I read so many books this month! I’m not quite sure how I did it. Because of this, I’m experimenting with a more freeform review format. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s most effective (do you really want plot summaries, or do you prefer to look that up yourself?) and so I’m trying something a little different.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
I didn’t expect to love this because I haven’t loved a few of Joshilyn Jackson’s older books, but I loved this one. It’s about a comic book artist who finds out she’s pregnant after a one night stand at a comic convention – but the father is black and she’s originally from the South, and doesn’t think her family, especially her sick grandmother, will take it well. I bought this one last fall on a recommendation from Modern Mrs. Darcy, and definitely recommend it.
Still Me by Jojo Moyes
I ordered this from Book of the Month before I knew that it was the third in the series, not the second. So I had to read the second one (which I did last month) and I was happy to discover that I liked this one much more! I’ve heard a lot of people say the second one fell flat, and this one felt like a return to the Louisa from the first book. I definitely agree. She moves to New York to work for a rich family, and her adjustment to her new life in the US reminded me a lot of adjusting to my life here in California.
American Fire by Monica Hesse
This is another one from Book of the Month, I think from sometime last fall. It’s a nonfiction book about a rural town where abandoned houses suddenly started catching fire, and about the arsonist who did it. I am trying to read more nonfiction, and I loved the way this one was told. It’s one of those books I probably would get from the library if I were to do it again (ie, I don’t feel the need to have paid for it) but I did like reading it.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
I bought this one at the bookstore on a whim one day after seeing it all over Instagram. That cover is beautiful. I read it SO QUICKLY (95% all in one sitting) and I couldn’t even be disappointed because I loved it so much. It’s about four siblings who visit a traveling psychic as a kid and discover the date of their deaths. They all deal with it in really different ways. Two of the siblings really affected me, but I won’t say which ones for fear of giving anything away. I really, definitely recommend this one and I can’t wait to reread it, which isn’t something I usually do. It made me think a lot about if I’d like to know the date of my death and how I’d approach my life from that moment.
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
My dad got this for me as a gift two Christmases ago. I love Lauren Graham – she was incredible on Gilmore Girls and fantastic on what I’ve seen of Parenthood. It’s a light and fun read about Gilmore Girls, making in work in Hollywood, and not taking yourself too seriously. I recommend if you’re into any of those things – it took me just over an hour, so I’d say get it from the library if you can. I recently read that she has a new book coming out, and I’m hoping to find that one soon.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
This is another book I bought on Amazon after seeing it at the San Francisco airport last fall (I think I had more disposable income to spend on books back then, aka I wasn’t being financially responsible!). It’s about a British family of Pakistani origin living in England. The father they barely knew did some terrible things that hurt a lot of people, and all three siblings (all young adults, all orphaned) struggle to deal with this in different ways. It was a fast and heartbreaking read that I couldn’t put down, on a lot of racial and cultural themes that as a white person I am privileged to not have to think about.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
I got this one as a BOTM extra in February after seeing widespread praise for it online. It’s a little painful to read, but necessary. Early into the marriage of Celestial and Roy, a young black couple excited for their life together, Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. She struggles to be a long distance wife who really doesn’t know her husband all that well, while Roy struggles with life in prison and all that that entails. It’s told from a few different perspectives, and I found it a really valuable read.
The Crown by Robert Lacey
I bought this one on a whim at Target after finishing the second season of The Crown, which I adore. I expected this book to be about the making of the TV series and the challenges of historical fiction (especially when the characters are still living) but I as wrong. It turned out mostly to be a episode by episode breakdown of the historical events in those episodes, with only a few references to the show. I learned a lot of very specific things about British history as a result, and though it was different than I was expecting I really liked it.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
I came home from seeing Love, Simon (which I have now seen twice) and picked up this book immediately. I read it super quickly (so I think it’s a good library-or-borrow pick) and found it really cute. The movie had more of an impact for me (I cried a number of times) but I think books like this one are so important. I suspect that I didn’t like this one as much because it’s told from a first-person perspective of a YA character, and while I love that in movies, I frequently can’t get into it for books these days. I absolutely agree that that’s how the story needed to be told, but it didn’t work for me, unfortunately. It’s rare for me to like a movie more than the book, but this time I did.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Another one from BOTM last month. This book was incredible. It’s about a girl in the 1970s whose dad decides to uproot their family to Alaska to explore the new frontier – but he’s a Vietnam vet with a lot of anger issues made worse by isolation, and they know absolutely nothing about living in the wilderness. I read it so quickly, and like The Immortalists, I can’t wait to read it again. I have really big feelings about this one, and all of them are good. It’s so visual and the plot really sucks you in.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs
This was my March pick from BOTM, and I liked it! It’s set in Los Angeles that’s centered around a family quest. The grandfather/patriarch of the family, Isaac Severy, dies, leaving a puzzle behind him. Hazel, his adopted granddaughter, starts looking to piece clues together, but she soon discovers that she’s not the only one doing so. There’s a dangerous organization also on the hunt for Isaac’s life’s work. It can be a little hard to keep all the characters straight in your head, but I enjoyed reading it. This is another one I might get from the library if I could do it again, rather than buying it.
The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman
I picked this up on a whim at the airport because the cover is gorgeous. I didn’t love it as much as I love the cover, but it was still a good story of a boy’s life growing up in Italy with his Mom and painter father, who then abandons him for a new family. It’s about his struggle living in shadow of his legacy and how he deals with it. It’s a bit like The Goldfinch, which I admittedly didn’t like, but they’re both centered a lot around art and a boy’s relationship to their fathers. All the reviews I saw on Goodreads for this one were so good, but I found it a bit slow. I can admit that it’s beautifully told; I just don’t think it was right for me at this time.
In total this month:
Total number of books: twelve
Number of fiction books: ten
Number of nonfiction books: two
Books by people who are not white dudes: ten
Total number of books this year: twenty seven