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308: Favorite books of Spring 2020

 

Today I’m sharing my favorite books of this spring – from March – May. This is a weird Spring! We were on total lockdown here in my house for about 6 weeks and I had 6 year old and 4 year old foster daughters. We’ll see how that impacted my reading! 

Every quarter I round-up my most-favorite books and share them here. If you are subscribed to my YouTube channel, you may recognize some of these books, as I’ve talked abou them there. If you like learning about great books and you are NOT subscribed over on YouTube, you are missing out! I share reading vlogs, monthly round-ups, and all kinds of fun bookish stuff. You can scroll down and see my whole Reading playlist or click on Videos to see my most recent videos.

READING STATS

I read 25 books in the three months of March – May. That’s 9 more than in the three months of winter. I’m pretty sure this is because I was home more and while the kids watched cartoons or played outside, I read. Of these 25 books, 10 were mysteries, 7 were Literary Fiction, and 3 were a part of my Jane Austen reading, where I tried to work through all of Austen’s 6 published works. It was going great at the beginning of March, but by April I couldn’t focus enough to keep going. I plan to pick the remaining three up this fall. Of the 22 books that were NOT Jane Austen, 6 of the books were written by women of color. I’m tracking this so that I can be sure I’m reading from a diversity of authors. The books I read this season were just SO good, I had so many books that are my favorites of the year (maybe the decade), it was hard to narrow it down, but I stuck with the books I think many of you will like, based on our discussions on Instagram. By the way, if you’re not talking to my over on Instagram, go tell me that you’re listening to the show! Snap a photo of your screen and tag me or shoot me a DM, I’m @taraswiger.

Before I dive into telling you about my favorite books, I am so excited to tell you about this podcast’s FIRST EVER SPONSOR. It is Hank Green, NYT best-selling author of the upcoming A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor. Hank is also half of one of my favorite youtube channels, VlogBrothers AND my fave audio podcast, Dear Hank and John.  

Hank wanted his publisher to sponsor a ton of small podcasts, but they said that was too weird. So, instead, Hank took 5% of his advance from the book and did it himself.

Thanks HANK! 

OK, so Hank’s first book An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was one of my favorites of 2018. It follows April May, who gets thrown into super-famousness when she uploads the first video about a weird sci-fi worldwide event. But it’s really about creating a brand and internet personality around yourself, is not the same as being yourself and what are the outcomes of that? How do you stay a person when the “brand” and personality become super-famous? I loved it and I am always recommending it to anyone who is creating and publishing online. It’s out in paperback now.

The sequel and conclusion to that story,  A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor comes out July 7th. I’ve already pre-ordered my signed copy! You can find it wherever books are sold, and Hank has said he’s adding some extra bonuses to the audio book, so you can grab it there as well. In the shownotes I’ve linked to Bookshop.org so you can buy this book and support indies and Libro.fm where you can get the audio book directly from an indie bookstore. And of course, head to hankgreen.com where you can find everything. 

If you get it, lemme know! We can do a little reading group on Instagram in mid-July!
Support indie Bookstores

Now, on to my fave books of Spring 2020.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Last summer I read everything by Riley Sager (there’s a link in the shownotes to my vlogs about them) and I was soooo excited for this book to come out. It was published on June 30th, but I read an advanced reader copy. It follows Maggie, whose father wrote a very famous book about the haunted house that they lived in as a child. Maggie thinks it was all fiction, but her parents won’t talk about it. When she inherits the house she moves in to try to figure out (and fix it up to resell it) and the book alternates between Maggie’s present day mystery and the book her father wrote about her childhood experience in the home.
I knew nothing about what the book was about going in, or I might not have picked it up (I don’t read a lot of horror), but it was so so good! It wasn’t really horror, it was much more a psychological thriller. 

 

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
This list is in no particular order, but since we just talked about a little horror, I have to tell you about this book. It is so weird and so wonderful. Set in a middle-class suburb in the 90s, a bunch of housewives have a True Crime book club (which they tell their husbands in a bible reading group!). So when a sketchy guy comes to town, they’re ready to see him for the serial killer he is…except they’re housewives, so no one in their life respects them. This book is funny and fast-moving and a little bit of horror. It also does an excellent job of exploring what motherhood and womanhood is like when you serve others and  no one respects you or listens to you. 

