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Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

You may recall that one time and the other time that I paired up and reviewed a recipe and a book in one sitting. Because nothing beats scarfing something down while flipping through some awesome pages. So let’s all take a break from analyzing the VMA awards and Googling what twerking is. Please.

Disclaimer: Depending on the food you’re eating, take care when turning pages. Loaning out a book with cheeto-fingerprint-corners can be awkward.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, I love my soups and my novels… Almost equally. Not sure which one edges the other out, but in this case, it was pretty much a dead heat. I’m excited to share with you Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woa and a maybe-not-all-that-authentic-but-really-yummy Shrimp Gumbo. Let’s hit the books first.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, this is when I was dueling books at the airport with a somewhat strange pairing.
It totally worked though.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

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If you’re in the mood for a novel that is both substantial and engaging, here it is. Every family’s story is both a comedy and a tragedy, and every individual is influenced by their heritage in ways we often don’t understand. This highlights the balance in one family and the insight into what drives us from one generation to the next.

Sometimes with a determined grimness and sometimes with a smirking humor, Diaz baldly lays out historical backgrounds and cultural experiences as a foundation for characters that feel very real. It’s rare to find a book that blends modern experiences so comfortably with a sense of ancestry and deep-rooted ways. There is perseverance, fear, and destiny – Beli, Lola, and Oscar are always moving from something, towards something and through something at the same time.

With multi-perspective storytelling, it can easily feel jarred and confused; somehow this novel manages to avoid that. Yunior serves as an anchor while the books moves fluidly through several characters, stories, and time periods to create a more rounded understanding of the family as a whole. Get 1/3 of a way through the book, and you’re sunk into it – you’ll feel compelled to stay up late and finish.

If you’re into this kind of thing, might I suggest some other fav’s of mine such as House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver.

Okaybees, let’s get to the food!

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Sources: Pinterest and Original

Yes, this took a little bit of time to make. Consider it an investment. This stuff is very customizable, delicious, filling, and even freezes awesomely. Try it asap with some brown rice (not only a healthy choice, but a little more substantial when paired with the goodness of gumbo) and some fresh-baked rolls. Wegman’s were responsible for ours, of course.

Check out the original source, and keep in mind how easily you can make it your own. I changed a few things up, myself…

  1. Instead of being a seafood gumbo, mine was simply a shrimp one. Shrimp was a more affordable choice, and one everyone in our fam will eat a little more readily.
  2. I skipped the green bell peppers – I don’t eat them.
  3. I used vegetable stock instead of water/seafood stock. I keep vegetable bullion cubes in the house at all times since they are so useful.
  4. I skipped the boiled ham, as two out of our four don’t eat meat (but do eat fish & seafood).
  5. I use one of these fresh seasoning tubes in EVERYTHING as they are amazing, instead of dried herbs, etc.
  6. Obviously, I added cayenne pepper. You know me.

I give this recipe 4 stars, as well.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

My little guy even tried some out. What a champ!

Anyone else reading Junot Diaz? Think cayenne pepper is the finishing touch to pretty much anything? Finally watching Orange Is The New Black? I’m obsessed.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Who loves cookies and humor about taxidermy? I’m estimating at least 6% of the population, that’s who. Doesn’t that pique your appetite? Let’s read and eat with my all-time-favorite-and-I’ve-tried-a-lot chocolate chip cookies (they are even healthified) and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Both are delicious.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyLet’s whip up these cookies based on Bev’s Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe at Eating Well and then settle down with a good book. Maybe make some tea or grab some milk? Or tea with milk? Do people really do that still?

The only real differences between the original recipe and my version are:

  • I used quick oats instead of rolled oats, because I had some and can never tell the difference.
  • The I use whole wheat flour as the recipe calls for, but I usually use whole wheat pastry flour, or sometimes “white whole wheat”. The pastry flour makes them much more light and delicate, crispy around the edges but still substantial. Mmmmm. It isn’t always easy to find at the grocery store, though.
  • I used a bunch of random types of chocolate to use up my stash and to change it up.
  • I TRIPLE the recipe. Go big or go home – I’m not playing games here.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyThe first step of the recipe calls for grinding the oats in a blender or food processor.  Honestly, it’s prob not necessary to do if you don’t have one or don’t feel like it. Still, when I do I food process the oats into a course meal as shown in Exhibit A the picture above.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyDid I mention I used a bunch of random chocolates? Yep. Different recipes call for different things, and I end up with bits of everything. Since I tripled the recipe I needed 3 cups of chocolate. This included milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, another brand of semi-sweets, and chopped up baker’s semi-sweet chocolate. The melted chunks in the cookies are always so nice from the chopped stuff… mmm.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyIf you make an obscene amount of cookie dough (I’m pretty self-aware) there are several methods for what to do with it. Sometimes, I just spend an afternoon baking them all, cool them all thoroughly, and then freeze them in freezer bags with the air sucked out of them. Other times, I freeze the dough.

