Stacey Loscalzo

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Dec 30

Favorite Books of 2018

by Stacey

In January, I promised myself I would track my books so that I could compile a year end list of my favorite reads of the year. I used the hashtag #staceyreads2018 on Instagram and I will say I did a better job than usual sticking with a system of record keeping. I do know that there are a few titles missing because for some reason, I didn’t record a few books I read in this fall. To be honest, I have no idea what the missing books were which is frustrating but I guess ok for this activity- if I don’t even remember the titles, they must not have been favorites, right?

So, I’ve written here before about the fact that I do not finish books I do not like. Therefore, every book I read this year is a book that I liked enough to read all the way to the end. I think this is part of what makes year end favorite lists so challenging. I really liked pretty much all of the books that I read. Therefore, in an attempt to make this trick task a little bit easier, I’m going to break it down a bit. And just cause I can’t not, I’m including my complete list of books read in 2018 at the bottom of this post.

Ok, here goes…

Favorite Literary Fiction: 

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

Favorite Historical Fiction: 

The Address by Fiona Davis

Favorite Thriller: 

Unsub by Meg Gardiner

Favorite Young Adult: 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Favorite Memoir: 

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

Favorite Non-Fiction: 

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Favorite Back List Title: 

We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Favorite Book of the Month Title: 

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Favorite Shelf Subscription Title:

Foe by Iain Reid


Complete List of Books Read in 2018- except for the ones I forgot 🙂 

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Imbue

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Only Child by Rhiannon Javin

A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Unsub by Meg Gardiner

In to the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

That Kind so Mother by Rumaan Alam

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen

Social Creature by Tara Isabelle Burton

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Outsider by Stephen King

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Us Against You by Frederik Backman

The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reed

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

His Favorites by Kate Walbert

To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Foe by Iain Reid

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lepena

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

The Address by Fiona Davis

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

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Nov 23

What To Do If You Are A Black Friday Mall Avoider (like me)

by Stacey

I used to love shopping. Now it tends to overwhelm me so Black Friday Shopping sounds like my own personal hell. The girls, however, are both at the mall with friends as we speak so whatever floats your boat, I guess.

If you are with me and looking for stay at home, alternatives to the mall, I’m here to share a few of my current non-shopping related favorites.


If you’ve been around here for long, you know I am a podcast fanatic. I listen to podcasts in the car, while I am getting ready in the morning, while I’m cooking dinner, while I’m folding laundry and all the rest. Here are my top recommendations.

New favorites:

Currently Reading

He Read, She Read

No Thanks, We’re Booked

Old favorites:

From the Front Porch

Sorta Awesome

NPR’s Up First

Book Riot’s All the Books and Get Booked

NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour

To-Be-Listened to List:

Bear Brook

Slow Burn


I am in a serious tv watching rut. I can’t stop watching shows like Criminal Minds in which I know that everything is going to be ok and I can predict the arc of the story. My current watch is Bones which is based on the Kathy Reichs novels which I read and really liked years ago. This is far from high quality tv but it fits what I am looking for these days in terms of a show. That said, any and all recommendations are welcome!


I have been tracking my reading this year on Instagram and loving every minute of it. If you don’t follow me there, please come visit me @staceyloscalzo and join in on the fun.

Currently, I just finished my first and not my last Fiona Davis book, The Address and really liked it. There is more Fiona Davis to come for me but for now I have dived in to Where the Crawdad Sings by Delia Owens. This book is all over bookstagram so I have to see what all the fuss is about.


A lot of people will tell you that blogging is dead but I don’t agree. I still love reading and connecting with bloggers and some really smart people are sharing their writing in this way these days.

A few of my current favorites are Kelle Hampton, Modern Mrs. Darcy and 10 Things to Tell You. I think this collection really represents what blogging has become. Each blog is different from the other but they are all super valuable in what they are sharing with the world. Kelle writes a ton of awesome content about everything with a focus on connection and celebration in her family. She write a lot and I am super jealous of her ability to write all the words. Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy writes pretty specifically about books with an occasional glimpse into her everyday life. And Laura Tremaine of 10 Things to Tell You writes on her blog rather infrequently but when she does write I am always grateful for what she has to share.

