New Year's Resolutions & Book Club
This is the first show of the 8th season of The Readerly Report Podcast with Nicole and Gayle as your hosts.
They talk about their reading resolutions for this year and Gayle presents her “Everyday I Write The Book Reading Challenge” for 2023. Then, the last 15 mins of the show are dedicated to talking about the book club choice Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
As always you can find below the whole booklist they run through during the episode:
*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. I know it’s, you know, what is the, I don’t know what the rule is, if it’s five or six days and then you don’t say Happy New Year anymore. But since this is our first time back, we’re gonna say Happy New Year anyway, and we’re glad to be back. So today we’re gonna be taking a little bit of a look back just to see how Gayle and I finished out our years and maybe think about what our New Year’s and/or New Year’s reading resolutions are.
And we want to get to our book club. So we’re excited to share, like I got to do some good quality reading at the end of the year. So I read four or five books that I can update you on, so this will be exciting. Gayle, how’d you make out?
[00:00:41] Gayle: Yes. Oh, for last year. it was a very average reading year for me. It was kind of like my usual, my goal had been to get to 70 and I ended at 62.
[00:00:51] Nicole: Oh, that’s good.
[00:00:52] Gayle: yeah, I mean, I, I think what happened was that there were some dry spells for me last year. Like there were a couple months where I just had a lot of other stuff occupying my brain and it just, my pace slowed down quite a bit.
So it really, I 62 is kind of where I usually come out, and I was hoping that last year would be more, but didn’t work out that way, so that’s fine. I did finish my, Every Day I Write The Book Reading Challenge, so that worked out. And my last book of the year was the last book on the last category of the year.
So I, got it in under the wire and yeah, I would say it was a, decent, but not amazing reading year. Like when I looked back on what I read, there were some things I really liked, but overall it was, I think it was kind of mixed.
[00:01:41] Nicole: Okay. So was there anything that you read in the last week or two weeks that we were off that were standout?
[00:01:50] Gayle: Yeah,
[00:01:50] Nicole: Did it shake up your list? Did it re like We had done a, a version of, you know, what our favorite books were. So,
[00:02:00] Gayle: Yeah.
[00:02:00] Nicole: like some things
[00:02:01] Gayle: There wasn’t anything I think that, made me wish that I had done, you know, that made me wanna update the list or anything. But I did read a couple of, of really good things that are I’d like to mention. I read They’re Gonna Love You by Meg Howrey. And I don’t know if you remember when we had Jay Ryan straddle on the show, he recommended a book called The Wanderers, which I can’t remember whether you read it or not.
[00:02:24] Nicole: I remember that he recommended it. I don’t think I read it.
[00:02:27] Gayle: Okay. I never read it either. And it was, that was like about these astronauts who were simulating, I think, a trip to Mars. So
[00:02:36] Nicole: Oh, yeah.
[00:02:37] Gayle: little bit of a sci-fi element to it, but it was really much more about the relationships between the astronauts and the people they had left it behind. And that’s by Meg Howrey, I’ve always wanted to read it and I haven’t read it yet, but I did read her latest book, which is called They’re Going to Love You.
And it’s about a girl who grows up in New York City. Her parents get divorced, her father is, turns out, is gay, and then gets in a long time relationship with a man and her mom was a former ballerina and her dad’s a choreographer. So she grows up in this dance family and becomes a ballerina herself. And it’s kind of about like her relationship with the, with her parents. And when the book opens, you find that there’s been a rift between her and her father, but you don’t know why and what happened.
And he’s now sick. I’m not spoiling anything cuz this happens in like the first chapter. He’s sick and dying and his boyfriend has basically like summoned her back. And so the whole book is about her flashbacks to why she’s estranged from them. And then this potential reunion. I really liked it a lot and it’s definitely made me really wanna put the wanderers back on the t b r list.
I, I recommend it. That was one of the last books I read of the year. In fact, that was the one, one of the categories I have in my challenge is : “Pick a book, any book”. So you’re supposed to like go and just pick a book off your shelf and you know, randomly.
[00:03:54] Nicole: So this was Nate that did this.
[00:03:56] Gayle: Yeah, Nate went in my room and I have stacks of books all over the place and he came out with this one and it ha it hadn’t been in the house very long, but I was very pleased with his choice.
that was one. And then I read, you’re not gonna believe this cuz it’s so unlikely, but I read a mystery, which I know I thought of you when I was reading it cuz I was like, oh, I bet Nicole would like this. It’s called The Appeal by Janice Hallett. So I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of her before.
This was a gift from my friend and it’s about there’s a Murderer that eventually happens. You don’t know who’s gonna be murdered, but someone does get murdered, and this is literally on the cover of the book, it says “One murder, 15 suspects. Can you uncover the truth?” But what’s fun about it is it’s all told through emails, text messages, voicemails. You know, nothing is written like just in regular prose. It’s just all you sort of reading this epistolary kind of a modern epistolary mystery and it’s fun. Like you, know, you’re trying to look for clues and figure out what’s going on and who’s gonna be killed and what’s gonna happen to them. I read this one on vacation.
It was a [00:05:00] perfect vacation rate.
[00:05:01] Nicole: Did you have any idea
[00:05:03] Gayle: No, not really. not really. Let’s see. I also read We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman, which is a book that I think I talked about on the show and I really had my eye on for quite a while. And that’s a book about two best friends and one of them is dying and she’s in hospice and the other one is keeping her company and sort of just being there with her at the end of her life.
And it’s. I know it sounds incredibly depressing and it is very sad, but it also has a lot of humor in it. And it’s just, it’s very good book. And even though I knew what was gonna happen at the end, it just still, you know, had this sort of suspense of like, you know, how, how, what will it be like when she actually sort of succumbs to cancer at the end?
