gift to be reminded that such a way is not only possible, but actual doable. This book is a balm to weary and worn out souls, and it’s a gift I’ll treasure for years to come. (Chapter 8 alone was worth every penny!!)


The Means that Make Us Strangers by Christine Kindberg

rating: ★★★★★

review: I’m just SO GLAD @christine.kindberg sent me a copy of this one! It’s such a rich and beautifully told story of home and place (an American family move back to the states from Ethiopia — the only home the teenage main character has known — and navigate race dynamics, integration of schools in the American south, family nuances, and so much more) — I loved it and was so engaged in the story. It felt almost like a memoir with all the incredible detail and heart, and I was so impressed by the writing and the themes. Highly recommend this one!

thanks to: the author for sending me a copy of this one!


Life on Loan by Ashley Farley

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: This one felt a lot like my faaaavorite movie (The Holiday) but set in Virginia (hello, hometown Richmond references! so fun!) and Charleston — two women who are old friends reconnect in an airport and end up swapping houses for a month to both get a break from their messy lives, and you knowwww all sorts of romance and life change and cute little things happen as a result! It was such a fun read.

thanks to: BookSparks for sending me this one as part of #FRC2019


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

rating: ★★★★★

review: I resisted reading this one, because therapy is a thing I experience every week and I didn’t really think I wanted to get in that headspace even more or read about other people’s therapy experiences... but I’m SO VERY GLAD both @hannahreadsmoer + @laurenlovestoread (my bookish BFFs) convinced me to give it a go. This book is powerful and meaningful and rich and tender and moving and REAL and so, so, so fully displayed what it’s like to be in therapy (and what I imagine it’s like to be a therapist, too). I highlighted and marked the heck out of it, and cried at the way the stories wrapped up and the book came to an end. Oof. So, so good.


Shameless: a sexual reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber

rating: ★★★★☆

review: Your girl has a HISTORY when it comes to the topic of sex and sexuality, so this one both intimidated and intrigued me. When you grow up in evangelical Christian purity culture and then are sexually abused and raped, it sets you up for a whooooole mess of untangling, relearning, and rediscovering God’s heart and design for sex, what it means to be in a body and learn to love my body, how to navigate physical contact in relationships post-abuse, etc. It’s a DOOZY and I can’t say I’ve ever read a book willing to look at these types of things head on in such a frank and unfiltered way. This book takes a liberal approach at sex and sexuality that I don’t 100% agree with, but there was much about it that was freeing, healing, and encouraging for me to read. I appreciated looking at Scripture and common Christian teachings through a new lens different than what I was raised with, and I have new thoughts, questions, and prayers as a result. (Reason #7293726 why you should read widely and diversely!!!) For those who have wrestled with anything in the sex/sexuality realm, this one would be a worthwhile read, and one I feel won’t be triggering (at least it wasn’t for me) but instead provide a safe space for wondering, learning, exploring, deconstructing, rebuilding, and even healing.


the husband’s secret by liane moriarty

rating: ★★★★☆

review: This one had me hooked from the very beginning as it bounced between characters, and it unfolded SO WELL and kept me flipping pages quickly, trying to see how all the layers came together and the ending would turn out. It was so masterfully crafted and the epilogue nearly did me in... gah, Moriarty is a genius!


Un-Pregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan

rating: ★★☆☆☆

review: What I liked about this one: it felt JUST like the vibe of the Netflix originals/movies I’ve been loving lately (think like Booksmart + To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before + Paper Towns + Dumplin’, etc). What I didn’t like about this one: it focuses on a teenager getting an abortion (and I have lots of thoughts about all of that) sooooo it wasn’t purely a fun and feel good story for me. There was also a manipulative boyfriend character who reminded me a lot of my abusive ex... so that was an added layer for me too. 😬 ANYWAY. I don’t in good conscience feel like I can recommend that you read this book considering its content and characters that I wrestle/struggle with... but I will say that this one will likely make an entertaining movie for those who enjoy the ones I mentioned. 🤷🏼‍♀️ PHEW, this one was hard to gracefully share about!! On to the next!

thanks to: Booksparks for sending me this as part of #YAFRC2019!


Verity by Colleen Hoover

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: WHAT DID I JUST READ. 🤯 This book was a TRIP, lemme tell you. It’s dark (like, really hard to read at times because of messed up mother/child things) and twisty and layered and just craaaaay. The ending threw me for another loop I didn’t expect and I’m feeling suuuuper unresolved about it all... this is a whole new side of CoHo and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it! I will say, the girl can WRITE, that’s for damn sure.


Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

rating: ★★★☆☆

review: This one is a touching and heartbreaking story of a famous pianist who is diagnosed with ALS — it’s a tear-jerker but was so worth a read and gave me a much better understanding of what life with such a horrible disease can be like. If you liked Me Before You, The Fault in Our Stars, or Five Feet Apart, give this one a read!


Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

rating: ★★★★☆

review: This was my first Scottoline read and I was HOOKED. Flew through this one today and I’m so glad I didn’t have to take breaks in reading it! A teenage prank goes wrong (TW for gun violence) and years later, the secret is eating one of them alive... and it unfolds from there in ways I DID NOT EXPECT. 🤯 It’s not for the faint of heart (people die in a lot of intense ways — I feel like I should just give a blanket trigger warning... but definitely TW: suicide, drug overdose, etc) but it was masterfully written and I can’t wait to read more from her!


Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

rating: ★★★★☆

review: Stayed up past my bedtime to finish this one... I started it this afternoon and could NOT put it down. A mom (who happens to be a reporter) receives a flyer with a missing child photo that looks exactly like her adopted son and it sends her into a truth-seeking, heart-wrenching spiral and all kinds of craziness ensues. SO GOOD. I was hooked from the opening line and loved the way it unfolded until the very end. Definitely on the Lisa Scottoline fan girl train and glad I have another one of hers on my shelves so I can keep going with my #readwhatyouown challenge! (TW: fun violence, and wouldn’t read this one if you’ve adopted as I think it would hit too close to home!)


The Moth Presents Occasional Magic: True Stories about Defying the Impossible edited by Catherine Burns

rating: ★★★★☆

review: These stories from a variety of writers are such a beautiful and heartwarming collective look at what it means to be human and how to find magic in the mundane. They’re short snippets but so full of heart and soul, warmth and humor. I savored them slowly and can’t wait for the next collection!

thanks to: Random House for the free book!


What was the best book you read this month?!

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