book report // what i’m reading lately

It’s been a while since I shared a book report, but lately I’ve been reading SO much that I just couldn’t wait any longer. Maybe this could even become a real thing??

First up is the Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante, specifically My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. If you’re looking for reads that are super-engrossing and highly addictive, these first 3 books in the series are it. Have a trip planned? Bring these books. The story follows two best friends in Naples as they grow up in the ’50s and ’60s, through marriage and family drama, and as they explore careers and the search for love. The dynamic of the friendship is so… intricate and tumultuous, but so very true. Ferrante essentially weaves together the stories of an entire neighborhood as it transitions with the stories of these two women. What’s especially interesting to me as I was reading these books is that the main characters are so very different from each other — in how they approach trouble and respond to it, where their values lie, even their familial obligations — but both are strong female characters in their own way, especially despite certain events.

Next up: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. So, I picked this up at a local bookstore because I liked the title. I’m not gonna lie.  I didn’t read the back description either, so I was quite surprised when I opened it to read and discovered the book is actually a compilation of stories by the late Keegan. A promising young author, she unfortunately passed away and this is a collection of her more popular stories. One in particular stood out to me and actually continues to haunt me. It’s called ‘Challenger Deep’ and follows the tale of 5 people trapped in a short-circuited submarine. They are in pitch black and have no way of navigating back to the surface of the ocean. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but the suspense and… lack of resolution in this story really plagues me. I can’t stop thinking about it and feeling this immense anxiety about these fictional characters. Someone, please, read it so we can talk about it.

Lastly is Missoula by Jon Krakauer. I tend to read way more fiction than anything else, but I’ve been trying to keep it a bit more ‘real’ lately and dig into books that feel more cerebral. This book is my first crack at that and, let me tell you, this is not light reading. The victims’ stories are heart wrenching, the lack of action on the part of the police and town is appalling and frustrating… it’s a tough read. Given the current climate of improving women’s rights, the spotlight on street harassment, and even the discussion around equal pay, this book is such an important addition to the conversation. The writing is straightforward and crisp, while the message really drives home something they we all definitely need to hear in order to ever fix this epidemic of sexual assault.

These are just a few of my latest reads — if you have any suggestions for my next stack, leave ’em below!

shop the post:

Missoula by Jon Krakauer, The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante.

photography by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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  1. 6.10.15
    Lea Anna said:

    I just finished Missoula and am so happy I read it! I totally agree it’s a heavy book (my husband’s happy I’m finished with it because he was getting tired discussing it), but I would recommend it to anyone. Glad you’re reading it.

    • 6.11.15
      joanna said:

      thanks for weighing in! i totally agree and really hope that more people read the book to raise further awareness.

  2. 6.6.15
    Annie said:

    I started reading the Opposite of Loneliness at a book store and was instantly captivated. But then I had to pee and so got distracted from buying it…

    • 6.8.15
      joanna said:

      well, clearly you can borrow my copy.

  3. 6.5.15
    Dee said:

    Man, I’ve been wanting to read The Opposite of Loneliness since I heard about Keegan’s story a while back. I’m definitely going to add it to my reading list for this year.

    I’m currently reading Boo by Neil Smith and I can’t put it down. It’s a pretty short, entertaining read (~300 pages). I haven’t even finished yet, but I’ve been passionately recommending it to all of my reader friends. Look into it, it might be something you’d enjoy!

    • 6.5.15
      joanna said:

      thanks for the recommendation!

  4. 6.4.15
    Felicia C. Sullivan said:


    • 6.4.15
      joanna said:

      exactly! and you’re to thank!!!