Reading Roundup #7

Another month of reading is complete and my current count is 49 books! On pace to surpass my goal of 100 but we’ll see if I slow down once I start graduate school later this summer. Bought two new books yesterday at a couple of local bookstores for Independent Bookstore Day. Be sure to support your local bookstores! And if you are ever in Nashville, check out Novelette and The Bookshop. Now on to April’s top three. Fewer books to choose from since it was only one month but still a little difficult.

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I definitely recommend checking these books out and as always, let me know what books you’ve been enjoying!

#3 Slade House by David Mitchell

I picked up this book because the cover intrigued me: A hardcover, square book where only the yellow frame of the front cover lifts up to reveal even more of a maze on the inside page. I had never heard of this book or this author and going in blind made unraveling the mystery even more exciting. This book spans five decades from 1970 to the present and slowly reveals the secrets of the Slade House which only seems to appear down the street from a British pub every nine years. People investigate, people disappear, and people lose their minds a little as they try to piece together a supernatural-tinged puzzle. A bit of a genre-bender between fantasy, mystery, and horror and definitely unlike other books I have read. I liked that it felt like a short story collection with a common throughline because you read about a new character entering the hunt for the truth of Slade House every nine years. Inventive and definitely keeps you turning the page, I recommend it for anyone looking for something weird and brand new. I think this would make a cool miniseries one day if they did it right, but book adaptations always stress me out so maybe we should leave it on the pages.

#2 Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

This book is actually number five of a series but I haven’t read any of the others yet and didn’t feel lost in the slightest so don’t let that stop you from picking it up! It follows an eccentric family of private investigators as they track down leads, follow people from a safe distance, and for one client, check if they left their sink running in their apartment. The mystery of how several of their client’s cases end up working together is interesting, but the real fun is the family dynamic. It’s told from the perspective of the oldest daughter Isabel who has a habit of hiding from conflict and breaking into houses. She is observing the quirky behavior of her family as the stress of the business and life in general starts to take its toll. Her mother is taking up every new hobby known to man to avoid her mother-in-law who has moved in temporarily. Her dad and sister won’t stop speaking in codenames and secret passwords in order to add mystique to the family business. And her brother is at his wits end trying to keep his life afloat and get his baby to stop calling everything a banana. If that sounds nuts, it’s because it is, but in the most fun way. It’s conversational right down to the footnotes Isabel leaves for the reader and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a light-hearted mystery and some great laughs.

#1 The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

The recommendations came from all sides with this book. My mom, my therapist, and one of my old coworkers talked about this book and it has been on my list but I finally found it at my used bookstore of choice and got to read it! It’s a historical fiction book about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Esme, the daughter of one of the lexicographers, is fascinated with words from the time she can read the slips of paper being sorted to build the dictionary pages. As she grows, she collects words that she finds interesting and starts to realize that words used to describe the common folk and women’s experiences are going unrecorded. To fill this gap, she starts to build her own Dictionary of Lost Words to prove that these words do have value. It’s an empowering book for women and a wonderful read for lovers of words. There is also a bit of family drama, social commentary, and romance sprinkled in to make it an even more satisfying read. Set in the early twentieth century during the women’s suffrage movement, it brings up important conversations and fills in the gaps of history that didn’t make the narrative of history written by men. This is the kind of historical fiction I like. Character-driven and poking at the previously unseen or left out moments of history.

Honorable Mentions:

The Giver Series (The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, Son) by Lois Lowry: I reread this series for our nostalgia-themed book club this month and they still hold up incredibly well. Honestly, the messaging of the novels hit even harder as an adult. Definitely recommend going back to this dystopian world that is painted so vividly.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: Read this book that became a movie and definitely cried in the back half of the book. It follows a woman’s journey through Alzheimer’s and is written with such care. Really helps you see the disease through the eyes of the one going through it, when I feel often we read books from a caregiver’s perspective. Heartbreaking but beautiful, I would definitely check it out.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This was another reread this month after watching Daisy Jones and The Six and it is still just a fantastic book. Character-driven like her other incredible books and taking place over the course of one night at a party thrown by rockstar Mick Riva’s abandoned children, it gets into the heart of family dynamics. The connection to her other books is wonderful here as well for those who read all of her books like me. I think it might be my favorite of hers.

As always, I’m always looking for new books so send them my way and let me know what your favorites so far this year have been! I hope you have a great day!

Rachel (:

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