Skip to content

Five Cookbooks You Will (Actually) Cook From

2018 September 18
by WWGD

If this quick glance at (half) of my cookbook collection isn’t clear enough…I love cookbooks. I read them like novels. I pull them out over and over for inspiration and ideas and in times of boredom. I like new ones, old ones. Complicated ones and basic ones. I order new ones all the time. Even as the shelves get tighter and tighter. But I will admit, there are only a handful that I actually cook from. Regularly. Today, I thought I would share the top five in my collection that I use…over and over. The ones with dog ears in the corners, oil splatters on various pages, notes in the margins. The ones that don’t overcomplicate. They fit perfectly into this current chapter of my life. One where good food, delicious meals and easy entertaining are key. And where obscure ingredients and complicated prep techniques are not. I imagine that there is a time and place for every one of them. Some day, I will cook from The Little Paris Kitchen and The Joy of Cooking (though I seem to have a very hard time without pictures…) and So Good. But today, I am cooking from these. All the time. I hope you find a new favorite here as well:

Small Victories. I was first introduced to the work of Julia Turshen when she was the co-author of Gwyneth Paltrow’s first cookbook, My Father’s Daughter (spoiler alert: more on that below). But her solo effort made me an official fan girl. Her recipes in this book are simple, straightforward and filled with comfort-food style favorites that I turn to again and again. The turkey ricotta meatballs are Insta-famous for a reason, the chicken and leeks is delicious and her roasted scallion and chive dip is a crowd pleaser. Every single time.

Dinner: A Love StoryThis is probably where my love of cookbooks (and my buying habits) started. Jenny’s guide to family dinner – throughout the various phases of her life – reads like a novel and a cookbook all in one and every recipe I have tried has been great. We love the pork chops with apples and onions. We crave the corn bacon hash. And Tony’s steak is a must-try. The underlying message about the importance of family dinner – one that my husband and I both take to heart in our own home – is the best part of the book and makes it an amazing gift idea for anyone, young and old, who values the importance of good food, conversation and connection.

My Father’s DaughterYes, there is a Gwyneth Paltrow pick on here. But only one. This is her first book and, in my opinion, the most relatable one of the three. The other two are gorgeous to look at, but this is the one I cook from. The blueberry muffins are like a warm hug from your mom. The chicken milanese is a family favorite. The spaghetti con limone is perfect. It’s a simple book filled with cozy favorites and lighter options that doesn’t feel over goop-y or convoluted.

Genius RecipesFood52 is easily one of my favorite foodie destinations on the web and I am happy to share that their non-virtual efforts are just as consistent. This book is filled with 100 “genius” recipes from various chefs, foodies and personalities that are said to change how you cook some of your favorite meals. Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce with butter & onions, Jim Lahey’s prized no-knead bread, Michael Ruhlman’s rosemary-brined fried chicken. These are the (very best) recipes you want to keep with you forever. All in one pretty place. Genius.

FoolproofFinally, no cookbook collection is complete without an Ina Garten (or in my case…six of them) favorite in there. And while I consistently find them all a pleasure to cook from, Foolproof is easily the one I pluck from the shelf the most. These are “recipes you can trust” from the queen of home cooking and aside from the odd overly generous shake of salt, they are just that. Delicious, easy (for the most part) and great for dinners big and small. Some of our favorites include the penne alla vecchia bettola, the crispy mustard-roasted chicken and the easy tzatziki. Always amazing. As Ina does.

Have any favorites to add to the list? Would love to hear what you’re cooking from these days…so I can add to my Amazon cart! 

The Most Important Email I Wrote This Year

2018 September 13
by WWGD

It took me 20 years to write it. And only one minute to hit send.

Close to 20 years ago, I wronged a good friend. He was always a good friend. I really liked him, I respected him, he was a great companion. He was a good guy.

And then he started dating my best friend.

