April 3, 2020

What I Read in March 2020

Turns out I can make up a lot of reading ground when I’m isolating at home! I read 10 books in the month of March, which means I’m now only three books behind schedule on my goal to read 100 books in a year. I’m guessing this will finally be a year I reach my goal, or maybe even go a little bit over! This month, I gave five stars to several books – mostly novels that helped me escape the real world a bit. With all the stress in the world, I’m trying to read stuff more for fun than for personal growth. I would love your recommendations on novels I should try!

All of my five star picks were wonderfully engaging novels, with the exception of Radical Candor, which is one of the best business books I’ve ever read.

5 stars:

The Lies That Bind, by Emily Giffin: Tore through this book in one night as I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. There were so many twists and turns along the way, I couldn’t guess how it was going to end, but I was pretty satisfied with the happy ending (at least in my opinion) we got. It was fascinating to watch Cecily live through 9/11 and the aftermath, and while she kept a big secret throughout much of the book that felt a little odd, it wasn’t quite Sophie Kinsella-style where I was angry at the silly girl for not just telling the truth. This was so different from Giffin’s other novels (although some of the characters from her other books did, of course, make a cameo), but I really liked how it made me think about the circumstances that cause us to lie, and whether good people can make mistakes and do bad things… but still be good people at heart.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, by Kim Scott: This was one of the best management books I’ve ever read. Scott addresses so many different aspects of being a boss and potential scenarios, and has a great way to handle each of them. It’s made me think a lot about my own approach and how I can improve. I realized pretty quickly that radical candor fits squarely with my management philosophy – there were some examples where I thought “of course, doesn’t everyone do that?” and others where I thought “oh wow, I need to start doing that!” Can’t recommend this enough.

The Summer House, by Lauren K. Denton: What a sweet novel! This was my first foray into Lauren Denton’s books, and this novel reminded me a bit of Jenny Colgan’s delightful books (which are among my favorites). The pace was on the slower side, but honestly, that’s about what I need right now. I liked that the romance was understated rather than a too-good-to-be-true fairytale, and I loved the community setting, which had so many characters with depths to explore.

What You Wish For, by Katherine Center: What a sweet, cute book! Although the main character was a little bit annoying at first with her quirks, I still got into the story quickly and soon started rooting for her. I had a lot of trouble putting this book down and ended up finishing it in 24 hours! It was a lovely read, with a few twists along the way that I didn’t expect, and enough humor to keep me chuckling and in a good mood. Exactly what I needed to read right now, and I’d highly recommend it to friends. I will definitely be looking for more of Katherine Center’s books!

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens: People raved about this book, and I see why! I couldn’t put it down, and finished it in one day. The characters pulled me in immediately, and though I could guess at the way some things would turn out, others surprised me. This was a beautiful novel and I’d highly recommend it!

4 stars:

Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner: Not at all what I was expecting from Jennifer Weiner, who usually doesn’t tackle murder mysteries. However, the rest of the novel was her signature – with deep, unexpected truths about how we view ourselves and how tangled our relationships can become. I really enjoyed this novel and it was really interesting to see how what we portray to the world (both on social media and also even in person) may not be the same as what lies underneath. Highly recommend this.

What Happens in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand: When I realized this sequel was out, I was excited, as I loved the first Paradise book! This one was still a good read, though, I didn’t love it quite as much as the original. As other reviewers have pointed out, it felt a little bit like filler before all the action is (presumably) going to happen in the third book. Still, it was great to get reacquainted with the characters… now I am just eager for #3 to finally be released!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris: Most of my friends raved about this. I definitely enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I realize that it’s based on a true story, but sometimes it felt like the author was trying to cram in too many anecdotes. Some of them also seemed a little bit unbelievable, which is ironic given that they really did happen 🙂 But I think I may have enjoyed it more if some liberties were taken to make it “seem” more realistic. The ending also felt quite rushed. Where was Lale when the camp was liberated, and when Germany / the Axis parties surrendered? Although the book covered this period, I was surprised not to hear when / where he got the news and what his reaction was; instead, we moved on to looking for Gita without telling the reader that she was sure to be out of the camp one way or another by then. Overall, a good WWII book sharing a different perspective, but not my favorite.

3 stars:

The Dinner List, by Rebecca Serle: The premise of this book was fascinating (a dinner party with your five dream guests, living or dead). The execution? Meh. I found the first half of the book really confusing – the author got right into the content with any backstory, and I had trouble figuring out who everyone was at the table. But once we started focusing on the relationship between Sabrina and her ex-boyfriend, it got a lot more interesting, and I enjoyed it.

The Regrets, by Amy Bonnafons: This was one of the most avant-garde, weirdest books I’ve ever read. Parts of it were engaging, but others made me want to stop reading and give up. It was an interesting premise for sure, and the writing was good, but I can’t say I’d recommend it just because it was SO. WEIRD. Also, a lot of gratuitous sex that didn’t really seem to move the plot forward.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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