book recommendations

{good reads}

First thing first – let’s clear something up.  I’m not a reader.  I listen to audio books.  Reading puts me to sleep every.single.time.  For reals.  I recently became hooked on books.  Reading reviews to see what book I want to listen to next.  Asking for reviews.  Who have I become?  It used to be People + Martha Stewart magazines…ONLY.  So, this is kind of a big deal for me.  Anyway, I’m going to share the books I’ve finished.  The books I want to grab next.

I guess I really owe this new-found hobby to the “Book Club” a couple of my girlfriends started about a year ago.  When I said yes, that’d I’d join, I really thought I was joining a, let’s drink wine and hang out club.  Wong, these B’s really wanted to read books.  And drink wine too, of course.  I secretly wanted to un-join once I understood what was really going on.

First book – Wild.  I thought, sweet, I’ve watched the movie:)  Haha.  I’m dead serious.  About a week after the first meeting, the girls starting emailing about how much they loved the book.  I went to the Woodland Library’s web-site and decided to check out the damn book.  Then under the title I see, “audio version.”  Huh?   I checked it out.  Listened to the book in a little over a week.  Killed my car battery trying to finish chapter after chapter sitting in my garage.  I was hooked.  I’ve NEVER in my life been hooked to a book before.  Like I said, magazines only.


This book actually prompted the over-night backpacking trip I took with some girlfriends last year.  I later realized I enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s writing.

So, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar was my next pick.  Audio Version:)


This book was full of never-before-published columns packed with humor, insight and brutal honesty.  I laughed and some really made me cry.


Since my love for Cheryl was still going strong, I picked up Brave Enough.  Book form, I know – crazy, right?


To my surprise, it was a book of quotes.  All Cheryl Strayed quotes.  From Wild and Dear Sugar.  The introduction says it all:

“I think of quotes as mini-instruction manuals for the soul. It’s my appreciation of their very usefulness that compelled me to put together this book. Not because I believe in my own sagacity, but because I believe in the power of words to help us reset our intentions, clarify our thoughts, and create a counternarrative to the voice of doubt many of us have murmuring in our heads–the one that says You can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t have. Quotes, at their core, almost always shout Yes!”

You wont find a single dud.  Great coffee table book.

Then I found Gretchen Ruben.  To be honest, I saw that Reese Witherspoon posted a photo of herself reading The Happiness Project.  So I listened to ALL three.  The Happiness Project being my favorite of the three.

The Happiness Project

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

The book received mixed reviews.  She’s kinda weird.  I really didn’t have much in common with her or her lifestyle.  But I did pick up some tip and started my own (mini) happiness project.  So, I’d say it was for sure a good one for me.  This is where I came up with the weekly dating my daughter tradition Bailey and I still look forward to.

Just like Cheryl, I wanted to grab all Gretchen’s books.  So I did.  In order.

Better Than Before // Happier At Home

The second and third were a little harder to get through.  Like I said, not my favorite.  Once I check out an audio book, I try my best to finish it.

I picked up Big Little Lies, after seeing it on Reese Witherspoon’s Insta again.  It was such a fun light read, I mean listen.  I laughed my ass off and felt like I could be friends with these chicks.  I wrote about it on {friday 5} back in October…you can read more about it here.

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Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

The audio version was hands down one of my favorite to date.  Check it out!!!

Next up, All The Light We Cannot See.


From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

I only made it 1/2 way through this audio book and gave up.  I just couldn’t get into it.  With all the awards it received, I thought for sure I’d have to love it, Nope!

The next book club book pick, The Longest Ride.

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Once again, I watched the movie first.  Then listened to the audio book.  I loved the book version so much more than the movie.  Well, except for the hunky Scott Eastwood who played Luke.  He’s easy on the eyes:)

Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy a good ol love story ♥

After I finished my first Nicholas Sparks book, my girlfriend, Nicole, told me she had been reading See Me and knew I’d like it.  She was right.  I was hooked after the 1st chapter.  I wrote more about it here on {friday 5}.  This book killed my car battery….told you it’s GOOD!


Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot.  With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line.  To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life.  Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.

Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success: with a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record.  And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her home town and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

I now have a love for Nicholas Sparks like every other book reader I know.

Thanks to Glitter Guide’s Book recommendation, I found The Good Girl.


Earlier this month I wrote about it on {friday 5}.  It was a real disc changer, let me tell ya.  Bailey hated the voice of the reader on this audio book.  She freaked whenever she got in the car and heard the dude’s voice.

Then I picked up Kate Hudson’s Pretty Happy: Healthy ways to love your body.  I also wrote about it on {friday 5} earlier this month.


I didn’t just wake up one day understanding how to take care of myself. I had to learn how to do so over time, and I continue to learn—each and every day. This is a process, and my body is constantly changing. So is yours. And when I learned how to accept that I will always be like this, I relaxed. Our bodies do not stand still for time.

When you understand yourself and connect to how you can become body smart, you realize pretty quickly that the perfect, the ideal is not the goal. Instead, the goal is feeling good in your body. That’s what leads to confidence, to feeling and looking fit, and being pretty happy. Doesn’t that sound great? I think so! 

It was a 4 disc audio book.  Thank god.  I made myself finish it.  Good tips about health.  Some weird shit too.  I’m pretty sure it was awarded New York Times Best Seller for her name…..not the book.  Not my favorite.  At all.

You’re never going to believe what I did next!!!  I picked up Kristin Cavallari’s Balancing in Heels.  BOOK version.  Since there was NO audio version available.  I’m telling you, weird shit is happening around here.


Being such a loyal The Hills + Laguna Beach fan, this was a no-brainer.  Although I didn’t LOVE it…I did enjoy this lighthearted read.  It includes beautiful pictures and fun recipes and tid bits about her day-to-day life.  I actually like her so much more after reading this book:)

For the first time ever, entrepreneur, designer, and TV star Kristin Cavallari shares how she juggles all facets of her busy life with style and grace. From outlining health and wellness, food, fitness, fashion, and her success as a businesswoman to more private matters of family, motherhood, and her relationship with her husband, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Kristin leaves no stone unturned to give fans ofLaguna Beach and The Hills all of the answers they’ve been looking for.

Tracing her journey from reality stardom to real life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—Kristin digs down to the most personal of relationships in her life and discusses how they made her who she is today. She also talks about the amazing effects of her healthy diet and exercise, which have made Kristin and her family the happiest and healthiest they’ve ever been. Kristin shares the family’s favorite recipes and even reveals how her food philosophy has drastically improved Jay’s type 1 diabetes.

Balancing in Heels is a behind-the-scenes, in-depth look at who the real Kristin Cavallari is—unscripted.

This week I finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Thanks for the recommendation Greta!!


This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to deluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step though her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

I feel so inspired that I am starting the KonMari Method this weekend.  She says to always start with your closet first.  Shit is about to get real.  I hope all my J.Crew collection “sparks joy” so I can keep it.  What if my Tory Burch’s don’t “spark joy?”  I’m fucking scared.  I’ve already started my online garage sale pile and donation pile.  I honestly do believe that decluttering and simplifying will bring me a calm, motivated mindset.  Stay tuned…..

Today I started The Girl on the Train.  Another book that came highly recommended from lots of friends.  A #1 New York Times Bestseller, USA Today Book of the Year.  Annndddd soon to be a major motion picture.  Yessss.

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Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I’ll keep you all posted on this once I’ve finished 🙂

Check out Glitter Guide’s Must-Read list for April…..I’ve already reserved a couple.  I’m patientley waiting for their May list to post.


I can’t even believe I just wrote an entire post on books.  WTF has the world come too?  Anyway, I hope this inspires you to pick up an audio book and get your reading, I mean listening on 🙂

Also – let me know if you have any book recommendations for me!!!

xoxo stacyb


2 thoughts on “{good reads}

  1. Best of luck with the purge!! I didn’t commit to all of it at once like she recommends but I have made a lot of changes!! I just need a week off to make it happen. Thanks for the book reviews and recommendations. I could not handle the voice of the narrator for Girl on a train and actually picked it up to read.

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