It’s been a busy literary year! I was finally able to start reading more than just my selected monthly book club each month, so lots to share!
May 2020: The Witches Are Coming, by Lindy West. It’s been so long that I can’t remember exactly how I felt about this read. I think I enjoyed it for the most part, but it didn’t blow me away.
June 2020: The Winner, by David Baldachi. I’m not a fan of murder/mystery/thrillers, and to be honest, I think I was already in a fragile place mentally in June after being in quarantine with three kids for three months, so I chose to skip this one.
July 2020: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. This was a nice and easy read. I liked the intrigue in the story although I couldn’t quite figure out the motivations for some of the characters. I enjoyed the contrast of two very different households in totally opposite socioeconomic stratas.
August 2020: Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Marcia Semple. It took me looking back at my reading list for this post to realize I purchased this book on Audible but never listened to it! Again, I blame COVID and quarantine and children…but now I’m excited to listen to it!
September 2020: Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust. I really liked that this book took place somewhere completely foreign to me. I enjoyed the exposure to a different culture and traditions that I’ve never learned about. The plot itself had some challenges, but generally an enjoyable read.
October 2020: Hocus Pocus: the All New Sequel, by A.W. Jantha. This was a nice seasonal read around Halloween, but the beginning was super frustrating to get through. It retells the entire original Hocus Pocus, which at that point my boys had been watching on repeat for a while. It didn’t seem necessary to retell the entire story just to get to the sequel. Once I got past that, it was a good enough YA book to enjoy during Halloween.
November 2020: Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson. I really liked this book. It was heartbreaking and beautiful. As a mother of three, I just can’t quite comprehend the decision’s that Melody’s mom made or how she acted towards Melody, but it is beautifully told.
January 2021: The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian. The Literate Lushes had fun poking through all the plot holes in this one, but I really enjoyed that it was such a light and easy read.
February 2021: Maid, by Stephanie Land. I love the awareness this book brings: it provided so many different topics to discuss during book club, mostly revolving around how a country like the United States can still be so behind on providing basic necessities to all of its inhabitants.
March 2021: Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker. This book was impressive in its subject matter: following the lives of a family with twelve children, six of whom suffered from mental illness, and following the developments of how schizophrenia was diagnosed and treated. The story wasn’t exactly captivating to me, but I did enjoy learning about the scientific developments and how the family got a long. It’s another book that makes me want to tell my children: “You’re so lucky! You have great parents!” Jeff and I have our shortcomings, as we all do, but generally I think our children are safe and happy and know they’re loved. I thought the end of the book dragged on a little – I felt like every paragraph could have been the last, but it kept going!
April 2021: The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. Although the Audible version was challenging for me at first, I was quickly swept away by this memoir. Holy shit, the things some people put their children through. I still find it hard to believe that Jeannette Walls’ parents were intelligent enough to raise incredibly smart children (outside of the traditional school system, for the most part), but lazy and maybe mentally disturbed enough to put them through such a difficult childhood. I also found it amazing that most of the children could have a relationship with their parents as adults. Kudos to you, Jeannette (and siblings)!
A quick note on my extra reads: I picked up my reading last year, but starting in January I decided to not check Facebook and Instagram as much, but realized I still gravitate to my phone. I’m trying to make it a point to open Kindle instead…or you know…put the phone down.
Extra “reads” on Audible
All Adults Here, by Emma Straub. I really enjoyed this book, although along with The Most Fun We Ever Had (below), it makes me think that no matter how we raise our children, we’ll still be able to fuck them up somehow. You love them too much, or not enough. You pay too much attention to them or not enough. Someone tell me where the balance is! Anyhow, great read…great read.
