New Favorite Reads

By Kate Riley January 18, 2011

Hi all!  I’m on an airplane across the country today, one of several trips I’m taking over the next few weeks.  Airplane travel always justifies a trip to the bookstore for some new books plus a handful of glossy magazines, so I picked up some new reads today. 

There’s a few great books on my nightstand right now that I’ve read lately, so I thought I’d share. 

kates nightstand

Let’s start with the eye candy. I’m loving Suzanne Kasler’s Inspired Interiors*, 200 pages full of classic elegant spaces, just my style!

Suzanne Kasler: Inspired Interiors


Also, Jan Shower’s Glamorous Rooms, more timeless beautiful spaces and understated elegance on all 200 pages. 

Glamorous Rooms


I’m also been enjoying Nina Garcia’s The One Hundred: A Guide to The Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own.  It lists all the classic fashion essentials from A to Z, from a camel coat to knee high boots.  It was just released in paperback too, this one makes a great gift for any girlfriend!

the one hundred


The best witty fiction I’ve read in years is Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  I laughed my way through the entire book, it’s incredibly well written.



Here’s a poignant collection of short reflections on change and grace that I’m truly enjoying, Shauna Niequist’s Bittersweet.  “Change is good in a way that childbirth is good, heartbreak is good and failure is good . . . it can push us, pull us, rebuke us and remake us. . . it is a function of God’s graciousness not life’s cruelty.”   Love that.   



At the bookstore today, I picked up The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and City of Thieves by David Benioff.  I haven’t read them yet, but I’m about to get started.  Have you read either of them?  What did you think? 

dragon thieves

With my kids, we’ve been enjoying the classics The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  I loved both of these when I was young, so it’s nostalgic to read them to my children. 

wind in willows tollbooth

For my little boy, we’re also enjoying these recent finds, If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen and Shark v. Train by Chris Barton.  My four year old son loves these two!

boys books

My six year old daughter is reading the classic Imogene’s Antlers by David Small, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin, and Someday by Eileen Spinelli. 

girls books


And I’ve been brushing up on my Home Rules by Nate Berkus.  Not only does he have impeccable taste and the most sensible style, he is the king of creating inviting spaces.

nate berkus home rules


But most relevant because, drumroll please . . . .

I’m going to be on his show on Wednesday!!!!  

Hence the plane trip to NYC today !

I’m excited but a little nervous too. 

books near bed

I keep having that dream, you know the one where you’re called onstage, then as you walk in, you slip and fall and your skirt goes flying up, and all you can hear and see is the crowd laughing out loud in extreme slow motion?  Yeah, that dream.  I keep having it.  Let’s hope it doesn’t become a reality.blushing girl

If you follow me on Twitter, I’ll be showing little glimpses of my day in NYC and The Nate Show taping on Wednesday.  Wish me luck, I’m gonna need it!

What’s on your nightstand that you’re loving right now?  Got a great design book you recommend?  A witty work of fiction or nonfiction?  A great children’s book?  Do share!

*no affiliate links anywhere here, just my favorite reads right now



  1. Wow Kate, congratulations! You so deserve it as you are such a talent and inspiration to us all! You will rock everyone at the Nate Show!

  2. I love to see what other people are reading so thanks for this post! Elegance of the Hedgehog was definitely my favorite book I read in 2010 (and I read some good ones!), so I second that recommendation. I’m about to start Little Bee for book club and I really want to read that memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother because I’m just so curious.

    Good luck and HAVE FUN with Nate! You’ll be great!

  3. Congrats on the appearance!

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a gripping thriller BUT it starts really slowly. There is a bunch of financial information at the beginning that Larsson was clearly fascinated with but that is hard to understand and completely unnecessary to the rest of the book. I know several people who gave up. All you need to know is that Blomkvist receives information that Wennerstrom is corrupt and writes an expose. Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae.

  4. Congrats on your upcoming show appearance! I have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it was great – very engaging! It was tough to get into right at first because of all the names but I’m so glad I stuck with it. The 2nd one was even better and I’m reading the 3rd one now!

  5. First, can’t wait for Nate. I’m setting my DVR when I get home. :)

    Also thanks for the book suggestions. I’ve read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and City of Thieves. Both are excellent. The Dragon books will open a can of worms as you’ll have to read the other two immediately. City of Thieves is definitely faster!

  6. Thanks for the insight into good reads! I just finished SCAT by Carl Hiaasen (a kids novel). As a teacher in FL, it is nice to find an author who lives here and writes entertaining stories about our land and animals. Good luck on the show – L.O.V.E. Nate!

