What I Read in October

October has been an incredible month of reading for me. I flew through 3 books from my fall reading list and I am currently reading 3 more. I also devoured one of my MMD reading challenge picks. Here’s a look at what I’ve been reading…

brain-on-fire

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Susannah Cahalan’s memoir was my pick for ‘a book I previously abandoned’ for the MMD Reading Challenge. I read this book back in 2010, but I only made it halfway through. The story of a 24-year-old New York Post reporter’s horrifying descent into madness frightened me. But this time around, Cahalan’s story hooked me; I could not stop reading and it didn’t scare me as much. With no recollection of what happened to her, Cahalan depends on video footage from the hospital, the journals her father kept, and interviews with her doctors to piece together that missing month of her life. Incredibly brave and brilliantly-executed, I am happy I gave it a second chance. The film adaptation starring Chloë Grace Moretz premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September.

these-things-hidden

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

My librarian recommended this page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Gudenkauf and it’s my favourite from the author so far. Allison is the perfect daughter and student. But her perfect world comes crashing down when she is sent to prison for a shocking crime. Her younger sister, Brynn, shoulders the burden of what really happened that night, and faces the whispers in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. Told from five different points of view, Gudenkauf skillfully explores the crushing weight of secrets on those who keep them and the devastating consequences on all involved when secrets are revealed. A taut, thought-provoking, lyrical, moving thriller; I read it from cover to cover in 8 hours. I can’t stop thinking about it. This would make a great book club pick.

i-shall-be-near-to-you

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

This debut historical novel is inspired by the more than 200 women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War. Newly married Rosetta Wakefield doesn’t want her husband, Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up anyway, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. Strong-willed Rosetta decides that her place is by her husband’s side so she cuts off her hair, dresses in shirt and pants, and volunteers as a Union soldier. Told in Rosetta’s powerful voice, this story captured my heart from page one. I laughed, cried, and rooted for Rosetta. McCabe’s prose is absolutely stunning and I hung onto each and every word. Beautiful, lyrical, heart-wrenching, unforgettable, and thoroughly researched; it’s one of the best historical novels I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.

missing-pieces

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted by the sudden death of his mother when he was a teenager, her body found in the cellar on their family farm. The case shook the sleepy farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, and for years Jack stayed away from home. But when he receives news that his beloved Aunt Julia has been in a horrible accident, Jack and Sarah are forced to return to his hometown. Upon arriving in Penny Gate, they are greeted by the family Jack left behind twenty years ago.

Gudenkauf does a masterful job of capturing the nuances of small-town life. While everyone knows everyone else and their business, can you ever truly know everything? Gudenkauf really dials up the suspense and I found myself glancing over my shoulder as I read (I am not kidding). A well-written, creepy story of closely-guarded family secrets that kept me turning the pages. I read this in one sitting. A friendly warning: Cancel all plans before picking up this book.

the-couple-next-door

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I spotted Lapena’s debut thriller on the staff picks’ table at Chapters Indigo and was immediately intrigued. Lapena considers the questions: How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even–yourself? Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a gorgeous home in upstate New York, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one summer night, the couple decides to leave their six-month-old daughter home alone while they attend a dinner party next door. When they arrive home, their daughter is gone. Detective Rasbach questions the couple over and over and knows that they are hiding something and he will stop at nothing until he uncovers the truth. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

Lapena explores issues of parenthood, postpartum depression, marital unfaithfulness, and family secrets. While I couldn’t stop reading (I read this in 8 hours), I found the story to be a bit too over the top in places and I felt very little connection to the characters. I wish Detective Rasbach’s character was fleshed out a bit more and there was more of a focus on the actual investigation.

Currently reading:

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

Told in the most stunning prose, Valente’s debut is the story of a St. Louis high school shooting and its aftermath. Valente paints a vivid portrait of how those left behind cope: the four survivors who must put together the yearbook while attempting to process what they’ve been through, their parents, the families of the deceased, investigators, and the town as a whole. A lyrical, heart-wrenching, timely, and necessary read. The writing is so beautiful it hurts. I’m reading this one very, very slowly.

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

I’ve been telling everyone about this book. I am learning a ton and making notes. Enders does an incredible job of breaking down the science and I have a new-found respect for my gut. Smart, funny, and easy-to-digest. The accompanying illustrations are amazing. Who knew the gut could be so fascinating? I’m currently reading a library copy, but I plan on buying my own copy. It’s that good. A must-read!

Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney

This memoir has been on my reading list for two years and I’m happy I finally picked it up. Moroney, a high school teacher and guidance counsellor married her boyfriend of three years. One month into their marriage, her husband is arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and kidnapping two women. Moroney shares how she dealt with the loss of her husband, the publicity of a criminal investigation, the rejection and judgment from neighbours, friends, and colleagues, and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. I am halfway through and hoping to finish it this weekend.

What have you been reading this month?

Fall Reads 2014

Has anyone else noticed it’s getting really dark really early in the evenings?! While I’m a bit sad to say goodbye to long summer days, I’m excited to welcome Autumn and all her gifts: a chill in the air, cozy sweaters, cute boots, flannel blankets, pumpkin spice lattes with real pumpkin, and new beginnings. It’s also the perfect season to stay indoors and devour a good read.

So to get into the spirit of fall, I’ve put together a list of books I hope to fall into this season…

The Accidental Creative The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry

Who doesn’t want to be more creative and productive? Kenzie from over at Hello Neverland spoke so highly of this book in this post. So I knew I had to add it to my list. Before running out to the bookstore, I checked out accidentalcreative.com, listened to a couple of Henry’s podcasts and read chapter 1 of the book here.

die emptyDie Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

“Don’t go to your grave with your best work inside of you. Choose to die empty.” I swear I am going to adopt this as my daily mantra. In his follow-up to The Accidental Creative, Henry points out that most of us live as though we will always have tomorrow to do our most important work. But tomorrow is promised to none of us. Die Empty will help bring clarity and a sense of urgency to how you approach your work every day. Henry shows us how to cultivate the mind-set and methods we need to be enthusiastic about what we do, push through mental blocks, and unleash our best work each day.

This is where I leave youThis Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

The death of Judd Foxman’s father brings the entire Foxman family together for the first time in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife who’s affair with Judd’s boss has recently become public. Mourning the loss of his father and the failure of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of his family as they grant their father’s dying wish: to sit Shiva for the seven days following the funeral.

The film of the same name made its world premiere at TIFF this year. Mark your calendars: It comes out in theatres on September 19.

Secret DaughterSecret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

In her engaging first novel, Shilpi Somaya Gowda interweaves the stories of two families and the daughter that binds them. Somer is newly married and has started her career as a doctor in San Francisco. Her life is pretty perfect until she makes the gut wrenching discovery she cannot have children. In a remote village in India, Kavita makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter’s life by giving her up. Somer and her husband decide to adopt and they fall in love with the beautiful little girl in the photo, while Kavita is haunted by thoughts of the daughter she had to give away.

Kirkus calls it: “Fiction with a conscience, as two couples worlds apart are linked by an adopted child….A lightweight fable of family division and reconciliation, gaining intensity and depth from the author’s sharp social observations.”

A Path AppearsA Path Appears by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

From the authors of the #1 New York Times best seller Half the Sky, comes an essential narrative about making a difference at home and abroad. With scrupulous research and on-the-ground reporting, the husband-and-wife team analyze the art and science of giving and identify successful local and global initiatives. The authors paint vibrant portraits of real people making the world a better place and lay out a road map for how we can do the same – whether by donating our time, money or unique skills to a cause.

Attachments

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

From the award-winning author of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline comes a novel about love in the workplace. Journalists Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that the IT department is monitoring their work e-mail. But this doesn’t stop them from sending each other hilarious emails about the ins and outs of their personal lives. I am already quarter way through and each flip of the page has me in a fit of giggles. This is my first Rowell book and it certainly won’t be my last!

traveling lightTraveling Light by Max Lucado

I read this book during my first year at university and it really shifted my perspective. I knew I had to share it with my loved ones. So that Christmas, I bought a few copies for friends and family. With the Twenty-third Psalm as his guide, Lucado reminds us that God wants us to release those burdens we were never intended to carry. He invites us to set down any spiritual baggage that might be weighing us down – worry (the big one for me), fear, guilt, loneliness, grief, hopelessness, self-reliance, envy, shame, disappointment at the feet of God. I decided now was the perfect time to re-read this one.

All's fairAll’s Fair in Love & Wardrobe by Stephanie Simons

Since appearing on The Bachelor in 2005, Simons has worn many shoes. Dating and fashion writer for top publications, TV style expert, editorial strategist for brands like Banana Republic and since this summer, an accomplished author. All’s Fair in Love and Wardrobe puts a glamorous spin on shopping for love, serving up fashion and dating advice from a fashion editor.

This review, complete with notable quotes on The Single Diaries sealed the deal for me.

Do you crave reading a particular genre over another during the fall months? I would love to hear.