What To Read in 2021

This month is a double feature!

I read a book and listened to a book.

A twenty-hour road trip provided plenty of listening time. I’m repeating the trip next month, so if you have suggestions on what to listen to next, drop me a note at carole@carolewolfe.com!

As a reminder, my reading plan for 2021 is to sample a book from each Women’s Fiction sub-genre and see if they match the overall expectations for Women’s Fiction. You can read more about the plan here. 

July’s Pick

The book I read was Good Luck with That by Kristin Higgins. It falls in the Women’s Humorous Fiction category. The book deals with obesity, body image and the meaning of a friend’s death, which seemed like strange content for something under the humorous subgenre, but more on that later.

Here is the book description from the author’s website.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

My Take:

What struck me immediately about the story is the connection between the friends. The relationship evolved from childhood friends who bonded at summer camp to adult friends whose regular lives kept them from getting together as much as they would have liked. The dialogue and chemistry between the women jumped off the page for me. Each of the women loved the others, regardless of what they did. 

Each of the women struggled with a part of their life that they never fully shared with each other. As I read, it was clear to me what should have happened, but equally as clear why it didn’t. Higgins captured the insecurity of human nature and put it on the page for the reader to see, but used humor as a way to keep the book from being too dark. The topic easily could have made for a completely different book, but the characters’ optimism kept the book light and cheery, as did Higgins entertaining quips. 

For this reason, I’ll be reading more of Higgins work. Check out her website for more information. 

July pick #2:

The book I listened to was People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. It falls under the Women’s Psychological Fiction and Women’s Romance Fiction. I completely agree with the Romance subcategory, but the Psychological category confuses me. I’ll explain later. I don’t usually listen to fiction books so this was an experiment. While the road trip gave me the opportunity to listen, I’ve been meaning to give audiobooks a try for a while. 

Here is the book description from the author’s website.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

My Take:

The romance part of this book is great. It gives you the HEA you are looking for but there are lots of twists and turns that get in the way. Maybe that’s why it is listed under Psychological. This category usually points to broken women who are out to get their ex-boyfriends. In a way, People We Meet on Vacation is like that but it has a much lighter tone and I’m not looking over my shoulder for someone with a machete. 

The story jumps back and forth between the present and the past. Sometimes this can be confusing, but it worked well here. The premise of multiple vacations kept the timeline understandable as well as introduced me to some locations I might consider traveling to in the future (if the pandemic will cooperate).

I should point out that I listened to this on 1.8 speed. The normal speed was far too slow and I think I would have lost interest in the book. This rate was understandable and made some of Poppy’s inner monologues go by faster. 

For more from Emily Henry, you can check out her website.

No promises on two books next month, but if you do have recommendations, email me at carole@carolewolfe.com. 

Until next time…

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash