This cozy reading guide offers surprising tips for the best reading chair, book light, and pillows for reading in bed. Get ready for the winter reading season!
In this week’s Book Gang podcast, Osteopath Alexandra Orfanides shared surprising tips for creating a cozy winter reading space despite chronic pain challenges. She does this as a practice, runs the Hypermobility HQ on the TikTok account, and hosts the Help! I’m Hypermobile Podcast.
We encourage you to listen to hear more details on what we are getting wrong about reading posture, her towel hack for full-body support, and other tips for chronic pain management.
Get ready for a bonus treat! I’ve made a Cozy Reading Guide with the best tips and essential items from today’s talk with Alex.
If you love this guide, you can support my work through a one-time donation on Buy Me a Coffee or join our Patreon community for book fun all year long. The financial support helps us keep the lights on in our online space.
More than anything, we hope this improves your reading life this year!
The Best Tools for Cozy Reading With Chronic Pain
Discover helpful tips to make your reading experience enjoyable, even on challenging days with chronic pain.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
COMFORTABLE READING CHAIR
Sink into the most comfortable reading chair with these unique ideas and ways to build the best cozy reading experience at home.
A heated mattress pad is the perfect cozy reading solution when reading in bed in winter.
The mattress pad offers two controllers for each side of your bed and acts as a whole-body heating pad when needed.
Alex shared a tool like this is terrific for people who have dysautonomia as they have a heightened sensitivity to cold, often resulting in pain. The heated mattress pad promotes coziness AND helps improve your blood flow in the process.
While I'm obsessed with this particular cushion design, ANY office cushion with a rubber bottom is excellent for helping you stay comfortably upright and supported when reading in bed.
A base helps support a more comfortable posture during my extended reading sessions and helps reduce strain on my back. You will have to listen to today's Book Gang podcast to make some surprising discoveries about good posture!
To keep things economical, if you already own an office chair cushion, see if it helps when reading in bed.
Finger splints can offer joint support when reading and come in beautiful designs. These little splints help with trigger finger pain and stabilize joints for individuals with hypermobility or laxity in their finger joints.
While we agree there should be no stigma around bracing, some ring splints look like elegant jewelry and offer discreet bracing if you don't opt for the plastic version. Many Etsy sellers offer metal ring splints (gold or silver) if you prefer something more fashionable.
For the practical reader, you can also purchase oval eight splints that can be bought in bulk with various sizing options.
What’s your go-to gadget for reading with chronic pain? Share your favorite tools and devices that make your reading experience more comfortable.
This INCREDIBLE list of 100 stocking stuffers offer the perfect gift ideas for everyone on your list. We have included men, women, teens, tweens, and toddlers!
Are you looking for the perfect small gift to tuck in your family member’s stocking? Today I’m sharing my Christmas stocking stuffers that everyone will love.
My family never did stockings, when I was growing up, and I was always so enchanted by the tradition at my boyfriend’s (now husband) house.
Each stocking was uniquely made and cut from felt with adorable details on each one. I loved watching them open their stocking and the fun things that their parents came up with to give to them.
In their house, they had scratch-off lottery tickets, car wash gift certificates, toll road gift cards, and their favorite candy.
As with ALL my holiday gift guides I want to give you a list of useful gifts to share with a loved one on Christmas morning.
100 Unique Stocking Stuffers For Everyone On Your List
We want to acknowledge that 2023 is expensive, and we have done our best to include families in ALL budgets for this year’s list.
If you are on a budget, I recommend that you sign up with Rakuten to do your shopping. We’re sharing some instructions below for ways to apply this to bigger ticket items in our list. This app gives you cash back on all your qualifying purchases.
These tote bags featuring U.S. landmarks have been a stocking stuffer bestseller over the years.
Made from 100% cotton canvas, these make such fun library tote bags.
Roll this up with a gift card to their favorite independent bookseller.We recommend two of our local indie bookstore options- Brain Lair Books or Fables Books to get your Midwest tote started. Please tell them that I sent you!
THE BEST STOCKING STUFFERS FOR TEEN GIRLS
You don't need to be a teen girl to love these stocking stuffer options, but Google likes us to have gender specific category titles for our gift guides. Why? We don't know!
This rainbow straw set includes four straight and four bent rainbow stainless steel straws that fit all tumbler sizes.
The set comes with a storage bag and two scrub brushes to keep your straws clean. This is perfect for your eco-conscious Gen Z kiddo. Pair it with fun drink mixes and vinyl stickers to decorate their water bottles.
Teens will love these shoe charms in their stockings for decorating their Crocs.
This package includes 35 different styles of shoe charms. These install instantly and can be switched out with their outfit. If this style doesn't work, shop for shoe charms that fit your teen's style and personality.
The Wearable Nail Polish Holder Ring is a convenient accessory for easy nail polish application.
Designed to stretch, this fits on your fingers, securing the nail polish bottle in place as you paint your nails, eliminating the need to move your hand. Pair this stocking stuffer with a few fun polishes from the drugstore.
If it is cold where you live, these fake translucent tights make the ULTIMATE winter stocking gift. Although they appear like sheer pantyhose, they are super thick and fleece on the interior of these tights.
My daughter discovered these for her winter formals and has worn them to all the festive fancy occasions. Pair these with a few fun hair accessories for a holiday gift.
For the guy that needs a few ZZZ's after gaming, this sleep mask features memory foam for comfort.
It also offers a fully adjustable buckle strap and an ideal for blocking out light. This is the go-to option we love for our family! Consider pairing this with other cozy gifts under the tree like a new robe, slippers, or cozy pillow.
This Reversible Octopus Plushie is the perfect gift for kiddos that love a cozy plushie. This offers a uniquely satisfying flipping feature, to help your child display their feelings through its reversible design.
TeeTurtle created the design and it has gone viral on TikTok! These snuggly stuffed animals have rave reviews and come in many different animals, but we have a soft spot for the octopus this year.
