My 2021 Reading List: Part 2

Hello my friends! And welcome back to My 2021 Reading List. Where we last left off I had just finished The Culture Code, a book that did make the recommended list might I add, in addition to 28 other books. I was more than halfway to reaching my goal of 50 books in 2021 at the end of My 2021 Reading List: Part 1 and now I find myself barely having made my ultimate goal of 50 books in 2021.


It’s funny to think that last year I was cruising through my goal of 50 books and actually met it within five months. Can you imagine?! 5 months!! I went on to read 82 books total in 2020 and last year (2021) I just barely met my goal of 50.


Nevertheless I did it and am excited to bring you the second half of my reading list from the year. Filled with the good, the bad and the ugly, below you’ll find my real thoughts from the last 20 or so books I read.


As always, if you have any additional questions or recommendations even (yes please!), feel free to shoot me a note via my email - caseyk@almostfabulousme.com.


Happy Reading!


Up Up, Down Down: Essays by Cheston Knapp

AlmostFab Review: I had high hopes for this one. I picked it up because I can appreciate a good coming of age story and thought it might be interesting to dive into one from the male perspective. It was however an arduous read for me. While the author is supremely talented when it comes to crafting a story, this one was not for me.

Recommendation: Not one I’d recommend picking up.

Summary: In the tradition of John Jeremiah Sullivan and David Foster Wallace, Cheston Knapp's Up Up, Down Down "is an always smart, often hilarious, and ultimately transcendent essay collection" (Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See) that brilliantly explores authenticity and the nature of identity.


Daring and wise, hilarious and tender, Cheston Knapp's "glittering" (Leslie Jamison) collection of seven linked essays tackles the Big Questions through seemingly unlikely avenues. In his dexterous hands, an examination of a local professional wrestling promotion becomes a meditation on pain and his relationship with his father. A profile of UFO enthusiasts ends up probing his history in the church and, more broadly, the nature and limits of faith itself. Attending an adult skateboarding camp launches him into a virtuosic analysis of nostalgia. And the shocking murder of a neighbor expands into an interrogation of our culture's prevailing ideas about community. Even more remarkable, perhaps, is the way he manages to find humanity in a damp basement full of frat boys.


Taken together, the essays in Up Up, Down Down amount to a chronicle of Knapp's coming-of-age, a young man's journey into adulthood, late-onset as it might appear. He presents us with formative experiences from his childhood to marriage that echo throughout the collection, and ultimately tilts at what may be the Biggest Q of them all: what are the hazards of becoming who you are?


With "a firmly tongue-in-cheek approach to the existential crises of male maturity for the millennial generation...Knapp's intelligent take on coming-of-age deserves to be widely read" (Publishers Weekly). "Compelling...Precise and laugh-inducing" (TheNew York Times Book Review), Up Up, Down Down signals the arrival of a truly one-of-a-kind voice.


Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time by Andrew Forsthoefel

AlmostFab Review: I intentionally read this book during a pivotal travel time in my life which made the story that much more meaningful. Andrew turns to travel during a difficult time in his life in which he’s uncertain what his next steps are career and life wise. He asks himself many of the same questions I’ve faced and thus I found this read particularly poignant and meaningful.

Recommendation: Highly recommend! He’s an incredible writer and lives so much of the human experience during his walk across America.

Summary: A memoir of one young man's coming-of-age on a cross-country trek--told through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and inclinations he meets along the highways of America.


At twenty-three, Andrew Forsthoefel walked out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read walking to listen. He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn't know how. So he decided he'd walk. And listen. It would be a cross-country quest for guidance, and everyone he met would be his guide.


Walking toward the Pacific, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered incredible kindness from strangers. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn't know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face, and began to find that the answer might be in listening itself.


Ultimately, it's the stories of others living all along the roads of America that carry this journey and sing out in a hopeful, heartfelt book about how a life is made, and how our nation defines itself at the most human level.


My Father Before Me: A Memoir by Chris Forhan

AlmostFab Review: Another slow read for me. It felt quite drawn out but there were definitely pieces of this book that were captivating. A man’s search for meaning in the convoluted twists and turns of a man whom he barely knew, his own father.

Recommendation: Doesn’t quite make the recommendation cut for me.

