What Are You Reading?

I vividly remember my first time entering the library when I started elementary school at five years old. All of those books held the possibility of taking me away to some magical place. I couldn’t wait to learn to read every single one of them!

I became an avid reader and spent school breaks reading every book I could get my hands on. When other kids were begging to go to the pool, I wanted to go to the library. In every town I have lived in, a library card was one of the first things I acquired. It isn’t unusual for me to be reading five books at once. These images include some of the books I have finished this month and some that I often reach. They always offer comfort and peaceful moments to let my imagination soar.

My interests include interior decorating, intrigue, travel, architecture, nutrition, personal style, and many other subjects. The most important books I’ve read include those that teach me how and why to eat a healthy diet. Taking care of my body allows me to enjoy all of my other passions in life. Daily long brisk walks, hiking, and exploring new places also bring me joy, but being well, makes all that more pleasurable.

Reading is indeed one of my life’s great pleasures. Without fail, after I complete my nightly cleansing routine, I settle in for the evening with a book.

Safe products never tested on animals fit well with my goals to live well. I am a manager for Beautycounter and will receive a small commission from any purchase you make from this link. If you have any questions or would like to start your own business, I will be more than happy to help you.

Share what you are reading in the comments below. I hope you have a splendid (US) holiday weekend!

  1. Currently listening to Michelle Obama reading her book, “Becoming” on Audible while I knit! Have been a reader all my life, I think it’s a great education during and long after school. My advice to new parents is always to read to your children and foster a love of reading, it opens an incredible world.

  2. Every year, for perhaps 15 years, I re-read Jan Karin’s At Home In Mitford. This book seems to ground me and give me a “fresh start” every Spring.

    The other book on my stack is Caroline Leaf’s Switch On Your Brain: The Key To Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health.

    First book to feed my soul, second to feed my mind.

      1. Cindy, have you read the entire series? They are great. A wonderful series from beginning to end.

  3. By William Manchester, “A World Lit Only By Fire” about the Middle Ages in Europe. So far it seems like too quick a summary for my taste, and I’ve already found one outstanding historical error, but the writing style is sprightly, and I’ll stay with it for maybe another 100 pages.

  4. Currently (re)reading Elizabeth Gaskill’s “North & South”, the 4th of 4 different monthly novels for a Smithsonian class on “British Women Novelists”. Also starting Michael Ondaatje’s “Warlight” and still working on Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” as well. Yesterday I received the Beauty Counter Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation (in linen) that you recommended. Seems like a great product and a perfect color match–tried it out last evening! God bless our brave servicemen on this Memorial Day and let us pray for an end to all wars.

  5. Everything by Jodi Picoult and Kristan Hannah plus a book called “Still Alice,” an excellent novel about a vibrant woman’s slide into Alzheimer’s disease. About to start “the Bookwoman of Troublesome creek.”

  6. Hi Susan, I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing and I highly recommend it! Now I am into Becoming by Michelle Obama. It’s not political! Very interesting. Have a great weekend.

    1. I LOVED Where the Crawdads Sing! It is my favorite novel of the last 5 years. Reese Witherspoon bought the movie rights – it will be interesting to see if a movie is made. I also loved Michelle Obama’s book.

  7. I love History! Marie Antoinette fascinates me. I feel she was much maligned and history has not treated her well. Here are some of my favorites: Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, Caroline Weber;Marie Antoinetee, Stefan Zweig; Versailles: A Biography of a Palace, Tony Spawforth. Paris in the Terror, Stanley Loomis is a fascinating look at the French Revolution, very readable and much more in detail than what is taught in school.

    I love American History. I read anything by DavidMcCullough and Nathanial Philbrick.

    Holding the Stirrup, Baroness Elisabeth von Guttenberg is a great nonfiction read that tells the story of what Germans suffered who did not support Hitler. She was related to the Stauffenbergs and details what happened to his family after the assassination attempt.

    Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls is a real eye opener.

    As for novels, my two all time favorites that I read over and over are Saratoga Trunk by Edna Ferber and The Scarlett Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.

    I could go on and on! My summers as a child were spent reading too!

  8. I’m currently reading, Where The Crawdad Sings. Can’t wait to see what happens in the next chapter.

  9. Love reading books about strong women and have read most of those your readers listed above. Just finished “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War” by NYT best-selling author Lynne Olson. Non-fiction about young female leader of French resistance network in WW2. Brilliant. I’m a voracious reader and every second posting on my blog is a book review. Check out Catherine Gildiner’s trilogy on Amazon. Baby boomer women will love it. Thanks Susan for sharing this with your “reader” readers. I’m at boomerbroadcast.net.