The original never-ending Pop It! bubble popping game is a great sensory toy that provides hours of entertainment and relaxation for kids of all ages. It also happens to be perfectly priced at just $5.99!
For busy toddlers, this can be a soothing way to keep them busy at doctor's appointments, errands, or when traveling.
Not only does this Octopus Kite have rave reviews for being easy to fly, but it takes just about ten seconds to set up.
If you live in an apartment or are short on space, this does not have kite sticks, so it only takes up a little space in your home. Users shared that they had hours of enjoyment out of this kite experience.
The Bluey Wackadoo watch features four entertaining games inspired by the show, promoting imaginative play with characters like Bluey and Bingo.
One smart mom shared in her review that she can start a timer on her child's watch that lets her know when they need to head home, reducing tantrums significantly. For that reason alone, we think this is a winner this year.
An advent calendar for teens and tweens can make the holidays special. Shop this curated guide for fun ways to countdown to Christmas this year.
One of my favorite gifts to give my teen is their advent calendar as a Christmas gift each year. This year, we wanted to offer this year’s best calendar ideas for your kiddos in this age category, as well as those college-age kiddos that deserve a fun way to celebrate the season.
We have you covered with a few of our favorite ways to countdown Christmas in 2023.
To keep it economical, be sure to read our suggestions for ways to reuse keepsake boxes or diy advent calendars for the season with our smart ideas for saving.
Do we ever outgrow LEGOS? I hope not! Our team loves this limited edition LEGO advent calendar because it can be reused year after year.
This year's LEGO kit includes 9 Star Wars characters like Emperor Palpatine, an Ewok and a Pit Droid in holiday outfits, a Gonk Droid dressed as a reindeer, Omega with a sled, a 212th Clone Trooper, B-1 Battle Droid, and Princess Leia.
It also contains ten mini vehicle building toys and five additional mini builds for 2023.
Searching for other 2023 LEGO advent calendar options? Here are a few others to discover this year:
These sell out so fast- we have missed the experience in the past- I recommend ordering right away if this is something you want.
For the last two years, we have gifted this experience to our daughter, and we have the best time doing our nails together for the holidays.
The Olive and June Christmas Advent Calendar offers 25 mini mani surprises. You'll find everything you need for beautiful nails, from polishes to nail art stickers, making it the perfect treat for the holiday season.
The company also offers a Hanukkah Calendar with eight nights of mini mani surprises!
This remote control Kindle Page Turner is perfect for reading with hand pain. Learn how to use this gadget with your Kindle Paperwhite or the Kindle app.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve dedicated a post to a single product, but the Kindle Page Turner is the kind of gadget that deserves its own post.
How a Kindle Page Turner Improved My Reading Life
This is your reminder that Instagram is an optical illusion- this is my Glamour shot with a chronic illness. This is not for sympathy, but it was important to offer a real user perspective for today’s post.
Longtime readers know I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which affects my joints and causes chronic pain. An ongoing problem that has increasingly become harder to navigate is the joint pain in my fingers.
I can no longer hold a book comfortably, so I’ve been troubleshooting my reading life with various gadgets to make reading easier.
Many readers have asked that I share all of the tried-and-true items that have helped my reading life (scroll down for a full list).
As someone who would refer to herself as a “professional reader,” I have to read for longer periods of time than an average reader.
In addition to today’s post, I am hosting a Book Gang podcast on Literary Wellness with Chronic Pain with Alexandra Orfanide, Creator of The Hypermobility Helpline Podcast & Osteopath on November 10th to discover new ways to manage reading with chronic pain. I will update this list with her suggestions after we record.
For now, the Kindle Page Turner is new to my arsenal of tools but has singlehandedly made even my worst joint days manageable with reading.
This tool allows me to change the placement of my fingers on this remote based on which joint is experiencing the least amount of pain.
I wanted to explain how this gadget works for you today!
What is a Kindle Page Turner?
This remote control allows you to turn pages without touching the screen, making it a convenient option for those who require a hands-free approach to reading.
The demonstration for this Booktok reading sensation is that it is usually paired with a reader cozied under a blanket, clicking the remote while lying in bed.
What I Love About the Kindle Remote:
This ergonomic remote stays charged with a USB charging cord, which lasts for a week on a single charge.
The remote itself does not require charging, but the sensor that is clipped to your gadget is charged with the cord.
What impresses me the most about this tool is that the remote is unbelievably light, so light, in fact, that I’ve been known to walk around my house all evening with the remote still attached to my wrist.
As someone with wrist issues, this element alone made this gadget a winner.
The biggest win for hand pain sufferers or people with carpal tunnel is using this in either hand and selecting which finger needs to do the page turning for that day.
I will switch from the thumb to my trigger finger or other digits when I’m having a difficult day.
Page-turning is quick and pushing the large button doesn’t take too much finger strength.
What I DON’T Love About This Kindle Remote:
This device is imperfect in its design construction, and I want to share my minor grievances with it.
If you have hand pain, getting the wristlet threaded for the first time will require assistance.
The holder must be threaded through with a pin and requires a steady hand to achieve.
As someone who lacks fine motor skills, assembling it took me a long time. It surprises me that this element does not come pre-assembled for users.
The page-turner remote only moves forward, not backward, so you must swipe if you need to manually reverse direction.
The biggest hurdle is that the device placement takes a little getting used to. It will hide a word of text, typically wherever you place it.
I use context clues to decipher.
Sometimes, I fill in my own words, especially if the book is terrible.
Quick Tips for this Kindle Page Turner Remote:
Keep in mind, if you have a case with a large lip, you may need to pop it off to use this ebook remote.
It would be best to position this lower than where you would tap to access your Kindle menu. If you set this too high, it will go back to your Library, and you must confront how many books you have bought and still need to read.
