Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 2017 and 77 in 2018!) has morphed into this passion for books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" also gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;) {PS One of my goals for 2019 is to read 19 books, let's see how many times over I can do that.}

There were TWENTY books in the first three month, so when I add April's FOUR that brings my total for 2019 to TWENTY-FOUR thus far! If you're interested in what I read (or how I'd rate them and whether I'd recommend you giving them a read or a hard pass), make sure to check out my recaps! {January's BooksFebruary's Books, March's Books}

  • Circe by Madeline Miller - I had seen a few friends mentioning this book (not to mention all of the best seller lists it was on) and decided I'd get in line at the library (the wait-list was already in the double digits when I got on it, so I figured it had to be good, right?!). Like most books I pick up, I had no idea what this was about (although I guess the image on the front cover should have given me a clue that it was possibly about a goddess). I am normally not someone who gets drawn into mythology (and, to be honest, I know very little about any of it), but this novel had me hooked from the beginning. It is rather long, but I felt like I kept wanting to find out what happened next so got through it rather quickly. I saw someone comment that this book was a "soap opera for the gods" and I've got to agree. There was a ton of drama, which kept me totally engaged. Circe, the main character of the book, was so interesting and although she was immortal, her humanity was ever present. No matter the type of book you normally grab, the action mixed with character growth will have most readers happy with the read. I wouldn't say it was the best book ever (I've heard some folks say this is now in their top three books), but it was entertaining and well written. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani - Yet again, I don’t remember how this book ended up on my library list (maybe a friend had recently read it, maybe it was on a feminist “must read” list), but whatever the reason I'm stoked it did! The hubby and I went to a Big Sur with my parents and I brought this book along for the trip. It just so happened that the day we left I shared a blog post that got quite a bit of hate and blowback. This book was EXACTLY what I needed to read when I read it. Reshma is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Girls Who Code, an organization doing their darnedest to get females interested in STEM subjects. This book shows how girls are often pigeonholed into believing they need to be perfect to be loved, to be successful, to amount to anything (whereas boys are often taught the importance of being brave, going after what they want, trying something new, learning how to fail, etc). This book hit the nail on the head and was what I needed to hear when I was in the middle of being bombarded with less than positive feedback (and in large quantities and all at once). I’m not saying it made the criticism any easier, but it did help me work through it faster. Maybe this book may not have had such a profound impact had I read it the week before, but I doubt it. This is one I think I need to read on an annual basis (if not once every month or so). I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • There There by Tommy Orange - A friend of mine had shared this book on her Instagram a couple months back so I got on the wait list at the library. I knew nothing about it when it became available, but sort of read the title as a comforting "there, there" type phrase. I quickly found out that this was not what the title was referencing (it was actually from a quote about how a place was no longer the place they once remembered "there is no there there"). I found this book incredibly interesting, albeit slightly hard to follow at times. The story is an intertwining of 12 different characters and their journey to one specific event (a powwow in Oakland). Often times I found it hard to keep the different characters and their stories straight (some would only have a page or two about them, while others would have twenty to thirty pages before switching to another person). The hubby has a heart for the Native American people, so reading more about their plight was eye opening (even in a novel format). Even with the constant changing of points of view and narrative styles, I was hooked. The author does a great job at reinforcing his idea that the term "Native" cannot be easily defined. Although there may be similar themes in the Native experience, every tribe, family and person experiences things differently and we need to honor each and every one of those stories. I do have to say, I was a little bummed at the end of the story because I felt like there was so much left unfinished, but I do see why sometimes an author leaves a story open-ended and allows the reader's creativity to run wild and decide how everything turns out (although I'd much prefer they just spell it out for me). I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza - A friend of mine (the same friend who had shared about There There) had recently read this book, so I figured I'd grab it from the library. I didn't know what it was about prior to checking it out (surprise, surprise), and, to be honest, I would say for the first half of the book I wasn't really sure what it was about. It seemed as though nothing much was happening, and it was progressing slower than I would have liked, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. Although there are some heavy topics discussed in the book (substance abuse, arranged marriage, racism, religion, etc), I think what I ended up liking more was the seemingly mundane. The drama was relatable because many of us have experienced the different personalities and dynamics within a family - even if we aren't an immigrated Muslim family. The book jumped around a lot (both with the character's point of view and the time in the story), but seeing as there weren't a ton of characters to deal with it didn't make the switches too hard to follow. I think the final part in the book (it was broken up into four parts) where it was written from the father's perspective was my favorite. (I'm hoping there's a sequel because I'd love to know where the characters go from here.) I would give it an 8 out of 10.

With that, April has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?


Coco said...

You do more reading than I do. Maybe if I had more time by that lovely pool -- or a lovely pool to spend time at. ;-) Circe sounds like something I would have really enjoyed in high school -- I loved mythology and such. These days I tend to enjoy books with more modern characters, but I might give it a try.

Organic Runner Mom said...

I could definitely get into more of a reading habit! All of your reading inspires me!

Melissa Charlton said...

I love your monthly recaps! It’s fun to get idea of good books to read from other people!