10 Things I Love – Birthday Edition!

Hi, friends! My birthday is later this week. I am turning 35 years old, and although I am so very grateful for many things in my life, I wish I could go on a trip SO BAD right now. But life is weird at the moment. So, instead I’ll just share with you a number of things I bought myself as a birthday present and a few things I still might buy. Ha.

I bought myself not one but TWO pairs of these yoga pants. I now own three pairs and it’s almost all I wear right now.

I had been eyeing these shoes for a while and I finally bought myself some. So far they have mostly been used to go to the grocery store, but I am hopeful for their future.

Oddly enough, I haven’t been biting my nails lately. I have mostly been a life long nail-biter, but recently I stopped somehow. So, a nail polish set seemed to be in order.

I’ve also bought myself a number of rings lately, starting with this one and then this one and also these.

Wanted some Tiny Tassel earrings for a while and finally got this pair.

It hasn’t arrived just yet, but I bought myself an Agility mattress (like I had before). I love it that much!

I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but I am very, very seriously considering a new pair of tennis shoes. I love this brand—I have an old pair I wear a lot, but they are finally on their last leg (pun!).

I ordered myself a cake from a local baker (and singer/songwriter), Ellie Schmidly. Check out her Instagram account @cake.sgf. especially if you are in the Springfield, Missouri area.

On my birthday, or a day or two after (however my schedule works out), I am planning to go flea market shopping around town, which I haven’t done in forever. I have a list of things I’m looking for so fingers crossed I might find a little treasure that day. 🙂

This isn’t really a birthday present (because I go outside of my birthday too, lately twice a month), but I have a therapy session this week and I do consider that a gift to myself.

Last thing. Do you want to give me a birthday gift? If so, what I’d really love is some book recommendations, just leave them in the comments. I’m looking for fiction and I’m open to anything, but I’m especially into more lighthearted things at the moment, yet I also always love a good mystery, romance, fantasy, YA, or a thriller. xo. Emma

  • Hello Emma 🙂 I’m a podcast listener (and new blog reader) and I think this is this first time I’ve commented. ANYWAYS! If you’re looking for lighthearted/fiction, I’d recommend the Piece of Cake Mystery Series. I see you have a lot of book suggestions, so have fun reading 🙂

  • Happy Birthday! My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison is so clever. I love them,she has 3 Godmother books that could be read in any order.
    Have you read Taylor Jenkins Reid? Everything by her is great, Maybe in Another life is my favorite. The main character is so relatable. And I love that the ending isn’t cliche. She makes 1 decision and her life takes 2 separate course. I’ve read it twice and I’m not sure which ending I like more.

  • My favorite light hearted books are the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han. They are young adult novels and the first two books are also movies on Netflix right now. I think you’d love them! Happy late birthday!

  • The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller. Gothic romance with a ghost story, fantastic banter, and a little spice.

  • Congrats, Emma!!! And happy birthday! Also ‘My Not So Perfect Life’ by Sophie Kinsella is the perfect fun, lighthearted read with a main character who is so charming. It’s like a modern feel-good rom com in a book.

  • New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl. Some of the stories are just delightful, others disturbing and thought provoking, all really good. Happy Birthday!

  • Happy Birthday! Fav books for me are the Discovery of Witches series by Deborah Harkness, Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovich, anything by Tamora Pierce and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Enjoy!

  • I’ve read a lot during COVID and I keep a list in my notes of the books I read with grades. Here are three that got A’s and are either traditional novel or thriller:
    Mrs Everything
    The Last Mrs Parrish
    Nine Perfect Strangers
    The Hearts Invisible Furies

  • Happy birthday!! Anathema by Neal Stephenson is a doozy of a book (almost 1000 pages), but it’s really good if you like sci fi. Also, I may steal this idea of getting book recommendations for my next birthday. It can be tricky to find good fiction books without recommendations.

  • Have you read Ready Player One? I watched the movie when it came out and it was entertaining, but all kinds of confusing. Finally listened to the book on audio on a long drive and it was so good! I’m definitely not a gaming person, but this story was just super fun.
    Happy birthday!!!

