Monday, June 1, 2020

What I'm Reading! May Books

Welcome to June! It feels so hard to believe it's already JUNE, but it also feels like it should be August, right? We are getting into somewhat of a groove around here now that summer has officially begun. I've been getting up and exercising every morning because of all the sitting we are now faced with doing. I get a walk in (as early as my night-owl body allows because, y' is hot already!) and then I do a 30-minute Beachbody workout to round it out. It's made me feel a LOT better. On my walk, I've been listening to an audiobook. I'm normally a car-listener, but since I rarely ever drive anymore I had to adjust! Ok, on to books for May!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I don't know why this one called to me at the end of April/beginning of May, but I re-read The Hunger Games and LOVED it again. I need to get moving on the sequels and grab the prequel, but I haven't done anymore than the first one for now. If you've never read it before, it focuses on a "game" that is played each year in Panem, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic America. The country is now divided into 12 districts, and each year a boy and girl are chosen to participate in what amounts to a murderous, barbaric, Olympics. It is an honor and a privilege to be chosen in the richer districts, but the poor districts see through the facade of the tradition. Katniss, a girl from district 12, takes the place of her sister when she is chosen. Katniss is literally fighting for her life. It's a really great dystopian book, if you're into those. (If you are, I'm sure you've already read it!)

Mister Rogers Neighborhood: A Visual History by Melissa Wagner, Tim Lybarger, Jenna McGuiggan, and The Fred Rogers Center
Ohhh, this book. Who else loved Mister Rogers as a kid? This was a biography that centers MOSTLY on the show itself. The book is HUGE with gorgeous photos. It was a beautiful story of how the show came to be and is full of interviews with people who were cast members or friends. The most interesting thing about Mister Rogers, to me, is that he was SO authentic. Who we saw is really who he was. Was he a great leader and boss and businessman, yes. Did he use his power and authority in a disappointing way? No. The fact that a skeleton has never come out of his closet speaks so highly of him to me. What a one-of-a-kind! The other thing that I found incredibly interesting was how he put the show together. Watching it as an adult, it seems so SLOW compared to other kids' shows. That's completely and totally intentional. He uses pauses to allow the kids to think about things and really because that's how a conversation works - there are pauses for pondering and listening. He would write each week's show (each week had five shows that fit together to teach complete lessons) and then have a child psychologist look over it to be sure he was pushing out a truly educational show. If your kids haven't watched Mister Rogers, it's on Amazon Prime. Will LOVES it and James will still sit down and watch if it's on. What I love about it is that it isn't seen as a "baby" show by them because it's not widely watched by kids their ages. They also LOVED Daniel Tiger so in contrast to that cartoon, this seems more grown up!

The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren
I'll start by saying that this was not my favorite Christina Lauren book. (Christina Lauren is an author duo, not just one person.) This story was about a married couple who star on an HGTV-ish show. Behind the scenes, though, things are FALLING APART. They've just released a book about marriage and they can't even be in the same room together. On their book tour, their assistants, James and Carey are forced to go with them so that they can hold things together for the couple. While this wasn't a bad book, I've just enjoyed other books of theirs more. I didn't really connect with the characters and I didn't like some of the decisions they made. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. I'll read others that they've written!

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth
Psychological thriller! This is the only one I read this month. I hadn't ever read any of Sally Hepworth's books before, but I will read more. I didn't love this story, but I did LOVE her writing style! Lucy and her family are home one night when the police show up and tell them that her mother in law, Diana, has committed suicide. In the days following, we find out that the suicide was staged and that she was actually murdered. The story moves back and forth between past and present, told by both Lucy and Diana. I loved how the story unfolded and couldn't put it down. I wasn't a fan of how she wrapped up the story, but it did make sense. I didn't see it coming at all (Jennifer, you would've figured it out by chapter 2, I'm sure!). I'll be looking for more of Sally's books ASAP! This is worth the read if you even tame psychological thrillers. It wasn't clear who did what, but it also wasn't scary. 

All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
Oh, this book. All Over But the Shoutin' just about broke my heart! Rick Bragg tells the story of his own upbringing with an alcoholic daddy who didn't stick around and a mama who worked herself to the bone and did the best that she could for her family. Rick worked from the ground up to get where he is now (flip to the last page of your Southern Living each month) and had lots of heartache along the way. The most haunting thing about the story, to me, is that he has worried his whole life that his daddy's dna will someday wake up inside of him and he won't be the person he wants to be. His marriage ended and he has never had children because of the worry that he is his daddy's son. The love he has for his mama is beautiful. My favorite part of the whole story was him taking her as his date to receive his Pulitzer Prize. She'd never really left home before and he took her to New York City. This is definitely worth a read, especially if you're from the south. If you're not from the south, this is a good peek into what it looks like to be poor in rural Alabama (could be Georgia, though!). 

I'm almost finished with a few others so June is shaping up to have a great list of books as well! (Yes, I read multiple books at a time. It's the number 1 thing that slows me down, but I can't not do it!) I hope you're enjoying reading this summer!

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