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.
Have you ever looked at a bestselling book and wandered if it’s worth the read? We’ve all picked up that hot new release only to discover it can’t truly deliver what the book jacket promises.Every year, I compile my Read This Not That list of bestsellers worth the hype. But my list only contains 7 books worth reading and 7 that are not. Considering how many books I read a year, so many excellent books, and some not so great reads, don’t make the list. I asked myself: Why not give monthly book recommendations?
Welcome to my monthly reading roundup, Worth the Read. Each month, I write up short reviews of all the books I read that month. Find out which books I recommend and which to skip. I know the month isn’t exactly over, but let’s take a look at my June Reading Roundup by the numbers:
- 2019 Releases: 7 New Releases including 3 ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) and 2 DNF (Did Not Finish)
- Genre: 4 Nonfiction, 7 Fiction
- Authors: 9 Female Authors, 2 Male
- Format: 3 Audiobooks, 3 E-books, 5 Print Copies
- Total Page Count: 3,879
But I didn’t write this post to show off my reading. I wrote it so you can hear my thoughts on the books I read this month. Plus, take a sneak peak at some of what’s coming soon on the book blog.
Reading Challenge Update
For our 2019 Reading Challenge, we are reading one book a week from a list of 52 categories. Here are the five books I chose for June:
Among the February 2019 book releases was Alex Michaelides’ debut psychological thriller. One night, famous painter Alicia Berenson shoots her husband in the face 5 times, and then never utters another word again. Now criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is determined to get the truth from this silent patient while his own life is falling apart. I was hoping this thriller would be one of those gripping books that keep you up all night.
Overall, I struggled to connect with this thriller, maybe because I really disliked Theo’s character. Despite that, the twist at the end was extremely well done, and I can see why this book got lots of attention this year.
Verdict: Worth the read … if you like thrillers
Dr. Sheryl Ziegler
In the modern age of self help books for stay at home moms, therapist Dr. Sheryl Ziegler’s book provides an interesting take on a condition she describes as “Mommy Burnout.” After treating a number of children in her practice, Dr. Ziegler began to notice that oftentimes the mothers themselves were overwhelmed, exhausted and pushed to the breaking point. Thus, Dr. Ziegler discusses the causes of Mommy Burnout, and suggests ways to help modern mothers overcome the overwhelm.
While most of the examples she gives show extreme cases of burnout, I felt like I learned a lot about the desperate need for connection among moms, and how to identify signs of burnout in myself and women around me.
Verdict: Worth the read … if you are a mom
Probably my favorite read of this month, I regret not selecting this January release for my Book of the Month pick. Eleven-year-old Ren is given one final task when his master dies: to find his master’s severed finger and return it, in the next 49 days, or his master’s soul will be doomed to wander the earth. From there, his story will mingle with dance hall girl Ji Lin who has found the finger, all while a tiger stalks the town.
Mixing Chinese folklore and superstition with historical fiction, Choo brings the time period to life in this beautifully written and imaginative story. I felt completely swept away into the slight mysticism of the story.
Verdict: Worth the read … if you like historical fiction
Sharon M. Draper
One week at her mom’s. One week at her dad’s. Not only is Isabella’s life split in half by her parents’ divorce, but also she feels as if her own identity is divided in two. Half-white and half-black, Isabella’s split custody parallels her split racial identity. Sharon M. Draper’s middle grade bestseller explores Isabella’s need to figure out how a blended girl bridges the gap in a world full of duality.
Not nearly as light-hearted as the pink striped color suggests, Blended is a more serious discussion on important topics for kids today – divorce, racial profiling, and blended families. A great explanation of Black Lives Matter for middle schoolers.
Verdict: Worth the read … great middle school book
Eve O. Schaub
Wait, another book on minimalism! Haven’t I already read a million? Why, yes I have. But this one is different. It’s a memoir of Schaub’s attempt to live clean up her house. See, Eve is a hoarder. Not quite at the newspaper stacks to the ceiling level. Actually, you would just think she’s messy, until you enter the “Hell Room,” packed full of anything and everything Eve deems of value – like a dead mouse. Although Schaub is a good writer and she explains the thought process of a hoarder pretty well, I didn’t particularly like the book. I read too many cringe-worthy moments – like that dead mouse – where I just wanted to say, “Oh, honey! No.”
Verdict: Skip … unless you really like hoarders
Capitalizing on his Hamilton fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda has a new book out full of daily pep talks. Apparently, for the last few years, Miranda has been sharing little aphorisms every morning and night on his Twitter account. Compiling together the best pairs of tweets and adding fun illustrations by Jonny Sun, Gmorning, Gnight aims to inspire readers to conquer their daily lives. In my opinion, without the illustrations, this little book would be dead in the water. With the illustrations, it was … okay. Nothing I would ever purchase. Maybe save yourself some time and just scroll through his Twitter feed instead.
Verdict: Skip … unless you really like aphorisms
Kiese Laymon’s memoir Heavy spent plenty of time on the New York Times Bestseller list in 2018. Despite having six overdue books and a stack of checkouts, when I saw Heavy highlighted at my local library, I knew I had to check it out. I can’t say that I’m glad I did. One chapter: that’s how far I got. Reading it, I was expecting a memoir similar to Roxane Gay’s Hunger, about obesity in America. Instead, Laymon starts you off right away with strong language and descriptions of sexual assault and abuse. Maybe the book is worth all the attention it’s gotten, but the subject matter ended up being way too heavy for me.
Verdict: I reserve judgment since I only read one chapter
A classic coming-of-age story that has enchanted readers for decades, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn chronicles young teen Francie Nolan as she grows up in the slums of Brooklyn. Covering poverty and the American dream, Betty Smith’s masterpiece points out the struggles of the poor families of the early 20th century. Yet, the enduring message of this classic book is one of hope for the future. I quickly fell in love with Smith’s endearing novel and loved learning about life in Brooklyn was like a century ago. A 5-Star Read for me.
Verdict: Worth the read … a fascinating classic
In the first half of the year, I’ve seen this March 2019 book release listed by a number of publications among the best new books to read. The premise certainly sounds imaginative. Perdita Lee and her mother Harriet may seem like your average Londoners, but if you look closely something is amiss. In reality, they are famous for their gingerbread, a secret family recipe that is popular in Druhástrana, a far away fairy tale land of Harriet’s childhood.
I was intrigued to see if Oyeyemi’s imagination could draw me in since I’m not huge into fantasy. Even though the book wasn’t long, I could only force my way through half of it. The premise didn’t bother me at all; it was the story telling itself I couldn’t fathom. For the life of me, I had an almost impossible time following the plot. Almost every chapter, I had to pause and puzzle out what exactly was happening.
The events of the story felt more random than designed, and the dialogue (which used italics instead of quotation marks) left me confused as to who was speaking to whom. Sorry, but I have a million other things to read, so I wasn’t going to waste my time trying to decipher Gingerbread.
Verdict: Skip … very confusing plot
One of the best perks of being a book blogger is receiving advance review copies (ARCs) of upcoming book releases from publishers.
At the beginning of each month, I cover all the new book releases coming out, and the July 2019 book releases are right around the corner. Here’s a peek at July releases I’ve already read.
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 July to see which ones I read.
What books did you read in June?