March BCB: Red Clocks

By Leni Zumas

7/10 - Red Clocks imagines a US with new laws prohibiting abortion of any kind, outlawing artificial insemination, and allowing only married couples to adopt children. While some of the literary devices Zumas used were a bit too floofy for my taste, the story was great. I liked the characters, though I didn't connect with all of them, and it was very interesting to see them navigate this new legislation in different ways. Man, I hope the narrative of this book is never more than fiction. Definitely recommend.

The Fifth Season

By N. K. Jemison

10/10 - Shoutout to Zach for recommending this book! This is a fantastic read that happens far far in the future (if you think it's happening on Earth). It has science, adventure, world-ending catastrophe, and even a bit of magic. This trilogy (third book comes out later this year) has won many awards and is well-deserving of them. I highly recommend picking this one up!

Born a Crime

By Trevor Noah

10/10 - This is the second memoir I've read this year and it's quite different from the one by HRC. While I felt like this jumped around quite a lot, it was still an incredible read. I abstractly knew what apartheid was before I read this book, but I didn't realize how systematic and "successful" it was for so long. Trevor Noah brought wit and humor to a very serious issue and also amazed me with his success in spite of many challenges, the least of which seemed being Born a Crime.

The Power

By Naomi Alderman

10/10 - What a phenomenal book. This book starts not long from now on the "Day of the Girls" when electric power awakens in girls of all ages. Women start to exert this power and begin to take over the world. Here's an NPR review (no major spoilers) and here's my favorite quote from that review: "what a man reads as a horrifying dystopia, a woman reads as a fairly accurate state of the world as it is today." I couldn't agree more with that summation and highly encourage everyone to read it! It's definitely an ode to feminism and girl-power, but it's such a good social commentary that anyone would get something from this book.

February BCB: Still Alice

By Lisa Genova

10/10 - What a phenomenal book. The author writes with such amazing perspective, narrating this tragic story from the point-of-view of someone with Early Onset Alzheimer's. It's a lovely story that is also tragic, it's inspiring and hopeful while also showing the devastation and inevitability of the disease. I highly recommend this book, but proceed with caution if EOA or Alzheimer's is in your family because it doesn't sugar coat the disease, so it can be hard to get through. 

January BCB: Chronicle of a Last Summer

By: Yasmine El Rashidi

5/10 - I really liked learning more about life during different decades and under different rulers in Egypt. What was lacking for me was context. I understand that books don't have to provide you context, but this is a period in history that I am not familiar with and I wanted more background information than the author provided. I really liked the narrator, though, and enjoyed reading this book! It was a quick one, too!

What Happened

By: Hillary Rodham Clinton

7/10 - The book felt a bit repetitive in parts and was a denser read than I was expecting. Hillary is obviously a policy nerd (which is awesome) and has so much experience, so I felt like I learned a lot about her life and history, both within and outside of politics. I felt both saddened and uplifted reading this--it was emotionally wrenching, but worth it.

Jurassic Park

By Michael Crichton

10/10 - Fiction

My only complaint about this book is that there were too many character names to keep track of. I loved this book! The movie is a classic and the book is similar enough that I was excited to read it. But, don't go into the book thinking that the movie is a replica of this story. Crichton's pacing is ridiculously good and I didn't want to put this one down. I liked how there was so much science throughout the story and how it seemed entirely plausible that something like this could really happen. This isn't a life-changing book, but it's a fun read that's quick and exciting. It's a perfect pool-side read and I highly recommend it!

Currently reading: The Lost World and The Joy of Less.

MAY: Hillbilly Elegy

By J.D. Vance

8/10 - Memoir

Read this. As soon as possible. Not only is this book very well-written and quick to read, but J.D. Vance is an incredible storyteller with a fascinating life. Growing up in Ohio, in a community with many transplants from Appalachia, Vance has an interesting perspective on the poor, working-class whites who live in the Midwest. This is not the only story that exists about Vance's "hillbilly," and I recommend reading other memoirs as well (try Sickened by Julie Gregory, but prepare's a rough one). We had great discussion about this one at our book club and I think it's partially because, living in Indiana/being raised in Indiana, we can all relate to parts of his story. Also, while he doesn't state that fixing the systemic and underlying problems that affect the working-poor will be easy, he does give his personal thoughts on what will and won't help.

Told through personal stories, interesting research, and the honest words of one who has been there and seen these things, Vance's story comes alive as you read it and sticks with you long after. I don't think anyone in our book club regretted reading this one, and I don't think you'd regret it either. We all recommend this book!

June's Book Club Pick: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

APRIL: What She Knew

By Gilly McMillan

7/10 - Fiction

This book was exactly what I needed. I wanted a book that was mysterious and intriguing but not so dark that I had trouble sleeping (which I did, but I blame this book + Law & Order: SVU) or was disturbed by the plot. Most people at book club liked it, lots had no idea whodunit, and we all agreed this is not the best book for moms who are home alone with sons and are easily spooked.

I don't have a ton to say about this book, but the writing was decent. Several people had little things about the story that bothered them. Some of us thought the relationship between Rachel and her husband was weird and slightly out of place considering the premise of the story, but I thought it was okay. Generally, if you enjoyed Girl on the Train or other suspense thrillers, you would probably like this book and I recommend you check it out!

May's Book Club Pick: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

My Life Next Door

By Huntley Fitzpatrick

8/10 - Young Adult Fiction

I re-read this book so I could donate it/sell it and I'm glad I read it again before taking it out of my apartment. It starts and seems like just another mushy teen love story, but there's a lot of depth to the characters and the plot. It's definitely not a light and fluffy read, but it is a pretty easy read. Sometimes a good love story is just what I need, and I've been reading a lot of heavier things and dry things lately, so I'm glad I pulled this one off the shelf. The main character has a super controlling mom, finally meets the hot boy next door who has been off-limits her whole life, and then her life breaks down around her, throwing everything into chaos. It's a good reminder that people make a difference, and those close to you can save you or destroy you. I highly recommend this quick read, but just know that it's full of tough issues with a splash of love.

Currently reading: The Kitchen House, The Joy of Less, and Hillbilly Elegy

Keep It Simple

A guide to a happy, relaxed home

By Atlanta Bartlett & Dave Coote

8/10 - Home Decor Book

The title and subtitle of this book are very indicative of the big picture told on its pages. They talk about building and renovating a home and what to consider in planning; they share furniture ideas, fabric inspiration, and ways to tie themes together; they even have a whole section on outdoor living. I love the ideas of being intentional about purchases, finding older pieces to restore or refresh, and getting creative with your house and its decor. However, the actual style of the writers is VERY far from my own and was hard to picture as relatable in my own space. The pages are full of gorgeous old English and French homes with well-loved and worn leather chairs, chipped paint on walls, and sacks turned into pillows and slip-covers. It all seemed very appropriate to the old houses in the book, but not applicable to many other living situations. So, while the words and meaning behind them are wonderful and I'll take them with me into future homes, the style of the book will stay in the book.

Currently reading: The Joy of Less, My Life Next Door, and The Curated Closet