Our Vacation Reads and Challenges Update

 

In this episode, Gayle and Nicole go over their vacation reads, and they discuss how traumatic events in fiction books tend to be happening more often than it usually does in real life, which can lead to a feeling of being overfed with trauma while reading the story.

Towards the second half of the episode, they talk about their current reading challenges and their picks.

The Readerly Report

 

Early Morning Riser Katherine Heiny Amazon Bookshop
Single Carefree Mellow Katherine Heiny Amazon Bookshop
The Paper Palace Miranda Cowley Heller Amazon Bookshop
The Maidens Alex Michaelides Amazon Bookshop
The Idea Of You Robinne Lee Amazon Bookshop
The Plot Jean Hanff Korelitz Amazon Bookshop
We Were Never Here Andrea Bartz Amazon Bookshop
The Sanatorium Sarah Pearse Amazon Bookshop
The Guest List Lucy Foley Amazon Bookshop
The Last Thing He Told Me Laura Dave Amazon Bookshop
This Is How It Always Is Laurie Frankel Amazon Bookshop
Heat & Light Jennifer Haigh Amazon Bookshop
The Hunting Wives May Cobb Amazon Bookshop
A Slow Fire Burning Paula Hawkins Amazon Bookshop
The woman in the Window (Netflix) A.J. Finn Amazon Bookshop
Forever . . . Judy Blume Amazon Bookshop
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Judy Blume Amazon Bookshop
The Aftermath Rhidian Brook Amazon Bookshop
At the Wolf’s Table Rosella Postorino Amazon Bookshop
Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty Amazon Bookshop
The Lost Boys of Montauk Amanda M. Fairbanks Amazon Bookshop
American Pastoral Philip Roth Amazon Bookshop

Transcript

[00:00:00] Nicole: Welcome to the readerly report. Your hosts are Gail Weiss, Wasser, and Nicole Bonia. We hope you enjoy our candidate, book conversations, recommendations, and observations on the reading light. Thanks so much for joining us.

[00:0:21] Nicole: Welcome to another edition of The Readerly Report. Today Gail and I are going to be talking about. What she read on vacation, how her vacation went. And we’re also going to be digging a little into our challenge lists and giving an update.

I think we were both in the spreadsheet this morning. I was trying to figure out where I am with that one. And then also just looking through what’s going on with my Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. Some book news and I actually have a couple of books that are coming out this week, or just came out last week that I want to mention.

Okay, so Gayle, do you want to kind of take us through what you read on vacation? If you read on vacation, when you were a little ambitious *laughs*

[00:01:01] Gayle: So we went abroad, which I know is a little crazy in this time of the Delta variant. We were in Amsterdam and France. And, you know, before we left, I like, and we packed. Like I brought just, do you know what an away bag is? One of that kind of smallest roller board bags with a hard shell.

I basically brought just that for 10 days, but we did have an overflow bag for sort of toiletries and stuff that we couldn’t bring carry on the plane. And I like stuff. Two bags in there. And I was two books in my backpack and two books suitcase. And it was a little ambitious because as it turned out, I just did not have time to read, like my husband designed this itinerary and it was pretty much jam-packed.

So there was no, he kept saying to him, like, I think, will there be any days where I could just maybe have an hour or two to read? He’s like, oh yeah, definitely. That was a complete lie. That we’re nothing he’s like, no. So it was definitely not a reading trip, but I still managed to cram in a few, either on the [00:02:00] plane or at late at night or in the morning when I’d wake up due to jet lag or in the middle of the night when I’d wake up due to jet lag.

So I did manage to get through, I think, three and a half books.

[00:02:09]Nicole: Oh that’s good!

[00:02:12] Gayle: Yeah. Yeah. So not too bad. I finished Early Morning Riser, which I think I had talked about on the show, although I had not finished it last time we talked, and this is the newest novel from Katherine Heiny. She’s the one who wrote Single, Carefree, Mellow, Single, Carefree, Mellow is the stories.

And then I’m blanking on the novel that she wrote before Early Morning Riser. Right? But it’s weird. Cause I feel like all three books are really different. The first one, the stories I remember being like kind of edgy and really funny and all about relationships and parenthood and it just felt very. Super sharp.

Like just really funny. Then the second one was Standard Deviation. That one I did not like as much. And it, it seemed like these characters are really over the top and I just sort of lost patience with that one, but this one is kind of different from the other two. This is a story about a [00:03:00] woman who moves to a small town in Michigan, and she gets involved with this man who as it turns out, has kind of like been romantically involved with like all of the women in town has an ex-wife.

And she gets involved with him and then they break up and some other things happened, some kind of sad things happen. And it’s really just about her life, sort of each chapter checks in. You know, jumps ahead a couple of years and it’s not like action packed. It’s definitely not plot driven. It’s very character driven book and some of the characters are a little over the top, but there was just something I really liked about it.

It’s kind of a gentle read, really different from her other books, but I enjoyed it as well. So I know that this one has been a little mixed in terms of its reception. I just ended up liking it a fair amount. So I was kind of surprised I had a feeling I was not love it. And I really ended up. 

[00:03:47] Nicole: I was going to say, I think last time you spoke. I’m not sure how much you had to finish. I didn’t think you had that much more to finish, or it was just like one of those things. Did you want to finish before you left, but you definitely more enthusiastic [00:04:00] about it now.

[00:04:01] Gayle: Yeah, I think it grew on me. If you like books that follow people’s lives over time and sort of like just delving into like, uh, a little town.

