After reading literally ZERO books in April, I had my comeback in May! Nine books later, and I’m back in the reading groove just in time for summer. There are some amazing reads on this list, but I want to go ahead and make the statement that some of these books are heavy. Like, really, really heavy. (As a reminder, if there are topics that you struggle to read about, just be sure to look up content warnings before picking up a new-to-you book!)
BUT without further ado, here’s what I read in May!
I GUESS I HAVEN’T LEARNED THAT YET BY SHAUNA NIEQUIST – 5 STARS
This is my first book by Shauna Niequist, but it will not be my last. Her writing is so beautiful, and she covers dealing with hard topics without actually slogging through the hard topics themselves. This book is about figuring out life when the old ways of doing things stop working. It’s about change and chaos and finding delight throughout it all. It’s a little bit wild that we’ve already lived through enough of COVID that entire books involving it are out in the world, but I loved hearing her take on dealing with the pandemic while living in NYC, as well as her experience in NYC in general. I also loved all of the hosting and food references. Such a beautiful, thought-provoking read.
THE GIVER OF STARS BY JOJO MOYES – 5 STARS
Wow. The Giver of Stars is also such a beautiful read. Set in the depression era in rural Kentucky, the book follows two women whose paths intersect as they join together to create a traveling library for their community, and the hardships they face along the way. After finishing the book I realized that it was actually based on a true story, the story of a group of women who became known as the Packhorse Library of Kentucky. I had no clue how invested I would become in the lives of these women and their stories!
THE POWERFUL PURPOSE OF INTROVERTS BY HOLLEY GERTH – 4 STARS
As a self-proclaimed introvert, I found Holley’s book so fascinating as she looks at the science behind introversion. She relates stories of well-known introverts in history and current pop culture and talks about how introverts can dig in and use their introversion to their advantage in careers, relationships, and life in general.
APPLES NEVER FALL BY LIANE MORIARTY – 3 STARS
Liane Moriarty is always hit or miss for me, and this one was a miss. I’d seen such hype about Apples Never Fall, but I just continued to read, thinking it would eventually pick up, and it never did for me. It’s the story of the Delaney family, Stan and Joy, and their four kids. When Joy Delaney goes missing, no one knows where to look, or who to look at as a suspect. The story seemed so far-fetched and random, while at the same time dragging on forever and ever. I just wasn’t a fan of this one.
THE GREAT ALONE BY KRISTIN HANNAH – 5 STARS
Wow wow wow. Another knockout book like The Giver of Stars. The Great Alone might be one of my favorites of the year so far. I couldn’t get enough of this story following Leni Albright along the course of her life. Set mostly in Alaska beginning in the 1970s, Leni is a thirteen year old girl living with her parents and their unstable, tumultuous relationship off the grid in the Alaskan bush. Her parents are convinced that this move is the key to their happiness as a family, but the 18-hour darkness of the Alaskan winter may prove too difficult to weather. So. Good.
INFINITE COUNTRY BY PATRICIA ENGEL – 2 STARS
I picked up this book because it was one of Reese’s Hello Sunshine book club picks, and I always like to give them a try. I have to say this one fell flat for me. I had a hard time following the timeline and characters back and forth from past to present, and I just wanted more to happen throughout the entire book. It starts off in the first chapter with Talia escaping from a girls detention center in Colombia, but then jumps back and spends most of the book detailing the teen and early adult years of her parents as they navigate life living in the United States and then her dad’s deportation and years spent apart. I think it was more my fault that I expected a thrilling escape story, and that just wasn’t what the book was about.
THE SHACK BY WILLIAM PAUL YOUNG – 4 STARS
After years of seeing this book talked about (it was very controversial when it first released), I finally picked it up, and it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. What an interesting look at God and faith and forgiveness! The Shack is the story of the Phillips family – when Mack Phillips takes his three youngest children camping and his daughter Missy goes missing, everything falls apart for him, and he enters what he calls the Great Sadness. Four years later, he has a literal weekend meeting with God that will change everything. It’s an interesting look at the question of why God allows things to happen to us, and the forgiveness that we are able to offer to others.
THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS BY ANN PATCHETT – 3 STARS
The Patron Saint of Liars was Ann Patchett’s debut novel. I’ve read several of her later works, but have had this sitting on my shelf for a while and finally picked it up! It’s set mostly in rural Kentucky at St. Elizabeth’s, a dazzling hotel turned home for unwed mothers. We follow the story of Rose Clinton, pregnant and running from California to St. Elizabeth’s with secrets that she plans to keep forever. I really wanted to like this one, but Rose was just so unlikeable to me that I struggled to find interest in her story.
THE LOVE SEASON BY ELIN HILDERBRAND – 4 STARS
The Love Season is the story of Marguerite Beale and Renata Knox and their fateful meeting in August. Told over the span of 48 hours, but with a story that spans decades, we witness the meeting of god-daughter and god-mother that has been delayed for fourteen years, but the day does not go as planned for anyone involved. This book made me want to go to Nantucket and Paris and Thailand, and it made me want to eat all the food and drink all the wine. The themes and descriptions were just wonderful. Elin Hilderbrand always hits the mark!