'B' for Books

What We’re Reading Right Now

Our family likes books, you might say. I started working in an independent bookstore in 1998, and met Brandon when he was hired a year later (and we both stayed on until 2004 — the same year we were married). The kids have tons of books in their rooms, and we installed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to hold (most of) our collection in the front parlor of our Victorian after having made a library of our second floor landing in our first house. Yeah, we kinda like reading.

Brandon switched over to digital books a few years before I did, and now we both read like a mix of traditional and e-books. I use an iPad or sometimes my iPhone, and Brandon reads a Kindle. We were recently introduced to Oyster, which has been described as “Netflix for books,” and it’s pretty awesome. It works on both of our operating systems (and Android, too), and there are several display settings to choose from, letting you customize the look. You get unlimited access to over half a million books for $9.95 a month, and they have everything from classics to new releases (with new titles being added all the time). The best part is that the app makes it easy to find new books through their collections by genre, and it even learns what you like and makes recommendations based on your tastes and activity.

Oyster is offering a 30-day free trial right now and you can browse their popular titles to find some good new books, but I thought it would be fun to put together a reading list with picks from both Brandon and me. Summer’s winding down, but I’m still sort of in that light and fun frame of mind when choosing what to read right now, so my list reflects that. I’m guessing by Brandon’s list that he’s in the ‘end of the world apocalypse’ frame of mind, but you know, to each their own.

Our Oyster Books Reading List

Summer Reads

If you’re still looking for something quick and easy to pick up, these are some good options.

Guilty Pleasures

I re-read a couple of these recently, and oh man. They are ridiculous, in the best way.

My To-Read List

We all have that list of books that we’ve been meaning to get to, right? These are a few of mine.

Brandon’s Picks

Brandon assures me that A Confederacy of Dunces comes together in the end, but I only made it halfway before I gave up on it in favor of something else. (I’m sure I’m wrong and in the minority here, seeing as it’s a Pullitzer Prize winner and all.)

Oyster is offering a free 30-day trial for my readers, so you can try it out for yourself. I have a bunch of other titles that I’m eager to read (I narrowed it down to just three here!), but I’d love a few suggestions too. I’ll add them to my reading list!

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  • Feisty Harriet
    August 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I finished Dunces and it was possibly one of the more painful experiences of my life. I love reading, think I’m fairly intelligent, but I just could not with this book. The fact that it won a Pulitzer somehow should make me feel guilty for hating it, but I don’t, because it was THE WORST!

    Seriously, the worst. Stick with Chabon, he won a Pulitzer too. ;)


    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      So glad I’m not alone then! I usually will stick it out and finish a book, but I just was NOT enjoying it, so I moved on.

  • Kealoha
    August 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    For folks who already use Oyster, do any of you share an account with someone? I’m planning to hop onto the free trial for a looksee, but I’m curious about how distorted the ‘recommendations’ feature gets if there are two people reading with different interests. Also, does each device remember where you left off in a book? For example, if we were both reading the same novel at the same time, would his Kindle and my iPad keep separate bookmarks?

    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Brandon and I are sharing, so the recommendations do pull from both of us. You can tell pretty easily which ones are more for him and more for me, so it hasn’t been a problem. I don’t think you could both read the same book at the same time though — I think the account remembers where you left off, not the device.

      • Kealoha
        August 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

        It makes sense that bookmarks would be stored in the cloud for a single account- it’s a better user experience if you’re sync’d across all of your devices! Thanks for the additional info; can’t wait to explore the app more this weekend! :)

  • jaclyn
    August 7, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I’m a little spastic when it comes to my reading trends but I do LOVE my kindle e-ink.
    My husband is half way through Dunces and every time I ask him how it is so far, he just says, “I’m not ready to decide just yet.” LOL

    I blew threw Gillian Flynn’s first two books in a total of 3 days and I’m just waiting on Gone Girl to be ready from my library’s e-rentals.