Looking back now, my loyalty to her was misguided at times. And this was one of them. When things turned sour in their relationship, I only listened to one side of the story and shut him (and his side) down blindingly. I turned my back on him, I called him out, and I refused to listen when he tried to explain his version of their events.

We were young. Drama was at its peak. And I got caught up on the wrong side of it.

Their relationship ended soon after. Years later, my friendship with her would fade away for its own reasons. He and I never spoke again. And I mean never. Not on Facebook, not at the hometown bar on a night before Christmas when everyone piles in from their respective new lives and reminisces on days gone by. Never spoke again.

But even after many years, he was always in the back of my mind. Not just for the friendship I had missed out on, but for the guilt behind my own actions. I knew I had been rash and immature in the way I had treated him and it always gnawed at me, even as years and miles passed us by.

He probably hadn’t given it much thought. We were young, after all. Volatile, dramatic, jumping from one relationship to the next. But I had given it a lot of thought and I knew it was time for an apology.

So I sent it.

I ate crow (is that the expression??) and asked his sister (who I did have as a Facebook connection) for his email address and I sent a heartfelt apology his way. I apologized for being a jerk. For undervaluing all the years he had been nothing but a great friend to me. For being so mistakenly loyal to one friend that it cost me another one. And for letting 20 years go by before I acknowledged it to him.

His reply came within the hour. I know he wasn’t waiting for a note from me, in fact he expressed his utter shock at having received it. But he welcomed it. He virtually chuckled a little at the idea that I had held it close to my heart all these years. He, of course, had not. Those years were a memory to him now, happily married, three kids at home, a beautiful life built around him. But he welcomed my words. He accepted my apology. He agreed that we had a great little friendship back then and that he didn’t fault me for making a stupid choice that ended it. He wished me well and I did the same in return and told him I hoped to see him some day. In the hometown bar. On the night before Christmas.

I am admittedly not much of a forgiver. It is a big character flaw that I try to acknowledge and work on, but the reality is that when you do me wrong, it is very hard for me to forget it. I hold grudges. I rarely forgive if I feel hurt. I hold onto those emotions and build a wall of them around me. But this lesson taught me that being an apologizer is also half of that equation. Owning up to your mistakes. Putting those thoughts into actual words and acknowledging someone else’s feelings and your role in impacting them. It made me realize that while I haven’t forgiven every person who hurt me in my life, few (if any) of them have ever apologized. Have never felt the need to right their wrong, or to understand my perspective or to realize that sometimes, eating a little crow is worth it to save a friendship or a relationship or a partnership.

So the lesson is this: apologize more. It will lead to more forgiveness.

Hit send on that email that is drafted in your head or your heart. Even if it’s been there for 20 years.

Don’t undervalue good friends. New and old.

And if you do, buy them a drink at Christmas.

It will be one of the most important things you do all year.

tags:

Five Good Reads

2018 September 7
by WWGD

The weekend is (almost) here on the west coast and if you’re anything like me, you will be ushering it in with a little peace, a little quiet, and a lot of reading.

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week – bookmark them for the days ahead. And buy a real book this weekend. Preferably from an independent bookstore, if possible. You have a library to build, friends. This picture is telling you so.

How to do less! Of everything from beauty to time management to work to socializing. I loved this piece on Atelier Doré because it offered different perspectives on balance from women in different ages and stages of life. The universal truth? We can all cut back on something to make room for a little more nothing.

Using intuition to find self-acceptance, from our friends at goop. I really appreciated this deep-dive into our intuition and how it plays a role in defining our personality and sense of self. The tips on connecting to our intuition – while definitely a little goop-y – also felt straight-forward and simple to incorporate at the same time.

Embracing my passion helped me fall in love with my day job. In an era where we are inundated with messages about finding our passion and how work shouldn’t feel like work, this was a refreshing piece that examined how it’s not always our 9-to-5 that’s to blame for our work weariness. The reality is, a lot of us need to pay our mortgage and sometimes our passions don’t do it for us. The writer inspires you to seek your passion, energy and interests outside of your day job to come at it with a fresh point of view. A novel idea. Pun intended.

