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What to Read Next


Article by Karen Kwong

Photography by Karen Kwong, Stock, & Provided

Before we jump into the book recommendations, I want to share some interesting data observed from a recent survey I sent to my immediate network, mostly moms, about changes in reading methods during the quarantine. Prior to the quarantine, choices among reading a physical book, reading on an e-reader, or listening through an audio book app were quite evenly distributed. However during the pandemic, many switched to e-readers.

Most common reasons are:

For those used to reading physical books:

  1. Libraries are closed.
  2. The thought of disinfecting a physical book makes them feel uneasy; they don't know whether they should disinfect or how to disinfect.
  3. They are home all the time now and worry that little kids might do damage to the physical books.

For those used to listen through audio book apps:

  1. They no longer commute so would rather read an e-book than listen.
  2. There's too much disruption in the house now, making it harder to listen to a book.

A few people changed from e-books to physical books because they find it comforting to hold on to an actual physical book.

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I am mostly a self-help book listener. For this article, I put together seven self-help book recommendations that I believe would help career moms develop the right mindset for success during the process of career diversification. I also invited a good friend of mine, Donna Beiderman, to put together seven fiction book recommendations for you.

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Donna recently published "Donna’s Not-So Secret Book Diary" blog on both Facebook and Instagram and found a whole network of people just like her. She fell in love with reading at a young age, took a break during high school, but became an avid reader in college! It is her escape from reality. Donna loves being transported to different time periods or places. She enjoys fiction, young adult, historical fiction, thrillers, memoirs and romance. Her hobby of reading led to publishers sending her books to review.

Donna has been a member of "The Book of the Month Club" for over three years and belongs to two local books clubs. She also belongs to a couple of online book clubs. Donna reads both physical books and on Kindle.

However she enjoys listening to audio books as well through Amazon, Kobo, and Scribd; and she likes going back and forth between listening and reading. Donna reads on average of two to three books a week and would love the opportunity to read more books out of her comfort zone. Donna is very active on Goodreads because it is an excellent outlet to meet new people and authors. She tries to be fair, open minded and review all her books on Goodreads and her Facebook/Instagram blogs.

Self-help Book Recommendations by Karen

Already Read

"I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time" by Laura Vanderkam

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Many working moms say time management is the biggest challenge for them. "Having it all" almost seems impossible. I like how Laura uses data collected to show us that we can be the boss of our own time. The '168 Hours Time Management Spreadsheet' introduced in the book has become my favorite tool when it comes to tracking, managing, and strategizing my time. Laura shares many practical strategies in her book on how to make time for the things that are most important. I submitted my 168 hours challenge and received some quite useful feedback from her.

"Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World - The Seven Areas You Need to Balance and Grow to Live the Life of Your Dreams" by Dave Braun & Troy Amdahl

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Oola explains 'State of Awesomeness' is achieved when our life is balanced and growing in the seven key areas of life: Fitness, Finance, Family, Field, Faith, Friends, and Fun (the 7 F's). The books provides great advice on how to achieve life balance and take our lives to the next level. Take a fun Oola Wheel Assessment to see your score. That might give you more motivation to start reading this book!

"StrengthsFinder 2.0" from Gallup and Tom Rath

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This book includes an online assessment to help us uncover our natural talents. It also helps us to apply our strengths through an action-planning guide. I took the assessment and have to tell you that the results are spot-on! What an instant boost in self-confidence and self-worth!

"The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" by Dave Ramsey

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So many successful small business owners love this book! It helps us to design a plan to pay off debt, save up emergency funds, and be prepared for good retirement! I also highly recommend you follow Dave Ramsey's social media sites for daily inspiration.

"Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job" by Jon Acuff

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This is one of the earlier self-help books I listened to when I started practicing career diversification. Although my end goal is not quitting my day job, I do find this book helpful in providing good tips on how to effectively manage your day job and side gigs and be an ethical, reliable, responsible working professional at all times.

Currently Reading

"Love Money, Money Loves You" by Sarah McCrum

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While Dave Ramsey's book gives a logical approach to money handling, Sarah's talks the emotional aspect of it. She explains money as a form of energy. It is a really interesting concept! So far the best takeaway is the "formula for spending." Cannot wait to discover more!

Planning to Read

"Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck

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I've heard a lot of good reviews about this book and was recently recommended to read it by a mentor of mine. I love how it touches all the areas I am interested in as a mom, a wife, and a small business owner.

