GOTM Reads

As a life-long bookworm, I’ve often wondered how to read more books, because I’ve learned that I am at my best during the seasons of life when I read the most. Reading reduces stress, improves your brain, lets you explore the world and so much more more, so here’s a look at what I’m reading, and tips for how to read more books.

I’d love to hear your suggestions of what I should add to my reading list so please leave your ideas in the comments below!

(If you’re an author and you’d like me to review your book, you can contact me here.)

How to Read More

(1) Find a reading challenge! These will encourage you to step out of your reading comfort zone pick up new books. This year I’m doing a challenge this year with The Literary Feast.

(2) Join a book club! Whether it’s in person or virtually having people to discuss books with after you read them encourages you to read more.

(3) Watch less tv! If you’re wondering how to read more, you’ll need to spend less time doing other things…and tv is a great thing to decrease.

As with most of my posts, this post may contain affiliate or referral links.

Reading reduces stress, improves your brain, lets you explore the world and more, so here's a look at what I'm reading and tips for how to read more books.

May 2018

Sandover Beach Memories by Emma St. Clair (Fiction) – What a fun, clean, romantic read…absolute perfection for a summer beach reading! I found myself rooting for Jenna to get her happy-ever-after and can’t wait to read the stories of the supporting cast in future books.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes (Fiction) – One of my favorite quotes from the first book in this series is, “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” But it’s so much more than that. It’s not about living a full life as defined by those around you, but by discovering who you are and then living your own full life. Being the very best version of yourself. This has been one of the best series I’ve read because of how it has changed and impacted me.

After You by Jojo Moyes (Fiction) – I’m writing this review after I have finished reading the complete trilogy and overall I loved this series. The themes of the series where things I needed to hear right now in this season of life, BUT of the three books, this one was my least favorite. I know the story was about Louisa picking up the pieces of her life and moving on after Will died, but at times it felt like it was doing that in a sluggish sort of way. But because I loved the series as a whole, and because you need book 2 to get from 1 to 3, I’d recommend reading it.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (Fiction) – With the recent wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle this book popped up on my social media as it is the story of an American falling in love with a British prince, BUT this book is clearly Prince William and Kate fanfiction. I thought it was a fun book and if you enjoy following the royal family, it’s a great read! And while the book is most definitely fiction it definitely made me think about how we (in a collective sense) follow the royal family.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (Fiction) – I started this trilogy on a recommendation from a friend and am quite glad I did! It was a fun read and I enjoyed getting to see how the story wrapped up for so many of the different characters. If you’re looking for a fun and light series to read, this is a great one!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Young Adult Fiction) – I have to admit I was nervous to read the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series because if it didn’t end well I was going to be disappointed I had spent all this time reading the series. But it surpassed all of my expectations. I truly enjoyed getting to watch Harry (and Ron and Hermione) grow up throughout the series and I was pleased that the series ended with as much excitement and momentum as they had in book one. And now at last I can understand why some many people are obsessed with Harry Potter and his wizarding world!

April 2018

Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull (Business) – I’ve been told this book is great read for anyone who works in technology or creative fields. And while I’m not exactly in either one of those I still found the insights of this book to be incredibly helpful. I appreciated the honest look at how Ed learned all the lessons he shared in the book and I believe that a manager, in any field, can learn from how Ed has built and run Pixar and Disney Animation.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (Historical Fiction) – I picked up this book on a whim at my local Costco and it is now one of my favorite books so far of 2018. I am drawn to World War II and Holocaust related historical fiction and every time I read a book set during this time I am reminded of what a devastating time period this was. I had never heard of the ‘rabbits’ and was struck by how horrific the experience was for these women. But I was also struck by their resiliency and the commitment to these women well after the war was over. I also appreciated hearing the POV of the Nazi woman doctor because while it is so easy to say she is simply an awful human being (and I won’t argue that she did horrific things), having insight into what led her to that point was incredibly valuable.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Young Adult Fiction) – If I had taken the time to write this review after reading each book in the series, but review might look a bit different and I probably would have given it three stars instead of two. But instead I read the whole trilogy first and now my opinion is of the collective series instead of each individual book. This is probably really unpopular to say, but I didn’t like them. I felt there were parts of the character development missing, I was never really rooting for main character and I was left quite unsatisfied by the ending of the book.

