When I was halfway through my pregnancy, I ended up moving back to my home town in northern California during the winter. I thought that with having The Four Seasons on my resume, it would be easy for me to find a job at a local burger place, but turns out, my hometown with a population of 5,000 people had higher standards (sarcasm). In reality, I realized no one wanted to hire an obviously pregnant person so I ended up not working as much as I had planned, although I did work some, eventually when some temporary work became available at a previous workplace of mine. Then at the end of my pregnancy Covid-19 hit and we went into lockdown. This lasted through the first stages of postpartum and caring for my newborn baby (and then some).
So being back in my hometown, in freezing weather, pregnant and uncomfortable with swollen feet, and then postpartum healing and caring for a sleepy newborn while in a pandemic, I decided it was a good time to stay in and read some books. I have never really been a “reader.” I always felt like I read too slow, got easily distracted, and had trouble finding books that really caught my interest to keep me engaged enough to finish them. With not a whole lot of other options for activities though, I ended up finding a new love for reading. My dad is a retired teacher and has always wished I was a reader like him, so upon finding out that I had taken up reading, he sent me about 50 books (just a small exaggeration).
I realized that what I needed all along, was to find a genre and authors that I liked in order to keep me interested and keep me page-turning. Shamelessly, I came to discover that my favorite author was Nicholas Sparks, who is most well-known for writing The Notebook. He’s written about 20 books or so, and I ended up reading about half of them so far, just in that year alone! I am simply a sucker for all things romance. Yes, I am a basic bitch (well actually I’m an Average Goddess, and I like to think of Average Goddess as being Basic Bitch’s spiritual sister)! I am all about the rom-coms and chick-flicks and I am 100% not ashamed of it in the least. It’s honestly empowering to know what you like and not give a damn about what anyone thinks of it. If it makes you happy, live your life!
Here’s the list in no real particular order (They’re not all Nicholas Sparks). Any made into movies I watched right after as well; I love me a good movie that brings a book to life!
1. Where The Forest Meets The Stars - Glendy Vanderah
~This one was my personal favorite actually. I read that this book was was the author’s first novel and, something about it just made me fall in love with every bit of it.. the characters, the setting, the story. My new all-time fav! I hope they make a movie of it one day!
2. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
~This book contains my new favorite quote from a book: “…Ah hope you fall on soft ground.” Absolutely loved this book. Such a good story, but has sad parts!!! Empowering. Oh, and don’t get me started on Michael Ealy in the made-for-TV movie adaptation. I. Can’t. Even. Heck, same goes for Halle Berry.
3. Dear John - N. Sparks
~I really liked this book, even though I didn’t quite relate to the main characters at all. I was pretty disappointed in the film adaptation, though. I love Amanda Seyfried and yes yes yes to Channing Tatum but I felt like they made it unnecessarily overly dramatic and changed the entire ending too to top it off.
4. The Notebook - N. Sparks
~A classic love story of our generation. I liked the book even better than the movie, which I had seen first (and love), and was surprised by some of the differences, in a good way.
5. The Wedding - N. Sparks
~The sequel to The Notebook. I found it really slow to start actually, unlike most of N. Sparks, but I really liked it in the end. I think this one was a little harder for me to get into than others of his because it’s from the point of view of an older married gentleman, so not that relatable to me, personally.
6. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
~A very intense and powerful book. Hard to read in some parts, but very important topics. I love love love this story. (The movie is even harder to watch if you're sensitive like me).
7. Run Like A Girl - Mina Samuels
~This book is nice if you want to read little bits here and there. It’s not really a story to read front to back, more like little snippets and excerpts that you can read for inspiration for the day.
8. Yes Please - Amy Poehler
~I just love Amy Poehler. ‘Nuff said.
9. The Murmur Of Bees - Sofia Segovia
~I loved some of the magical parts in this story but a good portion of it was really depressing, which made it a slow read. I wish the author would have centered the story around more of the magical and hopeful aspects.
10. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler - Kelly Harms
~I read this on my kindle for free and it was super modern, funny, and easy to read! I kind of wanted more!
11. Trophy Life - Lea Geller
~Also a free kindle book, it wasn’t as funny as the last one, but I could relate to the story and it was also easy to read. I feel like it was lacking depth, though.
12. See Me - N. Sparks
~This one of Sparks’ had more mystery, action, and excitement than a lot of his other books and was also very modern. It was a long one but I was so captivated. It was a page-turner for sure and I really loved the whole book from start to finish.
13. Message In A Bottle - N. Sparks
~Spoiler alert- you will cry.
14. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
~I love a lot of things about this book. It’s a long read, but it takes you on a long and wild journey and into the lives of the characters spanning over years and years of their lives that really makes you feel like you’ve entered their whole world. You develop love and hate for the main characters. Having been written in the years during the Civil War makes it a little hard to read because of the racist aspects. All in all, I’m really glad I read this book and I've seen the movie many times, but it is depressing.
15. The Choice - N. Sparks
~I was totally captivated in the first half, but it took a turn midway through. I wish the beginning part would have lasted longer. I liked it, but not my favorite of his. Plus, the movie totally sucked.
16. Nights In Rodanthe - N. Sparks
~I would call this the essence of all Sparks’ books rolled into one: A lovely tragic romance. The movie didn’t quite capture the feel of the book for me.
17. At First Sight - N. Sparks
~Honestly, just another typical book of his and kind of predictable. I liked it but didn’t love it.
18. Minding Frankie - Maeve Binchy
~This book is such a gem. Super heartwarming story. I also hope they make a movie out of this one some day!
19. The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
~Loved this book. Again, the movie didn’t quite do it justice in my opinion. I know, I know… but Meryl freaking Streep is in it (and Clint Eastwood)! Please don’t come for me. Just my personal opinion! The book is just SO good. Why do they always have to make it extra dramatic on the big screen?! Dare I say, I’d love a remake of it!
20. The Lucky One - N. Sparks
~I really loved this story. The woman worked at a dog kennel and I legit almost went out searching for a job at a dog kennel after reading this although I have absolutely zero experience working with animals and it would have been a super underpaid gig. I guess I’ll just have to find a different way to meet my future Zac Efron lookalike husband. No, but seriously, I also loved the movie even though it’s pretty sappy and they did change some things and add a little extra drama.. Zac isn’t quite in his delicious dad-bod phase yet, but far out of his dorky high-school musical phase and definitely made the whole movie worth watching.
So yeah. That was my binge on books during pregnancy and a pandemic and to be honest I haven’t read anything since. I’d love to hear what your favorite books are though and your opinions on these also if you’ve read or seen the movies! Feel free to comment!
I imagine being a very classy person when I grow up and starting a real book club one day. Maybe you will join me!?
Song of the Day: “Count Me In” by Early Winters. There is a sex scene with this song playing in the background in the movie The Lucky One and it gave me all the feels! You're welcome ;)