This was one of those really great reading months that I now regret because this post is going to take forever to write. I read seventeen books this month, which is kind of awesome, especially when you consider that two of those were for Tome Topple, the readathon in which you read books over five-hundred pages. I also participated in the Asian Readathon this month, for which I ended up reading more than I planned. And I read retellings of my five favorite Shakespeare plays for a post. I also watched a lot of things, so this post is going to be a long one.
Grab a cup of tea or a snack, and let’s jump in!
What I Read:
Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood – ★★☆☆☆. This is a retelling of The Tempest, and I honestly went into it with pretty high hopes. I was not expecting to give a Margaret Atwood book two-stars, but that’s exactly what happened. I just wasn’t a huge fan of this book either as a retelling or on it’s own.
Severance by Ling Ma – ★★★☆☆. This book has been on my radar for a while (honestly because of the cover), but I decided to pick it up for the Asian Readathon this month. It’s about a pandemic with few survivors (great choice this month, I know). This started off good and then morphed into some weird cult story, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it, either.
The Marriage Game by Sara Desai – ★★☆☆☆. I really just want to support romance authors of color. Which is why I picked up this one. The synopsis made it sound kind of like The Hating Game, which I enjoyed (though I’m honestly considering rereading to see if that actually is the case), but this just fell flat. It was kind of generic romance, but also included a few things I didn’t care for.
Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager – ★★★☆☆. This is a nonfiction book about the history of modern drugs. It was fairly interesting, but it didn’t blow me away.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – ★★★☆☆. I have been meaning to read this for SO LONG – it was on the very first reading list I published on this blog, over five years ago (which I am not linking to, because I’m pretty sure my earlier blog posts are pretty bad). Unfortunately, I ended up being a little bit disappointed – this just wasn’t for me.
Nutshell by Ian McEwan – ★★★★☆. This was actually a reread for me. I read this for my Shakespeare retelling post because I thought it might be fun to see how I felt about this Hamlet retelling after having actually read Hamlet. I liked it just as much as I did the first time. It’s just a really clever retelling, and a pretty fun read for being a drama.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley – ★★★★☆. This was my Book of the Month pick for April, and, even though I had a lot of other things to get through, I kept staring at it. I finally gave in and read it. It was a great thriller. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming, which always makes me happy when I finish a thriller. I’m definitely interested in reading more about Lucy Foley.
Macbeth by Jo Nesbø – ★★★☆☆. I don’t usually like detective novels, but I read this for my Shakespeare retellings post. As a retelling, this was brilliant. But I couldn’t get into the story, because this just isn’t really my cup of tea.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – ★★★☆☆. I was so looking forward to this one, even more so because I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Tom Hanks. It kind of gave my Goldfinch vibes, but I still struggled to connect to it. There was just something that prevented me from really getting invested in the story. Sometimes that’s just how it is.
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton – ★★★☆☆. This book started off really good, but it was just way too long. This book did not need so many POV characters, because almost all of them felt totally unnecessary. Not all fantasy books can be Game of Thrones.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller – ★★★★★. This is a memoir written by Chanel Miller (formerly known as Emily Doe), who was the victim of sexual assault on a college campus. And it was so, so good! Just incredibly well-written and powerful. I loved it!
Saga Vol. 8 and Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples – ★★★★★. I lumped these two together, because I gave them the same rating. I finally caught up with Saga! And I managed not to cry. This is just a fantastic graphic sci-fi series, and I can’t get enough.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan – ★★★★★. I was honestly not expecting to love this one as much as I did, but it was brilliant. I loved the magical realism, and I couldn’t put it down. Pretty sure this is only the second audiobook (longer than three hours) that I’ve finished in a single sitting.
Foolish Hearts by Emily Mills – ★★★☆☆. This was just standard YA. Cute, but not really memorable. I appreciated the diversity (and the Shakespeare), but it didn’t really capture my attention as much as I’d hoped.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong – ★★★☆☆. This book was beautifully written, and I wanted to love it. But I have a hard time connecting with books that center heavily on mother/child relationships (my relationship with my mother has always been pretty toxic so when I encounter a story about that relationship I struggle to identify, and it can kind of hurt.) So I didn’t love this one, but that might just be for entirely personal reasons, no fault of this book.
The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart – ★★★☆☆. I still have no idea why I decided to read an entire nonfiction book about earthworms. Yes, earthworms. But I did. It was mildly interesting, but it didn’t blow me away. Though it did give me a strange desire to go out and find an earthworm to pet (apparently they like that).
