Sunday, May 31, 2020
May 2020 Books #MyLifeInBooks
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth - how is it that I have never read this one before? Perhaps I'm not the biggest Philip Roth fan. But anyway. I read this one while watching the HBO miniseries, and they really did a nice job of complementing each other. I'm not sure I would have fully understood all the nuances of the TV show without the book, and I enjoyed having the visuals to go along with it as I read. I think the book did a better job of tying up the ending (maybe a little too neatly) but the TV show updated the message a little - reminding us that democracy is messy and unpredictable. Definitely worth the read!
Saving Sophie by Ron Balson - the second book in the Liam-and-Catherine series, and I liked it a lot. Perhaps things got a little too easily sewn up but it was still a great read, and I enjoy the characters and the writing. (Looking forward to reading the next one. I do like a series that already has a bunch of books waiting for me!)
The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson - this book reminded me a little of the Immortalists in the family dynamic sense of it, with a twist of historical mystery thrown in. Very readable and enjoyable. I found myself drawn to the historical mystery a little more than the family drama, but I liked both storylines and it kept my attention for the whole read! (Plus, I liked the ending.)
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo - I can't believe I've never read this before. Our school's whole third grade is reading it and Solly has declared it his "favorite book EVER that isn't Harry Potter" so I knew I had to read it. Delightful, of course, and thankfully, I can now discuss it in VERY detailed detail with him. Whew. (P.S. The movie is available on Disney+ right now and it's also good. And if you'd like Solly to give you a blow-by-blow account of the ways that the book differs from the movie, feel free to give him a call.)
Karolina's Twins by Ron Balson - okay, so remember how I said I like a series that has a bunch of books waiting for me? Still true. Also true: I am a sucker for a good procedural, and these are just non-formulaic enough to keep me reading and guessing. The third book in the Liam-and-Catherine show did not disappoint, and in fact, kept me up very late one night to find out what happened at the end!
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones - what an incredible memoir. The writing was superb and the personal story was painful to read but also beautiful to know that the writer got to this point, to crafting this work. It is his personal story of growing up in Texas while gay and black. A double whammy, as he makes clear through his telling. This one feels like a gift to the world. (But it is not G or even PG-rated....)
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner - a fun read that didn't really have a lot of depth to it. Sometimes that is soooo good. I liked the social media aspect and the body-consciousness that came with it.
Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins - this is a pre-quel to the Hunger Games series, and I liked the way that it laid out how the Hunger Games as we know them came to be...It suffered, as prequels do, from any real uncertainty about the future of our main character, since we know who they turn out to be. But still, I liked returning to Panem (even though I hate Panem) and it was definitely a fun read!
Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein - I received a review copy of this one and I really enjoyed reading it. The main character is a 7th grader who lives in Wisconsin. The story was sweet and touching, with a lot of self-awareness about how we find compassion for our friends, for others, and for ourselves. As a Wisconsin Jew myself, I was a tiny bit surprised by how many Jews lived in this small town, but I can suspend my disbelief for that! Overall a good read - I'm looking forward to convincing Yael to read it so I can hear the opinion of a 7th grader!
All Adults Here by Emma Straub - this was another slightly-dysfunctional-family-story but an engaging one. Much of this story was about the difference between privacy and secrecy - the author even spells that lesson out at one point - and I thought that was meaningful and powerful. It's a huge and important distinction that is hard to learn. This was a good one to add to your summer reading lists.
An Unorthodox Match by Naomi Ragen - I used to love her books and then I got turned off by her politics and some of her stridency. This one felt a little preachy but pretty compelling, even though you pretty much knew how it was going to end. I appreciated the "lifting of the veil" on mental illness in the Jewish community, since that is a fairly important issue. Very readable, even if the characters felt a little bit caricatured (especially the mom).
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley - jumping on the bandwagon of books-about-bookshops and teen-romances-in-anonymous-letters, this one was a sweet and sad love story. I enjoyed it as an easy summer hammock read...