Annual post

I looked over Jessbrarian’s posts to see that it has been over 1 year since posting!

Jessbrarian Fact: Reading in the 2021 through 2022 timeframe has been harder

for Jessbrarian than in the past.

The world has changed. We’ve lived and are living through a pandemic.

Or are we? Who can say at this point without it being some sort of political statement?!

So I won’t say a thing.

I will simply say some real real good books have been read.

What also happened is I now have an affiliate account with

Link coming soon!

For now I’ll tell ya the two books I read this past summer that are still on my mind and well, you should read them, too.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel is one of the most beautiful books I have ever – ever! – read.

The humanness of it all and the prose and the ebbs and flow.

It was both the subject matter AND the way it was written. It was definitely a “what does it all mean?” kind of book hidden in a very entertaining story.

A tale weaving in and out of times and time frames and simulations and authentic life.

This critique is coming from a writer (me!) who absolutely adored another book written by this author – Station Eleven so I am floored by how much I enjoyed Sea of Tranquility and am choosing to call is one of my Top 3 of the year!

Like many readers, I have very high expectations of an author once I have completed a book that I have adored by that author. Sometimes I don’t even try to read an author twice. (Seems dramatic, right?)

It’s not my immediate reaction (sometimes) to pick up their next book.

With Emily St. John Mandel and Sea of Tranquility however, I had read so much about this author (interviews and podcasts and articles, oh my!) because Station Eleven was made into a TV series. Also, watching the series while it showed a different side of the book by virtue of simply being live motion and not in my head, it also reminded me throughout how much I had loved reading the book.
Usually a motion picture (or TV show) about a book just gives you what you know and because Station Eleven had so many layers itself as a book, the TV show was able to also be beautiful, charming, entertaining and have the meaning of life hidden within its paces, pauses and turns.

While reading Sea of Tranquility I smiled a lot and I am very much looking forward to the TV series and to Emily St. John Mandel’s next book.

My next top summer 2022 read was Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. This book might be in my top 3 books ever.

I don’t know.

Here’s why I just said I don’t know:

I have already recommended it to a bunch of people. One reader friend had already read it and not liked it. Another reader friend contacted me while listening to the audio book with the comment that it was too long.
The truth is, as I write this, I realize it is NOT one of my Top 3 ever!
Just top of the summer or past few years.
I DID skip through a chapter and well, I made the executive decision (as the executive in charge of all that I read! Haha) that I could still authoritatively, as a reader, comment on the book without having read the chapter from end to end. I did read the ends of that chapter.

That is, I read the beginning of the chapter and skipped about 3-8 pages of it and then read the remainder of the chapter.

I was excited to move past this particular section of the book and get back to the main characters of the book. (not a spoiler but, I guess, not not a spoiler?)

To me, this book is about Sam and Sadie’s friendship and I just love love loved it!
Nowadays (2022) I am caught up a bit with how binary life has been and how processing the pandemic after processing moving from my home state a few years ago, has opened up my mind that there is no right or wrong way to live. No binary, if you will.
To be a New Yorker all your life and then not live in NY and yet I am still a New Yorker, I just don’t reside there has been illuminating. I know, it sounds silly to see that written in print but you just have to stay with me.
It had been just a two-sided game prior to the move. Like, there were only two ways. And that is just not true.
Same with friendship. There aren’t two ways to have a friendship (or three for that matter). I have always known this, and so I truly was enamored with how the book presents the main friendship. There is no gimmick. It was a story told in a direct manner. I am reveling in how well it was done and how deeply it brought me in to believing these two fictional characters exist.

The friendship of Sam and Sadie is not a straight line and they are not always there for each other and they miss some things in each others lives, but the non linear-ness of the friendship is what I dug.

Writing like this is giving me a twinge of recall to Sally Rooney’s books in the way her characters have sexual relationships and sometimes they don’t. I don’t know if other readers would agree that these books are similar in some way – – in that way? This book is not like Sally Rooney’s at all in the actual text though perhaps in this subtexts it is. Cool.

Read it and tell me what you think!


Oh – look at that!

Did I get your attention?

Have you been reading?

I have!

The notables:

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

I could tell a lot of stories about this book. For one, my mother in law has met the author and had lunch with her!

The Plot was one of my favorite books of the summer purely for its page turning ability. The book increased my ability to turn the page and keep turning the page and ignoring family members and ignoring time in order to, you know, turn the pages. The Plot of the plot (no I will not stop) was just what my languishing needed.

Some of the book takes place in Vermont, some in New York. Cornell University (Jessbrarian’s alma mater) and my new tiny hometown in Vermont was mentioned. And then the protagonist went south and visit Atlanta and the small town my sister lives in was mentioned.

