April 2020 Wrap-Up

I think the insanity of home isolation must finally have gotten to me, because I posted this way, way too early (April is not over yet). Oh, well. Some days are like that. I’ll update this again at the end of the month, when I meant to publish it.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

This was a very funny book, not least because members of my family have referenced the title for years whenever they thought someone was exaggerating something too much. Plus, this is the origin of the “Clean All the Things” meme. I’m not an artist, so books like this–with intentionally simplistic/”bad” art–are fascinating to me, because it’s delightful, but I could never create something like it because I’d overthink too much. ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me?: Kaling, Mindy: 9780804138161: Amazon.com: Books

I’ve always liked Mindy Kaling. Kelly is one of my favorite characters on The Office, and I’m always super impressed by people who write for the shows they star in. I’m so jealous of the multitude of talent. That said, I didn’t love this memoir. Part of that is because memoirs generally aren’t my thing (although I do enjoy them occasionally), but mostly it’s because this feels like bonus material that got cut from something else. Some of the chapters read like TV pitches that got passed on rather than something meant to be in a memoir. Maybe that’s because this is Kaling’s second memoir (I haven’t read the first). Maybe it’s just me being too critical. In any case, I had fun with Why Not Me? but I didn’t love it. ⭐⭐


The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

The_Boleyn_Inheritance

I read more historical fiction than usual this month, starting with The Boleyn Inheritance, which follows the stories of Henry VIII’s fourth and fifth wives, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. It’s well written and turns history into a gossipy soap opera in the best way, but in my opinion it runs a little long and repeats itself too often. I liked it a lot, but I was glad to be done with it by the time I’d finished. If you’re interested in this period of history, definitely give it a shot, but read The Other Boleyn Girl first, as it’s slightly better. ⭐⭐⭐


At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

at the water's edge

This book disappointed me. It took me a very long time to get into it, and by the time I settled in and got interested I was nearly two-thirds of the way through. It didn’t help that the storyline that primarily interested me was one that was buried so deeply in the subtext that it may as well not have been there (and was abandoned entirely by the end), so I ended up frustrated and disappointed by what I didn’t get as well as what I did get. This is a good read for historical romance fans, but I suspect most other readers would rather skip it. If you’re looking for great WWII fiction, I’d suggest Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief instead. ⭐⭐


Solitaire by Alice Oseman

solitaire

Alice Oseman is one of my favorite writers. I only discovered her last year and I’m already going back and rereading her books (and buying the ones I initially got at the library). Solitaire is her first book, and was somehow written when she was still in her teens (how? It’s so good!). Oseman does a fantastic job of approaching unhappy and even mentally ill protagonists with empathy and nuance, and everything she does is populated with delightfully three dimensional characters who are broken but beautiful. I can’t recommend her writing enough. ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

secret life of bees

This is one of my mom’s favorite books. I read it the first forever ago and didn’t really like it, but figured that enough time has passed and I should give it another chance. There are lots of fantastic books that I disliked in my youth because my reading level advanced faster than my maturity. Because my mom loves it so much, I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, my opinion hasn’t changed much. The first time I read The Secret Life of Bees I was a little put off by the idol worshipping. This time, I was less bothered by that than by the way the narrative places a white girl in the middle of a story about racism in 1964. I liked the book fine, but at this point I’m resolved to the fact that I’ll never love it. ⭐⭐


Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats: T. S. Eliot, Edward Gorey ...

I am not a fan of poetry, but I am a HUGE fan of musicals. I have a lifelong love of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, and therefore I love the poetry book it originated from. I’ve read this book many, many times over the years and I recently got a new copy of it because mine was so well-read that there was literally not a single page still attached to the spine. The poems are cute, and I can’t read them without singing them. The illustrations, which are by Edward Gorey, and they are precious. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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