Green Lights, by Matthew McConaughey. I think this book HAS to be listened to on Audible – Matthew McConaughey (“MMC”) reads it himself, and it’s just hilarious. It’s filled with random, and sometimes unbelievable anecdotes of his life and childhood, but hearing them read them by MMC is pretty great. It’s also exactly what I expected from someone whom I think is a bit quirky and off the beaten path. Something that really struck me with this book (and many others, to be sure), is just how different all of our lives are. I know…duh. Just read me out. For one, I can’t relate to someone that is talking about lounging outside the cabana on his privately rented beach (I might be exaggerating a little) and taking leisurely walks with the woman he’s trying to woo. Someone that can wake up from a crazy dream and go to Brazil to figure out what it was all about. But also, there’s a scene where he talks about the first time he met his wife, and I can’t stop wondering what HER trajectory was to be in that place. This is obviously personal since she’s only a year older than me, and I just can’t imagine having her confidence at the age that she met MMC – I can see why he fell for her! I mean, I feel like I’d still be a fumbling idiot next to her even at 37. I’m sure part of it is jealousy: not that she snagged MMC (nothing personal MMC), but that they have such a rich and affluent lifestyle. But I also just find it amazing that all of our lives have such varied, yet “set”, trajectories, if that makes any sense? Meh, I’m rambling now – maybe this should be a flushed out, separate post…but I’ll leave as is for now…
I Miss You When I Blink, by Mary Laura Philpott. I really enjoyed this book. Quite the opposite of Green Lights, I found this book very relatable. It’s books like these that really make me want to write a book – about what and who would read it…who knows!
The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo. This one was a long read, but a good read. As I mentioned above, it makes me think about whether I can raise my boys without saying or doing something that will have a long-term and negative impact on their lives; maybe it’s unavoidable to some extent? It’s also a good reminder that we’re not perfect, but we can still be good people.
The Education of an Idealist, by Samantha Power. This was my current read when I wrote my last Literate Lushes post. And I gotta say I was right: it was an intimidating read, but wow, what an amazing woman! It was great to get insight into how she got to be who she is, how she handled international situations, and some wonderful anecdotes about Barack Obama and her time in the White House.
Extra reads on Kindle
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. This book was HIGHLY recommended on a book blog I follow, and I was not disappointed. I found it be surprisingly lighthearted given that it recounts events from WWII, although it also had it’s fair share of emotional moments. Funny side note on this one: I often talk to Jeff about what I’m reading, and often he’ll ask if I think he’ll enjoy it, to which I almost always say “no,” even if I’ve just declared the book is amazing and I couldn’t put it down. I just know we have very different taste in literature…but he pointed out before that he likes genres other than sci fi or…I don’t know…dark/heavy fiction? So when he asked me if I thought he’d like this book, I said “sure,” even though I really didn’t think he would. Given that he’s with the kids all day, Audible is an easier format for him, so even though I had already purchased this book on Kindle, I graciously gave up my Audible credit for him to listen to it on Audible (by gracious, it sounded something like “you better like this book…”). I don’t think he made it past the first ten pages….he wont’ stop making fun of the fact that it’s an epistolary novel (aka, all letters back and forth). MEN!
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab. Oh ma gawd. One of my new favorites. I LOVED this book (and I very clearly told Jeff he would NOT like it). I loved how Addie’s relation with the devil/demon shifted across the centuries, and of course the historical events that were referenced throughout.
Raising Good Humans, by Hunter Clarke-Fields. I never finished reading this book, but it really did help us through a particularly rough parenting patch we were having with Josh a few months ago. And yes, I made flashcards. And posted them on our fridge.
The Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell. It took me a while to finish this one – it was not necessarily a page turner for me, but I really, REALLY enjoyed reading it and learning about the differences in the United States and Denmark. Basically, I want to move to Denmark and be a happier person. I mean…I probably won’t move to Denmark….but I was constantly frustrated by how much better Denmark is at A LOT of stuff (which also coincides with some of the conversations the Literate Lushes had about Maid). But I know their population size and homogeneity are a big part of why they can do what they do…I just wish there was a way to make incremental improvements here.
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop, by Rebecca Raisin. This book is literally 99 cents…it was an impulse buy but a nice read if you’re looking for something light and semi-romantic.
Wow – if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a gold star! Do you have any recent favorite reads to share?
I also just saw that our local library is having a 100 Book Challenge to celebrate its centennial. I’m thinking of signing up the family. Join me?