Books I Read in May

Trying something new here, since I’m so behind on regular review posts.

I read a TON in May (thank you vacation!) – here’s a quick look at the books I finished, with some brief thoughts about them.

    Favorite Nonfiction

  1. At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

    Thought-provoking, and it would make an excellent discussion book.

  2. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

    Super fun nonfiction, and I learned quite a bit about space travel and the space program. It’s got some parts that if you’re squeamish or opposed to discussions of bodily fluids etc you won’t appreciate. I found it fascinating, and much of it made me very grateful for gravity.

  3. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

    Heart-breaking but encouraging and inspiring. Highly recommended for anyone dealing with a loss; it doesn’t just apply to those who have had a spouse die.

  4. Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me by Alexandra Kuykendall

    I really like this sort of nonfiction – a year (or in this case, 9 months) focusing on specific things to improve your life. If you’re not a fan of this type of book, I doubt this one would appeal to you, but I enjoyed it. It does have a faith basis to it, so if you’re not Christian you may be put off by some parts of the text.

  5. The Commonsense Kitchen by Tom Hudgens

    Some delicious sounding recipes, although I didn’t like the Kindle formatting, which ended up making things harder to read. I’d like to try a few of them but would need to get a print copy first.

  6. Favorite Fiction

  7. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

    My Facebook book club selection for May, and I LOVED it. Gentle fiction, I savored it, and am looking forward to reading more by Berry eventually.

  8. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

    My Facebook book club selection for June (hooray! I’m ahead again for my reading!) and it was excellent. Highly recommended for fantasy fans. It got a little more brutal towards the end than the first part of the book had led me to expect, so I probably wouldn’t recommend it to precocious readers – I’d say this one should stay as an (older teen) young adult title, unless your younger reader is really not bothered by battle descriptions at all.

  9. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

    Love the Gamache series, and this is a fantastic entry. Make sure you’re reading them in order though. Really looking forward to the next one publishing in August!

  10. The Dry by Jane Harper

    The setting is well-done, and made me feel like I was there in Australia, suffering through the drought with them. I liked the main character and was happy to see that it’s the first in a series, with the second book publishing (in the US) in 2018. The ending got a bit ridiculous, but I can forgive that in a debut author.

  11. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

    Love love love this series and I held off on reading #3 for as long as I could. Now to join everyone else in impatiently waiting for #4 to be published. Robin is one of my favorite characters in literature.

  12. A Cold Treachery by Charles Todd

    Love this series, and I was completely surprised by the ending of this one. It was a good one to read during warm weather, as it does such a good job of depicting a frigid winter I was glad not to be living through a snowstorm while reading about one!

  13. Re-Reads

  14. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

    Re-read (listen) because they’ve just been released by Audible and I needed to get them.

  15. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontรซ

    For book club.

  16. Gallows View by Peter Robinson

    Beginning the series again as it’s been so long since I read it. Listened to the audio version.

  17. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

    For book club.

  18. A Sudden Fearful Death by Anne Perry

    Working through the series again.

  19. Other Titles

  20. My Antonia by Willa Cather

    It suffered in comparison to Hannah Coulter, otherwise, I think I’d have liked this one a lot more. If it hadn’t been my in-person book club’s May selection, I would have put it aside for several months.

  21. An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

    I love this series, but this particular title wasn’t my favorite. There are some plot issues that crop up regularly, and it’s getting tedious. If I read the books with more of a gap between them, I doubt it’d bother me quite so much. I’m still looking forward to the next in the series, so this comparatively low rating is simply because of how much I have enjoyed the other titles.

  22. The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

    I wanted to like this one more than I did, but found parts of it really confusing, and the overall resolution was quite unbelievable. I did like how it highlighted a part of world history about which I am shamefully ignorant.

  23. Didn’t Especially Like

  24. A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

    Disappointing. The plot was poor, the characterizations were absurd, and I found myself rolling my eyes throughout it.

  25. Savage Run by C. J. Box

    Much more brutal than I was expecting, with some gruesome details included unnecessarily.