Summary: An award-winning poet's "beautifully written" (The Seattle Times) portrait of an American family and his own coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s in the wake of his father's suicide. This memoir "belongs on the special shelves we keep for the books we cannot quite forget" (George Hodgman).


The fifth of eight children, Chris Forhan was born into a family of secrets. He and his siblings learned, without being told, that certain thoughts and feelings were not to be shared. On the evenings his father didn't come home, the rest of the family would eat dinner without him, his whereabouts unknown, his absence pronounced but unspoken. And on a cold night just before Christmas 1973, long after dinner, the rest of the family asleep, Forhan's father killed himself in the carport.


Forty years later, Forhan "excavates both his lost father and a lost era in American history" (Bookpage). At the heart of this "fiercely honest" (Nick Flynn) investigation is Forhan's father, a man whose crisp suits and gelled hair belied a darkness he could not control, a man whose striking dichotomy embodied the ethos of an era. Weaving together the lives of his ancestors, his parents, and his own coming of age in the 60s and 70s, Forhan paints an "achingly beautiful" (Buffalo News) portrait of a family "in the tradition of Geoffrey Wolff" (Booklist).


"Poignant...affecting...Forhan describes his family's healing and acceptance with warmth, humor, and an admirable lack of bitterness" (Kirkus Reviews). A family history, an investigation into a death, and a stirring portrait of an Irish Catholic childhood, all set against a backdrop of America from the Great Depression to the Ramones, My Father Before Me is "an exquisite example of the power of honesty" (Jeannette Walls), "a wonderfully engrossing book...essential for all parents and children, that is, all people" (Library Journal, starred review).


Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery by Steph Jagger

AlmostFab Review: Can you tell there’s a theme coming to the surface here? I do love me a self-discovery book, probably in large part because I personally feel like I’m in the midst of my own self-discovery journey every day, but nevertheless, I love them. This one read a bit more like a teen fiction book with all the drama and romance (!!!) but I still enjoyed it. It’s a quick and light-hearted read.

Recommendation: Yes! If you love self-discovery books like I do, you’ll fly through this one. It’s dripping with drama, travel, adventure and self-determination.

Summary: Steph Jagger had always been a force of nature. She grew up emulating the men in her life--chasing success, climbing the corporate ladder, playing by the rules of a masculine ideal--and by all accounts, she was living "the Dream." But it wasn't her dream.

While skiing with friends one day, the universe caught her attention with a sign: Raise Restraining Device. The words suddenly became a personal call to shake off the life she had built and start a search for something different--something more.

Steph decided to walk away from the success and security she had worked hard to obtain. She took a second mortgage on her house, sold everything except her ski equipment and her laptop, and bought a bundle of plane tickets. For the next year, she followed winter up and down the mountains of North and South America, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand on a mission to ski four million vertical feet in a year.

What hiking was for Cheryl Strayed, skiing became for Steph: a crucible in which to crack open her life and get to the very center of herself. Through this journey of body and soul, she came to understand how to be a woman, how to love, and how to live authentically.

Electrifying, heartfelt, and full of humor, Unbound will inspire readers to remove their own restraining devices and pursue the life they are meant to lead.


The Vanity Fair Diaries: Power, Wealth, Celebrity and Dreams. My Years at the Magazine that Defined a Decade. By Tina Brown.

AlmostFab Review: As someone who’s always DREAMED of working at a magazine, I had SUCH high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, I am adding it to the list of SLOW reads for 2021. It didn’t meet my expectations at all. I was looking for a captivating, behind the scenes look at working in the seemingly glamorous world of publishing and world-renowned magazines. Sadly, it read more like a journal throughout without much of a plot or story beyond extreme name-dropping. A big let down in my opinion.

Recommendation: Sadly, I would not recommend.

Summary: Named one of the best books of 2017 by Time, People, Amazon.com, The Guardian, Paste Magazine, & Vogue

Tina Brown kept delicious daily diaries throughout her eight spectacular years as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. Today they provide an incendiary portrait of the flash and dash and power brokering of the Excessive Eighties in New York and Hollywood.

