2021 Book Wrap Up

2021 Book Wrap Up

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

In this episode, Nicole and Gayle are going to go over their best books with a book wrap-up for the year. Gayle prepared the categories so that they could talk about them. Some fun topics like their top fiction and nonfiction books, their biggest surprises, or best audiobooks.

Also, they’re giving an update on what their schedule looks like for the rest of the year and the first quarter of 2022.

As always, below you can find the book titles and links to get them and also links for the gifts mentioned during the episode.

Sex and LiesLeila SlimaniAmazonBookshop
TrespassValerie MartinAmazonBookshop
WhereaboutsJhumpa LahiriAmazonBookshop
What Could Be SavedLiese O’Halloran SchwartzAmazonBookshop
The PlotJean Hanff KorelitzAmazonBookshop
My Dark VanessaKate Elizabeth RussellAmazonBookshop
The Nine Lives of Rose NapolitanoDonna FreitasAmazonBookshop
Count The WaysJoyce MaynardAmazonBookshop
Good Morning MonsterCatherine GildinerAmazonBookshop
IndelicacyAmina CainAmazonBookshop
The Idea Of YouRobinne LeeAmazonBookshop
The Last Thing He Told MeLaura DaveAmazonBookshop
The Bad Muslim DiscountSyed MassoodAmazonBookshop
The Other Black GirlZakiya Dalila HarrsAmazonBookshop
The People We KeepAllison LarkinAmazonBookshop
Malibu RisingTaylor Jenkins ReidAmazonBookshop
We Are Not Like ThemJo Piazza and Christine PrideAmazonBookshop
The PlotJean Halff KorelitzAmazonBookshop
Brat: An ’80s StoryAndrew McCarthyAmazonBookshop
A Very Punchable FaceColin JostAmazonBookshop
Should We Stay Or Should We GoLionel ShriverAmazonBookshop
GhostsDolly AldertonAmazonBookshop
I Miss You When I BlinkMary Alice PhilpottAmazonBookshop

*Books linked above are our affiliate links through Amazon. There’s no additional expense to you, but if you make a purchase through us a small portion of that contributes to the costs associated with making our podcast. Thanks so much for listening and for your support.


[00:00:00] Nicole: Welcome to another edition of the readerly report today. Gayle and I are going to go over our best books or just a, I guess, book wrap-up for the year. Gayle sent me some categories so that we could talk about. Some fun topics like our top fiction and nonfiction books, our biggest surprises, best audio books.

So that is what we’re going to be discussing this episode. And also giving you an update on what our schedule looks like for the rest of the year. And I guess the beginning of 2022, and let’s just get to. Gayle. What have you been reading lately though?

[00:00:44] Gayle: Oh boy. I, I got into a weird book slump, like two or three weeks ago and, It took me a little while to get out of it.

But right now I’m listening to Lionel Shriver’s new book. Should we stay? Or should we go? Which I think I mentioned earlier on the show when it first came out or I, that it, I knew it was going to come out and, it is about to a couple who, when they turned 50 in 1991, her parents have just, or her father has just died after like a very long.

Battle with Alzheimer’s. So this long protracted death where, you know, he was not recognizable and couldn’t communicate, but he was kept alive for so long because you know, he wasn’t physically sick and they have a conversation about, you know, Better to just go quickly and not have to like subject your family to these long illnesses and the cost on society, et cetera.

So they decided age 50 that at age 80, when she turns 80 and he’ll be 81, cause they’re a year apart, they’re going to kill themselves and they’re just going to like make the clean break. Not have to deal with any of that. Then of course, when they’re 80 in the year, 2021, it rolls around and, you know, do they have second thoughts?

What are they thinking? What’s their health like, et cetera. And in each chapter she imagines a different scenario for them. Like they go through with it. Only one of them goes through with it. They get COVID that type of thing. So. It’s, it sounds really heavy and it’s certainly, I’m going to talk about this a little later on the show.

It’s very thought provoking, but it’s not a super depressing book and there are moments of levity and it’s Lionel Shriver. So it’s brilliant. I really recommend this book. I know that the subject matter will probably turn a lot of people off and I think that’s sad because they’ll miss out on a really good.

So I’m doing that one on audio right now. And in print, I’m reading a book I got from the library called ghosts, which is about a woman who goes on a date with this really great guy. I’m not sure whether there’s more dates, cause I’m still pretty early in the book, but then he goes, So, I know it’s kind of like a book, you and I both read similar book about, about soon as got ghosted.


[00:03:06] Nicole: I’m actually reading that. My, it was my book club read last month we met and just well disgusted and they sort of told me. Some of what happens in the book, but I still want to read it

[00:03:18] Gayle: by Dolly Alderton. Oh, that’s so funny. Yeah. So I’m reading that right now. Life has been so busy lately and it’s, I’m really making very slow progress through it.

but that’s what I’m reading right now. If you can call it that. So how about you?

[00:03:35] Nicole: Okay. So I’m trying to finish the power couple by Alex Berenson. It’s kind of a thriller about this family. The mom, I believe works counter terrorism for the FBI and the dad is a security cybersecurity consultant, maybe.

And for there, I guess I’m going to say their 20th wedding anniversary, they decide to take. You know themselves and the kids and they’d go on a European vacation and venture, like some things have been getting stale in their marriage and they went through a really rough path patch. So there they’ve decided that this is what will kind of perk them up per kids up.

I think they had a little bit started getting their mojo back. So this trip seems like a great idea. they have two children. One has just completed her first year of college. She’s 19. And then their son, I believe is 17 and they are out, I think it takes place in Paris and Majorca. So…

[00:04:43] Gayle: Another book in Mallorca.

