This list is so overdue and it’s been sitting incomplete in my drafts for ages. Because I got super caught up in Hogwarts. But we’ll talk about that in my June Book Notes.
May was dominated by finishing my 40 before 40 list. I saved a lot of the titles that I was putting off for the end, so I knew this would be an emotional roller coaster. Spoiler: I was sad, uncomfortable and really scared for a lot of the month. Challenge myself to feel a broader range of emotions while reading: 40 before 40 mission accomplished.
All links to books are Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I receive a small commission. I then buy more books. If you are reading this through an RSS feed, the links are stripped in order to comply with Amazon’s Affiliate Terms of Service. To access the links, simply click through to the site and the link will be there.
I’ve never read Capote and the 40 before 40 seemed like a good time to remedy that. Plus, this book makes so many “best of” lists. It felt slow at first, but then I realized the pacing was perfect. Capote’s style is elegant and his storytelling is masterful. Definitely a book I recommend for any true crime fans.
I normally wouldn’t comment on a DNF, but this was on my 40 before 40 list. I added it because every time I ask people to recommend books on Facebook, this comes up. Every. Single. Time. I tried to read it once before and couldn’t get it into it. I decided to try again. I was warned that it starts slow. I got through 120 pages and began a great debate as to whether or not I should finish it because it was on the list.
If it hadn’t been on the list, I wouldn’t have gone past page 50. When I wrote about this on FB, a few people were surprised that I didn’t like it. It just wasn’t a genre that I like and it just didn’t resonate. I decided to add another old favorite to the 40 before 40 list at the last minute to keep me at an even 40. I’ll talk about that one below.
But, as someone pointed out on Facebook, it was my list and I shouldn’t finish something I don’t like just to say I did it.
I went to an all-girls Catholic school. Our summer reading list was often a mix of books that would be considered diverse for that demographic. (Dear Red Badge of Courage, I still remember you with much ire.) We read My Name Is Asher Lev the summer before we started junior year. (Because religious diversity.) I remember that I binged on the sequels and loved them.
You guys, holy whoa, this book is powerful. It focuses on a deep and intense friendship of two Jewish boys growing up at a pivotal time in history.
The piece that really moved me was the storyline on Zionism and the creation of the Israeli state. An area still at war. The acts of terrorism described by Potok in 1967 are still happening every day. Reading it with that current events perspective added to the power for me.
Definitely a book I recommend.
A friend from high school recommended that I add this to my list and I’m so glad that I did. You guys! So good! Mrs. Danvers. Man, she wins the prize for best crazy character ever.
Mrs. Danvers. Man, she wins the prize for best crazy character ever. (I’d love to see a tea with Mrs. Danvers and Miss Havisham so the crazy could get together.)
On a more serious note, this book resonated with me for extremely personal reasons. For those who have read it, I am curious if anyone has a Rebecca in their life. I certainly do.
If you haven’t read it, definitely add this to your TBR.
I hadn’t read this for at least 15 years, so I was eager to read it out of the academic shell from when I read it last as an undergrad. It still holds the same level of power. But I have certainly changed in the time since I last read it and I believe my reactions may have varied differently. Also, adding my own perspective as a mother made this a much more challenging book than I remember it last.
Always an incredible story. Required reading.
Cat warned me that this book would wreck me, and yes, it’s a hard book to read. It’s the story of two women growing up in Afghanistan. Told in alternating POV chapters, we watch them generations apart. Every time something bad happens, you’ll think what next? This poor woman can go through nothing more. (And, apparently, she can.) It’s truly a book about resilience and mettle.
It’s a hard read, but absolutely worth it.
I originally read this book in high school. I remember loving it. As an adult, I didn’t love it. The writing is lovely, but the story no longer captured me the way it did when I was younger. I would give it 2.5 out of 5 stars now. I sort of wish I hadn’t read this again; I would have had a better opinion of it if I kept my high school review alive.
Okay, this book. It was on the list to challenge myself to read something scary. Plus, it’s Joey Tribbiani’s favorite book. And since I’d already added Rachel Green’s favorite book to the list, it seemed appropriate to add this one.
People. This book is terrifying. The writing is brilliant. King is a master, of course. But I do not like to be scared. I did my best to race through this book so that I could finish as fast as possible. I had nightmares and I will never look at topiary the same way.
I rated it four stars on GoodReads because it was torture to finish it. And, of course, there is a subjective level to rating a book, based on the reader experience. Based on the writing alone, and Mr. King’s ability to scare the pants off of me, he should get all the stars.
I will never ever ever ever read that book again. If you, however, like being scared out of your mind, read it. But don’t come crying to me when you can’t sleep.
When I didn’t finish Outlander, I added this to the list. I wanted to reread it and it’s one of my favorite books, so it seemed like the perfect fit for the substitution spot on the list.
And, quite honestly, I needed this badly after The Shining. It was the perfect antidote to soothe my terrified nerves.
This remains one of my favorite books because it was one of the first that made me realize that I could play a much more active role in making myself happier. And, it’s often by doing simple things.
I still make my bed every morning because of this.
[That’s it. It’s over. The list is completed! I did it!!]
I saved Mockingbird for last. I haven’t read this book since college. Sometime within the past decade, I did see the movie for the first time. I remember thinking that it concentrated much more heavily on Atticus than the book did.
This book is a masterpiece on racism and poverty. I honestly don’t have a lot to say that others haven’t said before.
Okay, so what was one to do after finishing a list like that? I knew that I needed a break to get caught up with some of the fiction that had been released over the past few months.
The Center Ring had been at the top of my list after seeing it heavily discussed in a book group that I belong to on Facebook.
It’s a great debut novel that concentrates on the lives of five friends. The chapters alternate among the group and we dive into the issues they are facing and what drives them. It’s complexly layered and a fun read. It leaves on a cliffhanger, so I am excited to read the next book in the trilogy.
You all know by now that I am a crazed Penny Reid acolyte. I was so excited that this book was being released right after I finished my list. (And when the books are released at midnight ET, I can get them at 9. So I was patiently waiting for it to upload to my Kindle and I immediately started reading it.)
Like the first Winston Brother’s book, this didn’t disappoint. It’s a love story between a famous Hollywood actress, Sienna Diaz, and a park ranger in Tennessee, Jethro Winston.
As always, Reid has incredible dialogue and her characters are quirky, engaging, and just plain fun. It’s a light romantic comedy and I definitely recommend the series. But, I recommend you start with the Knitting in the City books and then read these after.