For The Love Of Books | What I Read In May 2018

This month my fiction choices ended up being likes and not loves. I'm glad I read both but definitely found the two nonfiction books more enjoyable/fulfilling this time. 

WHAT I READ IN MAY 2018

  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety // I'm about half-way through this one and already know that I'm going to recommend it highly for anyone who has a history of anxiety or other mental illnesses. This book has comforted me, made me laugh, taught me lessons, and made me look at my anxiety/depression through a different lens. I may write more about this when I finish it during May but wanted to include it now because it's just so good. // I pre-ordered this book and read it quickly once I received it. I didn't read any reviews before I read it and I just let it be what it was without preconceived notions (I just read some reviews so that's top of mind as I write my own). I liked the rambling style of this book. I liked the storytelling aspect. I liked simply reading about someone else who lives with anxiety and how it manifests in their own life and the ways she has found to keep moving forward in her own life. I underlined a bunch of things that made me questions assumptions I have made about myself and the ways I've approached my own journey with anxiety + depression. I have been recommending it to friends who I think would benefit from simply reading her story.
  • The Mars Room (BOTMAMAZON) // Hard to get into + hard to finish for me. Glad I read it, but not my favorite. It wasn't the subject matter but more the writing style that didn't hook me in - it felt really disjointed. I read another review where someone mentioned they would have rather had more from the main female character and I totally agreed with that. Just felt disjointed overall. That said, I have thought about this book multiple times since finishing - definitely a relevant conversation/topic in our world.
  • Destination Simple // This is a short, quick read with practical information related to slowing down. I especially loved a section near the end about the idea of "tilting" vs. attempting balance. Definitely in alignment with living in + being present in different seasons of our lives. I also really liked her ideas for morning and evening rituals.
  • Still Lives (BOTMAMAZON) // Liked but not love. Definitely captivated me enough to read until the end to complete the story. I think this would make a good beach read if you are into mysteries.

This month I'm also sharing a video overview of what I read last month and what I am planning to read next month.

You can also view this video on my YouTube channel here

BOOK OF THE MONTH SELECTIONS FOR JUNE

It's also time to select new books from Book Of The Month Club

As part of their Ambassador Program I get to order from their monthly selections a bit early in order to share with you and celebrate their new releases each month. 

This month I picked two books: 

FULL LIST OF WHAT I'VE READ IN 2018

JANUARY 2018

  • The Heart's Invisible Furies (BOTM) // I super, super loved this book. Just go read it. Now. 
  • The Woman In The Window (BOTM) // Perfect suspense book. Great beach read.
  • Everyone Brave Is Forgiven // It’s been quite awhile since I underlined passages in a non-fiction book but I did a few times in this one because the language and imagery used was just so beautiful. It’s a story that will stick with me.
  • The Year Of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store // Super quick read on a topic I’m interested in - how less can mean more. This book is more memoir than how-to and I was interested in her story and all the ways in which she cake to having and wanting less. Glad I read it. It’s so much more than just a story of not shopping for a year.
  • Turtles All The Way Down (BOTM) // This one was a like but not love for me. I did really like some of the writing, especially towards the end, that related to the forward movement of life with mental illness. I think these kinds of stories are important and the pieces where he was writing about her self-talk/voices really resonated with me personally.

FEBRUARY 2018

  • Bel Canto (finished this one right at the end of January) // I really, really enjoyed this book. I love her writing style and I loved the way the story flowed all the way until the end. It felt super abrupt - but I guess that's how life goes sometimes too. I loved the themes of adaptation, of love, of change, of escape (literally from the life you were living one moment before), and the push and pull between relationships. Oh and it totally made me want to go to an opera.
  • The Great Alone (BOTM) // I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one last night because I just couldn't stop reading. I loved this book. I loved that Alaska + the climate was basically a character. The subject matter is challenging for sure - violence, loneliness, family issues, etc. - but the story is rich and complicated and well-told. Love these kinds of epic stories. So, so good. 
  • The Broken Girls (BOTM) // This book legitimately freaked me out multiple times. The kids around here all know I was reading a scary book because I kept saying “this book is scary” - ha. Loved the twists and turns - I zoomed through the last half super quick. If you are looking for a haunting style of story this one’s for you. I actually almost stopped reading it at one point but I am so glad I finished. 
  • An American Marriage // I read this one without knowing anything about it because it was recommended highly by a friend (and then I saw it popping up everywhere). This is an emotional, real, raw and very well written story that is different from what I've been reading lately. I love being surprised. Beautiful, compelling writing that really gets to the heart of complicated human relationships. A line I loved : "But mostly my life is good, only it's a different type of good from what I figured on." This has been the lesson of my life as well.

