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Wondering what to read next?

Hello there, reader! If you've finished all of my books and are wondering what to read next, check out some of my favorite reads by clicking on the buttons below. I love sharing my favorite reads with the world, and while I read and listen to some books that don’t wow me, I choose not to review those.

xox,

Kristan

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Non-Fiction

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Spare by Prince Harry

I was never very interested in England’s royal family until the British press started their hate campaign against Meghan Markle. But I remember Harry as a stunned 12-year-old, walking behind his mother’s casket, having to shake hands with strangers just hours after he found out his mother was dead. The press gave no quarter to the boys, following them, sneaking onto their school grounds, ever ravenous for a sign that the royals were suffering. It’s grotesque, and Britain’s failure to rein in these vampires is shameful.

 

Getting Harry’s account of what it’s like to be a prince, but the “spare” of “heir and a spare” was nothing short of fascinating. The crappy places he was assigned to in various castles, the complete lack of autonomy, the expectation that you would represent the queen as your fulltime job for the rest of your life…it’s not at all about wealth and balls and glamour.

 

Harry was never offered counseling as a boy…just sent back to boarding school. When he joined his brother at Eton, Harry had little support from his older brother. He takes full responsibility for his youthful idiocy, finds his place in the Army and becomes a good man. But when the press leaks his location (twice), he becomes a target, which puts his mates in danger.

 

The love story between Harry and Meghan is so authentic and lovely. I always laugh when haters say Meghan has somehow hypnotized Harry, and in his heart he wants to go back to England, etc. etc. He has found happiness and safety by going public with this memoir, exposing the complicity between the palace and the press. If they’re attacking Meghan, at least they’re not attacking Camilla/Kate/William/Charles/Andrew. The word “spare” takes on a whole new meaning in this context. Throw Harry to the wolves…he doesn’t really matter, now that little George and his siblings are here.

 

I know JR Moehringer ghost-wrote the book. I’d sure love to hear the interview tapes. Listening to SPARE, however, the authenticity of Harry’s experiences ring loud and clear.

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Overboard! by Michael J. Tougias

I love me a good disaster at sea story, boy howdy! This is indeed just that…a bunch of sailors, three of them ridiculously inexperienced, and the mistakes they made that led to a nightmare struggle to survive. But it was very drawn out, and the ending was pretty awful. The author tried to force you to like the characters, and it’s clear he was going for a vibe similar to The Perfect Storm. I just didn’t engage as much as I thought I would, and the book’s narrator didn’t help.

 

However…wow, what a story! I hope it’s made into a movie, because for a non-sailor, I only finished this through sheer grit. So if you like this sort of thing, the experiences recounted definitely deliver. But if you’re not a sailor, it’s only okay.

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Can’t Help Myself by Meredith Goldstein

Some memoirs are pure self-indulgent navel-gazing. This one is the opposite. Meredith details her life as a young journalist at the Boston Globe, where she starts an advice column called Love Letters. At the same mother is diagnosed with stage IV cancer, and Meredith has her move to Boston to be near her.

 

Meredith a likable, self-deprecating 30-something looking to establish her career and sure, find that special someone. She hides at work to cry over Patrick, goes on numerous dates, helps her mom with managing her illness. Her chapters are interspersed with letters sent to the column, her answers and reader comments.

 

This is a  love story, but not the romantic kind. It’s a love story about Meredith’s mother, the love between sisters, and certainly, the love of friends. Meredith’s ability to build and maintain friendships is perhaps the best lesson in this book. With generosity of spirit, unflinching honesty about her own shortcomings and her exquisitely dry sense of humor, Can’t Help Myself was engaging, funny, heartbreaking and wonderful.

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438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathan Franklin

 

By now, you’re probably aware of my love of disaster and survival stories. This one was fantastic. In 2012, two men left Mexico in a fishing boat. The captain, Salvatore Alvarenga, is by no means the noble, stoic fisherman so often featured in these kinds of stories. He lives for fun, lies with gusto, loves the simple pleasures in life. But a storm immediately puts him and his crewmate in danger. For the next 438 days, Alvarenga’s tenacity, faith, humor, McGyvering skills and imagination keep him alive. He does his best to care for his less optimistic crewmate, who unfortunately can’t handle the isolation and deprivation.