  7. Congrats! You totally deserve this and everything will go off without a hitch. Thanks for sharing your reads. I’m always looking for new “home” books and I’m heading out today to find “The One Hundred”. I’m a fashion nut as much as a decor freak. :)

  8. Great reading list…I’m always looking for good reads from people. Good luck with the exciting! I don’t watch daytime t.v but I will tune in tomorrow for sure! :)

  9. I stayed up until 3am finishing girl with a dragon tattoo and hurried out to target the next day to get the second one. I am waiting for hornet’s nest to come out on paperback so I can have a matching set [i’m anal like that] or I would have read that one too. Seriously, they are THAT good.

  10. SO exciting!! When will it air? I’ll be sure to DVR it!

    I read the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and I’m working on the second one. Both of them are good reads. And I love to travel because it’s an excuse to buy books!

  11. Congrats! So exciting! Thanks for the book finds. Just in case you didn’t know – that “Home Rules” Nate book is one of my favorites for display b/c it is so pretty underneath the cover. :)

  12. I loved the Hedgehog book too! How exciting to see you on Nate’s! I love how they pay so much attention to the blog world. Good wishes for steady feet and well behaved skirts.

  13. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: the plot moves, the characters intrigue. But it’s a little sick, sordid. I didn’t read the sequel.

  14. You will love “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” It starts off slow, but I promise it gets so much better! Enjoy!

  15. Hi Kate –

    How wonderfully exciting for you. Can’t wait to see you on the show. I would be too excited to be able to read on the plane. Hope you have a great time – you will do great!
    My best- Diane

  16. Thanks so much for the review of the books! I’m in desperate need of updating my design and garden book library! Not in the budget this month I’m afraid!

    Congratulations on your trip to NYC to be on that show! How thrilling!!! How Exciting!!!! How awesome for you! Have a great time… I’ve got to get outside and shovel before these huge flakes turn into rain (North of Boston)!


  17. Congrats on the Nate show! I just started watching that show and it is great! I will set the dvr!! Also…I just got done reading all of “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” books and they are really good. Like a previous poster said, the names are tough, but hang in there and it is really good!!

  18. Congrats on the show! Can’t wait to see you on it!! I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and loved it once I got in to it. It was slow at first, and the Swedish names are tough! The second book is better. Going to start the third soon.
    I read The Phantom Tollbooth with my son years ago when he had to do a school project based on a book. He had to make a travel brochure, it was a GREAT book and I think I still have that travel brochure around here somewhere(he is 25 now)!

  19. Wowzers! That is super cool! Can’t wait to see you on the show, I will need to make sure to set up the DVR just in case. Just breathe and relax, you will do GREAT! Blessings <3 Paula

  20. Congratulations! You will be fabulous! The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is awesome, but the others are right in saying it starts slow. I liked the series because I could tell that the guy who wrote them was really having a lot of fun with the story. “The 100” was fun to read as well as informative. And I’m definitely getting “Inspired Interiors”!

  21. Oh wow! Good luck on the Nate Show! Fun! You won’t be able to put down The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo… the whole series is amazing. Love it. The 100 is next on my list!

  22. Oh, I can’t wait to watch! You are so deserving of the opportunity, and I know you will be censational!! ;)


  23. CONGRATULATIONS! How exciting!!! I need to check out his book because I haven’t browsed it yet. Thanks for all the recommendations!

  24. Woo-hoo! Awesome news, have a wonderful time.

    I read “Dragon Tattoo” last year. It takes a LONG time to get into the book. About 100 pages or so, then the story starts moving pretty fast. The end is fairly dark and twisted, so be prepared.

  25. The Stieg Larsson book series aren’t for the faint of heart as there are wrenching scenes, but they are a great read! The main female character, Lisbeth, is what makes the series tick (especially in the second book). A definite read!

    Nate’s show … lucky you!

  26. Congrats and good luck on the show. I’ve just recently discovered your blog and I love it!
    My latest read was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand about a WWII POW. It was an excellent read about a real American hero.

  27. Very exciting for you! I really like your blog. I haven’t read either of the books you just got…but I just finished reading with my 7 1/2 year old daughter “Marley: A Dog Like No Other” (adaptation for young readers of Marley and Me by John Grogan), we both laughed and cried, it was a wonderful book. I’m also reading “The Time of My Life” by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi, awesome book too, easy to read a few pages and/or chapters, put it down because the kids need me or I just have to go to bed and can’t stay up any longer reading and go back to it and pick right back up. Enjoy your trip!