[00:04:44] Nicole: Oh, not Mall, I think it’s Barcelona actually. It’s Barsa this time. Okay. Even though I was looking at a map the other day and I was like, I’m going to go to Mallorca. I better see where all these.

[00:04:57] Gayle: So many books in Mallorca so fun.

I know.

[00:05:00] Nicole: Right. I have to get there. Yeah. But anyway, they’re hanging. At this place in Paris, the brother and the sister are out. And then the sister meets this mysterious good-looking guy who says that he’s a grad student and he offers, you know, he wants to see her again. She wants to see him again, but it’s going to be their last night in Paris before going to Barcelona. And he says, oh, you know, that’s fine. I’ll meet you there and go out with you.

And, she meets him and she’s kidnapped. So the novel, I guess, is about her parents trying to figure out, you know, is this linked to any of their careers? Is this something completely separate and trying to find and get their daughter back?

I think it’s okay.

[00:05:54] Nicole: I have a feeling, you know, the writing’s okay. I, I’m not enough into the story to form a firm opinion. I feel like it will be one of those books that it, you know, it’s fine. unless there are some, some twists that makes things a little bit different right now. It seems to be pretty much status quo for that kind of.

And on audio, I’m listening to in distractible, by near ill. And he, he narrates the book it’s called, or the sub title is how to control your attention and choose your life now. And it’s just talking about the psychology of things and how everything is just designed to. Take your attention, which is a valuable, valuable commodity, and how to figure out what’s going on and, and do some things about that.

Like, I’m always trying to find the balance with tech, right? So I’m listening to that. And I was just telling Gayle before we started on the show that I am in danger probably for the second time, since I started doing. On good reads of not meeting my challenge. Like at the beginning of this year, I was super optimistic.

I was like, I don’t even know what 96 books works out to be. I think it’s probably. Not, it’s probably a book and a half a week, I think is what I was thinking. I was going to read and I am 12 books behind schedule. We’re recording this on November 28th. I’ve got five weeks left or four and a half weeks left of the year.

So I would need to finish. 21 books. and I have a couple, you know, how you have those couple of books that you’ve read, you’ve mostly read, but for whatever reason you have maybe 50 pages to finish. So I have a couple of those and I’m looking through to see what I maybe had to leave behind when I was on audio.

Had to ditch a book because I had to finish something else to see how far along I am, because I don’t know. I kinda like to hit my goal, but so far it’s looking like I have might not. there is something though that I’m going to surprise Gail with, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Like we did not have a lot of book club episodes this season.

[00:08:19] Nicole: I was basically in thriller land. And I think we picked a couple of things that were kind of lackluster. So Gayle and I have been talking on the show about how Gail picks the books for her book club. And I think that we should do a year of Gayle picking the booksfor The Readerly Report.

[00:08:39] Gayle: Wow.

[00:08:42] Nicole: Yeah. Right.I’m committing to reading literary fiction more. I think I probably finished something that I have not discussed yet on the show. That was, oh, actually I did discuss it on the show. I’m thinking it was Trespass by Valerie Martin. so I am still reading my thrillers, but still, but reading more literary fiction and.

We are going to, so this is going to be our last episode before we come back in January of 2022, we’re both, take a break and be back to talk about our reading goals and resolutions and all that good stuff. So I was trying to think about how we could do this. So what we’ll probably do is have Gayle think about the books that she wants us to.

The book she wants us to read in January. I think that we do our normal thing where we have a book club episode where we discuss the book at the end so that whoever doesn’t want to read it, you don’t have to get spoiled because it’ll be at the end of the show. And. so since it’s at the end of the show, we want Gayle to pop on.

We want to give her some time to think about what she’s been tasked with.

[00:09:53] Gayle: That’s so exciting.

[00:09:55] Nicole: And so she’s going to give us three books and we will set up a Google spreadsheet, you know, cause this is kind of like she does with her book club. She gives them some choices and then we’re going to vote for the book and then announce it by the end of the year.

So like maybe in a couple of weeks, she’ll tell us our selection will take a week to vote. And then that maybe right before. The holiday, maybe around the 20th, we will come on and announce the book that our listeners have voted for. I have voted for, and, and then we’ll discuss it at the end of January and we’ll do this.

[00:10:34] Gayle: That sounds great!

[00:10:36] Nicole: Each month, because I’m more flexible with what I will read. And I feel like there’s enough overlap. You know, if. Yeah.

[00:10:44] Gayle: Well, I know what you like.

[00:10:45] Nicole: And I also feel like anything you like is in my circle

[00:10:50] Gayle: All right. I’m on board for that. That sounds amazing. It’s very low risk for me.

[00:10:56] Nicole: Right. Living her best life here.

[00:10:58] Gayle: Yeah. Well, that’s cool.

[00:11:01] Nicole: Book choices that her book club does. We’ll see.

[00:11:04] Gayle: Right, right. Okay, cool. Well, I am nowhere near my goal either. When I started the year, I was very optimistic and I set a goal of 70, which for me would have been the most I’d ever read. And I’m way behind I’m at like 52, 53, maybe.

[00:11:23] Nicole: I hope you go for 70 next year tough.

[00:11:26] Gayle: I do too. I mean, I think what happened this year was first of all, we didn’t have a vacation where I can cram in like five books. Like I usually do. Like, we didn’t go to the beach, we didn’t do anything with lots of downtime. Audio time has been limited, especially cause I wasn’t commuting for the first four months of the year.

