the newsletter

Choosing your next book

July 27, 2022

I’m about to give you permission to read for yourself and your own mood. Because reading-for-pleasure isn’t supposed to be a constant challenge, or a people-pleasing activity.

What I love about fiction is that its purpose is limitless. Sometimes, that’s overwhelming, especially when you are a person with so many wants and needs and an attention span that feels more suited for social media or a television series than a novel.

But, listen, I’m here today to give you permission to read for nobody other than yourself. When we do this, it helps us show the young people in our lives that reading has a place beyond school. Before we get to the required reading stuff, our focus needs to be on developing and understanding our lives as readers. It will give us strong legs to stand on when we talk to our children about fiction and all it is capable of doing.

I’m going to show you what I’m talking about

Here are some of the books on my “fiction to read” list. Please use this list as an invitation to build your own, to start modeling that visible reading I wrote about last week. And to start thinking about what YOU want to read, not what you think you should be reading based on the opinions of the people on the train, at the pool, sitting next to you on the bus to your cousin’s wedding reception, standing outside at school pick-up, or even sleeping next to you in your own bed. This is about YOU.

Also, just so you know: These are affiliate links. My goal here isn’t for you to buy the books I want to read. I want you to read the books YOU want to read. When you do choose to buy (though borrowing is a top notch idea) your next book, I do encourage you to consider supporting local bookstores, either through or by walking into one.


I haven’t been watching a lot of television for the past few years (minus some Seinfeld, which I’m watching for the first time and the HGTV shows that have gone from guilty pleasures to just pleasures when my husband and I need to escape together), BUT when my husband was out of town the other weekend, I binged The Summer I Turned Pretty during naptime and at night. Y’ALL. I cried. No shame. And I don’t want to wait for the next seasons to come out, so I think I’m going to read the books.

Here’s an example of reading for MYSELF. I love, love, love literary fiction, but sometimes I need to just read a teen romcom because it’s fun and simple and makes me think about how I would have reacted to it when I was sixteen. Whatever you want to call this kind of book (and, for you, it might be a totally different genre), it’s a choice that is more than OK — sometimes, it’s a necessity.


This is the book I chose for book club this month. I get nervous when it’s my turn to choose because WHAT IF NOBODY ELSE LIKES IT?! What if I don’t like it? What if it’s actually not a good enough piece of literature to discuss? Oooh my, though, these are exactly the types of things I’m trying to tell you not to think. But I’m also telling you that I still think this way, even though I’m trying to stop.

Anyways, I chose this book because there’s little I love to read about more than a woman having an existential crisis. I have also never heard of this book before and know nothing about the woman who wrote it, so I’m excited to create my own opinion. Plus, I love snail mail.


I love Simon Rich, I love short stories, I have a two-year-old (in just few days!), and I cannot believe I haven’t read this yet. Except I can believe it because — GASP! — my own reading life has not been prolific recently, which is actually one of the reasons I feel compelled to charge down this path that is Reading + Writing Matters.

Short stories, whether you read them in a full collection or just on their own, are great if you’re struggling to read because they make you feel accomplished in a shorter amount of time, and sometimes that’s just what we need. But they still invite so much conversation! Ugh, I love them. I need them. Thank you, short stories.

So, there you go, these are the next three books I hope to read, once I finish my current book, which was a gift too long ago that I never read, but I’m loving it and embracing a “better late than never” attitude. Highly recommend this one if you are a fan of women, genre-bending, the immigrant experience, or Asian culture. I happen to be a fan of all these things, which is why this book was such a thoughtful gift.

As you make your next book selection, remember: whatever you are reading right now doesn’t have to answer the question, “If you could only read ONE BOOK for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Here’s your permission to read for yourself — the mood you are in today — and nobody else.

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