Reader Recommendations with Katie Taylor / by Madeleine Riley

Today we're back with my monthly Reader Recommendations series! Each month, I ask a fellow bookworm to share a few of their favorite titles. It's a great way to bring fresh content to the blog and provide me with a boost to my wish list each month. Today I'm welcoming Katie Taylor, whom I've gotten to know through the wonderful community of #bookstagram! 

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Hi readers, I'm Katie! I live in Connecticut with my husband and our two dogs. I am about to start a new job in NYC doing Marketing for a big bank (by the time this is live I will have been there for a few weeks) and I am quite excited about it. I grew up outside of NYC, went to college at SMU in Dallas, and then moved back and lived in NYC for six years.

I have loved reading since I was a little girl, and it's very special to me because it's a hobby (obsession??) that my mom and I share together. Is there anything better than sharing books with loved ones and getting to talk about them? Below are some of the books I adore (and recommend) - enjoy!!


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My Mrs Brown by William Norwich

I would be surprised if a lot of you have heard or read this book, but I absolutely adored it! Emilia Brown is one of my favorite characters that I have encountered in literature. Mrs. Brown is a character you instantly fall in love with. She has strong morals, always takes the high road, and works hard for what she wants. She made me want to be a better person! It's a somewhat modern day Cinderella which made me love it even more and I couldn't put it down. Overall, her goal is to buy a dress (put very, very simply), and you we don't find out the true reason for her desire for the dress until the end of the book and it will bring tears to your eyes. Happy tears, I promise!! This is such a heart warming story and I would encourage everyone to read it. It's quick and easy, but it also makes you stop and think: when did we all become so noisy and important? William Norwich (who I did meet at an author reading for the book and he couldn't have been nicer), thank you for reminding me what matters in this world - real kindness and manners.

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Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

This was a book that made me feel so many emotions from the very beginning to the very end - it's one I highly recommend whenever I am asked about books that I love. It's the story of three orphaned British Muslim siblings, the grown children of a loving mother and a deadbeat dad—a jihadist who abandoned his family to fight in Chechnya and Afghanistan and died en route to Guantanamo after a stay at Bagram. Need I say more??...I will! Isma, one of the main characters, decides to make a big move to America, leaving her sister and brother behind after looking over them for so many years. I remember reading the portion when she decides to leave and I admired her strength for leaving for what she really wanted. That takes guts and courage, and it's something I consistently think about since reading this book (and I read it last year)! What made this book so important to me too was how timely and thought-provoking it was and how views of issues and beliefs are at the core of our relationship with others. Hands down, one of the best endings to a book that I have read in years. Utterly heartbreaking, but it's one everyone should read.

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Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Oh my goodness, was this book incredible! It honestly destroyed me; but (of course) you have to read it. At the center of the book is couple that has been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected the husband to take several wives, him and his wife have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. I envied their love; it was so real and palpable. And their strong belief system that their marriage would always be between just the two of them. I thought, what could go wrong for this wonderful couple? Well, quite simply, everything. It's an electrifying novel of enormous emotional power and asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family. I think we all have those thoughts and questions - and maybe not at their level, or perhaps even more - but it's something we all grapple with. What do we compromise or sacrifice for family? Is it worth it? This book left me thinking for days about the hard choices people have to make and how staying true to yourself is what ultimately matters most.

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

I couldn't believe when this book was over. It consumed my first few weeks of January this year. I was reading it whenever I could; talking about it with whomever I could. Every page demanded my full attention. A little about this book: four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, who is haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. Jude. Willem. Malcolm. JB - the four main characters - I loved and hated them more times than I can remember throughout this devastating, but beautifully written coming of age story. Throughout the book I laughed, I cried; I screamed at everyone on the pages; I was rooting for all of them to succeed even when I felt like they kept letting me down. But I am most of all thankful to the characters in this book for making me feel so much. Honestly, now that this book is done - I feel like I have lost them from my life somehow - but I will never forget them.

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I wasn't expecting to have such a strong reaction to An American Marriage - but it is by far one of the best books I have read in some time. Not only did I read it in less than 24 hours, but I was in awe of Tayari's stories, her writing, and how it made me feel throughout the entire book.  Her decision to tell the story of the two main characters - Celestial and Roy - by switching between all the main characters points of views in the book kept me on my toes - every time I thought I was on a characters "side," I could always then see the others point of view.  You'll only understand how much you truly FEEL once you know how their lives get turned upside down and ripped apart by circumstances no one, not even them, could have ever imagined.  I don't want to give away any spoilers since it's still new, but I was surprised at my feelings at the end of the book.  Part of me wanted everything to work out the way "it should," but that isn't real life.  Which made this book even more real to me.


Readers, you can find Katie on her Instagram @the_grateful_read and on Goodreads. Make sure to go say hi on Instagram and share any recommendations you have for her (based on her excellent taste in books) in the comments below!