Haaayyy-o! Happy Friday, my friends! I hate to be a person that lives for Friday, but today is our fifth wedding anniversary and I’m excited for this weekend to come. We’re planning on going to a new (to us) restaurant called Tailor at the end of the weekend which comes highly recommended to us. Plus, we love food and new experiences, so I mean… Yeah. We’re living for this weekend.

I’m starting a new thing over here on The Chia House called Friday Favorites. I know, so original! No one has ever done that in the history of ever! Ha. Joking aside, I want to do a small roundup on Fridays (perhaps not every Friday, but you get the idea) and today will be the inaugural Friday Favorite.

My Friday Favorite today is more like seven favorites: seven books I’ve read (*ahem* actually, listened to) over the last year or so that I loved. I’ve consumed more books in the last year of my life because of audiobooks, and I’ve expanded my realm of what books I’ve traditionally reached for. Ranging from autobiography to fantasy, there’s something for everyone on this list. Or, perhaps, it’s time you expand your realm too.

Keep in mind, these books are in no way in any order or ranking. Just simply listing seven incredible, beautiful books.

1. Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

Favorite quote: “You’re never more yourself than when you are taking a shit.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the joy that is Trevor Noah, he’s the host of The Daily Show and one of the funniest men on television today. He gets candid about his childhood and adolescence in the South African township of Soweto in this hilarious, gripping autobiography.

Born in 1984 in apartheid-ruled South Africa, Noah was, quite literally, born a crime. His mother was black, his father was white, and under apartheid their relationship was legally forbidden. This story goes through Noah as he navigates school, family, and life as a mixed-race youth in a world where he felt he fit in with neither the white nor black kids that surrounded him.

I think the thing I loved the most about this book was Noah’s distinct voice in it. Through trauma, hardship, poverty, and discrimination, he’s still able to make you laugh along with him.

BONUS: if you like audiobooks, he narrates it and it’s a delight.

To purchase this book, click here.

2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Favorite quote: “‘No thank you,’ I said. ‘I don’t want to accept a drink from you, because then I would be obliged to purchase one for you in return, and I’m afraid I’m simply not interested in spending two drinks’ worth of time with you.'”

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a story that gripped me harder than most stories tend to do. It’s a humorous glimpse into the lonely world of a grocery-store-loving hermit and a wonderful story about the importance of human connection and kindness.

Eleanor is a outsider with a haunting past. Grappling with past trauma, mental illness, and isolation, she navigates the world completely on her own. To her surprise, she learns that letting other people in can actually be quite lovely and she slowly lets the reader into her mind as she begins to widen her small social circle.

I related to and loved Eleanor and her story. She’s a fascinating, lovable, peculiar protagonist who cares little for societal norms, preferring to live by her own rules.

To purchase this book, click here.

3. Find the Good – Heather Lende

Favorite quote: “I believe gratitude comes from a place in your soul that knows the story could have ended differently, and often does, and I also know that gratitude is at the heart of finding the good in this world — especially in our relationships with the ones we love.”

A book by an obituary writer in rural Alaska isn’t normally the thing that makes me pick up a book, but when a close friend recommended it to me as “a book that reads like a hug from a good friend,” I could’t not get it.

Find the Good is author Heather Lende’s personal collection of advice she’s gathered over the years of being her tiny Alaskan town’s newspaper obituary writer. Stories ranging from stubborn hearts to broken ones, familial ties and friendly ones, and the importance of taking time to walk with your friend and your dogs on the beach at sunrise: this book really does read like a hug from a good friend.

Bonus: the audiobook version is read by the author.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here.

4. Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

Favorite quote: “Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have; how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together.”

THIS BOOK. If we’re friends, you’ve heard me rant and rave about it. It’s the kind of book that, once I finished it, I excitedly explained the entire premise and plot to Jake FOR ALMOST AN HOUR. Bless that man, because he is a gem.

To sum it up simply: Dark Matter is an intense, psychological science-fiction novel about alternative realities, and how one small (or large) decision can alter our present and our futures. It follows along with family man Jason Dessen, a once could-be scientist and now-college-professor after he gets kidnapped and placed into an alternate reality: one where he became the scientist, but little else of his familiar life.

This book encapsulates the tremendous power of love and familial bonds, as well as human’s innate desire to survive any circumstance we find ourselves in. It perfectly examines the inner workings of the human heart and desires and answers the question: if you had the chance to go back and change your fate, would you?

I’d never read a true science fiction book before this one and it completely changed my perspective of them.

BONUS: Blake Crouch just released a new psychological thriller called Recursion. I listened to it last week, and it was indescribably well-done.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here.