  • Happy Birthday Emma! I love the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. She’s a charming child detective 🙂 Very lighthearted, but also has mystery.
    https://www.goodreads.com/series/46160-flavia-de-luce

  • I wanted to recommend re-reading a favorite book! I dont do it very often but it’s so comforting and fun to get back into a story you loved once before. Specifically I recommend a Hunger Games re-read! It holds up!!
    It’s also fun to read it with more perspective and age – it changes things but it’s still super gripping

  • The Allbirds wool loungers are amazing! I use them in place of house shoes and they are so cozy and not too hot! Would love to try their tennis shoes too.

  • Happy birthday Emma! Wishing you so much joy! I needed a lighthearted read too, and I’m currently in the middle of The Madwoman Upstairs: part mystery, part tribute to the Bronte sisters, part college/ coming of age story… it’s fun! ❤️

  • Happy Birthday! And congratulations! So excited for you !

    I just finished Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West. It was just what I was looking for as a lighthearted escape. A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman (or anything by him, although some of his books have a tendency to make me ugly cry), Sourdough by Robin Sloan, and Happy and You Know it by Laura Hankin are also all lovely or fun or both.

  • Happy birthday!

    Love allbirds! I wore my last pair down to the floor so now I need a new pair 🙂

    Re. book recs: if you like romance, have you read anything by Alice Clayton? I recommend her trio Nuts/Cream of the Crop/Buns. Thriller: I read Alyssa Cole’s When No One is Watching and loved it! Lighter fair, Fix her Up by Tessa Bailey was delightful (and apparently she has two follow ups).

    Enjoy being 35! I’ll be following you in 3 months 😛

  • Happy Birthday! Mine is coming soon too, a fellow Aquarian. I have been reading a lot of memoirs, but a great fiction, oldie but really goodie is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. Enjoy!

  • The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly about 5 women living across different time periods connected by a house and a garden. It is eloquently and beautifully written and the toggling back and forth between chapters and time frames is effortlessly done. Very enjoyable! BTW, I’ve picked up lots of ideas through the comments here, so thanks!

  • Happy Birthday! I got hooked on fantasy at the beginning of covid and love a good series… The Court of Thornes and Roses or Throne of Glass series’ by Sarah J. Mass are my absolute favorites. Caraval by Stephanie Farber. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue or The Shades of Magic Series by V.E Schwab.

  • Circe! SO many people recommended this book to me and it just did not look compelling at all. I finally read it and now it’s one of my favourites 🙂

  • Happy birthday!!! I hope you birthday week is amazing!
    My favorite book series is a historical fiction set in 1800s they are murder mysteries and the main character has an over arching mystery and life story that goes through the series.
    The first book is What Angels Fear by CS Harris.

  • You would love the chronicles of at Mary’s by Jodi Taylor – it’s a lighthearted story about some eclectic historians who travel through time to find out what really happened at events

  • Ok, I just finished Piranesi by Susanna Clarke and it is such a fun fantasy! It’s a pretty quick read and while it gets a little dark, I would say it’s more like it makes you think more than feel super sad or depressed. It’s also super good if you know very little about the story so I’ll stop here!

    If you have more time and want something all-consuming, I highly recommend Jonathan Strange&Mr Norrell, also by Susanna Clarke!! It’s like 900 pages but it’s an amazing blend of like…Tolkien/Austen/Harry Potter. Sounds weird but it works. Magicians in 19th century England. There’s a BBC series too!

  • Happy birthday 🙂 I’m currently reading Becky Chambers’ the Wayfarer’s series, it’s sci-fi but very human-focused and engagingly written, I’m loving it!

  • Happiest birthday Emma! So excited about your baby news and wishing you the best year. ❤ I do have book recommendations! Evvie Drake Starts Over, anything by Beth O’Leary and Emma Straub, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, and all of Fredrik Backman’s books!

  • Happy Birthday Reads:
    The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
    Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
    The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

  • Happy birthday, Emma!!! Fellow January baby (I’m the 28th) and feeling all the feels about it… Thank you for sharing your beautiful plans and making me feel inspired for it to be a special, fulfilling celebration like yours.