 

When Alvarenga finally reaches land several thousand miles from Mexico, another, almost more difficult chapter opens. Faced with almost instant celebrity, being confined while in the hospital and having difficulty adjusting to a life not governed by the most basic human needs is more difficult than surviving at sea. But it’s a happy story, and an incredible inspiration of grit, optimism and gratitude.

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This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Resident by Adam Kay

 

I’m a sucker for doctor memoirs, and read just about every one every written, but this one really stole my heart. Adam Kay is a British doctor—an obstetrician—and his stories of patients, colleagues and the vagaries of the National Health Service and his hospital will make you wheeze with laughter sometimes and cry at others. He has a gift for encapsulating life and death events with both humor, intelligence and compassion. A quick read, wickedly funny, kind-hearted and with a perfect dash of bitterness that makes it completely captivating and real.

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Educated by Tara Westover

 

Holy guacamole, what a story! A memoir of a woman who never set foot in a classroom until she went to college. Growing up in a Mormon survivalist family in Idaho, Tara both adored her family and suffered greatly from their isolation from the rest of the world. I listened to her narrate this book, and I think it was even better that way. You won’t forget this story. Ever.

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Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

 

This book tackles a question every person will have to confront someday: how do you want to die? Dr. Gawande is a fantastic, vibrant storyteller, whether he’s talking about his 109-year-old grandfather checking his farm by horseback, or how one doctor transformed a nursing home into a vibrant place of life and beauty. The book excoriates the American healthcare system for pouring money into medical care and procedures that do nothing to improve the patient’s quality or length of life, and asks the most important questions we’ll all have to answer someday. A unique mix of humor, fact, science for non-scientists and inspiration to live and die well.was perfection.

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Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

Honest, heartfelt and raw essays about some of the most difficult aspects of life—alcoholic parent, infertility, loss. And yet, it has moments of joy and laughter, too. A quick read, totally worth it.

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Bare Minimum Parenting: The Ultimate Guide to Not Quite Ruining Your Child by James Breakwell

Oh, parents! Read this book and free yourself from the blood sport that parenting has become! With humor, insight and honesty, smart-ass James Breakwell tells you what no other parenting book has the guts to say — relax. You and the kids will be just fine.

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

 

A memoir of a neurosurgeon’s residency and his discovery that he has cancer, this book is tragic, graceful, honest and fascinating. Dr. Kalanithi talks openly about the pressure doctors are under to obfuscate with patients, how mistakes are made, the grueling training required to become a neurosurgeon and the personal toll it takes. As his skills increase, so does his kindness and empathy as he faces patients and families with grave illness. The tragic irony is that, at age 36, he learns he has stage IV lung cancer. His desire to live battles with what he knows as a physician, and what he wants as a husband, father and son. But to me, the most powerful part of the book is the epilogue, written by Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, Paul’s wife. The grace, eloquence and strength of both husband and wife are nothing short of miraculous. This is a book I’ll never forget.

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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb 

I seem to be on a kick of reading about psychologists. This is a warm, funny, touching memoir about Lori Gottlieb, television executive turned medical student turned psychologist (some people are more blessed with brains than others). Lori, a successful therapist, decides to seek out some professional help for herself after her fiancé dumps her unexpectedly. Her own dawning realizations are interspersed with chapters about her clients…Julie, the young woman who finds out she has an aggressive cancer after her honeymoon; John, the obnoxious, arrogant, successful television writer who hates everyone; Rita, an admittedly terrible mother, now in her sixties, contemplating suicide if her life doesn’t improve, but determined not to improve it. Throughout the book, we see patients who improve and patients who don’t…and how even a trained psychologist can get in—and eventually out of—her own way. Written with honesty and insight and humor, it’s one of the better memoirs I’ve read this year.

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Fighting for Your Life: A Paramedic’s Story by Lysa Walder

British paramedics have all the fun, it seems, if you like high-stakes medical calls and bizarre illnesses. And I do! I love them! This book is easy to read, each chapter being a little vignette about a patient or a call. The author is a little pious at times in praise of her profession, and she borders on humble-bragging from time to time, but then again, she and her colleagues are literally saving lives, so she deserves to be. I really enjoyed the stories of her patients.

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