You can see above my method for what to do with the dough when freezing it. I keep in the bowl what I want to bake that day, then portion the rest into pieces of saran wrap which I wrap tight around the dough until it looks like a tube, then twist the ends. The dough-tubes can now be placed inside a quart-sized freezer bag. Just stick them in the fridge to thaw the night before you want to cookie-it-up.

BTW, I usually use a plastic straw to suck the air out of the bags. It’s high tech.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting Sunny

Strange bed fellows?

Yes, the above picture was posted to Twitter in May, from an airport lounge where I was waiting on a flight to take me to a job interview. I got the job – so I guess I may owe it partially to Jenny Lawson… and Junot Diaz. Probably not sharing the salary, but a sincere thanks seems to be in order.

Travel is totally exhausting, for me. I always have a hard time staying focused and energized. Usually I’m not that person who is reading several books at once, but on an airplane I like to pick two and switch between them. A combination of one book that is intense/serious and one book that is hilarious/irreverent seems balanced and provides some perspective when you’re considering a 5 dollar bagel while breathing in recycled air. Try it out sometime.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

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She is funny, and so is her book. So let’s just get that settled right at the start. Jenny Lawson is irreverent, charming, mildly concerning, and very entertaining. She makes your weird family feel at-least-normal-level-weird. Jenny somehow both self-deprecates and ego-inflates herself. It’s weird and sounds impossible, but makes for some well-rounded story-telling.

I’m not going to use the word “quirky” or say she is the “female David Sedaris” because everyone else has a million times. I will say it is just a good book, all comparisons aside. If you’re a fan of her blog (The Bloggess) you know how she works, and I honestly don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

If you aren’t a Lawsbian (the name given to her fans, though I’m not clear by who…) be honest with yourself before reading. If you like the idea of “edgy” but cringe at swear words or morbid dead-animal jokes, this is probably not your cup of tea. I don’t know why I keep talking about tea today either, let’s put that aside.

Loved the Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? Check our Laurie Notaro (my favorites are this one and this one). She has been a fav of mine for years, and while a little less morbid and a little more raunchy than Jenny Lawson – it’s good times, for sure.

You can find the book here, or The Bloggess at her blog and on Twitter, where she is sort of omnipresent. If you’re just starting, try with this post – it’s a quick and accurate introduction.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.

PSS: If you’re interested in more Reading & Eating, check out this post.


Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

I really love to read. I also really, really love to eat and the two end up coinciding frequently. I believe I obsessed over The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon while cuddling one of those giant cardboard boxes of Goldfish Crackers. I pretty much devoured both.

Considering a book can be paired with a snack like you can pair a wine with a fancy cheese, I thought it would be fun to try something new over here. I’ve done food recipe reviews and I’ve done book reviews, but never at the same time. So, let’s read and eat.

Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner | Painting Sunny

For me, Jennifer Weiner novels are a comfort food and a sweet indulgence, all at once. They are the quintessential beach reads, but also perfect for a cozy night in with a cup of tea and some sort of baked good. I think The Next Best Thing pairs very nicely with these warm, blueberry oatmeal muffins that are also indulgent, but from the Cooking Light website aren’t quite a guilty-pleasure. The paperback copy of The Next Best Thing was part of my Mother’s Day gift from Mr. Sunny – thanks babe, love you!

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

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I’ve long been a Jennifer Weiner fan, and my bookshelf serves nicely as evidence. Any time I read multiple books by an author, over time, I always connect more with some books than others. Among an author’s complete works, some books just feel fresher, sweeter, and more true to the writer as well as the topic. This is one of those books. Not since Little Earthquakes Everywhere (yes, my all-time favorite by Weiner) have I enjoyed one of her novels so much.