Once you find the optimal placement, you are off to the races.
How to Use a Kindle Remote Page Turner
Let’s walk through the process of pairing your Kindle Page Turner Remote for the first time.
Be sure to scroll down for more fun reading gadgets!
Step 1: Check Compatibility Before Purchasing a Kindle Page Turner
Before purchasing a Page Turner Remote, ensure it is compatible with your reading device.
While I use this, specifically for my Kindle Paperwhite, the remote control can also be used on an iPad, Android tablet, or Barnes and Noble Nook.
If you use the Scribd app, Libby app, or Kindle app for reading with your wireless device, this device should be compatible once you have opened up your book for reading.
Step 2: Pair the Remote with Your Kindle
Enable Bluetooth: On your Kindle device, go to “Settings” > “Bluetooth & Wireless.” Make sure Bluetooth is turned on.
Put the Remote in Pairing Mode: Follow the instructions provided with your Kindle Page Turner Remote to put it in pairing mode. Typically, this involves holding down a button until a light indicator blinks.
Discover Devices: On your Kindle, tap “Pair a New Device.” Your Kindle will start searching for nearby Bluetooth devices.
Select the Remote: When your Kindle discovers the remote, select it from the list of available devices to pair them.
Confirm Pairing: If prompted, confirm the pairing on both your Kindle and the remote.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Kindle page-turning remotes:
Does the Kindle Have an Auto Page Turner?
Kindle devices primarily rely on manual page turning, either by tapping/swiping the touchscreen or using physical buttons if equipped with them.
That is why a remote can be a helpful device for people with hand pain.
Do You Have Any Page-Turners for My Page-Turning Remote?
I host the Book Gang podcast that celebrates debuts, under-the-radar books, and backlist selections! We host an author or literary hero to help co-host our shows.
Below I am sharing my favorite reading tools for hand pain. Sending love and comfort to any reader who faces these kinds of challenges!
The Best Reading Tools for Chronic Pain
You can read more comfortably beyond the Kindle Page Turner! These are the items that help me the most with reading and chronic pain. As a professional reader with hand pain, I rely upon these items daily.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
This helpful reading device inspired today's post. This reading gadget can reduce hand pain by allowing you to turn pages on your Kindle, Nook, or iPad without physically touching the screen or buttons.
Be sure to see today's post for navigating how to use the Kindle remote.
Building a capsule wardrobe couldn’t be easier with these easy mix and match outfit ideas. Dressed up or dressed down, your capsule wardrobe 2023 guide is here.
Longtime readers know that I’ve embraced a capsule wardrobe for many years. After many years of buying impulsively, chasing every trend, and spending money on outfits for one-time occasions- I wanted to do better.
Here is a picture from my capsule wardrobe way back in 2015.
This switch marked a significant shift in my shopping habits, prompting me to think more consciously about what I buy and why I need it.
The results have been remarkable, leading to smoother mornings and a profound pride in everything I wear.
I’m an advocate for capsule wardrobes because when you have less clutter in your closet, you can do more with what you have.
Many people begin their capsule experience with a monochromatic approach and gradually explore color after mastering the art of coordination.
Today’s post offers guidance on how to choose those base pieces so you can build your wardrobe out from there.
If you want to embrace the capsule wardrobe trend in 2023, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore a capsule wardrobe, how to build one, and my favorite finds for the upcoming year.
The Capsule Wardrobe 2023 Guide You Need Now
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a curated collection of essential clothing items that can be easily mixed and matched to create a wide range of outfits.
The goal is to have a compact yet versatile wardrobe that suits your personal style and lifestyle. By carefully selecting classic pieces that complement each other, you can simplify your daily clothing decisions and save money over the years.
A well-planned capsule wardrobe saves you time and money and contributes to a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to fashion.
How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe
Building a capsule wardrobe may seem daunting at first, but it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience with the right approach. Here are the key steps to get you started:
1. Assess Your Current Wardrobe
Before you start purging your closet or making new purchases, closely examine your current wardrobe. Identify your favorite pieces, the items you wear most often, and those that have sentimental value.
These will serve as the foundation of your capsule wardrobe.
I recommend requesting a Clean Out Bag from thredUP and removing any accessories, shoes, clothing, or coats that you no longer wear.
Once the company processes your bag, they can issue a credit that you can use towards seasonal pieces that stand the test of time.
2. Define Your Style and Needs
Consider your personal style preferences and daily lifestyle. Are you more inclined towards casual, classic, or trendy fashion?
Do you need professional attire for work, or is your lifestyle more relaxed? Understanding your personal style and needs will help you make informed choices when selecting new pieces.
This collection of clothing is my Fall 2023 capsule wardrobe, but the capsule collection needs to fit your personality and lifestyle.
3. Create a Color Palette
Choose a color palette for your capsule wardrobe.
Neutral colors like black, white, gray, and beige are popular choices, as they are easy to mix and match.
However, I encourage you to incorporate a few accent colors that complement your style.
The final piece in this set offers textures and patterns to embrace for this season.
4. Choose Versatile Pieces
Opt for versatile clothing items that can be paired with multiple outfits.
Think about items like a well-fitted blazer, a classic white button-down shirt, a pair of dark denim jeans, and a little black dress.
These versatile pieces form the core of your capsule wardrobe.
5. Stick to a Capsule Wardrobe Size
Decide on the number of items you want in your capsule wardrobe. While there’s no one-size-fits-all rule, a typical capsule wardrobe consists of 30-40 pieces, including tops, bottoms, dresses, and outerwear.
If you are a beginner, I recommend Project 333 as a beautiful starting point. I used this as my personal style template for almost a DECADE!
6. Set a Budget and Stick to It
In 2023, sustainability remains a prominent theme in fashion. Consider investing in sustainable, eco-friendly clothing brands prioritizing ethical production practices and materials.