I didn’t go back to the war on my commute’s really short anyway. Right. And I mean, honestly, I know this sounds ridiculous, but the frickin college applications, I’ve got twins applying to college this fall, and that has taken up a lot of my time. Like, even if I’m not, actually involved with, you know, helping them edit or whatever, I’m like worrying about it.

It takes a lot of my mental time

[00:12:05] Nicole: Yeah, you were reading books about it.

[00:12:07] Gayle: Yeah. And, I feel like once that’s behind me, then I will, I will have a bunch of hours back in the week where I can read. And also my travel for work has picked up again, although with these new variants who knows what will happen, but that helps me because the work travel time, you know, if I’m on a plane for a few hours, I can, I can do a little more reading than.

Otherwise do that day, but yeah, I’m definitely really short of my goal. I’m kind of bummed, but if I can

[00:12:34] Nicole: We’re about the same number of books short, that’s really interesting to me about 20 books.

[00:12:40] Gayle: Yeah. If I can get to 60, I’ll be happy. So that gives a, that’s like five or six more books this year and we’re recording on November 28th. So I think I can do that. I’ve got, I’ve got, you know, some ones that are already in progress. I’ve got a blow dry books that I’m getting through. So I, hopefully I can make it, but I’m a little bummed. I was hoping that this was my year.

[00:13:02] Nicole: Well, I think, you know, there’s a lot of good stuff here because you were doing at 50 52 for a long time or 54. So I do think that 60 is your new.

[00:13:16] Gayle: Stretch

[00:13:17] Nicole: No, it’s not the stretch. I think it’s what you’ll do. I mean this like weird times. Yeah. And, but, and I think that 70 will be your stretch, which is why I hope you go for 70 next year. Cause I think that this has been a weird, this has been a weird year.

[00:13:33] Gayle: Totally.

[00:13:35] Nicole: You know, I guess with the excitement of the vaccines coming out, I thought things might move a little bit more quickly, but. The travel aspect is huge. I think that we’re both big travelers and I think a lot of that 15 to 20 books is stuff that I would have been, like you said, reading either on a plane or poolside or something, you know, something that I just didn’t do.

And I did a lot of, not like I did a lot of stuff around the house. I went through a lot of stuff. I did some redecorating. So I’ve definitely been folk otherwise focused, I’ll say this year. But still you read 50 books.

[00:14:20] Gayle: Yeah. I mean, that’s true. I read 50 books, so like, you know, that’s a lot of books.

Okay. All right. Let’s hop into the, the categories. And then we can both reflect back a little bit on the, the reading. You’re not, not the amounts. Cause since we just covered that, but everything. Okay. All right. So like Nicole said, I sent her a bunch of, book, category ideas that we can talk about today.

And these are the same ones, you know, roughly the same ones we do every year. but let’s start out with top non-fiction books of the year.

[00:14:53] Nicole: My nonfiction pick would be Sex and Lies by Layla Solemani. Before I remembered that I had read this book, I also had An Unexplained Death by Mikita Brottman. But I’m definitely going to go with Sex and Lies by Layla Solemani.

And this was the book she’d liked, did an investigation. She’s Moroccan, she’s Moroccan and French, but she went to Morocco and she talked to a bunch of different women about how they felt about living in such a restrictive society. Because in Morocco, basically, if you are not married, you, you know, is like punishable by death or something.

Very extreme. So she talked to a bunch of different people at different stages of their life, different women, about the risks they take in. Having sexual relationships, having relationships with other women, having relationships outside their marriage, or even if I think one of the women was like this career woman who did not want to get married and you know, it was going through the risk of having sex in her car with her lover. So it was just an interesting take on the restrictions of, of society, the laws that we have in place and how people will try to circumvent them. And, you know, I think it’s something that they have been working on in terms of women’s rights. So it does highlight some of the abuse that can go on in these relationships when people feel like they have the right to restrict you in such ways, but it was, it’s just, it was an eyeopening fascinating read.

And it’s not that long. Like it’s one of those books that I feel like I would like to go back and read again, just to get more out of it because it’s just so different than. I mean, we have a lot of religious factions here and people think differently about sex and, and in some households, this, you know, what not be unfamiliar to not be able to have a sexual relationship before you’re married and for there to be punitive consequences to that. But, yeah, I didn’t grow up like that, so, very different.

[00:17:05] Gayle: Okay. My top non-fiction I didn’t read a whole lot of non-fishing this year and those that I did mostly fell into memoir category, but, my top nonfiction pick is actually the very first book I’ve read of the year. And that was Good Morning Monster by Catherine Gildiner.

And that is about. she’s a psychotherapist and she picks five of her most difficult and rewarding cases that she had over her career. And, it’s really where that book had a lot of staying power. I read it in January and I’m still thinking about it now. And it’s still the top of my list when it comes to nonfiction.

So I’m going to give that the top non-fiction pick. So let’s turn to fiction. This is always a very tough category to narrow down. But what are your top? Let’s say two, maybe three non-fiction to three fiction picks of the year.

[00:18:02] Nicole: Okay. So these are easy for me because in a year. Well, actually now as a look at the list a little bit more, not so easy, but this was a year where I probably read more thrillers than I’ve ever read. I think that half the books that I read had a thriller element, but I’m going to contradict myself because I had just said, oh, I haven’t read that many deep books. So that should be really easy, but that is not the case. So on my list, what I had written down is Trespass by Valerie Martin. Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwartz.

I don’t know. I would kind of put The Plot in that too. Cause I think I read through it really quickly and it was compelling and all that good stuff.