Everybody, Always by Bob Goff (Christian Living) – I have long been a fan of Bob Goff and I thoroughly enjoy his storytelling style of writing. I jotted down quite a few quotes from the book and while it is unlikely I’ll ever be able to give this generously (I can’t afford to fly somewhere different every day lol), it was a great reminder to live my life focused on loving others well.

Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton (Autobiography) – First of all, I find it incredibly difficult to give a rating to an autobiography because it feels like I am judging someone’s life, which I have no business doing. I found this book to be incredibly fascinating and not just because of the book itself, but because of the conversations I’ve had since reading the book. I think far too often we treat mental health issues as taboo topics that can’t be talked about and for me this book has sparked great conversations about being fully healthy…physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. (Please note: This book does not cover light topics, so read with caution)

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo (Fiction) – I have had an incredibly difficult time deciding how to rate/review this book. I would definitely say I liked the book and I was drawn into the lives of the characters and kept turning pages because I just wanted to know more. But I’m not sure I like the choices of the characters in the book and so that leaves me unsure of how I feel. I wanted to follow their lives, but I wasn’t really rooting for them :/

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Young Adult Fiction) – If I had taken the time to write this review after reading each book in the series, but review might look a bit different and I probably would have given it three stars instead of two. But instead I read the whole trilogy first and now my opinion is of the collective series instead of each individual book. This is probably really unpopular to say, but I didn’t like them. I felt there were parts of the character development missing, I was never really rooting for main character and I was left quite unsatisfied by the ending of the book.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (Young Adult Fiction) – If I had taken the time to write this review after reading each book in the series, but review might look a bit different and I probably would have given it three stars instead of two. But instead I read the whole trilogy first and now my opinion is of the collective series instead of each individual book. This is probably really unpopular to say, but I didn’t like them. I felt there were parts of the character development missing, I was never really rooting for main character and I was left quite unsatisfied by the ending of the book.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Fiction) – I read a lot. And I have no idea how I’ve never read a book by JoJo Meyes before! As soon as I finished this book I looked up the rest of the book’s she written, ordered two, and added more to my list of books I’d like to read. I was hooked from the first page and loved that the characters were flawed, and therefore relatable. The book also made me think about a rather controversial subject, which I appreciated. Hands down, I would recommend this book!

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (Fiction) – I often choose books based on the mood I am in and I know that when I am in a reading slump and need a fun, pick-me-up, Sophie Kinsella is just the author to do that. In that regard, My (Not So) Perfect Life, was perfect. The book is light and fun and made me think about what I’m posting on social media versus what my life is like in real life.

Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordiero (Christian Living) – An honest look at burnout in ministry. I appreciated Wayne sharing honestly about his journey and that he didn’t simply make vague suggestions of how to improve, but instead offered incredibly practical tools for how to avoid burnout. This book was written specifically for pastors, but I believe it is helpful for anyone in ministry.


March 2018

Cupid is a Procrastinator by Kate Hurley (Christian Living) – As a single, thirty-something, I thought this book provided some good insight on not drowning in pity for the life I thought I would have, but instead making the most of this unexpected life. However, my favorite quote in the book is not just for singles but for ALL people…”Can you imagine what the world would be like if all of us set out to find someone very different from us and then learned their stories?”

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (Historical Fiction) – I loved this book! I had an incredibly close relationship with my grandmother before she passed away and this book reminded me so much of the stories she would tell when I took the time to ask about her life. I was also reminded of how much the generations that came before us can teach us…if we only take the time to ask!

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (Young Adult Fiction) – I loved this book! It made me want to book a flight to Italy, order some gelato, and start journaling more consistently! I enjoyed getting to follow the story in the present day and the story of Lina’s mother through the journal.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (Fiction) – I thought this book was just as fun and light as the first book in the series. If you’re looking for deep literature…this is not the book for you! But if you’re looking for a fun look at the lives of the crazy rich and want to be inspired to travel in Asia, then this is the book for you!

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (Young Adult Fiction) – Three things about this book…(1) I enjoyed getting to know the main characters through emails (including the subject lines which you absolutely have to read!) and texts! (2) This book reminded me why I enjoy this genre…there is just something about Young Adult Fiction that is fun and reminds me why I love reading. (3) I loved the reminder that the most perfect days aren’t the most elaborate or over-the-top days, but oftentimes they are the simplest days.

