Recent Reads, June 2021

This wasn’t my absolute best month for reading – there’s been a lot going on and I just found it hard some days to get into the reading groove. But there were some really excellent books in this month’s reads, so it’s not a loss at all. And since one of the things I’m most looking forward to doing at the beach is reading, I’m sure next month I’ll have lots more books to share.

Here’s what I read over the past month.

Collage of book covers including: Firekeeper's Daughter, The Majesties, The Dictionary of Lost Words, Just Last Night, Malibu Rising, Anne of Manhattan, The Housewives, and Between Two Kingdoms.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

This young adult novel follows a Native American high schooler, Daunis, who witnesses a traumatic event and deals with the emotional, and logistical, fallout. There’s a lot tackled in one book – social justice, identity, Native American culture, undercover police, family dynamics… the list goes on! There’s a mystery at the heart of it that kept we wanting to read more and more and more. And honestly, I don’t know a lot about Native American culture, so I was glad to see it represented authentically.

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

I had actually started to read this months ago, but wasn’t in the right mood for it. This time around I got into it much more easily. It was a little bit different than I expected, and I’m still kind of deciding how I feel about it. I think it’s one that will grow on me as I continue to think about it! The story centers around two Chinese-Indonesian sisters and their very complicated relationship with their family. The story begins with one of the sisters poisoning everyone at a party, and then continues to unravel, often moving back in time, to figure out what led her to do this. There was a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, and that’s what I’ll be thinking about for a while.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

I loved this book! It’s a mix of fact and fiction, all about the creation and publishing of the first-even Oxford English Dictionary. The focus is really on what words are included, and which aren’t – the ones that aren’t being the “lost words.” It’s so interesting because it looks into the OED from a feminist and classist perspective – which words were left out because they were women’s words, or because they were slang used by the working class? It was fascinating to think about and I highly recommend it.

Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

This was the perfect book to get me out of my reading rut. It’s a light read, in a way, but also deals with some deep topics. I love stories about friendship, and this story was no exception. It centers around a group of four friends, but we mostly hear from the point-of-view of Eve. Very early on in the book, something devastating and traumatic happens, and Eve’s whole world is shifted. It opens up cracks in the friendships and she has to learn how to move forward. It’s really good and one that you just want to keep reading.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I really love Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books – they always tell the story in such an interesting way, either by splitting the points-of-view between different characters or splitting time frames or something else. This one starts at “present” time and then jumps backwards, bringing us up to speed by starting at the beginning. This is another story about a complicated family – they have a rock star father who abandoned them, and are kept together by their oldest sister, who has never really made decisions for herself. All in one day/night, secrets come to the surface, decisions are made, and lives are changed. This is a great choice for a summer book.

Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler

Anne of Green Gables was one of my absolute favorite books growing up, so of course I was going to read this – it’s a modern retelling, set in Manhattan. A lot of the same characters are there – Anne, Diana, Gilbert, Matthew and Marilla – but are all changed or updated slightly. I loved it on it’s own – I think it stands up as it’s own story in addition to being a really sweet homage to the original.

The Housewives by Brian Moylan

If you’re a fan of any of the Real Housewives series, you need to read this book! The author writes recaps for the shows for New York Magazine, but in this book he does such a deep dive. It’s a fun mix of research into the history of the show and how it came to be, and then little fun lists of top Housewives moments and things like that. I raced through it and laughed so much, but also appreciated that it wasn’t a joke of a book – there was real research and content!

Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad

This book is beautiful and incredible and heartwrenching, all at the same time. Suleika Jaouad is a young woman who was diagnosed with cancer right out of college. She actually chronicled some of her experiences for a recurring column in The New York Times, which I read back when it was being published. Suleika is such a talented writer, and there’s something about the way she writes about her experiences that makes them feel universal. If you read any of these books, this should be the one you pick.

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