Ruth provides a new perspective, with a new set of challenges than the usual characters within Weiner’s books, or the genre for that matter. Like Little Earthquakes, it had light and funny moments and yet still retained a poignancy and insight into some very real hardships for women in our lives. The one note that fell a little funny for me were the antagonist supporting-characters. While Ruth is easy to love and can be the underdog you truly hope to see succeed, the starlets felt hollow and very much like the Hollywood stereotypes I’m accustomed to. Then again, Jennifer has been in real Hollywood and I haven’t – so maybe those stereotypes are more tackily true that I want to believe.

Speaking of Hollywood, when I read the Q&A and made the connection between Jennifer Weiner’s similar experience and the novel, I almost wished I had stayed in the dark. The storyline felt so original and effortless to sink into, I wanted to preserve it that way in my mind and not begin comparing it to any real-life drama. So, don’t Google it too fast, okay? The novel’s insight into the television-pitch process is fascinating enough, I promise.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins by Cooking Light

The original draw of this recipe was to find a healthy-ish addition to my kid’s school lunches and snacks that they would still find tasty. You know, they made a pretty tasty snack for myself as well! Warm out of the oven, the blueberries work well with the heartier density of the oatmeal and wheat flour, so don’t skimp on the berries. I make it a point to follow a recipe to a T the first time I make it, and tried to do the same here. The only change is that where the original recipe recommends using all-purpose flour and wheat flour separately, I went ahead and used “white wheat flour” for both amounts – it’s what I had on hand and I was in a bit of a hurry.

The batter comes out thin, but the muffins come out surprisingly springy and filling. The lemon zest was pretty crucial, I found – it added a fresher taste that kept the muffins from feeling too heavy, and made them smell divine.  They don’t have the lightness and sweet bliss of more indulgent, bakery-style muffins so keep in mind that to add that healthy quality, sometimes you have to adjust your expectations a bit. Still, I’ll be making them again.

Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner | Painting Sunny

Anyone else believe that zest can be like the glue that holds the recipe together? Read Jennifer Weiner’s latest release? Eat those goldfish crackers shamelessly straight out of the giant box?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.

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A Little Light Summer Reading List (For A Former Kindergartner)

We are getting ready for summer around here!

Planning for a move in early summer means no making big vacation plans or promises to the kids of specific activities like play dates or swim lessons. All is not lost, though! We can totally plan some books to read.

Haven is graduating from Kindergarten next month (I don’t remember graduating elementary school levels when I was a kid…) and is an avid reader. Since she learned to read, the independence has made it her very favorite thing to do. We try to embrace it, and we really want her to excel even further over the summer. So, this summer we are doing a Kindergarten version of a Summer Reading Challenge! Let’s get our book on!

Summer Reading Challenge, Kindergarten Version! | Painting Sunny

Here is what we’re planning to read, so far. Keep in mind, this is in addition to the many little books we normally read before bed or on the weekends, that are quick easy reads. This challenge is focused on some chapter books and series, which I’m hoping will keep our interest up and challenge the girl’s vocabulary. Our initial list is below, sorted by “Reading Together Time” books which would mean a grown-up reading them aloud (she isn’t quite up to reading those on her own, yet) and “Independent Reading Time” books that she could read through a chapter by herself, or with just a little help on tough spots. Her grandmother is an expert in these things (2nd grade teacher and literacy advocate) so some suggestions came from there… and probably so will some copies of the books.

Reading Together Time

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (at least the first book)

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (I already own all the books, so we will go for the whole series since they are short)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (at least the first book)

Independent Reading Time

Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Park and Denise Brunkus (some of the series)

Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne (some of the series)

Cam Jansen Series by David A. Adler (some of the series)

The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner (some of the series)

I’ve never actually read any Harry Potter myself, so that will be new to me! I’ve been warned to stick with the first couple books and see how things go, as it gets a little scarier and advanced for a kid as the storyline moves along. I’m very excited to read with her some of my own childhood favorites, such as Little House on the Prairie and anything by Frances Hodgson Burnett!

Haven’s kindergarten teacher also recommends reading the same simple and quick books over and over, so we will do that too. I’ll have her pick a few favorites beforehand, and will make sure they are out in a prominent place so she is likely to pick them up regularly.

Grandma June also suggested the online system MobyMax, as a tool to keep her learning over the summer and prepping for next year – Haven loves doing those sort of activities which are “games” to her, so I think that will be a great option too!