Why children aren’t behaving and what you can do about it. My husband and I just had a chat this week as our kids took on the second week of 6th and 2nd grades about how the parenting stakes are higher than they have ever been and how we spent so much time educating ourselves during the baby and toddler years and have basically stopped now…when it actually counts. This was a timely read that a friend just shared on Facebook (thanks, Erica!) to remind me that I am not finished with my parenting homework. I still have many years ahead of me to get it right and advice like this will certainly help me along the way.

Finally, the best book I have read lately: The Immortalists. This was just a really solid, fictional family saga. The story tells the tale of four siblings who learn their fate from a psychic at a young age…and inevitably allow it to dictate their lives through to the end. Four unique tales of love, sadness and growth all told through the lens of one overarching family dynamic. An entertaining but thoughtful read. Perfect for a weekend with nothing to do.

Hope yours is lovely. x

*image above via Apartment Therapy 

Turning 40. And 41.

2018 September 5
by WWGD

As you know, I turned 40 a few months ago and I went into the celebration with bright eyes, a very open mind and an earful of reassurance from friends, family and even virtual strangers that it would be “fabulous.”

You’re going to feel better than ever, they told me.

You will be confident and strong.

You will be self-aware and evolved.

You will be living your very best everything.

Maybe they meant 41.

I always try to approach this space with positivity. There is enough of the opposite on the internet already. But I am choosing to come at it from a place of honesty today instead. And honestly, I am feeling kind of negative.

Since I turned 40, I have had issues sleeping, eating, stressing, and worrying. I have pulled my back, had my skin freak out, gained weight despite exercising more than ever and suffered from the most intense mood swings I have ever experienced. I have had less patience, more lethargy, and a lack of motivation that is simply not in my DNA.

It has been, quite frankly, kind of shitty.

And I know I am not alone. We want to be 40 and on top of the world but for a lot of women, this transition is a tough one. Physically, mentally and emotionally. And we are almost afraid to say it because society – and every birthday card out there – tells us it should be a phase of strength and empowerment and self-confidence. Better than ever. Our priorities perfectly aligned. All of our relationships at their peak. Our bodies blissfully adored for what they are and not what they look like.

41.

Must be 41.

And I am trying to be ok with that. I am trying to acknowledge that a lot of this change – most of it not that great – is natural. That it’s normal. That it’s not an indicator of the next decade (or two) of my life. That I may just need to work a little harder to find my way to fabulous. Be a little more patient with myself. With the world around me. With my own body and mind. I am trying – really hard – to make healthy choices not just with my body, but with my time and my brain. To approach the whole thing – 40 – with the same attitude I try to bring to this little space. To stay positive. And hopefully some days it will work.

So if you happen to be in the same or a similar phase, I am here to encourage you to do the same and to reassure you and to hear you out. To recognize that the birthday card – and all those family and friends – may have been wrong. And that that’s ok.

It’s not your fault if it doesn’t feel the way it feels for others.

The way you had hoped.

The way they said it would.

They really meant 41.

tags:

A Perfectly Imperfect Peach Galette

2018 August 7
by WWGD

There is this peach galette that I keep on making.

I made one yesterday and I still have peaches so I think I will make another one today.

It’s shockingly simple. I forego the process of pulling together a homemade crust and buy a sheet of puff pastry instead. I cut up some peaches, cutting around the pit in quartered sections and then slicing each chunk into thin (but not too thin) slices. You can toss them in flour but you don’t need to. I don’t.

I roll out my puff pastry and don’t give a second thought to its shape. I was trying to make a square piece round the first time I did it but then realized that the rough edges and asymmetrical shape are what make it a galette and not a pie.

