May and June Reads

May and June Reads Collage

I did pretty well in May and June- I finished 8 books, so I guess that’s about a book a week! Right now I’m at 20 out of 30 books for my Goodreads yearly challenge. If I keep up with this pace, I might up my goal to 35 or 40 books!

If there’s any season in particular that I associate with reading, it would have to be the summertime. I mean, summer reading is pretty much it’s own category. When I was a kid, my library had this awesome program where you kept track of all the books you read over the summer and depending on how many books you read, you were awarded certain prizes. I was already a voracious reader as a kid, but that program encouraged me to read even more. Man, I miss being a kid in the summertime- it was kind of the best.

Okay, enough with my nostalgia and on to the books I read in the last two months!

May and June Reads Collage

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- A week or two before the movie came out, I decided I was going to reread this book because I could barely remember what it was about. The first time I read it was during a high school English class. You’ve probably read this one too or heard enough about it in the last few months, so I won’t recap it, but I was glad I read it again. I picked up on a few new details this time around and the ending was kind of a surprise to me all over again. Even though I managed to finish the book just before the movie came out, I still haven’t seen it! If you did see it, what did you think?

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- In the beginning of May I was kind of on a classics kick, so after reading this post I decide to reread Little Women as well. I’d forgotten how good this book is. While reading it you just care so much about the characters- you laugh when they laugh and you cry when they cry. I’m still not over the fact that Jo doesn’t end up with Laurie in the end because I think they’re a perfect match.

3. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Discalfani- It’s the Great Depression era and right at the beginning of the book, Young Thea is packed up and sent to camp after she commits a terrible indiscretion. For a while you don’t know exactly what she’s done, although that it’s awful enough to make her family send her away indefinitely. Camp is her first real experience away from home and the comfort of her family; she learns how to take care of herself and realizes that she can survive on her own. As I was reading the book, I was enjoying it, but as it came to an end I kind of realized all at once how selfish and self-absorbed Thea is. She does certain things because she wants to and because they make her happy, but doesn’t really consider how her actions might affect other people. Despite my reservations about Thea’s character, I still generally enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it.

4. Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard- I was at a bookstore with a friend a month or so ago and he recommended that I read a food memoir about Paris. At the time, he couldn’t remember the title, but he promised to lend me the book when he found it at home. I started searching online for that book* to see if I could trigger his memory and in doing so I stumbled on to this book. I don’t think I’d really read a food memoir before, but I definitely enjoyed this one. It’s the story of how the author met and fell in love with her future husband in Paris. She talks about what it’s like to live in a different country and, since food is an integral part of this story, what it’s like to cook in a different country. There are recipes at the end of each chapter and I definitely bookmarked a few of them to try at some point. Of course, this book didn’t help with the serious case of wanderlust I’m feeling at the moment, but it was definitely a fun read. (*The book my friend was actually referring to is The Sweet Life in Paris– it’s now on my ‘to-read’ list!)

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- This was also a great book! I remember being drawn in by the cover during a browse session at Barnes & Noble (I often go there to kill time) and writing down the title so I could look it up later. As you may guess from the title, the two main characters are Eleanor and Park and they couldn’t be more different. Eleanor is a redhead who comes from a broken home and Park is half-Korean and lives with two parents who love each other but who don’t always understand him. Chance brings these two together and it so cute to read about them falling in love. I didn’t actually realize that this was considered a YA novel until after I finished the book, but it does make sense. They may be teenagers, but I didn’t feel that their story was too childish at all. This book is so adorable and funny. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars, I wouldn’t be surprised if you liked this book as well.

6. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- I actually wrote about the book elsewhere (see below for more info) and you can check out my thoughts on this one here!

7. Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown- Owen’s life completely changes forever when he’s captured by the notorious pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. Owen, a chef, is famous for his talents in the kitchen, so Mad Mabbot forces him to cook a delicious meal for her once a week, using only the ingredients found on her pirate ship. If she likes the food he makes, he’s allowed to live for another week. At first Owen tries to escape whenever possible, but over time he becomes more comfortable in his new life on the ship and learns that much of what he thought was good and right in life, was not actually. It’s so interesting to read about how Owen prepares each meal considering his very limited resources. You might think, “Food and pirates? What a strange combination!” but it totally works in this book.

8. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi- At first I was really excited about this book- I knew the main characters were Ghanian and Nigerian and since my parents are also Nigerian I was looking forward to reading a novel told through that perspective. However, I had some problems with this book. I did not like the first section. I was slogging through it and was about to quit after 40-50 pages or so, but I felt guilty and kept telling myself to give it a little longer before I gave up completely (side note- How long do you wait before giving up on a book that you’re not enjoying?). This is a story about family, specifically about Kweku, his wife Fola and their four children. In the first section Kweku dies and the narrative flashes back and forth between his death and his family’s reaction to the news of his death. I guess I’m glad that I kept reading because I liked it more once I got through the first section. Another one of my problems was the author’s writing style- I still don’t think I’m a fan of the style, but by the time I got to the middle portion of the book I suppose I got used to it. I like to read reviews before and after I read a book and in this particular case there were many people raving about this novel. I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but I wouldn’t say that I hated it either. That doesn’t really help you decide whether or not to read it, but what can I say? I’m conflicted about this one!

Before I forget, the wonderful Eli of Thrift Eye recently allowed me to contribute to her series A Literary Take on Fashion. It’s seriously one of my favorite blog series ever and I’m so thrilled I was able to join in on the fun. Check out my part here!

Tell me: What have you read recently? Do you find that you do more reading in the summer?

Disclaimer: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes, but these are my honest thoughts and opinions about the book.