I talked more about this book in this reading vlog

The City We Became by NK Jemisin 
First off, I hope you know NK Jemisin already if you like fantasy or sci-fi. She’s the only person ever to win 3 Hugo awards in a row for the three books in her Broken Earth trilogy. The City We Became is more sci-fi than fantasy, it’s set in modern New York City, where a pandemic of white tendrils begins to spread. Cities who reach enough complexity and maturity are “born” and become embodied in a person. But New York is so diverse it becomes embodied in 5 avatars who have to find each other and work together to save the city from the creeping tendrils. This book is super fun and fast-moving, it’s like the Avengers meets HP Lovecraft, written by a black woman who celebrates diversity and inclusion.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

Also in the “set in our world but kinda sci-fi/magical” is We Ride Upon Sticks. This is a super-80s book, where the Danvers HIgh School field hockey team learns about the salem witches and sees if they can use their magic to win at field hockey. The best thing about this book, for me, is that it’s told in a collective first person. “We” did this, “we” did that. Each chapter spends time with a different girl and you can see how much she needs the sisterhood of the team and how she’s navigating her life as a teen in the 80s. It is so good and funny and I really had no idea how it was going to resolve until the very end.

Queenie by Cadace Carty-Williams

I talked about this book in a video about . The blurbs call it a mix of “Bridget Jones and Americanah” but, man, it’s so much deeper than Bridget Jones. A single Black woman is navigating a recent break up, in London, while trying to find a place to live and struggling at work. The real heart of this story is how it handles the mental health and Queenie’s experience trying to get better on her own, spiraling out, how her traditional Carribean grandparents think about mental health. It is so good and so true. I hope it’s not a spoiler to tell you that Queenie’s depression looks so so much like mine, it just felt really real. And yet, the book still manages to be funny and fun to read. 

 

The HIlarious World of Depression by John Moe

So while we’re talking about funny depression, we gotta talk about this book! I LOVE the podcast The Hilarious World of Depression, where John Moe interviews funny people (often comics and writers) about their depression. When I’ve had a bad bout of depression, and I can’t focus enough to read, this is the one podcast I can stand to listen to.
So I was like, really excited about his book, which I get as an ARC from NetGalley. In this book, the author tells the story of his own depression – when it started in adolescence, when it showed up, all the not-great ways he tried to handle it (what do you mean avoidance isn’t an effective treatment?!) and how he manages it now. He also explains how the show began, so if you're a  public radio nerd like me, you will likely enjoy that. I recommend that you read this book if you or anyone you know has suffered from depression, it will help you understand how their brain is telling them things that are not helpful to improving how they feel. 

 

Courtroom Thrillers I loved: 

These were a few really good reading months! Check the show notes below where you’re listening or watching for links to all the books, or head over to my website, TaraSwiger.com/podcast308 the full written transcript. 

When you purchase the book using my links, I earn a tiny percentage, which if you’re buying on Amazon, goes to buying food and clothes for foster kids and if you’re buying on Bookshop, goes to new books! I get most of my books at my local library, so check yours out because libraries are amazing. Lots  of my faves came from the Book of the Month Club.

 

I’ll be back in August with new episodes about enthusiasm, confidence and mental health! 

 

297: Favorite books of Winter 2020

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast297

What is the best book you’ve read lately? In today’s episode, I’m sharing my favorite books of this winter – from December – February.

Every quarter I round-up my most-favorite books and share them here. If you are subscribed to my YouTube channel, you may recognize some of these books, as they were part of my Best Books of 2019. If you like learning about great books and you are NOT subscribed over on YouTube, you are missing out! I share reading vlogs, monthly round-ups, and all kinds of fun bookish stuff in my Monday videos at TaraSwiger.com/YouTube. You can scroll down and see my whole Reading playlist or click on Videos to see my most recent videos.

Stats
I have read 16 books so far, and I will likely finish another 3 before the end of the month. 4 mysteries, 2 giant YA space operas over 600 pages, 3 personal memoir essay-ish things.