  10. Hi Susan, I was so glad to see your post about reading. My B.A. degree is in English Literature. I enjoy novels with intricate character development, compelling plots, and meaningful prose. Currently reading Little Fires Everywhere, but also enjoy historical fiction as well as several news and health magazine subscriptions (free on our public library site). I do want to put in a plug for public libraries; ours has so much more than books to offer, including free subscriptions to e-magazines, Acorn TV, Creative Bug, and The Great Courses. Free yoga and Tai Chi classes are also available at some of our libraries. We even have a group that meets twice a month to play and learn new card and board games. And no one is more helpful than a librarian! Best bang for our tax dollars (in my opinion).

  11. What is your review of the Chung book? One review on Amazon says it appears she does not have any background in psychology or other related fields. I like hearing about people’s personal experience, but I also like those experiences to be backed by research or professional knowledge.

    1. Linlee,

      Going by the title, a similar book which I recommend is “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. This was published a few years earlier in 2013 For me it was powerful and healing.


  12. Delay Dont Deny, The Obesity Cod, AC: The Power of Appetite Correction and Unbelievable Freedom. All books about eating in a smaller window/intermittent fasting.

    1. Hi Susan i have been an avid reader all my life. Possibley because we were the last family in the street to get a tv. So our three generational household were big readers. I remember when a mobile library started coming once a week. it saved two bus trips to the local library. Now i live in regional Australia, we still have a local mobile library service coming out here. Like yourself, the first thing i do when moving to a new area, is to join the local library. When i walk into a library anywhere, my stress levels drop. June

  13. I see others are reading WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, as am I. I have always been an eager reader. As a young woman, I used to love spending the evenings reading cookbooks (yes, cookbooks). Sadly, I am finding it more and more difficult to find books to read, or I should say, to finish reading. It seems if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all these days. I have started and put down too many books to count. I finally realized it’s better to put down a book than to force myself to trudge through it. I enjoy Kristin Hannah’s books. I love Historical Fiction. My all time favorite book will always be THE THORNBIRDS.

    Have a great Memorial Day weekend Susan, and all who stop here. ~ Arlene 🙂

  14. Recent Reads

    Becoming-Michelle Obama
    The Only Woman in the Room-Marie Benedict
    I Owe You One-Sophie Kinsella
    A Meal With Jesus-Tim Chester
    The Address, The Masterpiece, The Dollhouse all by Fiona Davis
    Educated-Tara Westover
    The Library of Lost and Found-Phaedra Patrick
    A Hundred Summers-Beatriz Williams
    The Summer Wives-Beatriz Williams
    Women in Sunlight-Frances Mayes

    In my Stack
    The Female Persuasion-Meg Wolitzer
    Truly Madly Guilty-Liane Moriarty
    Blueprint: How Our Childhood Makes Us Who We Are-Lucy Maddox
    The Forgotten Room-Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig
    By Invitation Only-Dorothea Benton Frank
    The Secret Life of Violet Grant-Beatriz Williams
    Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say-Kelly Corrigan
    Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America-Bill Geist
    Unsheltered-Barbara Kingsolver

  15. This West Coaster has some Great Beach/Pool reads … WONDERFUL TONIGHT – Pattie Boyd (Muse and wife to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton)
    GOLD DUST WOMAN – Biography of Stevie Nicks / Stephen Davis
    IN THE PRESIDENT ‘S SECRET SERVICE – Behind the scenes with agents of the Secret Service to the Presidents of the US / Ronald Kessler
    GOING CLEAR – A riveting look into Scientology, Hollywood and the mystery of a world wide faction / Lawerence Wright

  16. I just bought Eat Live Thrive Diet. I have only had time to page through it and I am anxious to sit down and read it seriously. After you recommend Eat to Live some time ago, I bought that too and refer to it as my 2nd bible. I too usually have a few books going. My read for fun book is Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Keep up your most interesting blog. When I see your name on my list of e-mails it’s the first one I read. Thank you!!