The Vanity Fair Diaries is the story of an Englishwoman barely out of her twenties who arrives in New York City with a dream. Summoned from London in hopes that she can save Condé Nast's troubled new flagship Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is immediately plunged into the maelstrom of the competitive New York media world and the backstabbing rivalries at the court of the planet's slickest, most glamour-focused magazine company. She survives the politics, the intrigue, and the attempts to derail her by a simple stratagem: succeeding. In the face of rampant skepticism, she triumphantly reinvents a failing magazine.

Here are the inside stories of Vanity Fair scoops and covers that sold millions--the Reagan kiss, the meltdown of Princess Diana's marriage to Prince Charles, the sensational Annie Leibovitz cover of a gloriously pregnant, naked Demi Moore. In the diary's cinematic pages, the drama, the comedy, and the struggle of running an "it" magazine come to life. Brown's Vanity Fair Diaries is also a woman's journey, of making a home in a new country and of the deep bonds with her husband, their prematurely born son, and their daughter.

Astute, open-hearted, often riotously funny, Tina Brown's The Vanity Fair Diaries is a compulsively fascinating and intimate chronicle of a woman's life in a glittering era.


Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

AlmostFab Review: This was my first experience reading any of Lisa Jewell’s books and my only complaint is that I wish I discovered her as an author sooner. If I didn’t have the work day standing in the way I would have without a doubt finished this book in one day. The storyline is SO unique, unlike anything I’ve ever read before and the way Jewell writes is incredibly suspenseful. You’re on the edge of your seat throughout.

Recommendation: A MUST read!

Summary: Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. Beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers, and half of a teenaged golden couple. Ellie was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.


And then she was gone.


Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It's been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie's case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she's meeting Floyd's daughters--and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel's breath away.


Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she's tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?


Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

AlmostFab Review: Personally, I could never be a minimalist nor follow the advice of Marie Kondo word for word in my own home but nevertheless it’s a quick and easy read that is guaranteed to leave you thinking of your personal space and the things within it perhaps a little bit differently.

Recommendation: Whether you consider yourself a minimalist, a maximalist, or somewhere in between, this book has at least one takeaway for anyone who reads it.

Summary: Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo has revolutionized homes--and lives--across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to usingher acclaimed KonMari Method to create a joy-filled home that works the way you need it to.


Spark Joy features step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. Kondo also answers frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep "necessary" items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, digital photos, and even building your own personal "power spot" in your home, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.


Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss

AlmostFab Review: One of my favorite books of the year. This is one I’ll keep in my library for years to come. As someone who’s always been interested in world religions, I particularly enjoyed the author’s use of teachings from each of the world religions as well as her extensive experience in energy medicine. This book will change the way you look at healing and emotional affects on our psyches and physical health.

Recommendation: Cannot recommend enough!

Summary: Anatomy of the Spirit is the boldest presentation of energy medicine to date, written by one of its premier practitioners, internationally acclaimed medical intuitive Caroline Myss, who is amongst the hottest new voices in the alternative health/spirituality scene (Publishers Weekly). Based on fifteen years of research into energy medicine, Dr. Myss's work shows how every illness corresponds to a pattern of emotional and psychological stresses, beliefs, and attitudes that have influenced corresponding areas of the human body.


Anatomy of the Spirit also presents Dr. Myss's breakthrough model of the body's seven centers of spiritual and physical power, in which she synthesizes the ancient wisdom of three spiritual traditions-the Hindu chakras, the Christian sacraments, and the Kabbalah's Tree of Life-to demonstrate the seven stages through which everyone must pass in the search for higher consciousness and spiritual maturity. With this model, Dr. Myss shows how you can develop your own latent powers of intuition as you simultaneously cultivate your personal power and spiritual growth.


By teaching you to see your body and spirit in a new way, Anatomy of the Spirit provides you with the tools for spiritual maturity and physical wholeness that will change your life.


How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes

AlmostFab Review: While this book is a bit older, it has great, tangible takeaways for everyone who reads it - nor matter your age, background, career path, etc. It’s reminiscent of a classic read like ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ but it clicks into the advice provided in that book with more specific advice on how to apply it in your daily life.

Recommendation: If you enjoyed ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ and other similar books, this one is for you!

Summary: You'll not only break the ice, you'll melt it away with your new skills. -- Larry King

The lost art of verbal communication may be revitalized by Leil Lowndes. -- Harvey McKay, author of "How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive"

What is that magic quality makes some people instantly loved and respected? Everyone wants to be their friend (or, if single, their lover!) In business, they rise swiftly to the top of the corporate ladder. What is their Midas touch?