All three of the memoirs were great, so I’m going to just quickly tell you, you should read them:

  1. Enough, by Shauna Ahern, who you may know as Gluten-Free Girl. I read her blog years ago, and so I picked this up when I saw it on the New Book shelf at the library. It is totally different and so good. Shauna tells the story of how she began to feel as if she is enough, after a lifetime of living by the girl code (criticizing your body, trying to be smaller), a traumatic childhood and trying to make money on the internet. I think anyone who is a woman or works online should read it.
  2. How We Fight for our Lives by Saeed Jones, is the memoir of a young black gay man growing up in Texas. There is violence, there is sexual content, and there is a really beautiful story of finding himself and figuring out his relationship with his mother.
  3. Thick and Other Essays, by Tressie McMillan Cottom, is a series of essays about her experiences being a black woman academic living in the world. It’s about thickness, of body and of thought, and explores beauty and twitter and class mobility. Read it if you like Roxanne Gay or Lindy West’s Shrill.

Now, the fiction books:

Such a Fun Age by Kelly Reid might be my favorite book of the year, ALREADY. A young black woman is babysitting for a white family and has a very racially charged experience in a grocery store. The story unfolds from that tense beginning, but the book itself manages to be fun and compelling and build a momentum that had me up until 3am finishing it. It’s really about white privilege and how “good” white people try to do the right thing while completely ignoring the black person’s agency and selfhood. This book is complex and real and although it sounds like it could be heavy, it’s actually just great fun.

Illuminae, by Amy Kaufman is so weird I can’t believe it’s so good. It’s a kind of YA space opera with horror. I only think it’s YA because the protagonist is a teenage girl, who is saving absolutely everyone. But it’s a little dark and splattery for like, 12 year old Tara. It is really about survival and sacrifice and telling your own story. I’ve read the second book in the trilogy, Gemina, and I liked it almost as much. I’ve got the last book, Obsidio, on my shelf.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo has been on my shelf forever, but I had been avoiding it because it’s written in prose. It took me a minute to sink into it, but when I did, man! It beautifully tells the story from the perspective of a young Dominican girl living in Harlem who is figuring out adolescence and her conservative family, while starting to write slam poetry. It is just the most gorgeous and most true book I’ve read about what it means to be a girl when you start to get unwanted male attention… but it’s not even really about that.

Ok, so a few more books I read and loved but am not going to go into detail about:

These were a few really good reading months! I think I got to some deeper books, like the memoirs, because we didn’t have kids for a few of the months (in case you don’t understand how we only sometimes have kids – we’re foster parents).

When you purchase the book using my links, I earn a tiny percentage, which frankly, goes to buying diapers. I get most of my books at my local library, so check yours out because libraries are amazing. Lots  of my faves came from the Book of the Month Club (referral link).

In a few weeks I have my 300th episode – to learn how you can participate in my celebration, be sure you’ve joined the Facebook group – facebook.com/groups/taraswiger

Thanks for listening and have a book-filled enthusiastic week!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

286: Favorite books: Autumn 2019

What I’m reading Fall 2019: I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast286

It is time for my seasonal round-up of the very best books I’ve read. We’re talking sequels that live up to your hopes, toddler parenting books and of course, mysteries and thrillers.

Usually we talk about building a creative business, goal-setting, marketing, and confidence. But we also love to read and talk about books! For the past 6 years I've shared my monthly reading list on my blog, and since January 2018, I've shared that list on the podcast (Starting in episode 192). I've heard from a lot of you, that you love to talk books with me, so I'm making even more bookish videos and a book club, over at Patreon.com/taraswiger

I also know you’re busy you may not read 100+ books/year, so here on the podcast, I sort through all I read and share my FAVORITE books of the season.

Favorite books of Autumn:

Let's talk about my favorite books that I read from September – November 2019. I'll share these by category, like my fave mystery/thriller, fave sci-fi, etc. But first, let’s look at the stats: I read 21 books, 9 of them thriller or suspense novels, 3 non-fiction books about families, 6 books in three different series. I read fewer books this season than I did over the summer, in part because I’ve been super inspired by my work and in part because I had a lot more disappointing books this season. They weren’t bad; they just weren’t amazingly gripping. But let’s focus on which books I did love.