  17. My aunt was the local librarian so I became addicted to books as a young child. I got my college degree in English and taught AP Literature and AP Language for many years. I still love the classics and reread To Kill. Mockingbird and the Great Gatsby every year. I recently read The Other Einstein which was an interesting read about Albert Einstein’s first wife. I am currently rereading The Ladies of Missalonghi ( so short you can do it in a day!) and Radio Girls which is a novel about women in the 20’s in England when the BBC was first starting. I have a throw pillow in my living which was a gift from my best friend that is a quote from Cicero: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” I have many antique books and first editions!

  18. I’m a reader as well and would almost always choose a book over television ( which can be a barrier to conversation sometimes. I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, Judge whoever or most current series. I haven’t seen most of the current commercials unless they run during the news – I can discuss current events but prefer to avoid politics! You wrote “The most important books I’ve read include those that teach me how and why to eat a healthy diet” Would you consider a post listing some of the ones you found most beneficial?

    1. I learned a lot from “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, but even more about the benefits of food from Dr. Steven Gundry in “The Plant Paradox.”

      1. So much that is out there concerning diet is not proven by scientific double-blind studies and is anecdotal, at best. I, personally, would be careful and would so advise others, if asked. Consulting with one’s personal doctor and being careful with unproven theories seems prudent.

          1. While you personalized my comment (and certainly no one can argue with success), I was speaking in general to all your readers. Having friends with Type 1 diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis, allergies, and breast cancer, I know that diet is important in managing their conditions and they have specific nutritional needs that must be met for their healthiest lives. Following unproven theories may not be best for them. I think you said it succinctly in a December post: eat what is best for your unique body in small quantities, drink lots of water, and incorporate as much movement as you can into each day

          2. Cheryl T., I understand why Susan “personalized” your comment given the structure of this string. It appears to me that you were addressing Susan. Why sound so testy?

  19. I’m listening to “The Places that Scare You” by Pema Chodron, and reading Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom, new edition, Rachel Pollack.

  20. Just finished A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson about the psychological effects of WWII on a RAF pilot and his extended family. I admire Atkinson’s skill with point of view and stream of consciousness narrative.

  21. Just finished Where the Crawdads Sing, then The Alice Network. So intrigued by the latter, decided to read the real non-fiction account, so now reading Madame Fourcade’s Secret War. I really prefer historical non-fiction but all 3 books are definite reads.

  22. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the 2017 debut novel of Gail Honeyman. It’s a really good book and I enjoyed it immensely.

    1. Thanks for this post, Susan. I’ve found some great suggestions for my summer reading list. I can’t wait to read Where the Crawdad Sings. I loved the library when I was a girl and remember how exciting it was to get my first library card!

      Reading has always been an important part of my life. I’ve spent my career as a first grade teacher and Reading Specialist in an elementary school in California. It was a joy to watch my students blossom as readers when I taught first grade and it’s a satisfying challenge to bring those who are experiencing difficulty as readers to grade level as a Reading Specialist. It was the love of early literacy that led me to primary education in the first place. I’ll be retiring next year, and it’s been a grand ride!

      Here are my current favorites. I love a good story!
      The Masie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
      Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
      Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Eagan
      The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
      Anything by Liane Moriarty or Jennifer Weiner…such fabulous” beach reads!”

      Happy reading, Everyone!

  23. After so many readers mentioned Where The Crawdads Sing, I placed a request for it at my local library. I am 925th on 104 copies…

  24. A wonderful and awful story – Educated by Tara Westover. I’ve also appreciated: Where the Crawdads Sing, , Ordinary Grace by William Krueger, The House on Tradd Street & Dr. Gundry’s Plant paradox. I’m curious how you liked it compared to your current diet. Thank you for sharing your reading material and for all your readers suggestions.

    1. The Plant Paradox made an impact on me. I tried not eating beans and grains for a week and cut way back on the fruit. I feel and look much better now and will continue on this path.

  25. I love your book suggestions. I immediately requested 3 from my library. My favorite book this year is: Where the crawdads sing. Most unique book I have read. Enjoy!

  26. For Anna McFarland, have you read The Black Count by Tom Reiss? It is about the father of Alexander Dumas who was a remarkable man. He was the son of a French planter and a black slave in what is now Haiti and rose to be a general under Napoleon. The book is well researched and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have always been an avid reader and thank goodness my children are too.

  27. I’m reading French Lessons by Peter Mayle, The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell, Mindfulness by Ellen J. Langer and my Mother’s Day present Dressing Barbie by Carol Spencer.

