This month, it was really just all about Cloud Cuckoo Land! Wow. I LOVED this book. It was one of the best books I have read in ages… I would say that this, Notes on an Execution, and Black Cake are my three favorite books from the year so far. And I also need to gush about Going There. I really did not think I would care about / enjoy a book by Katie Couric the way that I did and wow it was just so good.
It was a good month of reading but I did a lot of DNFing in between the books I read here (I DNF’d a couple contemporary fiction books, The Candy House, and Matrix – SORRY!). Books are so subjective, but I always say… if you aren’t loving something, stop reading and pick up something else. Life is too short to read books that don’t have you completely hooked.
Tell me what to read next! I absolutely love your recommendations – tell me what books you’ve loved in the comments section!
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BEAUTIFUL BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every book I’ve read in the past seven years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre. Now you can also filter by GRADE to find exactly what you’re looking for or just peruse my top picks. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list. And of course my big post of everything that I read in 2021.
Everything I Read in April 2022
The Best Book I’ve Read in So Long
Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr
Oh my goodness, this book. It came recommended to me by a friend whose taste in books I really, really respect but when it showed up, it was such a big book that I got intimidated. I started it, and friends… I finished it in just a couple days. And I couldn’t put it down! But I will say that this one is a little bit polarizing. There are so many different stories that it took me a little while to become invested in each one, and then when I did, I wondered how they would ever intersect. But anyway, this is a masterpiece.
There are 3 different main story arcs: one set in ancient Constantinople, one set in modern day, and one set in the future on a space ship (!!! – but it’s not sci-fi-y, if that worries you at all). You are kind of like “what is happening” in parts, but trust me… just stick with it, the way it all ties together is magical. The last 200 pages took my breath away! I don’t know if I will ever be able to stop thinking about this book. Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org
- Overall Score: A+
Contemporary Fiction + Thrillers
The Lies I Tell, by Julie Clark (out 6/21)
You might remember how much I loved The Last Flight (same author), which made me extra excited when her publisher sent over an advance copy of this one, her newest! This was very good. Not as good as The Last Flight (in my opinion), but still very good. It was a satisfying, read in 24 hours thriller. It also satisfied a few of my favorite thriller tropes: two women who hate each other but really should be best friends, con artist with a heart of gold, and also: scorned woman taking down the man who wronged her years ago. (Those aren’t spoilers, both become pretty clear right from the beginning.)
The plot surrounds Meg (a cunning con artist with a fascinating backstory) and Kat (a journalist who believes Meg has wronged her). Their paths intersect at a Los Angeles fundraiser where both women attend, with their own separate agendas. It is fast paced and twisty (set amongst a lot of beautiful California real estate) and a very satisfying ending. I couldn’t put this down, I found it so enjoyable. Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org
- Overall Score: A-
Cover Story, by Susan Rigetti
I will start by telling you that I am currently experiencing scammer fatigue after all of the TV shows that were out this season (My Friend Anna, The Dropout, etc!) but saw this book on so many must-read lists, so ordered it immediately. Scammer fatigue be damned, I loved this book! If you ask me, this is 2022’s perfect beach read. I read it within 24 hours and loved every minute. Just a fun, unputdownable little scammer story. Anna Delvey, but have her work for a fashion magazine. With a side of a Caroline Calloway ghostwriting?
Lora Ricci is a naive college student, struggling to make ends meet… attending NYU and interning for ELLE. When she meets glamorous clean-energy heiress Cat Wolff, the two form a highly unlikely friendship… with Lora ultimately dropping out of NYU, moving in with Cat at The Plaza Hotel, and going to work as her ghostwriter. You know what’s going to happen and you really cringe as Lora giddily (and naively!) writes about her new life in her diary. I absolutely loved this book. Also, the ending gave me whiplash – I’m still thinking about it! Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org
- Overall Score: A-
Sister Stardust, by Jane Green
I loved this book! (Although: major content warnings for fatphobia and eating disorders + domestic abuse too). It took a little while to get into but once I did, I was hooked. It felt a little bit like a mashup of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six. Think of an older (wiser) woman telling her story of her younger (wilder, irresponsible) years in sixties London (and Morocco!).
Claire is from a small town outside of London. She has a difficult relationship with her stepmother, she struggles with her weight, she has no idea what she’s doing with her life. A chance encounter leads her to Morocco and suddenly she’s befriended a group of incredible musicians, fashion designers, and artists. She befriends the magnetic, ethereal Talitha Getty (falling a bit in love with her in the process), but the glittery life is not as it seems. This world contains a dangerous amount of drugs, sexual experiences that make her uncomfortable, plus violence and abusive relationships she can’t make sense of.