I don’t know. It was really good. That was, I think one of that was my first book of the year of 23. And it was very good. I highly recommend that We All Want Impossible Things by Katherine Newman. And then should I mention a couple of other ones?
[00:06:03] Nicole: Yeah.
[00:06:05] Gayle: Okay. I read Carrie Soto is Back.
[00:06:08] Nicole: Oh, how was it?
[00:06:08] Gayle: From last year.
[00:06:10] Nicole: Did it hold up?
[00:06:11] Gayle: no,
I really did not like it. , I gotta be honest, this book, in my opinion, so overhyped I don’t really get. The, you know,
[00:06:21] Nicole: Okay. Trying to separate. the hype out just a little bit. Like, I guess if you had not heard all of the hype, what would you have thought?
[00:06:31] Gayle: no, I think I would’ve felt the same way. So it’s a book about a tennis player who she grew up playing tennis training with her father. Then she kind of achieves many, many grand slam victories and holds the title for most slams of any tennis player ever.
[00:06:48] Nicole: So she’s kind of Serena Williams.
[00:06:51] Gayle: Yes. she kind of retires from tennis cuz then like, she’s kind of in her, I don’t know, mid twenties retires from tennis. You actually have no idea what she ever did during those 10 years. It’s never really addressed. . And then along comes this, young upstart player who’s also accumulating a lot of titles, who then is threatening her record and she can’t deal with anyone threatening her record because she just wants to be the best in the world at all times.
And so she decides to come out of retirement to see if she can do it. Like can she win one more title so that she can prevent this other woman from doing it. The book is entirely tennis. There’s, it’s, there’s nothing else in there. There’s, it’s just game after match, after training, after this, after that.
There’s very little kind of character development until the very end of the book. It’s just, it’s all tennis all the time. And I have nothing against tennis. I like tennis. I have nothing against sports books, but I just wanted more like, it just, I kept expecting there to be some sideline plots and it was, Singularly focused on tennis, she’s really unlikable because all she does is care about tennis.
She’s very selfish, self-absorbed. And it’s just, I was just sort of like, that’s it. Like, I don’t know, I didn’t get it. I didn’t think the writing was that great. I like take Taylor Jenkins Reid much better when she’s talking about relationships and kind of delving in and analyzing and less of the kind of gimmicky stuff.
I don’t know, after Malibu
[00:08:11] Nicole: You like, like early Taylor Jenkins re
[00:08:16] Gayle: Yeah. I did not like Malibu rising. I like Daisy Jones fine, but I didn’t love it. I do think I’d like to maybe re go back and redo it on audio cause everyone says the audio’s amazing and I know it’s coming out as a movie or a show or something.
[00:08:29] Nicole: Yes, it’s coming out in March.
[00:08:31] Gayle: in March.
Yeah. So I thought Carrie Soto was pretty disapp. But we read it for book club and I would say almost everyone in my book club agreed with me on that one.
[00:08:40] Nicole: Okay.
[00:08:41] Gayle: yeah,
[00:08:42] Nicole: to skip ahead if you haven’t read, like can you press the 15 second button? Cuz I wanna know does she win?
[00:08:47] Gayle: Okay. So if you have
[00:08:50] Nicole: wanna text me you can
[00:08:52] Gayle: Alright. I’m gonna text you cuz people, someone may be like running or driving and they can’t do it. I’m gonna text you
[00:08:57] Nicole: Okay.
[00:08:57] Gayle: you know.
[00:08:58] Nicole: All right. Well, oh, okay,
[00:09:03] Gayle: there’s my text. So I have a few more I wanna mention, but I, I’ve been talking so much. So switch to you and then maybe I’ll slide my other ones in by the end of the show if we have time.
[00:09:12] Nicole: Okay, so I don’t think I finished anything else in 2023. It was one of those things that I had been reading and then like the first day or in 2022 and then the first day of 2023, I had finished like three things.
I read our book, club book tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle, Evan, and I have thoughts on that.
[00:09:37] Gayle: Okay.
[00:09:38] Nicole: did you like it? You liked it?
[00:09:40] Gayle: I liked it. I did not love it. Love it, love it. The way I think a lot of people did. There were things I really liked about it, but then there were things I wasn’t crazy about.
[00:09:48] Nicole: Okay. So I can’t wait to talk to you about that at the end of the show, cuz I have thoughts about that. And it was
[00:09:54] Gayle: Uhoh.
[00:09:56] Nicole: best of the year, you know, like it
[00:09:58] Gayle: Every single one..[00:10:00]
[00:10:00] Nicole: it was on the list somewhere and a lot of times it was at the top.
[00:10:03] Gayle: Yeah.
[00:10:04] Nicole: so I guess I’m glad I read it before I saw all of that. So I, I don’t know, we talk a lot about, you know, we used to ask when authors came on, like, which books have they read?
All of them. We talk a lot about being completist. I don’t know how many authors I am completist for. I think Tana French is one of maybe five or six. And so I was not her book The Searcher came out, I believe. I don’t, 2020. It came out a couple of years ago and I had started reading and was just never in the mindset to read it.
So I settled down to read it and I, I enjoyed it, but it was not my favorite Tana French book. And I feel like I usually appreciate them more. So this one kind of bothered me just because, I don’t know, it went some places that were just kind of odd. She said that she wanted to write a Western, so basically all of her books are set in Ireland.
This one was no exception except for she usually sets them in Dublin. This one was more like out in the country. It’s about this police officer in Chicago who has been through some rough times, and he is, I think mid-forties when he decides he wants to retire.