What it boils down to is a more skillful way of dealing with people.

The author has spent her career teaching people how to communicate for success. In her book How to Talk to Anyone (Contemporary Books, October 2003) Lowndes offers 92 easy and effective sure-fire success techniques-- she takes the reader from first meeting all the way up to sophisticated techniques used by the big winners in life. In this information-packed book you'll find:

  • 9 ways to make a dynamite first impression

  • 14 ways to master small talk, big talk, and body language

  • 14 ways to walk and talk like a VIP or celebrity

  • 6 ways to sound like an insider in any crowd

  • 7 ways to establish deep subliminal rapport with anyone

  • 9 ways to feed someone's ego (and know when NOT to!)

  • 11 ways to make your phone a powerful communications tool

  • 15 ways to work a party like a politician works a room

  • 7 ways to talk with tigers and not get eaten alive

In her trademark entertaining and straight-shooting style, Leil gives the techniques catchy names so you'll remember them when you really need them, including: Rubberneck the Room, Be a Copyclass, Come Hither Hands, "Bare Their Hot Button," "The Great Scorecard in the Sky, and Play the Tombstone Game," for big success in your social life, romance, and business


Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital (the Inspiration for the NBC Drama New Amsterdam) by Eric Manheimer

AlmostFab Review: Before I say why I didn’t like this book, I’ll begin with what I did like about it. I enjoyed the structure of this book. Each chapter was a new story and featured one of the twelve patients and their respective backgrounds. However, the author writes as a doctor and thus it feels very technical and not quite user friendly. It was a dry and lengthy read in my opinion. Not quite what I was expecting.

Recommendation: Unfortunately, it’s a no for me.

Summary: In the spirit of Oliver Sacks and the inspiration for the NBC drama New Amsterdam, this intensely involving memoir from a Medical Director of Bellevue Hospital looks poignantly at patients' lives and highlights the complex mind-body connection.


Using the plights of twelve very different patients--from dignitaries at the nearby UN, to supermax prisoners at Riker's Island, to illegal immigrants, and Wall Street tycoons--Dr. Eric Manheimer "offers far more than remarkable medical dramas: he blends each patient's personal experiences with their social implications" (Publishers Weekly).

Manheimer is not only the medical director of the country's oldest public hospital, but he is also a patient. As the book unfolds, the narrator is diagnosed with cancer, and he is forced to wrestle with the end of his own life even as he struggles to save the lives of others.


To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for Life with No Regret by Jedidiah Jenkins

AlmostFab Review: As you can probably tell I’m a big fan of books featuring self reflective journeys, adventures, travel, etc. This one I especially liked because it was from the male perspective which I don’t often read if I’m being honest. Plus, his journey was to Patagonia, a place I’ve never visited nor am I particularly familiar with. It opened my eyes to a new perspective and new travel destinations.

Recommendation: Add it to the list!

Summary: On the eve of turning thirty, terrified of being funneled into a life he didn't choose, Jedidiah Jenkins quit his dream job and spent sixteen months cycling from Oregon to Patagonia. He chronicled the trip on Instagram, where his photos and reflections drew hundreds of thousands of followers, all gathered around the question: What makes a life worth living?


In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Jed narrates his adventure--the people and places he encountered on his way to the bottom of the world--as well as the internal journey that started it all. As he traverses cities, mountains, and inner boundaries, Jenkins grapples with the question of what it means to be an adult, his struggle to reconcile his sexual identity with his conservative Christian upbringing, and his belief in travel as a way to wake us up to life back home.


A soul-stirring read for the wanderer in each of us, To Shake the Sleeping Self is an unforgettable reflection on adventure, identity, and a life lived without regret.


Ladies Get Paid: The Ultimate Guide to Breaking Barriers, Owning Your Worth, and Taking Command of Your Career by Claire Wasserman

AlmostFab Review: While it had some good nuggets (as every book is bound to have let’s be honest), I wasn’t a fan of this one. It was overwhelmingly filled with examples, so much so that the author seemed to rely on them to convey her point and didn’t have much to share beyond the examples.

Recommendation: Personally, I would not recommend.