Any suggestions for rewards/incentives as we finish books? Would rewarding books with more books be too obsessive? Any other books you all can recommend my adding to the lists? Does Harry Potter get scary?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.

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Random Recent Reads, More Tasty Little Fun-Sized Reviews

It has been a Spring full of books, which is kind of surprisingly really. With everything else going on, I honestly can’t recall how I had the time to finish the books I have… a few airplane flights did contribute, though. Once again (remember last month?), I kept procrastinating writing up a review of a book until I had already read three more… so these are some condensed little reviews I thought I’d share.

Also, these books are kind of old news. Sometimes older released books are my favorite… because they are cheaper to buy. I seldom have $15 for a paperback, and can get all the copies I want of something from 10 years ago. Also, it’s “new to me” and I’m experiencing it for the first time, so there.

A lot of these books I get from my Mom who is often finishing a book when she visits, and hurries up so she can leave it for me to read. This woman is seriously generous with her books. Also, she warns me if there are “weird parts” before I read it… which is sweet, and usually halfway through the book I realize she is totally right. Love you Mom, Happy Mother’s Day!

More Tasty Little Fun-Sized Book Reviews (The Happiness Project, Flirting with Forty, The Girls' Guide To Hunting and Fishing I Don't Know How She Does it) | Painting Sunny

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

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Okay, what I said a minute ago was a little misleading. I didn’t actually read this book all that recently… it was last Fall. I just now recalled that. Anyway, it says something that after all this time I find myself recalling points from The Happiness Project on an almost daily basis. The most common criticisms I have heard from colleagues and friends have had three main themes: She is a very privileged person and should be more grateful, the book is too specific to her own experience and life, and her suggestions are just common sense. Of course, I have responses.

Yes, she does seem very privileged and her life may be enviable in many ways, but it’s fair for anyone to want to be happier. A happy person does tend to be supportive of others and more giving. Just for the sake of her family, it isn’t wrong to be happier, particularly when taking her often self-evaluative approach on being a better person to others.

I agree the book is very specific to her own experience. She states that outright several times. It is true that the bulk of it either didn’t quite apply to my life or wasn’t within my financial or other means. Still, I felt like the percentage that did apply to me was more than worth reading the book. Regularly, I challenge myself to give my friends more time now, to be more generous, and to challenge myself to take each day to get just a little bit more meaningful thoughts and actions packed into it.

Honestly, almost no-one uses common sense. If no one wrote books filled with things that should be common sense, Barnes and Noble would be left with romance novels and most of the kid’s section. This is cold-hard truth, people. Sometimes we need a catchy looking book-cover to hook us in so someone can remind us of those common-sense things we should be doing.

The best lesson for me was the intentionality she took in taking on her own happiness; it wasn’t anything she wrote but what she demonstrated in the act of writing it. Wow, this review did not end up short after all.

Flirting with Forty by Jane Porter

Having only read one other book by Jane Porter, reviewed here, I thought one of her non-series books would be interesting to read… well, and, I found a copy of Flirting with Forty for $1 at a book store up in Indy. It’s funny this is my second review of this author, since she is relatively new to me (I know not to others, I’m late in the game) but I think it is a sign I’ll be a follower of hers, for sure.

I would rate this book about the same on an official scale as The Good Daughter… but this one also resonated more with me. I think I am a little younger and a little more rough-around-the-edges than the reader demographic she was probably writing to, but I felt connected with Jackie and her search for something more, as well as her ability to take a risk. Those risks are worth it.

And no, I did not know that this was made into a Lifetime Movie a few years ago. At least, not until I Googled it just now. Huh.

Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

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Did I say some of these books were old? Yes, I mean a few years over a decade ago. Like, I was in high school and not a Senior when it was first published. How did I not read it until now? Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing is one of those books my Mom left on my kitchen counter after a visit, and I’m glad she did.

If you are someone who likes an breezy Chic Lit beach read but also a witty, subtle work with characters who are absolutely authentic… well, this is that perfect combination. The humor is something special, and the character reminded me of aspects of the women in my life who I love. Complex, funny, intriguing, flawed… Jane is a constantly evolving character, and while the timeline feels a bit choppy and threw me off at times, it was great.

