BOOKS I READ IN MAY 2016

I read books. Lots of them. I probably need more of a life but 💁🏻 I'd rather be reading. Here's what I read this month—hopefully you can find something to whet your appetite! 📚📚📚
  1. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days by Salman Rushdie
    3/5- Not Salman Rushdie's greatest, but super fascinating. It explores religion and secularism by looking at the magical nature of the jinn (genies) from 1001 Nights but against a backdrop of post-apocalyptic NYC where people weirdly start floating. Fantastic fairy tale bones but needed better, less complicated execution.
  2. The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
    3/5- Meh, another missed opportunity by a well-known writer. Three interwoven novellas that discuss love and loss and sometimes has a chimpanzee. TBH, they were kinda boring.
  3. The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter
    3/5- Starting to think I should have spaced out all the amazing books I read in April. This story takes place during Britain's India rule, and two dudes from the British East India Company go on a manhunt across India. Another one of those books where I loved the set-up potential and historical backdrop but felt the execution was lacking. The pace was very slow. At least the cover's pretty.
  4. Not on Fire, but Burning by Greg Hrbek
    4/5- Haunting book that comments on the fear & Islamophobia that took place after 9/11. Something unknown crashes into the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco & sends everyone into a frenzy. Years later, the US government has put suspected Muslim "terrorists" into internment camps à la WWII. Told from multiple perspectives, including that of a young orphaned Muslim boy who is adopted from a camp & his neighbor who lost his sister in the attack. Very well-written, exploring fear, memory & family.
  5. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
    2/5- Here's the thing, Caitlin Moran is hilarious. Because she's funny it's easy to overlook the super problematic bullshit she says in this book. This book isn't how to be a woman so much as it is How to Be a Privileged Middle Class White Woman That Puts Down Other Unprivileged Groups to Make Her Points. She makes a few good points about marriage, abortion, and having children, but overall I am not here for this book. 👎🏼
  6. Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins
    4/5- Haunting, real collection of short stories that take place out west, primarily Nevada and California. Watkins writes with sharp, gritty sentences that make you feel like the land is also a character in the story. Covers a wide range of topics like mining, relationships, connections, and identity.
  7. The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabiri
    5/5- Gorgeous collection of short stories that focus on Israeli life and citizens. Tsabari is Israeli with Yemeni descent and writes truthfully & vividly to give her characters life. These stories are emotional and heartfelt as she explores identity, family, heritage, romance, and war/conflict.
  8. Until We Are Free by Shirin Ebadi
    5/5- Memoir by one of Iran's first female judges & Nobel winner. Details her life as a lawyer fighting for religious freedom & women's & children's rights after Iran's revolution & its adoption of sharia law, stripping her of her judgeship. Candid story of a corrupt govt & the danger her family faces.
  9. Cambodia Noir by Nick Seeley
    4/5- Had to stay up to finish this bad boy in one sitting. An American photojournalist in Phnom Penh is confronted by a woman to help her find her sister. It's a wild goose chase filled w/crime & secrets. Fast-paced & full of emotion, Seeley paints a realistic pic of the gritty underbelly of Cambodia.
  10. We've Already Gone This Far by Patrick Dacey
    4/5- Great collection of interconnected stories that take place in a fictional Massachusetts town. Dacey is a talented writer that tells compelling, witty stories about everyday life & makes his characters humanly flawed. Real & relatable in a way that shows how we're all connected & deserve empathy.
  11. Last Night's Reading by Kate Gavino
    5/5- Kate Gavino runs a pretty sweet bookish Instagram account (@lastnightsreading) where she goes to author signings, draws the authors & a notable quote. (See example above.) She's also quite a lovely person! This tiny book is a collection of her work along with how she got started doing what she does. Fun coffee table book & full of inspirational quotes categorized by theme.
  12. Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss
    5/5- Gorgeous graphic nonfiction book about the science of weather and how it has shaped our cultures, history & lifestyles throughout the world, as well as how we've tried to control, use & predict it. BEAUTIFUL art & talented writer that seamlessly blends story, art & examples from every continent. Seriously just look at this beautiful artwork—the whole book is like that! ⛈
  13. Shelter by Jung Yun
    4/5- A man is forced to come to terms with his traumatic family past when an unexpected incident occurs w/his parents & they now require his care, despite not protecting him growing up. Emotionally wrought, this packs a punch about family identity, obligation, trauma recovery, and relationships.
  14. The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome by Serge Brussolo
    3/5- The heck did I just read? A medium has dream-trances where he goes on deep sea diving art heists with a Sexy Sidekick. The "art" he heists turns into ectoplasm upon waking, which society covets & uses. 😳 It's complicated. It's weird. I still don't understand it, but I liked it. Lots to think about.
  15. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
    4/5- Under 100 pgs, this is a beautifully written little book on basic physics principles. But it is not your average physics lecture. Rovelli injects a childlike wonder & awe into his writing. He gives a simplistic look at the universe, our place in it, & our humanity. As he says, it is breathtaking. ✨
  16. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
    4/5- A magical collection of short stories, some interconnected, that explore the concept of keys & secrets. Oyeyemi's writing is both beautiful & keenly observant on the way we interact while commenting on racial, gender, & social constructs. They are adult fairy tales--great for fans of Kelly Link! 🗝
  17. Perfect Days by Raphael Montes
    5/5- Excuse me while I throw this book in the freezer. A med student meets a woman for five minutes at a BBQ & goes to great lengths to convince her to love him, written from the stalker's POV. Montes's writing seethes w/methodical clarity & detail. I could take 10 showers & still not get the creepy off. I am not letting Raphael Montes anywhere near my loved ones. BEST thriller/horror I've read in a long time. Not sure I'm comfortable w/what this says about me that I'm giving it 5 stars.
  18. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
    4/5- This is literally Jane Eyre with more stabbing. And it's amazing fun! Jane Steele grows up on her aunt's estate in basically a shack & is shunned from the house. She's sent away to a boarding school after her mother dies. Oh, and she kills people. Lots of people. And really doesn't give a fuck about having killed them. This is badassery at its best with a side of Brontë-style romance. 🗡