Summary: Claire Wasserman has one goal for women: Rise up and get paid.


As the founder of Ladies Get Paid, Claire has worked her entire adult life to promote gender equality in the workplace. If you're looking to navigate a promotion or break the glass ceiling, Ladies Get Paid is your essential toolkit for achieving success.


Filled with straightforward advice and inspiring stories, this book is a transformative "guide to succeeding in your field, even when you feel completely stuck" (Beth Comstock, author of Imagine It Forward), by encouraging self-advocacy and activism. Covering topics as crucial and varied as how to combat imposter syndrome, deal with office politics, and negotiate a raise. Ladies Get Paid is a reminder that you are valuable--both as an individual woman and as part of the female community. And ultimately, it's about more than your wallet--it's about your worth.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

AlmostFab Review: This book has taken the reading world by storm and for good reason! Another super unique plotline that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Recommendation: You won’t regret adding this one to the reading list!

Summary: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?


Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.


Summoned to Evelyn's luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the '80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn's story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique's own in tragic and irreversible ways.


The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

AlmostFab Review: I’m not an avid Sex and the City fan but I liked the look of this book and thought the concept of a prequel to the infamous series sounded interesting. It was definitely cute but to be honest it was a bit of a teeny bopper book to me. This one belongs more in the Teen/Young Adult Fiction section.

Recommendation: More of a YA read, not sure I’d recommend this one.

Summary: The Carrie Diaries is the coming-of-age story of one of the most iconic characters of our generation. Before Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was a small-town girl who knew she wanted more. She's ready for real life to start, but first she must navigate her senior year of high school. Up until now, Carrie and her friends have been inseparable. Then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture, and a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With an unforgettable cast of characters, The Carrie Diaries is the story of how a regular girl learns to think for herself and evolves into a sharp, insightful writer. Readers will learn about her family background, how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. Through adventures both audacious and poignant, we'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where her new life begins.


The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People Into World-Class Leaders by Kim R Powell, Tahl Raz and Elena L Botelho

AlmostFab Review: While I’m not a CEO (yet!) this book still resonated with me. It had tangible advice and takeaways that the audience can begin applying to their lives and career no matter where they currently find themselves. You can tell thorough and extensive research went into this book and it provides just the right amount of examples to solidify the author’s points and showcase real-life examples.

Recommendation: A great read for any budding young CEO-to-be!

Summary: Based on an in-depth analysis of over 2,600 leaders drawn from a database of more than 17,000 CEOs and C-suite executives, as well 13,000 hours of interviews, and two decades of experience advising CEOs and executive boards, Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell overturn the myths about what it takes to get to the top and succeed.


Their groundbreaking research was the featured cover story in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. It reveals the common attributes and counterintuitive choices that set apart successful CEOs--lessons that we can apply to our own careers.


Much of what we hear about who gets to the top, and how, is wrong. Those who become chief executives set their sights on the C-suite at an early age. In fact, over 70 percent of the CEOs didn't have designs on the corner office until later in their careers. You must graduate from an elite college. In fact, only 7 percent of CEOs in the dataset are Ivy League graduates--and 8 percent didn't graduate from college at all. To become a CEO you need a flawless résumé. The reality: 45 percent of CEO candidates had at least one major career blowup.


What those who reach the top do share are four key behaviors that anyone can master: they are decisive; they are reliable, delivering what they promised when the promise it, without exception; they adapt boldly, and they engage with stakeholders without shying away from conflict.


Based on this breakthrough study of the most successful people in business, Botelho and Powell offer career advice for everyone who aspires to get ahead. Based on research insights illustrated by real life stories from CEOs and boardrooms, they tell us how to:


- Fast-track our career by deploying the career catapults used by those who get to the top quickly


- Overcome the hidden handicaps to getting the job we want.


- Avoid the 5 hazards that most commonly derail those promoted into a new role.


For everyone who aspires to rise up through the organization and achieve their full potential, The CEO Next Door is an essential guide.


Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success That Women Need to Learn by Gail Evans

AlmostFab Review: Another classic business book that should find it’s way into the libraries of women everywhere. Again, it’s obvious the book isn’t the most modern but the advice within is timeless and relatable for women in business everywhere and at any age.

Recommendation: A classic - it’s a must-read for me!