[00:18:47] Gayle: You know, I feel bad cause I didn’t send you a best thriller category. Which would have been much more tailored to your reading this year than mine. So if you want, you could we could do that and share a thriller as well.

Or if you want, you can just put them in with fiction.

[00:19:03] Nicole: If I have thriller category, then I would probably put in the Joshlyn Jackson’s books that I read because they were really good. I really loved, okay. That’s a different category. So I’m not going to say. But for top fiction, too, I have to add in, This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Because I read that this year and I thought that was, it was a beautiful book and so well done.

So those are my five, top five: Trespass, Whereabouts, What Could Be Saved, and This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Okay. And I feel like I had just mentioned one other I’m all over the place today.

[00:19:43] Gayle: That’s okay. Mine are: What Could Be Saved. Also loved it. I thought that was a fantastic book. Five star read for me, My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Loved that book. That has had a lot of staying power this year. The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas and then one that I read recently called Count The Ways. And I’m not sure do we talk about that on the show? Maybe we did, but it’s been a little while since we recorded that is by Joyce Maynard and I read it, just a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved it.

So those will be my four. If I could throw in a fifth one, it would be the. Okay, loved The Plot. That was great. So they’ll do five, My Dark Vanessa, The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano,What Could Be Saved, Count The Ways, and The Plot. And we’ve discussed all of those. We’ve talked about all of those on the show, except for possibly Count The Ways.

And I’ll talk a little bit about Count The Ways again, because it falls into another one of the categories for recovering.

[00:20:41] Nicole: Okay.

[00:20:43] Gayle: So that’s our top fiction and nonfiction let’s get into. What is the, what was your biggest positive surprise? Like a book that you’ve read and it either. Was not what you expected, but turned out to be great, or you had low expectations for it. And they were surprised.

[00:20:59] Nicole: I don’t know. I had, like I said, I’ve read a lot of thrillers this year. You know, I don’t think that any of my goals going in are, oh my God, this is going to be an amazing book. I think that if it’s entertaining and the last part, doesn’t just blow up in the implausibility of it, all that I’m happy.

I would say. I read this book called in delicacy by Amina Kane. And it’s this really short book. I don’t think you even know where it takes place. It just seems like it could be any European city. I wasn’t even sure of the time place that this book was set in. Like I would have to go back and I, I do want to go back and read it again, just because I got the feeling that maybe it was set in Paris or something like that, but it’s this.

This book is really quiet book about this woman who started her life off as a housekeeper. She has a really good friend at the job. I feel like they clean a museum and she’s like really interested in creative writing and museums and just the arts. But. By some happenstance. She needs a very wealthy man and starts dating him and she gets married and she loses touch with her friend.

So it’s kind of following the story of how she is as a wealthy woman, like how her interest turned sort of her regret. In terms of giving up that relationship and what happens when she finds that friend again. And it’s a lot of commentary about just art and writing and, you know, she wants to be a writer.

She, she loves going to see shows and valleys and dances. So it was, I don’t think I expected to like that book the way that I did. I don’t. Going into it. It was just kind of interesting. Let me see what this is about. And it did not seem like it wasn’t that long, so it wasn’t a huge time investment, but it was, it was really good.

And I do think about it. I do think about it quite a bit and what, you know, the choices that she ends up making, like how happy she is now that she’s not a housekeeper now that she’s wealthy. Like what turns her life takes. What was yours?

[00:23:14] Gayle: Yeah. So my biggest surprise, it’s a book you and I both read. And it was The Idea of You by Robinne Lee.

[00:23:21] Nicole: That was my oner up for this category.

[00:23:23] Gayle: Oh, that’s so funny. we’ve talked about this book. This is the, this is the book about the older woman who ends up in a relationship with a Harry Styles type singer celebrity. You know, it has a cheesy cover and the premise sounded cheesy and I’d heard it was really good, but I still kind of expected it to be cheesy anyway.

And it was really good. Like I just, I thought it was super compelling and I liked the writing and I thought it was realistic. And you know, you and I have talked about this at length. so I won’t get into too much more detail about it, but it, it surprised me in a positive way. Cause it just was heftier and just better overall than I was expecting.

[00:24:00] Nicole: It was heftier and better overall. I did have a few tweaks. Like I thought some, some things about their naive naivete about their relationship was just a little bit over the top to me. It’s like you could have taken a little bit more care to not be in the open every minute, but.

It is, it was a positive surprise. Like I did enjoy her treatment of a lot of different things. Just the way we look at these, I guess may December relationships really differently if you’re a man, like who can get away with this, you know, what rights do you have to rebuild your own life?

What kind of relationship, you know, what is the quality of your relationship when you’re dating someone who’s so much younger, can it be fulfilling? I really liked the way she handled those questions and it is a book that I have not stopped talking about. Like when I was at my book club, I told them about it.

so a couple of them are going to read it are excited to read Harry styles fan fiction, and I’m going to pitch the idea of doing brunch or something at the Crosby hotel. Nice. Where they have their first.

[00:25:13] Gayle: The first encounter.

[00:25:14] Nicole: Their first rendezvous.

[00:25:15] Gayle: Yeah. So that was my biggest positive surprise. Okay. Biggest disappointment, sad that I had so many candidates for this one, which is sort of like. The theme

of the year, sadly, I think both were books that were going to be going into movies. And I feel like I’ve been thinking about this a lot in terms of books when they are announced it, as the book is coming out, that there are actors attached to it.

[00:25:43] Nicole: Yes. You know where I’m going with this when there are actors or certain producers attached to it, and then that makes you so excited for that. And the book was a little disappointing. So I would say the two that specifically fit that category or, was the Laura Dave book. What was the name of that book? Something.