He wants to go someplace where like nothing happens. It’s only woods. He’s just gonna fix this place up. So that is what he does. He goes there, but of course he finds himself in the middle of a mystery when this young boy comes to him. You know, like he’s kind of been lurking around the edges of his property, comes to him and explains that his brother is missing and he would like his help in finding him. And I think that this was one of the things that kind of messed me up about this book is that it is just so. I feel like the premise isn’t there in terms of how can this retired Chicago police officer investigate a crime in like, I don’t know, the smallest town in just like in countryside in Ireland.
Which is the big thing for me because he sets about investigating and it’s just like, oh, you know, he references the things that he’s learned in investigating crimes in Chicago. And you know, like this young boy is basically like, yes, I want you to do this. I want you to question the people and you know, see about phone records.
It is just all this stuff that would be impossible for him to do anyway. And so it’s just about the better part, I feel like of the book is about the small town working. How you just really never know how deep things run with people, especially when you’re an outsider. But in terms of the first, the thing that’s hard about this book is it took a while to get into like there’s 40 or 50 pages where he’s just talking about this beat down old house and like he’s standing a desk and you know, the kid is slowly approaching him, but really skittish and running off.
So it’s like a lot of development like that, which I think that if more people would’ve been involved, it was, would’ve been more interesting. But it’s a lot of like home restoration,
[00:13:08] Gayle: Mm.
[00:13:08] Nicole: And then, like I said, it goes wildly into, you know, like he is a fish out of water. No one would’ve talked to him, but just kind of like people are talking to him and he finds himself like in the mix of something that’s like really deep going on in this little country town.
So I always commend people when you try to do something different because I think she is known for very specific things. The Dublin Murder series and I think even the Witch Elm, which I really loved was a book that I had to like really just let her take me for a while and the story ended up okay and I think this one less so.
So the Witch Elm, and this is The Searcher and these are her two standalones, but the rest are The Dublin Murder series, which follows a series of detective on the Dublin murder squad. It follows a different detective each time. So I kind of missed those, but that was one thing I read.
[00:14:00] Gayle: Okay.
[00:14:01] Nicole: The other was Honor by Thrity Umrigar.
[00:14:04] Gayle: Oh.
[00:14:04] Nicole: Which I really liked. there was stuff about it that I just kind of ignored or side-eyed a little bit because it is about this journalist who has been lured by her friend. Her friend has been in an accident and she is in Mumbai, I believe. And this is someplace that this journalist has not wanted to return to.
She’s got, memories there. Whatever she left when she was 13, it seems like under just not the best circumstances. So she does not want to go back, like she’s built this entire life where she basically investigates stories about concerning crimes against women in different countries. And there is a woman that her friend whose story she had been covering, like this woman had been set on fire and her husband was killed.
And it’s because. He is Muslim and she is Hindu. So it is like a religious difference that [00:15:00] her friend had been investigating and now wants her to take over. And of course there is this guy there who has kind of been looking after her friend who a accompanies her when she goes to talk to the woman and report on this story.
So it’s, it’s good like, it’s like a mixture of, someone who is coming home to confront an issue that was in their past. So she does spend some time delving into that. It’s a little bit of an unlikely romance and kind of a little bit of Insta romance, you know, like when she said that’s not what she’s looking for.
But there is that developing. But then it’s also like the investigation of how people are living in small towns and how it’s not so easy to. cross the religious divide and how oppressed women still are in some places and don’t have any recourse. And basically this case and the journalist’s name, her name is Smita, that she’s reporting on is one that they really don’t believe that she’s going to win.
It turns out her, her brothers had been responsible for the crime, but this is not something that’s really punished. And she’s basically pursuing this path because she has a young daughter. And when her daughter asked about her father, she wants to be able to tell her that she fought and did the right thing.
But it was, it was just really good Thrity Umrigar, even though there, there was like some, a little bit of Insta love and some, some things that were a little bit implausible. I think just the nature of getting a story like this out about honor killings and the stakes that are involved and, I guess, star Cross Romance in a way.
It was, it was really good. It was whipping through the pages. And so the last thing that I read that was like right at the beginning of the year was The Only Good Indians by Steven Graham Jones. And it is about these four native American men who go on a hunt on the land of their elders. They’re not supposed to be there.
They end up killing this herd of elk and something starts stalking them and taking revenge on them. Like it, there’s like some supernatural elements in it, but it’s just basically about their lives on the reservation, you know, their families and what, you know, how they react or how they handle things.
When they start to realize that maybe something that they did in the past is following them.
[00:17:20] Gayle: Interesting choices.
[00:17:22] Nicole: So right? Eclectic, . I feel like I’m back
to form with that. Like
[00:17:27] Gayle: you you went pretty heavy too.
[00:17:29] Nicole: Re reading all over the place.
[00:17:31] Gayle: but like, not, but that’s all like heavy stuff. Like you didn’t, you weren’t like, oh, I’m in a coast end of the year. You definitely
took on some
[00:17:39] Nicole: right.
[00:17:40] Gayle: things.
[00:17:41] Nicole: I felt like I had space for it. Maybe that’s what I need around when I take on wavy topics, I need space to concentrate.
[00:17:48] Gayle: Yeah. Yeah, I can see that.
[00:17:50] Nicole: You said you had a couple more, cuz I have one more that I didn’t mention, but I wanna hear from you a little bit.
[00:17:56] Gayle: Okay,
well I’ll do a couple more and now we can, yeah, we can swap back and forth. So I just finished a book that I wanted to talk about called Bully Market: My Story of Money and Misogyny at Goldman Sachs so this is a memoir by Jamie Fiore Higgins, about her almost 20 years that she spent working at Goldman, working her way up to be a managing director there, which is pretty rare and especially pretty rare for a woman.
And it’s just all about like how toxic and awful of a workplace it was for her. as a woman, you know, just the, awful comments that she endured and the retaliation that she endured, like when she complained about how she was being treated and what it was like to try to have a marriage and kids while she was working so many hours at a super working mother friendly place.
