May/June Reading: Book Reviews
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May and June were completely nutty for me and by mid-June I was feeling a very similar burnout to the one that often hits around the holidays (only, quite possibly, worse this time). Everything seemed out of control, there was too much going on, and I couldn’t breathe. I also didn't have a ton of time (or mental energy) to read. And I’m still battling the flames. I’ve refocused a few things and I’m actively just not giving as many f*cks (see the last book I read this month), but I’m still tired and annoyed and worn out and foggy.
Reading is one of the ways I recharge and often I read books about business or design, but given the burnout, I thought it best to just avoid the business books and read purely for enjoyment for a few months (although, one self-help(ish) book slipped in this time).
Here’s what I read in May and June:
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The Outsider by Stephen King
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
The Death of Mrs. Westaway
This was one of my favorites of this genre that I’ve read so far this year. I love a good thriller/mystery and this one got it right. It reminded me a bit of Clue meets The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix version). A big old house that’s as much a character as any of the human characters, odd players, family secrets, a mysterious death and the events surrounding it. It was creepy and skin crawly from start to finish. I liked this much better than the other Ruth Ware novel I read earlier this year, The Woman in Cabin 10.
Pieces of Her
Overall, I found this one entertaining, but the main character was so annoying and seemed so young, even though she was supposed to be 30. The book jumps from present day to the 70s with relative ease, but I found myself more interested in the present day story line than the past one. As the story unraveled, I began to actually like it more, and the end felt satisfying.
Little Fires Everywhere
This one gave me “A Wrinkle in Time Vibes” with the perfect little neighborhood where everyone is exactly the same. Stepford wives everywhere having their world shook up by a rebellious artist, who I didn’t like at first but came to really appreciate by the end of the book. There was a bit of a mystery involved here, and I always like that, but there were so many themes about art, suburban life, pursuing dreams versus squashing them, and family that made this book a really enjoyable read.
Everything I Never Told You
After reading this, and Little Fires Everywhere, I think it’s safe to say that Celeste Ng is one of my favorite authors. She takes on tough topics and weaves them into interesting prose that moves from one point-of-view to the next so seamlessly. I’ve read other books that jump from one character’s point-of-view to another’s and it often feels confusing or jilted. Ng’s narrative makes it flow, even when moving from character to character within the span of a few pages. The plot is so relatable - what family doesn’t have things they don’t say, that they never say to each other? Big things, little things. It intertwines questions of racial identity and racism, along with themes of feminism and family struggles. It’s relatable because it’s all of us.
This book is easily my favorite book of the year so far.
I’m a Stephen King fan. Always have been. This book got off to a great start with decent cop drama and a baffling murder mystery, but the back half of the book just got weird. Which, I get it, it’s Stephen King and it’s always going to be weird but this almost seemed anticlimactic with a supernatural enemy who was defeated a bit too easily. Overall, this was an entertaining read, but not as good as I hoped it would be.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Oh, I loved this one! This book sat on my shelf for a while and it took me some time to actually pick up this book and read it, but once I did I read it in one sitting (and ended up way past my bedtime). I absolutely adored the main character, Kya, and her drive to not just survive but to thrive. In spite of her life, because of her life. As someone who lives on the Carolina coast, I loved descriptions of the souther coastal setting. They were as beautiful as they were accurate, and nature was truly at character in its own right.
This, like so many of the books I seemed to have read lately, contained a duel narrative, jumping back and forth between timelines. And both timelines held my interested, which isn’t always the case. Overall, another favorite of mine so far this year.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK
Clearly since I’m so burned out, I needed this advice. Interestingly, I’m already living a lot by this mantra, so I guess I’m well on my way to not giving a f*ck about a lot of things. While I found this book a little beat-you-over-the-head with the concept, it does really drive home the idea of just not caring about things you shouldn’t care about, so you can fully concentrate and master the things that really matter to you. And that’s the moral of the story. It’s not about not caring at all. It’s about caring about and focusing on the right things, which fits in nicely with my overall theme for this year. Not my favorite read, but okay.