  28. Book Club is one of my favorite things to do each month. Just finished News of the World and next month is The Blood of Flowers. Both excellent!

  29. Just finished Where by the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, now reading Educated by Tara Westover, next will probably be The Lake House by Kate Morton. I ‘m also reading Rick Steves book Copenhagen & the Best of Denmark for a trip I’m taking there in August.

  30. I am reading Green Darkness by Anya Seton right now – an older book. Next is the latest by David McCullough , The Pioneers. I’ve read 94 books so far this year and now that I am retired, hope to be able to keep that up.

  31. What I learned from the last post: Never, never, never bring up the subject of wide-leg, cropped pants at a dinner party. Stick to safer topics such as religion and politics.

    This post brings everyone back to neutral ground in a nice way! It’s always interesting to see what other people are reading. Susan, you have such great communications skills in both writing and speaking and I’m sure being an avid reader was (and is) a big part of it. You wouldn’t be such an inspiration to so many if you weren’t able to communicate it so well.

  32. Just finished Where the Crawdads Sing, Hillbilly Elegy, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Girl Stop Apologizing, Orphan Train, and Lilac Girls. Love to read!

  33. I just finished The Gown by Jennifer Robson and very much enjoyed it. It is an historical fiction book about the women who worked on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown (the true part). But it has interesting characters living in postwar London with adds drama.

    The Gown is marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war.”–Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

  34. Your story is my story! My family moved a lot and the first thing my mom and I did was find the library and get a library card. Loved reading series books…Cherry Ames…Nancy Drew etc. Helped me through the first six months when I didn’t know anyone or have any friends. My adult children tease me because I tell them I get butterflies of excitement when I go to the library. All those books! Checked an item off my bucket list when I visited Powell’s Bookstore in Portland last month. Heaven on earth! Thanks for all you do. One of the few emails I never fail to open.

  35. “The Unwinding of the Miracle” by Julie Yip Lee. Non-fiction
    “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthoney Dorr
    “THE ninth Hour” by Alice Mc Dermott.
    All 3 are beautifully written and will affect you deeply

  36. Love your blog, Susan, and this post is well timed for summer reading!

    I’m currently reading The Inner Voice, by Renee Fleming, one of my favorite singers.

    For those who like to keep track of their reading, or share reading lists with friends, I recommend Goodreads. Though I use it mainly to keep a list of books I want to read, the site is free and offers recommendations and reviews by users. Book groups may find it particularly useful.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  37. I’ve just downloaded the Invisible Wall & Illuminations. I have just finished Where the Crawdads Sing which I loved. Susan thank you so much for your blog, I am convinced I need to move to your part of the USA, you have so many wonderful places to visit. I’m trying to figure out how to take my daughters and grandchildren with me.
    Right now I’m trying to decide if I need to build an ark or get to high ground, I live in Kansas City and I think we are either going to get blown away or float away!
    God bless!

  38. I am post op and listening in bed in Australia to Michelle Obama read her book “Becoming”. Wonderful subtle gently intelligent book. Beautifully read by the author. Could not recommend it more highly.

  39. I just finished “Where the Crawdads Sing,” a beautiful piece of work that I wish could have gone on forever. It’s about a young girl abandoned in the marshland of North Carolina, who becomes a naturalist and artist. All self-taught. If you like Barbara Kingsolver’s novels with all of the nature information, you will like this. Long wait at the library but it’s totally worth it!

  40. Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland. The story behind Renoir’s creation of his masterpiece, it is a wonderful look into the times, the art world and the craft of painting. Read it with a copy of the painting nearby so you can follow along. I found it delightful.

  41. Educated by Tara Westover…………an incredible true story;
    A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman………funny & poignant;
    Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown…………touched me so deeply that I immediately re-read it after finishing it the first time. It is the 1st in a 4-part series.
    Reading is a joy!

  42. Just finished My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray. Great book. Makes our current politics look mild.

  43. I am Reading Anthony Williams medical medium…such information to process. I too was getting ill from processed foods along this journey I have also eliminated all grains as I am celiac, lactose and now any sugar at all makes me very ill. As you have said it is difficult with a partner sometimes and you have to be strong because if you don’t you do get ill. My body is definitely telling me something not sure what is next….but I too have lost 45pounds, Need to loose another 20 to be where I would like to maintain….thank you so much for your blog….