It was good. It had humor. It definitely wasn’t like, I wouldn’t call it like heartwarming. I mean, it definitely had some of that Katherine Heiny edge. It just wasn’t as pointy as the first one, if that makes any sense. And then the next one I read, which is one that has been all over the place this summer was The Paper Palace.

Okay. Yes, it is good. I think it was so hyped going into it that I was expected. Like there was, it would have been really hard for, to live up to my expectations, given what, how much I had read about it this summer. This is by Miranda Cowley Heller. And this is a book about a 50ish woman who lives on the Cape.

She lives in Manhattan, but she has a family house on Cape Cod. And the book opens. She has just slept with her best friend, a man named Jonas, who has been her best friend since childhood, while her husband and her family and his wife are inside the [00:05:00] house. They go like out to the beach and have sex. And then the rest of their families and spouses are inside.

So the book is told through flashbacks, like looking back on her life, her friendship with him, her childhood, and then going flip-flopping back to the present. And what is she going to do? Is she going to decide to be with him or she going to stay with her? It’s beautifully written, very evocative, like the Cape.

I mean, you really feel like you’re at the Cape and you feel like you’re in this kind of ramshackle beach house and there’s lots of like atmosphere and description and all of that, where I got kinda knock this down, a peg for me was, there’s so much trauma in this book. Like she’s had a very traumatic childhood.

She’s got these negligent parents. It’s a lot of bad things that happened throughout her childhood. Just things that make her, you know, made her very unhappy. And then there’s kind of like one core like traumatic event that also happens. And I feel like it gets kind of blurred because there’s so much relentlessly other stuff going on.

And it was hard sometimes to keep track of like the characters, cause like all these bad things happen. So I wish that she’d kind of toned that side [00:06:00] down a little bit and just focus more on like the one bad thing. And it would have felt a little more, I don’t know, a little more focused. But I do recommend it and you know, it’s kind of beautiful cover and it really has been all over the place somewhere to Reese’s book club pick.

And I certainly, it kept turning the pages for me. 

[00:06:18] Nicole: That’s interesting. This reminds me of a discussion that I just had a friend. We read The Maidens together, by Alex Michaelides, there was just like too many things in this book. It was like so many traumatic things. And I think it does kind of sometimes take a little bit away from it.

Because I know, in life, you can have a life full of trauma. I mean, I think some environments, some upbringing, it seems like trauma grows, you know, just trauma begets trauma in a way that you’re kind of predisposed in it a lot, but in fiction it always comes across, like way too much.  

[00:06:54] Gayle: I think that’s a really good point.

Like trauma, beginning trauma, like for example, an education. When it’s a memoir you’re right. That’s sort of like, wow. That’s why this person’s story is so compelling to listen to. But when it’s made up, I think you’re right. It just becomes like a little too much. There is a slightly ambiguous ending too, to The Paper Palace.

I think I know what happens, but it’s definitely up for, yes. I wrote a note to Susie from Novel Visits when I finished it. And I said, can I ask you a question about The Paper Palace? And she went back. She goes, I know what you’re doing. Here’s what I think like it was so clear that that’s been a question that has come up before.

So if you’d like your book’s extremely clear at the end, this one might frustrate. Okay. So my next book, I think I must have told you I was going to read this because I got a nice note from someone on our Facebook group, I think, or a Facebook message from someone who must have listened to the last show, urging me to read it.

It was The Idea of You by Robin Lee. 

[00:07:51] Nicole: Oh yeah. We talked about that. Yeah. That book is like beloved. Everyone’s like this 

[00:07:55] Gayle: book is beloved. Yes. This is the book I told my daughter about it. She’s like, oh my [00:08:00] God, you’re reading. Fantic reading hairstyles. Fanfic and she was making. So this one is about a woman who goes on a meet and greet with her daughter.

Who’s nine eating her favorite boy band. This woman’s ex-husband, the girl’s father has one in an auction, the chance to go meet the band. So she and her friends got to meet the band. The mother accompanies them, the mother, and one of the singers in the band hit it off. And then it’s all about this relationship that develops.

It is a beloved book. It came out in like 2016 and it’s still all over the place. It has a totally cheesy cover. Like I got this from the library and I was like, oh my God, I can’t believe I’m reading this, but you know what? It’s pretty good for given what it is. The relationship is it feels plausible. The details it’s well-written it feels like it doesn’t feel over the top.

It feels like I’m going to have, this could actually happen. These characters seem very realistic and you’re in the woman’s head and everything she’s feeling is feels very understandable. It’s a quick read. I read that on the plane on the way back and. So I kind of was so curious about it and I had put it on the hold list like [00:09:00] six months ago it finally came in.

So I was like, I got to read it. 

[00:09:02] Nicole: That sounds like a good plane where to eat, you know, something that’s kind of absorbing and not too heavy. Yeah. There’s 

[00:09:09] Gayle: tons of sex in it too. So just be forewarned. If you don’t want a book with a lot of sex, don’t pick that one up. But I thought it was pretty. And so that’s my vacation.

So I finished three books and I’m about halfway through another one that I started also on the plane when I finished the idea of you. And that one is the plot. Have you read it? Yes, I’m really liking it. I really liked it too. Oh, good. All right. Well maybe on our next show or at some point soon we can decide.

Cause I think it’s really good. Am I going to like it all the way through? Oh, I don’t know. 