I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson

Let me start off by saying that I have not seen the movie (just the previews for it). I Don’t Know How She Does It is not a recent publication (2002) but the concept is one most mothers I know would deem still quite relevant. Ultimately, this book was a tug-of-war for me between commiseration/understanding and vague discomfort with the portrayal of supporting characters. Being a Mom can be tough, and as one that works outside the home I found it refreshing to laugh at the awkward moments (i.e. lice on a business trip) and the bonds Kate Reddy formed with other women… always with humor. The frustration shown towards stay-at-home mothers and Kate’s husband feels real, and understandable… but also exaggerated and disdainful. As someone with a husband who is a true partner (and for whom I am grateful) and friends from every walk of motherhood, I couldn’t fully connect.

Ultimately, the humor Kate Reddy relies on is something I can totally understand.

Well, that’s a wrap. I will confess that I have a phobia of motion-picture tie-in covers on books. I just can’t stand buying them. I do have some exceptions to this… usually when the book is like a buck at a store and after a quick cost/benefit analysis the price makes me get over it quickly.

Anyone else avoiding motion-picture tie in covers? Reading books screened by their Mom for disturbing bits… but obviously reading them anyway? Picking up $1 books from the early aughts?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.

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Fun Size Reviews of Recent Reads

How about some tasty little bites of book reviews? In the past, I’ve reviewed books excessively in-depth. Then, life got crazy and the books piled up. Literally. See below.

I just can’t skip reviewing these books, so thought I would try my hand at being concise and thoughtful. It would be a first, for me. So, here we go!

Brief Reviews of Eat, Pray, Love & Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks & Dune Road & Where We Belong | Painting Sunny

The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

On the list of favorite things I have ever read, this makes the cut. The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks is an enthralling read about ethics, race, economic class, and just a great example of meaningful research. Who can read this book and not finish feeling a deep caring for the Lacks family, a broader perspective of the medical industry, and a bit of an author-crush on Rebecca Skloot? I had to check her bio several times to confirm that it was, in fact, her first book. Anyone who has ever had a question and a nagging instinct to follow up on it, will understand the basis for this research. Rebecca has made more tremendous strides in our current-day conversation on race than one person usually does; and all without coming across as self-righteous or judgmental. I find this book, and Ms. Skloot, a bit inspirational. I would love to get coffee with her.

It’s kinda like: Stiff, Spook, or Bonk by Mary Roach (Yes, I love my nerdy research girls.)

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, I know reviews of this book have been done to death. I had seen the Julia Roberts movie replayed on cable, of course, but hadn’t actually read the book yet. I found it for $1 at a book sale, and figured it was worth reading just to have an opinion about it. Honestly, Eat Pray Love is a good book. Overplayed in the media, yes, but good. It was interesting to see what was different in the book, and it is well-written. Elizabeth seems authentic, likeable, and while a little daring, also a little but of a regular person. It does make you feel like you could also change your life if you only were willing to take the leap. I dare you not to be Googling Bali vacations as soon as you put the book down.

It’s kinda like:  The Happiness Project (and apparently two books I haven’t read but people say are similar: Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home In Italy and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m taking people’s word on that.)

Dune Road: A Novel by Jane Green

I am a long-time reader of Ms. Green, and imagine I will continue reading her books until either she stops making them, or I lose my eye-sight. There are a lot of authors like that, for me. Not only do I enjoy their work, but after reading so many of their books they have a comfortable, distant, but familiar presence in my life… kind of like that cousin of yours, who you love, but lives really far away so you never see? You know what I mean. In any case, Dune Road was alright. I enjoyed sitting down with a cup of coffee and observing as Kit’s life evolved. The most enjoyable storyline centered on Kit’s relationships and their ever-changing nature, particularly with her ex-husband and her sister. If you have never read Jane Green before, I would point you to a few of her previous novels to get started. Personally, I found The Beach House, Second Chance, and Babyville: A Novel more engaging. Jane Green is an author who is easy to feeling connected with, and I believe will remain a staple of the Chick Lit bookshelves. Seriously, read The Beach House on your next day off – you won’t regret it.

It’s kinda like: The other books by Jane Green listed above, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, or Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter (Why do all their names start with Js? Conspiracy theory, anyone?)

