This was a REALLY GREAT month of reading. Which was nice because last month was a little meh! I read a lot and that is because mostly everything on the list was pretty light (we’re getting into beach read season!!!) A few good romances, a few good thrillers, some great historical fiction AND I still can’t stop thinking about American Spy. Highly recommend everything on this list!
PS – Just going to say this again for anyone who is new – I never give spoilers in these reading lists BUT if you listen to a book club episode of our podcast, there WILL BE SPOILERS. (Last month, we read Normal People and next month we are talking about The Idea of You!) Those are our “book club” episodes so listening would be like showing up to book club and not reading the book – you can totally do it (we give a summary up front) but if you plan on reading the book I’d wait!
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every.single.book I’ve read in the past few years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, etc!) to find exactly what you’re looking for. I always add whatever it is that I’m currently reading in real time to my Amazon Shop.
And one last thing! What should I read next? Your suggestions are the BEST… thank you, thank you!
Some good old fashioned creepy thrillers!
Everything I Read in May 2019
The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
I LOVED this one. I had mentioned in last month’s list that it was a kind of meh month of reading so I really wanted to read something good and so many of you had recommended this to me. It did not let me down!!!! Alicia Berenson has a perfect life. She’s a beautiful artist, married to a fashion photographer, living the life in London. One night she shoots her husband Gabriel, five times in the face, and decides never to speak again. She is institutionalized. Both her + her deceased husband’s artwork sky-rockets in value. Years later though, she still refuses to speak.
The book is told from the perspective of criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber, who is fascinated (maybe to a fault) by Alicia. He becomes obsessed with treating her, and is led down a very dark path as he discovers the truth. There’s a HUGE twist and I guessed it literally one page before the big reveal which is the most satisfying type of thriller (you guess the twist but not too far out). I absolutely loved this one and for all my thriller obsessed friends, you will too!
- Overall Score: A-
My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing
My friend Kate loaned me this book while we were on vacation and I forgot about it until about a month after we’d gotten home. I promptly devoured it within a couple days. It’s a fun, murdery thriller (reminiscent of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, if you watched that). The unnamed narrator and his wife Millicent are good parents. They have a nice life. She sells real estate and he is a tennis instructor. Oh and they’re also serial killers.
It’s twisted and dark and I don’t want to tell you too much for fearing I’ll give it away but I really really enjoyed this one. Enjoy might not be the right word – so I should clarify: I felt anxious and panicky and couldn’t put it down? I think that for me, the most disturbing part was how much they loved each other (and their children), yet could still do such terrible things.
- Overall Score: A-
The Beach Reads Everyone Will Be Talking About.
That’s What Frenemies are For, by Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell
Sometimes you just want something light and juicy that you can tear through in a day or two and that’s where books like this come in. If you loved Fitness Junkie or When Life Gives You Lululemons, you will absolutely love this. Julia Summers is your standard Upper East Side rich lady – she’s a little bit mean and obsessed with social currency, being the person who influences her friends, etc. When she finds herself stuck in the summer for the city, she discovers Flame – the hot new spin studio. She takes sweet Tatum (her instructor) under her wing as her “project,” but things don’t go quite as planned.
Tatum isn’t quite who she thought she was, her friends begin to abandon her, and her husband finds himself in hot water at work. She finds herself unable to trust anyone, and discovering that “perfect” life of hers may not even be the life she wanted. I really enjoyed this. I read it while feeling under the weather and it was just the thing… the perfect rich b*tch turns it around sort of story. It was very fun to read and frankly, made me grateful for my non-mom life in Brooklyn. It’s not out til July 30th, but I definitely recommend pre-ordering it!!!
- Overall Score: B+
Necessary People, by Anna Pitoniak.
I couldn’t put this one down. It reminded me a lot of Social Creature which we read for the podcast last year – though I liked this one much more. It’s the story of two college friends, Stella and Violet. Stella is the rich and pretty one, for whom everything always comes easy. She’s your classic irresponsible party girl who just glides through life. Her best friend Violet is the hard worker. Violet’s always ready behind the scenes to fix whatever problem Stella has created. But then they go off to college and Violet finds herself succeeding at work, finally out of the shadows.
