Virtual Book Club Reading Recommendations

book club


A good book is the cure to all ills in the world, I genuinely believe that.  I’m always reading something, and  since I discovered Overdrive, an app that lets you check out books through your local library, but online, my world has opened right on up.  With my Kindle I’m listening to between 3-5 books a week and it’s the very best.  I’m  listening to / reading all the awesome books I haven’t had time to read over the last several years and the best part is I get to “read” while I do all the boring, mundane things in life.  Like laundry and dishes, and while I make dinner every night.   Now I not only look forward to doing chores, I knock out two birds with one stone.  Everyone wins, especially me.

When I started plowing through several books a week, I started a blog post with approximately one hundred and one million books to recommend.  But the thing is, I’m reading so many books the list now has too many books on it, and it’s always growing.  So I thought, what if we started a virtual book club, where I share my favorite recommendations, but in small doable lists of about 5 books at a time?  That’s what this is.  The first of I hope many Virtual Book Club Reading Recommendations for you.  Hooray?  HOORAY!

virtual book club picks

Let’s get started with my first 5 picks.

  1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
  4. The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America by Tom Brokaw
  5. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown


1. Unbroken:

May I just say?  HOLY COW.  Unbroken is the true story (fact is so much stranger than fiction) of a young air force pilot named Louis Zamperini and his harrowing story of survival during World War II when his plane was shot down by Japanese forces in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  I just couldn’t believe this story, was real.  Seriously.  And Zamperini’s story gets worse and worse and it’s almost impossible to believe it all really happened and he really lived to tell about it and live a somewhat normal life.  If you’ve ever been through anything hard in your life (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) you need to read this book to put things in a little perspective.  I loved it, even though it was hard to read.

2. All The Light We Cannot See:

I have a thing for World War II history, can you tell?  This book is fictional, but super realistic and full of really important lessons about humanity.  It was frankly hard for me to read / listen to, but was so interesting and ultimately redemptive.  It’s about World War II, narrated from the alternating perspectives of a young blind French girl living in the care of her uncle after her parents die and an idealistic and extremely intelligent German boy recruited by the Nazis to attend a military academy, and how their stories weave together through the war. It’s absolutely worth reading, especially with the world history happening around all of us right now.

3. Dad is Fat:

And now for a change of pace.  Let me just say: I love Jim Gaffigan.  I’ll admit I was totally drawn in by the title; I didn’t really know much about Gaffigan before reading this book.  I just knew he was stand up comedian with the ‘Hot Pockets’ routine.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about go YouTube ‘Hot Pockets’ right now. All done?  Good.  Anyway, Jim Gaffigan is a stand up comedian with 5 kids and a heavy love affair with food, and he’s basically my new hero. This book is a hilarious exercise in self-deprecation with a pinch of bad parenting advice, and I loved all of it.  If you’re going to ‘read’ it, get the audio-book and listen to Gaffigan narrate because his voices alone are worth it.  I nearly wet myself, twice, listening to it out loud.  It’s hysterical for anyone, but especially for parents or anyone who’s ever known, babysat, or raised kids, or ever was a kid. Or anyone who likes food in any way.  I love this guy and this book.

4. The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America:

This book is a little bit lengthy, but I liked it all the same.  It’s written by Tom Brokaw, an American journalist who anchored NBC Nightly news for, well, ever.  It’s an interesting perspective on where America has been and where America is headed now that ‘Baby Boomers’ are dying off and ‘Millenials’ are heading into the forefront of managing the U.S.  It’s not my favorite book by Brokaw, but I think it’s super fascinating to look forward to where we’re heading with a changing guard and complicated new world issues at hand.  Historians and curious non-historians / history buffs like myself will dig it.

5. Daring Greatly:

I’ve heard Brené Brown speak several times at blogging conferences, and have had her in my peripheral vision long enough to be interested in her message.  Especially as a woman, and one who tries to do it all and be everything to everyone all the time, and who fails regularly.  Brené is interesting: her doctoral thesis is all sorts of research about shame and how we get there, and often stay there, and what we can do to get out of that particular death spiral.  I really love not only the research she brings to light in this book, but the way she writes: folksy and girlfriend-y and totally relatable.  If you’re even remotely struggling with any part of your life, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed and undersatisfied (that’s not a word but I’m making it one), read this book.  It will give you the lift you might need to get into a happier life situation, or at the very least, to feel encouraged to continue on your path.  Great read.


Okay! That’s a good amount of book recommendations to get started with, for now.  I’d love to hear your feedback: what are you reading, how often do you read, what’s your best resource for reading books regularly, etc. etc. Cheers!

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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. Zina :

    Oh I love this post! I love to read and have on and off been a librarian since college. I’m an overdrive junkie too! Some of my favorite audiobooks (because readers can make a big difference!) from the last year are: “Playing Big” by Tara Mohr (every woman should read this!), “The Signature of all Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “The Orchardist” by Amanda Copland, “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helen Wecker, “The Lost City of Z” and so many more. Maybe I will just have to email you. Also I’m a huge fan of Goodreads for keeping track of what I’ve read and seeing what friends have liked.

    • Allison :

      I might need to get back on GoodReads for recommendations, it’s been awhile. These are all great additions to my ever-growing book list, so thank you!

  2. donna :

    When my kids were littler I liked to read a lot of history and hard stuff. Now when I pick those books up I can’t even wrap my head around it! The only thing I can think is that life is too hard to read something hard right now. And I don’t have much time to read right now either compared to when the kids were little. So I’ve been reading mainly fiction, slowly but surely. And it’s been quite satisfying.

    • Allison :

      There are genuinely times when I can’t handle non-fiction or even realistic fiction when life is super hard, I’m gad I’m not the only one! We need our kids to spend more time in bed and we need to spend less time driving them everywhere!