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15 Books You MUST Read This Year

March 1, 2018

 

Here at MJ Photography, we're readers. And we know that there's a lot of "Read More Books" goals out there, so we've made a list for you. We've got something for everyone with several categories to choose from.  If  you want to read one book every month, we've got you covered. These books are perfect for long flights, (like for your honeymoon) lazy days, or for a short read before bed.  

 

 

.:The 5 Love Languages:.

Dr. Gary Chapman

 The BEST advice we were ever given was to read this book with our fiancee/husband. Let me tell you, it has made a HUGE difference in our relationships. You can't simply love the person you're with. You need to love in their language. Dr. Gary Chapman explains that there are 5 languages in which people show and receive love.

-Words of Affirmation,

-Acts of Service,

-Physical Touch,

-Quality Time,

-Gift Giving

In this book he explains why it's important to know your partners love language, and how to communicate in a way that they will receive. After reading this book you'll know what it is that will make your partner feel loved, appreciated and valued, and which actions to avoid, which would make them upset, irritated or hurt. If you choose to only read ONE book on this list, make it The 5 Love Languages.

 

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.:Historical Fiction:.

The Orphan Train

Christina Baker Kline

The Orphan Train bounces back and forth between present day Maine to depression era Minnesota where it follows the characters Molly and Vivian. Molly, who is assigned a community service position to help keep her out of juvenile hall, is instructed to help an elderly woman, Vivian, clean out her attic. She there discovers the life she lives, bouncing between foster homes, isn't much different than the life that Vivian once lived herself. 

Orphan trains once ran from large U.S. cities to rural farm lands carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates were unknown. They could either find a loving family or face a life of child labor. Vivian was an Irish immigrant who struggled to find her place as the story follows her difficult path. This author weaves the two characters lives together in a captivating way telling a story of hope and of heartbreak while revealing a chapter of American history that not many know of.

 

 

 White Collar Girl

Renee Rosen

The year is 1955, and Jordan Walsh, following in her families footsteps, has set out to be a newspaper reporter. A family tragedy left the rest of the Walsh's unable to continue their jobs, except Jordan. But the year is 1955, and Jordan Walsh is a woman, and the men who run the Chicago Tribune, have no desire to have a female reporter. So instead, she is forced to write society news. The latest Marylin Monroe sightings, interviewing secretaries, reporting on weddings and fashion. Until one day, she caught a big story. Corruption in the Mayor's office. With her new source, Jordan finally thinks she's caught her big break. That is, until she realizes that being a woman makes it more difficult to be given credit for being the one who discovered and wrote the story. 

White Collar Girl follows the story of Jordans up and coming career as a woman trying to crack the glass ceiling, and find the truth about the Mayor Richard J. Daley administration.

 

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.:Murder Mystery:.

Little Deaths

Emma Flint

Ruth Malone is a single mother in 1965. Her husband has left her in the middle of a custody battle while she works long hours as a cocktail waitress to make ends meet for her two children. Ruth wakes up one day to find both her children missing. Several hours later, her daughters strangled body is found in an abandoned lot half a mile from her home. Her sons body found decomposing ten days later.
The lead detective, a catholic man, sees the empty booze bottles, lingerie, and love notes from multiple men, and categorizes Ruth as a drunk, and promiscuous woman. He and the rest of the police jump to the conclusion that with her behavior, divorce, and custody battle, she killed her children. 

Pete, a tabloid reporter managed to score covering the case. But as he investigates, his initial belief that Ruth killed her children, takes a turn. Little Deaths will have you changing your mind and what you believe every few pages, with a dramatic ending.

 

 

The Girls in the Garden

Lisa Jewell

Clare and her two daughters live a cluster of flats in London surrounded by a communal garden. Paradise in Urban London. Everyone's children run in and out of everyone else's homes, because she has known her neighbors for years. She trusts them. Until Midsummer Night, when everyone is at a festival, and Clare's 13 year old daughter Grace is found later that night, unconscious in the garden with mangled clothing.