This is the step that takes me the most time. I create a pattern with my peach slices. Starting from the inside, I work my way out in a circle of peach slices that looks like a star in some ways and a trippy kaleidoscope in others. Sometimes it looks prettier than other times. But every time, it calms me. I slowly make my pattern, taking my time and trying something new with each galette. I lay out my slices, one by one. My fingers get a little sticky and I marvel at the beauty of a few slices of fresh peach in the natural light coming in through the window. At the summer heat in the air. At the music playing on the speaker nearby and the kids playing outside and the dog lapping up her water from the bowl down the hall.

That part takes the most time. With good reason.

I sprinkle on a little brown sugar. Peaches are so sweet on their own these days that you almost don’t need it, but I like the way it caramelizes and adds a little depth to the color and taste of the fruit.

Just a little. Not too much.

I fold up my corners. I think twice about how imperfect they are and leave them that way, nonetheless. One is bigger than the other. One stuck to the board so it’s pulled together in a stringy, sticky mess. But it doesn’t matter. Puff pastry is very forgiving once it’s baked into a golden, flaky crown.

I brush the outer edges with a little milk (easier than wasting an egg for an egg wash – thank Gwyneth Paltrow for teaching me that one).

I heat the oven. Wonder why I have the oven on in 80 degree heat.

Realize it’s August.

And the peaches are perfect.

Even if the galette isn’t.

And that’s why.

Planning (and not) for Europe

2018 August 3
by WWGD

When I booked our upcoming trip to Europe several months ago, it felt like it was a million years away. Now that a million years has passed and it’s only one week away, I am trying my best to take an organized, but not overly organized, approach to the whole thing.

We aren’t locking in too many activities or things to do ahead of time (with the exception of Harry Potter studios outside of London, because it’s basically the highlight of my daughter’s life and I wasn’t leaving it to chance). We are hoping to leave a lot of time for exploring and wandering and while we are planning to check off must-sees and major sights, we also want to give ourselves some time to just go with whatever feels right each day.

Packing-wise, I am trying to stick to carry-on only. For four people. For 17 days. I know, it seems ambitious but I am hopeful we can do it. We are traveling to three different countries, four different destinations, and I want the ease of carrying on everywhere we go. So each of us will have one carry-on roller bag and one backpack for our personal and entertainment things. To (hopefully) help with that, I bought packing cubes that compress and bags that expand. I am also limiting the kids to one stuffed animal each (a hot topic in this house) and limiting myself to two – ok, maybe three – pairs of shoes. I am going to stick to a very basic color palette so my pieces can mix and match and yes, you will probably see photos of me in the same dress multiple times. I am ok with that, to keep things simple.

The other thing I am preoccupied with is the flight. It’s a long overnight one and I am really trying to make it comfortable for my kids. They will each have a small travel pillow and blanket. They’ll be dressed in light layers. And we got two window seats one behind the other so they will each have somewhere to lean while they try to rest. I am not going to do any sleep-inducing pills or Benadryl or anything (we tried that with my son when he was two and it totally backfired and he was wired the whole time). My husband is far less concerned about it than I am so I am trying to follow his lead and just embrace what might be overtired chaos for a day. Or two.

Tech-wise, we can’t go too light because my husband and I both need to bring a laptop for work access. It’s just the reality of our careers and one we can embrace since we have the flexibility to get up and go to Europe for two and a half weeks in the first place. I will be leaving behind my beloved “real” books and downloading this and this to my Kindle app instead. I have a white noise app on my phone that always comes in handy with my kids since they sleep with white noise at home and will bring my iPod Nano (yes, I keep my music separate from my phone altogether — is that weird?) for music.

Any other tips, tricks or favorite things you want to share from your own travels? Would love to hear them in the comments below.

Have a great Friday. One week from now, I’ll be saying that from London. x

*image via Dust Jacket Attic via The Everygirl 

Day 12

2018 July 30
by WWGD

At the beginning of 2018, I made myself a promise that I would write every day.

Some bits would be published here and there.