And what I love about blogging today is that there are more ways to connect with the writers you love. Back in the old days of blogging, you would have to wait for your favorite bloggers to post new content. Now, most bloggers have a big presence on Instagram so you can connect with them in a really informal and more consistent way.


So how about you? Any recommendations for fun, non-shopping ways to spend Black Friday?


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Nov 22

Eleven Reasons I Am Grateful

by Stacey

I am in an online writing group right now run by the ever amazing Jena Schwartz. She says when you get stuck, to just write a list of eleven thoughts. I overthink blog posts on holidays. On holidays, it seems like the writing should be more. More everything. More important, more meaningful, more funny. More whatever. So instead, I am going with Jena’s strategy. Here are eleven things that I am grateful for right now.

I am grateful for these people. Obviously. I mean look at this picture. Who wouldn’t be grateful for these goofballs?

I am grateful for my family of origin. When Rob and I were married, my church required a few sessions with a marriage counselor before the ceremony. The therapist constantly talked about our families of origin and it is still a phrase that can make us both laugh. But in all seriousness, I am grateful for my family. My family of origin is very small and has only become more so over time. We do not see each other as often as I would like but they are why I am who I am and I am forever grateful for that.

I am grateful for Rob’s family. I know how lucky I am to have the in-laws I do. I was immediately welcomed in all those years ago and as I grow older and hear more and more stories from friends about struggles with their in-laws, I am only reminded of how differently this whole thing could have gone.

I am grateful for my friends. We came to Ridgewood when the girls were four and one. We left behind college friends and friends we made when the girls were babies. There was a time when I thought that finding friends again was going to be near impossible- we had left some really great people behind. But over time, we have formed great relationships with people here and I am awfully grateful for them.

I am grateful for our pets. Sometimes I giggle at people who lavish too much praise on the animal members of their families but really, I love ours a lot. There is nothing like sitting down on the coach and being suddenly surrounded by these snuggly guys.

I am grateful for my group of writing friends. I have attended in person groups in the past and have loved everything about them but for now, my writing friends exist online. It’s a funny thing to feel connected to these people I have never met but it can happen and I am grateful that it has.

I am grateful for yoga. I have tried again and again to develop a yoga practice and I never have before this fall. Jim Stroker, a sort of legend in our town, announced earlier this fall that he would be offering a donation only class for a local family. I went thinking I would just give it a try and it clicked. The class is just the right amount of challenging, relaxing and inspiring and the tribe of people are amazing. There are lots of people in the group that I have lived close to for years but our paths have never crossed. I am grateful that this group has brought us all together.

I am grateful for books. Another obvious one but I can’t leave it out. Reading defines a lot of who I am. Truthfully, it is hard to imagine where I would be without books. And I am thankful to The Bookshelf in Thomasville for being an awesome independent bookstore and for providing the inspiration for this photo.

I am grateful that the holiday season is here. As I type, Katherine is upstairs listening to Christmas music as she has for the past few weeks. She have always loved this time of year but I think all of our excitement is just a bit higher this year. For me, I think it is because there is so much to be sad about in the world and the holidays make us all focus just a bit more on the happy things out there.

I am grateful for getting back to blogging in a semi-regular way. There are a lot of people who will tell you that blogging is dead and I will agree that it is very different than it once was but I, for one, am glad that there is still a place to share my writing with people who want to read it.

And I am grateful for this exercise. It is rare that I go into Thanksgiving having taken the time to think about what makes me feel grateful 🙂


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Nov 19

Why the Library is a Rebel’s Best Friend

by Stacey

About a year ago, I admitted something really important to myself. I am a rebel. For those of you who know me in real life, this is going to seem totally wrong but stick with me. Gretchen Rubin, of The Happiness Project fame, released a book called The Four Tendencies that has changed the way I think about myself. In this book, Rubin describes four personality types and through a series of simple exercises, it is pretty easy to figure out which one best describes who you are.