This is the opening scene of The Girls in the Garden.

We are then taken back in time to relive the events leading up to Grace's attack. The story is narrated from the point of view of several characters, including Pip, Graces sister, Adele, their best friends mom, and Clare herself. While this is not a nail-bitting book, the characters and story progression will grab your attention and not let go.

 

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.:Suspense/ Thriller:.

Dark Matter

Blake Crouch

Sara Irene's Top Pick

"Are you happy with you life?" This is the last thing that Jason Dessen hears before his abductor knocks him unconcisous. He later wakes up strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. And then one of these strangers says "Welcome back, my friend."
Before Jason woke up, he was a physics professor living in a beautiful home with his Spanish, artist wife, and their teenage son. But when he wakes, he is a genius who has achieved great things, and he never married his wife, and his son was never born. Which life is the real one, and which is the dream? I can't say much without giving away the best parts. But this book is one of my favorites! A perfect combo of sci-fi, thriller, with a very small hint of romance. Maybe this book isn't for you. But maybe there's another you out there who would like it. 

 

 

The Girl With All the Gifts

M.R. Carey

Every morning Melanie waits in her cell to be taken to class. She's is strapped to a wheelchair while Sargent Parks keeps his gun aimed at her. Everyday. Melanie loves school, she loves learning, she loves her teacher Miss Helen Justineau. But Melanie is no normal child. None of the students in this school are. One day Dr. Cadwell requests to see Melanie, and Helen trys to intervene. But she' not the only one. Soon Parks, Melanie, Helen, Cadwell, and a young private Kieran manage to escape. But it's miles and miles to safety. And they're traveling on foot with the one thing that can kill, or save them, and the rest of humanity.

 

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.:A Brief History Of:.

Alan M. Turing

Sara Turing

The Imitation Game, I happen to be engaged to a computer scientist. Which means I became very aware of Alan Turing early on in our relationship. 'The Father of Computer Science," as he is called, was a brilliant man, who would not receive recognition for his work until almost 30 years later, and following his suicide. His success was a breakthrough for computer science, math, artificial intelligence, and computational biology. My first recommendation is to read The Imitation Game, which is a very long book detailing his greatest accomplishment, and how he saved the lives of millions, paving the way for computer scientists for years to come. And why he was never allowed to be celebrated. In Alan M. Turing, Turing's mother and brother share stories of the life of Alan from a young age to his death. WARNING: While there are some unnecessary homophobic expressions in this book, I think it's important to read them to understand how this brilliant scientist lived with the tension of the expectations and beliefs of his family and society, and who he was.

 

 

Rise of The Rocket Girls

Nathalia Holt

Sara Irene's Top Pick

Girls rock. And you know you already knew that, but Rise of The Rocket Girls wont let you forget it. Rise of the Rocket Girls follows female "human computers" over years, from the beginning of the jet Propulsion Lab, to sending satellites, rovers, and people into space, to today. Based off of extensive research, and interviews with every living member of the Rocket Girls, Nathalia Holt weaves the stories of these women into the details and science of NASA. At a time where women weren't expected to have carers, or study science, these women who broke the boundaries of gender and science, made the exploration of space possible. The book that inspired Hidden Figures, will leave you with a new appreciation for women and where we've been, and where we are.

 

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.:Fiction:.

The Immortalists

Chloe Benjamin

If you could find out the exact day you would die, would you want to know? And if you did, how would it change how you lived? In New York 1969, the four Gold children visit a traveling fortune teller, who claims that she can tell you the day and time you die. Over the next few decades the Gold children must decide how live with their fortunes. Will they accept them, defy them? Simon runs away to San Francisco searching for love, Varya researches longevity in primates, trying to test immortality, Daniel becomes an Army Doctor after 9/11, and Klara becomes a Vegas magician with the stage name "The Immortalist." The book follows each sibling as they try to navigate their lives with the threat of death over their shoulder. The Immortalists really makes you think about how knowing this information would change the way you lived, and makes you understand it's not how long you live, but how you live.

