Everything I Read in May 2019.

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 PatientThe Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides, 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 DowningMy 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 GershellThat’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.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 UnhoneymoonersThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren 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 TowlesRules 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+

Everything I Read in May 2019 - Park Avenue SummerPark 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

Everything I Read in May 2019 - American SpyAmerican 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.

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Comments

  1. Gotta check out the two A- rated books! They sound so good, and thrillers are my favourite genre! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Lynn Clarke says 6.4.19

    Great list as always, thank you. Highly recommend “Lights All Night Long” by Lydia Fitzpatrick – fantastic read!!

  3. Katie says 6.4.19

    Grace- You need to read Still life with tornado by A.S. King. It is YA and includes a little art, a little magical realism in which the main character meets herself at age 10, age 23 and age 40. Her family is in crisis and it slowly unfolds why. It was fabulous. Read it in two days!

  4. I’ve been toying with Necessary People…I really liked Social Creature (also…how F’d up was that book?!) and have been waiting for some more reviews of N.P. to come in.

    I also think I’m due for a re-read of Rules of Civility…I remember really liking it when I read it, but I don’t think it was 5 stars or anything for me…I also read it before everyone was calling it life-changing, so I wonder what that label would have done to my reading experience!

    And adding American Spy to my list..thanks for the rec!

    • Oh -and a recommendation for you…City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert…just finished and loved it!

    • I’m glad you agree! I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t find it to be life changing!

      And I have to read City of Girls! It’s been sitting in my book pile for ages.

  5. Ooh I can’t wait to start reading these. I didn’t love Rules of Civility either, it was good but it didn’t make my toes curl. I just finished I Found You by Lisa Jewell and it’s my favorite one of hers yet.

    • I’m so relieved that I’m not the only one! I love Lisa Jewell’s books so must check that out!

  6. Caroline says 6.4.19

    Wow you went through a lot of books this month! I put all of mine away until I finish my boards examination but might get the kindle version for “necessary people” and “ the silent patient”. I have read so much hype about the last one that I might finally cave in. Thanks for the reviews

    • Yeah it was a busier month of reading! Can’t recommend either of those two enough – you will love!

  7. Gilly says 6.4.19

    ‘Historical fiction light’ – love this and know exactly what you mean! Have you any other recommendations in this genre? Thanks, Gilly from Australia.

    • I can’t think of any off the top of my head but definitely check out the reading list page! Thestripe.com/reads – you can filter by genre and then within Historical Fiction it’s pretty easy to tell what’s light. I think the Fiona Davis + Beatriz Williams books def fall into that category.

  8. Olga says 6.4.19

    “American Spy” sounds so good, adding it to my list! I’m going to start reading “The Great Believers” next!

    Olga
    http://www.littlethingsolga.com

  9. Katie says 6.4.19

    I so agreed with you about Civility! It was fine! I think I’ve read a lot in that genre so it didn’t stick out as anything truly amazing. Have you read the overstory yet?

    • Exactly! It’s fine but not amazing.
      I started The Overstory and then put it down (for no reason than I had to start on something for the pod; we’re struggling choosing our July book!) need to revisit!!!

  10. I loooooooooved Rules of Civility! LOL there is something wrong with you hehe

  11. Eleni says 6.4.19

    I felt the same way about “Rules of Civility”!! So glad to hear I’m not the only one, haha. Highly recommend “Before She Knew Him” for a twist-y suspense, too!

  12. Not going to lie, I can’t remember the last time I read a book! Whoops. But your posts like this totally inspire me!

    xoxo
    Cathy, your Poor Little It Girl
    https://poorlittleitgirl.com

  13. Nicole says 6.4.19

    I’m one of those that loved “Rules of Civility.” However, several in my friend circle agreed with you. We all read “A Gentleman in Moscow” also by Amor Towles. That one was met with rave reviews by everyone. Strongly recommend it if you haven’t read it already.

    • Ah interesting! So I bought that, but friends who loved Rules of Civility told me that it’s too slow! So I never started. Maybe I will have to!

