Do you ever have a month where you just can’t settle on a book to read? Like everything you open just stinks. Gah, well I have them occasionally. I try to be very discerning in choosing book titles and I do read fluff occasionally to change it up but what I don’t read is yucky boring junk.
I have learned it is okay to abandon a book. This month I gave up on several. Two of them I read 100 pages or so and then threw them down.
For one book I read FOUR pages and deleted it from my Kindle. I did find a few good ones that made my list for May’s best books.
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Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black
At times heartbreaking and at times factual, this book presents the story of Jacob. A dying father of a gay son, this man tells his life story through a series of letters to his child.
Their relationship was always difficult and this was made more clear as Isaac grew into a young man.
Jacob has not spoken to his son for many years, has never visited him in his home in Chicago, and cannot bring himself to reach out. The letters fill in all the gaps. Born to a mother and father who married young, Jacob went to live with his grandparents. His grandfather was a severe disciplinarian that ruled the home as a working man who believed in hard work, no play, and total obedience.
Jacob’s grandparents were descendants of slaves who worked the land and lived in poverty. Jacob and his brother, Esau, worked alongside his grandfather. The family secrets spill out throughout the book and little by little you will learn why Jacob was such an unforgiving man.
As a young boy, Isaac was not what Jacob felt a boy should be. He had no interest in sports and loved to read, like his mother. Despite Jacob’s efforts to encourage him to have a girlfriend as a young teenager, Isaac never did. When Jacob later finds out why he is appalled.
The letters written to his son will resonate with you as you read. His revelations about his life and how much he loved his family but could not express that love with any sort of emotion are just profound. The book is a quick read. I loved it and learned from it!
I gave this one 5 stars. It is beautifully written and mesmerizing!
Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad
Suleika has graduated from college and taken a great leap into the real world. She has traveled to Paris and found a job and her boyfriend has joined her. All seems perfect.
Until complete exhaustion takes over.
In the hospital, Suleika learns she has leukemia, with a very low survival rate. Suleika returns to the United States and begins a four-year battle with chemo, a bone marrow transplant, and an intense fight to live.
This gripping, emotional book is profound. The incredible courage it takes to tackle the illness and its cure is overwhelming. Yet, Suleika tells her story with clarity and meaning and I learned so much.
In the middle of her illness, Suleika began to write a blog which led to writing newspaper articles about being sick. Hundreds of people wrote to her to tell her about their own cancer, or the death of a loved one.
When Suleika is well enough she embarks on a cross-country journey to meet and spend time with some of the people that wrote her. Their amazing stories blend with hers and creates a 5-star book.
You may also know that Suleika is now married to Jon Batiste- a jazz musician who was awarded 5 Grammys this year. I learned about his wife after seeing him perform and loved listening to this book. Suleika is the narrator of the Audible version and I highly recommend you listen to it.
One Night on the Island by Josie Silver
If you are looking for a quick chick-lit book this one is perfect. I can’t say it was extraordinary because, well, it wasn’t. But for me, this genre works when I am too busy to keep my mind on a book with a complex plot.
This is the story of Cleo, a writer for a dating column. Her readers are always intrigued by what she writes and her editor has the idea of sending her to an island, alone, to have a wedding. Only, there is no groom.
Mind you, that already seems implausible, but it works. Cleo arrives at her island which has only a few inhabitants and travels to her remote cabin. And, of course, this being chick-lit, there is a man showing up that also claims to have rented the cabin. There are no other cabins available.
What follows is a journey of self-discovery and a little romance, or a lot:) And, an ending I was not quite expecting. I give this one 4 stars because it kept me guessing and was a pleasant book to read!
The Most Disappointing Book of the Month
Aleisha finds a book list tucked inside a book and decides to read the books on the list. As she does she passes those books on to others. Sounds good right? (Incidentally, I have read all of the books on the list, except one.)
Mukesh is one of those people that reads a book from the list. He is an elderly man whose three daughters phone him daily to remind him of things he needs to do. And, this is where I stopped reading this book. When I opened to a new chapter only to find a repeat of all these phone calls, again, I just could not continue.
It appears May’s best books were mostly nonfiction. It was a busy month and I needed something less cumbersome to listen to or turn pages for.
I also read these books this month and you might enjoy them!
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin J. DiAngelo
- Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Animals by Laurie Zaleski
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (how have I never read this? and it is heartbreaking)
My rating system: 5 stars- perfection, the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
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