In Life, What I read

What I read: The End of Summer 2020 Edition

I’ve been trying to read more often and this is what I came up with:

Invisible Women

Can I please scream from the rooftops how EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS?

Man, woman, child, Stuffie… PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Once you’ve read it, it’s like a Pandora’s box opening, and you start seeing how the whole world has been built through a male bias. Even stuff in the book I thought I knew, I did not because when I mentioned it to my (white) partner, he tells me: “Oh… yeah. I never thought about that.

Some if it is even shocking, like how seatbelts in cars are not really meant to keep women, but men alive, as our bodies are smaller and have different impact points, so the seatbelt being the way it is, is meant to keep MEN alive, not really women as it isn’t adjustable.

Or how a lot of medicine is tested only on MEN. So the side effects for men may be harmful and then they just scrap it, but they never tried it on women thinking: “Well a woman is just like a smaller man”, when in fact, women react differently to medication and what is prescribed to us could have the opposite effect of harming not helping us, as it has only been tested on a man.

This is a book I will make Little Bun read and discuss as he gets older. SHOCKING. STUFF.

Rebel Queen

All of her stories are not always with happy endings as it is historical fiction, and I am USUALLY not a fan of that because it makes my heart sink, but she is such a gifted writer that I cannot help but keep reading. I am transported into that person’s life, seeing what they see, think, and feel. It is an incredible gift that Moran has, and her books are all worth reading (first-person historical fiction).

The Body: A User’s Guide

Bryson is a great author and this manual on the body is no exception. It’s funny, witty, interesting, I learned a lot about bodies in general and how they function but I am certain 80% of what I read has already been lost. It’s a good book for Little Bun to read as he gets older to give him an idea on how the body works as general knowledge.


Tax is not a 4-letter word

A book on Canadian taxes, but a little dry if I am to be honest. I started on it because I thought it would teach me about how to maximize my tax efficiency, but it turns out to be a dissertation on Canadian taxes and why we have to stop with these tax cuts as we need the money – I agree with the principles of what they’re laying out, BUT!… I also feel like with the money the government gets, they aren’t efficient either.

One needs not look very far to see just how much money is WASTED on initiatives and half-baked plans that don’t come to fruition because one party decides in 4 years (on a 10-year project) to rip up all that was planted before.

Taxes are necessary. I pay them happily to keep roads going, and lights on. What I don’t enjoy, is seeing the sheer disgusting waste of my tax dollars on fixing roads in a cheap manner, only to see them have the same issues a few years later. Can we not spend more money and do it right?

That’s where I get irked. I don’t mind paying taxes, tax me!… But I don’t want to see that money wasted. I don’t run my finances like that, but it feels like I am supporting a country that does.

Below the Stairs & Servant’s Hall

A good pair of memoirs of a servant looking back at what it was like to work in English households (rich ones). I enjoyed the frank anecdotes and observations of this woman. She wrote both books, and they’re both interesting reads if you enjoy what I call “real-life history”.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

This. Book. Had. Such. An. Amazing. Arc. I was hooked by chapter one. It really goes into such a range of emotions of being a woman especially in the past, and having to hide so many secrets. I don’t want to give it away.

You’re reading it thinking – seven husbands? Is this going to be a yawn? It isn’t. GRIPPING TO THE END. MUST. READ.

Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?

Light, interesting, informative read about celebrity culture and what we believe just based off influencers saying so. Gwyneth is everyone’s favourite scapegoat for this thing, with her silly claims on jade eggs and toxins in the body.

A good, light read. Also, Caulfield is a Canadian! SCORE! I enjoyed it. He was pretty witty.

Shades of Grey

This is not a sex book. It’s science fiction. And I read it, but I wasn’t into it. Will I give his other science fiction books a read? Debatable. Plot:

Welcome to Chromatacia, where the societal hierarchy is strictly regulated by one’s limited color perception. And Eddie Russet wants to move up. But his plans to leverage his better-than-average red perception and marry into a powerful family are quickly upended. Juggling inviolable rules, sneaky Yellows, and a risky friendship with an intriguing Grey named Jane who shows Eddie that the apparent peace of his world is as much an illusion as color itself, Eddie finds he must reckon with the cruel regime behind this gaily painted façade.