My fave fantasy series:

Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire.
I read Down among the Sticks and Bones and Beneath the Sugar Sky, and they were both magical and delicious.

Fave parenting book:Lo

Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler by Jamie Galwacki
This is by FAR the closest to my own parenting style of any book I’ve read. And that’s because her philosophy is that every kid is different and that your theories fly out the window once you’re dealing with the kid in front of you. She also advocates for treating children with respect, humor, and natural consequences.

Still loving…

Inspector Gamache series by Louis Penny

I mentioned in our last seasonal round-up (episode 275) that I liked Riley Sagar’s Lock Every Door and Peter Swanson’s Before She Knew HIm that I wanted to read their other books. I ended up reading all of the backlist of both authors and although I enjoyed them ok, they weren’t as great as their more recent books.

I have also been reading the backlist of Megan Abbott, and I love all of her novels.

Book I was completely surprised by:

Fleishman is in Trouble, by Taffy Akner-Brodesser

So many of my faves came from Book of the Month Club.

Remember you can join them in getting extra videos and a Book Club, over on Patreon.com/TaraSwiger.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

275: What I Read: Summer 2019

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast275

First off: Thank you Patrons! 

I read a LOT this summer, today I'll share my very favorite memoirs, mental health books and a lot of brand-new thrillers.

For the past 6 years I've shared my monthly reading list on my blog, and since January 2018, I've shared that list on the podcast (Starting in episode 192). I've heard from a lot of you, that you love to talk books with me, so I'm making even more bookish videos and a book club, you can find all the details below.

Here's the other thing I hear from you- you're busy, you may not read 100+ books/year, so here on the podcast, I'm going to sort through all I read and share them here with you, my FAVORITE books of the season. I'll still be doing the monthly round-up videos here at the end of each month. If you want even more bookish videos, there's even more on Patreon.com/taraswiger

Favorite books of Summer

Let's talk about my favorite books that I read from June – August 2019. I'll share these by category, like my fave mystery/thriller, fave sci-fi, etc. Now, I don't usually read that many new books, so I was going to do a category on new books, published this year…but this summer I read 15 books that were published in 2019! In part because I was reading along with the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide, in part because I was reading a lot of my Book of the Month Club books.

My fave mystery/thriller books published this year (so far):

All of them are about more than you think they are, they are all commenting on a social issue.

Fave new graphic novel:

Unstoppable Wasp, by Jeremy Whitley

Fave memoirs:

Fave new Mental Health Book:

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb

Fave new Sci-Fi:

Recursion, by Blake Crouch

Favorite mystery series (new to me)

Inspector Gamache series by Louis Penny

Fave (new to me) Fantasy series:

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
(reading vlog here: https://youtu.be/185ncEJQlgo )

Book I was completely surprised by:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John

So many of my faves came from Book of the Month Club.

Before I go I wanna thank, Ana of ragtymedesign.com for supporting the show. Anna makes beautiful one-of-a-kind art toys, that are just stunning. Thank you to Janna Ford, for supporting the show and listening!

Remember you can join them in getting extra videos and a Book Club, over on Patreon.com/TaraSwiger. If you enjoyed this episode, leave a review on iTunes, a thumbs up on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe.

Thank you so much for listening and have an enthusiastic week!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

260: What I’m Reading May 2019

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast260

I follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I read

Non-fiction:

Novels: 

What I was reading in May of last year, and 2017, 2016 and 2015.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

255: What I’m reading: April 2019

I follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I read

This month I got kinda book-crazy and attempted to read 40 books in the 40 days of Lent. I'm at 32 books right now, and I have about a week left, so it's possible I'll get there. For more on what I'm reading (in real-time!), follow my Stories on Instagram.

Non-fiction:

Novels:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

251: What I’m Reading: March 2019

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I'm reading:

Links:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

247: What I’m Reading: February 2019

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast247

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I'm reading:

Links:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

243: What I’m reading: Winter 2019

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast243

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I'm reading:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

236: What I’m reading: December 2018

I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast236

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.

(The usual disclaimer applies.)

What I read this month:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

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