[00:09:41] Nicole: It’s a good discussion book. I don’t want to influence you. So I’m not going to say what I thought about the ending I’m going to, we can talk 

[00:09:48] Gayle: later. Okay. It’s extremely suspenseful. Isn’t it though. Yeah, I’m really liking it.

And I’m like, it’s suspenseful on two fronts. So this is a book about a guy [00:10:00] who isn’t a, sort of a, a failing novelist. He’s had like one book that had sort of very modest success and now he hasn’t written anything else. And it becomes the teacher at this writing retreat. And this guy comes and says, I have this amazing plot and it’s going to turn the world around.

It’s going to, you know, be an absolute bestseller. It’s a, can’t miss thing. The student tells the teacher the plot, and then years later, and this isn’t a spoiler. This is all revealed really early on years later, the teacher sort of realizes that the guy who had this idea has done. And never wrote 

[00:10:36] Nicole: the book.

He’s kind of subconsciously looking for this book and then wondering like, why, what happened? 

[00:10:43] Gayle: Why hasn’t he written it yet? Why isn’t it? You know? Cause he agrees. It’s an amazing plot. Why isn’t 

[00:10:48] Nicole: it burning up the bestseller list? 

[00:10:50] Gayle: Right. So it turns out the guy died. And so this increasingly desperate author decides to write the book himself.

And [00:11:00] so while you’re reading the book, the plot in the middle of it, there’s a second thing going on, which is the story within the story, which is the actual bestselling plot book. And they both are suspenseful. So it’s a pretty masterfully like constructed book, I think. But we will discuss this on a future episode when I finished it.

I’m very interested to hear you. Yeah. 

[00:11:20] Nicole: I think one of the things that I really liked about it is that, I mean, you’re always thinking about these things. Well, not always, but every now and then it surfaces in your head. You know, these things that we read that are probably based on other things. And just like when you’re telling a story, I mean, I thought one of the main things for me, it was just like he wrestles with, did he have permission to tell this story?

And who’s really written this book, which I thought was interesting, but we will discuss it more. I was thinking, yeah, about my pop sugar reading challenge, because it has this category, I think, where one of the books needs to be dark academia. And there is this section in the book. It happens early on.[00:12:00] 

He’s taught at this conference, you know, he’s this writer, he’s written this one book and he’s kind of having trouble with his second one. So, or the second one comes out and it’s kind of like the sophomore slump. That well, and so now he’s living this alternate life of kind of, I guess what you do when you’re writing is not at the point where it can sustain you.

So there’s just this section that, where he’s like, you know, teaching at these writing conferences or he gets to the point where, I don’t know, basically he’s just like the caretaker of this place where artists can go and finish their work, which is. 

[00:12:35] Gayle: Yeah, I’m enjoying the inner look at like the publishing world.

It’s kind of snarky about publishing and books and book bloggers. It’s funny. Just really enjoying it. You’re like, I actually just loved this book. Yeah, I do. It’s just like really, I’m having a hard time putting it down so I don’t probably finish it in the next day. Tell me about you. What have you been reading?

All right. 

[00:12:53] Nicole: So, as I have said before, this has been the summer of the thriller. It’s like all I’ve [00:13:00] read all summer. I think the deepest book that I have been reading is, well, the other black girl, whereabouts and crying and H Mart, but everything. You know, I think I’ve read like most of Reese, Witherspoon’s not most, but a lot of the books that have read have made that list.

And I just finished one yesterday called we were never here, which I think is like the weakest link of all the books I read. That’s 

[00:13:24] Gayle: so funny. I think I saw someone reading that 

[00:13:26] Nicole: yesterday. It just came out within the last month. This woman called Andy Barts wrote it. And then she’s written a couple of other books.

This is the first time I’m reading a book by her. And I have to say this book. It was like, it’s a 3.7 on good reads, which I think is pretty good. Pretty, you know, most people probably liked it. The lowest is a 2.5 and I probably would’ve given it somewhere. I was just born. It has an implausible premise from the beginning.

It is about these two women, Emily and Kristen who are best friends, you know, they [00:14:00] traveled together. So they went on this backpacking trip to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. And while they’re there, Emily is attacked and Kristin comes to her rescue and they ended up killing this man. And they like throw him over, not a spoiler.

This is basically the premise of the book is that they then go to Chile in south America and. If someone attacks Kristin, and then they have to like dispose of another book. So then may go back. I think Kristin has been living in Australia. She has a job there. She goes back to Australia. Emily goes back to Wisconsin where she’s just started dating this guy.

She is really traumatized from when she was attacked in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. So, you know, she’s kind of like, Been slow with the intimacy, just really holding off. But she decides is she, after what’s happened, she wants to be with this guy. She wants to like make a life for herself. She’s like a little bit disturbed with where her friendship is with [00:15:00] Kristin, just because you know, now they’ve buried two bodies and Christmas just kind of like really nonchalant.

So then Kristin, all of a sudden of course shows up in town. There’s just a weird dynamic between them and each of them has like secrets and this agenda. And it’s just kind of trying to figure out what really happened on both of these trips. I mean, like, what are the odds, you know, Emily’s just like, what are the odds that this could happen twice where just like death, magnets.

I knew where this story was going. So I was kind of bored with it. I really love Emily. I thought she was just, I don’t know. It may have been accurate. She was traumatized and wishy-washy, but she is just like such a pushover. And like, these things are happening. She’s just trying to be okay with everything, you know, like she’s in therapy.

I just knew every twist. Like I was not surprised by anything except maybe the ending and not in the ending in terms of, you know, like what was really going on. What’s the dynamic between that [00:16:00] relationship, but just how they decided to take it was a little bit, yeah. So, I don’t know. I mean, I read lots of these.

I’ve spent the summer reading thrillers when you’ve read so many of them, I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that you kind of, you know, you kind of know what’s up and that’s fine. Like, but if that’s going to be the case, like I’m looking for just like more compelling characters, like people, Emily was annoying question 

[00:16:24] Gayle: for you.

Why do you think you’re reading so many thrillers? What’s the. Impetus behind 

[00:16:28] Nicole: that. I’m still in that place where I just feel like everything on the news is depressing or whatever. I’m just not up for any heavy books right now. And, you know, even though thrillers, okay, so two people die in this book or whatever, but they never really concentrate on that.

Right. That’s just kind of like the impetus for all the other actions that happen. So I think it’s just kinda like nothing traumatic when you’re reading a thriller, it’s not going to be like genocide war crimes. Right, right, right. The 

[00:16:55] Gayle: bad stuff that happens is going to be relatively contained and it’s going to be part of the [00:17:00] story and it’s not going to be sad.

It’s going to be propelled. 

[00:17:04] Nicole: Right. Someone dies. How are we going to deal with this? I killed someone. How are we going to deal with this? You know, it’s not like the really tragic things that I feel like we’re, you know, constantly reading about with like Afghanistan, you know, global warming, the pandemic continuing.

So there’s no thriller. That’s referencing the pandemic. 

[00:17:23] Gayle: I’m laughing because, so, you know, my husband, you know, how he’s kind of gone in and out of government. His second, most recent job in government was he spent six years working on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy, and his current job is he is the chief of staff to John Kerry on the climate change stuff.

So like you just mesh, he said, it’s not like it’s climate change or Afghanistan, which is basically what I deal with all day in my house. I said did it the other day, he goes: “Yes. I know. I’m the patron Saint of lost causes.” Oh, it’s so true. We got off the plane yesterday at dollar’s and there were a whole bunch of Afghany refugees, [00:18:00] like in the like around baggage claim, they weren’t even into the airport yet.

They were still in baggage claim and they were clearly had been there for awhile. It was heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking, you know, that they had been awake for days stuck in the Kabul airport. There were people like with the toddlers, I guess, sleep on their shoulders. It was the most heartbreaking thing.

We’d been complaining that like our flight was delayed and this, and I got off, it was like, you know what? We are so unbelievably lucky. Look at these people just uprooted their whole lives left with like one backpack on their bags and are now in this foreign country. It just was 

[00:18:32] Nicole: awful. And they’re the lucky ones 

[00:18:33] Gayle: they made in the lucky ones.

 [00:18:37] Nicole: I know exactly. Right. I was just reading that. I forgot who had a piece on the soccer star, the 17 year old, who just loved to play soccer and he was trying to be. That’s why I’m reading thrillers. Yep. Understandable. Like tourists kill someone in Cambodia. Will they get away with it? You know, it’s like you said, it’s contained, it’s this one thing kind of localized.

And the book is [00:19:00] not dwelling on the tragedy. And the murder is more 

[00:19:03] Gayle: like, you can lose yourself in someone else’s stress, knowing that it’s not real.

[00:19:06] Nicole: Right. It’s not real stress. What are they going to do? That has been my thing. And I feel like this one kind of was just like, oh, I’m so bad. Um, my Reese books this summer, I’ve also read The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, I have to see how she pronounces that, and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, and then the outlier in that whole list is This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel. That was more serious, but it had a light touch as well. 

Gayle: I love that book.

Nicole: What is that? One of your two-five stars?

[00:19:42] Gayle: This Is How it Always Is of this year?. No, I read that a couple of years ago, whenever I think when it came. She has a new book out One, Two, Three I think is how it’s called.

[00:19:51] Nicole: Okay. That tells you absolutely nothing about the book. 

[00:19:54] Gayle: Oh my God. That’s one of these books that I keep trying to understand what it’s about. [00:20:00] And every time I read the description, I find it more confusing. And I have to say, I’m not that excited to read it because of the plot description.

It’s like these triplets who are born in this very small town. Maybe the Pacific Northwest. I can’t remember where it is. And the water was tainted by some factory that has since shut down. And so the triplets each have like some sort of like physical or mental limitation. I don’t know. Every time I read it, I’m just like, this doesn’t sound that compelling.

I’ve read two books by Laurie Frankel that I really like. 

[00:20:28] Nicole: And that might be like, kind of the description. It just reminds me of Jennifer Haigh, the book about fracking that just like killed your streak. 

[00:20:38] Gayle: Yeah. I’m looking for it on the shelf right now. That’s the one book by her. I haven’t been able to get through and you know, what was so good when I read it, but like it got so dense into the lives of the people in this Pennsylvania town and the fracking. 

[00:20:51] Nicole: Heat & Light.

 

[00:20:52] Gayle: Heat & Light, yeah. She has a new one coming out. It’s been years and years and I’m trying to get my hands on a copy. I think they were going to send me a [00:21:00] E N E galley, which you know, is not my preferred method. So I think I’m going to hold out for a finished copy then. And that was exciting news. I’ll have to bring that up when we talk about our fall preview, actually, I’m not sure when it’s coming.

I don’t know if it’s this fall or this winter, but anyway, so how did you like this is how it always is. 

[00:21:19] Nicole: I like that. I’m really curious about what her next book is going to be. Is this right? She has something came out in 2019 called Zenith Man. What? Lori Frankel. No, Jennifer. 