But just that the place is like a cult. Like it makes you think you’re so lucky to work there, that you know, people don’t wanna leave. Like they always say, you only leave Goldman once. So like once you’re in, like, you know, don’t imagine leaving because you’re never gonna get back in there and there’s no place as prestigious as Goldman Sachs and you’re never gonna make as much money as you’re making there.
And so, you know, she just worked and worked and worked and worked for decades and it took a terrible toll on her marriage and her, Ability to be a parent, her health, everything about it. So it was a pretty good memoir. I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s like the best written, the, I mean the writing is a little repetitive and it’s not like, you know, great literature, but it was super interesting.
I really like workplace memoirs where just kind of delving into somebody else’s job and understanding what they do and their challenges. And she certainly had a lot of challenges. So I really like this one. And it’s, of course infuriating just the way that people are treated and the way women are treated.
It’s just, you know, it’s kind of horrifying.
[00:19:56] Nicole: Doesn’t sound too far off from Thrity Umrigar. I mean, like, [00:20:00] no one’s being killed there, but just in terms of like, there was a lot in her book about
women trying to work in that community just because it was the only thing that would keep the family from starving and still the men having such a problem with it and taking all of their wages and things like that.
[00:20:18] Gayle: Yeah, well infuriating and very different, you know, the, the same base Fury in
different contexts. Yeah. And I also read a romance, which is also unlike me. It’s called Oh God. It’s one of those names Funny You Should Ask by Alyssa Sussman. And this is a romance about a woman. She’s a magazine writer, actually.
She’s an aspiring writer, and she, you know, is doing a lot of magazine articles, although she really wants to be like a novelist. And she ends up interviewing a very famous actor, someone she’d had a crush on her whole life, or you know, ever since he was famous. And she ends up interviewing him and it turns into this very famous magazine interview because she spent a couple of days with him and it’s all about.
You know, the time they spent together. And the big question is, you know, did they actually hook up? Like was there any ever anything between them or not? And she plays very coy in this magazine article, but the, the article becomes very famous and it ends up kind of helping her launch her writing career.
And so when this book opens, its 10 years later and her, his team, his PR team has reached out and wants her to do another interview with him. And so it’s kind of goes back and forth between 10 years ago and now and like, what happened that weekend and what their lives are like now and do they still potentially have feelings for each other?
So, you know, it’s a typical romance like, you know, you will there or won’t be throughout the whole book, but I just kind of had a fresh take on it. And I liked the sort of Hollywood gossipy angle. I mean, again, light reading, but it was fun. So that book is Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman.
And there’s actually some stuff in there that’s not, that always that light. Like there’s some alcohol and drug addiction in there and there’s divorces and so it’s, it’s not like just totally frothy, but it was for the types of books I usually read it, that one followed the the book about the woman dying of cancer and hospice.
it was, it was a bit of a pallet cleanser.
[00:22:22] Nicole: I was about to ask you, I mean, you said it was a romance, but I’m totally like, oh, I wonder, I wonder if I know this journalist in this movie. just seems so real.
[00:22:31] Gayle: Oh, well, apparently it’s based on a real thing.
So it’s based on a reporter who wrote an article about Chris Evans, who was in one of the Captain America, I think he was.
And so she wrote, and I don’t remember what magazine, Vanity Fair or something like that. So she wrote an article about him and apparently they spent a lot of time together during the time she was researching this article and I think there was a lot of conjecture, whether there had been a romance there or did something happen.
So it is based on loosely on a true story, but the people in this book are not real . Sad to say.
[00:23:09] Nicole: Okay, well Chris Evans and some journalist will take it.
[00:23:14] Gayle: Yeah, exactly. I think those are kind of the highlights of what I read over break. I did, because we had travel and I was constantly jet lagged. I would wake up in the middle of the night and just read. I had a lot of flights and I would read, and then sometimes we would be on long trains to and from, you know, wherever we were going.
And I would read. So I got to kick off the year with some reading. So I’m already like four books in for 2023. But that pace
is gonna slow down. Yeah, this always happens. I get a big kickstart in January and then I’m like, oh. I mean, I read a hundred books, but then of course I can’t, I can’t keep that pace up cuz you know, life and work and kids and whatever.
And then it slows down. But, so right now I’m four, I’m four in,
[00:23:56] Nicole: All right, so what is your Good Reads goal this year? What are you gonna go for?
[00:24:01] Gayle: I put 70 back to 70. I, I’ve never hit it, so it’s just my eternal
[00:24:07] Nicole: No, that’s good because I remember you always used to do 50, and I think during the course of this podcast, I was like, Gayle, I think you can go for 60. You got a blow dry book, you’ve. Some audio. You made it to 60 and last year you made 62. so
[00:24:25] Gayle: Yeah, so
[00:24:25] Nicole: Maybe you hit 70
[00:24:26] Gayle: striking
[00:24:27] Nicole: Next couple of years
[00:24:28] Gayle: That would be nice. I did launch my reading challenge.
[00:24:32] Nicole: Yeah. I wanted, I was gonna ask you about
[00:24:34] Gayle: yeah, so the reading challenge was up and I, I kind of mixed it up a little bit this year because I wanted to make it even more user friendly. Like I feel like one of the things that bogged me down a lot during the reading challenge of this year was reading book that won an award.
I don’t know why books that win on awards are always so awful, but like I chose a Pulitzer Prize winning book Less by Andrew Sean Greer, and it just, it took me forever to get [00:25:00] through. It’s not even a long book and I was, it
[00:25:01] Nicole: I wish you had told me you were gonna do that. I would’ve told you not to read that.
