Fall Reads: Big Magic, Essentialism + Fiction Recommendations

It's been awhile since I've done a book review post, but I've read some good ones lately that I just had to share. Some that didn't make the cut for this post include The Maze Runner series, The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, Not After Everything, My Heart and Other Black Holes and Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls. While I didn't dislike any of these young adult novels, I didn't feel they were important enough to include. You can check out all of my recently read books over on Goodreads.


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic Book ReviewBook Description:

"With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

My Take:

I can't say enough good things about this book. It made me think about creativity and ideas in a new way and inspired me to keep writing. There's a reason everyone is raving so much about this book, and I definitely understand why now!

Interesting Quotes:

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

“You can clear out whatever obstacles are preventing you from living your most creative life, with the simple understanding that whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work.”

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”

“Debt will always be the abattoir of creative dreams.”

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Essentialism Book ReviewBook Description:

"The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us."

My Take:

This is a great book to read as you prepare your business and/or life for the new year. It helps you put the important things into perspective. It may not be full of information you didn't know, but it will inspire action and clarity.

Interesting Quotes:

“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.”

“Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?”

“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”


The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl Book ReviewBook Description:

"'I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will.'

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. "

My Take:

Recommended for anyone who liked books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. The suspense kept me interested and wanting to know more. I wouldn't say it was as good as Gone Girl, but I can see the similarities and it's still well written.

Interesting Quotes:

“I know how betrayal and disillusionment feel, when someone who could give you the world refuses even a tiny piece of it.”


Paperweight by Meg Haston

Paperweight Book ReviewBook Description:

"Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life."

My Take:

This is a young adult novel dealing with anorexia nervosa, grief, and control. It was clear the author did a good job researching the topics and powerfully portraying the emotions. I would warn that it could be triggering for anyone who is dealing with or has dealt with anorexia.

Interesting Quotes:

“But we are a group of girls so overwhelmed by our mere existence that it's almost paralyzing, the idea of dealing with the "big picture" issues. It's the reason we got this way to begin with. The reason a single caloric unit takes on such importance, the reason the pound becomes our currency of worth. These are things we can manage.”

“Yes, the illness took away. It clawed at family and time and the very beating of our hearts. But it gave, too. For me, it was the only way I could move through life blurry, without having to see things as they really were. It would have been too much that way, having to stare at my life head-on.”

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

Life and Other Near Death Experiences Book ReviewBook Description:

"Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.

With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live—and love—a little longer?

From critically acclaimed author Camille Pagán comes a hilarious and hopeful story about a woman choosing between a “perfect” life and actually living."

My Take:

I chose this as my free October Amazon Prime selection and was very surprised at how much I liked it (gave it 4/5 stars). The novel managed to be hilarious and light while dealing with heavy topics like disease, divorce and our over-busy society. It has an Eat, Pray, Love feel to it.

Interesting Quotes:

“It’s permanence that distinguishes grief from other emotional pain. The unfixable nature of never—that’s what makes it so terrible to bear.”

“...to see the night sky clearly, you can’t overfocus; it’s the stars outside of your direct vision that come in brightest.”

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means Book ReviewBook Description:

"At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances."

My Take:

I was really hesitant because a lot of people were comparing this book to The Fault in Our Stars and even Looking for Alaska. John Green is my favorite author, so I get worried about anything that could seem like an impostor. But I'm glad I didn't let that stop me. Yes, it IS similar to those two novels, but in a great way. I have a soft spot for quirky young adult literature I guess. I definitely recommend it.

Interesting Quotes:

“There's difference between being dead and dying. We're all dying. Some of us die for ninety years, and some of us die for nineteen. But each morning everyone on this planet wakes up one day closer to their death. Everyone. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it.”

“That's all you can do in this world, no matter how strong the current beats against you, or how heavy your burden, or how tragic your love story. You keep going.”

“Being temporary doesn't make something matter any less, because the point isn't for how long, the point is that it happened.

In the Comments:

What's on your list to read next?


Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!