    Giving the gift of book recommendations is a delight so here are some of mine:
    1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee — this was my most favourite book I read in 2020 and I highly recommend for the story + inspiring writing. It’s truly incredible and you will love it.
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34051011-pachinko

    2. Cursebreaker series (the third and final book comes out in a few days!) YA by Brigid Kemmerer
    This is fantasy romance but the motifs are gorgeous, the characters are interesting and the writing is inclusive. A lovely escape!
    https://www.goodreads.com/series/251650-cursebreakers

    3. The Lumatere Chronicles YA by Melina Marchetta
    This is also fantasy but just such enjoyable reading. Marchetta is an Australian author and I feel like you might enjoy her other books as well — really formative writing for a lot of us millennials!
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18810348-the-lumatere-chronicles

    Have also seen some reccs above for His Dark Materials and I second this x a million. My favourite series EVER — definitely read the books then watch the series (note: there are three seasons, one for each book in the trilogy however season 3 is slated for release later in 2021. It shouldn’t ruin the series to read the books in advance as I think there is some intricacy to doing both that makes them complementary). On a side note to this, Philip Pullman also has a book on writing that I’m yearning to read — he’s extraordinarily prolific and dedicated to writing so I think you’d like it as well.

    Non-fiction reccs
    I know you mentioned fiction however these books were really fantastic and well-structured reads so worth recommending as well!
    1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
    I could not put this down and adored this memoir!
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38746485-becoming

    2. Rutger Bregman — read Utopia for Realists and Humankind
    These are both very readable and propose solutions to complex problems (this is a sweeping synopsis!). The first is about the case for universal basic income and the second is about the innate kindness of humanity despite contrary outlooks. In these difficult times, they both really uplifted me.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutger_Bregman

    3. Sarah Turnbull — Almost French and All Good Things
    Two sequential memoirs that will make you feel like you’re travelling. I tend to read Almost French every year and these are narrative-style memoirs to relish from your reading chair.
    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8364.Sarah_Turnbull

    Sending big hugs and joyful wishes ahead of your new year of life. Keep being you, Emma, you bring light into the world xx

  • Happy birthday Emma! 🙂 I just wanted to say that you are my hero! I have always loved reading your blogposts, especially on life-related subjects. And now its the highlight of my week to listen to your podcast. You seem like an incredibly kind, fun, thoughtful and creative person. I hope you have a wonderful birthday week! 🙂

  • Happy birthday Emma! I hope this year brings you wonderful memories and love from all those you surround yourself with. I would highly recommend Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please”. It is my current read and I just can’t put it down. She also has an audio book on Libby and she is the narrator which is just as great as you’d think it would be. If you read it I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  • Happy birthday, Emma! I also turn 35 next month. Feels kind of weird, doesn’t it? I love your birthday list and admire your positivity. <3

    Reading has been my savior the last year or so. There's nothing better for anxiety and stress than losing yourself in a book, right? I tend to read classics, but last year I tried to catch up on some new/newish releases, especially speculative fiction. I read 78 books in 2020! Here are some of my favorites that aren't too dreary:

    1) The Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29589074-truly-devious

    2) Mexican Gothic and The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33574143-the-beautiful-ones

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53152636-mexican-gothic

    3) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50623864-the-invisible-life-of-addie-larue

    4) We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50215350-we-ride-upon-sticks

    5) The Vanishing Half and The Mothers by Brit Bennett: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51791252-the-vanishing-half

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28815371-the-mothers

    6) City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42135029-city-of-girls

    7) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31434883-eleanor-oliphant-is-completely-fine

    8) Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36586697-queenie

    The last two are especially inspiring if you are going through a tough time, but they're not cloying, at least imo!

    Also, if you want something a little on the darker/thriller side, check out Laura Purcell's books, particularly The Corset: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39098246-the-corset

    Here's to our mid-to-lates!

    XX,
    Sara

  • Happy birthday!! Book recommendations: the Vanishing Half, Mexican Gothic, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, and Circe

  • The “Queen’s Thief Series” by Megan Whalen Turner is the BEST. It’s YA but clever and well thought out enough for adults to fully enjoy it. The characters are deep and compelling.

  • A great lighthearted book I recently read is How to Fall in Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry. For YA, Karen McManus writes really good suspense/mysteries.