  • sarah
    August 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I started and stopped Dunces three or four times before deciding life was just too short to finish a book I hated, even if it was an award winner.

  • Crystal
    August 7, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I force-read my way through Confederacy of Dunces and all I can say is it must have been a bad year for books when it won.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Ha! I no longer feel so bad about abandoning it.

  • Katie S.
    August 7, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    I saw the Flowers in the Attic movie on Lifetime and had to reread the novel-so much more darkness to it! Glad to see I’m not the only one =)

  • Deedee
    August 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Another day…another pointless sponsored post. :/

  • judy
    August 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I love reading -has Bryan read “The Dog Stars” By Joseph Heller. I have it on my nook-does Oyster deal with the nook book? Hope you are feeling super-I always felt like I was carrying a large piece of furniture in front of me towards the last weeks. But oh my……..is there anything more enchanting than a new Baby!

    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      We don’t have a nook, but I don’t think that it’s supported by Oyster. And feeling like I’m carrying furniture up front — sounds about right! Eleanor was almost 9 pounds, and August was 10, so it’s likely that this will be a big baby too. And I’m getting huge!

  • Christina
    August 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I read it years ago and don’t remember details, but I remember that I appreciated Confederacy of Dunces in the end, but I’m not sure I really liked it. It was a tough read and, while I know it’s possible to have a really great story focused on anti-heros or even great villains, I thought the main character was just a bit too awful to really get behind. I don’t blame you one bit for abandoning it.

    My big book failure was Infinite Jest. It was torturous to read the 50 or 60-some-odd pages I managed. And all those footnotes! Ugh. I very soon broke up with the boyfriend who gave me that book for my birthday. It was probably an early warning sign.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      I’ve never read Infinite Jest, but the big joke about it is that everyone says they’ve read it, and what they mean is that they started and never got too far. ;) I did read his book on infinity (Everything and More), and while I liked it, it was kind of a slog to get through.

  • Stephanie
    August 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I love that you included Anne of Green Gables. I loved that series of books as a child and just re-read it this summer for the first time in many, many years. Such a good, light read.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      My grandparents gave me the series when I was young and I liked the books then, but I loved them so much more as an adult!

  • Phoebe
    August 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    I get why Oyster is so appealing, but I have to wave my librarian flag and encourage all you e-reader enthusiasts to see what your local library has to offer in the way of ebooks. I am able to get virtually everything I want to read for free in ebook form from my libraries (NYPL and Brooklyn PL). Yes, you might have a wait a bit for a copy to become available, but if you’ve got a long list of want-to-reads, one will likely be available right away.

    /steps off of soap box

    • Laura
      August 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      I was just coming here to say this! I’m in rural Canada and I can get almost every e-title I want from my local library, for free.

    • etta
      August 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      I tried to use my library for ebooks – but in chicago, if you have an iphone, you have to read them with a kindle app, which is annoying, but not a dealbreaker. For me the dealbreaker was the long waiting lists, the limited selection, the inability to renew a book, and that you could only have them for 2 weeks (more often than not, i was reading something else when a book finally came available).

    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      I agree — the library is great for e-books! They don’t always have everything though, and it depends a lot on where you are so I thought this was still a smart service to talk about. I mentioned on Facebook (in response to a similar comment) that I think there’s room for Oyster along other services, just like someone might choose Netflix, Hulu, broadcast television and others in combination.

  • Elizabeth
    August 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I always enjoy glimpses of people’s bookshelves, real or virtual. I’m interested to see that my own tastes overlap with Brandon’s as much as with yours. (I also appreciate the reminder to pick up Mysteries of Pittsburgh.)

    I hadn’t heard of Oyster, but I’m pleased by its existence: new ways to get to books!

  • Lori
    August 7, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    You are so not alone with the Confederacy of Dunces. I tried so hard but could not get through it with any joy left in my soul. But for some it is the best book they have ever read. Isn’t that what’s great about reading? Something for everyone.