  28. Thanks for sharing the book titles on interior design and so on. My hobby is home improvement and I am always looking for new ideas, concepts and books. I am not so much into reading novels, I prefer books about “the real world” :-)

  29. I read your blog several times a week, but I don’t think I’ve commented yet. Congratulations and good luck re: Nate!! I need to catch up on the episodes I have on my DVR, but when you let us know when your segment will air, I’ll move that one to the top of the viewing list!! :D

  30. Safe travels! Good thing you stocked up on reading material :) I’m headed to PHX on Monday for The Special Event show so might have to pick up the Hedgehog book. Thanks for the review.

  31. Yay!!! You have SO much talent…I’m not surprised we will be seeing you soon on Nate’s show! Cannot wait to see it and hear all about it!

  32. Yea Kate!!! You go, girl! Have a great time! I’ll be watching for sure. As for reads, have you tried “My Father’s Dragon” for the little ones? We all loved it.

  33. I loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…a little dark but a great read. Loved all your new interior design books! :)

  34. That is so amazing. I am going to be in the audience on Wednesday! My tickets were for last Wednesday, but with the snow storm we had last Wednesday they are now for tomorrow. I hope we get a chance to meet in person. I would love that opportunity.

  35. Congrats! Your blog is one of my favorites. You take DIY to a whole new level – I love how your projects don’t look DIY, they look really expensive.

    My teen is reading Hunger Games; so far I’ve read the 1st and 2nd book. They’re ok, they’re not particulary well written but the premise is interesting and I can see how teens would like them.

  36. AMAZING – I LOVE NATE!!! So excited that you get to meet him!!! When will your segment air – I will definitely want to tune in!!

  37. Congrats on your show appearance! I have been following your blog for a couple weeks now, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Best of luck! Please let us know when it will air.

    I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…. as a few others have mentioned, I remember initially wondering what all the fuss was about. But once the story gets moving, I could hardly put it down. Still need to get and read the next two.

  38. Ok, I’m dying to pick up Suzanne’s book– it’s been on my list for way too long. But so funny that you mention “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”… it’s my book club’s book for January and I’m not enjoying it as much as I’d hoped. It is well-written, but maybe the English translation from the French is off? Not sure, but I’m disappointed. It’ll be interesting to see what my book clubbers think on Thursday.

    Congrats on Nate’s show!! Sooo exciting!

  39. Congrats and good luck on the show!

    I loved Stieg Larson’s books, but don’t read them when you’re busy. They kept me up reading way too late! Even though I read almost every night, I can’t remember the last time I was looking forward to bedtime so that I could get back to reading a book. One funny aspect of reading them is that you feel a bit like you are reading an IKEA catalog (like when a character has the same name as a desk you were considering buying).

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  40. Omigosh!! Can’t wait to hear about the Nate Show! Will definitely be watching for you!!

  41. I agree with Steph on taking a bit to get over the IKEA-ness of all the Swedish names. My sister gave me all three of Steig Larson’s books for Christmas. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a slow start (you are still meeting all the main players 100 pages in) all in all it’s really good, but is mostly setting up the next two books. I just started reading #2.

  42. Oh, Kate, I’m so excited for you!!! I’ve had a rough afternoon, but seeing your good news takes a bit of the edge off b/c I love the Nate Show. Will you be sure to let us know when it’s going to air?

    I love “bookie” posts. You have some good ones on your list. I’ve been reading “The Reluctant Entertainer” in my spare moments, but those seem to be few and far between lately. SO happy to hear Nina Garcia’s book is in paperback now. I’ve been wanting to pick up a copy. She has impeccable taste. :) Love her on PR!

  43. Great post. Especially since on of my ‘New year’s Goals’ is to start reading!

    I must say though… that cookie on that Bittersweet book looks quite delicious. Excuse me while I go have some chocolate now :)

  44. Hi, I read “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo”. It took me over 100 pages to get into it. I liked the 2nd one and the 3rd one better.
    Just a little thought, were fantastic undies and a beautiful slip. When you fall down across the stage, you will look fantastic!!!!!! :o) Best of luck!

  45. Congratulations! I’ll have to dvr tomorrow’s show! LOVED the first 2 books of the Steig Larsson trilogy, and the movies were very well done as well, at least in my opinion. If you get a chance google him – interesting life story, and he had intended the trilogy to be a 10 book series. Our loss.
    On my nightstand now (don’t judge! lol) is Machine of Death by North, Bennardo, and Malki. It’s a collection of short stories submitted by many authors, all with the premise that a machine becomes available that can tell the manner of your death with 100% accuracy. Very interesting takes that the various authors have on it. It was a Christmas gift (from my wish list!).
    As for Judy above, lucky her!!!