I tell you, as I was reading The Plot and the plot seemed to center around the plot of my life, well, I was a little freaked out. In a good way.

I did think to myself, “Ok so is, like, the author gonna show up at my front door and just like look me in the eye and tell me the ending of this book?”

Something I have noticed about my likes and dislikes with books is I usually like the beginning and middle. I am not an end person. I usually am only ok with most of the endings. Not so with The Plot. Wouldn’t you know it, the book with the title The Plot actually had a great beginning, middle and end! You know, a great plot!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My Taylor Jenkins Reid story:

I think Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was the first Reese Witherspoon recommendation I picked up. It had a gimmick and you know what, I liked it! For the most part. By the end of the middle I was ready for the gimmick to stop. I think I took a break for a day or two and then dove back in for the ending which I enjoyed.

And then I was done with Taylor Jenkins Reid. Or so I thought.

Dramatic, right?!

Then Malibu Rising came out and there was a fuss.

And then I saw lots of people (via social media) talking up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, a Taylor Jenkins Reid book that was published prior to Daisy Jones. And then it was just sitting there minding its own business at my local library so I took it as a sign. Nothing dramatic, just a sign that well, maybe I could try it.
And try it I did. Guys, this book was tons of fun! Gimmicky yes! And Jenkins Reid has a gimmick and well, it’s that her books have gimmicks and this one worked for me. I loved the story, I loved the plot. I loved some of the ridiculousness. Yes! Gimme gimme.

And now, I think again I am done with Taylor Jenkins Reid, until someone tells me Malibu Rising is worth it.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Yes, Yes, Yes to this book.

J. Ryan Stradal has put out two fiction novels, I have read both and I will continue to read his fiction. Full disclosure: I was on a beach vacation reading this book and it just went along with the vibe of pool beach pool beach days. Drinks at the pool, fried clamstrips for days, scoops of ice cream to wash it all down.

Plus throw in a visit from an old friend and you get me.

This book matched perfectly with those days of sunshine, laughter and love. The storytelling and plot is on point, thoughtful, progressive, deep and silly at the same time. What a combo. Read it to feel good. Read it to enjoy life. Read it and love it.

Up next:

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

The Liz Taylor Ring by Brenda Janowitz (coming February 2022!)

How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell (I am late to this party though pretty good at doing nothing, if you must know!)

I think, therefore I read books (though I do not complete books right now)

Sometime in October my Goodreads account informed me that I had read 45 books since the beginning of 2020 and in fact had reached my goal of reading 40 books for the year. This is a self-induced deadline/goal/challenge for all those wondering.

So, what did I do after this? I just opened as many books as possible and haven’t completed a one since then (aside from middle school-level books I am reading to keep up on some of the books my daughter reads).

I am not proud. I am kinda confounded. On the one hand, finishing a book gives me such satisfaction. I mean, duh.

And on the other hand, my concertration levels and focus are just at such low levels, it’s a wonder to finish a chapter, a few pages, a paragraph. Yet, I feel unorganized with all the tales I haven’t completed. How many stories can I keep up with.

What is actually humanly, readerly possible?!

Right now I can truly tell you I am reading the following:

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (strong, moving, deeply felt, upsetting, and important so this one I will finish though it will take some time)

Grand by Sara Schaefer (enjoyable, moving yet also light, autobiography about a comedian in her 30s)

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (truthfully only through two chapters, though I can tell by the time I get over the hump of this one – perhaps only 2 more chapters to go, I will want to savor it and in only the 2 chapters I can feel that it will linger when I am done. Is this odd I am thinking about time AFTER I have completed this one? It’s not because I don’t like it. I like it very much. I am just excited about it. So even thinking about analyzing it later with friends sounds yummy and cozy and thought provoking)

And in an update to cool books stories:

A neighbor posted on our neighborhood listserv that she was looking for The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright. I have had the paperback on my shelf since 2018 and it even moved with me from NY to VT but have I read it?

No I have not. A friend passed it along to me and so I felt I should keep it for when the time came.

Anyway, I decided it was a sign to pass it along since it has been on my shelf so long just gathering dust, so to speak (though it’s really not dusty at all)

I put it on my outdoors steps, the neighbor and I arrange a pick up and wouldn’t you know it?! — > I see on my steps a little paper bag with a note and a book.

We had a pop-up book exchange between strangers! No longer strangers, I tell ya.

The book I received (presents!!!!) is We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. It’s never come across my radar until now and with all the books I am in the middle of I plan to add it to the – I am in the middle of this – list!

Also to add to the list soon – once I get my hands on them are:

Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld and

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin.

