I don’t know how it happens, but the busier I get, the more I tend to read. I think it’s because reading is a great way for me to settle a busy mind. When my mind is racing at night, focusing on a good book can help me fall asleep. When I’m sitting at baseball practice or gymnastics, it’s a great way for me to pass the time, while giving me a break from the day-to-day grind. Without reading, my life would literally be working and then driving all over town and that would be it.
Also, my kids reading has taken off for both of them recently, and so they are reading faster. That means we are visiting the library more and more often (sometimes twice a week!), and that makes me want to check out more books, too.
I share what I’m reading over on GoodReads.com (user name: KatieMC) and on Instagram using the hashtag #mcreads. But I thought I’d take a minute to review a few of the more recent books I’ve read so far this spring. Some of them have been really great!
The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly was heartbreaking, but beautiful. I listened to this in an audio book format that I checked out from the library (I never buy books anymore!), and I loved the women reading for the different voices. But I think that might have made it even sadder, actually. The book is the story of three women during WW2 and how their stories all come together. It is a tough read, but really great.
Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty was just so-so. I’ve read two other books by Liane Moriarty and she’s kind of hit or miss for me (The Husband’s Secret, which I really enjoyed, and Big Little Lies, which I wasn’t so impressed with – although, I really liked the HBO version better than the booK!). This book tells the story of several couples from the same neighborhood who have this horrible thing happen at a barbecue one summer. The mysterious event is told little piece by little piece from six different perspectives, which is kind of Moriarty’s style of writing in general. I really liked the characters, but thought the story kind of fell flat.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was better than I thought it would be. I have not seen the movie, but was looking for a sweet love story to read and this kept coming up on all these Pinterest book lists. It is the story of a friendship that blooms slowly into something else between a quadriplegic and his caregiver, which, to me, just didn’t sound interesting at all. But it really was. It was a great love story! Simple, fast, easy to read with characters you’ll love and a storyline that is so unusual it keeps your attention, whether you want it to or not!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is one of my favorites so far this year. If you don’t just adore Count Alexander Rostov, then I don’t know if there’s hope you you! I heard about this book when they interviewed the author a few months ago on NRP. He was delightful and so was his book! The story takes place in Russia during the twentieth century, when the Bolsheviks have taken power and have forced any wealthy, bourgeois out of their aristocratic positions. This includes Count Alexander, who ends up under house arrest at The Metropol, an upscale hotel in Moscow. Here, the Count gets to know the hotel staff and other guests, and his adventures throughout the hotel are charming and captivating. It was a great book!
It Ends With Us and November 9 are both by Colleen Hoover, who is only about two steps up from a trashy romance novel, to be honest. But if you’re looking for quick, easy, mindless reads, her entire collection (which I have read so far this year, I’m almost embarrassed to admit!) is pretty good. Think Twilight romance, but with regular, adult people. And the plots are pretty good, too. I always recommend these to my girlfriends who need a lazy, chick flick.
The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is at the completely other end of the spectrum. It’s the story of a couple and their community of homeless companions living in the trash yards in Cambodia. This one had been on my to-read list for quite a while, but the idea of homeless people living in a Cambodian dump just didn’t seem like the leisurely story I was looking for. But this year I have pledged to read my way through my to-read list and when this title came up, I reluctantly checked it out from my library – and WOW was it not what I was expecting. It is beautifully written, with a story that will break your heart but give you hope in humanity again, all at the same time. And the main character, the Rent Collector, oh… I just can’t even explain to you… Goodness. Just read it. It is lovely.
The After Party by Anton DiSclafani brings us back Stateside to the wealthy Texas socialites in the 1950s. It follows the friendship of Joan and Cece, who have been friends their whole lives. Joan begins to spin out of control and Cece struggles to find where their relationship fits together anymore. It’s pretty good, actually. I liked both Joan and Cece, and some of the plot twists caught me completely by surprise. If you liked the “Roses” trilogy by Leila Meacham (which is one of my favorites!), you will love this!
The Heiresses by Sara Shephard was kind of a let down after I had gotten on such a good streak of books. It was alright. The plot wasn’t bad, but the storytelling was not great, in my opinion. I thought it read like a Nancy Drew mystery novel from my childhood. Simple sentences and lots of, “So it must have been the PLUMBER in the STUDY with MRS. PEACOCK” moments. But, for what it’s worth, I did finish it, so it must have had something in it to keep me going. I have a tendency to abandon books when I lose interest. At least that didn’t happen with this one.
I picked up “The One that Got Away” by Leigh Himes on a whim at the library last week and it ended up being pretty entertaining! It’s one of those stories where a woman wakes up from a head injury and finds herself living a different life completely. She’s married to her college boyfriend, instead of the man she has been married to for almost 15 years. And, predictably, she learns that the somewhat boring, routine life she has with her husband and children isn’t that bad after all when she sees what life is like for the wealthy and privileged. It’s a pretty predictable story line, but a fun read, still. Quick and easy. Perfect for the beach!
Right now, I am in the middle of “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee. Originally, I pledged not to read this book out of my love and adoration for Harper Lee. I figured if she didn’t want this book published, then I wouldn’t read it against her wishes (it was published after her death and sparked controversy). Then, I heard it wasn’t that good from friends who did read it, so I was glad I hadn’t read it after all. But last week I saw it at the library and I thought to myself, “How bad can Harper Lee be?!” Scandal and bad reviews aside, I am really liking it. If you are a die hard “To Kill a Mockingbird” fan, like me (and just about any other English major in the country), the trick to enjoying this book is to just pretend it has nothing to do with Mockingbird. Even though it is supposed to pick up with the characters 20 or so years later, I am just reading it as if they are their own characters in a completely different story and it is great! She is such a master storyteller. Worth a read, if you ask me.
So, that’s my book list lately. What about you? What should I read next???? Help me re-load my to-read list!