  • Happy birthday! I recommend The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, if you’re a fan of short stories. And for a mystery you won’t be able to put down, Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

  • I’m a YA lover, too! These are not new, but I especially loved the City of Ember series (by Jeanne DuPrau) and the Matched series (by Ally Condie). Recently I read the A Discovery of Witches trilogy (by Deborah Harkness), and I was captivated! Happy birthday!

  • Happy Birthday, Emma! The last book I read and really enjoyed was Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby. I couldn’t stop laughing!

  • Happy Birthday, Emma! If you haven’t read it, Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen would be my recommendation. It’s about a woman in a creative field who is looking back at her life wondering how she got to where she is. It’s about creative rebirth and new beginnings. And it’s a great read. Enjoy!

  • Last Train to Key west by Chanel cleeton, Florida in the 30s. All her books are fab holiday style reading

  • Happy Birthday Emma!! I really enjoyed Ali Wong’s book. It made me laugh until it hurt. Wishing you well and a great 2021!

  • Happy Birthday, Emma! I hope you have a great year and get to take the trip or your dreams when the time comes. I would recommend Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass. Then when you’re done with that, he has two more recent installments that continue the story. The first three are more YA while the last two that continue it are more for adults. I also echo anything by Neil Gaiman and NK Jemison!

  • Happy birthday for later in the week!

    I will recommend some Australian authors for you to read because I’m an Aussie & I love love love Australian writers!
    Jane Harper’s The Dry & The Lost Man
    Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe
    Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence
    Holly Wainwright’s I Give my Marriage a Year
    Sally Helpworth’s The Mother-in-Law or The Family Next Door

    Happy reading x

  • Happy Birthday Emma! I hope you have a lovely day and enjoy all of the wonderful gifts!! I would highly reccomend American Royals, and it’s sequel, Majesty by Katherine McGee. They are both YA romance, and I really enjoyed them. Another recent favorite was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It wasn’t very lighthearted, but was very interesting! Thank you for all that you do!

  • Happy Birthday Week!
    “This is How it Always Is” by Laurie Frankel

  • Recently finished Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister and it was a fun, lighter read. Happy Birthday!

  • I just read “This Time Next Year” and it was a light rom com type read with a New Year’s Eve theme. Happy Birthday!

  • Happy birthday to you, Emma! You are one of my fav people on the internet, even if that’s weird! Ha ha.

    I am reading How Much Of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang and it is on my list of life favorites and I am not even finish. It is not lighthearted and one part was sad/stressful/uncomfortable and I had to stop listening for like a week because I also was looking for something lighter and this was not it! But I went back to it and like two seconds later it was fine. The writing is INCREDIBLE. Like, wow. It is a gift!

  • Longtime reader (12ish+ years!) & podcast listener here & I just want to say, happy birthday Emma!! The ABM blog and podcast truly adds joy to my life every week and I love supporting you ladies! I know things are weird at the moment, but I really hope this year gets better and better for you. Book recommendation–I just started reading “Outlawed” by Anna North and it is awesome so far. It’s a western set in 1894 but it has a rad, feminist spin! I’m actually purposefully reading it a little slowly to savor it. 🙂

  • Anything by Jennifer Crusie, but Bet Me is my favorite.

    All of Julia Quinn’s books.

    The Night Circus

    The Secret Life of Violet Grant – really love Beatriz Williams

    Sarah Maas

    The Pink Carnation series

    Happy Birthday!

  • I was never a romance reader before the pandemic, but I found the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr a nice escape these past few months. I haven’t watched it, but they also made it into a Netflix series.

  • Happy Birthday! Since you are a writer and working on novels, I would recommend Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Wolfe. Both are great in helping you solve any issues if you get stuck plot wise. (Save the Cat is geared towards screenwriters, but useful no matter what kind of writing you do.) Hope 2021 treats you well!

  • I recommend The Book Of Longing by Sue Monk Kidd. I wasn’t excited by the topic, so don’t let that stop you. It is AMAZING. I really hope you read it. And, then share your thoughts 🙂

  • Have you read the Bridgerton books yet? I haven’t but looooved the series on Netflix so I might give it a try! 🙂

  • Happy birthday, sweet Emma! I LOVE that you view therapy as a gift to yourself! That’s such a healthy way to frame it. Your taste in rings is impeccable and whenever you share you treasures they immediately end up on my birthday/holiday lists. Regarding books, my favorite lately that I keep going back to is “I Was Told There’d Be Cake” a collection of essays by Sloane Crosley. It’s a hilarious and heartwarming and just really makes me feel like we’re all in this madness together. I hope 35 is magical for you! <3

  • Happy birthday, Emma! I Will pass on two titles that were recommended to me and that I loved: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey.