She starts off as an intern for a network show and quickly climbs the ranks to producer. She’s finally built the life she wants – until Stella decides she wants her own career in TV. It’s the story of ambition and the darker side of female friendship (one that I’m fortunate to have never experienced but love reading about). It took a pretty dark twist, which I wasn’t crazy about, but I still really enjoyed the book!
- Overall Score: A-
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
First of all, Christina Lauren is my favorite. Whenever they (it’s two friends writing together) have a new one, I drop whatever I’m doing to read it. When Olive’s twin sister (and entire wedding party) gets food poisoning, there’s a non-refundable honeymoon up for grabs. The only people that are well enough to go are Olive and her sworn enemy Ethan (the groom’s brother). And so despite hating each other, they head on the romantic trip of a lifetime… to Hawaii. Through a series of semi-predictable events, they fall for each other.
Parts were a bit predictable and parts reminded me of The Hating Game a bit too closely but honestly? I loved The Hating Game so it was kinda nice to go down that “two people who hate each other fall in love” story arc again. That being said, the ending is quite different and there’s a fun twist + a really nice relationship between the sisters. Predictability aside (sometimes that’s nice?) I highly recommend this one!
- Overall Score: B+
A Few Good Historical Fiction Picks.
Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
I feel like something is wrong with me. Because everyone is obsessed with this book. And while I REALLY enjoyed it, I wasn’t as obsessed as the rest of the world. It’s really well written, it’s fascinating and has a great plot but I didn’t want to scream to the world about its amazingness when I finished reading. (And that’s what everyone else has done!) Set in 1938 Manhattan, it’s told through the eyes of Katey Kontent, who grew up in Brooklyn and starts a career in a Manhattan law firm as a secretary. It’s the story of being young in New York. Of being let down.
It begins when she and her roommate Eve meet Tinker Grey, a beautiful and exciting young man with and adventurous spirit. Suddenly she finds herself immersed in this very glamorous world of New York high society. But all that glitters is not gold. There are twists and turns and she finds herself let down (and shocked) time and time again. She also finds herself, learns to rely on herself (my favorite part), and begins to build a career in magazines. I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it. But as I said above, I didn’t find it to be the life changing book that everyone else did!
- Overall Score: B+
Park Avenue Summer, by Renée Rosen
There is this genre of historical fiction that I like to call “historical fiction light” and I love it. There’s usually a bit of romance, you tear through it while still learning something, it’s juicy and fun but still well thought out and researched. That’s what this book falls into for me. This one is about Helen Gurley Brown, the first female EIC (editor in chief) of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Alice Weiss (an aspiring photographer, fresh from the Midwest) lands a job as her assistant – the perfect foot in the door! She’s not prepared for the craziness that ensues.
The (mostly male) staff at Hearst is stuck in the past and determined to make Helen fail. Editors + writers are resigning left and right, takedown plans are put in place, but Helen somehow endures. This is light and fun but also a wonderful celebration of female ambition and friendship, with a side dish of steamy romance. I couldn’t put it down.
- Overall Score A-
The Surprisingly Complex Spy Thriller
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
This one came highly recommended by Becca. And I was all for it as I love anything about the CIA or FBI – I think maybe I secretly wish I were a spy? But this is SO MUCH more than just a spy thriller. It’s political, it’s racial, and it definitely challenged the balance between right and wrong… it’s just such a great book. Marie Mitchell is a young black woman (in the eighties) working with the FBI during the Cold War. She finds her career stalling. It’s a good old boys club and despite the fact that she’s brilliant and always two steps ahead of everyone else, she’s tasked with menial jobs and constantly being underutilized. She finds herself tapped to join a task force dedicated to undermining Thomas Sankara (the communist president of Burkina Faso). But everything is more complicated than that.
I don’t want to give too much away but I was unable to put it down and I felt really agitated/anxious the whole time (the sign of a good thriller). I loved that it was based on true events (it’s worth reading up on Sankara; he’s been called “Africa’s Che Guevara.”) But what I loved most was how complicated it was. And all of the nuances of what it must have been like to be a black woman trying to make a name for herself thirty years ago. I couldn’t stop thinking about it days later which is the sign of a great book for me!
- Overall Score: A
photography by Carter Fish.