[00:25:05] Gayle: Well, I had it in the house and I couldn’t find a better choice. I dunno, I probably could have found a better choice, So what I did this year, and I also feel like, I mean, I just have shelves and shelves of books I haven’t read. And so I, made it a little bit looser. So there’s six books that are two categories each, and they’re very loose.
And then there are six that are more specific. So the first six are “Three books from my bookshelf”. So just encouraging people to read something they already have. And then “Three book recs from a friend”.
[00:25:36] Nicole: I like these.
[00:25:38] Gayle: Yeah, tell me a book that you like. And so it’s, they’re just really loose and it gives people lots and lots and lots of flexibility.
[00:25:45] Nicole: I think I can finish this one.
[00:25:47] Gayle: yeah, the remaining six are ones that I think are also pretty easy. So “Book by an author you love”. So that’s easy. Except for, for you if you’re doing your, I can only do debuts, but or books. Was that your thing last year debuts, or was it, if I haven’t read the author at all,
[00:26:03] Nicole: No, last year was books by authors I had read before. yeah, not debuted.
[00:26:10] Gayle: Oh, got it. Okay. Alright. So anyway, “Book by an author you love”. So this is just finding someone that you’ve enjoyed in the past and reading another one. Okay. “A book everyone has read”. And this again can be something on your shelf cuz I’m, my shelves are filled with books I haven’t read that other people have read and then “Book with an amazing cover”. So again, you can shop your shelves for that one. And then there’s three non-fiction categories and one is “A non-fiction on any topic of interest to you”. One is “A book of essays” I have a suspicion that that’s gonna be for me my hardest. But,
[00:26:43] Nicole: I was gonna say, that’s gonna be that’s
[00:26:46] Gayle: yeah.
[00:26:47] Nicole: gonna be the book.
[00:26:49] Gayle: Right. So
[00:26:50] Nicole: the hangup, even though I, you know, we’ll, we’ll get to this next time, but I, there’s some essay collections I wanna read
[00:26:58] Gayle: Oh, well then you can share those with me, and then I can pick one of those. And then “A non-fiction memoir”, which I just realized I’ve just done because Bully Market is a memoir, so I had forgotten that that was one of the categories, so I’m now one category down. So it’s super flexible this year.
Super easy. And I hope a lot of people join. So if you’re listening, and this sounds appealing to you there’s a couple of different things you can do. There’s a Facebook group called 2023 Every Day I Write The Book Reading Challenge. Just do a search for it on Facebook and then send me a request, and I’ll just approve you.
And then I have a Google sheet going, and Nicole, your name’s on it, so you can use that if you want. You just add your name to it and then you can keep track of it or you can do it on your own. You don’t have to use the Google sheet. And there’s also a post on my blog at the beginning of the year, which links to it and links to the Google Sheet, which has all the categories.
It’s also on the blog. My blog is everydayiwritethebookblog.com so I just hope that this feels undaunting cuz some people love the reading challenges that make them do really specific things and take them way out of their comfort zone. I am not one of those people. I just like ones that I can kind of fit into what I’m, what maybe otherwise read.
And that award category just did me in, so it really sent me in the other direction. This year,
[00:28:15] Nicole: Okay. Well, this reading challenge that I can finish, I love reading challenges. I try the pop sugar one every year and every year I do not make it. And it’s because there are these like little words, it’s just like, read a book from, you know, 1964
[00:28:32] Gayle: Right,
[00:28:33] Nicole: and something like that. You know, just like sometimes reading from different years that are, you know, not when you were born, as you can imagine with classics or whatever.
They’re just, I don’t know. I always realize just how. how time influences or how when you’re in a certain time things seem really normal, but then if you read something that was set two or three decades before, just the style is different. The covers are different. It’s just like so different. So when I get, you know, like when it’s just like read something that was a bestseller in 1983, it gets hard.
[00:29:10] Gayle: Yeah, I agree.
[00:29:12] Nicole: Okay. So that is your book challenge So what are your thoughts reading this year? Do you have any resolutions?
[00:29:19] Gayle: I just wanna read more of the books that are on my shelves. I mean, I know I say this every year. Okay, well, actually I put my reading resolutions in my post, and they’re always the same, literally always the same. Read, more BIPOC authors. So I came out with nine, 15% of my books were BIPOC and I, it’s too low.
Like I hate when I keep track and I’m like, author race, white, author race, white author, race white. So I need to like affirmatively, you know, make a conscious effort to include more diversity in the authors. To break 70 books for the first time. Plow through the back list books at home. And this is probably the most [00:30:00] important one, and I always to continue to be respectful of and responsive to my reading moods so that I don’t force books. I’m not in the mood for, I mean, the times that I have forced the books have been when we’re reading ’em for book club or we’re not our book club, but like my in real life book club, even though I picked the books, so it’s like I can blame someone else,
[00:30:20] Nicole: No, but it’s not, it’s not about, like you said, mood. It, mood is
so important. Like it can, you know, like all of these, these books that I knocked out, that you said that are heavy. Yeah, they were heavy and they were books that I had had for a while. Some of them, you know, the 10 French one and yeah, I think I probably would’ve liked that one even less than I did if I had forced it.
[00:30:42] Gayle: Right. Right. Or like sometimes a book, library book is due and then I have to read it and then I wasn’t in a mood for it at that time,
[00:30:49] Nicole: so
how can you not do that?
[00:30:51] Gayle: well,
fewer library books.
[00:30:54] Nicole: and return them if you’re not interested? Just let them
of just trying to read
[00:31:00] Gayle: I think, another thing I need to do, which I’m really bad at, is to dnf. Like if a book, at 20% is just not grabbing me and I’m not picking it up and I’m not looking forward to it, I should just put it away.