I’m not a fan of fast fashion, so the items featured today are ones that I personally inspected and can attest are made well and I believe have longevity.
The truth is, most of the items in my wardrobe are secondhand because high quality and eco-friendly items are typically out of my budget.
If I want splurge items like a trenchcoat, designer bag, or a well-made pair of trousers- I visit consignment shops or use thredUP.
The inspiration boards I'm seeing this year embrace When Harry Meets Sally and Gilmore Girls. This style is very easy to replicate if you thrift shop. Think corduroy, tweed, plaid, and chunky knit sweaters.
This year, plaid bombers are having a moment. Try a print like this or pull in another texture like tweed or herringbone.
These jigsaw puzzles for adults offer unique designs in 500, 1,000, or 2,000 piece counts. This list has easy puzzle designs to more challenging jigsaws shapes.
As soon as the weather turns crisp, we designate a table in our home as the puzzle table for the season. I love to have a puzzle that we can work on in those early morning hours with coffee or at the end of the day with a cup of tea.
Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite puzzles we’ve done at our house and some that made my wish list this this year. We have had the best time updating this guide for you.
Make sure to bookmark this list for gift-giving this year. Puzzles make incredibly unique hostess gifts, housewarming presents, and holiday gifts.
The artists were inspired by how a geode’s crystalline structure is created in nature and used a special simulation program that develops the puzzle’s image by layering color that radiates from the puzzle’s edge.
Discover my five favorite books from top celebrity book clubs. From Reese to Oprah to Jenna, the ultimate must-read list awaits. Get the scoop on them all!
Celebrity book clubs have become quite influential in my reading life, and I’m sure I’m not alone. From Reese Witherspoon to Oprah Winfrey, these celebrity book clubs are taking the literary world by storm!
On this week’s Book Gang podcast episode, we spill the literary tea on some of your favorite celebrity book clubs. In this episode, Josh (from @tellthebeees on Tiktok) joins me to discuss how Hollywood and literature can collide.
We discuss the celebrity power of Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Jenna Bush on the publishing industry. We also discuss the Noname Book Club and her mission to get books into the hands of incarcerated individuals.
In 1996, Oprah introduced her on-air book club with a simple goal: “to get the whole country reading again.” Her first book selection was The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard.
Oprah’s book club quickly became a cultural force in the literary world. She has been estimated to drive sales anywhere between 20 to 100 times more than any other media personality.
It is fun to reflect on the response of writers in those early days. Initially, some authors hesitated to have their work endorsed by a celebrity book club. Still, as time passed, Oprah’s approval became an author’s badge of honor, with many seeing a significant boost in sales after selection.
Thanks to Oprah’s influence, many celebrities are leading book clubs, each with a unique approach. In fact, during the pandemic, many celebrities started book clubs, but not all of them had staying power.
One of the most legendary of these book club stars was Kim Kardashian & Chrissy Teigen. After announcing that they were starting a book club in 2017, they got as far as meeting once and posting a few tweets about it – and no further. Kim said, “It never took off because we were lazy.”
One thing that has become increasingly clear about celebrity book clubs is that they are a driving force within the publishing industry and bring much success to these chosen writers.
Today I am sharing five of my favorite selections from these three featured celebrity book clubs in honor of today’s discussion. As we discuss more book clubs in the future, this book club list will later expand beyond this initial list. We hope to explore many other book clubs in the future, including an Oprah’s Book Club Deep Dive!
Don’t Forget to Join the MomAdvice Book Club
Of course, I can’t encourage you enough to join MY book club, The MomAdvice Book Club! Not only do I curate twelve books for discussion each year, but we enhance this experience through our Patreon group. By joining, you gain access to exclusive author interviews and book club playlists that immerse you further in these book selections. To learn more about that, visit our 2023 book club books list.
Meet Jenna’s Book Club
Jenna Bush Hager, a former First Daughter of the United States, author, journalist, and television personality, founded Jenna’s Book Club. The club was launched in March 2019 as part of the Today Show on NBC.
Jenna’s Book Club features a new book selection every month, announced on the Today Show and on Jenna’s social media channels. The books selected are a mix of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, and other types of literature. The club also provides discussion questions for each book selection to help facilitate conversations and engage readers. You can see the full list of Jenna’s picks here.
Read With Jenna Book Club Best Books
I’ve read nineteen of Jenna’s selections and have loved them all. These are five of my favorite Read With Jenna Book Club selections from my years of reading along with her.
In 1963, two men are hired to steward at a Presbyterian congregation, but they could not be more opposite. Charles is a Harvard professor-to-be who falls in love with Lily, an intellectual who sternly opposes religion.
James has weathered a troubled past and finds hope and faith through Nan, who grew up with a devout minister father. Rather than lean into this comforting religious lifestyle, he is passionate about social issues and sees injustice around him.
The contrast in these homes and between these men feeds the story. As the two happen to be taking the reigns during a challenging and turbulent time with racism and women’s rights, it creates a dynamic storyline.
In this book, we get to imagine our world as an atheist feminist tasked with being a minister's wife and one where your devout faith is all you know with a spouse determined to raise awareness around racial inequalities in your comforting church environment.
This story follows these two couples over decades as they must learn to love and respect one another, despite their differences. It is a poignant meditation on faith, marriage, and the meaning of life.
Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel is a charming and witty exploration of reckoning with the past and discovering unexpected connections that can change everything.
If I can make one small recommendation, I beg you to choose the audiobook format for this beautiful book.
Tova Sullivan, a seventy-year-old widow, finds solace in her night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. After losing her husband and son, Tova has learned to cope by staying busy and working hard, and she finds purpose in cleaning the aquarium and caring for the animals.
There, she forms an unlikely bond with Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who holds the key to unraveling the mystery of her son's disappearance. As they spend time together, Marcellus helps Tova uncover the truth about her son's disappearance, and Tova learns to cherish the time she has left with her new friend.
