Shelf Life: Fall 2014


These are some of my most favorite posts to write. Nowhere else can I wax rhapsodic about the little bound treasures that make me so very happy. Though after a summer of two 700+-page tomes that made my arms ache, my Fall reading fell a little short. I blame the dawn of my FitBit, who stole away my lunch hours for long walks instead of long reading breaks. I also blame the library, who provided ALL of the books on this list, making me feel like a constant state of limbo. I didn’t want to pick up a book on my nightstand when a new one from the library would come in a few days and I’d be on the clock to finish it.

Book nerd problems.

We’ve also had a house full of visitors over the last month, surprises and planned, so I haven’t been “with book” like I normally am. Excuses aside, let’s talk about my favorite time of year in Utah. This was our view from the University just last weekend. I really think October is the best month for the mountains.


This has been a weird fall for us. We had a few cold snaps in September that left the leaves just as confused as us. Especially when we’ve had a record-warm October with highs in the 70s most days. In fact, today will be beautiful and warm and snow and temps in the 20s are predicted for Sunday. Just madness and lots of sniffly sinuses.

Before we bid adieu to Fall, take a look at some of the gorgeousness that is Cache Valley.


Doesn’t it look like I used some kind of select color photoshop trick on this? I didn’t, but I like the look.

It’s hard to beat the leaves for me, but the Fall skies have been absolutely breathtaking. I’m almost…ALMOST!…sad to set the clocks back this weekend and lose these views on my morning commute.


And because it’s today, and—yes—I already have Christmas songs in my head, I’ll leave you with this before we hit the books.

Halloween 1987 - blog

Happy Halloween from your resident stinker, sucker, and Princess.

1. The Vacationers, Emma Straub

I totally get sucked into the “Books of the Summer” lists each year. They are typically easy reads, something that pairs well with sand and salt water, but just as well with mountains and couches. This was one of this summer’s picks and it stayed true to my stereotype. Nothing groundbreaking. Just a funny story about a dysfunctional family’s vacation in Italy. Como si dice “spot on”?

2. The Nesting Place, Myquillyn Smith

Weird author name aside, this was an excellent reminder about loving the place you call home, whether you rent, own, or are looking to buy. She walks you through each of her houses and gives tips on how you can make a place your own, how to embrace your mess, and how a home can work for your family’s needs. A few take-aways:

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” — Epicurus

“Are you waiting on your next house? The house that will be better and newer and bigger, the house you will make into a beautiful home? Oh, the burden the next house carries, where all the living and enjoying and creating will happen. If only. Just remember: compared with your last house, this IS your next house.”

USE YOUR GOOD STUFF! (I’m guilty of this. What am I saving it for?!)

3. Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty

Last summer, Liane wrote one of the best-selling books—a #1 New York Times bestseller—called The Husband’s Secret (see below). While on the wait list for that at the library, I managed to lead the list for her 2014 summer release. I instantly loved her writing and stayed up way too late most nights because I just couldn’t put it down. The material is unsettling, especially so for any parental types. It deals with bullying, single-parenting, domestic violence, infidelity, helicopter parents, mommy wars, etc. etc. etc. Heavy subject matter for sure, but written in a way that bordered both humor and empathy. A narrow path that Moriarty treads perfectly. I can’t wait to read her other novels and I highly recommend this one.

4. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith

J.K. ‘strikes’ again! This is her second Cormoran Strike novel, a series she recently announced will include more books than her Harry Potter series. Cormoran is a great character, so I don’t mind. This one took me a while to get into, but I blame my late-night, sleepy reading than the actual plot. Once I got into it, I didn’t want to put it down, which explains why I hastily read the last few pages at my desk early one morning than saving it for my lunch break. I felt like I had hit pause on the most exciting part of the book–waiting five hours just wasn’t going to happen for 10 pages! Ah, the power of Ms. Rowling.

5. The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd

From the power of J.K. Rowling to the power of Oprah, this book literally had wings the second she endorsed it for her book club. I typically don’t buy into her hype as a rule, but so many of my friends were blasting out their love of this book that I couldn’t stay away. And I’m glad I didn’t.

Its story follows the Grimké sisters—real-life abolitionist legends from South Carolina. Though very real, Sue’s account is largely fictional and chronicles their time as children through their later lives. You know I love those kinds of stories. It’s a dual coming-of-age tale of one of the sisters (Sarah) and the slave that was given to her as a birthday present, and how their bond and a promise keeps pulling them together. This is beautiful writing for an even more beautiful story. Don’t let Oprah’s seal on the cover throw you off.

6. The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty

This was the Summer 2013 hit that I finally got from the library wait list. After reading two of Liane’s books in a short amount of time, I realized that I take for granted that most of the books I read are written by American authors. Both stories are set in Liane’s native Australia, so getting used to their summer vacations over the Christmas break took a little rewiring on my part. But, for the book itself, it didn’t disappoint. It’s a heavy book disguised as a summer chick-flick, something magazines and newspapers mentioned quite a bit due to its frilly cover art. It chronicles the lives of three families all forever changed by one person’s decision decades ago. It really makes you wonder about the small choices/decisions we make every day without worrying about who they might affect, even years later. “The choices you make dictate the life you lead.” Choose wisely.

7. Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham

I’ve never seen an episode of Girls, but I do know Lena Dunham is loved by women of my generation for her feminist ideals and her sassy screw-you attitude. She exudes confidence, something lacking in so many young women, and is a younger voice to balance those of Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Poehler. I had no idea what to expect from her book, but I was pleasantly surprised in every page. Sure, she’s snarky and crude and has had WAY too much casual sex, but she’s also incredibly insightful and touching. She perfectly captures what it’s like to be a confused, hurt, yet resilient 20-something. ….Maybe I should give her show a try.

A favorite passage on dating the wrong guy:

When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game…It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.

Smart girl.

Next up in the overly-ambitious queue:

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters (currently reading)
The Goldfinch
 – Donna Tartt
A Dance with Dragons – George R. R. Martin (this is a MUST before the next season starts!)
Freedom – Jonathan Franzen
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Running to Normal – Sandra Clark
Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman
Food: A Love Story – Jim Gaffigan
Yes Please – Amy Poehler
Us – David Nicholls
Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer


4 thoughts on “Shelf Life: Fall 2014

  1. I have a solution for your lunch walk dilemma! Audiobooks! I am listening to Eleanor & Park now, have you read it? I’m really enjoying it so far!

  2. Those yellow leaves!!! Seriously? I was sure you were using Photoshop tricks but I believe you when you say you’re not. Incredible.
    I love your list. I’m still on the library wait list for The Nesting Place but I DID just finish A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Hooray for non-parenting books! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Shelf Life: Winter 2014-15 | hashtag marci

  4. Pingback: Shelf Life: Winter 2015-16 | hashtag marci

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