The Book Club With Sam MacRae

Hi guys, what's up?

It's Sam, Sara's sister, on The 411 blog to talk about all my favorite books I've read during quarantine. I have always loved reading but with work and nursing school it was hard to find time to dedicate to reading a new book. Quarantine was the perfect time to catch up on my new reads and relax. I read a total of 12 books during quaratine and all of them were so good but I have ranked my favorites 1-12, 1 being the best. These are perfect books to read by the pool or at the beach. I hope you guys enjoy. Thanks again for having me!



1. Small Great Things – Jodi Picault: This is probably the best book I’ve read this quarantine. Ruth is a labor and delivery nurse assigned to a patient with white supremacist parents. After a routine checkup, Ruth is told she can no longer care for this patient because of the color of her skin. When the infant goes into cardiac and respiratory distress after a routine procedure, Ruth is the only nurse left in the nursery. She hesitates before performing CPR and ends up being charged with negligent homicide and murder. Picault writes meaningfully and thoughtfully about race from perspectives everyone can understand and relate to. This story is so good and important to read, especially for my fellow nurses.

“… Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed.” “The first word sounds fair. The second one is fair. It’s equal to give a printed test to two kids. But if one’s blind and one’s sighted, that’s not true. You ought to give one a Braille test and one a printed test, which both cover the same material. All this time, I’ve been giving the jury a print test, because I didn’t realize that they’re blind. That I was blind.”

2. The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls: Apparently, everyone in the world had read this book except me. I loved this book! Not just because it is so well written, but because of how it changed my perspective on how we each choose to live our lives. Jeannette Walls writes about the dysfunctional, but the fascinating way she grew up with her nomad family whose ideas were based on non-conformity. Highly recommend!

3. Uprooted – Naiomi Novik: This book gives me Game of Thrones/Harry Potter vibes. I acknowledge this book is probably not for everyone, but I loved it. It’s mysterious and magical. The main character, Agnieszka, lives in a valley terrified by The Wood, a forest full of “corruption”, and The Dragon, a wizard who captures a young girl from the valley for 10 years at a time. This time, he chooses Agnieszka.

4. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism – Naoki Higashida: This book is an adorable, informative, and impressive book literally written by a thirteen-year-old boy with Autism. He is smart, kind, and patient with people who don’t understand what it’s like to live and think as he does. The question and answer format of this book allows the reader to grasp what we all need to understand as friends, family, or educators of people with Autism. I’m literally so impressed with this author; I couldn’t stop thinking about what he has to say.

What’s the reason you jump? “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upwards toward the sky.”

5. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn: If you loved The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (which is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read), you’ll love this. During the age of Nazi-occupied France, Charlie, an American college socialite, and Eve, a former spry recruited by an organization called The Alice Network in France, come together to search for Charlie’s beloved cousin. I read this book in one weekend because I had to find out about Eve’s past.

6. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid: This book is another great 2020 book read! It follows the story of Emira, a young black post-grad woman trying to figure out her next step, who babysits for a white blogger, Alix, and her daughter Briar. One night, Emira takes the toddler to a grocery store where the security guard accuses her of kidnapping Briar which results in Alix selfishly trying to right the situation.

7. Firefly Lane - Kristin Hannah: I’m a big Kristin Hannah fan. She gets you so invested in her characters; I felt like I knew Kate and Tully.This is a story of an unlikely, but a loyal friendship that is is torn apart by a sad, complicated situation. These best friends are so relatable and lovable that they made me tear up at the end.

8. In Five Years – Rebecca Serle: This book is another tear-jerker but not at all how you expect. It was so surprisingly good; a book anyone can love. Dannie’s 5-year plan is actually going as planned but when she goes to sleep one night, she is five years in the future and her life looks nothing like she thought it would be. She is in a different apartment, with a different engagement ring on her hand, and a different man in her bed who ends up being her best friend Bella’s future boyfriend.

9. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides: This book is the perfect, suspenseful beach read that keeps you guessing the entire book. I would have never guessed the ending. This is another book I would recommend to anyone. It’s about Alicia Berenson, a woman who un-expectantly shoots her husband in the face one evening and never speaks another word again until a psychotherapist named Theo shows up.

10. Outliers: A Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell: After reading Talking to Strangers, I knew I had to read another by Malcolm Gladwell. His books are so interesting and you end up learning so much through real-life stories from a sociological perspective. In this book, he claims that successful people are successful due to circumstance, experience, upbringing, culture, generation, and 10,000 hours of practice.

11. Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline: Another historical fiction book! This book follows two women, a 91-year-old Irish-American former orphan train rider and a teenage girl “aging out” of the system. The story of orphan train riders is fascinating and shocking. Good book!

12. The Other Woman – Sandie Jones: This book was a quick beach read but I felt the ending was unexciting and predictable. The other woman in Adam and Emily’s relationship is Adam’s mother, who does anything she can to sabotage their relationship.

Up Next:

- Untamed – Glennon Doyle

- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

- The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes



Thank you for your recommendations Sam!


Sara and Julia

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