  46. How exciting to be on The Nate Show! I’m sure you’re going to do great.

    Bittersweet was one of the best non-fiction books I read last year. I’m constantly quoting Shauna. I was able to meet her at a reading and she was as warm and gracious in person as you’d expect.

  47. I just read City of Thieves and really enjoyed it.
    I am adding Bittersweet and The Elegance of the Hedgehog to my to read list.

  48. That’s exciting! I started to read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but, put it on hold while I read Water for Elephants. We just finished watching the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie and LOVED it! I’m so excited to finish the book.

  49. Congrats, lady! I’ve never seen Nate’s show but will search it out and dvr it. Can’t wait to see you there.

    Love Steig Larsson’s books! As Claudia said, they’re addictive. I too am a night reader, but with his I quickly became a daytime reader as well, much to the loss of everything other project I had going on. I’ll have to check out some of the other books you mentioned, and thanks for that. I live in God’s country and rarely have the slightest idea what books the rest of the world are reading.

  50. I’ll be watching! I’m excited for you, Kate. You’re a natural so I know you will do fabulous. Enjoy NY, too!

  51. Have fun on Nate!! I hope it is loads of fun.

    And the books – great choices – are you going to get through them all?! I am currently reading The Girl who Played with Fire (the 2nd one) – it is fantastic, gripping! The first one took a bit to get into I agree, but it is really intriguing once it gets going. Enjoy!

  52. Omigosh that’s amazing!! Congratulations!
    On another note, a few days ago I was stuck at the airport and yes, bought a book. I bought The Happiness Project. I’m halfway through so far and like it. Have you read it? It’s funny, I was discussing book choices with a girl I had met there. We were contemplating ” The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” books/series. She said they’re quite popular.

  53. Thanks for the book ideas! I’ll be reading several of them, I’m sure. I had to respond and say: DEFINITELY read The Hunger Games trilogy! Yes, they are written for young adults but I have to disagree with the earlier poster and say that they are well written, just, like I said, written with young adults in mind. Still, it is one of those series that I really didn’t want to end and that I know I will never forget. Everyone else that I know who’s read them feels the same way!

  54. I started the “Girll with the dragon tattoo” during my summer vacation. It was a bit slow to get into but soon I was hooked and read the whole series. The last book is awesome! Have fun! I started the Elegance of the hedgehog but I need to start it again when I can have some uninterrupted reading time because I know I will enjoy it.

  55. Started reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo cuz of all the fuss I’d heard. I could not get into it and finally just quit trying. I’m an avid reader and really wanted to like it, just not for me I guess.

  56. Started reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo cuz of all the fuss I’d heard. I could not get into it and finally just quit trying. I’m an avid reader and really wanted to like it, just not for me I guess.

  57. Congrats! I always knew this day would come for you!! Can’t wait to watch, have a ball. You so deserve it.

  58. Wow!!!! Im so excited for you!!!!!! I cant wait to watch! I simple adore your blog!!

  59. As soon as YOUR book comes out, I will highly recommend it…I’mmmmmmmm waaaaiting!!! ;}
    {and actually there are some packets of DEL Inferno sauce on my nightstand…but I don’t think
    that’s what you were looking for??}

    m ^..^

  60. Congratualations! You deserve it. Hope you have a great time. Do you know if his show is aired in Australia? I’ve seen Nate on Oprah and love him and his ideas. :)

  61. Congratulations! I’ve never been to NYC, but would love to take a trip there one day.

    I’m new to your blog and really enjoy it.

    As far as what I’m reading right now? Well, I’m trying to complete my BS Degree in Psychology, so right now, my ‘reading for enjoyment’ is limited. But I did read, “Choosing to See” by Mary Beth Chapman over the Christmas holidays.

    It’s a great book. It’s heart-breaking to read, but so full of hope :)

    Be safe in NYC and have a good time. I’m sure you will do great :)

  62. Congrats, CG on going on Nate’s show! That’s major! Can’t wait to see it.

    My son loves the Junie B. Jones series and just finished Stuart Little – it takes me right back to 2nd grade! My daugter is into the Disney Princess trend, so any of those books thrill her. I’m reading a book on confidence…I need more!

  63. I have read Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo”. You’ll have to push through the first 100 pages or so and then you won’t be able to put it down. I’m currently reading his second book, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”.