  • Happy Birthday, Emma! Wishing you a year of joy and peace!

    As far as fiction, I highly recommend “We Were the Lucky Ones” by Georgia Hunter. It’s basically the opposite of lighthearted (based on the author’s family’s experience during WWII) but SO good.

    I read a ton of non-fiction and the best I’ve read recently is “Nobody will Tell You This But Me” by Bess Kalb. It’s SUPER charming and sweet (and often funny!) story about a granddaughter and her grandmother.

    Best wishes!! 🙂

  • I just finished Little Secrets and I couldn’t put it down! Did you recommend it?

  • Happy Birthday Emma!!! I’ve been reading the Royal We and sequel, fun light books that are a parody of William and Kate, if Kate were an American Chicago Cubs fan. Don’t take them too seriously but I enjoy them. I also liked American Royals by Katherine McGee, the premise is if George Washington had become America’s king….again don’t take it too seriously but still a fun light read. They are YA fiction.
    Some of my favorite books I decided to listen to again this year are the old books All Creatures Great and Small by James Harrier. They are memoir/non fiction novels about a countryside vet during the 1930s in England. The audio is great with that a pleasant British voice. They aren’t quite as light but they are very touching and most chapters are a short story so it’s easy to come back to them. They just have some of the sweetest stories about animals as well as some great British wit.

  • Pandemics got me to finally read the classics I was always postponing. 61′ Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, was a truly delightful find.

  • Happy birthday, Emma! I recommend a book called Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance. A little fantasy, a little romance – it’s a very strange and sweet story.

  • Happy birthday Emma! Have you read anything by Elin Hilderbrand, “queen of the beach read”? They get a little repetitive reading them back to back, but it’s been a fun little mental get away for me.

  • Happy Birthday, Emma! <3

    Books:
    Recursion – Blake Crouch
    Together tea – Marjan Kamali
    The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides

  • Hi Emma! Happy Birthday! I just read West with the Night by Beryl Markham. She was the first person to fly west solo from Europe to North America and also trained race horses in Africa in the early 1900’s. So good!

  • Capricorn or Aquarius? Happy birthday queen!

    Book recommendations: The Glass Hotel (not happy but extremely well written and compelling) by Emily St John Mandel and Chanel Cleeton’s Cuba series for exciting tales of heroines with happy endings.

    I’ll also second reading Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson!

  • For light-hearted, check out Rachael Herron’s romance books – https://rachaelherron.com/books/

  • Happy birthday!!! Have you read anything by Sarah J. Maas? Her Crescent City and A Court of Thorns and Roses series beg to be binged. I’m about to start her Throne of Glass series! They’re all fantasy/YAish (but not really because they also flirt with the romance genre).

    • Omg, two of my favorite series ever!! I was a tiny bit more into the throne of glass series, but that’s probably because there were more books to completely immerse in the story

  • Happy Birthday, Emma!! Have you read, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder? It’s a YA, but so good. I recommend listening to the audiobook.

  • I am reading Mindy Kaling’s essay collection Nothing Like I Imagined and really like it–she’s too funny. Louise Penny’s mysteries are next on my list.

  • Happy birthday Emma, If you haven’t already read them, I can recommend with the utmost confidence Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. ‘Such a fun age’ is a super easy, zitgeisty read. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed ‘city of girls’ by Elizabeth Gilbert for a lovely, light gentle, diverting tale set in the 40s.

  • meant to write “based on many stories and interviews from his grandfathers**” 🙂

  • happy birthday!

    my husband recently published his debut novel BELL HAMMERS. It’s set in Southern Illinois, and based on many many stories and interviews! i reread it this past year and it brought a lot of joy + hope. here’s the goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48731251-bell-hammers and amazon https://www.amazon.com/Bell-Hammers-Little-Egypt-Illinois/dp/1949547027 links!