Alongside Tova's story is the tale of Cameron Cassmore, a thirty-year-old man searching for his place in the world and the secrets of his past. As he navigates his journey, he becomes intertwined with Tova and Marcellus, who all learn valuable lessons about life, love, and loss.
This book showcases the power of human connection AND our connection to animals. It's a book that I can confidently recommend to ANY reader.
This heart-wrenching story follows Adunni, a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who dreams of receiving an education but is sold by her father as a third wife to an older man.
But amidst the hardship, there are glimmers of hope. When a local woman takes Adunni under her wing and helps her apply for a scholarship, it could be the pivotal moment that changes Adunni's future forever.
Adunni's life is incredibly difficult, and it's painful to know that many girls like her still face these challenges today. This book is not only a beautiful read, but it also highlights important issues that still need to be addressed today.
Many readers recommend and have loved the audiobook experience, but it resonated just as much in the paper copy!
Nothing to See Here is a quirky and heartwarming story with a rather unusual premise.
Lillian and Madison were former roommates at an elite boarding school and haven't spoken since Lillian left in the wake of a scandal at their school.
It’s why it is such a surprise when Madison reaches out to Lillian for help caring for her twin step sons. Lillian figures she has nothing to lose and accepts the unique job offer, but it isn’t easy job.
You see, these children aren’t like any other children. When agitated, they spontaneously combust into flames. Throughout one humid summer, Lillian learns to love and protect the strange children, ultimately finding her place in the world.
This charming story is a quick and enjoyable read, perfect for those who love magical realism, and will be a warm introduction to Kevin Wilson's unique writing. This is another case where the audiobook will enhance your experience with this book.
This gripping story follows twelve-year-old Edward Adler, the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents and older brother, and how he struggles to find his place in the world after losing everything he holds dear.
If you love coming-of-age stories as much as I do, you'll be moved by Edward's journey and the characters he meets along the way, especially his new neighbor and faithful sidekick, Shay.
The alternating perspectives between the passengers and the crew provide a deep understanding of the tragedy and the emotions and thoughts of those involved. The letters written by the families of the other passengers add a layer of emotion and make the book even more touching.
If you connect with this novel, don't miss Ann's next book, Hello, Beautiful, launching on March 14th. I have this on my Kindle now and can't wait to read it!
Meet Reese’s Book Club
Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club is an online book club founded by the actress and producer Reese Witherspoon. The club focuses on promoting and celebrating books written by women, with a particular emphasis on uplifting and amplifying the voices of underrepresented authors.
Each month, Witherspoon selects a new book to feature on her book club Instagram page and share with her millions of followers. The books chosen are often contemporary fiction, memoirs, or compelling and thought-provoking essays.
In addition to her monthly book picks, Witherspoon also interviews the authors of the selected books on her Instagram page and shares their insights and inspirations behind their work. This provides a unique opportunity for readers to learn more about the books and their authors. You can see the full list of Reese’s picks here.
Reese Witherspoon Book Club Best Books
I’ve read twenty-four of Reese’s selections with mixed results. The earlier years yielded the majority of my favorites. Here are my five favorite picks from Reese’s selections.
If you're looking for a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel that explores the complexities of family, identity, and acceptance, then this is the novel for you.
The story follows the story of Rosie and Penn, a couple raising five boys in Wisconsin. When their youngest son, Claude, desires to wear dresses and be called Poppy, the family's world is turned upside down. As they navigate the challenges of raising a transgender child, they must confront their biases, fears, and insecurities.
Frankel shares, in an interview for our site, that she is the mother of a little boy who is now a girl, but reassures readers this is not their story but a fictional story to discuss more of a broader social issue that roads are not always clearly defined for each child. When asked about her eye-catching cover, she shared that the peeled orange symbolizes the layers of identity and what's on the inside versus the outside.
It is a beautifully written and compassionate exploration of what it means to love unconditionally and accept people for who they are. With its relatable characters, engaging plot, and important message of inclusivity, this book will leave a lasting impression on anyone who reads it.
This literary fiction masterpiece is a poignant and thought-provoking novel by Elif Shafak, exploring the themes of identity, love, and loss. Set in Cyprus, the story follows two parallel narratives, one in the past and one in the present, connected by a mysterious tree that seems to hold the key to a long-hidden secret.
Defne and Kostas have a Romeo & Juliet love story, but the opposition is their Greek and Turkish heritage. Their love blossoms, quite literally, beneath a fig tree that stretches through the rooftop of their favorite tavern, where they plan their secret meetings.
As they struggle to overcome the obstacles in their path, they must confront the realities of war, displacement, and prejudice and its devastating impact on their lives and those around them.
In the present timeline, we meet Ada, a young woman who returns to the island years later, seeking answers about her family's past and the secrets they kept hidden. As she delves deeper into her family's history, she discovers the mysterious tree's role in their lives and the truth behind their painful past.
Through her masterful storytelling, Shafak weaves together these two narratives, exploring the themes of love, loss, and identity in a heart-wrenching and uplifting way. "The Island of Missing Trees" is a powerful and captivating novel that will stay with readers long after the last page has been turned.
After reading this book, I don't know how you wouldn't want to hug a tree. The way the author writes this viewpoint makes the whole story. I found myself tearing up over many of these chapters and the gorgeous affair that blossomed between these two characters. The best thing is that many side characters are just as compelling and add more dimension to the story.
The climate change observations, told by nature herself, allow for a deeply layered book perfect for any book club. This is one case where Reese’s Witherspoon’s selection hit the right notes.
I regret that I did not do this book on audiobook for many reasons, including how I would have loved to hear the tree's narration and hear many unfamiliar words, regions, and local cuisines written in the pages.
However, if you read this one on paper or digital, there is a convenient glossary I didn't know existed until I finished.
