Behind the Blog- The Book Worm

I’m trying something new today you guys. After years of friends and family always asking me about my book suggestions, (and celebrating my own book club’s 4 year anniversary,) I thought it was time to share what I’m reading with you too. (I always get a bit nervous about non-food related posts, so if you hate this and feel free to let me know. On the other hand- if this is something you’d enjoy as a monthly post- I’d love that feedback too!)

I read a lot.  I’d say I average a book a week and sometimes more. I’ve been a book worm for as long as I can remember, so much so, that as a kid my Mom would take my books away as punishment. (How could she?) Books have always been my favorite hobby, especially when I find a book I can just get lost in, anxiously awaiting when I get cuddle up in bed and devour a book I just can’t put down. Today I’m suggesting 2 books. One that I just read, and one that I’ve loved for years.

I have to start with what I consider one of my favorite books of all time- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It’s not a new book, but if you haven’t read it- you really must. I love this blurb:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

It is beautifully written, suspenseful, and romantic. I devoured it years ago and have read it several times since. I’ve made all my family members read it, my book club loved it a couple years ago, and even Andy read and loved it. (Which is saying a lot because he’s very picky about books!)

The second book couldn’t be more different. I couldn’t put it down either, but more because it was so funny, and charming. Where’d you go Bernadette? by Maria Semple is described as this:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

The author, Maria Semple is a comedy writer, having written for tons of my favorite TV shows in the past. I laughed out loud several times in this book and really enjoyed it. It’s light and fun without being stereotypical “chick lit.”

There you have it for today! Any suggestions for me? I’ll need to load up my kindle before we leave for Paris two weeks from today!!


  1. Would love to see book suggestions monthly. Always on the quest for a good book. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. I would LOVE to read about your book reviews every month! These books already sound exquisite!

  3. I love finding new books to read! Thank you so much for sharing these two!

  4. Audra, anything you post on your blog is amazing!! The wedding stories, book reviews, and of course your beautiful and amazing treats!! I am probably speaking for everyone… Keep the posts coming!! Thanks for the book review. I’m currently reading far from the tree by Andrew Solomon… It is amazing!! (non-fiction with a lot of psychology and medicine, but an amazing book thus far that will open your eyes). I might need to meet Bernadette tho soon! ;) thanks again!

  5. Audra,
    Just wrote down both those titles. Our book club suggestion list for next year is due at the next meeting. I’m going to suggest those. We just finished WHEN CRICKETS CRY by Charles Martin. It was great! Three of my recent favorite books are CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese, SARAH’s KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay, and MOLOKA’I by Alan Brennert. Have fun in Paris, we’re headed there on a Viking Cruise in July. Hello to Andy. Becky(your sick taxi buddy from Costa Rica)

    1. Hey Becky! Andy says Hi!
      I have read Cutting for Stone, Sarah’s Key and Moloka’i. All great book club books!
      Hope you guys are well! :)

  6. Such a great idea! To combine my two most favorite hobbies ever :) Food and Books! I am also a huge book worm and as you my mum used books to “educate” me ;) And I had to secretly read underneath my bedcover cause I wasn’t allowed to stay up too long, but I just couldn’t stop reading and often read until late in the night ;)
    I have also read the Shadow of the Wind and LOVED it, one of my most beloved books ever! I just got “The Prisoner of Heaven” from my boyfriend. Still need to read it though. If you love this kind of style I have a few suggestions ;) I don’t know if you speak Spanish ;) Otherwise this is a fantastic book: La Batalla del Calentamiento (I found a Dutch version of it, but I somehow can’t find an English one?), I also absolutely adored The unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I just recently read and is really sweet and touching. And please please read The Time In Between: A Novel by Maria Duenas. It is amazing, I am sure you will love it ;)
    Haha, well maybe we should open a book club ;)
    Take care!

    1. Hey! To warn you- Prisoner of Heaven (and Angels Game) aren’t quite as good as SOW. I was thrilled to be back in that world again, but nothing really compares.

      I’ve been wanting to read the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry! Thanks for that suggestion- I’ll download it before the trip :)

      1. I agree on the Angels Game book, it was nice, but not comparable to SOW… but as the Prisoner of Heaven was again with the same main characters as SOW, I was hoping a bit more of it ;) Anyway, yes please read the Pilgrimage, I can highly recommend it! It makes you think about life, but not in a cheesy way I think… really great stuff! Can’t think of anything else at the moment, except my all time favorite “Rebecca”, haha, which just has to be my favorite as I was named after the book (or better the film ;)). But also a great book if you want something different than SOW :D Hope to see more suggestions ;) Take care!

          1. Hahaha :) Well, seems we have the same taste ;) Can’t wait what you will suggest the next time :D See you then ;)

  7. Three suggestions for you if you are interested in rich character development. The Poisonwood Bible, Bel Canto and How To Make An American Quilt.

    1. Thanks Gary! I adore Bel Canto- one of my all time favorites. Also really enjoyed Poisonwood Bible. How to Make An American Quilt is going on my list!

  8. Great suggestions! I’m glad I stumbled on your blog today :-) I am just finishing my MFA in Creative Writing so I read all the time too! One of my current favorites? Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas. You can’t go wrong with her!