I loved the blend of history and fiction, and could not put this book down. It also made me want to plan a trip back to Morocco immediately. I felt like I was back there again (I went years ago, and fell in love with the city). Highly recommend this… one of the most fun historical fiction books I’ve read in ages. Besides, I have such a soft spot for Jane Green! Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org
- Overall Score: A-
A Modern Classic!
A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
I wanted to read this book before tackling The Candy House (which ironically, I wound up DNFing 60% of the way through). It’s a little bit older, from 2011. I don’t need to tell you that it is exquisitely written and smart (it won a Pulitzer after all), but this is such a good book! I loved the writing style and haven’t read anything like this. It is one of the stranger books I’ve read (strange in a good way), centering around music executive
Bennie and his troubled assistant Sasha. The book feels a little bit like a tangle of vines. Each chapter is a different story, told from the perspective of someone new (we hear from Bennie and Sasha in the beginning and then from a different person somehow connected to one of them throughout). Sometimes it is confusing whose story it is. But the way that each of the different stories intersect, casually providing backstory to the other stories (if this sounds confusing, it’s because it is confusing to explain so just trust me!) Is really beautiful and so smart. I have never read anything quite like this book. Also, do not listen to this one, this is best consumed as Audio, as a big section of the book is actually in chart form! Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: A
Going There, by Katie Couric
I need to stress that I have never been a big morning show person or even a fan of Katie Couric. I knew who she was and she seemed like a smart, good person, but she just wasn’t someone I cared about or thought of as relevant to my life. So when a slew of you recommended her memoir as my next audiobook (saying how juicy it was), I was intrigued but thought… “can I handle 16 hours with this person I don’t really care about?” The answer is YES, and also, I now care deeply about Katie Couric. I loved this book. Loved.
Katie takes us all the way from her childhood through her rise in media to the #metoo movement and what happened between her and Matt Lauer all the way through until today. I went from not knowing anything about her to feeling deeply invested in her life. It is heartbreaking (she takes us through her husband’s death from colon cancer), self-deprecating and vulnerable at times, and also very salacious (she does not hold back). There have been a lot of criticisms about this book. Some say too much name dropping (ummm, she’s Katie Couric, she is allowed?), and the New York Post leaked several quotes out of context, but I really, really enjoyed this book and think that pretty much anyone and everyone will enjoy it. Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: A+
Capote’s Women, by Laurence Leamer
This book was amazing and such a fun listen. I have always been especially drawn to/captivated by mid-century glamour… style icons like Babe Paley and C.Z. Guest… the sort of lives Slim Aarons photographed. This book was a (sometimes ruthless and brutal) look into their world, with Truman Capote at its center. It was really fun to listen to, and felt like fiction at times. I found the chapters on Lee Radziwill particularly salacious.
For years, Capote struggled to write his (never published) final novel, Answered Prayers, a thinly veiled work of “fiction” that documented the dark secrets behind his group of female friends (which he called his swans). Ultimately, when he published a few chapters of the book in Esquire magazine, it cost him his friendships. The swans almost immediately banished him from their high-society world and he was left a social pariah. In this book, Laurence Leamer re-creates the world of the swans (Barbara “Babe” Paley, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Slim Hayward, Pamela Churchill, C. Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy’s sister) – their secrets, relationships, and friendships… with Truman at the heart of the novel. It’s absolutely fascinating. I learned a lot and was also entertained throughout. Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.org.
- Overall Score: A
Disclosure: If you buy something through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only feature things I truly love here. Thanks for your support.
I absolutely love your review of each book! Thank you for giving me a list of books to start the summer- I was in a rut and I don’t know what to start with now.
That makes me so happy – enjoy!
Thank you, as always, for this! I love when you post this blog each month. I open my Amazon account on one screen, read your reviews on the other, and load up my Kindle with great new reads. It is such a GIFT!
This made my morning! So happy to hear it.
I also DNF’d Matrix. I loved Lauren Groff’s short story collection, Florida. And I know so many people who are obsessed with Fates & Furies. But I could NOT get into Matrix. Can’t wait to try Cloud Cuckoo Land at your recommendation!
I’m so glad I’m not alone – just couldn’t get into it!
Same here! I loved Fates and Furies but DNF’ed Matrix. We have way too many good books to read to try to get through a book that we just can’t get into.
YEs!!! Fates and Furies was one of my faves!!! I was SO excited for Matrix, I even went to a live book signing, I read a few pages and DNF ….just not for me!
So glad it wasn’t just me, y’all are making me feel better!