Summary: Women make up almost half of today's labor force, but in corporate America they don't share half of the power. Only four of the Fortune 500 company CEOs are women, and it's only been in the last few years that even half of the Fortune 500 companies have more than one female officer.


A major reason for this? Most women were never taught how to play the game of business.


Throughout her career in the super-competitive, male-dominated media industry, Gail Evans, one of the country's most powerful executives, has met innumerable women who tell her that they feel lost in the workplace, almost as if they were playing a game without knowing the directions. In this book, she reveals the secrets to the playbook of success and teaches women at all levels of the organization--from assistant to vice president--how to play the game of business to their advantage.


Men know the rules because they wrote them, but women often feel shut out of the process because they don't know when to speak up, when to ask for responsibility, what to say at an interview, and a lot of other key moves that can make or break a career. Sharing with humor and candor her years of lessons from corporate life, Gail Evans gives readers practical tools for making the right decisions at work. Among the rules you will learn are:


- How to Keep Score at Work

- When to Take a Risk

- How to Deal with the Imposter Syndrome

- Ten Vocabulary Words That Mean Different Things to Men and Women

- Why Men Can be Ugly, and You Can't

- When to Quit Your Job


The 20 Something Guide to Getting it Together: A Step-By-Step Plan for Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis by Mary Traina

AlmostFab Review: As I near the start of the last year of my 20’s, I figured I should finally give this one a read. A book that truthfully I’ve had in my library since shortly after I graduated college and felt particularly, well, lost. While a lot of the advice doesn’t seem quite relatable for where I’m at in my 20s, I still found it a light-hearted and fun read with plenty of takeaways even for this 28 year old.

Recommendation: In your 20s? I’d say pick it up!

Summary: Your guide to making it as a real-life grownup!


Like a lot of people, author Mary Traina spent her early twenties making a mess out of her life--until she realized it was time to toss the red Solo cups and finally grow up. In The Twentysomething Guide to Getting It Together, she teaches you how to bust out of your rut with practical advice for kicking your bad habits, taking action toward your goals, and moving on to the next stage of your life as an adult. From answering tough relationship questions to advancing your career, she'll tackle all your biggest issues as well as give you a step-by-step plan for getting through your twenties in one piece.


Through Traina's signature humor, research, and real-world tips, this groundbreaking guide shows you how to:

  • Date a real man.

  • Escape entry-level hell.

  • Stop binge-drinking and overeating.

  • Emerge from a mountain of debt.

  • Cut those toxic friends of convenience.

With the same hip pop-culture references and endless wit that landed her a regular column on Zooey Deschanel's website, Mary Traina makes getting life together fun, easy, and--gasp--the cool thing to do!


Ten Things I Wish I’d Known - Before I Went Out into the Real World by Maria Shriver

AlmostFab Review: This book is an extended version of Shriver’s commencement speech at College of the Holy Cross. While a quick read, it’s still incredibly impactful and memorable. Shriver imparts ten pieces of advice on young college grads, using her own life experience and memories as examples and in support of her argument. While particularly poignant for college grads, it’s a wonderful read no matter how old you are or where you may find yourself in your life.

Recommendation: I give it a thumbs up!

Summary: You could call them notes from life's trenches. Maria Shriver's TEN THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN--BEFORE I WENT OUT INTO THE REAL WORLD gives us her reflections, confessions, advice, memories, and, most of all, hard-earned lessons . . . all the things we wish we knew before we started out, and that few people ever honestly discuss. Here is the truth about: the price we pay for giving in to our fears, as well as the relief we feel when we finally face them; the humiliation of swallowing our ego so that we can learn from an abusive experience; the rewards of taking risks and the pain of failure; the joy of finding someone we can love and the limitations of every relationship; how it's never too late to tap the wisdom of others, even (especially!) our own parents; and the importance of taking what we do seriously without taking ourselves seriously.


Expanded from Maria's acclaimed College of the Holy Cross commencement address and written in the voice of a trusted and trusting best friend, TEN THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN--BEFORE I WENT OUT INTO THE REAL WORLD is a pithy, poignant, down-to-earth, and at times laugh-out-loud book that will help people of all ages and on all roads in life.


