I am reading SO much these days because, if I don’t, I will kill someone. Seriously. With all of this social distancing with my family (read: they all try to get as close to me as possible and I long for the presence of, literally, anyone else), I need something that’s just for me. Reading books during quarantine feels more to me luxurious than watching TV. Maybe because I’m less apt to pick my phone up — and we’re all maxing out on screen time, not just the kiddos. Plus, it’s more relaxing and doesn’t affect my sleep.
Since I’m full of so many opinions and only my husband and three tiny people to talk to, I’ll share more honest book reviews with you!
These books are as good as everyone says.
If you haven’t read these yet, what is wrong with you? OK, sorry for being combative and judgmental. I blame the isolation for stifling my social skills. But seriously, these books are as good as everyone says so just get to it.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This kicks off my list of books with unexpected protagonists — which has quickly become a favorite genre of mine. This book is moving without being heavy and I couldn’t put it down. Like many books in this genre I just made up, I started it thinking “oh, gosh. I’m not going to like this book because the protagonist is so odd.” But Honeyman evokes empathy from the reader for dear Eleanor in a way that caught me off guard. I found her endearing and so lovable by the end.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Here we are again with a protagonist no one could like (at least at the beginning!). Ove is the grumpiest, most stubborn, and seemingly selfish old man in all the land. But then he gets going on Volvos and just wins me over. There’s something about this cantankerous neighbor . . . he’s the grumpy grandfather I never had (my grandfather was delightful). This book is thoughtful, heartwarming without being cheesy, and just so good. Read it, already.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Socially challenged Don is not the protagonist of my dreams, I’ll tell you what. However, it works. You actually end up rooting for this guy who comes off, for a decent amount of the book, as unfeeling and kind of a jerk. It’s a Jedi mind trick, to be sure.
Plus, a bonus book with an unexpected protagonist.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella, this book’s main character, reminded me a lot of Don from The Rosie Project. In fact, I began reading it thinking it was a female version of this book. Um, no. It’s a clutch your pearls, fan your Southern self on the chaise, full-blown ROMANCE NOVEL version of The Rosie Project combined with Pretty Woman. Fabio should LEGIT be on the cover of this book because things got pretty hot and heavy quickly. I feel like I accidentally read a porno BUT LIKE it’s fine, because it was good and super hot. Beach read, check.
Everyone loved these books but I didn’t. Is there something wrong with me?
Several of you agreed with me in my last set of books I reviewed of titles like City of Girls and Before We Were Yours but will you feel me on these? Or, will the cheese stand alone?
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Ok, here’s the thing . . . before you come at me with pitchforks, know that I did like it. I just didn’t love it. Kind of like how I felt about my high school boyfriend. TOTALLY fine. Great dialogue but could have been steamier. Went on a little longer than it should have and the end was underwhelming. Don’t @ me — or whatever you crazy kids do to send hate mail. I have to speak my truth. It’s my own journey. –Insert other cliche things people say to get away with saying hard things. —
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I’m so afraid to admit to you I didn’t love this book. But, here’s the thing: it emotionally drained me. It was beautifully written and I couldn’t put it down but by the end, I was DONE. And, like, how am I supposed to go back to real life after something like this? Who is going to make my kids’ PB&Js while I cry in the fetal position recovering from this book? Not Kristin Hannah. She’s too busy cashing all the checks she’s getting for writing this bestseller. I really needed you, Kristin. As I mention in my previous set of reviews, I absolutely loved The Great Alone. I could get up from the couch after reading it.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I didn’t love Glennon’s new book and I have lost my way. BUT SERIOUSLY I feel so bad about not loving this, I made another donation to Together Rising (see last post for context). Let me preface this by telling you I started reading this during the first week of our stay-at-home order and I should have chosen something lighter. My anxiety was sky high and something with more of a story would have been a better choice. Everything Glennon says is SPOT ON. I think of her as a modern-day prophet, I really do. But I also follow her on Insta, have gone to hear her speak, and may have accosted her in an alley before one of her appearances (in a totally non-threatening way) — so I feel like I had heard a lot of this book already. So, that’s why I didn’t love it. Will you forgive me, God?
Some book reviews of great reads you maybe haven’t heard of.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
A beautiful and moving book that is so worth reading. It’s about a 13 year-old boy dealing with some of life’s hardest lessons. Krueger is an exceptional storyteller. It’s thought-provoking and stunning. And, I don’t really want to say any more and give anything else away.
The Gown by Jennifer Robson
A fictional story of a seamstress who works on Queen Elizabeth’s gown in the 1940s. Great for fans of the Royal family! It’s a great period piece that draws you into post WWII Europe. Plus, as someone who loves anything royal, this was very satisfying! I wholeheartedly recommend The Royal We as a beach read but caution you when entering the “Royal” sub genre of fiction because you will straight up accidentally read pornos like I did. And since I read on a kindle, the covers don’t do a good job of indicating the level of Fabio-ness you’re in for. This is a very developed sub genre (who knew?).
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Told entirely in letters, this book is one of my favorites ever. Since there is a Netflix adaptation, you absolutely may have heard of it. But trust me, the book is better than the movie (and the movie is actually really good!). Also set in post WWII Europe, its protagonist encounters a group of friends on the isle of Guernsey. She learns how they banded together to survive the Nazi occupation. This book has love, comedy, adventure, tragedy, and is wonderfully satisfying.