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Favourite “Read With Jenna” Picks

I love book clubs. Celebrity book clubs, Book of the Month book picks, the new Aardvark Book Club … I truly get ridiculously excited for the book announcements each month. I try to keep somewhat up to date with many clubs including: Read with Jenna, Reese’s Book Club, Parnassus First Editions (Ann Patchett’s bookstore), and Good Morning America! (I know, it’s a lot!) 

Some months have winners, some months are duds and I know it can be overwhelming when looking at the back catalogues of these clubs! So I thought I’d do an article for each club listing my top, five star picks. 

I’ll start with Read With Jenna, which is run by Jenna Bush Hager on the Today Show. (For reference I’ve read 20/42, 7 more are on my TBR)… 

Nothing to See Here

Written by Kevin Wilson

Published by Ecco Press

Highly recommend listening to this as an audiobook! There is something so wonderfully endearing and heartwarming about this oddball story. Lillian hasn’t spoken to her high school friend since Madison got her expelled from their prestigious boarding school, taking the fall for an indiscretion Lillian didn’t commit. So when Madison reaches out to Lillian years later requesting her to come be a nanny to her two stepchildren who light aflame when their emotions get too strong … it’s all very odd and overwhelming. Lillian’s job is to keep the kids quiet and contained as their father runs for political office, but what she doesn’t expect is to form a great attachment to and camaraderie with these unusual children. As weird as it sounds, this story is full of relatable heart, heartache, and Kevin Wilson’s unbeatable humour & wit.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Dutch HouseThe Dutch House

Written by Ann Patchett

Published by HarperCollins

Undeniably one of my favourite authors, I can’t explain why I love The Dutch House as much as I do. Part historical fiction, part revenge story, with a dysfunctional family at it’s core (an Ann Patchett hallmark) and a wee bit of mystery … I found this to be a slow-moving, but very absorbing read. When Danny and Maeve’s father dies suddenly and their jealous stepmother kicks them out of the grande, unique mansion they’ve lived in most of their lives, they are left practically penniless and homeless. The only saving grace is the education fund that will cover any amount of education Danny and Maeve want. We follow Danny and Maeve over the next decades of their lives – through their close years and their fallings out – as they try, but never quite master, to escape the shadow of their childhood betrayal.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Writers & Lovers book coverWriters & Lovers

Written by Lily King

Published by Grove Press

Sometimes a novel about a novelist writing a novel can be too … meta? But I was entirely absorbed by Lily King’s writing here – so scalpel sharp and precise. While some will find this slow moving to be sure, that isn’t a detractor for me. Coming of age, grief, ambition, when to give in, when to keep trudging, are themes explored here as our main character struggles through her thirties clinging to the hope of being a published writer.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Lincoln Highway

Written by Amor Towles

Published by Viking

Rising quickly to my favourite author status, I had avoided reading anything by Amor because I thought it would be too literary and unapproachable. But, in fact, it is anything but. While not a short read, this is an absorbing read, that follows an amazing cast of characters in the late 1950s on a road trip across America. What starts as a simple mission for Emmett and his brother Billy to go to California, becomes a game of cat and mouse when two friends from Emmett’s past show up and throw a wrench in his plans. Kind of Catch Me If You Can … but better.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Measure

Written by Nikki Erlick

Published by William Morrow & Company

One innocent morning changes the world when everyone over the age of twenty-one receives a box on their doorstep. Inside, a piece of string, the length of which determines the length of your life. This throws the world into obvious chaos, not just the understandable confusion and initial panic, but Nikki’s conversations on the political ramifications and prejudices that would ensue is what I found to be particularly powerful and interesting. While it sounds like a heavy read, I actually found The Measure to be surprisingly escapist and easy – especially as an audiobook. I was hooked.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Remarkably Bright Creatures

Written by Shelby Van Pelt

Published by Ecco Press

Another amazing audiobook – maybe even better than the actual read? – following septuagenarian Tova Sullivan, who works part time cleaning nights at the local Sowell Bay Aquarium and forms an usually close bond with Marcellus, a giant pacific octopus. (Who, yes, has his own narrated chapters!). Keeping busy is how she copes both with the recent loss of her husband and the disappearance of her 18-year-old son thirty years ago. But curmudgeon Marcellus might be the key detective to solving her past mystery and helping her move on …

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

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