This beautiful story comes with many trigger warnings, especially if you are a highly sensitive reader. I found it worth the journey, though, and finished this haunting book in a single day.
This fast page-turner opens with Elle and her oldest friend Jonas sneaking out the back door for a tryst while their spouses chat in the kitchen at a dinner party.
They are on vacation at the summer home, nicknamed the Paper Palace, where she has spent every summer of her life.
And over the next twenty-four hours, Elle must decide whether to stay with her devoted husband or leave him for her childhood sweetheart. But, unfortunately, that sweet boy from her childhood also happened to hold the biggest secret of her life had fate not intervened with a devastating event that altered the course of their lives forever.
Thus begins a gripping tale that spans fifty years and unfolds, tracing the complex web of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable trauma from Elle's childhood.
With its tender yet devastating portrayal of desire, safety, and tragedy's lasting mental health impacts, The Paper Palace is a masterfully crafted novel that delves deep into the intricate dynamics of families and the intricate tensions that simmer beneath the surface of everyday life.
This book will not be a perfect fit for every reader. The characters do not significantly evolve, but it offered a mesmerizing audiobook performance that I found to be quite compelling.
If you're looking for the perfect steamy romance novel, Seven Days in June is the book for you! This delicious literary plot features two writers who get a second chance at love after fifteen years apart.
Eva Mercy is a single mother, and bestselling erotica writer feeling overwhelmed from all directions. Shane Hall is a reclusive, award-winning literary author who unexpectedly appears in New York. When the two writers meet at a literary event, sparks fly, reigniting a passion that they thought had long been extinguished.
No one knows they had a passionate love affair twenty years ago, lasting just seven days. Despite being apart, they have secretly written to each other in their books ever since.
In the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva's not sure how to trust the man who broke her heart.
There is so much to unbox with this one, with surprising depth from difficult childhoods to their more grown-up challenges as Black authors. I love that you feel like you get a peek behind the curtain at both the writing process and the creative challenges of story creation.
This book also tackles Eva’s journey with debilitating migraines and chronic pain. I have loved seeing this more recently in my romance novels, and these backstories make a lighter topic (like romance) have surprising depth. As someone with chronic pain, I felt so seen in this storyline. This novel has become one of my all-time favorite romance novels, and Tia Williams is now a favorite author.
Daisy Jones & The Six is one of those fictional celebrity stories you can't believe is fiction. This captivating novel transports readers back to the 1970s rock and roll era, following the meteoric rise of a fictional rock band, Daisy Jones & The Six, and their frontwoman Daisy Jones, who becomes one of the biggest icons in music history.
Daisy is the girl that every girl wants to be. She is stunning and can capture any man's attention, sneaking out to clubs when she is just a kid and capturing the heart of anyone her heart desires. She finds she has a knack for singing, a knack that people spend years trying to train their voices to achieve.
The Six is led by Billy Dunne and is also getting noticed in the music world. Billy is an addict who has just discovered that he will be a father and wants to sow his wild oats before settling down.
When Billy & Daisy cross paths, a producer realizes that putting these two voices together could be the ticket to making them all successful.
At the heart of the novel is the story of the tumultuous relationship between Daisy & Billy, as their chemistry is undeniable both on and off the stage.
The novel is presented in an interview format, as if the band members were interviewed about their experiences. The story is told through the perspectives of various characters, including Daisy, the band members, and others who were a part of their journey. Through this interview series, the reader uncovers their humble beginnings to their explosive endings. It's the stuff of legends, as all good rock and roll stories are.
Noname is a rapper, singer, and poet from Chicago known for her socially conscious and introspective rap lyrics. She’s also the founder of the Noname Book Club, a Black-led cooperative that connects community members, including those in carceral facilities, with radical books written by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.
Noname’s mom owned a bookstore in Chicago for 20 years, so she grew up around books her whole life. The library was a big part of her younger years; she even started recording her music in her local library. It’s clear that books have always been a big part of her life, and she’s using her platform to share her love of reading with others.
Since its founding in 2019, the club has established 12 chapters across the US and sends books to hundreds of incarcerated individuals.
The club’s mission is to provide free resources to incarcerated individuals and make revolutionary literature available in local communities. They’ve faced challenges in navigating what is and isn’t against prison rules for literature, but they’re working hard to get their books into the hands of those who need them.
They currently have local chapters in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Washington D.C. If you’re interested in joining, they pick one or two new books every month and ask that you pick a Black-owned bookstore to purchase from or grab a copy from your local library.
What I love about their monthly picks is that they tell you exactly the focus, so you can find books with themes you want to explore and learn about every month. The list is robust and eclectic, which matches Noname’s artistic style. You can see the full list of Noname’s picks here.
The Noname Book Club Best Books
The Noname Book Club only recently came on my radar so these are the four selections I’ve read from her list with plans to read more starting this year.
This poignant and haunting novel is set in Nigeria in the 1990s. The story follows the life and tragic death of Vivek Oji, a young boy unlike any other.
Vivek loves wearing dresses and keeping his hair long, which is unusual in Nigeria's conservative society. His family is supportive and protective of him, but they do not fully understand him.
One day, Vivek's mother discovers his body wrapped in colorful fabric at her doorstep. As the family grieves and tries to make sense of the tragedy, they learn that Vivek had been keeping many secrets.
The novel delves into the complex relationships between Vivek, his family, and his friends. It explores the challenges of growing up in a society that does not accept differences and the pain of losing someone who was never fully understood.
Emezi's writing is lyrical and powerful, and she creates unforgettable characters who will stay with readers long after they finish the book. This book has left an imprint on my heart forever.
Set in the summer of 1775 on the Gold Coast of West Africa, Yaa Gyasi's novel follows the intertwined lives of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, unaware of each other's existence.
