What I Read in October 2017

I read a lot more in October than in September – particularly during my weekend in Spain. Because I was traveling solo, I took most of my meals accompanied by a book, and I ended up finishing a book each day I was there! I’m now up to 89 books read this year, which is 6 books ahead of schedule to reach my goal of 100 books for the year. I’ve got the goal squarely in sight, and I’m looking forward to closing out the last two months of the year of reading with a flourish!


I gave 5 stars each to The Culture Code, The Dazzling Heights, and My Not-So-Perfect Life. All very different genres!

5 stars:

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle: This book will be published at the end of January, but I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy through NetGalley. And I’m so glad I did, as this was one of the best business / behavioral psychology books I’ve read in a long time! The examples were incredibly engaging, and drew from a variety of industries to make their points. As I read, I kept getting new ideas for things I could change on my own team to improve our culture and results. Highly recommend this book to anyone who leads a team!

My Not-So-Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella: This was my favorite Sophie Kinsella book to date! Fun plot, and for once the protagonist wasn’t being a complete idiot where everything would have been solved if she had just fessed up ;) I also really liked the lesson about using social media to show the good AND the bad. A nice light read, but some food for thought as well – I really enjoyed this.

The Dazzling Heights, by Katharine McGee: Loved this second novel in the Thousandth Floor trilogy, which was every bit as engaging as the first! McGee does an excellent job weaving together a whole cast of characters into an ensemble novel, while still making you care about each and every one. I couldn’t stand Calliope and Leda in the first half of the book, but by the end, I was cheering for them. I can’t wait for the final book in this series!

4 stars:

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, by Joan Ryan: This took a fascinating look at the two most popular women’s (girls’) events in the Olympics, and how the expectations for these athletes are so different than for athletes in other sports. I now feel a little bit guilty for loving ladies’ figure skating and gymnastics so much, especially since I follow the stereotype of being even more delighted the younger and smaller the girls are. I just wish this were written a little bit more recently, so I could learn more about how the trend has continued over the last decade.

Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella: This was another one that I received an advance copy of through NetGalley; it will be published in February 2018. I found it to be another cute, light Kinsella novel – delightful, but not thought-provoking. I really liked the premise of thinking about truly living forever with someone, versus just staying together for a while. How would it change who you marry if you knew the timeline? It’s a really interesting question. I thought the main character was a little flighty, but I was still rooting for everything to work out, and overall I enjoyed the story.

3 stars:

The Island, by Elin Hilderbrand: This novel came in fits and spurts – sometimes the story was fascinating, other times dull and slow. By the end, I liked all the characters, but not quite as much as I have in Hilderbrand’s other novels.

Goodnight Nobody, by Jennifer Weiner: This wasn’t bad for a murder mystery… but that wasn’t what I expected or wanted when I picked up a Jennifer Weiner book. This was nowhere near as good as her other books, unfortunately :(

What She Knew, by Gilly MacMillan: This one made me keep reading, but somehow, I still didn’t love it. Rachel wasn’t a character I found myself able to empathize with, even though she was going through an incredibly difficult time. I found this more depressing than anything else.

2 stars:

Nantucket Nights, by Elin Hilderbrand: This was my least favorite Elin Hilderbrand book so far. The main characters were incredibly irrational and unlikable, and I found myself annoyed with all the bad decisions they made.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


  1. Do you ever feel that by choosing such a high goal for books that you end up reading “fluff” instead of more substantive material? I promised myself this year that I wouldn’t push myself to read a certain number of books because in past years, in order to meet my goal, I needed to limit the number of really meaty books. And I started out pretty well this year, reading books like “Hamilton”, which is about 700 pages with the typical reading time >27 hours, compared to the ~350 and 5 hours reading time for “fluffier” books. But as the year is drawing to a close, I find myself trying to read at least 20K pages, which means I have been choosing less meaty books — I just finished Dan Brown’s “Origin” for example and am about to start “5 dysfunctions of a team”…. I have always been a reader, and next year, I really need to convince myself to stay away from stats so that I make more substantive choices next year…

    • It’s a really great point! I generally alternate one fiction with one non-fiction, although now that you make this point I realize that I’m actually alternating meaty and fluffy (which just often works out to be fiction and non-fiction). But I don’t tend to look at how many books I’ve read until I do these monthly recaps, so throughout the month I’m not really aware of how far ahead/behind I am. I will confess that sometimes when I finish a short book I wonder if I really ought to count it though! Haha. But I think it all comes out in the wash.

      Goodreads does keep stats on how many pages I’ve read each year too, so I could always flip to tracking that if I really wanted to set myself up for a win and couldn’t get there with sheer number of books ;) In 2016, I read 31,198 pages (and 100 books, so an average of 312 pages/book); this year, I’m currently up to 28,464 (and 89 books, so an average of 319 pages per book). As I look back over the last four years, my longest book of the year has always been at least 750 pages, so I’m definitely not shying away from the longer things!

      How did you like Origin? I’ve been wanting to read that, fluffy though it may be. And I’m also curious about Hamilton!

    • Oh – and I forgot to add that someone (maybe you??) turned me on to the “read harder” challenge (here’s the original BookRiot challenge and here are NYPL’s recommendations). I was looking at them early in the year but haven’t checked them out for a while. Maybe I’ll try to tackle some more of those to close out the year. If you’re looking to improve the quality of your reading, you could consider trying to follow one of those rather than quantify the number of books read.

  2. I am actually the one who suggested the read harder challenge! I set a goal of reading a certain number of books on Goodreads too (only 52) and the last couple of years I have not been making that goal. That is because I have been reading more non-fiction and it takes longer to read than fiction usually. I also feel a little guilty when I add a short book – like it is cheating. But in the end it doesn’t really matter as long as you are reading!

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