  26. Simply Clean: The Proven Method for Keeping Your Home Organized, Clean, and Beautiful in Just 10 Minutes a Day by Becky Rapinchuk

    Not my favorite of these sorts of books – Clean Your Space was better – in part because it didn’t give unrealistic promises about keeping your home organized, clean, and beautiful in just 10 minutes a day.

  27. Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

    Really uneven – some of them made me laugh out loud, others left me scratching my head, and others were just not funny to me at all. And that’s just with the titles where I’d read the inspiration book, and knew all of the characters and plot points referenced in the texts.

  28. The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

    The cover was pretty, but the book didn’t live up to it. I question the historical details included, and the obliviousness of the main character. I finished it just to see how it all resolved, but I regret the wasted reading time.

Quarterly Update on Book Club Books

Covers for 2017 quarter 1 book club booksWhile I’ve shared about my Facebook book club selections, and I end up sharing what my in-person book club is reading thanks to New on the Stack posts, I haven’t been circling back and sharing what I thought of our selections, or how well they work as book club picks.

January

The Deliberate Reader book club (TDR) read Animal Vegetable Miracle and Broadened Horizons book club (BH) read Ready Player One. Both were great discussion titles (although I sadly had to miss the in-person chat on Ready Player One due to a sick kid. Advantage Facebook for that: I can work around children’s needs easier and not miss out on the discussion. So yes, I’m saying it’s a great discussion title based on reports from my friends.

Animal Vegetable Miracle was super inspiring as far as making me want to plant a garden of my own. Perhaps it’d have been better read in March, when I could move ahead on those urges, instead of January when I got all fired up, and then couldn’t actually do much of anything about it, at least in frozen Indiana. It was fascinating hearing what people across the country had to say about things such as locally-available foods and gardening opportunities. Another advantage for the virtual book club: broader geographic representation was a bonus for this title!

February

TDR read Moloka’i, and BH read The Year of Living Danishly. Moloka’i is a heart-wrenching book, but such a compelling look at another world and time. I enjoyed the book tremendously and enjoyed getting to talk about it even more. It’s a good one for a book club.

The Year of Living Danishly is much lighter in feel and style, and not a must-read. However, it actually is well-served as a discussion choice -it added quite a bit to the topic by hearing different takes on the ideas from the book, and ways we can bring some hygge into our Midwestern lives. However, I’d say that one is skippable unless you’re going to talk about it with someone.

March

TDR discussed Emma, and BH chatted about And Then There Were None while we enjoyed our annual tea party. Emma was my least-favorite discussion of the five I participated in for the first quarter, and that says much more about how good those other ones were than anything about it in particular. I think I may have liked Emma as a discussion title the most of all of Jane Austen’s books. I’m not 100% certain of that claim, but I’m leaning that way. ๐Ÿ™‚

And Then There Were None surprised me in how discussable it was. I was concerned that it would be a bit limited to plot twists and did-you-figure-it-out questions, but it ended up being more involved than that. Since the nature of some of the questions veers into spoiler territory, I’ll leave it that if you’re looking for a mystery for a book club, two thumbs up to this classic Christie title.

All in all, I’d say these were six winners as far as discussion titles go, it just depends on your sort of book club and what type of book you’re wanting. I’d pick Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as the best option of the two nonfiction choices, and fiction it just depends on what genre or style of book you want: they’re all completely different, so it’s really hard to directly compare them.


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Bookish Announcements

Two quick things:

1. I’ll be announcing all of the picks for 2017’s book club on November 14th, but wanted to give sneek peek at January’s book (for your reading planning purposes). We’ll be reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, and the discussion will start January 2nd.

I cannot *wait* to share the rest of the year’s picks – I’m so excited about them!

animal-vegetable-miracle

2. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, and you haven’t already chosen your October Kindle First pick, don’t forget! I usually pick mine early in the month and forgot about it this month. I only remembered yesterday, so if anyone else is also behind on things maybe you still need to. There were two interesting historical fiction options, but I settled on It Is Well.

it-is-well


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Reading Your Bookish Kryptonite

Last week I shared about the words and phrases that are my book description kryptonite: the ones that make me immediately put a book aside as not for me.
bookish kryptonite
(I also forgot a few, and was reminded of them in the comments. A second post about additional ones may be forthcoming, especially focused on cover kryptonite.)

