What I Read in May 2017

This was a great month for reading – lots of page-turners and books I had been meaning to get to!  My thoughts on each of this month’s reads are below, listed in order of when I finished each book (no spoilers, I promise). Have you read any of these? Are any of these books on your TBR list?

Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland – Dave Barry

It took me a few chapters to get into this book.  At first, it felt kind of like reality TV, enjoyable, funny, but kind of feels like you are rotting your brain, but as I got further into the book, I liked it more and more.  Barry explores some of the tourist-trap areas of Old Florida, like Weeki Wachi Springs, Cassadaga, and Key West, and shares his often hilarious arguments for why Florida is the the Best. State. Ever.

A minor critique: The author Dave Barry is not from Florida… He is from New York, so the title is not actually true…

Sweetbitter – Stephanie Danler

I can see why some people might not like this book – the writing meanders a bit and most of the characters aren’t very likeable – BUT I really enjoyed it.  The story revolves around a young woman who moves to New York City and gets a job at a fancy restaurant (allegedly based on Union Square Cafe) despite having no qualifications.  The reader gets a peek at restaurant culture and the after-hours life of the restaurant service crowd.  Some of my favorite passages were Danler’s descriptions of wine flavors and histories.  This book reminded me a lot of Anthony Bourdain’s memoirs, but with a female perspective.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter – Scaachi Koul

This was one of my April Book of the Month Club selections.  One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is an essay collection by debut author Scaachi Koul, a young Indian-American woman.  Her essays discuss her experiences as a woman, as a daughter of Indian-American immigrants, and as the girlfriend of an older, white man (who she affectionately refers to as “Hamhock”).  While her essays were often touching and more often hilarious, I do wish they had a bit more depth.  The essays mostly recounted how things happened and didn’t delve deeply into how she felt about those things or what the significance of those events was.  I suppose this book just left me wanting a little bit more.

A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

I listened to this story on audiobook and loved it.  Ove, the main character, reminded me a lot of the main character in the 2008 Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino, in that they were both grumpy, prickly old men who were very good people deep down.  Ove is an old-school guy in a neighborhood that is changing all around him.  A family of “foreigners” moves in and starts bugging him, and the story progresses from there.  I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I was in tears (what’s new, right?).  This story came out as a movie last year, so I am excited to see if the film lives up to the novel.

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Me Before You was one of those books in which it took me a chapter or two to get into the story, but once I was in, I was hooked – I finished all 369 pages in just 3 days!  This is a love story between a paraplegic young man and his eccentric caretaker.  It is hard for me to recommend this book to everyone, since it totally wrecked me at the end (like full-on ugly crying), but if you like extremely sad love stories, this one might be for you!  This is another one that was recently made into a movie that I have yet to watch.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

I listened to this quirky mystery story on audiobook and really enjoyed it.  The protagonist is a young man who just got a job in a 24-hour bookstore in Silicon Valley.  He starts to notice some strange things about the bookstore’s customers and the books that they borrow and the mystery unravels from there.  I don’t want to give away too much, because piecing together clues as you listen/read is a delightful experience with this story.

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood – Janisse Ray

This book was a gift from my mother-in-law a few Christmases back and it had been sitting on my TBR shelf ever since.  I finally picked it up, and I am so glad I did!  Janisse Ray’s memoir of growing up in a junkyard in Southeast Georgia was fascinating.  Similar to Lab Girl (which I reviewed last month), the chapters alternate between first-person memoir and poetically scientific descriptions of the environment.  Ray writes masterfully about growing up with a mentally ill parent and takes the reader through her journey to becoming an environmentalist.

What have you been reading lately?  Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more book reviews.

FYI: If you decide to purchase any books from this post, I recommend you buy them from a locally owned bookstore if that is an available option for you.  If you decide to purchase from Amazon by clicking on any of the book covers in this post, I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you).  Also, if you sign up for the Book of the Month Club(which I highly recommend) by clicking on any of the links in this post, I get a free book. Thank you!

5 Comments

  1. You had an amazing month of reads! I loved Sweet Bitter, particularly the audiobook. The narrator really captured Tess.

  2. A Man Called Ove is high on my TBR pile. I loved Gran Torino, so that comparison may move it up on the list!

  3. I LOVED A Man Called Ove! And I need to look into Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. Sounds fascinating!

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