[00:21:31] Gayle: Hey, Jennifer. What is that? 

[00:21:34] Nicole: I don’t know.

I was just looking to see when her latest book is going to come out and Zenith, man. Okay. It’s like a Kindle short story. I was about to say how many pages. And like, how did that escape our notice, but that’s because it’s sort of not a real book. I’d still read that though.

[00:21:53] Gayle: I do really like her so much

[00:21:55] Nicole: right now I’m reading another kind of thriller. And we had said, you know, my friend that I’m reading these thrillers with, we had said that come September, we’re going to lean ourselves off. And like, baby, step back into reading. I guess our regular literary fiction reads. If. We’ll see, but I’m reading The Hunting Wives by May Cobb and it must be fun.

Cause I started it yesterday and I’ve read like 145 pages. So that’s impressive. It’s very easy reading. It’s about this woman. Her name is Sophia Neil and she’s married to this dreamboat but she kind of had a traumatic upbringing. So I want to say commitment is not her main thing or she wants to be committed.

Like she really wants a stable relationship, but she’s kind of. She was an editor at a lifestyle magazine in Chicago decides that she’s just tired of the big city. And she just really wants that stable life raising her child, maybe working on her own lifestyle blog. So they moved to this small town in Texas, where she [00:23:00] becomes obsessed with this socialite called Margo banks.

And they have this group called The Hunting Wives. Like every Friday night they go and they, skeet or whatever. I don’t know what it is, I’m a city girl. So she hooks up with them. They accept her into this really exclusive clinic. You know, she has a friend there who has kind of warned her that Margo is not a good person, but I don’t know if on the first page you realize that someone has died.

Someone has like either been shot or whatever, and they’re kind of all embroiled in this mystery. So her writing is easy reading. I want to say that at the beginning of the book though, I just felt like it was so impossible because they moved to this town in East Texas. And I’m like, why did I move there?

Her husband is about to make partner at his architectural firm in Chicago. And his family is from North Carolina. [00:24:00] She moved around a lot as a child. She only spent two years on East Texas. I’m like how in the world do you convince your husband to just like move to someplace where they have no connection to no family? besides this one childhood friend that she has from when they were there, when she spent two years in high school?

So I get caught up on stuff like that. I’m like, I just kind of have to ignore that. Enjoy the rest of the book, because I’m like, “who does that?” Your husband is about to make a partner somewhere. You’re just like, yeah. So why don’t we just like to move to east Texas? Why like, it would make more sense if they had moved to North Carolina and I could get with that.

So I’m just kind of annoyed by that. I’m just like, that just seems annoying. But that’s what I’m reading now. So let’s get into, I had a couple of books, so new Paula Hawkins is coming out, A Slow Fire Burning. I listened to it on audio. I really liked it. I really like her books. It seems like she writes one every couple of years.

This one is about like she’s writing about, I think, I don’t know if they’re in Sacramento, San Francisco, somewhere where you would have a houseboat. This guy has a houseboat and he’s murdered on his houseboat. And it’s all about getting to know the lives of the people around him. There’s like this one woman, this one young woman who has lots of challenges because she was hit by a car as a child.

And she doesn’t have a really good relationship with either her parents, but she has had this hookup with him. So she’s kind of a suspect then there’s this mysterious woman, older woman who lives on a boat, I guess a couple of boats down or whatever. And you find out that she’s kind of connected to the murder victim.

It’s not a direct connection. The police can’t figure it out, but she has some kind of ulterior motive. She’s not necessarily when she speaks to the police. Is she truthful? And then there is this other woman who is his aunt. She had a child die at a young age and all of the women around him just have these complicated lives and complicated trauma.

That is, you know, whether they’re telling the police the truth or not. You just know that there’s a lot surrounding him and it’s about, of course, you know who did it. 

It was really good because like I said about thrillers before, it’s not so much about the crime, but it’s about getting to know these women and how they interact with each other. And you know, like there’s surprises and the nature of their relationships and who knows each other. And I really enjoyed it. I think it’s going to be a good one. So if you like Paula Hawks, I really liked this one, a lot less drinking than Girl on The Train. I mean, I think that was probably her theme for girls in the train and she’s gotten away from that.

[00:26:39] Gayle: So that’s the only one that I’ve I’ve ever read 

[00:26:41] Nicole: Girl on The Train? Did you like that one? 

[00:26:44] Gayle: I liked it. It did. It was a good mystery. Thriller. Did I see the movies? Not the one with Emily Blunt.

[00:26:50] Nicole: You know, I can never remember if I’ve seen the movie. I feel like, I think I heard that it was just so bad. I think my mom and my aunt one thought then they had both read the book. Both really liked the book, but I guess it didn’t translate my mother just like, why would you want to move it from, you know, London to Westchester? She’s like it was boring. 

[00:27:11] Gayle: Yeah. Who else was in it? I’m trying to remember.

[00:27:12] Nicole: I don’t know. Did I tell you how that they have this? There is a version that they made that’s on Netflix that I guess it’s set in London, but all the characters are Indian? I didn’t finish watching it cause it wasn’t that great.

I don’t know why the movies for that book are not that good. 

[00:27:32] Gayle: You didn’t watch that the A. J. Finn movie adaption did you hit? It was so bad. There was Amy Adams, The Woman in the Window

[00:27:39] Nicole: Yes. I can’t believe how bad that was. I mean, it was like, they didn’t take the things that made sense from the book did not appear in the movie.