Some would just be for me.

Some would be mindless ramblings…as long as it was writing, it would count.

I made it 11 days.

I don’t like to think of myself as a quitter. I have given a lot of thought to my writing this year. I have spent a lot of time reading other great writers this year. I have started a lot of great passages in my head and never put them down on paper this year.

I didn’t quite quit…I just didn’t see my commitment through the way I had hoped. But I like to think of myself as a procrastinator over a quitter any day. I won’t quit. I am just struggling with adopting the habit. Or any habit, when it comes down to it. I like to start and then…pause.

The good news? It’s only July (well, basically August). I can use today as day one all over again. Or I can call it day 12. It’s mine to define, however I choose to.

So for today, here is a little writing. It’s not profound, I assure you. It’s just a quick check in. A hello. A promise (for both of us) to be back sooner than later…

Here is day 12.

We are going to Europe next week and taking the kids for the first time. We will be doing London, Paris and my home country of Romania over 17 days. It is the first time I will be in Romania since we defected when I was three. The first time I will be seeing my cousin and other family in almost 40 years. The first time I will be there with my parents. And possibly the last. To say I am going into it with a lot on my mind is an understatement. It’s also extremely difficult to truly log off when you run your own business, which has me a little overwhelmed, but I am very focused on trying to soak up the experience and remember that in 20 years, it will be this trip that matters and not what was left unattended in my inbox for a day or two.

I will be sharing bits and pieces from our trip on my new Instagram – Never Leaving – which is a curated guide to hotels and travel favorites for modern-day families like mine, who appreciate design, service and a little luxury…but want it in an environment that keeps our kids happy, too. I know these spots exist so I am excited to share them with you there. If you have any suggestions of favorite spots that meet that criteria, send me a note there. I’ve shared our London hotel pick already and hopefully it’s as lovely as it seems.

We have had the kids (mostly) home this summer with the odd camp here and there. The goal was to let them have more unstructured down time this summer and to give our summer camp budget a little break in preparation for our Europe trip at the same time. The takeaway? It has been amazing and awful at the same time. We both work from home so it’s definitely a juggle trying to keep them out of our way while we work. Even at 11 and 7, kids still need a little guidance when it comes to empty time and space. But when it all comes together in a delicate balancing act, it’s great. I love to have them around, I love to watch them explore new hobbies and pursue favorite ones in more depth, I love to go on impromptu ice cream trips and outings when I am in between busy days at work. It is harder than I ever imagined to schedule meet ups with friends during the summer due to travel and camp schedules, etc. but they’re also learning how to find new friends in the neighborhood and spend alone time together as siblings and yes, even walk the dog for fun. I don’t think it was the easiest approach to summer break for two working parents, but it’s one I will probably stick to. The good outweighed the bad and I know these precious summers with my sweaty, little non-stop baseball machine and my lanky, late sleeping tween won’t be around forever.

So I am going to soak them up.

It’s a promise I am making myself.

And hopefully, I will see it through.

Have a great Monday. x

tags:

Trying On…Drunk Elephant (Part 2)

2018 July 8
by WWGD

There is a lot to love when it comes to Drunk Elephant, but as with anything in life, nobody’s perfect. Some things from the line didn’t WOW me like others and some just fell flat altogether for me. Here is a closer look at those products:

T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial. This may just be the most popular product in the DE line up but I will admit, it took me a little time to fall for it. My skin is very used to acids (you can read about my favorite here) so it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to chemical exfoliation and at first, this just didn’t do it. But when I bumped up my Babyfacial practice to twice per week, I started to see what everyone was raving about. You apply Babyfacial like a thin mask, let it sit for 20 minutes and rinse (warning: I got a little on my lip once and it left this weird taste in my mouth so use diligently around eyes and mouth). It leaves your skin feeling exfoliated and helps with texture, uneven tone and pores. If you’re a newbie to acids or you have sensitive skin, start with once per week. If you are looking for more and not getting it, try it twice. I think you will like the results.

