Solo Lisa Reads: April 2020

Book cover round-up of the books in this post

This month, I visited a Silicon Valley robotics lab and a late-night talk show host's Long Island mansion, joined a book club in Nashville, got behind-the-scenes looks at a yoga studio's grand opening and what it's like to work on Wall Street—all without leaving the comfort of my couch or bed. Books let our minds transcend the confines of quarantine when our bodies can't. If you're looking to do the same, here are 6 reads I enjoyed recently.

1. The Plus One by Sarah Archer

Kelly is a brilliant but socially awkward robotics engineer who's sick of the scrutiny her family puts on her dating life, and unsure if she'll ever find The One. So for her sister's upcoming wedding, instead of finding the perfect plus one, she builds him. Her robot boyfriend Ethan is handsome, kind, intelligent—everything Kelly wants in a long-term partner—but her personal and professional lives unravel when she finds herself falling hard for her creation. I initially resisted picking up this book because the premise creeped me out, but Archer's modern take on Pygmalion is witty and whimsical with zero robot sex (phew).

2. Stay Up With Hugo Best by Erin Somers

June Bloom is 29, broke, single, and an aspiring comedian. Until recently, she worked as a writer's assistant on Stay Up With Hugo Best, a late-night talk show that was just cancelled. June stops at a dive club after the farewell party and performs a stand-up set—and meets Hugo Best himself, who ends up inviting her to his Long Island home for Memorial Day. The next four days are a brief but vivid, occasionally surreal experience, by turns melancholy and darkly funny. The story reminds me a lot of Lost in Translation, but with more underlying sexual tension. The dynamic between June and Hugo (the former a young woman adrift, the latter a male celebrity who's now a faded has-been) is reminiscent of Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray's characters.

3. The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Pro baseball player Gavin Scott may have just had the best season ever with the Nashville Legends, but his marriage is in trouble when he discovers his wife Thea has always (ahem) faked it, and they're both headed for divorce. In his desperation, Gavin turns to an unlikely source for help: a secret club of Nashville's alpha men, who meet to read and discuss romance novels, and use them as relationship manuals for their own lives. Before he knows it, Gavin is reading a regency romance and applying its words and scenes to his marriage, with heartwarming and hilarious results. (There was one scene involving Pinterest and washi tape that had me in hysterics.) Adams's premise is insanely clever and original, allowing her to tell a romance story from a predominantly male perspective, all while indulging in meta commentary about romance tropes and sexist attitudes towards the genre.

4. Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

I enjoyed The Bromance Book Club so much, I purchased the sequel immediately after finishing it. Undercover Bromance follows two side characters from the first book—Thea's little sister Liv Papandreas and the leader of the book club, night club owner Braden Mack—and tells their love story. Thea has just been fired from her job as a pastry chef at one of Nashville's buzziest restaurants, after she catches her celebrity chef boss sexually harassing the hostess. She's going to need Braden and the Bromance Book Club's help to set up a sting operation and take him down. Even though some of the scenarios are farfetched (this is a rom-com, after all), Adams handles the subject of sexual harassment and #MeToo with sensitivity and grace. The myriad ways in which the main and side characters respond to the situation feel nuanced and authentic.

5. Grown-up Pose by Sonya Lalli

Anu Desai did what every good Indian girl was supposed to do: She didn't fool around with boys and she studied hard; she got a job in a stable profession by becoming a nurse; she married a good Indian boy and had a daughter before she turned 30. So why does it feel like she's living a life that's not her own? Grown-up Pose follows Anu on a journey of self-discovery, as she learns what adulting looks like for a thirtysomething Indian woman on the verge of divorcing her husband, flouting the "good Indian girl" conventions, and chasing her dormant dream of owning a yoga studio. This was a light and breezy read, made more enjoyable by the fact that it's set in Vancouver(!) and I recognized a lot of the places Lalli mentioned.

6. Breathe In, Cash Out by Madeleine Henry

Breathe In, Cash Out has been described as "The Devil Wears Prada meets Wall Street," a comparison which I think is entirely justified. Princeton grad and former yoga champion Allegra Cobb dreams of becoming a yoga instructor like her idol, Instagram influencer and yogi Skylar Smith. But for now Allegra is grinding it out as a second-year analyst at one of Wall Street's premiere firms, spending long, mind-numbing days reformatting bar charts and putting together PowerPoint presentations. Her goal: Make it to the end of her two-year contract, save as much money as possible, collect her bonus, and quit to do yoga teacher training. When Skylar reaches out to Allegra and offers to personally coach her, Allegra begins to think her dream can be reached another way. Too bad there are so many other obstacles (a huge merger, an affair with a managing director, her dad's pride in her investment banking career, and all those brutal work hours) in her way. I enjoyed Breathe In, Cash Out immensely because although it struck the same light and breezy notes as a rom-com, this was more of a workplace comedy than a boy-meets-girl story (which can get a little boring when you're reading a lot of romances). There were also plenty of small moments and turns of phrase that literally made me LOL.

Shop the post

1 comment

  1. Navigating traffic infractions and court cases can be challenging in Fairfax County. Here is where having a knowledgeable traffic lawyer can really help. Our company specializes in offering thorough legal services to customers in Fairfax County who are dealing with traffic-related problems. From DUI accusations to speeding fines, we provide knowledgeable advice and assistance at every stage. Our comprehensive understanding of regional legislation and judicial processes enables us to work toward getting the best results for our clients. You can rely on us to aggressively defend your rights and interests in any Fairfax County traffic situation.Abogado Tráfico Condado Fairfax


Back to Top