If I had not read the book, I think I would have been really confused and it was just baffling to me. I mean, that book had an all star cast. Yeah, for sure. 

So there’s been several Girl on The Train. There was one in 2009, one in 2014, and one in 2021, which I think is the Indian one. I didn’t even finish watching the one in 20, 21.

I really wanted it to be good. The one in 2014 got 4.3 stars out of 10 and two stars out of five. So I don’t know what it is about this movie that it doesn’t quite translate. 

All right. Onto some quick book news. Before we talk about challenges and this isn’t book news at all, but Gayle, did you read that story in the Atlantic about the name Alexa, how Amazon has ruined it?

Oh God, no, this is going to make me sad. No, it just talks about, well, I guess no, one’s going to name their child Alexa anymore. And just how kids are like being bullied.

[00:28:51] Gayle: Amazon, Alexa, and the Downfall of a Popular Name and the reason I’m so sad as this is my daughter’s name. 

[00:28:58] Nicole: Well, you can’t have an Alexa in your house because it would always be going on.

[00:29:03] Gayle: Now you can change the name. It’s probably call it Echo. Uh, I don’t want her to know this. I don’t want her to see this. I love the name so much too. Obviously, that’s why I picked it.

[00:29:13] Nicole: She doesn’t seem to be having any problems with it. Maybe she’s old enough that it’s not like traumatic. 

[00:29:20] Gayle: She kind of makes a joke out of it. I mean, yeah. She’s old enough to sort of see the humor in it. 

Gayle: [reading the article]

“Alexa stands alone is a name that was steadily popular, not a one-year celebrity wonder, not a fading past favorite. That was pushed off the popularity cliff.”

Oh, that’s so sad. Yeah. I’m looking at this chart. I went way down, I guess that’s kind of good that it will be less common, but, oh, that’s sad. Who could have known right? Who could have predicted?

[00:29:45] Nicole: Amazon is up so far has not apologized for monopolizing the name or whatever. Yeah. I think the other ones, cause I think, Microsoft, it’s Cortana.

[00:29:58] Gayle: Yeah, Microsoft’s Cortana. Google’s voice assistant just goes by Google. I guess no one is getting named their kids Siri.

[00:30:03] Nicole: They said that one was like big in Sweden or 

[00:30:08] Gayle: Denmark. The name is more common, but last year there was just one in Denmark. I like the name. Siri. These are younger. “Alexa gets teased at school, then an onslaught of commands.” 

[00:30:18] Nicole: See, that’s why I said it seems like maybe your Alexa missed out on some of that. Cause she’s a little older. 

Yeah. So Judy Blume Forever…. Did you read that? Yes, of course. I’ve never read forever, but oh my God. Be an audio book. 

[00:30:31] Gayle: I’m amazed it isn’t already. 

[00:30:33] Nicole: Nope. After 46 years, it says Judy Blume’s Forever… is becoming an audio book. And apparently she was listening to this woman, read this book that she really liked and lobbied for her to get it.

And then it also seems like. Are you there? God, it’s me. Margaret. Did you know this was being made into a film that we talk about this? Yeah. Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates.

[00:30:56] Gayle: Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates what? who’s playing what? They’re about 12 year old girls. Kathy Bates can maybe play the grandmother. I don’t know what Rachel McAdams is going to do.

[00:31:05] Nicole: Well, I guess maybe there’ll be the parents. 

[00:31:08] Gayle: God, I hope they don’t kill it the way they did Harriet the Spy. When that movie came out, 

Nicole: was Harry at the spy bad?

Gayle: Well, Harriet the Spy is a very dark book about a girl who is not very nice, and she’s kind of nasty about her classmates and writes this notebook where she writes down all this stuff.

And when that came out at that time, it came out in the movie, it was Disney-fied. It was like happy, and you know, I mean, it had some substance to it, but it wasn’t dark like the book. 

I’m not that Are you there? God, it’s me. Margaret is a dark book, but I just hope they don’t sanitize it. 

[00:31:38] Nicole: Take the meat out of it.

[00:31:39] Gayle: It’s about like a girl who gets your period for the first time and like has her first kiss and is figuring out religion. Like it’s not supposed to be like, like Disney movies with Jennifer Garner in it. You know, happy movies that don’t really get into anything real. 

[00:31:55] Nicole: All right. So my last literary news, it was depressed 

[00:31:59] Gayle: You have depressed me a lot, Nicole, this morning.

[00:32:00] Nicole: I’m gonna bring you up.

Well, this is kind of funny. I was just like, I have to pick something now, talk about something that is not traumatizing to Gayle. So people did like this little article on Fabio. And it talks about how he’s looking for love in his life. What was really interesting to me about this article is like, you know, we always make fun of like the romance novels, the bodice rippers with the guy with his shirt half off.

And I guess apparently he kind of locked into that career because someone, I dunno, maybe a photo that was taken ended up on a book cover and someone recognized him or whatever. And I guess he did a bunch of those. 

The funny thing is, and I thought about this as like, everyone knows about, can joke about Fabio, but no one knows like where he’s from, or like, he didn’t seem like he was a real person, but I guess he was a model who was, you know, like big at the time. So that was just funny. Cause it talks about how people. They know his name. He has the name recognition and is connected to romance, but you just never know why. And I didn’t either. So it’s just interesting to read this article about how he was a model and had different careers or whatever.

So, but he’s, now they say the king of romance novels is single. 

How old is he?

