I feel like I was able to get back into reading this month! I didn’t get through as many books on my owned TBR (thanks library book & Net Galley review option) but I read. And that was my goal, to get back into consistently reading most days. 

What did you read this month? Be sure to let me know in the comments! Because clearly, I need more options. 🤪

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

☕☕☕☕ cups of coffee / 5

Bird by Bird is an interesting look at how to write. It isn’t your typical instructional book. And that’s ok. Author Anne Lamott takes you through her life with vignettes to demonstrate how to be a better writer. She uses her experiences to demonstrate and explain different aspects of writing from character development to getting published.

This book is not going to tell you to do X, Y, and Z to improve your writing. It’s more, as Stacy London would say, hippy-dippy. It makes you think. There are concrete suggestions, like carrying a notecard with you to jot things down or listening to conversations to become better at writing dialogue. It’s not all… out there. 

This book was recommended by many people and I kept seeing it mentioned so I decided to give it a read. It is definitely geared more towards fictional writing but I did enjoy it. I would say it’s worth a read if you are looking for a book on writing that isn’t about technical aspects but more about getting out feelings, and how people and things relate to each other to tell a story. 

The Naughty or Nice Clause by Kate Callaghan

☕☕☕☕ cups of coffee / 5

I received this book for free in exchange for my review from NetGalley.

Lyla grew up expecting to take over the family business, Except her father has mismanaged the business and sold his 51% of shares to Mason Klaus. Klaus is an investor who can help turn the company around. Instead of working with Lyla, he works against her and makes decisions she never would, causing tension between the two. When he cancels the company Christmas party, she decides to treat the staff herself. At the party, Lyla finds Klaus in his office, drunk. She takes him home but the staff somehow manage to start a fire in the office kitchen. 

Klaus shows up at Lyla’s to inform her of the fire and offer her a deal, come home with him to be a buffer with his estranged family and he will forget her party caused the office fire. She agrees and is swept away to his village and soon the two stop arguing and start to fall for each other. 

Of course, it would not be an enemy to lovers without additional content! But you’ll have to read the book for that!

Overall, I enjoyed The Naughty or Nice Clause. I thought it was well-written and well-paced until the end. The lead-up to the switch from enemies to lover was a slow burn but a good slow burn. You wanted to shake them both to get it together but when it finally happened it was perfect! I did think the ending wrapped up too quickly. I would have liked another chapter or maybe an epilogue. 

It was frustrating that Lyla worked for Klaus for a year and never had any kind of thought about the name for a woman who LOVES Christmas. 

I enjoyed the author’s unique take on Santa Claus and the North Pole. It was a little different than your usual Christmas book or movie. 

For those worried about graphic content, there were a few almost racy scenes and when they finally hook up it was descriptive but not carried on for long. There was also the use of a swear word in the sex scene. I do not recall it elsewhere in the book. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, if you like cheesy Christmas movies on Lifetime this would be a fun read! 

Dogtography by Kaylee Greer

☕☕☕☕☕ / 5

Do you ever just look at your adorable puppers and think, I want to take amazing photos of you and make you last forever? 

No? Just me?

Well, Kaylee Greer is a professional Dogtographer and she is spilling all the tea! Her book is packed full of tips and tricks to help anyone, from beginner to professional photography, take better photos of dogs. She covers everything from dog behavior to choosing a location, to settings, lighting, and everything in between. 

The only drawback of the physical book is the size. It is not only thick but very wide. It made it awkward to hold and try to read. But it does not take away from the substance of the book which is why I decided to stick with a five coffee rating!

If you are interested in photography, dogs, and photographing dogs, I would recommend this book to you! 

The Problem with Muses: Notes on Everyday Creativity by David duChemin

☕☕☕☕ / 5

The Problem with Muses is a collection of short essays from duChemin’s podcast, A Beautiful Anarchy. His podcast, and this book, are an introspective on photography and creativity. Well, mostly creativity while touching on photography and other creative endeavors. 

I had listened to each episode of the podcast as they came out and this book was a review and reminder for me. I had pre-ordered it and did not realize it was his podcast in written form (probably because I totally missed that). I would have bought it either way and did enjoy revisiting these as essays. It meant I could take more time reading them and reflecting on what he said.

He always has valuable nuggets of truth that I need to face. 

This book is not about technical aspects of art or photography. It focuses more on how you, as an artist, can think about your creativity. He provides different ways to think about creativity, creating, and yourself. Sometimes it’s hard to look in that mirror but duChemin presents it in a thoughtful, kind, and gentle way.

I would recommend this book to anyone that hasn’t listened to his podcast (but also, go listen!) and is interested in thinking deeply about creativity. 

WOO! I finished four books this month! I conquered the Trevor Project Reading Challenge. AND I finished two books that kept getting set aside for other, flashy books. September was a great reading month for me and I hope to carry it into Spooky book month aka October! My plan, as of right now, is to read House of Leaves. It’s a thick book, supposed to be super scary, and may take me all month to finish!

What did you read this month? Did you conquer your goals?

Want more book content? Head over to TikTok for a short video version of my monthly reads!

Categories: Books


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.