  9. Fellow book worm here! I love both these suggestions, thank you… and more posts like this would be awesome!

    As long as you’re still providing enough food recipes so that we have plenty to snack on while we’re reading ;)

  10. I love the addition of book suggestions! As a student, I spend 10 months a year knee-deep in research articles and reference textbooks. I always love suggestions because then I know that the ‘leisure’ reading time I have will be well-spent!
    Two suggestions I have (although I have a feeling you will have already read the first one):
    – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    – The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

  11. I am sure you’ve read it but I loved The Guernsey LIterary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a Europe read for sure!

    1. Oh yes- I adored it. My book club tried to cast the “movie” for fun- and I totally pictured Kate Winslett as the leading lady. Such a good one.

  12. I love Shadow of the Wind! You’re the first person I know of that’s actually heard of it, besides me. Bernadette is on my to-read list. This is a good series idea, and I definitely think you should do more of it! Are you on goodreads? If not, you should be! It’s a great site to keep of track of books, and discover some new ones. And I’d love to be friends on there and swap recs with you, because I think we have very similar taste.

    1. Yes I am on Good Reads! Under Audra Wahhab I think (haven’t changed my name after getting married.) :)

  13. Great suggestions Audra!!

    I find that I read a lot more now I have an iPad. I load them on before business trips. I just finished reading Steve Guttenberg’s autobiography! :) Random, I know, but it was really enjoyable learning about how he broke (literally) into Hollywood back in the 80s.

  14. I always love suggestions for books I haven’t read or new authors. I see someone already recommended The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I thought it was a fabulous book, one that I can reread again and again. Another favorite is The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. I really enjoyed the characters and her descriptions of cooking. I am looking forward to reading her new book, The Lost Art of Mixing. It’s all set on my Nook.

  15. I was a bookworm and I became a libraian. I developed an allergy to print material.
    I found it easier to give up foods than to give up books.

    I’m currently reading 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese. He is going to be speaking for our Sun. service April 28, 2013., at the high school auditorium. It seats 900 people.

    My pastor said to me, “I hope you will be able to read the book.” I got a copy Thurs. night. I have made myself sick twice. Sometimes I just have to read.

    I read book reviews from delany place during the week. I have allergies to my computer too. Keep reading!

  16. Suggest away I have written the 2 books down to read in the future, once I have the time to do read other than medical journals and textbooks again!

  17. I’m on my third book by Andrea Levy. She is a British Born author of Jamaican heritage. Small island was amazing. The book is written in 4 peoples voices. Some laugh out loud parts. OMG she is good. The Long Song was amazing to. The Lemon Tree is good but not as can’t put it downish as the first two.

    Have Fun,


  18. OMG! You love to cook and read too! I am so excited! I am a bookseller and avid reader who loves to cook and bake. My fellow booksellers love it, because I m always bringing goodies to work. If you are going to Paris you MUST MUST MUST read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Have you joined Goodreads? If so we must be friends there. Then we can always see what each other is reading! (Suzze Tiernan)

      1. Just compared our books on Goodreads. Guess we read alike, it says I have read 65% of the books you have read!!

  19. Love when food blogs give reading recs! Would love to hear more of your faves!

  20. I love book recommendations. I used to hate reading, and then started to love it in the 5th grade (Thank you J.K. Rowling and Lemony Snicket). Then I started cooling off on the reading when school got progressively harder. Now I’m starting to reread my favorites. I just finished rereading the Giver (one of my all time favorites) and I forgot how SHORT that book it. I used to think it was so much bigger as a kid. I also just finished reading the kite runner for the first time last week, That was a beautiful book. And when my roommate gets back from being kidnapped I’m going to read her copy of The perks of Being a Wallflower.

    1. Love the Giver and Perks of Being a Wallflower is a favorite.
      Two more suggestions for you: The Book Thief and A Fault in Our Stars- both considered “young adult fiction” but I adored them! :)

  21. I’ve read Shadow of the Wind! Have to check out Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It looks good.

    And I absolutely positively second The Book Thief. I love love love it.

  22. Is there any chance you would consider doing restaurant posts of your favorite places to eat in the city?

    1. Hey Dara!
      Yeah I could definitely do that sometime- thought I don’t eat out nearly as much as I used to. I’m gonna do a series of NYC posts this spring! :)

  23. I’m so glad you mentioned Shadow of the Wind. I picked it up a few weeks ago at a library book sale-the cover really drew me in. I’ll have to read it next!

  24. I love your blog Audra. I had to comment today when I saw a few of your titles. If you loved The Fault in Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Book Thief, you have to get Wonder by R.J.Polacio-amazing life lessons & characters you will fall in love with-YA but perfect for any age. Also, a great book club read is The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom…and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Thanks for sharing your titles. I hope you will continue to do this. Nothing better than recipes and books!

    1. I have read both those books with my book club :) Liked the Kitchen House and LOVED The Forgotten Garden. I was gonna suggest it next month! :)

  25. I can’t believe I missed this post, what great read suggestions. Audra, I am super excited to see where you take this and to devour every single read suggestion. Total bliss :)

  26. Oh, great post Audra! I work at an international writers’ festival… so I’m always reading and writing and hunting for new books, too. Great timing, actually, because I’m in a bit of a (very unusual) rut where I just don’t know what to read next! Will definitely take your suggestions on board :) Keep it up!

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