  64. How exciting Kate! I read your blog everyday and tape his show everyday:heart:
    Thanks for the book recommendations.I think I will pick up Bittersweet at the book store today.
    Though your blog is eye candy enough for me :)
    I’ve read the Steig Larsson’s series. I like the second book better. But they are a good read for sure. Just hard to get moving in the beginning..
    Your going to be great on the show!

  65. Oh you brought back a fun memory. When I worked in elementary school, I would tell the tale of Imogene’s antlers, only the story was “Mary Gene’s” antlers. I told them this happened to me one day, and had an antler headband, added all the things necessary to tell the story and then at the end, I lifted up my jacket and showed the peacock feathers. The fun part was, not all the children thought it was fiction…they were really thinking. :-)

  66. “The Mole had been working very hard.” First line of Wind and the Willows-:) LUV that book. I just posted about several books I’ve recently read so it was fun to see your selection here. I really enjoy your site and all the DIY tutorials. One day I’m going to get up enough nerve to actually try one of them!

  67. I read Girl with a Dragon Tatoo over Christmas … it was pretty good. I had watched the movie a few months before, and the movie followed the book pretty well.

    Hope you post your thoughts on City of Thieves. I had picked it up, but selected Dragon Tatoo instead!

  68. Congratulations!

    How exciting for you!

    And just wear cute panties under your dress–no embarrassment that way…right?

    I read “Dragon Tattoo” in November and was singularly bored with it.
    I wish I knew Swedish so I could see if that’s just a translation issue…

    I just finished “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” which is beautiful, tragic, and true.
    I would highly recommend it.

  69. Just set my DVR! This I can’t miss! Good luck and one of your loyal fans will be watching! :)

  70. congrats on the nate show! but let’s talk books- city of thieves was great, i was very invested in the two main characters and was thrown by the twist towards the end. i tried, really, i did, to read the girl with the dragon tattoo and the hedgehog book but i just could. not. do it. i second the sadness of lemon cake, it was very good, but i have to say two of the best books i read this year were room and i’d know you anywhere. you should definitely check them out.

  71. Congratulations!!! How cool that you’re gonna be on Nate’s show!!!
    Don’t worry…once you get there, you’ll be talking about what you love and you’ll be in your element….I hope you have a blast!

    Have you read any of Kate Di Camillo’s books with/to your kids? My daughter and I love her.

  72. Okay, Tattoo book: Give it till page 160, then you’ll be completely hooked. And don’t worry, you’ll figure out the family along the way :) The second in the series, I never set down. Amazing. Still struggling a bit through the last one. I’ll work on it tonight in the KS snow.

    Safe travels!

  73. Loved City of Thieves. An engrossing, quick read. Even got my Hubby to read it and he is not a reader. That says something!! Congrats and how exciting for you!!!

  74. I tried reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo once, and it was tough for me to get past page 70, but the second time I tried reading it I got hooked. I have since read The Girl Who Played With Fire, and it is even better. Very captivating, but it does take a little while to get captivated. Don’t give up! It’s a good read :)

  75. Steig Larsson is a fabulous author! I’m sad that there are only 3 in the series. They’re mystery, wrapped in drama, tumbled with intrigue – enjoy!

  76. I’ve read the “Girl with the dragon tattoo” and it’s a great book, you have to stick with it, it is fairly slow at first, but once it draws you in, you just can’t put it down. The second book “The girl who played with fire” is even better and much faster paced.

  77. Great and creative site! Since you asked about books, I just read A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. Fantastic. A unique perspective on dogs and told from their POV. Funny, and sad and humbling. Good read!

  78. Just popped over for the first time from BrooklynLimestone. Love your blog! Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find you.

    City of Theives became one of my all time favorite books about a year ago. I actually gifted it to several family members on Christmas. It’s a keeper!

  79. If you enjoy “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” then the next two “The Girl who Played with Fire” and “The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest” are a MUST READ. I also thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy “The Hunger Games”. “The Help” was a wonderful read also.

  80. I just finished reading Elegance of the Hedgehog and LOVED it. I admit that while the characters made me feel like my IQ was scraping single digits at times, I couldn’t wait to spend more time with them and all their eccentricities. Oh, and the writing! It felt like poetry at times. I would love to know more about the author. She must be one brilliant and fascinating woman.

    • So glad you loved Elegance of the Hedgehog, one of my favorites to date!

  81. I just finished ‘Falling Home’by Karen White and ready to start ‘After the Rain’s. I read a sample on my kindle and knew it was a must read for me…try it!

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