Friday, April 30, 2021

April Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by for a paper or test, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 2019, and 66 books in 2020). In the last year or so, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks because I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have at least two hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening this year. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in April:

  • April 4, 1968 by Michael Eric Dyson - I had this book in my "to read" list for a while, but figured I'd wait until April to check it out. I have read and watched my fair of information about Martin Luther King Jr, but this was one unlike the majority of what you come across. This book focused on death (not only MLK's actual death, but also the death threats that he had to constantly live with and how taxing and draining that must have been). I will be honest, although you 'know' death had to be a part of MLK's life when you think about, it wasn't something I really thought about. I felt like I was learning about "the man" and not just "the myth" or "the legend". Not only did I find this book eye opening, but the "interview" at the end of the book was something I L-O-V-E-D! The author used what he knew about Martin Luther King Jr and performed an interview had he not died on April 4, 1968. It was something I had never really considered and I thought the author did an amazing job. I will definitely be looking into more books by Michael Eric Dyson. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez - I saw this book in the YA section of my Hoopla app and figured I'd give it a try. I'm not sure if you know this, but I played soccer in high school, so this book took me back. I love books with a strong AF female lead, and Camila definitely fit this role. And, don't get me wrong, I can get lost in a good romance, but I love when the female character doesn't lose herself in the chasing of a male companion. There's a decent amount of Spanish sprinkled throughout the book, but I was able to pick up on most of it (either because of my elementary vocabulary or the context around it). The story felt real, raw and relatable (even if I didn't live in Argentina with an abusive father and an extremely patriarchal culture). Camila aka Furia is an inspiring and fierce feminist (even if it is never phrased that way). She isn't look for more opportunities than the males in her society, simply EQUAL opportunities! #RealTalk - There might have been a part of me that hoped there would be a "happily ever after" where she could 'have it all', but that isn't reality for the most part, right? I did appreciate the author put a short epilog at the end to give a quick update as to where the characters were a few months after the story finished. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer - Wow. I think this might be one of my favorite books I've read thus far this year. It was beautifully written and full of so much knowledge. The author is an ecologist and an Indigenous woman. She shares her knowledge of both science and indigenous wisdoms through stories and experiences she has lived. Wow. Before I had even gotten about a fourth of the way through I had already put the physical book on my Wish List because I want it on my bookshelf. Her perspective is so amazing (and, I am ashamed to say, something I have never given much thought to). I appreciate that she does not spend the book shaming society with all of the ways that have (or are continuing to) let the natural world down. She could shake her finger at us, yet instead she invites us to learn more, grow in our understanding and love the gifts given to us by Mother Earth. It is more about a spirit of gratitude and reciprocity than anything else. It's a substantial book (almost 17 hours for the audiobook), but it could have continued and I wouldn't have minded in the slightest. She kept me engaged and educated the entire time! I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab - I had seen friends mention they were reading or had recently finished this book and loved it, so when I saw it available on my Hoopla app I grabbed it right way. Just like with the majority of the books I start, I had no idea what this one was about. The premise behind the story is a young woman in the 1600s was doomed to marry a man she didn't love and ended up selling her soul to the devil. Seeing as the devil is all about semantics, when Addie asked for freedom, the devil made her forgettable (the ability to be/ do whatever she would like). Although Addie is damned to be forgotten, this story definitely isn't forgettable. It was a unique idea and although it was fairly long (the audiobook was over 17 hours), it was a complete page-turner. I would say that some parts were a little long feeling, but overall it kept me engaged. The story bounced all over the place in time (between the 1600s and 2015), but at least the author included dates at the beginning of the chapter to try and help keep things straight (it was a bit jarring, all of the jumping, but also kept things interesting because you were switching to different parts of the story constantly). I thought adding the historical events/ people was great too. I would give it an 8.5 out of 10.

  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - After the last couple longer books, I wanted something I could listen to fairly quickly, so I decided to grab another one of Becky's books. Although I've really enjoyed her other books, for some reason this one didn't grab me as much. Don't get me wrong, it was totally fine, but I just didn't seem as invested in the characters as I had in her other stories. It just felt a little too predictable. The best word I could use to describe it would be "cute", but pretty "basic" as teen love goes. I'd say it is a great book to read by the pool or swinging in a hammock, but I probably would recommend some of this author's other titles if you are looking for a better book. I did really appreciate all of the diversity in the characters, the normalization of medication for mental health and how inclusive and overall positive the story is. I would give it a 7.5 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've read lately? 

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