Thursday, June 01, 2023

May: What I Read

 Last year in May, I read 17 books to bring me to a total of 111. I am … NOT THERE this year. But, last year, I had an even split between print and audio, and this year, I have read more than I have listened— progress?

I got a Kindle for my birthday, and I did not love the first book I read on it-- could not concentrate and took TWO WEEKS to finish. SO I immediately bought a book I have been dying to read and raced through it. I guess it was a problem with the book (by a favorite author, so I was not expecting that) not the medium. I will say, it is hard to get library books right now because my Libby account (I have 2 cards linked) is full of audio holds. So, I have bought 2 books, and am ready to buy a third, which is not ideal. Except for Book of the Month and my one Audible credit a month, I am a no-buy kind of reader, and I don't want the Kindle to change that. I hope once I get into a library groove, this issue will resolve itself.

Here are this month’s reads in order from worst to best:

The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty: NOPE. This is the first in a series and NO THANK YOU. *Audio

Range by David Epstein: This was randomly available via Libby, and I didn’t hate it. *Audio

1491: The New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann: Harry is reading this for school and left it out in the living room, so I helped myself. It was fascinating.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny O’Dell: I finally read this, and it’s terrific. EXCEPT. She is really privileged, writing to educated readers, offering solutions that only people with social and economic capital can put into place. She sort of acknowledges this, but she doesn’t unpack what it means to be so inaccessible. I loved her explanation of the "be you" mythology as a late capitalism strategy to exploit us for our personal brands through algorithms.

The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda: I really wanted to like this one. **2023

The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane: I loved Ask Again, Yes, so I think my expectations for this one were just too high. There were some early Russo vibes, but it just didn't click for me. **2023

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Super Club by J. Ryan Stradal: I wanted to love it because I really love him (a male Lorna Landvik, really) but the pacing was really off on this book. Some scenes were so slow and detailed, and then 20 years flicked by in a chapter, and I just couldn't get the rhythm. Occasionally, I forgot who a character was, even, and there weren't that many characters. **2023 **Kindle

Going There by Katie Couric: SO GOOD, which really shouldn’t be surprising but was because internalized misogyny, I guess. *Audio

The Deluge by Stephen Markley: Wow. Climate disaster book that’s just too real. So well done, though. Also almost 1000 pages. BUT FOR GOOD REASON. *2023

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor: OH YES. This is great. I read it quickly because the plot was propulsive, but I also really appreciated the characters and felt invested. **2023

 The Last Word by Taylor Adams: FINALLY a Book of the Month thriller I could not put down. So scary and great plot twists plus characters I cared about-- this is a terrific summer read. **2023

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson: Loved this— eccentric WASP family, many characters, lots of dramz. *2023 *Audio

Happy Place by Emily Henry: I like all of her books, and this one is my favorite. *2023 *Audio

Small World by Laura Zigman: Her book Separation Anxiety was one of my favorites of the year in 2020, and I also adored this one. *2023

Yellowface by RF Kuang: LOVED this book. I adore publishing takedowns, and I have a literary soft spot for books where the characters are terrible people, but I am rooting for them anyway, and this book delivered. I sped through it one afternoon at the pool when Ben took Minnie home early to get her out of the sun, and it was a delight. SUCH a good sendup of the utter horrors carelessly perpetuated by well meaning white women, questions of authenticity, and internet culture. LOVED it. **2023 **Kindle

This Month:

15 books

10 books published in 2023

8 print, 2 Kindle, and 5 audio

This Year:

92.5 books

46 books published in 2023

54 print, 2 Kindle, and 37.5 audio


  1. Interesting haul! I think I really must try Emily Henry at this point. And the Katie Couric--I had the same reaction, for the same reason as you, probably! Is it just me, or did Age of Vice send out big White Tiger vibes?

    1. I haven't real The White Tiger, but I think I would love it, and it DOES sound similar...

  2. I also loved Yellowface - I just finished it this week - and I also read the How To Do Nothing and felt similarly.

    1. I love seeing your book updates on IG

  3. I thought Yellowface was pretty good, but it was such a radical departure from Babel that I was really surprised! I did not care for Happy Place, but I'm glad Emily Henry is there for people who love her.

    I am part of a much smaller library consortium than you are, I bet, and I found that Libby holds take months and months. It's a real skill to make sure there's always reading material on my Kindle and I don't always pull it off!

  4. I love my Kindle. It look a little bit to get into a library holds groove (my library has a small digital library) though I don't do audio books so don't have those holds. I also, for better or for worse, use the kindle unlimited subscription. This combination generally keeps me from buying multiple books each month, and I maybe buy one or two a year if it is something I don't want to wait for.

    1. I am doing the Kindle unlimited free trial-- combined with the random prime freebies, it really does seem like a lot of books.

  5. I did not like Happy Place as much as you did. I found the ending to be so unbelievable/unrelatable. But I can't say too much without revealing spoilers. I also can't imagine not telling my friends that my engagement was broken off! But I enjoyed the newest Stradal more than you did. It was a bit hard to keep the different characters straight initially since it jumped around quite a bit in the beginning but I eventually really came to like the book.

    I love my kindle! I almost exclusively read on it and listen to maybe 1 audiobook a year. It would be tough to use libby for both audio and kindle books! I have 2 cards on my libby ap, too - mine and my husbands. I'm looking forward to Paul getting a library card so I can use his digital holds too. ha!

    1. I am glad it wasn't just me re: keeping the characters consistent.

  6. I'm glad to find someone else who enjoyed Happy Place, haha. I could seriously relate the the MC - she was a classic enneagram 9.

    I mostly read romances on Kindle, which usually don't have a wait. I'm also a member of 3 different Libby systems so I can cycle through all of them to figure out which one has what I need. I'd recommend looking at becoming a non-resident member at a different library system so you have more options. I paid $35 three years ago to become a member at Charlotte's library system - and I do audiobooks and e-books - so it was well worth the price. Other library systems are free for non-residents, though!

    1. I had no idea I could join other library systems-- what a great hack!