I only allow myself to DNF if I’m really not enjoying the first few chapters, like unable to absorb the plot out of boredom or confusion. If I make it halfway through, I’m finishing it, dammit! Thanks for the reviews. A lot of these sound promising for summer reading. I’m currently reading The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman, which is an intelligently-written, trip down memory lane–and it has a great cover!
I like that rule!!!! I am a big fan of Chuck Klosterman, may need to order that!
You MUST read All the Light We Cannot See. It’s a book that I couldn’t stop thinking about once I finished, and was one of those books where I was genuinely sad when it ended. The start is a little slow just like probably his other book but don’t DNF this one! Doerr is such an amazing storyteller…
I really feel like I’ve read it but am not sure if I have! I am going to order it and see? Worst case I give it to a friend!
I was honestly shocked you haven’t already read it since you read SO much more than me!! (Do NOT mean this in a bad way, I was really just surprsied!)
Bought Cloud Cuckoo Land for my fiancé and I’m dying for him to get through it so I can read it next, ha! I loved Project Hail Mary for BOP Bookclub this month. Ordered Notes on an Execution and Black Cake on your recs and am eager to get to them ASAP!
It is so good! I hope you love them both (and the others as well!)
Welp, just added all of these to my Library holds! Thank you, always love your book recs!
So happy you love them!
Adding many of these to my TBR pile! I just finished “Hello Molly” – Molly Shannon’s new memoir, I absolutely loved it. I listened to the audiobook, but now now want to buy a paperback of it as well, so I can highlight all my favorite passages!
I have heard really good things about that… I love her, she is so funny. I am adding to my Audible!
Thank you! I love your book recos. I DNFed Matrix recently too so can empathize on that, I felt guilty but I just wasn’t enjoying it. The writing style wasn’t for me.
It is so hard to DNF a book that you know is well written and is considered a “great’ book by so many. I felt guilty as well. But I try to remember that books are subjective!
Cloud Cuckoo Land was kind of a funny read for me because I was so not into it (maybe 1 or 2 of the storylines) but also can recognize that it’s really well written & a beautiful story for those who it did click for. A very clear, wasn’t for me but can see why it may be for others.
Putting Cover Story on my summer reading list. Also scammed out but this one sounds good!
Yes, even with scammer fatigue I definitely enjoyed it!!! And you are totally right, I felt that way with a few of the books I stopped reading: like, “I can see why others would love this, but nah, not for me!” Books are so subjective!
Yes to Cover Story – such a fun read; I loved how the story was told through journal entries, IMs, etc. I also read and loved The Cartographers (mystery/thriller with just a dash of magical realism) and A Face for Picasso (really beautifully written memoir by a woman with Crouzon syndrome). Am currently devouring Book Lovers and keep having to remind myself that I’m working and can’t just read all day!!
OOh I will have to check out the others, I haven’t read any of them!!!! I feel the same, just want to lounge and read all day, sadly there is real life and work deadlines 😉
Right there with you on scammer stories – OBSESSED. Just read the two-part Vanity Fair article on Elizabeth Finch (writer from Grey’s Anatomy). Put Cover Story on my to-read list on Goodreads but definitely sounds like it’s taking inspiration from the Caroline Calloway scandal? Or is that just me?
I am pretty sure it did!!!
Love these monthly round-ups, Grace!
Cover Story is on my TBR, especially after learning the book’s author (whose maiden name is Susan Fowler) is the same woman who was named one of Time’s people of the year in 2017 after writing the now-infamous blog post about her experience of sexual harassment at Uber that was the catalyst for the big shakeup!
Oh I had no idea! Thank you for sharing.
I loved Sister Stardust!!! Coverstory is up next for me!!! I really enjoyed “One Italian Summer” a few others:
Who is Maud Dixon
The Lifestyle (arc)
Limelight & Musical Chairs (older by Amy Poepple)
Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
GRACE, have you read “The Arrangement” Or any of the books by Kiersten Modglin? I love them, very fast paced and twisty!
I haven’t!!! Adding to cart, thank you for the rec!
I just finished The Unsinkable Greta Jones & am going to start Kate Spencer’s book next.
Ah you are in for a treat, it is SO GOOD!
I love that you separate out physical books and audiobooks! My TBR is never ending, but I’m always looking for a good audiobook rec specifically! I devoured Cover Story (which I actually read on audio!) and now I want to get the actual book and re-read it to see if I missed any details. So good!
Yes! I feel like I consume them so differently!
Cloud Cuckoo Land was one of the best books I’ve read in the past 10 years. I would not have picked it up if it was not for your recommendation. Thank YOU!
YAY I am so glad to hear that!!!