Friday, June 7, 2019

What I Read: May

Another month, another set of books. Here are the books I read or listened to during the month of May.

  • Two's Company by Jill Mansell- I saw this book at Goodwill shortly after reading a different book by Mansell. I've found I enjoy her writing and her books are fun and uplifting, similar to Sophie Kinsella's books. They are just fun and easy reads, so I picked this one up. I've had it sitting on my nightstand for quite a while so I decided to read it while I was waiting on a different book to come in at the library. It was so good and really hard to put down. It was probably my least favorite of her books that I've read but it was still really good. I read it in just a couple days and it was over 400 pages! There were a few characters who just weren't very likable and the situations they put their loved ones in were super frustrating! 
  • America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray- This was historical fiction that followed the life of Patsy Jefferson. I was impressed with how seriously they took accuracy. It was fun to read from Patsy's perspective since all the books I've read about Jefferson have focused mostly on his political life and only touched on his personal life. I knew all the major events from Pasty's life but didn't know all the specifics of their family life and some of the more intimate details. It was very interesting and really well written. I saw this one at Goodwill and when I realized it was about Patsy Jefferson, I snatched it up.
  • 26 Marathons: What I've Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From Each Marathon I've Run by Meb Keflezighi- This would be a great book to read during a marathon training cycle because reading it made me really want to run a marathon. It made me a bit bummed I decided not to run a marathon this fall. There were so many little tidbits that I just loved and I really liked getting an inside perspective of all his marathons. Something he said that I really liked was, "Focus on what you can control, and try not to be brought down by what you can't control." That has been hard for me from time to time, especially with the strong winds we had this spring. When I saw how strong the wind was for The Golden Driller Half Marathon I told myself, all you can do is run the best race you can in the conditions you are given. I think sometimes bad conditions give me the chance to let go of time goals and just run my race and I run even better than expected thanks to having less stress. I liked how he said, "Instead of thinking, 'It's going to be windy out there,' think, 'How can I run to minimize the effects of the wind on my race?'" He repeated his "run to win" mentality throughout the book which meant not necessarily place but knowing you've given your all. I loved that and that's something I've been working on since 2016. My mantra has been, all you can do is go out there and do your best. Thinking positively like that and attempting not to focus so much on times has really helped me and it also helps me mentally when the weather doesn't cooperate with my goal races! I loved this book so much and felt like there were great tips for runners of all ability levels.

  • The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen- This was our book club pick for the month. I was kind of dreading it because it was set in World War II and the 1970's, going back and forth. I have been a little over World War II books. It was a very interesting storyline and I felt like it should have sucked me in but I really wasn't that into it. I felt like the writer had a great idea and interesting plot but I just didn't get pulled in due to her writing style. I finally got sucked in toward the end of the book when the plot was interesting enough I wasn't distracted by her writing style.
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid- This book follows 2 people who emigrate from their home country together. It pulled in stories about other people here and there but focused on the 2 main characters. I found myself really distracted by the fact that they were able to escape their country by going through a secret door. Other people did the same thing throughout the book and I kept going over and over it and was a bit confused. I was trying to figure out if it was some kind of magic or what the purpose of it was. I finally decided that he didn't want his story to focus on the journey and how they escaped but on how the journey changed them. But then when I finished the book it was still driving me a little crazy so I found an interview where he explained the doors and how he pictured them as portals similar to how our cell phone screens can transport us elsewhere. That made sense and solved the confusion for me. I feel like I need to read this book again so I can truly appreciate it without attempting to solve the questions of these secret doors the entire time. 
  • The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward- This book followed the lives of a woman living in Texas and a young girl living is South America, going back and forth chapter by chapter. It was so well written and had me wondering how the two characters would end up being connected. The ending was so good and I loved how she pulled it all together. It was interesting that I ended up reading this right before I read Exit West and they were both about immigrants.
  • Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave- I've had this on my book list since I read Hello, Sunshine. I love Dave's books. They are fun and easy reads much like Sophie Kinsella books but I feel like Dave's characters have more depth. I really enjoyed this book and it was a good "summer read". There were quite a few sections that went into wine making that I wasn't super interested in but they didn't detract from the book. I need to see what other books she has written because I really enjoyed both the ones I've read! When I was going back over my book list, I saw I compared both Jill Mansell and Laura Dave to Sophie Kinsella. I guess I really like Sophie Kinsella, haha! 
  • Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff- I was really excited about this book. Most books I've read about history are about men because women in history have been kept from making much of a difference in politics or if they have, the credit has been given to men instead. I was a bit disappointed that this book was mostly about how Cleopatra influenced powerful men at the time she was alive. It made sense it was written that way since most of what we know about Cleopatra is through what Roman historians wrote about her. I still enjoyed learning about this time in history, the book just wasn't quite what I had hoped it would be.
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett- I wasn't sure what this book was about but kept seeing it listed on book lists so I decided to give it a try. It had me sucked in within the first 5 minutes. It was so good! I don't want to give anything away on this one because it was so beautifully done and just kept surprising me as it unfolded. I definitely recommend this one!
  • If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim- This book was interesting. It followed the life of two main characters who were refugees during a civil war in their country. I liked how it showed even in times of war and unrest people still search for the same things. It was sad as you followed the push and pull of the main character's life. 
  • Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury- I was looking for a new audiobook and decided to just scroll through Hoopla. I saw this one was read by Tim Robbins so I immediately downloaded it! It was so good. I loved the voices Robbins did for the reading and, of course, Farenheit 451 was so good!


  1. Well, I like Sophie Kinsella, too. :) And I used to read all of Rhys Bowen, but got tired of hers. The ones I read were set in the 1800s.

    1. I couldn't quite put my finger on what I didn't like about her book. I think it just started out slow. I don't know. Everyone else in book club liked it.

  2. I loved Hello Sunshine but I just checked and my library system doesn't have Eight Hundred Grapes! As always I love your recommendations each month. :-) I need to buy Meb's book.

    1. Darn, it was so good! You would LOVE Meb's book! I felt like I was alongside him as he ran his races and he threw great tips in there as well. It was so good!