Undercover Economist Series

Harford is an excellent author. I loved reading and opening my mind to seeing how neighbourhoods for instance are shaped, and why rich people are rich and poor are poor. It’s an excellent, EXCELLENT book. I’d read anything by this man.

Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession and how desire shapes the world

History? Jewelry? Fashion? Empires? Business? Money? Profits? PIRATES?!?

This book has it all. I LOVED IT. This is my kind of book, melding what I love (money + fashion + history) all into one very interesting, well-written package.

An Anonymous Girl

Their books are CHILLING. They’re mentally chilling, not so much on the blood, gore murder part, but .. getting into your brain and twisting what you thought you knew. I obviously like their writing and their works, so highly recommended. This writing duo is incredible. If you like these kinds of thrillers that twist with your brain, you’ll love all of their works.

You are not alone

Same mind-bending, twisty chiller of a book. LOVED IT. It really made me think, and gripped my brain until the end, which I love. When I can’t put down a book, it means it’s a good one. I’ll even read it while brushing my teeth, while walking in the apartment, or putting things away.

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael

I love this book. It isn’t what you’d expect at all, and it brings you right into the life of an elderly woman. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a great book about love.

Four Dead Queens

I normally don’t enjoy sci-fi, with too much technology but this book was a real mystery thriller. I LOVED IT. The end was a twist I did not expect, and it was satisfying which I had lost hope for near the end with the way the book was going.

Again, another book that makes you think about your role in society, your life, what emotions are, etc.

Napoleon’s Buttons

It’s not what you think – it is a book on how different molecules have changed the course of history, from Napoleon’s buttons disintegrating to creating advances in medicine, to what we eat, drink and wear (scurvy, anyone?)

A little dry of a read (I admit glossing over the chemistry parts as it went over my head in terms of understanding), but the rest of it was quite interesting and eye-opening.

Watch your tongue

English phrases, idioms.. I LOVE IT ALL. I am obviously “into” the English language in some sort of way (not a fanatic.. I think..) and I really liked learning the history of where certain phrases come from, their history, etc.

My partner always gets annoyed with idioms “Why is it you are IN a bus, but you get ON the bus yet if you say “I am on the bus”, it is fine, but it makes me think of people sitting on TOP of the bus?” …. LOL

Flavia De Luce Series by Alan Bradley

She’s pretty precocious for an 11-year old. I think… a little more than what I’d consider realistic, but I find the books interesting enough to read through.

I DO LOVE a great heroine however, especially a young girl who is seriously into chemistry and poisons. <3

The Lost Girl of Astor Street


You know how you pick up a book and think: I feel.. like I am not going to be into this book.. but you read it anyway because it was on your list and you were wrong in the past?

Well I was wrong. After chapter one (it was a bit slow), or so, I started to get interested in the book once things started rolling along. Before you knew it, I finished the book in a day because I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.

That’s my curious nature picking it up, and quite honestly, who I thought did it, was completely not the person who did. It was a twist but also not a twist in a sense if I had taken the time to let the evidence and notes wash over me.

A good, quick, fun read.

The Huntress

This is a chilling book. It was such a good read, I couldn’t stop reading it, and it has a Holocaust theme to it, so please do not read it if it will trigger you. I highly recommend it. Happy ending in a way.

The Alice Network


Another great chiller from the same writer. Quinn is amazing. This one has another Holocaust theme to it (I am sensing it is her specialty), and I LOVED IT. It’s such a mind bender…  And the main characters are all well thought out, interesting and fun to follow with their quirks and flaws.

A Triple Knot

Excellent historical book. Loved reading it. All about Joan of Kent.

Minor Feelings

This book highlights all of the racism against people of colour in a way that makes you FEEL it. If you are not a person of colour, I recommend reading this to get a taste of what it feels to be constantly on your guard, especially during these times when racism and hate is truly getting out of control.