      • Nicole says 6.5.19

        I can see that. You have to get almost two-thirds in and then it takes off. I know – such a long time before the action hits. 🙂

  14. Lacey says 6.4.19

    I also read The Silent Patient in May, but I thought it was just okay. I read Normal People in May, so now I need to listen to your podcast. I agree with the other commenter regarding Before She Knew Him. I’ve also discovered the author Jane Harper and now I must read all her books. I finally read Daisy Jones and The Six. Deserves all the hype. Have you read The Island of Sea Women? I might have mentioned it before. It’s really good.

    • I have not but will have to check it out – thank you for the suggestion!

    • Heidi says 6.4.19

      I agree – The Dry by Jane Harper is a great read. So evocative of small town Australia.

  15. Judy Barker Shappley says 6.4.19

    I felt the same way about Rules of Civility but I loved his A Gentleman in Moscow. It’s a wonderful story with beautiful writing and subtle humor. I also really adored the characters.

    • Interesting! I’ve had friends say it’s really slow so I’ve been hesitant to read it!

  16. Victoria says 6.4.19

    AGREE ON RULES OF CIVILITY. In fact, both of Amor Towles’ mega hits were just NOT my thing. I gave up on A Gentleman in Moscow a third of the way through, even though everyone raved about it. Did you read that one too?

    • I AM SO GLAD YOU AGREE (especially because you have such great taste in books). I bought a Gentleman in Moscow but haven’t started it yet because everyone said it’s really slow!

  17. Christina says 6.4.19

    Just an idea, no need to implement it if it is incredibly cumbersome or difficult, BUT I was going through the Book Club page a few weeks ago, trying to find all of the books you rated either an A or A+, and thought, maybe you could add a way to filter by grade? Anyway, LOVE all of your book recommendations, though apparently so does everyone in my area, because I always have to join the library’s waitlist for anything you’ve recommended 😉

  18. Jenna R says 6.4.19

    Grace, I look forward to this post every month! You always have the BEST recs 🙂 Thanks for compiling my summer beach read list 🙂

  19. Rebecca says 6.5.19

    I absolutely love all your book recommendations! A while back I passed a so-called “Street Library”, I don’t know if you have heard about it before? (I wrote a blog post about it). It serves as a “library on the run” where people can borrow books, read it and put it back. The idea behind it is to share the joy of reading with others. I absolutely love this idea and I’m actually thinking about making one in my hometown! 🙂

  20. Vanessa says 6.5.19

    I’ve been debating whether or not I should pick up The Silent Patient for the longest time, and after reading your review of it, I *know* it’s a book I need to read ASAP. Once I’m done with The Death of Mrs. Westaway, I’ll look for The Silent Patient at the library. Thanks!

  21. Kayla says 6.6.19

    Always LOVE your book round-ups. Def adding “That’s What Frenemies are For” as a perfect light summer read

  22. Aimee says 6.6.19

    I always love reading these posts because I always get so many recommendations. I’ve read so much lately its hard to pick a few, I read Normal People and loved it flew through it over one weekend. I can’t wait to listen to that podcast episode. If you liked Normal People you might like her other book Conversations With Friends I just finished it 10 minutes ago. I am away to start Naturally Tan by Tan France then I have The Unhoneymooners up next which I’m excited to read!

  23. Rebecca Dexter says 6.9.19

    The Doc Ford series by Wayne Randy White…anyone who loves a thriller/mystery and is familiar with the southwest coast of Florida should love this series…should read in order…first one is Sanibel Flats

  24. Ellie says 6.14.19

    Just recently was referred to your blog by a friend and am loving it! Read through most of your monthly reading posts in the last year LOL and remembered you saying somewhere you wanted to branch out a bit reading books that are a little different from your usual. If you haven’t read it already, you might enjoy Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. I recommend it to every one of my girlfriends and can’t say enough about it. I love his standup to begin with and he writes in just the same style and jokes that you can hear his voice while reading (although I’ve heard that the audiobook is much better for this reason). Rather than a typical comedian giving their rise to fame story, he goes on a very in depth research project on Modern Romance (get it?) and even compares international cultures too. I absolutely loved it and thought it was so well written and clearly had a lot of work put into it.

  25. Cynthia says 6.14.19

    I adored A Gentleman in Moscow. Will have to give Rules of Civility a try!