    • Alana
      August 7, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Lori, that’s my favorite book but I think it’s probably more out of personal context. I have a lot of famil from New Orleans, so as they describe his day and where he meanders, I love that I can picture it.

      Do you know the story about how the book was published? It’s heartbreaking and amazing at the same time. Even if you don’t enjoy the book, look into it. Quite a story.

      • Hill
        August 8, 2014 at 8:18 am

        Once I read the story behind the author and the book’s publishing I was intrigued.

        I found Confederacy of Dunces absolutely hilarious, and couldn’t put it down. I loved the disgusting thought of Ignatius’ valve clapping shut, and his alcoholic mother.

        Just wanted to say that, because reading is very personal and we all have different tastes, but I’m afraid that if too many people chime in about hating a book someone may miss the experience of reading a book that they will absolutely love.

        However, for me the book that I really hated…Lord of the Flies

  • kribss
    August 7, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Love Flowers in the Attic and her other series- Heaven. I need to go back and re-read them!

  • Jill
    August 7, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Another way to throw away good money. I have a kindle and get get any book I want from our local library … no cost.

    What is going on with this blog? Silly sponsored posts flogging unnecessary products. Even posts that aren’t obviously sponsored hint at hoping to get a sponsor.

    A disappointing change in what was once a lovely read.

  • Alana
    August 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Fun tip!! I’ve been reading “Vice” by Peter Segal ’cause some nutty broad told me about it. It’s awesome. :)

    • Making it Lovely
      August 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      I love the public radio self-deprecation nerd humor in it — especially in the section about the swingers’ club!

  • Sarah
    August 7, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is fantastic. I loved it each of the four times I read it. Wonder Boys, also by Michael Chabon, is great, too, but I was freaked out when they made a movie version with Katie Holmes…I think it’s time to read both of these books again! Try to read Pittsburgh soon. It’s a summer book.

  • cd
    August 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

    So, I can pay a subscription service to replicate what my tax dollars pay for in my neighborhood? I can see how this service may be useful for those unable to travel on their own to the library. But beyond that . . . I’d recommend everyone donate the Oyster subscription amount to their local libraries instead. Libraries have suffered tremendously in the economic downturn and their previous funding may never return. Bonus: get to know your neighbors.

    Also – Libraries are usually great about getting titles you want that they don’t already have. They are magical, magical resources worthy of support.

    Oh, and even if you hate libraries – probably a safe bet that Amazon Prime’s new book service will kill Oyster in the cradle anyway, right? Sorry.

  • Christina
    August 8, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Nicole, I have been a long time reader of this blog. Long before Eleanor and August joined your family. I think you had been blogging for only a few months when I stumbled across your blog, and I’ve always eagerly looked forward to your posts. You’re “ahead” of me in life milestones — I’m just eloped in April and it’ll be many years before we have kids — but I’ve always felt like I could enjoy your posts and keep your style posts in mind as I purchase a dress or furniture for my apartment.

    Lately, however, that’s not the case. A free trip around France? A $40 mail-order food service? Two sponsored posts about furniture from Target? A sponsored post about wallpaper from Lowe’s? And now a pay-for book subscription? It seems really out of touch with your readers — many who I’m sure are struggling to make ends met during this continued recession — and I can see that I’m not the only one who feels like this blog has merely become one sponsored post after another.

    I certainly don’t begrudge you for wanting to make a living on your blog. I was worried when you announced that Brandon lost his job, and I was one of the ones who wanted you to reopen the shop so I could purchase an item or two and support you and your family because I love your blog so much. But the increase in sponsored posts, particularly ones I can’t even imagine incorporating into my life, is detracting from that love.

  • stephanie
    August 11, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Meant to suggest: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty.

  • sandi m
    August 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I’m bad at reading books unless it’s those relating to jewelry making. And then I want them in paper form to have and to hold, and keep for future reference.

    Just an observation as I read this post – the pink sidebar looks like a lovely stack of books!