[00:26:04] Gayle: The Last Thing He Told Me.Right.

[00:26:07] Nicole: That’s all my that’s. I have that one too.

That one, and then the one by Rumaan Alam.

[00:26:13] Gayle: Oh. Oh, yeah. What is that one called?

[00:26:17] Nicole: Leave The World Behind.

So those were my two: Leave The World Behind, had Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington attached to it, which they haven’t worked together in years.

They’re both actors who are pretty well known at taking decent roles. Like you don’t expect them to be anything that’s. Yeah. So that made me excited that they were interested to read the book. And in the case of Laura Dave, was it also Julia Roberts? I heard she dropped out. They recast it and I was like, yeah.

So the actors who got you excited to read the project may not even do it. And I think that this is like a new thing with books because you know, when books were made to movies, usually it was so far after, but I guess reef Reese Witherspoon, and I’m sure others have changed the game in terms of now reading a lot more source material closer to when it is going to be released to the public.

So I, you have all this weird overlap. Where it’s just like, oh, you know, this producer has already bought it. This, these people are attached to star and the book hasn’t even come out yet. So you’re thinking, oh, the book must be really good. Watch that thinking. So what were you, what were your disappointments, Gail?

But the last thing, the last thing he told me, you know, that book was so hyped up and people loved it. I just, I thought it, I thought it was totally implausible and I did not like it. I just did not do it for me. So that just had so much like attached to it. And I didn’t like it. And the other one that disappointed me was the bad Muslim discount.

I was really excited about that book. You know, the description of it, I thought was so interesting. It felt like it was going to be very fresh and different. And this is by say ad Massoud. I think I picked it as my, did I pick this as my, club book? Oh, yeah, it was a book club book for me. It was like my in real life book club.

And they liked it more than you.

Yeah, they did, to me, it just, I mean, there were really interesting parts of it. And yet it turned into like a weird thriller at the end. It’s kind of like, it can kind of decide what genre it wanted to be. A lot of it was unrealistic. You think you would like,

it was this like the windfall where it was, they didn’t get it D it wasn’t media enough, or they gave a light treatment have been seriously.

A little bit, like a little bit like the windfall though. There was, if there’s a fair amount of serious themes that are covered in bad Muslim discount, I just felt like it, it felt really implausible. And, and I don’t know, I just was disappointed. Just not when I was not, was I hoped I’d hoped it would be better.

I think the thrillery aspect of it really, it felt in Congress with the rest of the book and the themes. And I, I didn’t, I didn’t like that part of it. So

when I referenced the windfall, I just want to let everyone know it’s the windfall by Dick Schaap, Bosu.

Have we both read that maybe two or three years ago?

Yeah, it

was out in 2017, I think. she’s written a couple of books since then. One I was kind of interested in and started reading a little bit of, and it was that

destination wedding, Maybe, I feel like I have that in the house somewhere along with hundreds of others, the

nation wedding. And I think I it’s interesting cause this one is rated even lower on good reads.

Then the windfall was the windfall is a 3.51 and destination wedding is 3.32, and then there’s something on their call to opening night. That’s 2.3. Oh. I think we read the best of her books and I, and I feel like I wanted to give her another chance. Cause I did like the premise of the windfall and started to read a little bit of destination wedding.

I don’t know that it’s bad. I think it’s just kind of too late for me. I think her books are like, I want the heftier treatment to what her premises are. Yeah. Yeah. I started reading destination wedding. Cause that’s about when the family is going to think they’re going to Bombay or. Somewhere to like someone in the family is getting married in there, all the families, all going over to attend the wedding and like, I guess, whatever ensues when I get there.

So it was a little, like if you like light romantic comedy comedic stuff, maybe you would like that Grinch and don’t

got it. So next category is underrated gem.

I would say intimacies by Katie kit, Tamara. I know it, she made Barack Obama’s list. I feel like she, she has these kind of what her books are about.

Almost skirt interest, a little. Like the premise is kind of weird. Do you think you might like it or whatever? She’s definitely. I think a writer who follows her own mind, like, I don’t feel like she caters to anything commercial or mainstream. Like, some of her books are kind of strange. I really like this one is about this interpreter who she’s kind of out to see, like her dad has just died.

Of a long illness. her family had been stationed in New York. I think her mother decides to go back to her Homeland of Singapore once the father has died and she doesn’t know what she wants to do, she just knows that her life in New York, like that chapter of her life is done. And she decides to go to the Hague to be a translator.

And she’s assigned to this case where the guy is. On trial is a, like he’s a war criminal from, it seems like an African African country or Muslim country, like some country that would be othered. And so there’s just all these questions about. You know, her identity and learning a new city and just interesting things about translation.

Like, you know, we read translations, everything is, is dubbed now, but this, when she’s working on this court case, the big thing is. Your words are you’re representing, someone whose actions might be unsavory and you’re describing things that maybe you don’t want to know about and kind of like, what, what effect does that have on your life?

Plus she’s in, she’s just in this strange relationship where her lover. His wife is sort of still in the picture there in the middle of a divorce. And she’s moved out of the country with their kids and is living somewhere else, but they seem to be still really attached to each other. It was a really interesting novel about someone who’s like grappling with things in their career and in their personal life, it was really relatable.

I would say much more so than her previous book.

What about you? Underrated gem for me is what could be saved by Lisa O’Halloran Schwartz. I feel like that book did not get the attention it deserved and we read it for book club. Everyone loved it. We actually did a zoom chat with the author. I just think that’s a fantastic book. Yeah. I don’t know if I’m seeing it around enough.