It’s full of short stories around people Cathy knows, news that happened, and other poets and people.

It brought up a lot of bad memories for me, to be honest. I found it hard to finish, but it was a necessary endeavour. It also explains a lot of the history and knowledge of race that is missing in our everyday jargon. Have you ever wondered why Asians are held up as a Model Minority? Or what it means to put that kind of pressure on an entire “Other” race to assume they’re all successful?

Asians themselves, are so diversified and different. Someone from Thailand is not like someone from China, the exact same way someone from Italy is not the same as someone from France.

To group everyone together into “Asian” as a big pile is truly part of the reason why things aren’t getting better.

There are even fights within people of colour themselves, to ‘defend’ their culture from others of colour. It’s truly difficult to read through these pages and not get my hackles up, and having been brought up in Canada, I am not Canadian enough (read: white), and I am also not of my own culture enough because I was brought up in Canada.

This very awkward limbo of identities reminds me how much I don’t actually fit in anywhere I go.

All you can ever know

Another book similar to Minor feelings, about growing up as an adopted baby from Korea, in Oregon. I can’t remember much about it, to be honest. I read it, but it didn’t stick in my mind.

The Natty Professor

Tim Gunn is the epitome of elegance for me. I would fangirl if I ever met him. He talks about being a professor and his TEACH method. I can just hear his voice coming through the words and pages, and I love his approach to things.

He is tough, but fair, and a lot of what he talks about, I am already applying to my son as I teach and raise him.

It is a well-written book, easy to read, and a great look into his life as well in anecdotal snippets.

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours

An attempt at chick-lit but with an ethnic, Indian / South Asian twist which I really appreciated. However… the writing was a 3/5 for me. It didn’t grip me. I don’t know why.. however I will give her second book a try…. because I want to desperately like this writing, the author, etc. I think the whole plot for me is off, which is likely why I don’t love it.

City of Girls

It’s no Eat Pray Love, or even The Last American Man (excellent bio/memoir) but it was readable fiction. It is a light book to pass the time, I managed to finish it, but I wouldn’t crave reading it again.

 

Sex with Kings

500 years of adultery with kings. Interesting non-fiction, and lots of interesting, fun tidbits. Good if you like.. well.. history and scandals.

Well-Met

It was a fluffy chick-lit book. It was okay. Not the best I’ve read. Not the worst.

It was okay. I wouldn’t rave about it, or suggest you read it unless you just happen to want cotton candy and are bored.

Selfish, Shallowed, and Self-Absorbed

A great book for people who actively choose to NOT have children. 16 essays on what it feels like, and how they have never felt a need to have children, or to procreate.

It’s perfectly fine either way. Honestly, after having one child, I can understand not wanting any more. They give you the highest highs and the lowest lows. In the end, I am likely happier in the long run with a son, but would have been happier in the short-term without one.

That’s the way I see it. 🙂

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving an F

I already do this, so when I read the book, it was just repeating how I live my life.

Holly King Folk of Air Series

I read the whole series, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. It isn’t as interesting as Anne Bishop’s works in a similar fantasy genre, nor Sarah J. Maas’ work with a similar theme.

It felt insubstantial, and empty in comparison to the other two authors. Still, I finished the books but I won’t be craving more of her works and waiting with bated breath for a new book.

All of these Elin Hilderbrand books

I have fallen down an Elin Hilderbrand hole. They’re not as gripping or as interesting to me, as the original Queen of shopping chicklit, Sophie Kinsella, but Kinsella has only done the Shopaholic series which I liked, and Can you keep a secret. The rest has been bland as evidenced by the fact that only the Shopaholic series got made into a movie, and how Can you keep a secret as well in 2019 which I did not watch. I found the Shopaholic movie to be terrible and not at all what I pictured, for one thing, the heroine had dark hair, not red.

Side note, I also read this book by Kinsella

I Owe You One

Terrible. It’s okay, like 50% I could read through it, but the protagonist just made my blood boil. I wanted her to grow a spine, and if you have been a long-time reader, nothing irks me more than a doormat. She was definitely one, and I just got so angry (which is why her writing is so great, it draws you in), and it wasn’t until the book was 80% over that I was finally simmering down, but by that time, there was no real love story, and it just felt meh.

