Today is May 1st! It’s a return to our typical routine and I am so relieved because I’ve missed sitting at the table and learning along with the kids. I feel so lucky to be able to homeschool and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I know that breaks are just as important as routines so I’m happy that my children got to take a breather, but last night Bryce was quite relieved when I reminded him that school starts again today. That’s a good sign!
Today I’m sharing my April reading wrap-up. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed in my reading last month. There were several books I wanted to squeeze in and it simply didn’t happen for a myriad of reasons. But I can’t be TOO upset because I read some really amazing books – let’s talk a little more about them!
📚 Choosing my favorite book in April was easy: Homecoming by Kate Morton. She is one of my favorite authors and I was so excited when this was published. It’s full of everything I love: cozy details, a strange mystery, and a clear love of the bookish life. I don’t know how Morton manages to weave such intricate mysteries and I love watching her unpick family secrets to resolve her stories. Torrie mentioned that Morton’s endings seem very tidy. I agree – she tends to wrap everything up and tie it with a bow. Luckily – that doesn’t bother me when Morton does it! By the time the story ends, I’m relieved to have everything resolved. I will be (not so patiently) waiting for her next novel. (While grabbing the link from Amazon I saw that Claire Foy is the narrator for the audio version!)
♀ Prize reading! I got some reading done for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
- Trespasses: Set in Ireland during The Troubles with a likeable main character. This was shortlisted for the prize.
- Wandering Souls: A trio of siblings make the dangerous journey from Vietnam to a better life in the UK. I couldn’t put this one down and wish it would have made the shortlist!
- Stone Blind: A retelling of the Medusa legend, full of humor. Not shortlisted but definitely worth reading.
- Black Butterflies: Set in the opening months of the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, a reminder of how much is lost by wars. This was shortlisted for the prize.
👓 I also finished last year’s International Booker winner:
- Tomb of Sand. I’m glad I read it, but thought it was way too long and can’t imagine recommending it to anyone. But you never know!
📓 Women Talking fit right in with my Women’s Prize reading in April and I was left wondering why it wasn’t nominated for anything? A group of Mennonite women discover that their nightmares were a reality: boys and men were sneaking into their windows, drugging them, and then assaulting them. This book is a recording of their conversations about how to respond. It was outstanding: it deftly covered so much of the internal debate a woman has when she’s in an abusive relationship, and it does so with humor and compassion. I am looking forward to reading more by this author this summer. Up next: Night Fight, thanks to a recommendation from Kat!
- We finished a morning readaloud, Willodeen. This was a great book to read together and gave us so many writing prompts. This is for readers of any age who care about the environment, believe in speaking up for what’s right, and who love the cozier side of life. Katherine Applegate hasn’t disappointed us yet!
- Bronwyn and I finished two Samantha books (Changes for Samantha and Samantha’s Surprise) and an Ivy & Bean (Make the Rules). I like how she’s been choosing to mix things up lately! You all know I was skeptical about how much I’d like Samantha given how great Addy’s stories were. But Samantha is holding her own and I’ve enjoyed these books. And Ivy & Bean are just silly girls who do the strangest things. Bronwyn loves them!
- Bryce’s interest in Captain Underpants hasn’t waned in the last 4 or 5 years. We read three before bed in April (Numbers 3, 5, and 6). I bring home chapter books from the library to try to sneak in, but what can I say? The kid likes a comfort read before bed and I can’t really blame him. Despite all of my efforts, expect more Underpants in the coming months!
May Reading Plans:
I started to say that I had a lot to catch up on because it felt like I didn’t read as much in April, but I’m actually following my original plan pretty closely. I know that two or three weeks of good reading will help me feel caught up and the following list is (almost) possible.
I share this list nearly every month in the hopes that you will join along with anything that looks especially good to you. I hope you’ll consider a buddy read with me!
- Pod by Laline Paull (Women’s Prize shortlist)
- Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks (Women’s Prize shortlist)
- The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff (Women’s Prize longlist)
- The Dog of the North by Elizabeth McKenzie (Women’s Prize longlist)
- Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel (International Booker Prize shortlist)
- Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (International Booker Prize shortlist)
- Whale by Cheon Myeong-Kwan (International Booker Prize shortlist)
- The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier (International Booker longlist)
- The Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison
- The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry
- Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich
- Instructions for a Heat Wave by Maggie O’Farrell
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (slow & steady: aiming to read 1/3 in May.)
