Reading: May 2021

Ooh, have I read some good books this month! And school’s out here so now we’re on to summer, which means it’s time to stock up on summer reading. How do you pick what you’ll read next? I maintain my Goodreads “to read” queue as well as a holds list from our library. I usually pair something non-fiction alongside an engrossing novel as well as something light for just before bedtime. This month’s five books definitely fit those qualifications.

Book titles link to Amazon for more info + easy purchasing. Please note: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Image by exieryu from Pixabay

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“How had it begun? Like everything: with mothers and fathers. Because of Lydia’s mother and father, because of her mother’s and father’s mothers and fathers. Because long ago, her mother had gone missing, and her father had brought her home. Because more than anything her mother had wanted to stand out; because more than anything, her father had wanted to blend in. Because those things had been impossible” (p25).

This book is so deftly nuanced and deeply insightful that it’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel. Wow.

I read this alongside my teenage son, who read it for his English class, so that we could discuss it. I’m so glad I did – we’ve begun ongoing conversations on many of the topics the Lee family couldn’t touch – but it also changed my reading of the book. I felt the dynamics differently in my gut knowing that my son was reading the same material. That he might identify with Lydia, or Nath, or Hannah. Am I more like Marilyn or James, or does he see me more like one or the other? This one is going to stick in my mind for a long time to come.

From the interview with the author: “Any act of writing is an act of empathy: you try to imagine yourself into another person’s mind and skin. I tried to ask myself the questions the characters would have asked themselves.”

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A perfectly acceptable chick lit novel, though I found myself wanting to shout at the characters: “Knock it off! Stop the stupidity and just talk to each other.” Nothing earth shaking, nothing profound, but a nice, mildly entertaining story nonetheless.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“…a life without art, without wonder, without beautiful things – she would go mad. …
“What she needs are stories.
“Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget.”

This book sings a haunting melody to the wonders and beauties of life. It is an original, part ghost story, part love story, with some extremely well-written passages. I think it needed a little tightening, though, as some of the passages read like the same conversation in a different time/place. A little shorter and it would have built even greater suspense for the surprise ending.

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fascinating book! We think breathing is automatic, that our bodies just know how to breathe. And yet, it seems we’ve all forgotten. One of the best things about reading this short book is that I grew increasingly aware of my breath. But really, it is a science story so well told, with real-life applications.

The Overstory by Richard Powers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.”

Here’s to hoping that this – not just good but – truly incredible story will change some minds. No wonder this book won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize! I’ve never read anything like it. At 500 pages and, according to Amazon, just over a pound in book weight, it’s a hefty undertaking worth every minute of your reading time. It combines ecology with the stories of nine diverse and fascinating characters who each in their own way become intertwined with trees.

One of the things likely to stick with me: there is a word, pareidolia, that means “the adaptation that makes people see people in all things. The tendency to turn two knotholes and a gash into a face.”

View all my reviews

Cover image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “Reading: May 2021

  1. Siv – I read Breathe too – and you’re right – I’ve never been so conscious of my breathing technique – will definitely put The Overstory on my library list – happy summer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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