For a while, insisted that I was an Obliger; someone who meets outer expectations but struggles to meet expectations they impose on themselves. After coming up with all sorts of plans to get things done according to strategies that work for Obligers, I only became more frustrated. I would sign up for a reading challenge, complete the tasks for one month and then just quit. I would register for an amazing online writing class, complete the first assignment and then disappear. Around the time that I was getting really annoyed with myself, I had lunch with a good friend and we got talking about The Four Tendencies. She told me she was a rebel, someone who resists both outer and inner expectations. At first glance, as with me, this made no sense. She, like me, appears to be a rule follower and someone who, on the surface, is a person who gets things done easily. But no. When we both really thought and read about this tendency we understood that we are both rebels. We are going to do what we want to do when we want to do it.

After coming to this realization, I have gained a greater understanding about some things I do naturally. One came to mind last week while I listened to one of my new favorite podcasts, Currently Reading. In the most recent episode, the co-hosts, Meredith and Kaytee discussed how they choose the next book they are going to read and both referenced that they were mood readers. They also commented on the fact that if they set a goal to read a certain book, they had almost always doomed themselves to failure. All the bells and whistles went off and I realized that they were describing me. Enter the definition of a rebel. I have to read what I want when I want to read it. Suddenly I knew why I have never completed a monthly book challenge no matter how great it is (like The Read Harder Challenge or the Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge and why I can’t create a beautiful Monthly TBR post on Instagram.

And this realization also helped me to understand why, as a rebel, the library is my best  friend.

I can check out as many books as I want without spending a dime. When I walk in to the library, if a book catches my eye, I check it out. If I get home and I no longer feel like reading it, I return it.

If I am reading a library book and I decide I don’t like it, I stop reading. I can do this if I am ten pages in or if I am 100 pages in to a read. No harm no foul. No money spent so therefore far less guilt if I choose not to read a book at all or choose to stop reading at any point. 

The library hold list helps the rebel in me too. If I hear about a book I want to read, my first inclination has always been to hop on-line and buy it. Over time, I have gotten much better about pausing and requesting the book through our library website. There have been countless times that I will get a message that a book I have requested has arrived and by the time it has, I really am no longer interested in reading it.

This post came to mind as I was scrolling through The Be A Bookworm Challenge sheet. Today, even though I have done it already, I am going to follow the prompt, ‘tag your library.’ For those of you have been completing the challenge alongside me, thank you! And for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about it, it is never too late to jump in and join us. Details can be found right here.


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Nov 15

Quick Lit: November 2018 Edition

by Stacey

I’m excited to join in on the fun at Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit again today. This month was a funky reading month for me as there were some real hits and a couple of disappointing misses.

Here goes…

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman- Waiting for Eden is an example of why I love book subscriptions. I would have never picked up this book on my own if it had not arrived in the mail as part of my Shelf Subscription from the Bookshelf. This was not an easy read but I’m glad I read it. Yesterday I wrote about how reading helps me to see other people’s perspectives and Waiting for Eden is a perfect example of that.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid- This was another ‘not easy to read’ book. It’s also one that I can write next to nothing about without spoiling it. That said, I’d love to hear what you thought of it if you read it and if not, go read and then come back and tell me what you think happens at the end. Holy confusing ending! And if you like this one, definitely read Reid’s latest book, Foe. After finishing Foe last month, I had to read something else by the author because Reid clearly has a very unique mind.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager- I think I have a love-hate relationship with Riley Sager. I read his first book, Final Girls and didn’t think I really liked it but then when his next book came out I was super excited to read it. I think I will feel exactly the same way when Sager’s next title is released. I liked the beginning of The Last Time I Lied, I hated the middle and then came the ending that I can’t stop thinking about.