So I’m going to plug it again here. Yeah.

We both love that book. Yeah. Maybe I’ll pitch it to my in real life book club. Next time. There’s a lot to talk about in that book right now. We were reading Clara and the sun is the next book. Oh yeah. I have a while before I have to read it, I feel like it could be a heartbreak.


we’re reading to right now because we’ve been so bad about meeting that. Like we need books to read in the interim. So we read we’re reading, crying and Mart, which I haven’t read yet. So it was supposed to be great. Yeah. And the other book was Olympus, Texas, which I

did read crying. H Mart is such a narrative re that I think I forgot it’s it’s a memoir.

So that definitely should be in my top non-fiction list.

Okay, good. I’m excited to get to that. So I’ve got to do that this, this month. Okay. Over-hyped books, over-hyped books and biggest disappointment are sort of similar.

Mine are the same. I think those books were both hyped a lot.

[00:34:39] Gayle: So you have the same ones for that basically.

[00:34:42] Nicole: Okay. What do you have for overhyped? I have like three

[00:34:46] Gayle: and I think that they do, they overlap with biggest disappointments, the other black girl, so hyped and I really did not like it that much. This book called the people we keep, it was a book, a book of the month pick and, oh my God. Well, I don’t know if I’d say it was over-hyped I just found it there.

I did not like it. Tons of people really liked it. So maybe that’s more of a biggest disappointment because it wasn’t that it was so hyped up. but Malibu rising was incredibly hyped up and I just, I thought it was just, okay. You

[00:35:17] Nicole: know what I didn’t mention to you that I read the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Oh, you did? Yeah, I just, it was one of that I finished earlier this month. How did you like it? I liked it. I thought it was

[00:35:31] Gayle: really good. Yeah. Did you read Mallaby rising?

[00:35:35] Nicole: I probably won’t

[00:35:35] Gayle: read that. I think everyone here knows way better.

[00:35:39] Nicole: Yeah. I’m reading that for my like two person book club with a friend and we just picked a bunch of books.

we read idea of you. I think I told you about it. She told me she cried and. You ran a Colleen

[00:35:53] Gayle: Hoover book. I’d like your two person

[00:35:55] Nicole: book club. Yeah, she, well, she’s my thriller buddy. She’s we’re trying to break out of it. We have to read the next one is the, the Lisa jobs memo. Which I’m kind of like really, cause I had a thriller picked out.

So I guess when it’s my turn to pick we’re coming right back. Yeah. But I really liked it. And I usually don’t like holiday, not holiday Holly Hollywood books. I’m not a big, you know, Yeah, but I really did like, you know, how each of the sections was about husband and a place in her life and the decision she made and how it was to be the woman she was growing up in the fifties.

I thought it was, I thought it was well done. I’m trying to think the only other Hollywood book that I read, actually it wasn’t Hollywood. It was old New York, which was Elizabeth Gilbert class.

[00:36:53] Gayle: Oh, right. I know what you’re talking about. I can’t think of the name of that, but I know that the book, you mean

[00:36:58] Nicole: I can see the cover.

It’s only you guys could be in our heads as we see the cover.

[00:37:05] Gayle: Yeah. I can picture it on my shelf upstairs. Probably you have it. Oh yeah. I have this, everything. I just don’t read it. I swap for books all the time ago. I want that one. Yeah. I want to be down with girls. Yeah, that’s it. Yeah.

[00:37:20] Nicole: All right. So what was that?

[00:37:22] Gayle: The 2021 book you wish you had read

[00:37:25] Nicole: the paper palace and I might try to read it. Oh, that’s a good one. So this is my time to tell you, so Gail rate read the paper palace next year. I want to do something different. I’m hoping that I’m able to do it. Gail you’ll have to keep me accountable. So this is what I want to do next year.

I want to read only authors that I have read before.

[00:37:48] Gayle: Oh, interesting. So you’ve got to get all your dates out of the way now,

[00:37:52] Nicole: right? I was about to say, so any author that I think has a book coming out next year that I want to read or think they did read, wrote a really great. I need to read that so that can read more of their stuff, because if I have not read the author, then I’m not going to be reading their books in 2022.

Oh, I’m so curious. So a little close but open. And I was like, should I give myself just one book a month? That’s what do you think? Should I build in a cheap book once a quarter, once every two months. Because I do want to be successful. Like what will give me enough of a success valve, like enough to let off a little steam, maybe once a quarter.

[00:38:36] Gayle: It’s so hard to resist as glittery new shiny object.

[00:38:40] Nicole: I’m going to have to be looking only for one to by the authors that have.

[00:38:44] Gayle: That’s so interesting. Okay. Yeah. I’m curious to see how that

[00:38:47] Nicole: guidance. So once a month I can read something once a once a month feels

[00:38:53] Gayle: like it’s not a cheap once a quarter.

Sounds like that’s good. That’s a little pressure valve. Yeah. Yeah. I think once a quarter is good, unless you want to say, maybe say once a quarter. And then also, if it’s like one of your book clubs, like if, if someone else makes the pick and you have to go along with it and you have no control over it, then I think you’re allowed.

[00:39:15] Nicole: Oh yeah. Like, so for my book club, In my book club of two, or if I recommend something, I have to recommend a book by an author that I have read. But

[00:39:26] Gayle: like, if I’m picking a book that you’re going to read, I mean, I can try to do that, but like, I think if I pick it or your other book club where there’s a lot of people making recommendations, then I think you’re allowed

[00:39:36] Nicole: hubs are excluded unless I’m making the pick, then I have to be consistent.

