Reading Recommendations For My Online Book Club

It’s online book club time! Do you remember this?  I thought I’d write a couple of book reviews on Petit Elefant once a month, but it turns out it’s going to be more of a quarterly thing.  Or a random, whenever-I’m-bursting-with-book-love thing.  Either way, I’m writing regularly about books I love, and you’re invited to the party!  It’ll be our very own little online book club.  I won’t make you pretend to read books you hate, or come over to my house for appetizers and PTA gossip.  Instead, we can congregate here on Petit Elefant to gab about what we’re reading, what we’re loving, and what’s totally overrated.

Actually, I’m lying.  We won’t be talking about books we don’t love.  There’s not enough time for that, so we’re going to stick to the good stuff, nay, the GREAT stuff.


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I’m writing a whole separate post about why you need an eReader in your life, and how it will change the way you consume books, but for now let me just say, having an eReader has changed my reading life.  I read all day long because I listen to audio books while I go about my life, and it’s maybe the best thing to come along since heating blankets and the perfect cup of tea.  I’m POWERING through books I’d never normally have time to read, and I can’t stop, won’t stop, (never gonna stop).  So, let’s talk about what books I’ve been loving lately, because ONLINE BOOK CLUB.


  • Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen


Before I started reading her work, I knew about Anna Quindlen in an abstract way, the way lovers of anything know about the star players in the league.  But for whatever reason, I just hadn’t read her work.  (SEE!  This is exactly why you need an eReader!)  I stumbled into this book, one of her most recent, and fell in love with her writing.  After I finished reading this book I scoured the world for every piece she’s ever written.  She’s just so good.  Anyway, while listening to Plenty of Cake, I would regularly pause and rewind and listen to the same bit of insightful wisdom over and over again until I’d committed it to memory, and when I had time, I’d write it down in one of my growing collection of quote notebooks.  It’s basically a collaboration of life advice, as she looks back at life, and love, and work, and motherhood, and friendships over the course of her life up until her 50th birthday (i.e. the reference to the title of the book).  What she’d tell herself as a younger woman, what she’d let go, how things end up working in the end.  If you’re a woman, you need to read this book.  The end.


  • If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young, Kurt Vonnegut

Again, like with Anna Quindlen, I knew about Kurt Vonnegut, but in a peripheral way, that he was a profoundly life-changing writer much beloved by the stoned kids on the quad of any campus.  I just hadn’t gotten around to reading Vonnegut, saving him for the latter years of my life when I’ll have loads of free time (!!!!!).  I started off with this quick read, a collection of commencement speeches he gave over the course of his career.  It’s a perfect appetizer of Vonnegut’s work, a snippet of the glory you can expect fleshed out in the pages of his many books.  I love him so much, I just can’t even express it.  MUST READ, for everyone.


  • Blink the Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell

I’ve fallen into the wormhole of Malcolm Gladwell, just like the rest of the free world.  Gladwell is a social scientist who studies the science and data of social phenomena, and repackages the boring bits into very readable literature for the rest of us.  I was given a paperback version of another one of his books, The Tipping Point, many years ago and read it in short paragraphs, like everyone else who doesn’t have the time to read but does it in pieces in bathroom stalls or the bleachers of swim meets.  AHEM.  But Gladwell’s books really need to be read as a whole, 0r at least one chapter at a time.  Better even is listening to his audio books because he narrates them, and it’s fun to hear him speed up and lean deep into inflection when he gets really excited about something.  Blink is such a cool book, full of thoroughly researched statistics and case studies about how your gut instinct, the first 2 seconds of making an assessment about a situation, ends up being the truth.  I loved it, loved it, LOVED it.


  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

I hadn’t read To Kill A Mockingbird probably since elementary school, until I listened to the audio book.  This book is so good it can be absorbed reading or listening, but I loved listening to it on my daily walks, with Cissy Spacek narrating in a deep southern drawl.  If you haven’t read To Kill A Mockingbird, run to wherever you run for books, and pick up a copy.  As timely now as it was when it was published in 1960, it’s a story of racism in the deep south, as seen through the eyes of Scout, the young girl who narrates the story.  Even if you aren’t into racial equality (please bless you are), it’s a stunning work of literature by any measure.


  • Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Again, I read Anne of Green Gables as a young girl (very young) and hadn’t picked it up since.  There’s something very cool about re-reading something you loved but didn’t understand very well as a youth.  I highly recommend it (see above, re: To Kill A Mockingbird).  Anne of Green Gables is the story of a smartypants, inadvertently sassy, funny redheaded girl named, you guessed it, Anne, and her adventures in sassiness in a tiny town in Canada at the turn of the 20th century.  If you haven’t read it, do it now, or at the very, VERY least, go watch the 1985 movie adaptation.  And then get back to me so we can talk about what a great role model Anne Shirley has been to girls for the last 100+ years.


That’s it.  Ha.  5 books to go jump headlong into as soon as your cute self can get to them.  Tell me, what are YOU reading?  What do I need to add to my never-ending reading list for our online book club?

Please share!

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Jenelle :

    Great list! Yes – this is awesome.

    I am reading too many things at once. I made a commitment to finishing a certain number of them in February.

    Here is the short list:
    I’m re-reading After Babel by George Steiner – amazing insights on language, culture, & translation. Also loving a few books of poetry: Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars, Marci Vogel’s At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody, and Camille Rankine’s Incorrect Merciful Impulses.