 

 

The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

Maura's Top Pick

The Night Circus is one of the most enchanting books I have ever read. The vivid descriptions the author gives you of this magical circus that only comes at night and disappears at sunrise, and the romance that surrounds it, makes you feel as if you are right in the middle of it all. The plot follows two magicians, Marco and Celia, who have been trained since birth to compete in a duel, a duel that unbeknownst to them is a fight to the death. They end up falling head of heels in love, but with great consequences. This all behind the scenes to the enchanting Cirque des Rêves, which comes and disappears suddenly, and has such a strong following that some, known as “rêveurs,”  go so far as to follow it around the world dressed in all black and red. I can not recommend this book more highly! With such vivid imagery, mysterious characters and a captivating plot it is a must read!

 

 

Turtles All The Way Down

John Green

I will admit, I'm not on the John Green bandwagon. He is a brilliant author, but his stories never resonated with me. Until this one. 16 year old Aza is pressured by her best friend Daisy to hunt down the fugitive billionaire Russel Pickett for the $100,000 reward. While trying to sneak into the house, they are caught, and brought to Picketts son Davis, an old friend of Aza. But the reason John Green proved himself to me is the way that Aza is written. A someone who is clinically diagnosed OCD, it pains me to see how we are written into stories. But not Aza. Aza is so well written in such a way that is true to the disability. The book is about the search her and Daisy embark on. But I truly see it as a story of metal disabilities. It is ugly, sad, disturbing, but never hopeless. Aza is quiet, hardly speaks, stuck in her head obsession over the same things. But never once does it feel like John Green is trying to 'fix' her. Liking a boy didn't change her, and in my opinion, it is the best written book with mental disabilities.

 

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.:Business and Self Improvement:.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Elizabeth Marie Kondo

Sarah's Top Pick

This book explores what is called the"konmari method".  I always thought I was a very organized person (because everything I owned had a designated, labelled place and my house was always super clean), but after reading this book I realized I was nothing more than a skilled hoarder. I locked myself in my house for 3 straight days and decluttered the ever-living heck out of my house.  My home's available storage used to be completely maxed out, and now I have empty drawers everywhere! . Reading this book was life-changing. While I didn't follow it to the T, it is the best feeling in the world to look around a room and realize you love every single item in said room. I no longer feel weighed down by "stuff". 

 

Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert

Maura's Top Pick

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, encourages you to live a life of creativity as opposed to fear. She inspires the reader to recognize that they are "good enough" and to let go of perfectionism. This mindset leads to a more willingness to take chance and act on a risky idea instead of shutting it out due to fear of failure. She believes in following your curiosity but taking the huge weight off your shoulders that comes along with "following your passion." A weight a lot of creative people tend to put on themselves, believing the only way to be successful, is to be tortured. Hence the concept of the tortured artist, which she tells you to do away with. This book is such a great read for a creative business owner like myself, or for someone with a hack for painting, or gardening, or just about anyone who has a curiosity on doing something more creative with their lives.

 

 

The Power of Habit

Charels Duhigg

Sarah's Top Pick

I enjoyed this book and immediately began to apply the information to my simple obsession with coffee. I'm talking about serious expenditure for what is basically a bean. And then drinking it. ALL DAY. I totally sympathize with one of Duhigg's examples, a woman who gambled away nearly a million dollars and her family's house because her brain shut down when she thought about gambling or the casinos. Why? Because she'd gotten into the habit, and the triggers (boredom, the sound of slots, or the offers from the casinos, et cetera) generated a response in her that required the need for a "reward." I have no idea why I crave coffee so much - but this book offers some insight as to how I can find out and substitute some other routine that gives me a similar reward. Very commonsensical. 
There's some scary information in here regarding how much department stores, groceries, and Starbucks know about us. Our mass of habits makes us easy to manipulate. I thought this was eye-opening.

 

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We hope you find some of these books interesting, and that you decide to pick up a few the next time you find yourself at Target or at Barnes and Noble.

And if you need more reccomendations, just know, we're always here for you!

 

 

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