Either read it later or get, or recite, you know, find another home for it. But like I find I’m so stubborn that like, I’m like, well no, I started and I need to finish it and then I end up, it ends up sitting dormant and I don’t read. And so like to me, the greatest sign, the greatest cause of my not reading at any given moment is that I’m reading the wrong book.
It’s not that I’m too busy to read, so I, I think I need to like understand that on a molecular level and like just pass on books that are not grabbing me
[00:31:43] Nicole: So can we create a shelf for you that is just books that you’re not finishing
and put them all on that one shelf and is just like, you’re not giving up on them. They’re still in the house. they have a place where you can find them if all of a sudden the inspiration strikes to finish it
[00:32:01] Gayle: Right.
[00:32:02] Nicole: and then do like if they get to the end of the year.
You get to the end of this year, you’ll look at your D N F shelf and you can go through and decide.
[00:32:12] Gayle: That’s a good idea.
[00:32:12] Nicole: So you’ll,
[00:32:12] Gayle: idea
[00:32:13] Nicole: you’ll have a process and if it’s still not, getting you by then, then you just can lovingly let it go.
[00:32:20] Gayle: Yeah. That’s a great idea.
[00:32:22] Nicole: Do you have a little free library next to you nearby?
[00:32:25] Gayle: tons. And I can donate
[00:32:28] Nicole: So then you could donate them at the end of whatever period, whether you decide to do it at the six month mark or once a year.
[00:32:36] Gayle: Yeah.
[00:32:36] Nicole: If you haven’t read it by then
[00:32:37] Gayle: No, I think that’s, I think that’s a good idea. I also just purged about like 200 books.
Like I just went through tons of books that were like arcs from BEA from like six years ago. I just looked at them and I was like, you know, if they’ve been on my shelves this long and I have not been remotely tempted to pick them up, I donated them to a huge book sale at nearby high school and I, it felt so good.
I drove up, I had boxes of books. This is what I did when I had covid. I had boxes of books the guys students came and took ’em outta my car and they’re gone. And it left room huge amounts, you know, gaping holes on my shelves. And I brought down all these other TBR books that were like up in my bedroom and just felt so good to get rid of them.
So they’re gone and I don’t even remember what they were and I’m not gonna be sad about it. Like I can’t imagine I’m gonna be looking for any of those, cuz there’s still three times as many that are here. So it’s like,
[00:33:33] Nicole: Well, that’s the thing about it. I think it’s figuring out a way to, to in your head, like let go of them in a way that you feel like they’re benefiting other people because as soon as you let go of that box or whatever, you do not, you don’t remember.
[00:33:48] Gayle: Right,
[00:33:49] Nicole: And then we have so many ways that you can track down things, you know, like libraries or AU audio or whatever.
[00:33:56] Gayle: Yeah, no, exactly right.
[00:33:58] Nicole: that’s good.
[00:33:59] Gayle: all right, so I don’t have a ton more time,
[00:34:03] Nicole: So let’s do like a five minute book club.
[00:34:06] Gayle: Okay. before we do that, do you have any reading resolutions that you wanna share?
[00:34:10] Nicole: Well, because I know that my time for reading is limited. It’s been limited and I don’t foresee that, you know, changing for the next six months. No restrictions. This time just. Mood read, like you say, because that’s how I get through books. To be ruthless about things that are not holding my attention and just letting them go.
Going on to the next thing. You know, I can come back if I want to, cuz I actually do keep books that I have DNF and they are all in the same place. And sometimes it’s just like, yeah, you’re never gonna read this. And I let it go. And sometimes it’s like, oh, I wanna finish this now because some of my DNFs are not for, I hate this book and I’m never gonna finish it.
A lot of them are, I got interrupted and I had to read something else, you know, for book club, for the podcast or for whatever [00:35:00] reason or it just wasn’t, I know that at a different time I would probably like that book, but now is not the time. So there’s books like that and then there’s books that are that I just like, hmm, I don’t think I like this.
[00:35:12] Gayle: Mm-hmm.
[00:35:13] Nicole: So super mood reading this year. . Like you said, I really love the way you said that, being respectful of my moods and what I want to read. And I do try to read books, not, I won’t even say try. I’m interested in books by diverse authors. But I do have like a number of books that I feel like I read because I’ve read the authors before.
So just Keeping the balance between authors I’ve read before and genres I’ve read before, and allowing in those new diverse voices and books that I would like to, build up and pursue and be looking forward to their books coming out.
[00:35:47] Gayle: Mm-hmm. Well, speaking of books coming out, there is a lot coming out in 23. A lot of good stuff. And next week Nicole and I are gonna go through our winter preview. . I have already done the research for that episode and I’m really excited to talk about them cuz there’s a whole bunch of look good books that look really good between, I did between now and March.
I think that’ll be a good episode. And you
know what, I’ve already put myself on the hold list for a whole bunch of them, so I’m so excited.
I’m never that organized. Yeah, All right. Okay, so that’s our show. Minus is the book club. So we’re gonna do the book club now, and the book we’re discussing is a book that probably most of our listeners have have read. And that is Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. And Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. As Nicole noted, it made like millions of best of 22 lists.
I don’t think it made my Best of The Year list though.
[00:36:42] Nicole: No, did you like it that much? That it would, might have
[00:36:45] Gayle: No, I didn’t. It was not on my list. It wasn’t actually even close. I liked it. you know what? I respected it. I can’t say it. I loved it.
[00:36:54] Nicole: Ohh, respect
[00:36:55] Gayle: that’s
of I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. That type of thing.
[00:36:59] Nicole: you’re a nice,
[00:37:00] Gayle: right? She had good intentions.
[00:37:02] Nicole: She was really nice.
[00:37:04] Gayle: I, okay, well why don’t you get started. Why don’t you start, cuz I, sounds like you have some strong opinions.
