May was a busy month for me at work and a lighter reading month. I finished 7 books, including one children’s book. Most of the books I read this month were in audio format. I enjoy listening to audiobooks while I drive, when I’m walking around my neighborhood, or doing chores at home. I also find that once I’m captivated by a book, I’ll come home and keep listening to the audiobook on the couch.
Normally, I have been organizing these reading recaps chronologically. I’m mixing things up a little bit this time and instead re-arranging. I’ll start this post with three books I enjoyed reading in May and would recommend. The second half of the post will be three books that didn’t work for me.
A highlight of my May reading was Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, published in 1987. This was my book club pick for May. It was my first time reading anything written by Wallace Stegner. Pacing and character development were excellent in this book. A lot of the action in the book takes place in Vermont; I felt like I was transported to the lake while reading. I have a used paperback copy of Angle of Repose on my shelves and will read more Stegner soon.
Another book I enjoyed in May was Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp. Georgia O’Keeffe is one of my favorite artists. I realized while reading this book that I didn’t know much about her personal life. This book is historical fiction, focused primarily on her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz. O’Keeffe’s artwork is very influenced by nature and I thought the author did an excellent job describing the nature that inspired the painter.
The final book I enjoyed reading in May was Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski. While the book has some provocative cover art, the content in the book is expertly researched and well organized. The author does an excellent job blending scientific analysis with storytelling. Part of my interest in picking up this book was sparked by signing up for OWL training, Our Whole Lives, for the fall. OWL is a sexuality education program created by the UCC and UUA. When I was growing up there was very minimal sex education in schools. I think it is important to be informed as an adult and I found Nagoski’s book a great way to help me unpack old lessons I learned.
Those were the three books I really enjoyed reading in May, now to recap a few that missed the mark for me.
I have read a few books by Parker Palmer and I normally enjoy his reflections. However, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life was not my favorite. The audio version was available for free with my Audible subscription. I’m glad I didn’t use a credit on this book. The title didn’t match with the content of the book. The book was primarily an explanation of circles of trust, why the reader should attempt one, and what benefits Palmer has experienced from them. My frustration was that the book was not what I expected and didn’t feel as impactful as Palmer’s other books.
Another book that I was disappointed in was Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener. First published in early 2020, it had been on my radar since it was added to the NYTimes best books of the year at the end of 2020. I’ll quote from my Goodreads review to highlight my thoughts on this book: “Usually when reading a memoir, the reader becomes invested in the life of the memoirist. That’s often the purpose of reading about someone’s life. A look behind the curtain, cheer them on. From start to finish, I never cared what was going to happen in the life of the author, never developed an emotional connection. So why keep reading? Well it was a short enough book that once I was 30 minutes in, listening at 2x speed, I figured, ah I might as well just finish…”
Finally, one other book that I read this month was The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. This book was historical fiction around the story of Achilles, the Battle of Troy, and the women in the camps. I had this book on my radar for a while, along with The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Of the two recent retellings of the story of Achilles, The Song of Achilles was much better. Barker’s characters were not as captivating and the plot moved a little too slowly.
In May, I read historical fiction, nonfiction, literary fiction, and a memoir. What is your favorite genre to read?