June 2023 Book Marks
I’m one month away from our first family wedding and boy, that year went fast. Now comes the trick to sit back and enjoy it, to try to soak up every moment. I just got flowers in the ground and hopefully they’ll bloom in time to put in the vases on the tables. If you’ve been following me on Instagram @leewoodruff you’ve seen my madcap journey to try to grow some of the table arrangements from seed.
Gardening, or anything you do with your hands feeds creativity and keeps you moving. And reading, well, it’s the best medicine for your brain.
It’s beach bag season and here are some great selections for readers of all genres.
You Were Always Mine by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
The brilliant writing duo from “We are not Like Them” is back with an engrossing book club read. Cinnamon has a good job, a decent husband and a cozy home, much more than she ever dreamed of as a foster child. She befriends Daisy, a 19-year-old broke white girl who is desperate and alone. When Cinnamon finds a blonde, blue-eyed baby abandoned in the park with a note from Daisy, she realizes that Daisy has been hiding her pregnancy. She takes the baby home until she can track the mother down, and that’s when the problems begin. The assumptions made when a black woman holds a white baby form the heart of this novel, which takes a fresh, clever twist on the ways society views race, motherhood and class. As Cinnamon falls in love with baby “Bluebell,” she gains greater clarity around both her marriage and the future. And when Daisy finally appears, both women examine their past traumas with a surprising and satisfying ending.
Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan
Sam has it all… a good job in Manhattan (which might be in jeopardy) a perfect fiancé named Jack (maybe too perfect?) and a childhood summer beach house on Long Island where she hopes to convince Jack they should be married. On Jack’s first visit to the beach, all of her carefully plotted plans begin to unravel when she discovers Wyatt, her first love, living at his house next door. Not only that, he’s up in their old tree house soulfully strumming his guitar like he did at age 16. During her vacation, Sam begins to question everything about her life as she recalls what it felt like to connect from the heart. What happens next will resonate with anyone who had a summer love heart break and believes in true love.
Sally Brady’s Italian Adventure by Christina Lynch
This fun romp goes back in time to the glory days of old Hollywood. A dust bowl kid escapes the cop’s “meat hooks” when her parents send her West by train to work in the fruit orchards and send money back home. Thus begins the adventure of Sally Brady, abandoned as a child in 1931 Los Angeles, she convinces a movie star to adopt her and then promptly goes to Europe to take in all that La Dolce Vita, with its Villas and castles, has to offer. Sally grows up to be a gossip columnist who satirizes the rich and famous of Europe and is in demand as a house guest and party companion. But with World War II on Italy’s doorstep, Sally is stranded in Europe with a fake passport, a poison pen and a biting wit. These skills will come in handy as Sally tries to help save her friends and navigate the way home amidst fascist red tape and so much more.
Everything All at Once by Steph Catudal
In this intimate and pithy memoir, Steph falls in love with Rivs for all the right reasons. He’s larger than life; handsome, an ultimate sportsman and marathoner, and he offers her an uncomplicated life after a rebellious upbringing with alcohol and drug abuse, stemming from loss and anger around her father’s death. When Riv’s begins experiencing mysterious symptoms and fatigue, he’s ultimately diagnosed with the same rare cancer that took her father. Steph can barely comprehend it when the doctors place her husband in a medically induced coma for 84 days to help him fight the disease. Toggling between the emotions and fears around dealing with long-suppressed grief for her father and the terrifying potential of losing her husband, this memoir beautifully explores the depths of suffering amidst vigilant love and shards of hope.
Almost Brown by Charlotte Gill
Born to an Indian father and a white British mother, Charlotte Gill’s compelling memoir is a personal account of growing up in a dysfunctional, multi-cultural household in a world where neither race is ready to embrace or accept her. Gil’s parents met during 1960’s London at a time where their union is seen as a revolutionary act. The result is a total melt down of family relations as her family leaves the UK for Canada and then onto America in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, which will be the undoing of all of them. When her parents split up due to incompatibility, she takes a deep dive into her own unconscious bias. Why is she embarrassed to walk down the street with her brown Dad and not her white Mom? This award-winning author has written a book that attempts to answer questions just as present and persistent today as they were 50 years ago.
King: A Life by Jonathan Eig
From the award-winning biographer of Muhammad Ali, this is the first major biography of Martin Luther King in more than a generation. It’s an exhaustive, comprehensive look at the life and legacy of one of the most important figures in our time. Expertly researched and drawn from hundreds of interviews, Eig poured through thousands of recently released FBI documents, audio tapes from Coretta Scott King and an unpublished memoir by King’s father. Anyone who loves a good memoir should put this on their list.
The Powercode – More Joy Less Ego by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman
Since the beginning of time, the concept of power has always had one shape and one definition. The narrative for women was simply that they needed to do and BE more… more aggressive, more ambitious, and more like a man to succeed. Journalists Shipman and Kay use research and engaging case studies to dig into why, despite the evidence that organizations run better with women at the helm, they still don’t have near an equal share of power. With the realization that men and women view power differently, comes the fact that they choose to exercise it in different ways. The authors look at ways in which the solution isn’t so much about remaking women, but how we can approach redefining power in every facet of life.
Beyond Happiness – The Six Secrets of Lifetime Satisfaction by Jennifer Guttman
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are written into our Declaration of Independence, providing all Americans with the sense that we have a “right” to be happy. And yet this psychologist argues that happiness is not sustainable because it’s an emotion; the feeling you get when you see a sunset, hug someone you love, or so much more. What we actually need to be striving for is satisfaction, which leads to a more empowered life. Guttman lays out a roadmap of six “secrets,” from avoiding assumptions, reducing people pleasing behaviors, facing fears and more. This book is for anyone who is ready to achieve satisfaction and contentment on a daily basis, which will make us all happier.
*These are books I genuinely love and am thrilled to recommend to my friends. These are Bookshop.org affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I get a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Alternately, if you prefer to rent books at your local library or buy from your local bookstore, I very much support that!