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My aspirationally weekly, realistically more like monthly email of books and enthusiasms will keep your #tbr full and make sure you know what's next.


Books for When You Are Feeling Not Quite the Thing

By KJ / Thursday, November 9, 2023

“Not quite the thing” is what Bertie Wooster used to tell Jeeves he was feeling when he was feeling poorly. As a general matter, Bertie was hungover, but the phrase also encompassed a few other typical Bertie states of mind, including vaguely heartbroken and actually ill and snuffly or just taken to his bed in an attempt to avoid one of his many aunts. The past two weeks have found me taking to my bed and clutching the saddest possible […]

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books that make me want to do the thing

By KJ / Friday, June 30, 2023

Reading about cleaning, writing or getting organized is EXACTLY the same as doing it, right? Ok. Reading about getting organized—or being a better parent, or being more creative, or ridding my life of things that aren’t working, is way easier than actually doing it. And often way more enjoyable, because it comes with the free fantasy that when I put the book down, I will be a better, stronger, more improved me. I love books that allow me to imagine […]

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I bought 6… so far

By KJ / Thursday, April 27, 2023

Future you called, they need a book to read and THERE IS A SALE!   Imagine this: you’ve just turned the final page of a fantastic book. Perhaps it was The Bandit Queens, or Murder Your Employer. Or How High We Go In the Dark (in which case, go take some deep breaths, it will be okay) or Georgie All Along. You had so much fun!! And now you have to pick a new book. I have lots to say about what one should […]

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Letters and diaries as page-turners… why?

By KJ / Friday, April 14, 2023

I don’t want to read your diary. Or your letters. But these I want to read… I don’t like the idea of a novel written as letters (or emails. or texts. or What’s App posts). But somehow, I often like the execution. I might not even click on a novel in that format. Or, for that matter, a memoir done as a diary entries. But again—when it’s done well, not only do I really like it… I somehow can’t stop […]

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For the con artist junkies among you.

By KJ / Sunday, April 9, 2023

If you binged Dirty John or Inventing Anna, I have a book for you.   The two POVs in The Fake slowly revolve around an unheard third, coming closer and closer to the truth about the young woman who’s entered both of their lives… but not, in classic con-artist thriller fashion, with any particular ill intent. She will not murder them or steal their identities or ruin their lives, exactly. Not dramatically, anyway. In fact, she’ll make things better. For a while. […]

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Judge my book by its cover… REVEALED!

By KJ / Sunday, April 2, 2023

Purply darkness revealed… I’m gonna need to up my eyeliner game. It is perhaps true that even I, who love all things fall and Halloween, am not exactly ready to launch myself into that distant season just yet. It’s been a long-ass winter (and there’s reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last…*) and I am very much not wishing away spring and summer just yet. BUT This fall will bring the release of Playing the Witch […]

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Feelings are hard and I’m not good at them…

By KJ / Friday, March 24, 2023

  I’ve just had the extremely strange experience of being happy when a book broke the spell I was under and revealed itself to be a book. I’d already begun an adversarial relationship with this book—How High We Go in the Dark, a novel in short stories about a pandemic that begins with the release of a virus through melting permafrost. I was lured in by the promise of black humor in the idea of an amusement park for plague-ridden […]

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One bonkers book

By KJ / Friday, March 17, 2023

“And a—kinda—’Writers and Lovers’ read-alike.” A joy of my writing life is the opportunity to read books before they come out into the world. The advent of bookstagram means that many readers know about “advance reading copies” or ARCs—which we usually see as much as six months before a pub date, or the practice of sending some readers an early copy in the weeks right before publication—but in case you don’t, I’ll lay it out for you—especially because it’s a […]

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Double score!

By KJ / Friday, March 10, 2023

Two books I’d love to read again for the first time. It felt like a particularly lucky reading week when I realized I’d inadvertently landed on two of what I call my “starred reads” for 2023 within a matter of days of each other. I can’t wait to share these with you—especially as one of them is suited to reading with partners who skew more thriller/whodunnit (or gifting to same, or possibly to becoming a family road trip audio book […]

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Not everything has to be awful.

By KJ / Friday, March 3, 2023

It’s not all Very Serious Sad Literature, even when it’s about serious things in unfamiliar places. Ok, so here’s the thing: for lots and lots of people, places that are “other places” to me (as in, very other, where things on the surface appear very different to my eyes) are quite familiar. And ordinary life happens in those places, as it is wont to do. But as a U.S-based reader, so much of what I’m offered to read that takes […]

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Don’t be mean, and give your future self a present.