[00:37:09] Nicole: All right, so Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, I think the main characters are born in the 19. They must, were they born in the seventies or the eighties? So
[00:37:21] Gayle: think the eighties.
[00:37:22] Nicole: it’s one of these where we’re looking back and these two friends meet when he is hospitalized. He’s been in a car accident like this tragic car accident where you later find out, well, I don’t even know if I’m gonna mention, oh, we can, we can do spoilers, but you, you later find out, is connected to the death of his mother and she is there because her sister has cancer. and so that she’s spending a lot of time in the hospital. She’s kind of like, you know, her parents are really concentrating on her sister and her health, and she’s kind of overlooked. So she spends a lot of time with him playing video games. And so her name is Sadie and his name is Sam. So their friendship breaks up because , she decides to multitask.
I mean, she’s there anyway and she enjoys talking to him. But the hospital has been really concerned about him because he doesn’t engage, like he hasn’t spoken since his accident. And it seems like he is, she is the only one who like gets him out of his shell or he’s interested, shows any interest in spending time with, so they want her to keep coming and visiting him, and she’s studying for her bar mitzvah and she needs community service credits.
And so she agrees to do it for that. and eventually he finds out about it and they don’t speak again until he sees her in Boston, where they’re both going to school, which one of them is going to MIT? I think she’s going to MIT.
[00:38:59] Gayle: She’s at MIT and he’s at Harvard.
[00:39:01] Nicole: he calls out to her in the train station in Boston and they, rekindle their friendship and it’s still all about video games.
And she is taking a class where she’s designing a video game. And she asked him to play one of the games that she’s designed for this class. And that’s how it begins. Like basically they are very good friends. They design video games together and the book follows their ups and downs through, I guess, success and fame and wealth and just how they navigate their relationship to all of that, plus their own relationships. Would you add anything to that, Gayle?
[00:39:38] Gayle: Well, I mean, I think it’s about sort of the collaborative process of creation. You know that when you have a partner that you work with on. Producing something that is creative, you know, that involves a lot of, you know, different opinions and strengths and how they [00:40:00] sort of handled that. And I think it’s about also and just how people change over time and how relationships change over time and how people are affected by money or success or the lack thereof.
And jealousy and competition weigh in. I mean, think in that way. It sort of reminded me of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, which also follows a group of friends as they kind of have differing levels of success in creative endeavors.
[00:40:26] Nicole: So, but that’s the gist of the flow of the story
[00:40:30] Gayle: Yeah. Oh yeah.
[00:40:31] Nicole: they meet in the hospital. You know, they re-meet later, years later when they’re both in college and where it goes from there as they, you know, this successful video game that takes off and really launches them both very young into all of the success and just its effect on them.
So one of the reviews that I read, and I think I, reacted to like a lot of the commentary around the book was, you don’t have to be into video games, to like this book. And I thought it was so video game heavy.
[00:41:03] Gayle: Oh really?
[00:41:04] Nicole: Oh, I, yeah, I did. You didn’t.
[00:41:06] Gayle: I mean it did, I guess it was, but it didn’t bother me. Like I thought that part was kind of interesting. I mean there’s some sort of inside baseball language And there were references to, you know, obviously famous games and games that changed the landscape for video games and innovations and things.
Nah, that didn’t bother me that much.
[00:41:25] Nicole: Yeah, I thought there was a lot of that. I mean, even Marx’s death. So Sadie at one point marries Sam’s best friend, or he Sam’s best friend initially, but he becomes the producer for their video game that the first video game they make and he becomes the producer for their company. And there is a scene where people are protesting technology and they show up at the game office and he and Sadie are expecting a child at the time and you just wanna know what’s going on and it becomes, you know, part of a video game. I just,
[00:42:02] Gayle: Well wait, no. The part where the protestors show up, it switches to second person narration,
[00:42:10] Nicole: right where he’s an NPC in a video game as he’s dying in the hospital.
[00:42:14] Gayle: right? I guess that’s right. Yes. There’s a a second part of the book that really does become part of a video game where
[00:42:20] Nicole: Yes.
[00:42:22] Gayle: and Sam connect in this.
[00:42:24] Nicole: he’s built a game for her because he
[00:42:26] Gayle: Uh,
[00:42:26] Nicole: reach her after marks’ death.
[00:42:28] Gayle: Yeah. It’s, that’s sort of trail esque
[00:42:32] Nicole: Yeah. I just thought there was a lot of video, you know, like there was that, there was NPC mark, there was designing the game. There was talking about, you know, Sadie had been involved with someone who was like really famous. For designing video games, who’s her mentor and becomes her lover. And so it’s about playing his game and what that game was like.
It was just a lot of games for me.
So yes, you can read it and enjoy it, but I think that there was enough around the world that it could be about the game gaming world, that it could be off putting,
[00:43:04] Gayle: Hmm. That didn’t bother me that much. I think what bothered me is there’s. Sometimes a coldness to zen’s writing
[00:43:13] Nicole: There’s a coldness to her characters. That was my second thing.
[00:43:17] Gayle: Yeah. I found it hard to connect with them, especially Sadie. Like there is just a coldness to them and you kind of just wanna shake ’em sometimes. Be like, dude, like connect, like talk.
[00:43:30] Nicole: Yeah. Marks was like if, if we’re following this, he was the one who was not into video games and he was the one who was human, had a heart, looked after both of them, thought about all the things that they couldn’t or wouldn’t think about because they were just all about their games and just super focused.
And I know it’s supposed to be developing, like how do they navigate their relationship? How, how are they working together? And just like the fact that they can connect in a deeper way through this video game, but, She’s just so focused on that. Or maybe you can say she’s really true to who they are as kind of being cold, that it was, at some points it was like, why am I reading this?