  • It has a subtle romance, but basically about finding yourself, a family , and your place, but I’d rec The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. It is a little fantastical and has the best group of kids ever.

    Happy Birthday! Hope you find all that you are looking for this year.

  • Have you read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead? It’s a murder mystery set in a wintery polish village. The narrator is a somewhat batty animal-loving elder woman and she’s Delightful. It has a really interesting beat to it and won the Nobel a few years ago.

    Another fun and thoughtful short read is Saturday Night Ghost Club. It’s weird and beautiful. It’s about a middle school aged boy, obsessed with ghost and goblins, who befriends a new kid in town and starts a ghost hunting club along with his eccentric uncle. It’s super sweet and fun but surprisingly deep/heartbreaking.

  • I just finished The Wives by Tarryn Fisher, and it was unexpected and excellent!

  • Happy birthday!! Hope you have a wonderful birthday despite all the chaos that surrounds us right now! Loving the presents, excellent choices all round ? if you haven’t read the Rosie Project then do! It is a definite mood booster! I am quite picky w novels as I struggle to enjoy them if they’re too predictable, but this one gave me so much joy – and as a bonus there’s three books as it’s a trilogy!! Otherwise, the 100 year old man that climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonasson is also hilarious ? thanks so much as well for such a lovely blog, one of the few places along w your podcast that is keeping me inspired at this crazy time!

  • Happy day, Emma! ❤️

    I have been loving Kevin Wilson- he’s so weird and hilarious. Started with the Family Fang, and just read Nothing to See Here. Heartfelt, smart, and SO funny.

  • Good mystery series by Louise Penny is Gamache series. Often set in small rural town in Quebec. I would read them in order as lots of character development through them.
    Happy Birthday. I also just finished Cait Flanders Adventures in opting out and now my head is spinning what if!

    • Second the Gamache recommendation! He’s a lovely main character, not like your typical harsh or flawed DCI that I’ve gotten used to in a Rebus or Tennison.

  • Hi, Emma! My birthday is Thursday, so happy birthday from a fellow Aquarius. I recommend reading Stella Gibbons’s ‘Cold Comfort Farm’, which I truly think is one of the funniest books written in English in the 20th century. (Try to get an edition with a few explanatory notes, but if you can’t find one just know that the book was written in 1932 but set in the “near future”, so don’t be confused by mentions of telephones with TV dials. It’s a tiny aspect of the story, but can feel a little disorienting.) Otherwise I know that you’ve written about liking romance novels–have you read anything by Georgette Heyer? She’s considered to be the person who popularized the Regency-era romance novel, and she’s amazing. I would start with ‘Arabella’ or ‘The Grand Sophy’, but my favorite Heyer novel is ‘Cotillion’.

  • Happy Birthday, Emma!

    The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

    The perfect series to just get away (mentally), enjoy San Francisco, and sink into a light hearted mystery with a funny and flawed protagonist.

    It’s such a fun time.

  • Happy Birthday, Emma! We share birthday weeks (I’m turning 37), and I love hearing how you will be celebrating and treating yourself. As far as a book rec, how about Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman (made into the well-loved 90’s movie that I have seen a bazillion times now and still adore) or another from her series. Look forward to hearing your book recs throughout the year!

  • Happy Birthday Emma! I hope some wonderful moments arrive for you this year. Here’s my book recommendation birthday gifts (I read a LOT during lockdowns last year, so have a few). All are pretty lighthearted or at least, not too emotional 🙂
    -The Grace Kelly Dress: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45288567-the-grace-kelly-dress
    -DC Trip: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24989498-d-c-trip
    -The Bookshop on the Corner (this was a re-read, it’s so sweet and especially charming if you like to read a lot, which it seems you do!): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28372019-the-bookshop-on-the-corner
    -If you like YA, the His Dark Materials Series is amazing! It is a bit emotional, but worth it I think!
    -Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42478640-tuesday-mooney-talks-to-ghosts

  • Happy birthday Emma! As far book recommendations – romance and YA have been getting me through the pandemic. I recommend the American Royals series by Katherine McGee. Fun series on if the US and a monarchy. Also all of Jasmine Guillory’s books are really fun, modern steamy romances.

