Which books are worth the read and which should you skip? Find out what books I’ve been reading lately and whether I recommend them.
Did you know that I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a mathematician. I loved the concrete nature of math – how answers were so black and white in a grey world.
It’s not something I talk about much because I don’t use it much, other than to tutor the neighborhood kids from time to time. So why am I mentioning it now?
My April reading list might give you a clue. As a book blogger, I do my best to stay up-to-date on all the hottest new releases. However, I’ve found that if all I do is read new releases (with the deadlines that come with them), I start to lose the joy of reading.
That’s why my monthly reading list always has several backlist books. These are the books I read just for me. So, while you might not care about a 500-page statistics primer or an explanation of the 2008 financial crisis, I found them fascinating.
So this is my reminder to read what you want despite what anyone else thinks!
April Reading List
Bree Cabbat wakes up one more to find a witch looking in through her window. She shakes it off as a nightmare, but then she experiences every mother’s worst nightmare: her baby boy is abducted. Instead of a ransom note, she finds a message telling her to follow the instructions to get him back, forcing her to decide how far she will go for her child.
Mother May I starts strong, with great twists and shocking moments, and then settles into an investigation story that, while more predictable, was still compelling enough to carry me through the story. A fun little thriller perfect for a quick summer read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from William Morrow Books. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
When Margreete’s dementia becomes too bad to allow her to live alone, her daughter Liddie moves her family from Michigan to the coast of Maine. There they struggle with the changing family dynamics and the tumultuous events of the 1960s. Margreete’s Harbor is a literary family drama with a pace so slow that I found it downright boring. Although many reviewers love this character-driven story, I felt the narration jumped too frequently between characters, leaving me with just a glancing understanding instead of the deep connection I craved.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Stephanie Marie Seferian
Instead of simply decluttering and then refilling your house only to declutter again, Seferian wants you to break the consumption cycle. Blending minimalist living with an eco-friendly lifestyle, Sustainable Minimalism gives tips and suggestions to lower your carbon footprint and reduce the amount of waste you produce.
Similar to Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home without being quite as judgemental, Seferian acknowledges the privilege needed to enact many eco-friendly measures, yet encourages you to start with small affordable steps. While some of her remarks are pretty extreme (no more air travel, foraging for food), she focuses her attention on more actionable items like composting and alternatives to single-use plastics.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
After a personal tragedy, Anna Hart leaves her life as a missing persons detective in San Francisco to return home to Mendocino, California. When she arrives, she gets drawn into the case of a local missing teen, one that is hauntingly similar to an unsolved murder from her childhood.
Known for her historical fiction (The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun), Paula McLain successfully tries her hand at the mystery & thriller genre. When the Stars Go Dark is a character study of a cop haunted by her own traumas who sees herself in the victims. Instead of page-turning action, you get a slow atmospheric build-up similar to Liz Moore’s Long Bright River.
From the Backlist
On New Year’s Eve 1937, Katey Kontent and her roommate Eve Ross meet a handsome young banker named Tinker Grey. Over the next year, Katey’s friendship with Tinker will introduce her to the upper echelons of Manhattan society, altering the course of her life. Despite its gorgeous prose and enveloping setting, I didn’t love this one quite as much as I expected, feeling it lacked the spark of A Gentleman in Moscow. Don’t get me wrong, Rules of Civility is certainly worth a place on your reading list.
The U.S. stock market crash in 2008 sparked a great recession that affected a generation. Michael Lewis explains that the real crash came a year earlier in the bond and real estate derivatives markets. The Big Short follows four Wall Street outsiders who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse and made loads of cash doing so. At first, I had a hard time keeping the characters straight while listening to the audiobook. However, once I got into it, I was hooked. Michael Lewis does an excellent job taking dense material and turning it into an easily understood, compelling character-driven drama.
Why do most predictions, even those from experts, fail? From earthquakes to poker to political elections, statistician Nate Silver uses interesting case studies to explain probability and uncertainty and to demonstrate why predictions are often wrong. Though the book is numbers-heavy and a little too long, Silver does a great job simplifying the information for the average reader.
You don’t have to wait until your 65 to live the life you want. Blogger Tanja Hester teaches you how to reach financial independence and retire early without pinching pennies, going into detail on things like health insurance and investment options. If early retirement is something you’ve considered, Work Optional will answer all your questions, and even some you hadn’t thought to ask.
Although Work Optional didn’t exactly get me fired up, it did a great job explaining the practical details of early retirement. I loved that she begins by forcing you to consider what you want your life to look like, giving you alternatives to full-on early retirement and helping you tailor your plan to your unique vision. The book is extremely numbers-heavy, so I would suggest a physical copy over the audiobook.
David Allen suggests that your productivity is directly related to your ability to relax. By clearing your mind and organizing your thoughts into lists, you can get more done, all while staying stress-free. Getting Things Done is referenced in almost all the productivity books I’ve read. While the core advice is solid, the book strongly shows its age, spending an inordinate amount of time on filing cabinets.
After being shipwrecked on an island, Rozzum Unit 7134 became a wild robot. After being severely damaged in The Wild Robot, Roz returned to the factory for repairs and is then sent to work on a farm. Roz still remembers all her time on the island and desperately plans her escape so she can return. Although I thought it lacked the originality of the previous book, my kids loved the continuing adventures of Roz and her daring escape and were content with the happily-ever-after ending.
My To-Read List
What’s up next for me? Before I let you go, here are a few of the titles I’m hoping to get through this upcoming month.
Be sure to come back in May to see which ones I read.
What books did you read in April?