If you want similar Kinsella-style chicklit of the olden days, with a twist, you can try Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asian series. He’s popular for a reason. He has a new book out by the way!

 

Sex and Vanity

…but based on how terrible Amazon reviewers are in terms of taste, I am not going to pass judgement and get excited over his latest book until I read it for myself.

So, while EH isn’t amazing, it’s good enough as summer reading / mind-distracting fluff, and touches on very good, ‘adult’ issues like divorce, complex emotions, children, grandchildren issues, and so on.

The one thing I don’t love about EH’s books is I cannot get straight which book comes which and next. They have this whole system of “Summer books are read alone books” and “Winter books are trilogies” but I’ll be damned if they can just bloody put “Book Two of Winter Series” on the cover or something so I can figure out WTF I should read next and not spoil it for myself, instead of having to google it. /rant

Also, they’re all set in Nantucket. If you aren’t into this whole summer vibe thing and find it boring, don’t read.

So in no particular order:


40 Days of Dating

This was also made into a movie *make green face emoji*. I think it was a terrible book and I’d like you all to spare your 30 minutes and not read it. It’s about an experiment two friends made about why the didn’t date each other, and try actually dating each other to create a relationship when there wasn’t one there to begin with, and there was only friendship.

It’s not that it’s badly written or that I think they’re bad people in the slightest, but what a STUPID book that I wasted my time reading it. I of course had to finish it because I wanted to know what happened (spoiler alert: it turns out just as you expected), and the whole stupid relationship drama of him and her, soured me.

I guess I am not made out for unrequited, unfulfilling shams of a false relationship. Also, people have really bad taste in general because these books I am not loving, have 4 Amazon rating stars or more. HOW!?!?!?!?

Pretty Bitches

A good book on women and equality. Short essays by various women on different topics about being women.

Would I say it was a page turner? No, but some of the essays were really good and thoughtful.

Books I couldn’t read:

Make every man want you

I don’t need help in this department, but I wanted to read it just to have an idea of what was being said. Couldn’t get past the first chapter, deleted it.

The Glass Hotel

It SOUNDS like a good book. Ponzi scheme, missing woman …. but the first chapter made my eyes roll back into my head and I deleted the book.

The astonishing color of after

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.” So I didn’t read the plot before I read the book (I like to keep an open mind), but this sort of just made me sigh. I read through one chapter (that’s my rule, try it out for a chapter or two), and then deleted it.

I don’t think I am into sad / dramatic books lately. I have too much of that personally, that I am really searching for happy, fun, light books that are interesting or thoughtful… or just plain fun to read even if I don’t learn a thing.

The Behaviour Gap

Some people love re-reading money books, saying the same stuff over and over again, but I am not one of them. After chapter one, and flipping through it idly, I deleted it. Honestly speaking, you can only read so many money books. One is enough. They all say the same things, but I’d love for them to say things in a more interesting way, like this one. You know, pictures and interesting tidbits for basic money management.

Work-Optional

Same as above. I am already work-optional so I guess I don’t really find these books inspiring or interesting any longer. Maybe if I were younger it would have been better. I’ll add it to Little Bun’s list, and then we will read it together and have a discussion afterwards, but only once he is older.

Lost Girl of Astor Street

I gave this book two chapters to grip me, and when the writing failed, I left it. Something about a mystery of a girl’s best friend being lost.

Pachinko

This book won an award which made me wary of it. Books that get awards, are usually books I don’t enjoy reading, with very few exceptions like the Harry Potter series. Sure enough, one chapter in and I was done.

The Most Fun we Ever Had

One chapter, and I was out. I don’t even get what the book is about. Something about a family with a hidden past of an adopted baby.

Daughters of the Winter Queen

Love historical non-fiction. Did not love this. It was so dry….