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is also a classic-factory within the Chick Lit genre, and a current back-hone of it I’m sure. With bestsellers being made into major feature films (such is the case with Something Borrowed), her books are certainly popular and worth reading. Where We Belong is a good book, particularly suitable for a beach read on vacation, as that easy but enjoyable read while you’re on a long flight, or a relaxed weekend. However, I think that (similar to the Jane Green review above) I would recommend other books by the author ahead of this one. It just didn’t resonate the same way with me. Ms. Giffin’s step in a different direction, exploring different topics and relationships, was what was most enjoyable.

It’s kinda like: Her other books as mentioned above, The Undomestic Goddess by Sophia Kinsella, and Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner.

As usual, these are just my own humble opinions based on my reading experiences. Anyone else read the above, and have a differing opinion? Crushing on Rebecca Skloot? Want to add a few recommendations to my reading list?

Happy weekend, everyone!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.

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“Comedy is tragedy that happens to other people.” – Angela Carter. (A list of My Favorite Comedic Memoir Authors)

Out of all the genres, comedic memoirs seem to be bursting at the seams shelves in bookstores these days…. and thank goodness. These are books that can inspire, uplift, and provide joy for many people. They can also be train-wrecks that make you feel much better about yourself. Either way.

While there may not be as many of these books out there as Harlequin romance novels, there are still quite a few. The covers aren’t as sexy, but let’s read them anyway. Here are just a few of my favorite sources for awkward laughs, unfortunate circumstances, and shopping tips (in the case of Kaling).

Let’s get this popularity contest started.

A List of My Favorite Comedic Memoir Authors | Painting Sunny

Laurie Notaro, author of I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl

Anything by Laurie Notaro is funny. And a little messed up. She has also written a ton of other books that are also worthy of your time. The titles alone suck me in. Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood had me bust out laughing in an airport once, and I’m pretty sure security tailed me for awhile.

Mindy Kaling, author of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

A refreshing, laugh-out-loud, awkward story of a girl that may feel familiar, but also relatable. You may recall my obsessive ramble extensive review, earlier this year. Mindy is the little sister you wish you had, the best friend you find exhausting but can’t help but love, and the daring career woman you want to be inspired by. I’m also a little hooked on The Mindy Project, no lie.

Jenny Lawson, author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

If you don’t read The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson’s blog, and the launch for her book) you should. Just google “beyonce the chicken” and clear your schedule for a few hours. Okay, I’ll fess up; I haven’t read her book yet. I’m on a tight budget, and honestly it is so new I still can’t afford to buy it. If someone wants to be my secret admirer and send me a copy, feel free. I do stalk read her blog regularly, though… and her posts are enough to land her on my comedic memoir fav list.

Wade Rouse, author of At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life

A Midwestern shout-out and a hilarious memoir. In all seriousness, you will take stock of your own dependence on technology and materialism. Then you will go back to laughing. Real, funny… I can’t wait to read more by Wade Rouse.

Tina Fey, author of Bossypants

… or a million hilarious SNL sketches. No list of comedic memoirs would be complete with Bossypants. A comedic goddess, she needs no introduction by me. Every bestseller by a female comedian for the rest of this decade will say “the next Tina Fey”. She is what every woman I know wants to be when they grow up.

David Sedaris, author of Me Talk Pretty One Day

The King of funny biographies, anything by this man is worth buying immediately and reading. Everyone I know has a collection of David Sedaris books, and brings up “the time they saw him speak in person” at every social gathering. It isn’t even obnoxious; he is just so funny. I think he invented this genre, since contributing a wealth of books including Naked, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, and more. His sister is also one of the coolest people alive. If the United States turns into a monarchy, we could do worse than the Sedaris royal family.

Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays

Funny and intriguing. Sloane is just a smidgen younger than most comedic memoir authors, which adds a refreshing and slightly edgier quality to her writing. Even more intriguing is reading some of the critical feedback in response to some wondering how truthful the memoir is. If it makes you laugh, does it matter?

Sarah Thyre, author of Dark at the Roots: A Memoir

Sarah Thyre brings back every the feelings and emotional responses of every shameful, weird, and awkward moment you’re trying to forget from your youth. Dark at the Roots gets real, and doesn’t pretend those moments didn’t happen. Cringe-worthy and yet endearing, it’s worth reading.

Alright, what else should I be reading? Any really serious omissions to my list? Should I jump on the Chelsea Handler band-wagon, or can someone make me way more cool by cluing me into an up-and-coming fresh new author? Attracted security at an airport due to your social awkwardness? I’m sure it’s not just me…

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.