Fiction Book Recommendations by Donna

Already Read

"The Book of Lost Friends" by Lisa Wingate, Historical Friction

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4-star review by Donna: "What a masterpiece of Historical Fiction. This story goes back and forth from 1875 - 1987. Inspired by true events this book is told from two points of view. This incredibly raw and compelling story deals with three young women post civil war trying to find their lost family members in the late 1800s. It then follows a new teacher a century later moving to Louisiana to try to start over... Lisa Wingate created believable characters and interesting plot twists. The story builds slowly but the crosses over between the characters and time periods. I felt myself rooting for these incredible women and the books shows their strength, encouragement and perseverance.

What I really loved was that in between the chapters were articles posted by former slaves looking for their families. The heartbreaking letters were published in a Methodist newspaper and went out to more than 4,000 subscription holders. I can only hope and pray that it did unite some families. This book left me heartbroken for all the slaves that were sold and treated so badly, for those that were abused and to the ones who were never reunited. This is a story that will stay with you just like all her other books! It’s a must read!!"

"The Mother-In-Law" by Kiersten Modglin, Thriller

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5-star review by Donna: "Another 5-star book from Kiersten Modglin! This gripping thriller grabs your attention from the first page. Loren meets Jack in a chance encounter and they fall in love ... it gets tricky when her mother-in-law shows up and their life is turned upside down. The characters were likable and the storyline blew me away. Many twists and turns I never saw coming. Thank you Kiersten Modglin for this Advanced Readers’ copy; you are a very talented writer and I look forward to reading more of your books!"

"The Two Lives of Lydia Bird" by Josie Silver, Friction

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4.5-star review by Donna: "This book blew me away. There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts — before this, and after this. Faced with a life changing tragedy the loss of her best friend and fiancé, Lydia, who is heartbroken, finds a way to keep Freddie in her life. I quickly fell in love with all the characters, as I could relate to what they were going through. While grieving themselves, they provided an amazing support system and Lydia explores ways to deal with grief. To truly move on without Freddie, she has to figure out who she is and how she will find the strength to become the new Lydia in her own way and in her own time. This book was raw, compelling, and shows forgiveness and acceptance. The plot was brilliant and Josie Silvers shows off her true talent as a writer."

"My Dark Vanessa" by Kate Elizabeth Russell, Publication date 3-10-20, Friction

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5-star review by Donna: "What a haunting and raw story. I listened to the audio book by Grace Gummer and she brought Vanessa alive. Her voice captivated me in an instant. Some of the scenes were so intense, and I think listening to it rather than reading it made it more real for me. The storyline is dark, difficult to read and consuming but I do see how this book can tie in to the #metoo movement. Vanessa is 15 when she meets her English teacher Mr. Strain. The book follows her life told in first person going back and forth from past to present. My heart broke listening to how Vanessa’s life was spiraling out of control and how PTSD affected her decisions throughout her life. Without giving too much away, there were times my emotions got the best of me and I needed to take a break from listening. The one part that really affected me the most was that Vanessa truly feels like she is not the victim, that she chose Jacob Strain, and how vile that not only was she victimized but that she carries around the guilt blaming herself for his actions. What is heartbreaking is that although this book is fiction there are so many children that have and will continue to experience abuse."

"The Wedding Dress" by Danielle Steel, Romance/Historical Fiction

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5-star review by Donna: "When I saw the cover I knew I needed to read this beautiful story. This epic historical fiction novel follows a close-knit family though four generations. The love story begins by following Eleanor and Alex as they plan a fairytale lavish wedding. Eleanor goes to Paris and they create the most gorgeous wedding gown which will be passed down from generation to generation. You follow this family through the decades facing tragic loss and despair mixed in with some of the happiest of moments too. This is a story of hope, love, and never giving up. It will stir up so many emotions and will remind you that you must keep fighting when you think you may have lost the battle. This book came to me at the perfect time. I fell in love with the characters and am in awe with how such a heartbreaking and heartwarming story could give me hope in what is happening in our own world today."

Currently Reading

"Saving Beck" by Courtney Cole, Memoir

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Planning to Read

"28 Summers" by Elin Hilderbrand, Publication date 6-16-20

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I cannot wait to see Donna's review on these two books! You can follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Instagram!

Title image is taken by Karen (the author). Reviews of Donna's book recommendations are taken from her Goodreads review. Donna's photo is provided by herself. Pictures of book covers are taken from Other pictures are from Shutterstock.

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