Shaba Complex Eye Serum. Ok, I have a disclaimer for this one. Right before I started using it, I was using an EXORBITANTLY expensive eye serum from Tata Harper that was gifted to me from a friend. I didn’t know the price of that serum until I finished the bottle and decided I liked it enough to re-purchase. Big thanks to that friend. Or not, because I can’t afford to buy it ever again. So it felt like the perfect time to try a DE option and I decided on this one over the popular (and newer) C-Tango just to switch it up. And I like it. Is it holding up the same results as the Tata Harper one? Nope. I am seeing my lines a little more for sure. But it does leave my undereye area feeling hydrated and for the $200+ in price difference, the results are probably right where they should be. I will try the C-Tango next to compare.

T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. This is the nighttime companion to the C Firma for day and I like it, but don’t love it. Again, if you are sensitive to acids and their effects, this could be perfect for you but I prefer P50 for active results. I tend to alternate between the two so use this every other night with a drop of the Marula Oil. It feels nice on the skin and I am sure it is working but in a more subtle way. And for the price, subtle isn’t necessarily what I am looking for. Would be a great starter acid.

Virgin Marula Oil. Which brings me to the Marula Oil. This is a key element of the DE program and one that they recommend using with abundance. Use it as a moisturizer, use it as an oil, use it at night, use it in the morning, add a drop to any of their other products to boost effectiveness. Use a lot of Marula Oil. I don’t have a love affair with oils the way that some people do because of my oily t-zone tendencies but this one is nice. It goes on light and sinks in easily but I am not sure that it is changing my life. Maybe I will feel differently once I run out. The Ordinary has a much more affordable version if you want to dabble there first. This is the oil I really want to try next.

B-Hydra. This was the very first product I tried from DE and I haven’t repurchased it yet. When I bought it, I was sold on its ultra hydrating promise but after using an entire bottle, I didn’t see enough of a difference in my parched areas to keep it in my rotation. I’ve read a lot of reviews from people who loved it, but it just wasn’t a game-changer for me. I’ve been told it is an incredible combo with the Protini moisturizer but I am still on the fence about trying it again. I think I would rather shop around a little more.

I hope this was a helpful look at the brand and that it gave you some new insight. Overall, I like it a lot and think it’s an easy, effective system that works for my skin. But not everything is worth the DE premium and it does get complicated if you’re using some products and rotating them with other brands that may contain the Suspicious 6 because you may not see the results they promise. I’ve found that being aware of the 6 and avoiding them in the complementary products I use leaves me with great, healthy-looking skin. But it’s a commitment. Now if only it could reverse time just a little.

Happy Sunday! x

*this post contains affiliate links which means that if you click through to purchase something, I will receive a small commission. It does not impact the price of any product. The post is not sponsored and no products were gifted to me. 

Easy Five Ingredient Pasta Salad

2018 July 5
by WWGD

 

Summer is in full swing which means lots of last-minute pot lucks, lazy family dinners and temperatures that make it too hot to fire up anything more than the grill.

This simple, 5-ingredient pasta salad is from Gimme Some Oven (and her pictures definitely do it justice better than mine — food photography is a true art), but I make it so often that I consider it half mine. True story: I consider this salad such a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that I often make it for entertaining. One time we had friends coming over and I specifically asked in advance if there were any allergies. Nope! So I made a big serving of this and put it out with some rosé, considering it a meal in and of itself. Oops – she forgot to mention her husband’s one tiny allergy…to arugula. Thanks, TK!

Here’s how I make it:

1 box of short pasta of your choice, cooked and cooled with cold water (I tend to use a whole wheat penne)

1 jar of roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (I buy Cento roasted red peppers – they are the best and you can taste the difference between them and the Trader Joe’s ones)

1 jar of pesto (again, use a good one – I like DeLallo for this)

1 container of fresh mini bocconcini

Toss everything thoroughly and let it sit (room temperature or in the fridge) until ready to serve.

