Books of the Month: May

It’s that time, y’all. One of the books I read this month was one of the most poignant stories I’ve read in recent years. One made me reluctant to turn the light off at bedtime. One was really, really not worth the time spent reading it.

I’m off school for the summer, so now hopefully I’ll have lots of time to read. I’m hoping to read through the Anne of Green Gables series again this summer (and possibly Harry Potter too, because I can’t help it). Any recommendations for June?


  • The Light Between Oceans, M. L. Stedman, fiction

Oh. I wish I could tell you how this book moved me. It’s not one that I will be able to move on from quickly. After I turned the last page, I sat and cried and needed to just be for a moment. The “light between oceans” is a lighthouse off the coast of western Australia, and the story is of the keeper and his family. It’s the story of the weight of a moment, the echoes one decision can make for a whole lifetime. It’s the story of grief and forgiveness and the lies we tell ourselves. I felt deeply the anxiety of desperately holding onto a secret, the ache of despair and loneliness, and the heartrending pain of losing the people who make up the very fabric of your life. The characters are broken and real and haunting and complicated, and I feel as though I know and care for them. I can’t recommend it enough. Now I have to go hug my husband.

  • Perfect Little World, Kevin Wilson, fiction

Izzy, the main character, gets pregnant with her art teacher’s baby and then he dies. She’s left with very few options when she’s approached by a scientist conducting an experiment where ten families live and raise their children together in one big complex. The children don’t even find out who their biological parents are until five years into the experiment. There was a lot of lead up to actually living at the complex, and I thought the years there were the most interesting. It’s a look into what really makes a family and the ways our families shape us.

  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, fiction

I read this a long time ago, but didn’t remember many of the details. As usual, I decided to read it again because I want to watch the show. I didn’t enjoy the writing style and found it distracting more than anything. I’m never thrilled about books in which the author is trying more to make a point than tell a story, and that’s what this felt like to me. I forgot how abruptly the end comes and I have lots of questions I still want answers to.

  • The Whole 30, Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, nonfiction health/reference

David and I just completed our fourth Whole 30, so I thought it was time to take a look at the book. For someone who is interested in completing the program for the first time, this would be an incredibly valuable resource. Since we’ve been familiar with it for two years and have already done it, I didn’t feel like I learned anything I hadn’t already found from my own experience or from research. Their website is pretty comprehensive as well, and is where I got all my information before we started. I would get a copy of the book for the recipes it includes. There are several that would be especially helpful if you aren’t used to cooking this type of food. I’m interested to read another of their books, It Starts With Food, which gives more of the scientific reasoning behind the program. Side note, I love the Whole 30 program and love talking about it, so if you are interested or have questions I’d love to chat about it with you!

  • Vanishing Girls, Lauren Oliver, fiction

WHAT THE FRICK. I finished this and immediately went back and reread several different sections of it. There’s a twist that I did not see coming (although I almost never see them coming – I enjoy being surprised like I’m supposed to). I was interested in the story before I figured out what was really going on, and then I was mostly interested in figuring out how I was tricked. Also, if you’re going to read this, just know that Nick is a girl. The first couple pages were super confusing before I figured that out.

  • The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena, fiction

A couple leaves their baby at home alone while they go to a dinner party next door and she (shockingly) gets kidnapped. This was really dumb. For real.

  • Marlena, Julie Buntin, fiction

This novel switches back and forth between present day and the narrator’s adolescence in Northern Michigan. It’s the story of a year in her life when she moved to a town and became friends with a girl named Marlena, ending with Marlena’s death. Both girls came from broken families and dealt with addictions. Although it was sad, the characters didn’t grab me and I wasn’t very emotionally invested in the story.

  • The Girl in the Garden, Melanie Wallace, fiction

The first part of this story involves a young girl with a baby being abandoned at a hotel in New England. She ends up staying in the town, and the rest of the story involves the people she lives with and other residents of the town. I was interested to see what happened, but was constantly wishing for events and characters to be developed more fully. I had high hopes and expectations, but this didn’t quite meet them.

  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie, fiction

This is the best-selling mystery novel of all time. I love mysteries, so when I heard that I knew I had to read it. I’ve never read anything by Agatha Christie before, and her writing style surprised me a little. Ten strangers find themselves stranded on an island and then they begin dying one by one. It’s an incredibly well-constructed mystery and I was in the dark until the very end. I really, really appreciated that she explained it all in the epilogue and all my questions were answered with a reasonable explanation. It did freak me out a little, but I’m a big baby about that kind of thing and used to have to leave my lamp on all night after reading Nancy Drew books before bedtime.

Reading Challenge Progress: 36/50 books completed.

One thought on “Books of the Month: May

  1. 1) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han – This book was the first in a trilogy. It is about a girl in high school who “gets over” her crushes by writing love letters to them. She keeps them hidden away, as this is just a therapeutic exercise for her. This book follows what happens when the letters somehow get sent to the boys she wrote them to. It is great. I liked it so much I immediately reserved the 2nd/3rd book.
    2) PS I Still Love You, Jenny Han – Second book. Great. Read it
    3) Always and Forever Lara Jean, Jenny Han – Third book. Also fun. Finishes the story. I liked it.
    4) Swear on This Life, Renee Carlino – The main character of this book is an aspiring author. One day she starts to read a book that is taking the literary world by storm, and realizes it is the story of her childhood, written by her childhood best friend. It was pretty good.
    5) It Ends with Us, Colleen Hoover – This book follows a twenty-something girl as she navigates career, relationship, life. She grew up watching her mom be a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her dad, and this shapes her experiences a little.
    6) The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman – I read this b/c you recommended it, and I didn’t love it. It is so sad.
    7) Holding Up the Universe, Jennifer Niven – This book is about a girl who was formerly the fattest teen in America and a popular boy at school who has a hidden problem. It was OK. Honestly, I had forgotten what it was about before going to look at a brief summary, so not too impactful I guess.
    8) Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance – This book was also recommended by you and I really liked it! It was a great insight into the culture that surrounds us, but I don’t have too much insight into personally. I went back and forth between feeling sorry for the poor working white and being super pissed at them.
    9) The Hating Game, Sally Thorne – This book was about a girl and her “nemesis” at work. It was kind of dumb.
    10) A Long Way Home, Saroo Brierley – This is the book the movie Lion is based on. It is a memoir that tells of how Saroo lost his way from home at the age of 5, only to be adopted by a couple in Australia, and find his way back home in his twenties using Google Earth. It is an amazing story and I would highly recommend it.
    11) The Bikini Body 28-Day Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Guide, Kayla Itsines – I will be implementing the exercise/nutrition plan in this book in my life during the month of June. She explains things well and almost all of her recipes have pictures, which is really nice.
    12) The Way I Used to be, Amber Smith – I read this book in one day. It was very compelling. It follows the main character through high school, the book is divided into four parts, one for each year. Her freshman year she is raped by her brother’s best friend, and this experience shapes who she is over the next 3 years. I would recommend this book.


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