One-Woman Book Club: August

I only read two books this month, but they were more than enough. 

More than enough to keep me high off reading, to make me fall in love with words and stories all over again, to make me ache for these fictional characters, and to teach me a thing or two about damn good writing. 

Plus, I was so hooked on the stories that I neglected my work for a couple days and spent hours moving from my bed to different cafes to park benches to yogurt shops and back to bed lost in the pages. Safe to say I spent more than enough time procrastinating with a book in hand this month.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did! 

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Stedman’s book tells the story of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, a lighthouse keeper and his wife who live on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia. They’re completely alone on the island until one fateful day when they discover a boat washed up on shore carrying a newborn baby and a dead man. 

The couple decide to keep the baby girl and raise her as their own. The book follows the family as they create a life together and eventually come to terms with the consequences of their choices. 

This book destroyed me in the best way possible. Stedman’s writing is gorgeous, her characters are nuanced and relatable, and the pace of the story is fast enough to keep you engaged but not so fast that the beauty of the language is lost on you. 

The last time I read a story that touched me this profoundly was…um, two months ago with The Poisonwood Bible. That book left me feeling so overcome with emotion that all I could do was gaze out my window in a state of numbness, trying to process everything I just experienced. 

The Light Between Oceans had an equally powerful, but opposite effect—I stayed up all night finishing it and sobbed my way through the final thirty pages. It was the kind of good, rough cry that turns your face red and leaves you emotionally drained. 

I cannot emphasize enough what a triumph of language and human emotion this book is — everything about it is perfection. 

Stedman creates such complex, strong-willed, loving, devoted, and sympathetic characters, all of whom are likable in their own ways. There’s plenty of confrontation throughout the story, but I found myself understanding and empathizing with every character’s unique perspective.

I love a story that presents a moral dilemma, and instead of picking a side, uses its characters' personal experiences and progressions of growth to soften and blur the line between what we’re conditioned to believe is right and wrong. 

It’s a masterful piece of fiction — a profound story of love, loss, and sacrifice that anyone and everyone can get behind. 

(And if you need any more reason to read it, the film adaptation starring Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender came out last weekend! But please, I implore you, read the book first. It's way more complex and lyrical than the movie.)

Here's a selfie of me with a dreamy expression because I'm so in love with these books. 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

I chose this book because I liked the bold cover and I read a review online that said, “The book is filled with romance, but in no way does it fall inside the typical romance genre.”

That statement intrigued me. 

I knew nothing more about the story or author and I’m so glad. I went into it blind, barely having read the back cover, and I was floored by what happened. That’s what I recommend you do too if you plan to read it — and you really should.

Here’s what I can say about the plot without giving anything away: the book centers on a 23-year-old named Lily who lives in Boston and starts her own business. As she tries to close the book on her first love, a new guy comes into the picture and things get complicated. 

You don't need to know any more about the plot, but what you do need to know about the book is that it’s fantastic with a capital F. 

I was gripped from the first paragraph and plowed through its 400 pages in less than a day. I got so lost in the story and the characters’ world that I had to force myself to take bathroom breaks and eat food and do normal things between chapters.

Hoover’s language itself didn’t wow me — the book is written from the first-person perspective and Lily isn't exactly a poet, but she does have a knack for describing things in a real, vulnerable, relatable way that makes you feel like you’re reading your very insightful best friend’s diary.   

But the story! Oh, the story. It’s sexy and destructive and tender and unexpected and brilliant. 

And the characters are so real they radiate off the page. I finished the book feeling like a more compassionate person after having gained new perspectives on a few situations in life that are all too easy to judge from the outside. 

You’ve got sexy-as-hell sex scenes, intense, soul-crushing love, heartbreak, friendship, stereotypes and stigmas being broken, plus tons of character growth, which is what I think takes a book to the next level. 

Please, please read this book and write to me about your thoughts so I can have someone to discuss it with. Ready, set, go!

 

Have any of you read these books? As always, would love your comments and any recommendations you have for me. 

P.S. Last month's book reviews in case you need some new novels to sink your teeth into this fall.