By Kelsey's Reads

Fire Sermon

Jamie Quatro

$24.00 $22.08

Oh. My. This novel is sensual. Focused on a woman, Maggie, and her affair with poet James and her bad marriage with her husband, Thomas. FIRE SERMON meditates on what lust and adultery means to Maggie as a "Christian." I don't mean for the quotes to be demeaning, just that she does a lot of questioning about her faith identity, naturally. I loved the quick pacing-- we move forward and backward in time, but it's not confusing-- lots of short sections, emails, and transcribed phone calls keep the story moving. My hometown also got a shout out, so that was fun for me to read personally!

Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship

Kayleen Schaefer

$17.00 $15.64

I loved this nonfiction book about female friendship and its power and its tendency to be underrated or misunderstood. It made me tear up the whole way through thinking about my friends and what they mean to me. A great Galentine's or birthday gift!

That Time I Loved You: Stories

Carrianne Leung


Marketed as a "collection of short stories," THAT TIME I LOVED YOU is really a novel in stories, which is different. The "short stories" focus on different characters in this suburban Toronto neighborhood in the late 70s/early 80s. The messages of suburbia isn't perfection and everyone is fighting a battle come in loud and clear...

The Nickel Boys (Winner 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

Colson Whitehead

$24.95 $22.95

Colson Whitehead is a genius, just for the record. In this novel, Whitehead writes about the horrors that took place at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, a stone's throw from Tallahassee, but fictionalized. While our characters aren't "real people" the abuse they suffer there was inflicted upon hundreds of boys that called the school home for over a hundred years. Whitehead's writing is unsurprisingly phenomenal and captivating and I loved Elwood, the main character, with my whole heart.

Educated: A Memoir

Tara Westover

$28.00 $25.76

This memoir has rocked the New York Times Bestseller List for like 2 years now and it is totally deserved. Tara Westover pens the story of growing up in rural Idaho to "Mormon" parents who are preparing for the apocalypse. Westover also survives abuse at the hands of one of her brothers, though her family denies it is abuse throughout and even after. The memoir is titled EDUCATED though because Westover never had any formal schooling until she went to college. So we really focus on her passion for learning and her journey to getting her PhD. It took me a little while to get into this one, but once I was there, I was hooked.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Shirley Jackson and Thomas Ott

$17.00 $15.64

This was my second Shirley Jackson novel and she is the QUEEN of thriller. I'm not one for scary books or movies, I'm too much of a baby, but thriller? I can get down with thriller. This book is about two mysterious sisters who have lived in their huge Victorian mansion even since all their family was murdered and we spend the novel finding out why and who done it. Jackson is fantastic at really building characters and the worlds they live in. I still had questions by the end, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Marriageology: The Art and Science of Staying Together

Belinda Luscombe


Belinda Luscombe breaks down marriage into 6 parts and after compiling research and writing about marriage and relationships for TIME for over a decade, she is certainly qualified. Luscombe is also hilarious, making this book equal parts fun and informative. Whether you're thinking about getting married, recently engaged, or been married a long time, I definitely recommend this one!

Daisy Jones & the Six

Taylor Jenkins Reid

$27.00 $24.84

This novel is a really neat "oral" history of a fictional 70s rock band and what led to their breaking up, which was heretofore unknown. It takes some predictable twists and turns, but the form was just so cool to read. It also includes the lyrics to the band's "hit album" AURORA, so again, really innovative, original form and just a fun read.

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays

Mary Laura Philpott

$26.00 $23.92

I feel like this collection is perfect for people who say they don't like nonfiction or essays. The "every day" challenges that Mary Laura Philpott writes about are so relatable it hurts.

Mostly Dead Things

Kristen Arnett

$24.95 $22.95

Kristen Arnett is one of the funniest people I follow on Twitter *and* she's a fantastic writer. The total package. This novel follows our main character, Jessa, as she navigates grieving her recently deceased father, running the family taxidermy shop, and grappling with being left by her longtime love who was also her brother's wife. Jessa's wounds run deep, but the journey of watching her explore those wounds and work towards recovering was breathtaking and I would do it all over again.

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin

$13.95 $12.83

Baldwin is Baldwin! If you haven't read his work, you haven't read one of THE best writers in American history. Period. This book is just two essays. The first is a letter to his nephew at the centennial celebration of the emancipation of slaves in the United States. The second is an exploration of Baldwin's faith journey and how his faith intersects with race relations in America. You have to read this.

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir

T. Kira Madden

$27.00 $24.84

One of my top 5 memoirs of all time. Madden takes us through so much of her trauma and grief -- sexual assault, navigating her parents' addiction, losing her father -- all set against the backdrop of affluent south Florida. Madden writes her journey of coming out and we're right there with her through it all. This book dazzled me and broke me open and healed me, in that order.

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Daniel H. Pink

$17.00 $15.64

I had wanted to read this to help me manage my writing time better and I learned a lot about myself as far as when the optimal times during the day I should be working and which times I should be doing menial tasks instead. It also reinforced my affinity for naps which was all I really needed.