What I Read in May 2020

There’s so much going on right now. As I type this, riots are taking over Minneapolis. Dear friends are planning a protest from their small town in the center of Kansas. The deaths of unarmed black people have made national news at least once a week for the past few months. It’s all reaching a fever pitch. And I can only hope that change will come. That change is on the way.

Related: Sonya Renee Taylor on her answer to when White People ask, “What can I do???”

On top of that, tensions are high re: COVID-19. Everything is re-opening. Our store has been opened for almost three weeks at this point. For a while I was having daily disagreements with people about whether or not they needed to wear a mask in our shop. It was wearing me down. Today I’m not feeling quite so worn down but it’s probably because I’ve gotten better at listening to the way my body gives me cues about what it needs. Like this morning when my body told me to quit scrolling Facebook after I found out about the latest, violent, despicable thing our president tweeted.

With all of that going on, it really does feel like kind of an asshole move to write about all the books I read this month! But also, my brain needs a break or it will break. We rest and then we keep fighting. We rest and then we keep fighting. This is a moment of rest. Here’s what I read in May.

(Reminder, all the links to these books go to support our store through libro.fm.)

— — —

The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson, 4-Stars
This was a really fun family story. In the beginning, it started off a little bit like This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper (another one of my all time favorites). It’s got some family drama but it’s also got a bit of WW2 survival and at the center of it all is some kind of jewel heist? I’d love to hear Amy Meyerson’s pitch for this book because there’s a lot but I feel like she made it all work! I only gave it 4-stars though because there were times that I couldn’t tell what the author was going for. Was I reading a dark family drama? Or was it a fun romp? Because it was definitely both? And that was confusing to me.

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe, 5-stars
I… loved… this… book. It made me feel some things. As I’ve mentioned in my previous What I Read This Month Posts, I haven’t been able to read anything with much heft to it since Coronavirus hit. My brain needs light and fluffy. This book… is not light and fluffy in the least bit and yet somehow I was sucked into it. And it felt so good to feel that again. To feel like, “this is why we read!”
In fact I basically wrote a love letter to Rufi Thorpe on instagram and then she DM’d me to tell me that what I’d said meant so much to her.

While this book takes place in high-school, it’s not a YA book at all. It doesn’t read like YA to me. It’s the story of a friendship–and some traumatic things that took place during that friendship, as told from an adult perspective looking back.

Beach Read by Emily Henry 5-stars
Here’s another book that wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I see “beach read” and I think, “OKAY! Get ready for some mindless, predictable literature!” Which, I believe, completely has its place. This book, though… had so much depth to it. It had some real sexy sex scenes, too, don’t get me wrong. But this book is not all cotton candy. It’s the best of both worlds–a book that won’t traumatize me in an already challenging time while also singing to my high-literature-loving heart.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub, 5-stars
Another 5-star book for me. This month was a GOOD ONE for reading, finally!! I have loved Emma Straub since I read Modern Lovers a few years ago. If I had to tell you the one central thing that this story is about, I’m not sure I could do it. It’s the way that everyone in a family has their own story and the contributes to the bigger story as a whole–as a family. I don’t know if you can tell but an epic family drama is my favorite. That’s not what this is. It’s not epic–it takes place over the course of a few months. It’s not a drama–there is a lot of comedy and light. There’s conflict but that’s necissary to driving a plot along. I love it. I feel like Emma Straub writes different ages effortlessly and blends in queer stories as if they’re *gasp* just, like, normal human stories! Not something to be wedged into a book to make it “relevant”. Ugh. I just really liked this.

— — —

In retrospect, I read only white stories written by only white people this month. I hadn’t even noticed that until just now. WOW. My blind spots are real. I’m going to make a point to read more books by people of color in June. Starting with Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins.

I’m also looking forward to engaging with the Summer Listening Challenge that Libro.fm is hosting starting June 1! It’s so great. Basically there’s a bingo card and you try to get a bingo! The winner gets… I think a year’s worth of free audiobooks! Let me know if you plan to join in!!

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