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (Fiction) – It has been years since I have seen the movie and my reading challenge this month was to read a book that was made into a movie I’ve already seen. I remember liking the movie so figured I’d give the book a try. As I was reading the book I remembered why I connected with it so much. I feel like I do a tremendous amount of personal growth from 2006-2008, while living in Philadelphia. And the Eagles were actually a big part of that for me so I really connected on a personal level. All that to say, it’s a pretty quick and easy read, that’d I recommend.

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand (Fiction) – One of my dream vacations is a summer (but I’ll settle for a week!) on Nantucket so I love reading anything set on the island. I enjoyed the family dynamics of The Identicals and as always, Elin Hilderbrand transports me to the beach in the middle of the summer with her writing. Definitely a beach read that I’d recommend!

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard (Historical Fiction) – I am a fan of historical fiction books, particularly those set during World War II and yet the setting and story of this book were new to me. I remember learning about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan but learning very little about how it was made. And while I don’t want to give away any spoilers, this book makes me want to do additional research on this topic and it made me really think about my thoughts and opinions on the project.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Fiction) – I really liked the idea behind the book…we all have seemingly small events in our lives that trigger other events and then more events and then suddenly you have an all out fire on your hands. I also enjoyed the exploration of various family dynamics.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Young Adult Fiction) – I have found that with each book in the series I like them more and more! I was saddened by the end of the book but now I’m intrigued to see what happens in the final book.

June: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

February 2018

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling (Young Adult Fiction) – It’s safe to say that I am now completely sucked into the Harry Potter series and I’m trying to figure out why I waited so long to read them! Fantasy is not usually my genre of choice, but I enjoy this series and now I’m looking forward to discovering the adventures Harry, Ron and Hermione will get into as Year Fours!

Shaken by Tim Tebow (Christian Living) – This was a quick and easy read that I enjoyed! My sister and brother-in-law are foster parents to eight special needs kiddos in Haiti so I’ve always been drawn to the work of Tim Tebow’s foundation and this book just confirmed that I think they’re doing great work. Tim does a great job reminding us that even when the circumstances around us fall apart, we still have our identity in Christ.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl (Fiction) – The reviews I’ve read online about this book are definitely mixed but I enjoyed it! (1) I love wandering New York City and this book makes me want to go back and explore more small shops. (2) I really enjoy historical fiction so I enjoyed the history weaved in with the present day. (3) I have always wanted to explore the heart of cooking…where my food comes from, how cooking is not just food but what it means to turn meals into an experience. (4) And finally I connected with struggling to find your place and knowing how to use your talents well.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Young Adult Fiction) – I just keep getting further and further sucked into this series! I continue to enjoy following along Harry, Ron and Hermione’s journey at Hogwarts. In this particular book I really enjoyed the addition of characters from other wizarding schools.

Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero (Historical Fiction) – One of the genres I most enjoy reading is Historical Fiction, particularly set in World War II. As it says in the book, “Many people suffered as a result of this war. Loss is not confined to one race or one ideal.” In this book I liked that the story was told from characters who were each looking at the war through different lenses and yet there stories were intertwined.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Non-fiction) – I’ve never had ambitions of climbing Mt Everest, but after reading Into Thin Air, I’m even more certain that I’ll never put this on my bucket list! I struggled with the large cast of characters and some of the technical aspects of mountaineering, but it was a compelling read. Two things that stood out to me were Krakauer’s assertion that tackling Everest is not as much an adrenaline rush as say sky diving, but rather a willingness to push through extreme pain, and the realization that reaching the summit is only half the process. A climber still has to get down the mountain.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Fiction) – I loved the line in the book when Peik Lin says, “I have no idea who these people are. But I can tell you one thing–these people are richer than God.” By the end of the book I wanted to book a flight to Singapore and immerse myself in the food scene! I thought this book was a fascinating look at “all these crazy rich Asians, all these people whose lives revolve around making money, spending money, flaunting money, comparing money, hiding money, controlling others with money, and ruining their lives over money.” I can’t wait to see the movie coming later in 2018.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Fantasy) – I haven’t read this book since elementary school and with the movie version coming out next month, I wanted to re-read the book so I’d be able to properly compare the two. While I enjoyed the book I was reminded of two things (1) This was written nearly 60 years ago; (2) This is a children’s book. While I enjoyed the story, from an adult perspective the storyline is simplistic. But I can appreciate that for a book written in the early 60’s, to have the main character be a female child who was interested in math and science was a big deal.