Effia catches the eye of a white British trader of enslaved people, James, who pays a hefty bride price to take her from her forested village to live in the Cape Coast Castle. Meanwhile, Esi is captured in a raid by slave traders and taken to the same castle, where she is imprisoned in the dungeon before being transported to the United States to be sold into slavery.
The novel takes a multigenerational approach, tracing the descendants of Effia and Esi in Africa and America, respectively. The chapter's titles are named after different characters, each providing a unique perspective on the ongoing legacy of slavery and discrimination. The writing is evocative and immersive, with vivid descriptions that bring this haunting story to life.
More importantly, it yields a powerful exploration that is unflinching in both its depiction of the horrors of slavery and the triumph of the human spirit. This is essential reading.
This mesmerizing novel is about twin sisters who take vastly different paths as adults after growing up in a small, southern black community.
One sister lives with her black daughter in the same town they both grew up in, while the other sister has passed as white and lives with her white husband who knows nothing about her past.
The novel explores the intricacies of their lives, families, communities, and racial identities, weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s.
I didn't want this riveting read to end, as the reader longs for the two girls to unite and find their commonalities again. It is a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing, and it offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive, provocative, compassionate, and wise.
If this novel resonates with you, don’t miss “Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?” this summer. It’s another riveting book on the history of passing set in the era of old Hollywood.
If you're in the mood for a quick, captivating read that's equal parts witty, dark, and suspenseful, then look no further than My Sister, The Serial Killer. This isn't just a Noname Book Club selection, it also made the MomAdvice Book Club list too.
This unique novel follows the story of two sisters, Korede and Ayoola, who are polar opposites in every way - except for the fact that Ayoola has a penchant for killing her boyfriends Korede is the one who always has to clean up her messes.
But when Ayoola sets her sights on Korede's crush, things take a deadly turn, and Korede must decide just how far she will go to protect her sister.
Despite the title, this book is not just about serial killing - it's a story about the complicated bonds between sisters, the lengths we'll go to protect the people we love, and the consequences of our actions.
The writing is sharp and engaging, and the plot moves lightning-fast, keeping you turning the pages until the end. And at just 240 pages, it's the perfect book to pick up if you're short on time but still want to get lost in a good story.
Love this post? Don’t miss these budget-friendly reading resources!
I’m sharing my four strategies for free Kindle Books that will give you an unlimited collection of FREE ebooks. Don’t miss this if you are on a budget!
It is no secret that I’m frugal so today I wanted to share my favorite ways to read for free and on a budget. Although this tutorial is for Kindle books, I want to remind you that these strategies can also be done with the free Kindle reading app.
As I’ve been exploring these themes on the blog and Book Gang podcast, I wanted to share some of my favorite free reading tools.
How to Get FREE Kindle Books Now
Get Free Audiobooks and Ebooks Through the Libby App
If you want to begin checking out Kindle books, you will need to begin by getting a library card from your local library. This card number is what you will use to access your account and allows you to get these free Kindle library books and audiobooks for free.
When you get this card, you are typically assigned a pin that you will then use to access the Libby app (learn how to transition from Overdrive to Libby with our tutorial) that allows you to search for the books that you are interested in. If you have trouble figuring out a great library PIN, a local librarian offered the tip to make your pin the last four digits of your library card so you never forget it.
You can listen to the Book Gang podcast with the Libby team as they discuss how to create an account and tag your virtual library!
Once you have this, you can download the Libby app to borrow ebooks, digital audiobooks, and magazines from your public libraries.
After it is downloaded, simply search for your library by name or zip code. Sign in using your library card number and PIN, and then you can browse the available materials by title, author, or subject.
To borrow an item, select it and tap the “Borrow” button. You can read or listen to the item with Wi-Fi or mobile data or download it for offline use and read it anytime, anywhere. The item will be available for a loan period, usually two weeks.
When you’re finished, return it early by tapping the “Return” button in the “Loans” section of the app.
Don’t forget to check your library’s website to see what other apps you have access to so you can maximize ALL the freebies. Our library, for example, offers Hoopla, Flipster, and theKanopy app.
Get a FREE Kindle Book Through the First Reads Program
Each month, they offer one early release ebooks for free and the selection is often pretty amazing. These books are handpicked by Amazon editors and are made available a month before their official release date. The program was previously known as the Kindle First program.
The genres of books offered in this program are diverse, covering everything from mystery and historical fiction to true crime, children’s books, and more. This program is a great way to get a first look at upcoming releases and discover new authors and genres. And the best part is, it’s available for free to Prime members.
Download Free Classic Books from Project Gutenberg
This is the oldest digital library collection that includes works of literature, music, and even some non-fiction texts. The project’s goal is to provide free access to literature and other cultural works, which are in the public domain, meaning their copyrights have expired or were never enforced.
In fact, many classic works of literature such as Pride and Prejudice, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are all available for free on their site.
The project is run by literary volunteers who digitize the books, proofread the texts, and make them available for free download. You can send these books to your Kindle by downloading the book in Kindle format (MOBI) from the Project Gutenberg website onto your computer.
Then, connect your Kindle device to your computer using a USB cable and transfer the MOBI file to your Kindle’s documents folder.
Alternatively, you can also send the MOBI file to your Kindle email address (which can be found in your Amazon account settings) and the book will be delivered wirelessly to your Kindle device.
Borrow Books From Amazon Prime Reading For Free
Did you know that you can check out up to TEN books for free with your Amazon Prime membership? The Amazon Prime Reading is a service exclusive to Amazon Prime members that offers unlimited acccess to a rotating catalog of ebooks, magazines, comics, and audiobooks that members can access for free.
Members can borrow up to 10 titles at a time, with the ability to return titles to borrow new ones. The selection of titles in the library rotates over time, with Amazon adding new titles as others are removed.
This list is rather diverse since I love reading across genres. If you love thrillers, literary fiction, science fiction, thrillers, nonfiction, or young adult- you will likely spy your favorite genres on my list.