[00:39:41] Gayle: Yeah. Oh, that’s cool. I’m so curious how this goes. I like it. I think he, I mean, Not surprisingly, I think it’s going to mean that your overall satisfaction with the books you pick is going to go up.

[00:39:53] Nicole: It will. But I also feel like there’s so many books that I look at, you know, There is a push for, you know, I feel like if you’re kind of mid career and you’ve had one or two books, unless they were huge hits, I just feel like you’re kind of in no man’s land and a little bit on your own, because I do think that people definitely give the launch to what they feel like are going to be promising moneymakers for the long run.

So, so their shiny new stuff that they think is good, or if they can get it on a book club or, you know, like one of the new ones. Online, television book clubs, then they’re going to do that. and so then I look back, you know, because I have gone after the shiny things and it’s just like, I really like this author.

How did I miss this book that is out? Or why do they have like three books when I really love this first one? So that’s what I want to concentrate on new books by those authors and also getting to read some of those backlist stories. Yeah.

[00:40:51] Gayle: Cool. Okay. The books that I wish I’d read this year is called and I have it upstairs so I can read it.

We are not like them by Christine pride and Joe Piatsa, which is a book of written by two authors. One of them is black and one of them is white. And the story is about a black friend in a white friend. Whose lives. I mean, they’re already, I think best friends are very good friends, but then their lives get very complicated.

When I think the husband of the white woman is a cop and is involved in a shooting of a black person and they have to deal with sort of like. Yeah. I think like how they next year. Yeah. Well, I’ll recommend it. And then you can read that. Cause I don’t know. I don’t think either of them I’ve read books by Jo Piazza.

Oh good. So should

[00:41:39] Nicole: I read how to be married? Which I really liked by her. And I think I’ve read another one. She tends she, oh, the knockoff, which she wrote with Lucy Sykes. She has a few. She writes with people.

[00:41:53] Gayle: Hmm. Okay. Well that one, everyone really liked that one and I wish I had read it, so maybe I will read it best audio books.

[00:42:03] Nicole: All right. Why don’t you go first? I think

[00:42:05] Gayle: you’ll have more. Yeah. I have a couple for these. I always have an audio book going, so I usually have probably read about listen to about 12 or 13 books this year on audio. So mine, two of them are memoirs. They brought by Andrew McCarthy and a very punchable face by Colin Joest, both of which are narrated by the author.

And I thought those were great. And I also did the plot mostly on audio. Although at some point I had to stop because. So it was so intense that I needed to know much more quickly how it ended, but I thought that the audio for the plot was great. So those would be my three best audio books of the year.

You are so funny with that, with what? Oh, did I need to stop and write? You have to

[00:42:42] Nicole: stop and tear through the book. It definitely is so much slower on.

[00:42:47] Gayle: So much slower.

[00:42:48] Nicole: I really liked, I think it’s kind of long. I liked Leanne Maury. The Moriarity’s Apple’s never fall. It’s about this tennis family. Joyce and Stan are the parents and they’ve got four children and, joy is her name on Joyce.

Joy goes missing. So it’s all about like what led up to her disappearance. It seems like their father has come under suspicion. They don’t want to. Blame him outright, but everyone is just kind of thinking about their relationship and like this new woman who had come into both of their lives shortly before their mom disappeared.

I loved it on audio you, because you know, it’s like the different voices it’s going back and forth in time. Like we’re examining the period that joy and Stan spent raising their kids, and its toll through. I think it’s told through Joy’s perspective and each of her kids gets like it alternates between those.

I don’t think that Stan has a voice, but it’s just so nice. I mean, because it’s set in Australia, you get to hear those accents. if it was really well done, I enjoyed it. I also really enjoyed LR Dorn. Anatomy, the anatomy of desire, which is a novel that’s set on what was a novel or a play by Theodore Dreiser called an American tragedy, which was set on the murder trial of, I think his name was Chester Gillette.

Like someone in the, he wasn’t part of the Gillette, like family that was wealthy, but he was a nephew, come to visit and start. My relationship with this factory girl. And she is once she becomes pregnant, he ends up killing her instead of telling his family and stuff like that. But the. Audio book or the book that LR LR Dawn wrote, the anatomy of desire is actually updated.

You know, so it is not like Chester and his, his factory girlfriend. It is like an influencer who is on the rise, kills her girlfriend, who is a stylist of some kind. I don’t know if she’s here or if it’s closed, but they have a relationship, you know, There are those elements of there from the different side of the tracks, it’s a hidden relationship.

And when the influencer has a chance to increase her popularity and like becomes involved in this relationship with someone who is like a hundred times more successful, it seems like her girlfriend has become a problem. So this is narrated. It’s also an ensemble cast, which I feel like I love sometimes.

So you get the point of view of. the influencer who is accused of murder, some of the talents, people who are involved like the prosecutor and, and they each have different things to say about, you know, the perspective about how they view this what’s happened and how is affecting different people’s lives.

And an interesting look at influencer culture. I mean, and sometimes I feel like in, in novels they make that ridiculous, but. I do think that you get in this one, like a clear version of the stakes and how hard people can work on building their reputations.

[00:46:11] Gayle: Okay. So let’s move on to the next category, books that made you

[00:46:15] Nicole: think trespass by Valerie Martin.

That’s such a good one, like in terms of who that family was and class and boundaries, and, you know, the mother, son relationship. I thought a lot about a lot of different things. When I was reading that book. What about you?

[00:46:34] Gayle: Mine are, I have two. One of them is the book I’m reading right now. Should we stay or should we go by Lionel Shriver, which is definitely very thought provoking about end of life, quality of life, mortality control duty to your family.