I am planning on supporting my local bookstore with the purchase of Steve Martin’s

Jerry Seinfeld’s I’ll wait until I see it at the library. Which means I have to wait for the library to reopen (sad face) or just put it on hold which would mean I would have to return a bunch of books that are overdue. Tee hee.

I am trying my best to be respectful of due dates, I really am. But I have not been lately. #confessionsofalibrarycardholder

That’s all for now – thank you for reading this and happy book reading!

Here I am


It’s been 5 months since posting but not 5 months since reading, processing, learning, feeling uncomfortable, growing, nourishing and trying as much as possible to engage.

Ok. That’s not true.

I have not been trying as much as possible to engage. Some days, I’m engaging and some days I am not. In life, in being productive, in reaching out, in being the old “normal”.

Most days I am sitting in the new normal trying to make it joyful, trying to make it seem important, trying to make it functional.

And what does this have to do with books?

Well, reading is the most comfortable I feel these days.

Gosh, getting into a good book really does make the rest of the world fall away.

Some of those reads have been

Mysterious & page-turner-y:

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Laugh out loud funny:

The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad by Mike Birbiglia

Meaningful, poetic and thoughtful:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

A big check off of my “to read” list because it had been there a long time:

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Highly recommendable, New York-y and OMG can’t wait for the TV version:

Fleischman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Sounds like it might not take you out of the real world but it amazingly, seamlessly did:

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Some of the white girl reading bc ahem, hi. It’s a white girl blogging:

How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

I hope you are reading, too and finding some joy in the other worlds!


I started to listen to Untamed by Glennon Doyle in the car on short drives to and fro.

There isn’t much to and fro now so I am not very far into the book but I know already that I love it. She’s smart and tough and funny and insightful and supportive and the book is just spot on in so many ways.

It’s a must read for all women in the country who are ages 35 – 55.

Maybe even 30 – 60!

And then today a surprise came in the mail – the hardcover copy from a dear friend and fellow bad ass.

I am glad to have both the audible version & the paper version. There is a lot of note taking & highlighting about to happen!


Pandemic Thoughts on Reading Part 2

23 days ago since my last thoughts on books huh?

I wonder why I am surprised. In good times, I barely update this blog. Why would a scary, unknowing the future, waiting for doom time be any different? I guess I just like to be surprised by my unproductive-ness. I think I seem quite productive in other aspects of my life (go me) and yet, over here in this little corner of the world, where I actually enjoy being productive, it’s about once every 23 or 45 or 75 days. So I’ll say it again. Huh.

I’ve been a little stuck and at the same time trying really hard to not be stuck so that’s messed up.

I did not finish the Nazi book (yet).

I’m not surprised.

Let’s tell it how it is — >

Reading is an escape and reading a book about Nazi’s when a global pandemic is happening is NOT an escape.

So I have finished the book by comedian Ali Wong titled Dear Girls and am almost finished with a self-help-y book by Jen Gotch called The Upside of Being Down.

A great title, right?!  I bought this book from an indie shop because in these times I think buying books is important to keep the stores in business. I do not think my purchases here and there will save the industry but I know they help. Anyway, I bought the book thinking, eh I won’t really like it and you know what helps? Low expectations!

Kidding. It is a well written and fun book. Even though it’s about depression and bipolar disease. (Spoiler alert?)

The thing is it’s all relatable and though she doesn’t say it (and I am sure she knows it because it seems like she has done a thorough anaylsis of herself and therefore others) we are all a little bipolar. Maybe that is not politically correct since people diagnosed as bipolar have serious repercussions and demons and anxiety and all of the mess that goes with unstable mental health BUT we all have ups and downs. And that is what makes the book extremely like-able and relatable.

I don’t know that it’s one I would enjoy as much as I do now with the world falling apart all around us. But I’ll never need to find out because I am reading it now.




Pandemic Thoughts on Reading: Part I

Everything is moving at the speed of a light. . . or rather at the speed of a quickly moving, scary, economy-threatening, global-encompassing virus.

During times of social isolation, physical distancing, hunkering down, staying put, nestling in, hygge-ing to the nth degree, drinking lots of tea, social media dieting, careful news watching, reading is having a moment.

It already was but it has progressed.

Self-care is reading. Reading is self-care.

Last week as I was just getting used to the news about this virus which was changing every hour, we visited our local library. The library just underwent a major renovation and it was our first visit to the new space. It was wonderful!! There are now two large wings of the library – one for children and one for adults. There were still books not in their new places. Still could smell the new paint. We ran into neighbors who were just as excited as we were to be in the new building.

While there, I stumbled upon a book that has been on my list for years –  – years! When I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah I declared to myself that I would be doing a deep dive into WWII tales  – fiction and non. That took me to

Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (Wow)

and now  – there it was on the shelf I was perusing – to the recommended non-fictional

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson.