When you read this

Another sad sack book. Chapter one, and then I deleted it. I don’t like these kinds of books that meander with no plot or purpose.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. Catherine Truong

    I don’t know how you read as quickly as you do! But we are on-page with our taste in books.

    Invisible Women is my book of the year and one that I want to reread every year. I also loved The Alice Network and want to read more by that author – I love her character development.

    I’m reading now The Art of Making Memories by Meik WIking and I really enjoy it. I want to read the rest of his book – it’s an interesting format – it almost feels like having a whole bunch of snippets of conversation with a really smart and funny friend. I’ve laughed out loud a few times with his humour and wit!

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I have a lot of free time. HAH! From not working that is.

      Kate Quinn, is a stunning author who really pulls you into her stories.

      I will put The Art of Making Memories on my list. I like short anecdote/story format books as well.

      Reply
  2. Dublincalling

    OMG. Same story as you re the high school school library. I read every book they had and kept asking ie bugging the librarian to get more. She was the one who clued me to the fact there were municipal libraries as my immigrant parents had never used them since they were so busy working and raising their kids. So I then proceeded to devour the books there😀
    Have a couple of the EH novels also on my kindle but have not started them yet. I love everything Taylor Jenkins Reid writes. Have not read her latest however. Thanks for the recommendation for Invisble Women and Stoned will add to my list. May I also suggest the book The Improbability of love by Hannah Rothschild. Yes one of those Rothschilds. Based on the dealings of art world elite. She also wrote a biography of her great aunt entitled The Baroness The search for Nica the Rebellious Rothschild which was quite a read that I think you may enjoy as Nica was quite a rebel for her time and caused a scandal after she left her husband and kids to chase a jazz singer to NewYork in the early 50s. Was disinherited etc. The latest book by HR is about a family and the crash of 2008 and is on my to read list. Thx for introducing me to the duo of Greer and Pekkanen. Will put these 2 books on my list also. The wife between us was great. Have you ever read books by Beatriz Williams. They are historical fiction also and well written. If you are interested check out the Schuyler sister novels starting with the secret life violet grant, then Tiny little thing and finishing with Along the Infinite Sea. Her latest book Her last flight is also on my list. I also recommend Louise Penny. She lives in the Townships and her books are great. Finally. I liked reading The Paris apartment by Michelle Gable a fictionalized account based on a true story of an apartment in Paris that was untouched for 70 years and was discovered in 2010 filled with art and antiques and couture dresses etc. The owner had fled the apartment in 1942 When the Germans were invading Paris. Google the actual discovery. Just fascinating.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      THANK YOU. I have added all of your recommendations to my reading list, and you are the second, wonderful reader to recommend Louise Penny to me. Thank you thank you! I hope people who read this post also take the time to go through the comments (or I can just read them and give my review) haha 🙂

      Reply
  3. Gail

    I have read and agree on a number of these books. If you like literary mysteries, have you read Louise Penny? She is, of course Canadian, and I know you must know of her, but I have not noticed you mention her books. She is my favorite author. Since I retired I have discovered and devoured her books, ALexander McCall Smith’s, and Susan Hill’s, even rereading some–something I never thought I’d do. Favorite Penny is A Beautiful Life. The characters are so intriguing and continue to live in your head after finishing the books.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      NO! I have not even heard of her. Let me put them on my list so I can get into these books. I love new recommendations. Thank you.

      Reply
  4. Marie

    Wow! Thanks for the great book ideas. I’m going to try and get the first 2 from the library. There can be a long wait for the ebooks during this pandemic.

    Have you always read this much?

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Oh I agree – waiting to get books is why sometimes I read a whole bunch and other times I am not as interested.

      Yes. Ever since I was as young as I can remember… my mother said I read a lot. It runs in the family with my siblings but not my parents, my siblings and I read like crazy, had huge libraries as kids, and always had a book in our faces – I guess I picked it up from them.

      As an example, every week in Grade 2, I’d go to the library and pick out 30 books. The librarian would ask if I would even read them all, and my mom would proudly smile and tell her it was just enough because I was a bookworm.

      Reading transports me.

      Reply

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