It’s. You know, it’s rich and all of those things. And yet it’s such a sort of funny book to read as well. So definitely that one. And then I think I would say a book of essays that I recently finished called. I miss you when I blink, which I haven’t yet talked about on the show that is by, Mary Laura Philpott.

And it’s just a collection of essays just about life. Motherhood. And you know how to sort of like accommodate the expectations you have about yourself and your life. It’s hard to sort of like pin this book down and I haven’t reviewed it yet on my blog. I need to do that like today or tomorrow. And I think I’m having trouble sort of figuring out what to write about it, because it’s not about anything, really one thing in specific, but.

Just about like living life, you know, and kind of approaching middle age. And I thought it was really good. So it was that no one more category. Oh, so the category is what is a book you recommend to everyone? Like I’m sure people ask you all the time. You read a lot. What should I read?

[00:47:53] Nicole: I was confused. Was this something that we, this is something that we had read this.

[00:47:57] Gayle: It doesn’t have to be just something that when somebody asks you for a book recommendation, what’s the first

[00:48:02] Nicole: thing you’ve heard it. Cause it’s always destiny of the Republic by Candace malarkey. That’s okay. Yeah, it doesn’t have to, to be my forever book. It’s just so great. It’s so great. Because it’s narrative nonfiction.

It really reads like fiction. It includes history, but it’s so interesting. Great. What’s

[00:48:25] Gayle: yours. I had a few minor, all ones just from this year. My most recent one is count the ways like when anyone says they need a book, I’m just like, go read, count the ways by Joyce Maynard. And I’ve gotten a lot of people who have now come back to me and said, oh my God, I read count the ways that your recommendation.

And I loved it. So that makes me feel a little better. The plot for sure. If you’re looking for something quick and you know, superint engrossing, what could be saved, which I mentioned as the underrated gem and my dark Vanessa

[00:48:56] Nicole: this year, I would definitely say the plot and what could be saved. I think the are the books that are interesting, compelling and have mainstream appeal.

[00:49:11] Gayle: That’s right. all right, well that was all of our categories. I would say, you know, I haven’t done my book wrap-up post yet because I still have a bunch of books to read. We still have a month left one 12th of the year still to

[00:49:20] Nicole: go too. So we’ll give you a mini update in the first show of the year on how we fared, whether Gail and I have reached our goals or how far we fell short.

did you have any thoughts though, on your reading this.

[00:49:34] Gayle: Yeah. You know, it’s the same thing I say every year you’re going to laugh. I mean, I look back over the list and there were that, well, there were a number of books that I found kind of disappointing that were a slog to get through, but I really did try this year to, you know, I always do do my research, you know, look at what other people said about a book before I pick it up.

I have a lot of three and a half and four star reads, which to me that’s not like a huge success, but. I also have a bunch of five stars. So, you know, it’s kind of the typical mix. I don’t know. I haven’t like just kind of crunched the numbers down on all this and figured out, like, you know, where did I fall short in terms of like diversity or in terms of repeat authors and all of that.

[00:50:14] Gayle: But yeah, there was a fair number of like, you know, good but not great books, but there weren’t a whole lot of dogs either. So I don’t know. I don’t have like any great sort of. You know, epiphany is about re the reading picks.

[00:50:31] Nicole: Well, I mean, my year went as expected. I was reading thrillers. So, you know, like I said earlier, my expectations in terms of like, I’m more looking for an entertaining story that hangs together for the most part and makes me consider interesting things like it does not have to be.

Yeah, it doesn’t, I’m not looking for literary fiction when I’m reading thrillers. So I think a fair amount. I mean, there were some duds, there were some books. I was just like, okay, I think I’m over thrillers right now, but I think most of them, or like you said, like three and a half, four star reads, you know, reads that were fine.

I mean, with thrillers, I don’t expect them to be particularly memorable. The fiction and the non-fiction that I read that was not thriller oriented. The quality was really good. And. Among those. I think that I tended to read a lot of catch-up books, you know, because like I said, it has been on my mind that it is so easy to get caught up in the shiny thing.

And so my project is going to be revisiting those authors that I really liked because I like the way they delve into subject matters. I like the different approaches that they use. And just, you know, when you have a really great reading experience, If there are other books that I’m interested in reading in by that author that you know is going to deliver.

I guess that certain quality that that person has, then I’ve want to just do more in terms of reading those and, and to figuring out is, is this a correct thing? Sometimes you read a book by an author and it’s a complete, one-off like, I love this book and the others. Can’t deal with that much, but we’ll have more thoughts when we have had a chance to finish our, 20, 21 reading and, you know, well, as Gail say, we’ll crunch the numbers, see like what we read and, and all those different things and share some of our insights when we’re back in January.

[00:52:36] Gayle: Sounds good until that time.

Please help support the podcast and take a few minutes to leave a review and/or rating for the podcast on iTunes, a comment on Soundcloud or interact wherever you listen to podcasts and talk about books.

Connect With Us
We’d love to hear from you at any and all places that you love to talk about books. You can find us at the spaces below.

Nicole Bonia: Nicole’s Website | Instagram|Goodreads
Gayle Weiswasser: Everyday I Write The Book Blog | Twitter | FacebookInstagram | Goodreads
The Readerly Report: Facebook |Instagram | Join Our Facebook Group

Feedback. We love it!
If you have any questions or ideas for a podcast,  email us! You can reach Nicole at nicole@nicolebonia.com, and you can reach Gayle at gweiswasser@gmail.com. As always, thanks for listening and happy reading

Other episodes you might like.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.