5. The Red Queen series – Victoria Aveyard

Favorite quote: “Anyone can betray anyone.”

I don’t know if that’s my favorite quote because it plays such a strong motif in the underlying premise of the whole series or because it’s just a fact of life, but either way, it’s my favorite.

This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read, although Mare Barrow, the female protagonist, does remind me in different ways of other female protagonists. Katniss from The Hunger Games, Triss from the Divergent series, and Daenerys from Game of Thrones.

This series takes place in a dystopian near-future run by monarchies and ruined by endless war. It’s a world that segregates people by the color of their blood, creating two distinct classes: reds and silvers. The reds are the common folk like servants, workers, and manufacturers. The silvers are magical, powerful beings who rule the kingdom and have the world at their fingertips. Mare Barrow, a red, suddenly finds herself suddenly thrown into a world of silvers, scared and alone, until she harnesses a mysterious power from within herself that she didn’t know she had.

The book follows Mare as she navigates this newfound power, her untapped strength, and the danger she now possesses as well as faces due to her unusual capability. She encounters heartbreak, loss, betrayal, and vengeance in this incredibly female-forward story.

I couldn’t put this down once I started. It’s such great storytelling with incredibly complex characters. As of this post, I’ve only read the first two of the series, but I’m definitely working my way through the rest of them.

BONUS: it’s a series! There are five of these gems to be read!

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here.

6. Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

Favorite quote: “The love of sisters needs no words. It does not depend on memories, or mementos, or proof. It runs as deep as a heartbeat. It is ever-present as a pulse.”

So if you use any e-reader service (I use Libby, a free app run through public libraries nationwide), you’ll know about the “find your next read” section where the app basically recommends books to you. I was perusing the available audiobooks section when I stumbled across this title. Again, not my usual reach, but after reading the title details and learning that it was based on a true story, I was curious.

And here we are. It’s one of the seven best books I’ve read this year. It’s a heartbreaking and heartwarming historical nonfiction tale based on a true story about an adoption scandal that took place in western Tennessee at the hand of a woman named Georgia Tann. Over the span of about 30 years, Georgia Tann kidnapped upwards of 5,000 children from impoverished communities and illegally adopted them out to affluent and important people, including political figures, actors, and composers.

Before We Were Yours follows a dual-plot storyline, one from the perspective of a young girl who lived on the river named Rill during the depression era, and another from Avery, a 30-something year-old senator daughter of a South Carolina senator in the present day. Rill and her four siblings are kidnapped by police and sent to live with Georgia Tann at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society where they’re adopted out to different families. Hopelessly, they give up on ever being reunited with each other, or their parents, ever again. Avery’s story follows twists of fate and uncovering of family mysteries, ultimately discovering that her southern, prim-and-proper grandmother may have kept more from her family than anyone had suspected.

I think I’ve said it about all of these books so far, but I couldn’t stop listening to this one. Like, Jake and I got into an argument because I couldn’t stop listening. This story is so captivating. It covers all of our basic human emotions, from love to grief, and expertly shows that the power of familial love is no match for the evil in this world. And it goes to show that even in the closest families, people aren’t always who they appear to be.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here.

7. Rising Strong – Brené Brown

Favorite quote: HONESTLY, THE WHOLE BOOK. But, if I had to pick, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Ooooooooof.

This book truly changed me on the deepest level of my being. Dr. Brown is a godsend, a hug, a cheerleader, a shit-starter, and an ego check all in one. Rising Strong is her third book on her study of shame and vulnerability. She’s an absolutely incredible woman, an incredible thinker, and I owe her my life.

Honestly, I do feel like this book made me a better person. It’s about the power we have in owning our failures, and getting back up after we’ve been knocked down. Brené gives us the permission to harness the courage that we already possess, and hold on to the uncomfortable moments that occur when we let our guards down and allow ourselves to be truly vulnerable.

I’ve read all of Brené’s work. I’m a mega fan, and this is the best yet. It shook me up in the way that only she can and I think this book is for literally everyone.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. All were absolutely incredible, I just figured I’d give you books that maybe you hadn’t read yet.

I would love to hear about books that you’ve read that have made an impact on you. As of right now, I’m listening to The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates, a book about empowering women and the power it has.

As always, thank you for reading. Your support means so much to me! Even just clicking around this little blog gives me support.

Disclosure: some of the links included in this post are affiliate links from the Amazon Affiliate program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Posted by:Abbey Chiavario

Abbey is a DIY enthusiast and artist based out of Nashville, TN.

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