With the holiday season in full swing, I wanted share with you a roundup of recommended books and binge-worthy shows. Because everyone has more time over the holidays for stuff like that… But really, if you’re needing a break from your guests, go sit in your closet with your phone and read or watch something listed below. Or if you’re traveling, you’ll need something to occupy your time other than handing out snacks, and finding water bottles and dropped toys…
I might add, none of these are holiday-related shows. That’s what the Hallmark channel is for.
From PBS Masterpiece Theater, it’s 1783 and Ross Poldark returns from the American War of Independence to his beloved Cornwall to find his world in ruins: his father dead, the family mine long since closed, his house wrecked and his sweetheart pledged to marry his cousin. But Ross finds that hope and love can be found when you are least expecting it.
There’s fives seasons to binge on, and while all are interesting, the ones I liked the most were the first three seasons.
DURRELLS IN CORFU
Also from PBS Masterpiece Theater, Based on naturalist Gerald Durrell’s much-loved trilogy of novels, The Durrells in Corfu sees impoverished but sparky widow Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes, MI-5) make the radical decision to leave 1930s England to seek out a new destiny for her family.
If you haven’t watching any of this show yet, you’re missing out. I legitimately Laugh Out Loud watching it! Give it more than one episode, but if this show doesn’t make you laugh, nothing will. Netflix has all the current five seasons!
Suddenly broke, the formerly filthy-rich Rose family is reduced to living in a ramshackle motel in a town they once bought as a joke: Schitt’s Creek.
I basically loved this because of the cinematography (I LOVED seeing the mountains and the outdoors) and the decor. Hah! I basically want my house to look like the Yellowstone main house. Plus Kevin Costner…
This drama series, starring Kevin Costner as the patriarch of a powerful, complicated family of ranchers. A sixth-generation homesteader and devoted father, John Dutton controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. He operates in a corrupt world where politicians are compromised by influential oil and lumber corporations and land grabs make developers billions. Amid shifting alliances, unsolved murders, open wounds, and hard-earned respect, Dutton’s property is in constant conflict with those it borders — an expanding town, an Indian reservation, and America’s first national park.
I. LOVED. THIS. SHOW. I mean, it feels a little wrong to be laughing as someone is being murdered… but it’s good! Hulu has both seasons.
Eve’s life as a spy is not adding up to what she had hoped it would be when she started. She is a bored, very smart, MI5 security officer who is very desk-bound. Villanelle is a very talented killer, mercurial in mood, who clings to the luxuries of her job. Eve and Villanelle go head to head in a fierce game of cat and mouse, each woman equally obsessed with the other as Eve is tasked with hunting down the psychopathic assassin. Sarah Barnett, BBCA president, says, “`Killing Eve’ stands out in a sea of scripted stories as refreshingly entertaining and great fun.”
I don’t regularly watch any Real Housewives shows, I can keep up with the suspended drama. But I think they’re the perfect show to watch the entire season all at once! NBC had all of them; my favorites are RHO New Jersey, RHO Orange County, and RHO New York.
CHASING THE BRIGHT SIDE Jess Ekstrom
“Meaningful moments do not need to be validated with likes and comments, they just need to felt with purpose and passion.”
“When you’re driven by a true passion, instead of the accolades, that’s when you preform at your best.”
Success is not born out of skill, school, where we’re from, who we know, or what we scored on the SAT. None of us were born ready. None of us started life knowing how to fly a plane or launch a company or knit a sweater for our dog.
But we are born with something more important than skills. We’re born with optimism—the initial seed for success. Optimism fuels the belief that you can be the one to create the good the world needs. But you’ve got to hone it. And practice it. And determine to live from it.
In Chasing the Bright Side, Jess Ekstrom shares her own inspirational story of how optimism helped her overcome multiple challenges, and the dynamic ways her mind-set propelled her as a young entrepreneur, international speaker, and philanthropist.
THE McAVOY SISTERS BOOK OF SECRETS Molly Fader
It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Ohio hometown on the shores of Lake Erie.
But now, with their mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame—and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and stronger than ever.
LOVE YOU HARD Abby Maslin
I had this one my list from the summer to read, and I did! It’s SO good. I don’t know that there is anything more inspiring than reading about someone else’s struggles and triumphs.
When Abby Maslin’s husband, TC, didn’t make it home on August 18, 2012, she knew something was terribly wrong. Her fears were confirmed when she learned that her husband had been beaten by three men and left for dead mere blocks from home, all for his cell phone and debit card.
The days and months that followed were a grueling test of faith. As TC recovered from a severe traumatic brain injury that left him unable to speak and walk, Abby faced the challenge of caring for—and loving—a husband who now resembled a stranger.
Love You Hard is the raw, unflinchingly honest story of a young love left broken, and the resilience required to mend a life and remake a marriage. Told from the caregiver’s perspective, this book is a daring exploration of true love: what it means to love beyond language, beyond abilities, and into the place that reveals who we really are.
THREE WOMEN Lisa Taddeo |
THE FRIEND ZONE Abby Jimenez |
Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.
THE BRIDE TEST Helen Hoang |
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
STAY SEXY & DON’T GET MURDERED Karen Gilgariff |
Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.
In Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being ‘nice’ or ‘helpful.’ They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness.
SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED Jon Ronson |
A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.
Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and the very scary part we all play in it.
THE GREAT BELIEVERS Rebecca Makkai |
In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.
Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.
HOW TO NOT DIE ALONE Richard Roper |
For years he’s worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that’s what his coworkers believe.
Then he meets Peggy.
A misunderstanding has left Andrew trapped in his own white lie and his lonely apartment. When new employee Peggy breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, she makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades.
Could there be more to life than this?
But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it’s time for him to start.
THE FLATSHARE Beth O’Leary
Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.
After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.
Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.
Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.
But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.
THE PATH BETWEEN US Suzanne Stabile |
Most of us have no idea how others see or process their experiences. And that can make relationships hard, whether with intimate partners, with friends, or in our professional lives. Understanding the motivations and dynamics of these different personality types can be the key that unlocks sometimes mystifying behavior in others―and in ourselves.
This book from Suzanne Stabile on the nine Enneagram types and how they behave and experience relationships will guide readers into deeper insights about themselves, their types, and others’ personalities so that they can have healthier, more life-giving relationships. No one is better equipped than the coauthor of The Road Back to You to share the Enneagram’s wisdom on how relationships work―or don’t.
The Enneagram not only answers these questions but gives us a way out of our usual finger pointing and judging of other people―and finding them wanting, perplexing, or impossible. Suzanne’s generous, sometimes humorous, and always insightful approach reveals why all the types behave as they do. This book offers help in fostering more loving, mature, and compassionate relationships with everyone in our lives.
TWICE IN A BLUE MOON Christina Lauren |
Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.
During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.
Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE Kevin Wilson |
Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help.
Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth.
Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for?