- The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
- When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
- The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
- Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin (reread)
- Fight Night by Miriam Toews
- Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Maybe that list is not at all possible? I’m a terrible judge of such things! We’ll see how I’m able to plug away at it. Which ones have you already read? Are any already on your TBR? I’d love to hear more about your own May plans!
And now I have a batch of sourdough chocolate chip cookies waiting to go into the oven and I’m going to throw together a quick sourdough lemon cake. If we’re going to have a rainy week then we should have plenty of baked food for us all! Have I mentioned that I’m relieved we’re falling back into our school routine this week?
I hope to be back on Wednesday. Until then – take good care.
I was going to ask when we were going to start our next Russian brick! I’m hoping to finish up the rest of my Women’s Prize reading this month — I have to finish Stone Blind and read Trespasses, Black Butterflies, Pod, and Fire Rush, and I want to get Wandering Souls in there as well. That’s probably a tall order, especially given how busy work is right now, but I’m hoping I can wrap up a lot of the work stuff this week and have more time in the day to give to books. And at least most of the Women’s Prize books I still have to read are relatively short.
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Well, it looks like you’re making some wonderful progres on those Women’s Prize titles. I saw your two stars for Fire Rush on Goodreads — I’m looking forward to your thoughts on that one next week! I’m considering using this month’s Audible credit for it but am unsure if I should even try??!
I started DZ! I was so relieved to see that it’s nowhere near as hefty as W&P and the writing is much more approachable. I’m on page 96 and I’m sure you’ll have no problem with it when you decide to start reading it!
As always I’m very impressed with how much (and how varied) you read. You have such a busy life, yet still fit time in for yourself (thank goodness!!). Your plan looks ambitious to me, but I bet you can do it! I really like early Kingsolver (not later), and The Bean Trees is one of those – enjoy!
Thank you for your kind words, Vera. This has been a slow reading month for me, but that’s okay. And I’m so excited to pick up Bean Trees!
I see so many books that are on my list. I just need there to be a pause in the publishing world so I can catch up a bit 🤣. Enjoy being back at the learning table.
I totally agree about the pause button! And our return to school went really well – whew! I hope you have a lovely Mother’s Day!
Dr. Zhivago is one of my favorite books. I first read it after seeing the movie and having a teen age crush on Omar Shariff. I read it sometime in the 1960s, during the cold war, and although I knew about the persecution Pasternak faced by the Soviets, I didn’t fully understand the more philosophical parts of the novel. My focus was on the romantic parts. I re-read it a couple of years ago and enjoyed it even more as an adult. Have you seen the movie? I look forward to hearing what you think of this novel!
Debbie — thank you! Your enthusiasm got me to pick this up last week and I am really enjoying it. I was worried because I had such a hard time W&P, but this is so different and much more readable. I have NOT seen the movie, but I will plan to watch it after I finish the book!
How wonderful to be excited about getting back to school this week! I’m looking forward to our next Marilynne Robinson AND Bean Trees … once I finish Fire Rush – it’s hard (content and style – because I know NOTHING about reggae music) but the story is fantastic and I’m rooting hard for the main character.
Thanks, Mary! I am running behind on everything I planned to read in May (and some of April!). I’m hoping June will be a catch up month for me 🙂 I was planning to use my Audible credit on Fire Rush this month – I am anxious to read it!
Still waiting for my copy of Homecoming from the library, but I have picked up some terrific reads.
Cathy – I hope you LOVE Homecoming! And everything you else you pick up while you wait for your copy 🙂
Every month can’t be amazing – but it looks like you did have some good reads in there! Your list of upcoming reads is great. The Bean Trees is one of the only books I’ve ever read twice. I want to go back The Poisonwood Bible as well. And I keep delaying Fresh Water for Flowers on Libby because I have too many other books on my nightstand!
Your comments on The Bean Trees has me excited! I’m planning The Poisonwood Bible in December. Perhaps we can read together? It’s a reread for me too, but I was in high school when I first read it and do not trust my teenage self to have understood it!
I’d love to buddy read it! I think I first read it in 2005ish. I was in Las Vegas and needed a book, and remember buying it at a casino bookstore.
what a fun memory!
Oh, The Bean Trees is wonderful. I hope you enjoy it too!
My kid really loves a comfort read (Big Nate comics) before bed too! If there’s too much strife in a book we can’t read it before bed, something I’ve noticed. It makes sense to me! I don’t want to read anything too hard before bed either. 🙂
Your booklist reminds me of my “To Do List” – I’ve started calling it my Possibility List, and if I get *some* things crossed off the list, but not all, well that is great! I’m trying to be nicer to myself about “productivity.” Anyway, you’ve got some great looking options there!