By KJ / Friday, February 17, 2023

Maybe we don’t always have to call everyone out all the time.   I was listening to a conversation recently where someone who’d been doing more yoga and exercise said she thought of it as “coming home to her body” which, she said, seemed like a really warm and pleasant approach to her. Well, the other person responded, maybe—if you’re lucky enough to have good associations with “home” and “body”. But a lot of people don’t. And… that is indeed […]

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Books for both or neither.

By KJ / Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Whether you love Valentine’s Day or loathe it, I have a read for you. To me, the child of an elementary school teacher (later middle school and then administration), Valentine’s Day is mostly a holiday for sticking adorable paper hearts in varied colors of red and pink to things and also, candy. I like candy. Also chocolate, absolutely, big fan. I have zero strong feelings about who gives me said chocolate and will happily buy it for myself, but I […]

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While waiting for the tow truck..

By KJ / Thursday, February 9, 2023

What would 1990s KJ do? The wheels off of my plans this morning—literally, although not in the plural. The wheel came off the car my kid was driving to school (happily, on a small rural road). He and the friend he picked up had to walk back to the friend’s house and find a ride. Me, I had to call three auto shops to find someone with time to figure out what went wrong, and as I write this, I […]

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Technically I do in fact have time to do all this, but I would rather read.

By KJ / Friday, January 27, 2023

  First up today: me making a pretty typical me mistake. Next: a book that’s totally vibing with the view out my window right now and that I loved, plus one chock-full-of-weird-reading-experience—so skip down to that if that’s what you’re here for! Conceded that it was a long list. But I want to do—and be—a lot of things. I want to speak other languages fluently, to be able to draw the things I see and imagine, to stay connected with […]

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I was afraid of this book, but I loved it.

By KJ / Friday, January 20, 2023

It was fat and literary and difficult and daunting. But I finished it and now I’m eying all of its friends in the #tbr pile because I want more.   I know. You want to know what book I’m talking about. I’ll get there, but first: I think of myself as a pretty light —but decently educated or something like that—reader. Like, I can handle Jane Austen, but you can keep Nathaniel Hawthorne. Trollope yes, Melville no. So when it […]

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Please just distract me with your glorious pages.

By KJ / Friday, November 18, 2022

A serial book abandoner’s plea. Rough week around the old couch-and-bedtable reading homestead. I started and dumped no fewer than 6 assorted books. There’s only one thing to conclude at that point. I’ll spare you the meme, but… It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem. It’s me. I just wasn’t into them. In my defense, five of the six were advance copies, which I don’t pay for and am therefore far more likely to take a flier on. I could probably […]

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#AmReading: Who is Maud Dixon

By KJ / Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Go ye into the world and grab this booky writery thriller. If you loved The Plot, this is a great place to go next (and vice versa)–everyone in this book is fascinating and disturbing and behaving badly, much to the delight of the reader. To sum up: Maud Dixon is the pseudonym for anonymous author of a Crawdads-like success, blocked for her next book. She hires an assistant, a wanna-be writer herself, who then wakes up in the hospital after […]

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If You Liked: A Touch of Magic

By KJ / Monday, July 19, 2021

If you’re a fan of magical realism, small towns, families struggling to accept one another and happy endings, Karen Hawkins’ Dove Pond series is for you. I was lucky enough to get an advance of this one, so I was able to sink in for another visit to this little town where there’s a touch of magic, sure–but the real magic lies in the ability to foster forgiveness and help newcomers to open up to the prospect of love and […]

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#AmReading: Embassy Wife

By KJ / Saturday, July 17, 2021

Really, really enjoyed this kinda uncategorizable novel. The trailing spouse (and family) is a fascinating fixture of diplomacy, and I was absolutely in for the story of the Auntie Mame-like genius that is the experienced wife taking the newbie under her wing. And when things started to get thriller-esque, I was very happy to be along for the ride. There are so many stories in here, and I mean that in the best way–a critique of diplomacy and the Peace […]

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If You Liked: Hollywood stories

By KJ / Thursday, July 15, 2021

Ok, confession: haven’t read Daisy Jones yet. (#TBR). But I loved, loved, loved Malibu Rising, a complicated, mulit-POV family saga that takes place in one day in ’80s Hollywood but moves around in time to show how everyone got there. So much happens, and yet in a sense the whole thing could easily be summed up in two words, one of which is a spoiler–but that’s the best kind of book. Sprawling narrative, tight core. A go-to beach read.  

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