Before serving, add in a few handfuls of arugula at the last minute.

Make sure your friend’s husband isn’t allergic first.

If he is, serve rosé for lunch and call it a day.

Enjoy!

The Best Books I’ve Read This Year

2018 July 2
by WWGD

“If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books.” – Roald Dahl

One of the best gifts I have given myself this year is the gift of reading again.

I was tired of mindlessly scrolling my free time away and realized that I had fallen out of love with reading, and in turn writing, because I wasn’t prioritizing it the way I should have been. Not just as a pastime, but as something I need to invest in – financially, mentally and physically. So I started buying books. A lot of books. Real books, not e-books. I started lining shelves with them, keeping a stack on my bedside table, and talking about them with anyone who wanted to listen. I started giving my brain the much-needed gift of time spent reading. It took a lot of work at first – sadly – to actually focus on a book without my phone nearby. To read without interruption. To devote time to nothing but reading. But once I started, it felt like a true release not only for my book-starved mind but for my phone-addicted one as well. And finally, I physically committed myself to reading. Making lists of books I wanted to read, following (yes, following – you didn’t think I ditched the phone altogether, did you?) book-related Instagram accounts for recommendations and reviews (see list below) and now, at last, sharing the ones I have loved the most along the way with you here.

The truth is, I have read a lot of books in the past year or so. And I wish I could say they were all good. A lot of them were just okay. A lot of them were ho-hum. But it was ok because I was reading again and that was satisfying enough…even when the book wasn’t. And then there were these. The ones I couldn’t stop thinking about. The ones I told all my friends about. The ones that made me fall in love with reading again. Hopefully one of them will do the same for you.

First is A Little Life. This isn’t a new discovery. It graced most of the “best books” lists in the year it was published, 2016, and with good reason. It is an exquisite novel about four men whose lives intersect in ways big and small, set amid a backdrop of drama, intimacy and love. It is NOT a light read. In fact, I had to put the book down several times just to absorb what I was reading and to digest it before moving on. It can be triggering for some, with haunting stories of trauma and abuse. But it is so beautifully written that I also found myself reciting passages aloud to my husband, just to marvel at the writing. The story unravels in a way that makes you want to keep reading late into the night and early again the next morning. And when you finish it, I promise that the main character will stay with you forever. Truly an incredible book.

Second is a much-lighter self-help super star. I have added a lot of self-help style tomes to my list this year and while many of them have had great nuggets of wisdom here and there, the tone of Girl, Wash Your Face made it stand out in a very crowded market. I am lucky enough to know the author, Rachel Hollis, from years ago and can vouch for her authenticity, drive and incredible charisma firsthand. And it all comes together in this book. It’s a frank but friendly, kick yourself in the pants, amazing motivating read for any woman in any situation. Whether your goals and dreams are big or small. Whether you’re a CEO or a stay-at-home mom. Whether you’re religious or not (I found so many of the popular books in this genre to be too faith-focused for me, personally; this one isn’t). This is an easy read that you will come back to time and again whenever you need a little push in the Rachel direction.

Finally, Hourglass. I have become an avid Dani Shapiro fan (loved her book on writing and the creative process, thoroughly enjoyed this fictional work, have another on my stack to-read) but Hourglass stood out among them all. It is a beautifully simple look at her marriage and marriage in general through the lens of time and heartache and raw emotion. It is an easy read, written with thought and candor, but not overly complicated. And it left me breathless several times because she just nailed it. A book I know I will pick up again and again through the years.

Hope you find something here to explore – and that you make the time to explore it…soon.

*image above via Polly Florence on Instagram. One of the above-mentioned book-focused feeds I love to follow. Others include Better With Books, Laura Tremaine (not book exclusive but when she recommends one, I read it), Out of the Bex and Belletrist.

**post does not contain affiliate links