The Power of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath (Fiction) – My family will tell you that I have always been passionate about creating traditions and celebrating moments and I love that this book (1) Backed up my thoughts with research; (2) Provided incredibly practical ways to create experiences that will have an extraordinary impact.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (Young Adult Fiction) – I am thoroughly enjoying this series and can’t believe I’m almost to the end! There were a couple of twists/endings I wasn’t expecting in this book but I’ll leave those out of the review so you can be surprised!

How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue (Fiction) – I selected this book for a reading challenge I’m doing this year (needed to read a cupcake with food in the title) and as I have visited more than 100 cupcake shops around the country this seemed like the perfect fit for me! I enjoyed the book as light, fun reading and as a cupcake lover I appreciated the descriptions of the various cupcakes and a look at how different people actually eat a cupcake. Overall, I think it was an enjoyable book!

Love Does by Bob Goff (Christian Living) – A great book based on the premise that love is an action verb. I think Goff does a great job of not just telling the reader that love means taking action, but sharing example after example of what this looks like played out.

January 2018

Finish by Jon Acuff (Business) – This was the perfect way to start off the year because 2018 is not about starting my goals, but finishing them! I could share quote after quote that I wrote down as I read about fighting against perfectionism, but in 2018 I want to remember, “Goals you refuse to chase don’t disappear–they become ghosts that haunt you.” I don’t need to pursue my goals perfectly, but I do need to pursue them.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Historical Fiction) – I’m really conflicted on my thoughts for this book, because while I loved the in depth look at the different generations and connections of a family, there was a lot of medical and historical context that was challenging for me. And it’s a long book which meant that I had to wade through a lot of difficult text to experience the life, love and loss of this family across generations and continents.

Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan (Historical Fiction) – I only recently discovered how much I enjoy historical fiction (it’s the learner in me!) and this book was outstanding! Even knowing how World War II would eventually end, this book kept me up past my bedtime because I was so invested in each of the characters…even the ones I didn’t want to like! The ten plus years of research the author invested in the book were quite evident and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Science Fiction/Fantasy) – I know this book has been made into an award winning show on Hulu and I have heard lots of people talking about how great the book is, but it fell short for me. I typically enjoy dystopian books because I think they are filled with themes that are worthy of conversation. But, I really struggled with the writing style of this book and I wasn’t able to connect with the characters so I didn’t really care what happened to them.

Brands Win Championships by Jeremy Darlow (Business) – Despite the fact that it is highly unlikely I’ll ever be in a position where I need to know, “the secret to winning a national title in the 21st century,” I really enjoyed this book. Although I do not work in a college athletic program, this book had solid branding advice that I will be applying in a variety of other contexts. The book was written in an easy-to-read format and by the end I was secretly wanting to apply to the marketing department of a college athletic program!

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Mystery/Thriller/Suspense) – Absolutely loved this book! I connected with the characters and appreciated that they were regular humans, complete with flaws. I loved the style of writing and it reminded me of the TV show This Is Us in that the author moves you forward from an event, and retells the event and also provides flashbacks that help you connect even further with the characters. One of my fave quotes in the book, “Anything is possible. Everything is gettable. You just have to want it badly enough,” is such a great reminder and I would highly recommend Before the Fall

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines (Autobiographies & Memoirs) – This book was such a needed reminder for my entrepreneurial spirit to relentlessly pursue my passions. As Chip says, “It’s infinitely better to fail with courage than to sit idle with fear.” If you’re a fan of Fixer Upper and/or looking for motivation to bust out of a rut, I’d recommend Capital Gaines.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Young Adult Fiction) – This series of books has been in my pile of “Books to Read” for a long time because so many people talk about the books…and the movies…and the theme parks. But I just didn’t think I’d like them. I’ll admit that I enjoyed it more than expected and look forward to reading book two in the series. I’m going to save my full thoughts until I’ve read all seven books…which will happen this year!

