Have you read anything great lately? I used to share what I'm reading on Instagram but I've fallen out of the habit. (Although my Goodreads stays pretty up to date.) I like keeping a visual record of what I've read and hearing what others thought of the book so I want to get back to it! But first I feel like I need to get caught up sharing what I've been reading lately. And my lately I mean since early December (ahem).
I'm about to inundate you with books so consider yourself warned! Here's what I've been reading...
The Cuckoo's Calling, Career of Evil, and Lethal White – These are numbers 1, 3, and 4 in the Cormoran Strike murder mystery series by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling!). I started with the second in the series last year and reading them slightly out of order didn't bother me. I love these books and get a cozy feeling reading them. Which feels weird to say about books with gruesome murders but there you go. Even though they're nothing like Harry Potter the same attention to detail and creating scenes and characters is there which makes for a delicious reading experience. I like the gruff, disheveled character of Cormoran Strike and am holding my breath to see what happens with his love interest in the next book.
The Witch Elm – This is Tana French's latest and I liked the unexpected twists of the plot. It was not your typical "opens with a murder, suspects are paraded by, and detectives discover the killer." The ending was especially surprising and made we want to discuss it with someone.
Becoming – Learning more about Michelle made me love her even more. I hadn't know exactly how she and Barak had met and it was fascinating to know that Michelle was already successful in her own right before even meeting the future president. I liked her reflections on how she was raised and how she navigated being a working mother while Barak was ascending to the presidency.
Exit West – This was a book club pick and I ended up abandoning it. I liked the subject matter of refugees and the element of magical realism but I guess it just didn't hold my attention well enough. For the record, most of my book club felt similarly.
The Word is Murder – In this book the author writes himself into the book as a Watson character to the main detective. This struck me as slightly arrogant move but it did make for an interesting and unique set up for solving a crime. It was enjoyable murder-mystery.
How To Stop Time – This was a Girl Next Door book club pick and is an upcoming pick for my in-person book club. It makes for a great discussion so I would recommend it for your book club, too! This book is billed as a love story although for me the love stories in the book didn't shine as much as I wanted them too. I was hoping for another Time Traveler's Wife (be still my heart!). Still, I enjoyed the twist on time in the book and the dip into some of the time periods covered in the book.
Calypso – David Sedaris is always enjoyable. He's able to tackle topics life death, grief, and sickness with pessimistic poignancy that wrenches your heart and then makes you laugh all within a few pages. His books are great if you're not sure what to read next or you want something with substance that's still easy to pick up and put down.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances – This is a written book with rich characters, just a touch of magical realism, and in which the natural world plays a strong role. To me this is the recipe for a delightful book. love reading a book that feels different than anything else I've ever read and this book is exactly that.
Where The Crawdads Sing – You must read this book! You've probably heard so many people talk about this book but it's well deserved. This will be one of the best books I read this year and earns a place in my top 10 books of all time if not top 5. When our in-person book club met about this book it was the first time every single person in my book club gave an A-rating. Our book club has been meeting for over 11 years! A few things I loved about the book include the resiliency of Kya, how the natural world and its ecology was a main character, and how a murder mystery was seamlessly woven into the novel. This is the perfect book to recommend when someone asks you what book they should read next. And several book club members said the audiobook was great.
Educated – This book reads like a novel and if I didn't know this was nonfiction I wouldn't believe half of what was in it. I loved the resilient main character, that it was a girl/young woman, and the message of how powerful education is. I was also impressed at the lack of bitterness the author expresses about her childhood and parents because I felt a lot of anger on her behalf. Also a Girl Next Door book club pick if you'd like to hear it discussed further.
Maid – This memoir follows the author's experience living in poverty while working as a maid and trying to care for her young daughter. I like the way the author's story challenges the stereotype of people on welfare taking advantage of the system. Instead it showed how social welfare programs just barely keep people afloat, even if they are working full time. It was an interesting book to read right after Educated.
The Great Alone – Loved this book. Great writing and the setting of Alaska was rich and rugged. Along with the previous four books this book marked an unintentional reading theme for me of "resilient mail characters abandoned (at least in some sense) by their parents have to survive in extraordinary circumstances." But those circumstances make for great stories and I loved them all.
Radiant Shimmering Light – This was a light read that looks at the world of online influencers and living your life online. Anyone who has a social media account will be able to relate to the book and I liked that the author left it up to you to decide whether the characters were being superficial or not.
The Wright Brothers – I listened to this one and often as I was falling asleep so I don't feel that I can give it the most accurate review but I did really enjoy what I heard. 'm always impressed at the details David McCullough uses to bring a story to life. Airplane and air travel is such a routine part of life now; it's crazy to be reminded that it wasn't always that way and of all the failure and drive it took two brothers to achieve flight. And to imagine all the lack of technology at the time airplanes were invented. I'm so glad the world wasn't depending on me to invent airplanes.
A Hundred Summers – This is a Girl Next Door book club pick (episode will air at the end of the month) and was a light summer read. I always love stories that take place during summers in New England coastal towns in 20s/30s/40s (this one takes place in the late 30s). The plot also includes a little mystery. I haven't thought of this book since I read it but it was enjoyable enough to recommend.
Laura and Emma – this is a random book I pulled off the library shelves which is something that always feels a bit risky. I don't always have luck but sometimes you find a real gem. I wouldn't call this a gem but it was enjoyable enough and follows the relationship of a woman with her parents and her daughter in New York City.
The Proposal – I listened to this one and it was a delightful modern love story with a great reader. Now I'd like to read others my the same author.
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Erica recommended this to me after she read the series at Sherry's recommendation and I enjoyed it. Fiction fantasy isn't my favorite genre but this was a quick read with a steamy faerie-mortal love story to keep it interesting. I will probably read the next one but not right away.
Whew! I feel so much better being all caught up! I hope you found some new books to add to your list. I'm currently reading Behold the Dreamers and really enjoying it. What are you reading lately?