He is 60. And they have a picture. Oh my God. This picture is so hilarious. He’s like sitting on this lounger with his legs wide open. You know, his shirt, only one button’s button. He still has the long hair. That’s funny. So let’s end that on a light note.

[00:33:32] Gayle: This is not a light of a note, but I sent you a text while I was gone. So one of the things we did on the trip is we went to Omaha beach where the Americans landed during D-Day and I can’t explain it, but all of a sudden I have a major desire to read world war II fiction, but you and I are always so.

I know, I know it’ll probably, I bet this impulse will wear off by the time. 

[00:33:55] Nicole: It’s just the fact that I guess so many people are attracted to it. And with the volume of people who are attracted to world war II fiction, not everyone’s going to be great at it. And I think that you have to wade through so much and of course publishing houses or whatever.

They’re not going to tell, “Hey, why don’t you read this mediocre world war two novel or this really terrible one or whatever?” Like, yeah, this is going to be really good. And you read it and it’s just kind of like “Okay”.

[00:34:21] Gayle: It just seems like there’s an endless supply of world war II fiction coming out. I mean, every cycle, every season when they’re like new historical fiction, it’s always, you know, like you and I always joke about the woman looking away from woman seen from behind looking away into the ocean or something or into whatever.

And then you flip it over and read what the description is. And it’s always world war II fiction. 

[00:34:43] Nicole: I really love the ones that find an angle that you have not heard of. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re always done well. At the Wolf’s Table was really good. And I’ve really loved The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook.

Gayle: Right? Maybe I’ll look at those. 

It wasn’t just the typical let’s get people out of here. I mean, there was just another angle At the Wolf’s Table was about. These German women who were selected to be testers of Hitler’s food. And they basically reported originally, or initially in the beginning, they only had to go.

They lived in the town, so they would go and they would taste this food for breakfast and have lunch, you know, and then have to come back and do dinner. But at some point things escalate and then they’re kept like in a dormitory and have to stay there. So it’s all about the women’s lives. You know, some are pro Hitler and some aren’t, you know, they have different feelings, but they are compelled to do this.

So that was really interesting. And then The Aftermath was about, it’s shortly after world war II, where I guess English and British forces soldiers go and occupy the country to just kind of, I guess, oversee the end of the war. And what would happen is that they would take people’s homes and how’s the mayor.

And a lot of times like, you know, the family would still be in the house. So it was like about the tensions between how that works out. When you formerly lived in a mansion, you had freedom and run of control, but now you’ve got these like enemy soldiers, your country has just lost the war and there’s just lots going on.

So I thought those were really good. Neither of them is like, you know, I think some, uh, world war II fiction books center on a romance. 

[00:36:25] Gayle: Yeah. I think a lot of them do. All right. Should we check in on challenges before we finish? All right. So I’m only doing the one challenge, which is the one from my blog. Every day, I write the book challenge and I have five more categories to go, but I’m not too stressed because I kind of have a plan.

Yeah. I have to: 

“Pick a book, any book” which is easy. “Genre you don’t usually read” that’s going to be the challenging one for me. I got to figure that one out. “Book recommended by my best friend” she recommended The Plot. So once I’m finished that book, I’ll be done with it. Then the “Book-movie pairing” I’m sort of collecting research on that one. I haven’t figured out which one I’m going to do yet. 

Nicole: Let me know. 

And that can be a TV show. Yeah. There’s a lot out there. You know, what I was thinking I might do for that is the adaptation of Maid is coming out on Netflix in October. Oh. So I might just do that.

[00:37:15] Nicole: You’re gonna re-read Maid or have you never read Maid

[00:37:19] Gayle: I’ve read it. So I don’t know. Oh, so you’re saying like, I’d have to read the book because …

[00:37:23] Nicole: you won’t be reading the book. 

[00:37:25] Gayle: Yeah. Good point. True. All right. So I’ll have to find something else. And then the last one is a “Book by an author you love”, and I’m going to do probably the Lionel Shriver book that came out this summer that I haven’t read yet.

Or maybe the Jennifer Haigh when that does come out

[00:37:37] Nicole: If we can find any information about that. I’m so curious. I have five too. I mean, “Pick a book, any book” I feel like I could just put any book in there, but I feel like I need to pick a book, any book right. I don’t know if I’ve consciously done that. So the next book that I look to, I will put there, so I’m not worried about that one.

The “book-movie pairing” I just asked you share your research because actually I bought Nine Perfect Strangers because you know, they have a Netflix. I’m probably gonna read that. Oh, that’s a good idea. “Historical fiction” I feel like I don’t read as much as historical fiction as I used to. Actually, there’s a book.

What Passes for Love. Which we had talked about is historical fiction. So I think that will be that. A “Nonfiction on a topic you love” I don’t know what that would be. I just bought this book. I dunno if it’s a topic I love, but I do like kind of mysteries of life. Like when I was in mystic Connecticut, and I went to their independent bookstore and I bought this book called the The Lost Boys of Montauk about these and talks about like these guys.

Montauk was a big fishing town before it became like, I dunno, celebrity Haven and, you know, Montauk that you hear about this kind of obnoxious and all the bankers and lawyers go there for the summer. 

So this book talks about these guys who went out and their families and what happened after they disappeared.

I think there’s like a big fishing accident. And then it also talks about how the town transitioned from going to basically not a wealthy town, like the outskirts of everything in the Hamptons, like the people who live there year round, it’s a big fishing community. And now I guess a lot of people get their money, make their money off, you know, the summer.