Pastel Orphans by Gemma Liviero (Historical Fiction) – I think it is incredibly important to humanize the events of World War II so we don’t just gloss over the facts and this book was excellent at doing just that. I keep coming back to the quote in the book, “War limits choices,” which makes you think about the incredibly difficult decisions so many had to make during this time period.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Fiction) – I recently saw The Greatest Showman a couple of times in the theater so I’m obsessed with circuses of the past and this book has been on my “to be read” shelf for ages, so I decided now was the time! I enjoyed the book and while I had a pretty good idea of how the book was going to end I wasn’t sure how it would get there so I appreciated not knowing exactly how the story was going to play out.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Young Adult Fiction) – I’ve had this series on my list of books to read for a while and just recently read book one (see my thoughts a couple books back) so couldn’t wait to read book two! It was a fast read and I’m getting further sucked in to the world of Hogwarts. Looking forward to reading book three!

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett (Fantasy) – I read this book as part of a reading challenge I’m doing this year. The January challenge is to read a book published the year you were born and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to find a book! I don’t usually read Fantasy books and this book confirmed my decision to generally steer clear of this genre. I struggled to get into the world created in this book and it’s unlikely I’ll read any of the other books in the series.

The Disney Way by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson (Business) – In summary, I loved this book! I have always been a person who likes systems and processes and I’ve struggled to figure out how that still leaves room for creativity. This book does an excellent job of showing how you can have both creativity and systems in a company and walks you through the steps to do the same in your own organization. I would highly recommend this book!


March 2018: Coming Soon


  1. Trying to figure out where to enter! I want to Focus Forward this year! I want to recovery from surgery & be healthy! I want to move forward with business & relationships! I want to keep moving forward & not allow the actions of others to hold me back!

  2. Finish. I’ll comment here. I admit I have always had a problem finishing! 😉 I have good ideas but doing them all the way… hmmmm. I even fall asleep before movies end! Ok not always. I am going to focus on my business this year which means stop procrastinating. And on a personal note… I’ve been talking about pulling together a Haiti photo show and I WANT TO DO THAT! Love your commentary and photos on Haiti! <3

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I’ve set some pretty ambitious reading goals for the year so I’m getting a good start on those!

  3. I love reading and I agree with your tip – reading with others can give you inspiration about new books to read or authors whom you hadn’t heard of before. I have just joined my first book club! I also plan to start a book series on my blog and I look forward to hearing more about the books you have discovered!

    1. Reading is definitely so much more enjoyable with others! I’m in a book club and I love that it (1) Gets me to read books outside of what I’d usually read, and (2) Helps me look at the books I read in a new way because of our discussions. Looking forward to checking out your book series!

  4. I saw your post today in Createifwriting on FB. I published my first book in December of 2016. It is a non-fiction book on the Power of Prayer. The title is, Unleash the Power of Prayer in your Life. Currently available on Amazon. I hope to write my second book this year. Thank you for the invite to your space on the web. I hope you have a fantastic weekend and God bless you and yours in the New Year!

    1. First of all, congrats on writing your first book! I’m an avid reader but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to pursue writing a book. Looking forward to checking out your book on Amazon!

  5. Hi,
    Wow!😊 It’s so great to read other reader bloggers give their reviews! I loved all the Harry Potter books 📚 from beginning to the end. I also enjoyed Water for Elephants. I ❤️ The show This is us, too. So, I think I should add your recommendation of Before the Fall to my reading list!😊 Are you on Goodreads?
    Thank you,
    Christina/The Blog for Teachers, Readers, & Life!

  6. This is a great list, Julie. So glad we connected on Twitter. I really loved Cutting for Stone & Water for Elephants and just started Beneath a Scarlet Sky. I’m downloading Before the Fall & Pastel Orphans for my upcoming trip to Maui. If you like books about elephants, you would likely enjoy “Love, Life & Elephants” and “The Elephant Whisperer”. Both are fantastic memoirs that speak to how intelligent & sentient elephants are. Two of my favorite reads in 2017

    1. I will definitely need to check out those book suggestions as I really enjoyed Water for Elephants! Can’t wait to hear what you think of Before the Fall & Pastel Orphans.

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