Despite the insanity that is my life in May (or maybe, as a coping mechanism, because of it) I finished a new record of books last month. Every single one would have been noteworthy in a different month, so narrowing down the top two or three is difficult. But, we can do hard things, right? So for this month’s Modern Mrs. Darcy Quick Lit link up I give you the very best of what I read in May (and some brief words about the rest).
First, the line up:
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Be Frank with Me by Julia Clairborne Johnson
At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider
Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Hamilton the Revolution by Lin Manuel-Miranda and Jermey McCarter
El Deafo by CeeCee Bell
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
At Home in the World is Tsh Oxenrider’s second book, but my first encounter with her writing. I’ve been listening to her podcast for a little while now and through the blogging world I knew that she and her family had taken a year long trip around the world (and lived to tell the tale!) This book is just that tale. I honestly hesitated to read it. I’ve got some hardcore wanderlust right now and I was worried a book about a fantastic adventure globe trotting with three children would make me a little bitter. I found it to be the exact opposite. Oxenrider writes very honestly about the tension that exists between her adventure seeking traveler spirit and the root longing homebody that also lives in her. She writes beautifully about all the amazing benefits of traveling like that with her family while also acknowledging that it is not perfect and it is not real life. There were very real challenges that came with that experience, ones that were worth it, but challenges all the same. This book made me start planning doable adventures my family could do now, and also appreciate the regular, everyday home life we’ve created for ourselves at the same time. It was a quick read, a thought-provoking read, and I highly recommend it!
I heard about the premise of One True Loves described as “basically the story of Cast Away only he comes back before she gets married.” I would add that it’s also told from the “Helen Hunt” point of view, as opposed to Tom Hanks. Emma marries her high school sweetheart Jesse who disappears in a helicopter accident on their first wedding anniversary. She returns home to put her life back together and ends up falling for an old acquaintance, Sam. A few months before their wedding Jesse returns and Emma is left with a bit of a dilemma. This was a page turner and I think I finished it in about three days, but I was surprised by how torn I was by her situation. Reid does a good job of making it an impossible situation for all parties. Based on the premise alone I assumed I would be rooting for the story to go one way, but Reid reveals the complexity of love, loyalty and death. This one is a good summer read.
So, El Deafo. This book wrecked me. I am obviously very invested in this topic, the story of a young girl who goes deaf at age 4 due to a bout with meningitis, and her subsequent years living in the hearing world with hearing aids, not quite in but not quite out. This is CeeCee Bell’s true story, written in graphic novel form. Liam and I read it together and I don’t have enough space here to fully convey how great of an experience it was. Bell’s goal with this memoir was to express how it felt to be deaf in the 70’s in a hearing world. And man, did she do a great job. It opened up so many conversations for us, giving him some language and concrete stories to help him describe his experience. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to parents of kids with hearing loss (and the kids themselves!).
Dreamland Burning is my read of the month I think (which says a lot ‘cause this was a heck of a month). This is technically a YA, but I think it’s a great read for all ages. Set in Tulsa, OK the book flips back and forth between present day and 1921 in the days leading up to the Tulsa race riots. I knew nothing about this tragic event in history, so everything about it was eye opening. In 1921 the thriving African American community of Greenwood was burned to the ground by rioting whites. There’s a mystery involving the discovery of a dead body that connects both storylines, as well as the reality of racism that may not have lessened as much as we’d like to believe from 1921 to present day. This one stuck with me and I’ve recommended it more than once since finishing it.
The Gifts of Imperfection is one of Brene Brown’s earlier books. It’s a short, quick read that I’ll probably return to again, as it’s a good reminder of the importance of leaning into vulnerability and honesty. I picked up Be Frank With Me on a whim, to check of the “book you picked solely for the cover” category in my reading challenge. I really loved it and the endearing character of the little boy Frank will stay with me for a while. I’m making my way through the Anne of Green Gables series, reading the second book, Anne of Avonlea. Anne is a little older and a little wiser but just as charming. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk was our book club pick this month and I was super delighted with it. Lillian Boxfish is another endearing character and the book follows her as she walks the streets of Manhattan on New Year's Eve, 1985 reflecting on her life and career as the highest paid female ad exec. That premise sounded stupid to me, but I promise it was really good! Finally Hamilton the Revolution is really only going to be interesting if you are Hamilton obsessed like me. It’s basically the book of lyrics from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical interspersed wth stories of how the show came to life and the players that made it happen. The real gem for me were the many footnotes Miranda added to the lyrics pointing out the different easter eggs he’d created or giving background on particular references or lines. I’m a theater nerd and I hardcore love Hamilton so naturally this was right up my alley.
That’s what I’ve got this month, friends! Have you read anything good this month?