Like, I don’t care if they get together. I don’t care about these games that they’re building.
You know? It was just very like, and then I would think, oh yeah, we’re supposed to be discussing it for book club. So then I would continue on because it, I def, it definitely wa would’ve been a DNF for me. I think I got to the point, and I, I know the point that I wanted to dnf it because Marks had realized that he was interested in Sadie and then I can’t remember the girl that he ended up dating, because remember Marks jumped around from person to person.
But of course everyone loved him. And no matter how many relationships he had with women, they all ended up being his friend. But he does have one relationship. I think her name was Zoe that he stays with, but she’s still a very minor character. But there is just like this long scene about he goes to tell Zoe [00:45:00] something and she’s like, creating music naked.
I don’t know. It was like this, two pages of that and of her, and then she wasn’t even like a big character later on, they just, they kind of fill her in as, as Sadie, you know, Sadie, they become friends and you know that they go out and eventually her and Marks break up. But there was just such a level of detail to a relationship that was not even substantial in the book that I was just like, really?
[00:45:30] Gayle: Yeah, I hear you. I don’t disagree with that. I too found it a bit of a chore to get through. It’s not a short book either. It’s probably about 400 pages. I was reading it for book club, both this book club and my in real life book club. So I knew I needed to read it, but I kind of was like, in some ways I had been sort of dreading picking it up and then once I did, I wasn’t like I wasn’t relieved of that dread. Like I just kind of, kind of wanted to get through it. I think I’m surprised. Well, I’m not sur surprised. I do think it, this is where my admiration for the book comes in. I think it was super creative. I think the fact that she does kind of work in those two sections where the section during Marx’s death, which I thought was the most moving of the whole book, you know, just that, whole portion especially cuz he was like the most appealing character and the one who you kind of felt some emotional connection to.
And then the section where they’re in the you know, the, the game where Sam and Sadie are connecting and I think there’s a lot of detail and I think she’s a really good writer. Like I think her command of language is very good. There were actually some words in there. I’d literally never. And I was like, wow.
Like I, like not ever heard of this word. I had to look it up. And so I kind of admire like the technical achievement of the book, but I, I didn’t enjoy it. Like, I wasn’t like, oh my God, I can’t wait to get back to this book and get back into their world. And
I just, that it felt like an award winner to me.
Like, like Madison, like it’s good for you,
[00:46:54] Nicole: Right. This is craft and technique and look at what she’s doing. Yeah, I think, I think the book was beautifully constructed. It was very inventive and creative how she not, you know, she really did show with the Oregon Trail like game how Sam was able to connect with Sadie and though she didn’t appreciate him barging in on her, in her grief, when she’s asked to be alone, I think it does kickstart her back into life, you know?
And I think it’s, I mean, it’s always good when you just to see relationships, you know? I don’t think, like, it wasn’t a typical romance that you could root for. And I think that’s the point. It wasn’t about, you know, them being romantically involved and it was exploring a different kind of love and it was exploring. , don’t know what Sadie’s deal was, but there was just a lot that you knew about how come Sam had been so closed off and does have trouble relating.
And probably one of the most interesting parts to me is when they have this conversation about Sadie’s relationship with Dove and how they originally started creating, they’re trying to create this game and they need an engine that’s gonna power the game. And of course, Sadie has had like this kind of abusive relationship with, you know, her older mentor.
There’s a point in the book where Sadie realizes that Sam has played Doves game and that he must have known that Dove and Sadie don’t have a good relationship, but he sacrifices that and kind of sends her back into his orbit because Dove’s game has something that theirs needs.
[00:48:33] Gayle: Right.
[00:48:34] Nicole: and that’s kind of like, you know, before that moment, who knows what it could have been with them. Like maybe they would’ve en embarked on a relationship and who knows whether it would’ve been successful or not, because they’re just like so driven and stuck and I didn’t even know if these were two people you, you know, I wasn’t rooting for them, you know what I mean? But you can understand why she shut down and it just changed the nature of, of their relationship and it doesn’t get any better when he tells her that, you know, he does not remember knowing that it was specifically Dove’s Engine that they were going to use. He wasn’t aware, but he would’ve done it again anyway, whether if he knew or not.
[00:49:14] Gayle: Right. I agree with you on all of this.
I’m sorry. sorry. I saddled you with this one,
[00:49:19] Nicole: yeah, it’s do better. Gayle
[00:49:22] Gayle: Well, at least it was on all those best of lists, so I don’t, at least, I hopefully sat maybe it’s satisfied. A little bit of curiosity. I don’t know.
[00:49:31] Nicole: You know what, this reminds me of this book. You didn’t like it and I, I’m not gonna be able to remember the name. I think it was something Lessons, it was like, it was a novel that was set with the theater teacher and these children, you know, like the high school students are performing his, this play, they’re in his class.
He’s really manipulative and basically the second half of the book turns the first half on its head. And I can’t think of, I can see the book, but I cannot think of the name. But you didn’t really like [00:50:00] that one.
[00:50:00] Gayle: Oh, wait, wait. Describe it one more time.
[00:50:05] Nicole: It is high school students and they are working, they are
[00:50:11] Gayle: Trust Exercise. Trust Exercise by Susan Choy. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I did not like that book. Oh, this reminded you of that.
[00:50:19] Nicole: Well because it’s so smartly constructed. That kind of thing reminded me, you know, like it’s more about the construction of the novel and how erudite it is but cold.
[00:50:32] Gayle: Right, right. Yeah, this book is definitely a cold, cold one.
On that note. Okay.
[00:50:37] Nicole: hope you loved it better than we did
[00:50:39] Gayle: Yeah. onward and upward. And next week we’ll share our winter preview, which I’m really excited about. Lots of good stuff. And more to come in 2023. Until then, reading.
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