Is where a lot of their income is made and just how the town transition from being a fishing town to like the destination. And they’ll want to read that one. Okay. 

[00:39:39] Gayle: So that would be the nonfiction on 

[00:39:41] Nicole: my non-fiction and “book recommended by your best friend” and pick a book, any book. So I already discussed.

[00:39:48] Gayle: Yeah, those are pretty easy categories. 

[00:39:49] Nicole: So those are pretty easy categories. And then I was doing the pop sugar reading challenge, but I’m doing it in a casual way. You know, anything that I know, I definitely have a book in mind for the topic I put on my list to read. And then. Trying to casually read through them and see which ones I read naturally.

I think I do better with challenges when they have topic books, you know, like some of these like, oh, there needs to be a star on the cover or whatever. It’s just like, how am I supposed to, you know, I dunno, they have these lists where some people will put together lists of things that they come across, but I just find those super annoying or something in the title.

Like I love the category one. Locked Room Mystery. I read the guest list by Lucy Foley, a book set in multiple countries. I feel like what could be saved? I’m getting in my head about multiple, because I’m just like, well, it does it multiple meats three or more as opposed to just two, but whatever. 

[00:40:52] Gayle: Oh no, I think that could work. Cause there’s such a strong sense of place on both of them, right?

[00:40:56] Nicole: Okay, good. They were both definitely set in those two [00:41:00] places published in 2021. That could be anything. I just put, we were never here. My Adrea Bart’s since I just finished. So I think I might have another book for set in two countries because also the only one that I think that I’ve read with three generations could be What Bould Be Saved because it had to have grandparents, parents and the children. So I might swap that one out.

 

[00:41:21] Gayle: Three generations. If you decide to read the paper palace, that would also work for them. 

[00:41:24] Nicole: Okay, good. Cause I do want to read that one, a book that has the same title as a song. I don’t know. I read Valentine’s. I’m just like, there must be a song called Valantine. 

[00:41:37] Gayle: Ooh, that’s a hard one.Okay. 

 

[00:41:41] Nicole: “A book with something broken on the cover”. Surprisingly, I haven’t read one of those yet. 

[00:41:45] Gayle: You haven’t found any lollipops smashed or a plate.

[00:41:48] Nicole: “Fewer than a thousand reviews on good reads”. I’m just kind of like, but who wants to read that book?Do you know how many good reads people are on good reads?

Gayle:  That sounds painful. 

And if it has less than a thousand reviews, it’s 

[00:42:02] Gayle: you got to find a really, really early copy, advanced copy that just has gotten out. 

[00:42:07] Nicole: So I think I’ve read like maybe 20 books, but books that, and then a bestseller from the 1990s, I’m like what? That could be anything. But I also feel like, you know how sometimes it can be hard to look at old movies because the color isn’t quite right.

The sound is different. So I’m just like, that was like 30 years ago. 

[00:42:28] Gayle: Well, that shouldn’t be too bad. Did you ever read The Corrections?

[00:42:31] Nicole: No, I don’t want it. So what was the biggest selling book of the nineties? They say people asked Bridget Jones’ Diary, which I actually read and love.

[00:42:43] Gayle: You could double that with the book movie pairing on that one

[00:42:44] Nicole: Love  The Secret History. I read Girl With a Pearl Earring. Wow. I’ve read a lot of nineties books, All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. I didn’t even know he was alive. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol. Jurassic Park. Really? I won’t be reading Tuesdays with Morrie

[00:43:08] Gayle: Nineties were rough. 

[00:43:10] Nicole: The Deep End of the Ocean. Well, the best sellers, American Psycho, I feel like I’ve read the classics from the nineties Paradise, American Psycho, I read, Into Thin Air, I don’t think I’ve read that one. A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster, I like Jon Krakauer. Maybe I’ll read that one.

[00:43:28] Gayle: Did you read Paradise by Tony Morrison? I’m looking through this list too. 

Nicole: No, I didn’t read that either.

[00:43:35] Nicole: But it seems like lots of Alice Hoffman in the nineties, right?

[00:43:40] Gayle: Oh. Did you read American Pastoral? That’s a great book. It’s a really good book. It is about a family in Newark and it’s kind of a generational thing about like a baby boomer parent and his daughter. I’m not going to do that book justice by explaining it, but it’s like both of my parents’ favorite book of all time. I dunno. It’s really good. 

[00:44:02] Nicole: Okay. You could read that one. So we’re definitely in good shape for the everyday. I write the book challenge, 

[00:44:09] Gayle: right? I’m getting to work on, um, a song title 

[00:44:12] Nicole: book for you. Find something, find me something good. There’s gotta be 

[00:44:17] Gayle: stuff out there. I’m going to work on that one. All right.

Well, that basically brings us through our summer content. Next show, Nicole. And I will be back with the Fallback Preview and everyone is talking about how this fall is insane in terms of amazing books coming out. So we should have some really good stuff to share. 

[00:44:37] Nicole: Yeah, I think we might have to have several shows, maybe one nonfiction, maybe one fiction.

Uh, debut and maybe ones of people we’ve already read, because I think I started to look and work through the list and I was just like, oh my gosh. I do think that this is a really strong fall. 

[00:44:53] Gayle: I think it is supposed to be really strong. All right. Well, we’ll leave back with that. Some portion of our fall book, preview the next show.

And thanks for everyone’s patience as Nicole and I waited through vacations and had some delays, but we’re back on track hitting the ground running for fall after labor day, and we are excited to see what’s coming out. So until then happy reading. 

 

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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!

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