Books of Interest Part VIII: 2023 Winter Reading Recommendations
For the past few years, we have curated a list of our employees’ favorite reads. We are excited to be back again with Part Eight of our “Books of Interest” recommendations list. If you are looking to be captivated by a story or have already binged your way through your streaming watch list, here is a list of 5 books recommended by our employees. For those who may not be avid readers, we have expanded this series to include podcast recommendations as well.
The Last Flight by Julie Clark
The Last Flight is the story of two women-both alone, both scared, and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives. Claire has the perfect life, or so it seems from the outside looking in but what appears perfect is actually a mask of the life that she is actually living. Eva, a promising chemistry student at the University of California makes a mistake that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Each of these women plan to escape their lives and a chance meeting at an airport bar gives each of them the opportunity they were looking for—together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets and start a new life away from their pasts. As Claire flies off to California and Eva to Puerto Rico something goes terribly wrong.
We learn of each women’s past and get wrapped up in both of their lives in this fast-paced story loaded with twists and turns that keeps you turning the page until the bitter end. A nice “beach read” of only 288 pages that will make you want to read more novels by Ms. Clark.
– Recommended by: Pat O.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
How would your life proceed if it was decided for you based on one decision? Elsa never seemed to belong in the family she was born into. Her parents were wealthy, her sisters were beautiful, and she was just plain. Meeting a local boy changes her life path when she is found in a family way. Her parents disown her, and she is now a wife and daughter-in-law with a new life to learn in the world of wheat farming. Things are fitting into place for Elsa when the drought hits during the great depression. Year upon year of dwindling crops and food, a husband who left, and the waning health of her children, Elsa is forced to make another choice. Does she stay in Texas and pray things get better or does she load her kids and their remaining few belongings into the old truck and follow everyone else to California and the land of opportunity and the possibility of finding her husband? The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is about Elsa’s heartbreaking and raw journey. I recommend this book with the highest sense of urgency that you follow this beautifully written emotional journey along with Elsa.
– Recommended by: Lindsey S.
Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
Stressed-out, single mom of two and struggling novelist Finlay Donavan is killing it…except, she’s really not. Her life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.
When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband to make ends meet. Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation.
This novel is fast-paced, deliciously witty, and wholeheartedly authentic in depicting the frustrations and triumphs of motherhood. I would recommend this book to all kinds of readers because it has it all. An incredible plotline, characters you can root for, a murder mystery, a bit of a love triangle, and endless humor. The best part? The story of Finlay Donovan doesn’t end with this book. Finlay’s journey continues in the sequel, Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead, which was released in 2022. The third installment of the series Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is set to be released in January 2023 with the fourth book coming out in 2024.
– Recommended by: Jennifer W.
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
I recommend Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton. This book is about a college student back at the turn of the century from New York City who goes on an Archeological dig with his professor and class on a dare and gets left behind in Dodge City. You continue to follow the story of this young man as he has to figure out how to make a living in this rough and tumble town as well as survive an investigation about a murder and SO MUCH MORE! The great thing about Crichton is that all of his books are backed with historical and scientific research, so you know what you are reading isn’t just words but truly looked into. I 100% recommend this book to anyone who likes some mystery, history, and redemption arches.
– Recommended by: Brynn B.
High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins
This is a true story about the life of an addict in the midst of the opioid crisis. This is a raw and honest look at what Tiffany went through including felony charges and prison time before her eventual sobriety and new life as a mom, wife, and social media influencer who has reached millions of people. I wasn’t sure about this one as I began to read, but soon enough I couldn’t put it down wondering what would happen next. She did an excellent job explaining in vivid detail what she went through as an addict, and it is so inspirational that she came out the other side as the person she is now. This to me is proof that even if you are dealt a bad hand, with enough willpower and determination you always have the ability to turn things around.
– Recommended by: Julie N.
Lore by Aaron Mahnke
Lore (created by Aaron Mahnke and produced by Grim & Mild) is a bi-weekly podcast about folklore and how it ties into dark historical tales. The podcast covers a wide variety of topics, such as real accounts of mysterious creature sightings, tragic events, and unusual places. What hooked me on this podcast was the narrator’s ability to blend fantasy and reality, providing the listener with all of the facts about a certain topic or event while also acknowledging aspects of it that are simply unexplainable. A perfect balance for a podcast revolving around humanity’s endeavor to explain the unexplainable through folklore.
– Recommended by: Nate G.
Dark History by Bailey Sarian
Bailey dives into the dark underbelly and hidden secrets of both well-known and lesser-known history and isn’t one to shy away from controversy. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Bailey’s fun personality and occasional side tangents make it a fun, eye-opening podcast for anyone who enjoys things that are a little more on the unconventional side.
– Recommended by: Sara G.