25 Before 25: Read Five Books

1 // What Alice Forgot

In a Nutshell The main character is Alice, a thirty-nine-year-old mom of three in the middle of a divorce. When the story opens, she falls at the gym and wakes up thinking she’s actually twenty-nine, pregnant with her first child and madly in love with her husband. In the ten years that she can’t remember, she’s turned into a person she didn’t think she would be and has no idea who her kids are or why she’s divorcing her husband. Things come together for her in pieces, slowly at first, and I couldn’t help but get sucked in.

You will probably like it if you’re looking for something easy to pick up and put down between making dinner and putting together Paw Patrol puzzles.

You probably won’t like it if chick-lit isn’t your thing.

2 // Four: A Divergent Collection

In a Nutshell This book is a collection of four short stories that are like a prequel to where we find Four and the rest of the crew in Divergent. All of the things that the original three books lead you to believe about his character are put in black and white– abusive dad, disappearing/factionless mom, and his new life in Dauntless. Kind of cool to read about Tris as an initiate from his point of view.

You will probably like it if you’re looking for a quick read. I’m talking the literary equivalent of junk food. Also, it’s fun to picture Theo James as the brooding Four for 285 pages 😉

You probably won’t like it if you aren’t into the Divergent series, obviously.

3 // The Handmaid’s Tale

In a Nutshell Set in the near future, [The Handmaid’s Tale] describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. via Amazon.com

Slightly heavier than the first two on my list, wouldn’t you say?

You will probably like it if you’re into dystopian fiction a la 1984 and Brave New World. This book is seriously crazy. The narrator, Offred (literally called “Of Fred” because that’s the commander she “belongs” to) is our only lens into this world and it’s pretty bleak. She tells about the “now” and the “before” of her situation in pieces, jumping between both throughout the book. Which brings me to my next point–

You probably won’t like it if AP English wasn’t your thing. This isn’t exactly a light beach (snow day?) read.

4 // Yes Please

In a Nutshell  Amy writes about everything in this book from her childhood to her career to motherhood and beyond. The balance of wit and wisdom she managed throughout the book was so good, you guys. I will definitely be reading it again!

You will probably like it if you are into the memoir genre and reading about the experiences of strong women. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up this book, but I was pleasantly surprised with just how great of a writer she is– incredibly honest, funny without trying too hard, relatable. Her life is exponentially more fabulous than mine will ever be, but at the heart of everything she’s just another woman trying to juggle work and kids and a love life and being a grown-up, feeling all the feels and doing the best she can.

Also, there are chapters called “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “The Robots Will Kill Us All,” and “Humping Justin Timberlake.”

You probably won’t like it if you don’t have a pulse. Kidding– harsh– probably many reasons because it has a fairly direct audience. Identifying as a woman/mother/writer largely influences my bias here, so chances are you may not all be as over the moon about it as I am.

But if you are at least one of those things? Read it. NOW. (and thank me later)

5 // Serena

In a Nutshell The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains–but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning. —Amazon.com

JLaw and Bradley Cooper are going to be absolute perfection as the Pembertons because she’s fierce, and who doesn’t want to see Bradley Cooper as a rugged lord-of-the-lumberjacks?

You will probably like it if you’re into Gone Girl-esque leading ladies and the drama that ensues. Serena is full of the crazy, but it builds. Character development and the story overall wasn’t entirely predictable, leaving just enough suspense to make me lie to myself that I would read “one more page” until I finished the book in the same day I started.

You probably won’t like it if historical fiction isn’t your thing. Specifically, depression-era/timber industry/appalachia. Not going to lie, I did a fair amount of skimming when I felt like I was knee-deep in these kinds of details so I could get to the next juicy part.


There you have it! One thing crossed off the 25 Before 25 list. Already looking forward to the next snow day so I can dig into the next five waiting on my Kindle: If I Stay, Still Alice, Wild, Big Little Lies, and Station Eleven. Happy reading!


Author: Erica the Great

Wife, momma, teacher, and a twenty-something for a little while longer. Every day, I'm a lot of things for a lot of people. This space? It's just for me.

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