And then there were two titles that I did not finish this month. I am disappointed that I didn’t love them but I guess it is what it is. I really want to like Tana French because so many readers that I typically agree with do but I started The Witch Elm and just couldn’t get through it. This is one that I may try again but it was a miss for me right now. And then there was The Girl Who Smiled Beads. This is a great memoir and again, I might come back to it. For now though, it was just too sad and too heavy. I need a bit more escapism in my reading these days and this book is totally not that.

So… what was your reading month like? I hope it was a great one!


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Nov 14

Six Reasons to Read

by Stacey

A few months ago I decided to get out of my own way and start writing again. I want to write here in this space but I also want to grow my community on Instagram. I want to talk about reading and writing and parenting girls and the state of the world. As I tried to focus (something that seems to be increasingly difficult for me) I talked with a friend who pointed out something really important. She said that in order to grow a community, I had to be clear in what I was going to do to help people. This was  a new way of thinking for me but an idea jumped in to my mind almost immediately. My goal is to help people realize how easy it is, even in our complicated and busy lives, to be a reader. And beyond that, to show people why being a reader especially in our ridiculously complicated and busy lives is super important. I plan to delve in to these ideas in greater depth in the future but for now…

Six Reasons to Read

Reading increases our sense of empathy. By reading a book, you can truly feel like you have walked in someone else’s shoes. I feel like now, perhaps more than ever, it is super important for us to understand what life is like for other people and reading is a pretty efficient way to do this. Just in the past month, I have read books about refugees, veterans and people suffering from mental illness.

Reading increases our understanding of ourselves. Of course this kind of understanding comes when we read self-help books but I don’t read a ton in that genre and I still feel like each time I read a book, I learn something about how I interact with people or react in certain situations.

Reading gives us something to talk about with other people. I can talk about our family all day but sometimes it is nice to have topics to discuss that don’t revolve around our daily lives. People know that I am a reader so often, when I am out and about, people will ask me for book recommendations. I love the kinds of conversations that come from these questions.

Reading is forced downtime. It is pretty hard to multi-task while reading a book. LIstening to an audiobook is a whole different and worthwhile way to do different things at the same time but that is a topic for another day. For me, I need a tangible reminder to stop for a minute, take a deep breath and just be. Sometimes, it isn’t until I lie in bed at the very end of the day but at least once every day, I pick up a book and just read.

Reading can distract us, in a healthy way, from stress in our ‘real lives.’ Sometimes I think this is why I prefer fiction to non-fiction. We all have enough to worry about in our day to day lives. Picking up a work of fiction and escaping into someone else’s life for just a little bit can often be a refreshing and much needed break from what is on our minds.

Reading models a reading life for our children. Children who have parents who read are far more likely to become readers themselves. Of all the habits I hope our girls pick up from me, reading for fun is high up on my list. By now, I have really internalized the truth that children do what we do not what we say. For every time I tell the girls to get off their phones while scrolling through Instagram on my own phone, I also tell the girls to go find their books while reading my own book. For now, they are both readers and I know that. in part, this is because they grew up watching me read.

If you need a little motivation to pick up a book everyday, please join us in the Be A Bookworm Challenge. Details can be found here. It is never too late to join in on the reading fun!


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Nov 12

A Few of My Favorite Reads: From A to Z

by Stacey

Over the weekend, I brainstormed writing ideas and this one came to me. I can’t believe I never had this thought before. With the exception of a few letters (you can probably guess the culprits!), titles came to mind pretty easily and it was super fun to remember so many awesome reads. Of course, if I created this same like tomorrow, my list would probably be different but for now…

…here goes! My Favorite Reads from A to Z:

A- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

B- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

C- Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

D- DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

E- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

F- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

G- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

H- The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

I- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

J- Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

K- Kiss the Girls by James Patterson

L- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

M- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

N- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

O- The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

P- Prayers for Owen Meany by John Irving

Q- Queen Bees and Wanna Bees by Rosalind Wiseman

R- The Road by Cormac McCarthy

S- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

T- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

U- Us Against You by Frederick Backman

V- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

W- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Folwer

X- Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold- coming up with an X title proved impossible 🙂

Y- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Z- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers


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Nov 06

Today’s the Day

by Stacey

I have been waiting a long time for today to come. I woke up the day after the 2016 election and started counting down the days until the midterms. Rob read a funny tweet today that pretty much summed up how I am feeling. The tweet read- “I am as nervous as a balloon in a group of porcupines.”  Yup. That feels just about right.