  • HAPPY birthday! I have a birthday at the end of the month, so I’ve been buying a couple special things for myself too. 🙂

    I just read Olive Kitteridge and LOVED it, but it’s a little bit heavy. Superb writing, though.

  • Happy birthday Emma!! I think it’s awesome that you’re buying yourself some gifts this year to help make your birthday feel pleasurable and joyful. I really loved two YA books I read by Mary H.K. Choi this summer- Emergency Contact and Permanent Record. And of course everything by Rainbow Rowell.

  • Happy birthday Emma! I have two great charming and feel good recommendations for you: “When God was a Rabbit” by Sarah Winman and “My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologizes” by Fredrik Backman (also published as “My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry” depending on where you are).

  • Happy birthday, Emma! Mine is this week, too. Glad you are celebrating and taking care of yourself with a little extra TLC and comforts.

    My book recommendations:
    _North: How to Live Scandinavian_ by Brontë Aurell (Scandinavian culture, food, travel, humor- she owns Scandikitchen in London and she is very funny! A light and very enjoyable read)
    _Nimona_by Noelle Stevenson (graphic YA novel that in many ways defies description but is sooooo worth reading)
    I have little kids so I tend to read in short bursts of quiet, and not as frequently as I’d like. I will try to think of others, though!

  • Happy birthday Emma! I read this book last month and it was so wonderful and obscure that I think you’d enjoy it immensely. It’s called “Sourdough” by Robin Sloan.

  • My birthday was Thursday, cheers! An oldie but one I love to recommend: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman. Also, The Weight of a Piano, Chris Cander. And a very very weird/mysterious one, Night Film, Marisha Pessel.

  • I am enjoying a really funny book: “Separation Anxiety” by Laura Zigman

    And I *loved* “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    • Also the series “A Discovery of Witches” which is also now an Amazon Prime series?

      • If you want something lighthearted and heartwarming, I STRONGLY recommend The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. It has elements of fantasy and romance, and is an adult book but almost reads like a middle grade. It is just the most beautiful, magical, comforting read.

  • Happy birthday! I highly recommend the book, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. It is light hearted and such a fun book, even for non-sci fi fans. I haven’t read the other novels in the series, but I have heard that all of them are fantastic. Wishing you all the best!

  • Happy early birthday, Emma! Have you ever read any of the whimsical love stories by Susan Elizabeth Phillips? They’re lighthearted, fun, and the best feel-good books EVER. I re-read them all the time. They’re all good, but one of my favourites of hers is “Match me if you can”, or her Chicago Stars series. Happy Birthday!

  • Happy happy birthday, Emma! ? I’m definitely feeling the lighter reads right now, too. You may have already read these, but I’ve decided to work my way through David Sedaris books — just finished Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, really enjoyed it! Some others recent and other fav reads:

    – Wool series — read that over the summer, three books to binge! It’s nice to have this weird world to get immersed in. Also some unraveling of a mystery.
    – Rebecca — a little romance, a little mystery, a little creepy
    – Dear Girls — Ali Wong, need I say more?

    Bonus — listen to Italo Calvino’s beautiful short story, “The Distance of the Moon”, read on Radiolab. I come back to this time and time again: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/282571-distance-of-moon

  • Louise Penny’s inspector Gamache books are all amazing!!! They’re the best mysteries I’ve ever read- quaint, cozy, funny, inspiring, challenging.

    • Same here! I love her series. I think I am on book eight. They are such a enjoyable distraction during this rough pandemic.

  • Happy Birthday Emma!!!

    I read more MG than YA, mostly because it’s so lighthearted! So I guess that’s my recommendation. It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to read but I loved all these:
    – The 100 Dresses Series by Susan Maupin Schmid
    – anything by Chris Grabenstein
    – When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
    – The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

  • Happy Birthday, Emma!

    Two books I have loved lately and would recommend are Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry and Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie .

  • Well…it’s not exactly light hearted, but the Ancillary Justice series by Anne Lecke are one of the most amazingly well-written and totally original Sci-fi out there. Her fantasy book is also amazing. Plus, the way she plays with gender expectations is really cool. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor is also so so so good. It’s YA, and the story is pretty fun and original. Her Binti series (sci-fi) is also amazing. She just has these complete original ideas that are so fun to imagine. For light-hearted, with political and social commentary done in the most punny and funny way possible, have you ever checked out the Discworld series by Sir Terry Pratchett? I don’t think that you’re much into Sci-fi or Fantasy, so I won’t be offended if you pass on these!