You Be You: Detox Your Life, Crush Your Limitations, and Own Your Awesome by Drew Canole

AlmostFab Review: Don’t get me wrong, I definitely took a few notes while reading this book but overall it wasn’t as impactful as I was hoping it would be. It read like an infomercial in some places, where the author kept promising this “transformational experience” to be found in the pages of his book but truthfully I felt like we never got there. It was very surface level and unfortunately not in the least bit transformational for me.

Recommendation: While not terrible by any means, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Summary: You Be You is designed to empower you to seek more, be more, and do more--from a place of self-love, first and foremost. Loving yourself is not selfish; it's necessary.


In this book, transformation specialist Drew Canole shows that no matter where you've been or where you are right now, there are tools you can implement to live fully, healthily, and happily. Drew himself has overcome insane obstacles--from a painful childhood spent in foster care, to being bullied, to an unhealthy relationship with food that resulted in gaining 40 pounds, to finally breaking through and harnessing his personal power to achieve incredible success!


Drew will take you on a three-part journey to detox from external expectations, embrace your darkness and reclaim your light, and recognize your limitless potential. You'll shift from your current perspective and limiting beliefs to a new, more enlightened mind-set that includes surrender, trust, self-honesty, meditation, positive intention, and kindness toward yourself and others. And the result? A life aligned with true purpose, meaning, and incredible amounts of awesomeness.


You Are a Badass Every Day: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation Unstoppable by Jen Sincero

AlmostFab Review: Personally, I loved “You Are a Badass” and this companion piece by Jen Sincero is equally enjoyable. This is one you can keep on the nightstand and open up to any random page when you need a little extra inspiration in your day to day. A quick but powerful read!

Recommendation: For fellow “You Are a Badass” lovers, I would highly recommend adding this one to your collection!

Summary: For anyone who has ever had trouble staying motivated while trailblazing towards badassery, You Are a Badass Every Day is the companion to keep you fresh, grateful, mighty, and driven. In one hundred exercises, reflections, and cues that you can use to immediately realign your mind and keep your focus unwavering, this guide will show you how to keep the breakthroughs catalyzed by Sincero's iconic books You Are a Badass and You Are a Badass at Making Money going. Owning your power to ascend to badassery is just the first step in creating the life you deserve--You Are A Badass Every Day is the accountability buddy you can keep in your back pocket to power through obstacles, overcome the doubts that hold you back from greatness, and keep the fires of determination roaring while you reach your goals.


The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom by Susan Vends

AlmostFab Review: This may seem obvious but I would only recommend for those of you who have visited Walt Disney World (in Florida) or are planning a trip in the coming days, weeks, months. Personally, I’ve never been to Walt Disney World in Florida so it was a bit hard for me to follow this book as I couldn’t really picture what the author was talking about. It also reads as a science book of sorts, stating fact after fact after fact about the hidden magic of Walt Disney World. Not exactly the most gripping storyline unless you know Walt Disney World like the back of your hand.

Recommendation: Only if you’re very familiar with Walt Disney World/planning a trip there or currently at the park.

Summary: Your guide to Disney's hidden treasures--including Fantasyland and Storybook Circus secrets!


Whether this is your first or fiftieth visit, you'd be surprised at how much you miss during your trip to Walt Disney World. From where to find hidden Imagineer signatures to the secrets behind the carriage numbers in the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak play area, learn all about the hidden magic that permeates these fabulous resorts in this tell-all handbook. You will also get the insider's take on:

  • The Disney family coat of arms standing guard at the entrance to Cinderella Castle

  • The surprise song that plays in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue area

  • The mysterious concentric circles in the Temple of Heaven in Epcot's China pavilion

  • The lipstick stain on the champagne glass sitting on the table in the Tower of Terror

Complete with a whole new section on the Fantasyland and Storybook Circus expansion, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, 2nd Edition will inspire you to relive the magic year after year!


There you have it - that wraps up my 2021 Reading List: Part 2! I finished book #50 at 2:30am on Saturday, January 1st, which I’m hoping means it still counts toward my 2021 goals. I’m going to say that it does. Now, we march onward into a new year and lots of new books ahead. Should you have any questions about any of the books above or have any book recommendations of your own that you’d like to offer up - please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can always reach me via Instagram @almostfabme or via email at caseyk@almostfabulousme.com.


As always, Happy Reading!

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