  44. Make Something Good Today by Erin & Ben Napier, FirstLight by Sue Monk Kid, Come Thirsty by Max Lucado are what I’m reading now. Just finished Max Lucado’s He Chose the Nails, and Oprah’s The Path Made Clear. I enjoy reading books thathelp me grow spiritually, emotionally and mentally. The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker is another one I recently worked through (meaning I did the assignments).

  45. The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore.
    I did not want it to end!

  46. Hello Susan and all,
    I have always wanted to be a reader but really didn’t become an avid reader until
    After my children were grown…and I must say that audible has been a game changer for me…
    I so enjoy listening to books as I move through my day…or drive…( I think that I read over 60 books in the past year.)
    Yes listening to books counts as reading!!! I just finished In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which was published in 1965… very interesting
    Read…May I suggest the summer reading guide by Anne Bogel at modernmrsdarcy.com….she has a great blog and podcast and works very hard to put out an awesome summer reading guide each year…I will be making my way through her suggestions next.
    Happy reading everyone!!!

  47. I am currently re-reading The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, for the third time – quite an endeavor when each book has 600+ pages. A lot of history, plus a good look at life in the 1700s. My mother was a reader as are my sisters. I introduced my children to reading and we were regulars at our local library. Long car rides, rainy days or just a few stolen minutes my hands have my Kindle in them.

  48. If you’re not familiar with Susan Branch go on her blog at susanbranch.com — home, art, travel, food, nature. Loving all three of her books. She’s delightful, uplifting, and fun! Much needed these days!

  49. Just finished Sold on a Monday, Kristina McMorris. Now back to my favorites, biographies. Reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

  50. I read Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter, who is a Neurologist and Fellow in Nutrition. It was an eye opener and I have totally changed my way of eating.

  51. Just started reading A Gentleman in Moscow. The story centers on a Count who has residence at a luxury hotel that serves the powerful and famous, and the events that take place in his life contented to this.

  52. I loved A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. My favorite read this year is A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith. I remember seeing it on my Mother’s bookshelf when I was a little girl. I finally read it and was not disappointed.

  53. I just started The Library Book by Susan Orlean. It’s about the Los Angeles Library fire of April 1986. The fire got as hot as 2000 degrees in the stacks and burned for over 7 hours. At least half of the L.A. City Fire Dept worked that fire. (My husband worked on it.) The catch is how the Arson Investigators were pretty darned sure they knew who started the fire, but couldn’t get enough proof to arrest him.

    One of my friends is in a women’s reading club and they are reading the book. She said it’s hooked everyone’s interest, she’s the one who turned me on to it.

  54. Susan , I know this is a delayed response so I am not sure anyone will see this. But I just had to suggest a book I began reading a few days ago — the Second Mountain by David Brooks. I am not easily impressed by most self-help authors nor do I read many of that genre. Despite myself, I honestly can say the ideas Brooks presents have changed how I approach my life every single day. Maybe it will strike a chord with others, too.

  55. Good Morning! I been a stalker for years, Susan. When you were on you tube you were showing us your new diet, Plant Paradox diet. I am a private chef for my clients who eat this way. This diet does miracles for people’s health including mine. A little restricted however you can have wonderful meals if you just use a little imagination. Please reach out to me if you need any help or suggestions. I don’t know if you are finished w/ the detox part. Once you get past that there is much more to eat w/ protocol. Enjoy and be healthy~ Robina

  56. I know I’m late to the party with this post, but as a relatively new reader am playing catch up. So many wonderful comments and title suggestions. I love reading about many subjects AND I love fashion. I know too many ladies reluctant to acknowledge any interest in fashion in fear of being labeled an airhead Consequently their appearance suffers. These are intelligent dear friends of mine and we do discuss this on occasion. This post and the volume of comments generated are validation (even though never felt it was needed) that you can be stylishly dressed and intelligent.
    Curious to know if anyone else encounters tbis?
    Great post, Susan!!

  57. Just found your blog from your IG account- love it! I am currently reading Alexander McCall Smith’s series: “The #1 Ladies Detective Agency” I usually read those prior to bed and during the day I read anything non-fiction! Your blog is great and it nice to find one that applies to me in my 50’s!

  58. I notice that you have the book, “Eat, Live, Thrive” – I am looking at purchasing it – can you tell me if it has examples of meal plans or recommended foods to eat? Do you recommend the book? Thank you!

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.