But what about when you “have” to read a book that hits one of those otherwise red flags?

This month’s selection for my in-person book club is The Lake House by Kate Morton. I love Kate Morton’s books. I wanted to dive into this book.

Except: the description mentions a baby who has disappeared. Children being harmed is #1 on my “don’t read this” list. I put off reading the book for months, in part because I was dreading the read.

And then I finally picked the book up, faced my fears, and dove in.

Hours later, and waaaaaay past my bedtime, I closed the book. Yes, the central mystery of the book is one that I generally won’t read, but I am *so* glad I trusted Morton to not be too graphic.

While I’m not going to say that I’m going to start reading all of those books I don’t read, I am glad that I didn’t stick to my list without budging. I’d have missed out on a great book.

Now I’m wondering what other books I really should try, even if they are ones I’d usually ignore. ๐Ÿ™‚

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: 5 Translated Novels I Want To Read, and 5 More Iโ€™m Considering

Quarterly Goals Update

2015 Reading GoalsI’m not doing monthly updates this year, but quarterly seems about the right length of time to go between check-ins:

  1. Read 156 books.
    That’s 3 books a week, children’s titles over 100 pages count towards the total.
    I’m behind on this one – I’ve read 67 books so far, which would put me at 134 for the year. I’m ok with that pace, even if it is off the goal I set somewhat randomly (not really knowing what life would be like as baby #3 got older and homeschooling ramped up.) ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. Read all book club selections.
    With one exception: if there is one book that I absolutely hate, I can not finish. I call that the “House of Mirth” rule in honor of the book that inspired it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ve already invoked my one exception to this, so I have to finish everything else this year. Or else go back and finish A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I do not want to do.
  3. Attempt to read all of the books I mentioned I was looking forward to reading.
    If I don’t like the book, I don’t have to finish it, but I do want to at least give them all a shot.
    I’ve read or at least started all of the ones that are currently available. And so far they’ve all been great (not counting Fairest, because I really only listed it as a placeholder before Winter, and didn’t expect much from it).
  4. Get new children’s books monthly to share with the kids.
    No numbers here – just want to keep fresh material coming in, along with the books we already own.
    Done – this is the easiest goal for me to meet, as my kids love getting new library books. ๐Ÿ™‚
  5. Read the New Testament
    I want to say read the entire Bible, but I’m trying to not be overly ambitious, and I don’t want to set myself up where I’m reading it for speed over anything else.
    I’ve made very little progress with this one.
  6. Promptly share books that I’ve finished via my Pinterest board.
    I did so well at this goal last year, at least pre-baby. And then this got ignored in favor of more pressing needs. We’ll give it another try this year.
    I don’t think I’ve pinned anything since my last update. I guess I know what I need to be doing. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  7. Clear 12 more books off of my TBR stack at home.
    I don’t have to finish them – if I start one and decide it isn’t for me and I’m going to get rid of it, that counts too. I just want to whittle down the stack some more one way or another. They do need to be physical books however – the point of this is to clear out the backlog of books on my bookcases.
    Well, thanks to the “getting rid of it counts, I don’t have to actually read it” clause, this goal is done for the year. I KonMari’d my bookcases and got rid of a mountain.

Clearly I don’t do as well at staying on track with the goals when I check in only quarterly instead of monthly. Oops.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Happy Fourth of July!

Praying for Boston

I had a post all ready to run today, but it felt too insignificant after events in Boston yesterday. So instead it’ll run next week, and today I’ll focus on praying for Boston, and everyone affected by events. I’m too heavy-hearted to write more on it, or even to link to some of the wise posts I’ve already seen.

Good Friday

Image from last year, but it still fits. Back on Monday.

Blog Break

I’ll be taking the week off from blogging, but I’ll be back next Monday with a post on the books I’m most anticipating reading in 2013.

Enjoy your week! And I hope you’ll come back on Monday to let me know what books you’re excited to read next year.

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