books · wrap ups and tbrs

May Reading Wrap Up

Reading in May was a bit of struggle for me. I was completing an internship from home over the month and I have to admit that I am not used to working 9-5! I’ve never had a job where I’ve had to focus solely on one thing for 8 hours at a time; usually I flit between lots of different tasks for university, with breaks in between to travel to and from uni, attend lectures/seminars and go to my part-time job. I found sitting and concentrating for so long–even though I found the work really interesting–a real challenge, and it quite honestly exhausted me! So, fitting in the time to read afterwards just didn’t happen, as I preferred to pick up my switch and stick on a film. But, saying that, I still managed to read 8 books and just about complete all the prompts for the #asianreadathon.

Here are the books I read in May, their star rating and a mini review:

Not So Pure and Simple

Lamar Giles

Rating: ★★★★

This was a YA contemporary set in a small American town where the Church plays an active role in the predominantly black community. It was a fast-paced and entertaining read about teenagers involved in a purity pledge following a series of teenage pregnancies, and the ways they attempt to defy the Church’s rules. It explores gender roles, toxic masculinity, and the ‘nice guy’ trope, and asks the question: why is the blame for teenage pregnancies directed only at the girls? I really enjoyed it, but I think I would have loved it even more from the perspective of the main character’s sister, a badass feminist icon challenging stereotypes at university–I think that would’ve been amazing.

To Water Her Garden

Samira Mahmoodi

Rating: ★★★★

A wonderful collection of free verse poetry about a journey of acceptance, self-love and self-compassion. I resonated with a lot of the poems and found them to be a really accurate depiction of mental health concerns and suffering a heartbreak. This is the author’s first published collection, and it was a stunning debut.

Hear the Wind Sing

Haruki Murakami

Rating: ★★.5

I think I might have to accept that I just don’t get on with Haruki Murakami’s writing. This was the second piece I read (well, listened to) by him, and I just didn’t get it. There didn’t really seem to be a plot; it was just the everyday musings of an entitled and kinda irritating character on his summer break. I found him really obnoxious and above everyone else, thinking the world revolves around him, and I just wasn’t a fan. If anyone thinks I should still give his work another go, please point in the direction of a book of his you love, and maybe the third time’s a charm?!

Before I Say I Do

Vicki Bradley

Rating: ★★★★★

Before I Say I Do is a psychological thriller that will blow your mind with its’ intricate plot, complex characters and chilling twists. It reminded me how much I really love police procedural thrillers, and also dual perspectives. The pacing in this was amazing–I was meant to read a couple of chapters one night when I was halfway through it and ended up binging it! I could not put it down! I loved the writing, the details and the complexity of the plot, and I cannot believe it is a debut. It only released on the 28th May, and I would highly recommend you check it out. If you want to read my full review, you can find it here.

Love from A to Z

S.K. Ali

Rating: ★★★.5

I have mixed feelings about this book. I LOVED aspects of it, and found it really interesting and eye-opening. The way that it explained just how many instances of racism Muslims are subjected to on a daily basis was incredible and heartbreaking. There were so many things that I am privileged never to have had to think about, like almost being chucked out of a swimming pool for the clothes you’re wearing, or receiving funny looks from passengers on planes. And I loved Zayneb refuses to let these acts of racism go, like the other members of her family and her friends tell her to, and vows to get revenge on her teacher for his islamophobia. But, I didn’t really like Adam, and I really didn’t care at all about the romance aspect of the book. I don’t know why, as usually I love romance, but it just missed the mark for me.

This completed the first challenge for the #asianreadathon, which was to read a book by an asian author.

And the Mountains Echoed

Khalid Hosseini

Rating: ★★★★

Another one that missed the mark for me. It was wonderful, a beautifully crafted story, with writing that never disappoints. But, I just didn’t love it like I loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Those are stories that will stay with me forever, and I can still recount the plots of them in decent detail. And the Mountains Echoed, I was losing a sense of the plot whilst reading. Each chapter is from a different perspective, and I love the way Hosseini is able to effortlessly transcend time and space to weave together a complex narrative, but the chapters were just so long that I lost interest.

This completed the third prompt for the #asianreadathon, which was to read a book featuring an Asian author or Asian character who is different to you.

The Goddess Chronicle

Natsuo Kirino

Rating: ★★★

This is a retelling of a Japanese creation myth, telling the story of male god Izanaki and female god Izanami, and the prejudice that Izanami faces for being a woman and a god. It also features the lives’ of some mortal people, in which the women are also subject to sexism and cruel treatment. I found it really interesting, as I knew nothing about Japanese mythology. However, there wasn’t a lot of plot, and I found myself wanting to skip through pages where nothing happened. I did like some of the aspects that involved the exploration of sexism but at the same time the women do not come together to fight male injustice, but seem to take their wrongdoings out on each other and tear each other down, which I didn’t really like.

This fulfilled the second prompt for the #asianreadathon to read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who you can relate to.

Conversations with Friends

Sally Rooney

Rating: ★★★★.5

After watching Normal People, I wanted to read Sally Rooney’s other novel. I do own a physical copy of it, but I ended up listening to the audiobook and I really loved it! I think I enjoyed it more than the Normal People book. But, I’m not sure why I enjoyed it so much. It is basically just a student having a continuous existential crisis whilst she has an affair with a married man. There is a lot of character introspection, and it was really interesting to see the main character’s awareness of her self-destructive behaviour, and her inability to stop being destructive. It was just a really interesting listen, and I look forward to more of Sally Rooney’s novels.

From the ratings, it looks like a bit of an up-and-down month, but I’m actually really glad I read all of these books this month. I wasn’t able to get to Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, which I intended to read to fulfil the final #asianreadathon prompts. But, I do intend to read it soon! What books did you read this month? What was your favourite?

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