Best books of May 2017

I finally got some reading done this month! I have been in the bad habit of starting a bunch of books and then slowly reading several at a time. They are all for different purposes—I read solo with Lu, solo with Bean, for book club, we usually have a family read-aloud going, and I usually have at least one audio book going too. Progress is slow, but this way I get to read many different types of books! Here’s what I read this month:

best books of May 2017

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Fiction

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow was this month’s book club selection and my monthly audiobook download from Audible. I fell in love with Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat sentenced to living the rest of his life at a Moscow hotel by the Bolsheviks. This novel is almost like a Seinfeld episode: it’s about nothing and everything all at once. In gorgeous prose and with a great sense of humor, it goes into great depth describing characters and scenes that are sometimes inconsequential to the story. Towles does a wonderful job of demonstrating both the futility of the count’s life imprisoned in the hotel, as well as his ability to create a community and a purpose for himself there. This is the rare book that I would have preferred to read rather than listen to; I found my mind wandering at times even though the writing was beautiful.

Non-fiction

Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig

I had some weird health issues a few years ago that led me to eating a Paleo diet. With the help of a naturopath and restrictive programs like the Whole30, I figured out that dairy was very, very bad for me. I’m very grateful to Melissa Hartwig’s Whole30 books for helping me figure that out. This book is the third in the Whole30 family, and it details how to use what you learned during the Whole30 and adapt the program into a more manageable and healthy lifestyle. I’m not sure that I’d call Melissa’s approach Food Freedom. Living a mostly Whole30 lifestyle where every couple of months you get to eat a cupcake isn’t practical for most people. However, this book provides some helpful building blocks for people who struggle to eat well for the long haul: reset, re-introduce, accept when you’re off course, repeat are the basics. What I really like is that she emphasizes that you will make unhealthy choices and you don’t need to feel guilty about that.

 Young Adult

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

 

Everything, Everything kept me going during jury duty last month. I have a weird habit of reading books without even reading the jacket summary, so I was pretty surprised when this turned out to be a book about a girl who is restricted to living in her home because of a rare disease and who falls in love with her next-door neighbor through text messages and staring at each other through bedroom windows. This book has a pretty substantial plot twist that I won’t spoil for you, but I will say that I guessed it long before it was revealed (anyone else?). I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it for older teens and adults who don’t roll their eyes at YA romance.

Middle Grade

Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

Dory Fantasmagory has not only become one of my children’s favorite chapter books series, it’s also become one of mine. I just love this silly character and the rich world of imagination she lives in. In this third installment called Dory Dory Black Sheep, Dory becomes upset when she learns she is one of the few kids in her class who can’t read yet, so she’s assigned to read “baby books” about farm characters. Her embarrassment doesn’t last for long, because soon Dory jumps inside the books, where she encounters imaginary friends and foes who will be familiar to regular Dory readers. I like this one even better than the last installment—Bean says it’s the best one yet.

Hello, Universe by Erin Kelly Estrada

Our family read-aloud for the month was Hello, Universe, a novel about a trio of middle grade misfits who find friendship in the most unlikely of situations. Virgil is the quiet one, nicknamed “Turtle” by his family, but ready to bust out of his shell. Kaori is the enigmatic mystic looking to capitalize on her connection to the spiritual world. Valencia is socially isolated because of her hearing loss, but has plenty of inner confidence to make up for it. Their three worlds intertwine in magical ways on the first day of summer, leading all three to wonder if the universe has something to tell them. This book is great for readers looking for diverse characters.

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