September 18, 2020

What I've Been Reading, Watching, Listening To...

Yesterday, I posted the Cookies Fall Challenges (there are three!) so if you're interested in participating in those, you can find the details on yesterday's post.

One of the challenges is very similar to 75 Hard, which I've been doing for... 50-something days now. Because of 75 Hard, I've listened to several audiobooks lately. I've also been reading a bit and have watched a couple of things worth mentioning.

(Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links--just meaning that if you were to purchase through the links, I may get a small commission)


'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' by Suzanne Collins - This is the prequel to The Hunger Games series. I really enjoyed this, but nowhere near as much as The Hunger Games. It took place 60-something years before The Hunger Games, when the Games were only going on for about 10 years.

'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens - I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I hadn't been so engrossed in a book in well over a decade. I heard great things about it, but the synopsis didn't interest me.

Finally, I wanted to read something so I just decided to give it a try and after a chapter or so, I was hooked. I literally couldn't stop reading it! I carried my Kindle around with me, reading whenever I had a spare second. Definitely don't let the synopsis turn you away; it doesn't do it justice at all!

'If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood' by Gregg Olsen - I apparently read one of his other books, 'The Last Thing She Ever Did', and I really liked it. I loved that he wasn't afraid to be graphically descriptive of uncomfortable things (hmm, I wonder what this says about me?).

'If You Tell' was the same. (Trigger warning of child abuse.) This is based on a true story (which is shocking).  I discovered that I really like this author--I just started another of his books.


'The Social Dilemma' on Netflix - Holy smokes. This is scary as shit. It's a documentary about social media and the "behind the scenes" things that the social media companies are tracking about each of US.

There are interviews with former high-up employees of the companies who won't even let their children use social media because they know that your privacy is GONE before you even blink. I made my kids watch this documentary because I wanted them to see the power that is behind these "harmless" apps like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I think everyone should watch this!

'Girlfriends Guide to Divorce' on Netflix - This is a guilty pleasure drama that I only watch while on the treadmill. And since I do 99% of my walks outside, I've only watched about eight episodes or so of this show. Nevertheless, I love it! I know that if I didn't have the "rule" about only watching it on the treadmill, I'd binge watch all the seasons in a matter of a couple of days.

Listening To

I've been listening to audiobooks while I walk. And I walk a quite a bit--90 minutes a day. I usually listen to the audiobooks on 1.2-1.5x speed, so I get through them a little faster. I really love listening to memoirs--particularly addiction, mental illness, or survival memoirs.

I do want to mention that I'm very picky about the narrators of audiobooks--I won't listen to them if I don't like their narration in the first minute or so. But the following books are ones that I very much enjoyed the narration, and if I recommend an audiobook, it means I liked the narration. Here is what I've listened to recently...

'Drunk Mom' by Jowita Bydlowska - Wow. This book was VERY raw and honest. A new mother tells her story of her addiction to alcohol and the path that it led her down. She describes all of the poor decisions she made while under the influence and it was very hard for me to to fully grasp how she could justify them--but I really did love how honest it was. I feel like some memoirs gloss over the very bad times to keep from sounding "too bad"--but this was just the opposite.

'Dry' by Augusten Burroughs - I loved his memoir 'Running With Scissors', and I was very interested to listen to the audiobook (narrated by himself) about his path to sobriety from alcohol. It was very funny and I adored his narration. Because of his narration, I actually think this would be a better audiobook than if you were to read it. He has a great way of writing about sensitive topics in a lighthearted way.

'SEAL Team Six' by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin - After reading 'Can't Hurt Me' by David Goggins, I really wanted to read/listen to a memoir that was similar. I've always found military snipers fascinating--the amount of detail and mental calculation that they have to do in fractions of a second is mind-boggling to me--so this book interested me.

It's the memoir of a former sniper in the Navy SEAL Team Six (the elite of the elite). He writes about his training (which literally made my jaw drop a few times while I was out walking--I couldn't believe what goes into their training!) and then missions that he participated in (learning about the "behind the scenes" stuff was very interesting). 

'Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness' by Suzy Favor Hamilton - This book was not at all what I was expecting--but so good! I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I had no idea who Suzy Favor Hamilton is--she was an Olympian runner back in the 90's. I should have known that, right?!

This memoir is about her "secret life" as an escort in Las Vegas. There is so much that goes into it--her eating disorders as a teen, undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and her very public career with a very private personal life. Her descriptions of her personal life are jaw-droppingly honest and had me thinking, "I would never share that!" Hahaha. I love the honesty.

'On Call in the Arctic: A Doctor's Pursuit of Life, Love, and Miracles in the Alaskan Frontier' by Thomas J. Sims - This book was a random pick when I was desperate to find something to listen to, and I am SO glad that I chose it! It was one of the most fascinating memoirs I've read/listened to.

It's about a doctor fresh out of medical school that avoids the military draft by voluntarily going to Alaska to serve as the primary physician at a very small-town hospital. The equipment and "technology" are pretty much archaic and he has to improvise in just about every situation, making the best out of what he has to work with. He tells the craziest stories about his time there!

Warning--this is not a book for the squeamish. He is graphically descriptive of his medical procedures and if you are at all squeamish about that kind of thing, this is not the book for you!

I've just started listening to 'The Cuckoo's Cry' by Caroline Overington and I've started reading 'Lying Next to Me' by Gregg Olsen. I'll let you know what I think when I do another post like this!


  1. I also listen to audio books while walking and read on my kindle before going to bed. I keep a list of books I've read and give them a rating when I'm done. Here are a few of my 5 star reads or audios that you might want to check out. PS - Where the Crawdads Sing was one of my favorites too! I'm currently reading Ken Follet's new prequel to Pillars of the Earth.

    Dear Edward by Ann Napolitino
    A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman
    The Institute by Stephen King
    Eleanor Oliphant is Totally Fine by Gail Honeyman
    American Dirt by Jeanie Cummins
    Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    The Tattooist of Auschwatz by Heather Morris

    I'm amazed by how many good books I've read so far this year. It really adds up over time and I didn't even list any of the books I rated 4 stars or below.

    Hope you find something you like!

    Best to you and your family,

    1. Pillars of the Earth has a PREQUEL?!! I am going to read that ASAP! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I also have watch The Social Dilemma. So eye opening! I turned off notifications after watching it and spent a weekend away from Facebook. It was so nice not reaching for my phone constantly!

    1. I used to have REALLY bad anxiety about comments on my blog posts (ironic, right? Haha) and my stomach would be in knots whenever I posted something. So I finally decided to turn off notifications on my email, Facebook, Instagram, etc., and my anxiety was cut by about 75%! I know that doesn't have much to do with The Social Dilemma, but getting rid of the notifications was one of the best things I ever did.

  3. I just finished "Where the Crawdads Sing" this morning! And I feel the same...could not put it down! So good!


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