What I’m Currently Reading:
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. This kind of fell to the wayside because it was supposed to be for a book club, the the person I’m reading it with just wasn’t prioritizing reading over hanging out with her friends (trying not to judge), and then I had a lot of other reading things going on. But I do want to pick this back up and finish it soon, because I was really enjoying it.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. I meant to finish this in May, but it didn’t happen. I’m not mad about it, because I still had a great reading month, but I do really want to finish this soon.
What I Watched:
I asked on Twitter, and apparently you want to see everything I watched this month (not just the highlights), so here we go:
Snowpiercer. Last month, I watched Parasite, and needed more Bong Joon Ho. So I decided to watch the movie (this was before I saw the advertisements for the new TV adaptation). And man, this is dark. But oh, so good. Don’t watch this if you have a weak stomach, but if you want a thought-provoking action movie, definitely give this one a shot.
Dangerous Lies. This movie was… SO BAD. So, so bad. Don’t ask me why I watched this. It’s actually a lot like Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman, which I really didn’t like. The plot of both is: Look! We found diamonds and a body, let’s say nothing and pay off our debts and buy fancy things! (Also, one of us is secretly an awful person.)
Dummy (Quibi). Yes, I got sucked into the Quibi ads and got a free trial. I watched a few shows (namely this and Flipped, which was kind of fun). But this was so weird, and I loved it. Anna Kendrick’s character comes across her boyfriend’s sex doll, who starts talking to her. Then they have crazy adventures together. Told you it was weird. But really fun! Let me know if you have any other Quibi suggestions, because now that this is over, I might just delete my subscription before the free trial is up.
The Great (Hulu). Last year I read a biography of Catherine the Great and LOVED it. Honestly, still obsessed with her, so I obviously had to watch this. Normally, the history major in me bristles at movies or shows that aren’t historically accurate. And while this probably isn’t the most accurate story-wise, I think they do a great job showing Catherine and Peter’s relationship (which really was that insane) and how much of a badass Catherine was. It’s also just super fun! I honestly really love this series!
Solar Opposites (Hulu). If you like Futurama, you need to watch this. It’s from the creator of Rick and Morty (which I haven’t watched – yet), but this was so funny. I just enjoy that weird humor.
Lovebirds. I think we all need a good diverse rom com, and this was it. It was funny and weird, and just a really fun movie.
Spaceship Earth. This is a documentary about biosphere 2. It was promising in the beginning, but ended up being totally unsatisfying. The experiment was cool, but then turned into a media spectacle and not really an effective experiment at all. It was interesting, but the experiment ended up being kind of pointless, so I still don’t know how I feel about it.
What I Did
Got a Promotion! I finally officially got hired to do the job I’ve been sort of doing for almost three years. So now I get paid a little bit more AND I don’t have to do the assistant thing anymore. So yay to no more babysitting adults! (Most of the time.)
Turned Thirty-One. Today is my golden birthday! And I am celebrating it by… doing absolutely nothing. Actually, I’ll probably be sitting in my room working on this blog (I recently made some changes, hopefully for the better) and maybe playing Animal Crossing. It’s a weird time to have a birthday, because it kind of feels like nothing is happening. Although now I can say “I’m in my thirties”, and not just “I’m thirty”. So that’s fun!
Had a Netflix Party. My cousins and I were really missing movie nights, so we decided to try Netflix Party – it’s a Chrome extension that lets you watch simultaneously (all of you have to be logged into Netflix) and chat on the side. We watched the classic rom com Kate & Leopold. It was pretty fun, and we definitely have plans to do it again.
Harney & Sons Tea. I have always loved tea. But this month, I got a strong craving for green tea – which is usually not my favorite kind of tea. And then I kind of when crazy. I ordered way too much tea online from my favorite tea company, Harney & Sons. I have been obsessed with their Hot Cinnamon Spice tea since high school, so I got more of that and threw in a few new ones to try. It was a good decision.
Reading Retellings of My Favorite Shakespeare Plays. I was really excited about this post, and I thought it turned out really well! I had a lot of fun planning and putting this together, and I already have a few more non-Shakespeare related reading experiments or themed TBRs planned for this year. If you enjoyed this post, and want to see more, I’d love to hear your ideas!
Different Formats for Different Genres? This was a fun post in which I talk about how my format preferences – physical book, ebook, or audiobook – depend a lot on what I’m reading. I read a little bit of everything and I find that certain genres are better suited for different formats.
3 Simple Ways to Read More Books. This is exactly what it sounds like. Obviously, I read a lot. And I often get asked how I read so much – I answer that question in this post with tips I’ve found helpful if you’re looking to read more books.
That’s it for May! Thanks for sticking through it to the end, this was a long one! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy, and that you had a good reading month. Leave a comment with the best book you read in May – I always love you’re suggestions!