Last week it seemed ok to read a non-fiction book about Nazis.

Now Wednesday, March 18 it doesn’t seem as wise.

Here’s the thing: Last week, it was almost self-imposed “research” to see how close this guy (Hitler) is to that other guy (Trump). And now this week it is just perhaps too much. Maybe terror from the 1930 & 40s will cause the distraction from terror of the 2020s I am seeking?

So far – I’ve finished Part I and am on page 50 out of 365.

And yes, it is a good distraction! Man, everything people say about reading is true.

Some people like horror novels and movies.

I don’t.

Do you think most Holocaust “entertainment” pieces (movies, books, articles) should be classified as horror? For me, perhaps it’s the fascination with real crimes of the human condition is what takes me away more than a gory monster or a knife wielding psycho.

What WWII novels would you recommend?




What I’ve read

So yeah –  – it’s two months later. Time is a twisted warp-y thingamabob. What can I say?! Or rather, what can I write? I can’t write as fast as I am thinking  I will say that so I will cut to the chase.

Tons of good books have been read!

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

It was such a joy to read! It was so thoughtful, funny, deep, dramatic, enthusiastic, and yet also full of sorrow and mostly it exhibited the beauty of life. Really and truly. Feelings, relationships, relationships with family, friends, and with yourself. It was all stuffed in a precise way into this well-organized, page turner.

Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner

I just want to scream out “YES!!” to this book. It was such a mood and such an insightful memoir. There was humor as she wove a tale, a true tale of her time as a Silicon Valley worker and resident. As someone only on the surface in this world during stages of my career it was such a ride to read!

OTHERS that I’ve recently read to update at a later day:

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Thoughts on the three excellent books below have been posted on Instagram:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun



Books you shouldn’t read (?)

A while ago, there was a suggestion of a reader (both of books AND of this blog), that I start a list of books that in my opinion you can skip.

I didn’t want to criticize writers. Who am I to criticize? Writing a book takes a lot of time, a lot of courage, a lot of spell checking and editing, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of vulnerability. The MOST vulnerability because you are putting it all out there on paper without any images or comments.

Just the story. Just the chapters. Just the paragraphs. Just the sentences. Just the word. And yes, just the letters. One after another.

You can’t further explain or defend your writing (and why should you?) but you are just the most vulnerable in that way.

A book of your writing is like you are there with someone in the bath. Or at bedtime. Or lounging on the couch.

You are a storyteller but you put it out there for readers to read at anytime in their lives. They are happy. They are filled with anger. They are relaxing or they are anxious (perhaps on a plane?)

They pick up your book and there it is for them to take in and enjoy (the ultimate) or dislike and criticize. (Oy)

And there you go and you just let them do it.

Your vulnerability in that moment, those moments is the strongest strength there is.

So yeah, I am NOT going to make a list of books to NOT read. And I am going to try to be strong and put myself and my writing out there.

Enjoy your bath time!

Trick article

Interview with Jia Tolentino by Eva Wiseman

It’s actually not a trick from The Guardian but it is about Trick Mirror author Jia Tolentino because now that I have started her book and am loving her analysis of all things “today” “in this world” “of this moment” well, of course, I want to read everything about her.

I think she is a wildly talented writer and I truly believe her writing is important. Maybe I believe this because of our generational difference but mostly I think it is because of our sameness. How can it be that she talks of being an individual and NOT summing up categories with random hashtags that take away their meaning and yet, I am sure I am not the only one reading about her interior world and believing we actually have similar perspectives on the way society has been fucked by the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and reality tv?

Of course, it is 20/20 with me because no – I haven’ written the book or a book about it so I can easily read her tome and say to myself, or write in this post, “I know, right? I was completely thinking the same thing!”

What I have done as I have read her essays is thought,

“Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way but I completely agree.”


“Wow. Yes, that is it! That is what I was thinking but I couldn’t articulate nor did I articulate.”

So, we are sisters now.

This hugging of her and welcoming her in without meeting or without reading all of her work or without really truly internet-stalking her as much as one could is a ‘wink wink’ to her actual analysis.

She points out that the simple brush strokes we nowadays take to describe our experiences or feelings is total bullshit.

At least that is how I would summarize her summary.

So how do you talk to Jia Tolentino after you read her interviews and learn what she thinks about what you think? I mean, I don’t talk to her. I would like to.

That sentiment aside, is she ok?

Can she write as she does and then live balancing between the stark and dark analysis and the reality of well, reality?

I wonder if it’s all just a trick.

In fact, I don’t wonder about it. It is a trick.

There’s your trick mirror!