Y’all, I’m still on a reading rampage. I lost a little steam when I got super busy with work in May, but I still read 17 books in the second quarter, down just a bit from the 20 I read in the first quarter. I’ve made a conscious effort this year to stop staring mindlessly at my phone before bed and use the time reading instead. Plus, my new obsession with the library has left me with a steady supply of books I’m real, real excited to read.
GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER by Shobha Rao – ★★★★★
This book starts in India and ends in Seattle, Washington. It’s one of the most important books I’ve read this year, incredibly heartbreaking and absolutely devastating. It’s the story of friendship, the kind of friendship and love you’ll do absolutely anything for, no matter the cost, because, “What is love, if not a hunger?” This book broke my fucking heart, cracked it open and then stomped on it. It’s a hard read, difficult and painful in a way that’s similar to Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. It is abusive, violent and triggering, but important and poignant.
CIRCE by Madeline Miller – ★★★★★
As a kid, I was obsessed with Greek mythology. Give me your stories of Zeus and Hera, Artemis and Apollo, tell me again how Orion was put into the sky. Circe took me back to that love, telling the story of Circe, a badass heroine, nymph, goddess and witch. Miller weaves the story well, starting from Circe’s childhood sitting at the feet of her father, Helios, to her encounters with Odysseus and, later, his widow and son. It’s a delightful slip into a very different world.
STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel – ★★★★★
I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic read and this book is that, but also so much more. The story takes place 15-20 years after a plague called the Georgia Flu. There’s a traveling theatre troupe, a comic book, a self-proclaimed prophet and an airport sanctuary. It’s beautifully written and beautifully told and the characters are easy to love and understand. It’s emotional too, and dives into what it means to survive, what it takes to survive and the connections formed by our collective humanity.
THEN SHE WAS GONE by Lisa Jewell – ★★★★★
I’ve been real disappointed by thrillers this year. I keep trying though, keep hoping there will be a character I don’t hate, a plot twist that doesn’t seem forced or a storyline so complex and meandering it makes me curse. And then I read Then She Was Gone and I stopped being so cranky about it all because this book is good without trying too hard, with a main character you can actually root for and story that’s easy to follow while still maintaining my interest and pushing me to figure what happened. There’s no brain matter mushed into the floor with this one, no blood-splattered descriptions of what happened, just good writing and a real good story.
FATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff – ★★★★★
This book was a big deal a few years ago, but I didn’t get around to reading it until this year. This book was tough, like all of Groff’s novels. I really enjoyed Arcadia, but Fates and Furies was a slow start for me. In simple terms, it’s the story of a marriage, but it’s far more complicated than that. I didn’t get the hype until halfway through the book, when we got to Furies, and that, for me, was what made this book. Groff’s writing is beautiful and difficult and her stories leave me conflicted in a way that’s unique. Sometimes I can’t tell if I love or hate what I’m reading when it comes to Groff’s work.
WHAT ELSE I READ THIS QUARTER
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – ★★★★ – a beautiful historical fiction piece.
- Half Broke Horses – ★★★★ – reminded me of my grandmother’s stories.
- White Houses by Amy Bloom – ★★★★ – about Eleanor Roosevelt and her “First Friend.”
- Educated by Tara Westover – ★★★★ – uncomfortably relatable & often infuriating.
- The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – ★★★★ – complex characters & also a fortune-teller.
- The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer – ★★★★ – thought-provoking and feminist.
- The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg- ★★★★ – fun & weird.
- Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell – ★★★★ – a punch in the feels.
- Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnint – ★★★ – a book club read.
- Girls in White Dress by Jennifer Close – ★★★ – perfectly fine chick lit.
- Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple – ★★★ – all over the place.
- Florida by Lauren Groff – ★★ – two great stories & then a bunch of shit I didn’t care about.
Here’s a round-up of what I read in the first quarter.
What are you reading?