This election feels like so much more than an election. It feels like a statement on who we are going to be as a country. As a state. And as a Village. I am a bundle of nerves because I have very strong beliefs and I worry that we are headed in the wrong direction. I want to stay positive. I do. But right now, my heart is heavy and worried.

I can still see though the good that has come out of all of this. The good is engagement at all levels of government. I know I have gotten far more engaged this time around than I did in 2016. Out of frustration and anger and guilt. I sat by in 2016 assuming that the most qualified candidate would win. I brought the girls with me to our polling place so they could be in the place where I voted for the first female president. I really had no doubts until I did.

I know I am not alone this time around. People are involved. They have gotten educated on the issues and they are ready.

If you have sat by until now, you still have time. Please VOTE. If you have any questions, please reach out to someone who can answer your questions. I can be that person or feel free to find others.

Fingers and toes crossed friends.

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Nov 01

Be A Bookworm Launches Today

by Stacey

Be a Bookworm launches today! After years of answering the question, “How do you read so much?!” I finally realized that the answer is simple. I read a little bit throughout every day. Reading, for me, is a habit. Like brushing my teeth, drinking coffee and walking the dog in the middle of the afternoon if it’s not rainy or cold. I always have a book that I am reading and I bring it with me everywhere.

So today I kicking off a month-long challenge to help you make reading a habit.

The challenge is simple. Details and prompts are below. Please join me here or on Instagram (@staceyloscalzo) to Be a Bookworm. I can’t wait to read along with you this month!

Here we go!

  1. Choose a book. Any book. If you need a suggestion, I am here! Stay tuned for some recommendations. Make this ‘your book’. Bring it with you everywhere.
  2. Look at the Be a Bookworm Checklist and start snapping pictures. You can download the PDF and print it as a reference!
  3. Check my Instagram feed (@staceyloscalzo) each day in November to see which prompt I chose for the day. Feel free to follow the same prompt or choose your own.
  4. Post a picture each day with the hashtag #beabookworm2018.
  5. It would be great if we made bookish friends along the way so definitely search #beabookworm2018 and start chatting books with fellow bookworms-to-be.





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Oct 29

Be a Bookworm: Great Short Books

by Stacey


Three days and counting until Be A Bookworm: 30 Days to a Reading Habit begins and I can’t wait! Over the weekend, I shared a few favorite fiction titles but today is all about short books.

My goal for Become a Bookworm is to show people that being a reader is all about getting into the habit of having a book with you and reading a little bit here and a little bit there. I consider myself a bookworm for sure but sometimes I get in a slump. And the fastest way I have found out of a slump is simple- pick up a short book. I figure if you are not in a reading habit right now, it is similar to being in a slump. My reading slumps last a few days typically but the concept is the same if your slump has been going on for years or even decades. You just need a compelling book to get reading again.

For me, short books are the way to go. You can get into the story quickly and feel an immediate sense of accomplishment when you read a pretty big chunk of the book in a short amount of time.

So… here are a few of my favorites short(er) books!

  • Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
  • Foe by Iain Reid (and I have just started Reid’s first novel which is also short- I’m Thinking of Ending Things- I don’t like to recommend before I finish a title but so far, so good!)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Mothers by Britt Bennett
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Exit West by Moshin Hamid
  • The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

And in case you need a few more short titles…

Anne Bogel is one of my all time favorite book bloggers. If you haven’t visited Modern Mrs. Darcy yet, you should definitely pop over to her site. Anne’s post, 20 Short Novels You Can Read in a Day, is full of lots of great titles.

Sarah’s Bookshelves is a new-to-me site. Check out her post, Great Books Under 300 Pages, for more great ideas.

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