Please note, this newsletter is different than the pop-up you might see on the site.
Have any questions about reading for free on your Kindle device or app? Leave them below and I will be happy to answer them. Happy FREE reading, everyone!
Please note, this post contains affiliate links.
Looking for ways to enhance your reading life? Try these posts!
These family films include our top recommendations from movies we loved in 2022. While you wait the release dates of new films you can escape real life with this fun family movie streaming list!
From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.
My family has always loved watching movies together, but since 2020, we’ve become a little obsessed with Family Movie Nights.
I am constantly on the lookout for family friendly movies new and old that might be, at the very least, acceptable to both my kids and my husband.
(Obviously, I’m aiming for something they’ll love. But if you live with more than one person, I’m sure you understand the necessity of compromise and settling for “fine, I will sit here with you and watch this thing someone else picked but I’m gonna roll my eyes but maybe I also kind of like it but I’ll never say so and you can’t make me.”)
With a six-year age gap between my girls—one being a teenager and one a tween, both being quite opinionated—that’s no small task. It falls somewhere on the difficulty scale between fixing a meal that nobody complains about and making them both laugh at the same “dad joke.”
But I’m determined to make Family Movie Nights happen at least once every several weeks, so I persevere.
Fortunately for me—and for you—we are in a golden age of entertainment where we do not lack for options. In fact, we almost have too many options sometimes.
And with so many movies premiering or quickly appearing on streaming services, deciding what to watch has become even more complicated.
Well, you can scratch this whole issue off your list of things to worry about or be frustrated by, friends.
I’m here to help!
I have 12 movies that came out last year, along with reviews and where you can stream them.
Just like that, you’re halfway to one Family Movie Night a month!
Now you just need to pick a date and pop the popcorn!
New Family Movies From 2022 To Watch Now
The Adam Project (Netflix) – Are you sarcastic? Do you like action movies, buddy comedies, or time travel? If so, this Ryan Reynolds movie is for you! A time-traveling fighter pilot has to team up with his 12-year-old self to save the world, and it’s a blast. (watch the trailer)
The Bad Guys (Netflix) – Based on a series of children’s graphic novels, this animated caper follows a group of notorious criminal animals (e.g. shark, snake, spider, wolf) who pretend to be “good” to avoid prison. I watched it with my girls and we loved it so much we watched it again with my husband so he could enjoy it, too! (watch the trailer)
Better Nate than Ever (Disney+) – A 13-year-old and his best friend travel alone to NYC so he can audition for a Broadway play. This live action musical is based on a book, and it is the most beautiful, heartwarming movie I watched last year. (watch the trailer)
Cheaper by the Dozen (Disney+) – This is a modern-day remake of the 2003 movie starring Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union as an interracial couple with a blended family navigating complicated home life, a family business, and a new neighborhood that isn’t exactly welcoming. (watch the trailer)
Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers (Disney+) – If you like your kids movies to come chock-full of references and jokes only the adults will get, you’re gonna like this return of our favorite crime-solving chipmunks. The jokes are nonstop and lean heavily on nostalgia, but both my youngest daughter and I had fun watching it. Voices include Andy Samberg and John Mulaney! (watch the trailer)
DC League of Super-Pets (HBO Max) – What if the fate of the world was up to Superman’s dog and a motley crew of other pets? Enter Krypto, the Super-Dog, here to save the day! This animated movie was cute (and not dark like most DC movies). (watch the trailer)
Enola Holmes 2 (Netflix) – Sherlock’s little sister is back, solving mysteries and breaking the fourth wall and (oh yeah) maybe falling in love. This period piece based on a series of middle-grade novels is sweet, funny, and actually tells a solid mystery. I hope we get many more Enola Holmes movies! (watch the trailer)
Luck (Apple TV+) – Ever wonder if luck is real and, if so, where it comes from? In this animated adventure, an unlucky young girl who’s just aged out of the foster system stumbles into the worlds of good luck and bad luck. Determined to improve her luck, she is pulled into the battle between good and bad luck, making friends and her own luck along the way. (watch the trailer)
Minions: The Rise of Gru (Peacock) – If you’ve wondered how Gru became Gru, this is your movie. If that’s never crossed your mind, it’s also your movie if you were born in the 70s or just love those crazy minions. (Banana!) This prequel to the Despicable Me movies is Gru’s origin story, and it’s both hysterical and heartwarming. (watch the trailer)
Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (Paramount+) – Only cats are ninjas, but Hank the dog really wants to become one anyway. He seeks out the ninja who once saved him but is now washed up and possibly high on catnip (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). Reluctantly, the old ninja trains a new one and together (again, reluctantly) they save the cat ninja world. Full of jokes for grown-ups, this one made all of us laugh a lot. (watch the trailer)
Secret Headquarters (Paramount+) – A middle school boy and his friends discover his distant dad’s secret underground lair. Because his dad is the most powerful superhero in the world! Hijinks ensue when the bad guys come after the kids and they have to save the day. If your family likes The Adam Project, this will be a hit as well, as it stars the same kid (Walker Scobell) and another lovable, sarcastic adult (Owen Wilson). (watch the trailer)
Turning Red (Disney+) – A 13-year-old girl enters adolescence and turns into a giant red panda. Like you do, apparently, when you’re a female in her family. She has to learn how to handle her inner panda, as well as a tricky relationship with her mom, along with the help of her friends. (watch the trailer)
A Note for Parents
Some of these movies are totally appropriate for little kids; some of them are better for older kids. Refer to Common Sense Media for parent reviews and guidance that can help you make decisions for your family.
Another note: I haven’t watched Lyle, Lyle Crocodile or Disenchanted yet. Based on reviews I’ve read and what I know of my family, we’re going to love that singing crocodile and his bonkers movie, but I don’t know for sure yet.
What’s the last movie you watched with your family?
Looking for more of the best family movies? Try these posts!