    • Yes this! Ancillary Justice won everything and SHOULD have won everything, and the other three books in that universe are equally awesome.

      Lighthearted, silly, weird, thoughtful, and hyper-Scandinavian: anything and everything by Arto Paasilinna. This one is a good start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Year_of_the_Hare_(novel)

  • I recommend the book “Nothing To See Here” be Kevin Wilson. It’s weird and funny and, for lack of a better word, quirky. It made me laugh out loud a lot, which doesn’t usually happen for me. All I’ll say is, it’s about a weirdo who takes care of kids who burst into flames. Loved it. Happy birthday!

    • I second Nothing To See Here, especially now that I know your happy news! I think it would be right up your alley ?

  • Happy Birthday!!! “The City We Became” by NK Jemisin is the best book I read last year! It’s not exactly lighthearted, but it is hopeful and beautiful and brilliant. I also recommend anything else she’s written, but this might be my favorite!

  • Happy Birthday, Emma! Enjoy your cake and shopping! Hope you finds some treasures!

  • Happy birthday Emma! May your next year be filled with joy, love, fun and happiness!

    • Happy Birthday! So glad you treated yourself to some extra joy AND comfort this week. That’s what happy birthdays in our thirties are all about and it’s pretty great! 🙂 Two books I’ve recently devoured a loved: The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes and for non-fiction, Almost Everything (Notes on Hope) by Anne Lamott. I’m also halfway through Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows and it’s hilarious and light hearted.

  • Happy birthday! I can’t wait to read all the book recommendation comments! My absolute favorite for a lighthearted read is Jude Devaraux! I love all her books, but her Edilean series is good. So are the Summer Hill books. Her books are normally romance but she has written a couple of murder mystery books recently.

  • Happy Birthday Emma!!! Wishing you a one full of treats and self care!

    My newest read was Ask Again, Yes. Highly recommend!!! I couldn’t put it down!

  • I think kids books are great for lighthearted and fun! Howl’s moving castle is one of my all time favorites – way better than the movie, if you’ve seen it.
    For non kids books, the curious charms of Arthur pepper was a recent sweet read.

  • I really liked “Oval” by Elvia Wilk. It’s a bit sci-fi, a bit thriller, and has a big anti-corruption and pro-environmentalism theme. It’s also set in my hometown Berlin, Germany. The descriptions are incredible, you felly feel like you are there. Hope you enjoy it!

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Endless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

    • “The school of essential ingredients” — great if you like food and cooking and it’s just a sweet and not too heavy read. Congratulations on your big news— I listened to the podcast today and am just so happy for you.

  • Oh and a book recommendation is Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. It’s a great fiction book about a bank robbery gone wrong and it’s funny, poignant, and touching!

    • I just finished reading Circe and Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Also loved Uprooted by Naomi Novik!

      • Happy Birthday and congratulations on your sweet baby boy!

        I’m reading The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune and it is so beautiful, warm, and very well written. Highly recommend.

    • All of the Fredrick Backman books are so amazing! A Man Called Ove was my absolute favorite from a few years ago ❤️❤️❤️

    • A Man Called Ove, also by Fredrik Backman, is a good one. Quirky main character.

  • Happy birthday, Emma!!! Your guys’ blog and podcast is a daily joy for me, and I’m so thankful for you and Elsie. I know it’s a ton of work for you both (especially to have daily blog posts lined up), but sitting to read them during my lunch break is a favorite part of my day. I hope you have a great day and feel celebrated and known!

    • Happy birthday ? Some fiction I’ve liked are a star is bored, such a fun age, the Alchemist, and The kind worth killing ?

    • Happy birthday- I know this is old but still just in case you haven’t read the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Highly recommend! I had to stay up all night to finish the last one?

    • Happy Birthday!
      Not very lighthearted but a compelling read and I thought, strange and unique:
      Marilou is Everywhere
      ?

    • I suspect we have really similar taste and for some lighthearted fun I would recommend In a Holidaze or anything by Christina Lauren (BFF co authors!)

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