MARCH 2018

  • The Astonishing Color Of After (BOTM) // This book started out a little hard for me to get into but once I did I ended up adoring it. Totally adoring and loving it. I loved the interplay between the present and the past, the treatment of the experience of grief, learning about Chinese/Twaianese traditions, the magic of the way she views her family memories, and the continual use of colors as descriptors for scenes and feelings. I feel like this is one that will stay with me for a long time. SO GOOD.
  • The Last Equation Of Isaac Severy (BOTM) // This one took a long time to hook me - not sure if that was due to my sporadic reading this month or the story itself. I almost moved on 1/2 way through but decided to give it one more try over a weekend getaway and I was glad I did overall (but also happy to move on to the next story).

APRIL 2018

  • Educated : A Memoir // From the very beginning I loved the author's writing style and the way she was weaving her story. I think this is one of the best, if not the best, memoirs I've read. I want to tell you that I loved this book, but I don't know if "love" is the right word because it was a hard story to read at times - for all kinds of different reasons. What I loved about it was that it was a story of becoming - of finding yourself and your own story. There were so many times I had to stop to tell Aaron something that had happened as I was reading either because it was so crazy (either awesome or terrible or almost unbelievable). I love a book that encourages us to challenge our assumptions about the beliefs we grew up with and find ourselves within (and owning) our own individual story - whether we continue to believe or walk away or distance ourselves or reconnect. Highly recommended.
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads (received from the publisher - also available via BOTM) // Back in 2014 I heard Clemantine speak in Washington DC at a summit on girls + women in Africa which was sponsored by the ONE Campaign and Google. The event itself and the stories presented were profoundly moving and educational. When I was offered an opportunity to receive an advance copy of this book I jumped at the chance to get to go deeper into Clemantine's story and I think this book is a must read. It's a hard, raw read and one that is super important for all of us as human beings. It's a complex story of her escape from the Rwandan massage as a child and eventual arrival in the United States as a refuge. It is also so much more than that story - she intimately shares the impact of that entire experience on the way she thinks about herself, the way she views the world, and the ways she has attempted to own her own story. It is a book about becoming. Highly recommended.
  • Then She Was Gone (BOTM) // I wasn't sure what I thought of this book at first and it felt a little slow at the beginning. But once it revealed a twist + then more twists, I was hooked. I liked that the narrative goes back and forth between characters - really showcasing their different motivations and personalities. It was a totally decent psychological thriller if you are into that genre I'd definitely recommend it. It would have made a good beach read.
  • Circe (BOTM) // I totally wasn't sure what to expect with this book but I picked it because I've been trying to challenge myself to read things I might not normally pick up this year (different genres, voices, etc). I found this one challenging to get into initially only because I can't remember much at all of the Greek Mythology I learned back in school (little bits here + there - but there are so many names) but once I just accepted that and started to reintroduce myself (via googling names and briefly reading their stories) I was totally into this story told from Circe's point of view. I actually decided that I liked not knowing "everything" about all the different Gods + Goddesses because it helped me to be surprised when the story revealed itself. I really, really liked how this book was written. I loved that is was from her point of view - so many interwoven themes popped up throughout the book: separation, love, fear, family, magic, monsters, bravery, and the ways we each own or own story. I think this one will stick with me for awhile.
  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety // I'm about half-way through this one and already know that I'm going to recommend it highly for anyone who has a history of anxiety or other mental illnesses. This book has comforted me, made me laugh, taught me lessons, and made me look at my anxiety/depression through a different lens. I may write more about this when I finish it during May but wanted to include it now because it's just so good. 

You can also see everything I read in 2017 here.

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9 thoughts

  1. buhrmandavis says…
    06/01/2018

    Hi - I just wanted to share that my book club read This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel and Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of An American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt together. Becoming Nicole is an account of a real family navigating life and school with a transgender child. The two books complemented each other and the non-fiction account gave some good information about legal and medical issues related to transgender. I totally recommend reading Becoming Nicole also - as it helped deepen our discussions of transgender and issues related to transgender.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      06/01/2018

      Yes - we talked about that second book as well and it's on my list to read.

  2. andidirks says…
    06/02/2018

    I like the way you review what you've read. You're honest, and don't just give a basic synopsis.
    Thank you.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      06/03/2018

      Thank you! I figure you can read the synopsis anywhere ;).

  3. angiegiles says…
    06/03/2018

    Thank you so much Ali, for recommending Destination Simple! Slow is my OLW this year, so I had to pick up the book after listening to your reviews. I had already adopted many of her suggested rituals but am interested in exploring her stragegy for setting up rhythms. I really liked the authors approach and terminology.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. paulainauckland says…
      06/07/2018

      I liked it too - and I noticed it's now in the Kindle Unlimited list - so no risk.
      The opening quote got me - "Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, and life turns out to be wonderful" (Leo Barbuta)

  4. sparkle says…
    06/05/2018

    Hey Ali! I was late watching your "Books" this month. Always LOVE it!
    Sharon

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Sanran says…
    06/09/2018

    Thanks for introducing me to First We Make the Beast Beautiful. I have two college-age grandsons who are suffering with anxiety. I enjoyed her style of writing. And I loved the cover...really drew me in!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      06/09/2018

      Awesome.