My Favorite Books of May

My Favorite Books of May

Don't you love it when you like almost every book you read?

 

April was a rough reading month. I read about half the usual amount. I'm pretty sure it's because I was forcing myself to read things I didn't love, despite my belief that life's too short to read bad books. I stopped that nonsense in May. I dropped several books quickly, which set me on the path to a rewarding reading month.

 

I read 11 books in May. Of those, I gave eight perfect grades. So that's a pretty great reading month!

 

Below are the reviews of the three nonfiction and eight fiction books I have perfect grades in May.

 

An American Marriage

I hoped that wasn't going to happen... then it did.

 

Celestial and Roy don't have a perfect marriage, but the newlyweds are making their way toward the American dream. Roy is a young executive. Celestial is a doll maker whose art is catching on. 

 

As the couple begins making their life together, one decision tears them apart. They visit Roy's family and decide to stay the night in a hotel instead of with his parents. That single decision results in Roy's arrest and sentence for 12 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. 

 

Prison officials over turn Roy's sentence after five years. But can he and Celestial pick up where they left off?

Broken (in the Best Possible Way)

Jenny Lawson cracks me up. Don't get me wrong, I know mental health issues are nothing to laugh about. Lawson knows it too because she has multiple psychological and physical health issues. But Lawson chooses to share humor with her readers as a form of coping. 

 

I laugh out loud when I listen to Lawson's books. And I think listening is the way to go. You need to hear her stories in her voice. There is nothing quite as funny as listening to her talk about how she always loses one shoe in public places or the business ideas she wants to pitch on Shark Tank. 

 

I loved Lawson's book Furiously Happy. It made me laugh and cry. It showed the humanity behind Lawson's mental health issues. This latest book just made me laugh. Don't listen to Lawson if you're easily offended. Otherwise, get ready to laugh.

Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance

We communicate differently today than we did just a decade ago. And, I have to tell you, younger people do and think about digital communication differently. 

 

Digital Body Language by Erica Dhawan, an expert in digital teamwork, is an essential read for today's professionals. Unfortunately, I listened to the book, which I regret. I plan to purchase a copy and reread it so I can highlight and ponder more.

 

The gist of the book is that we rely on body language when we communicate in person. Body language, including facial expressions, helps us better understand the intent of messages. But we don't have those luxuries with digital communication, even Zoom. So we've created a kind of shorthand for digital body language. They're new signals and cues that replace body language across genders, generations, and cultures. And, if you want to be effective communicators today, you need to understand them.

Fly Away

Fly Away is Kristin Hannah's follow-up to her book, Firefly Lane. The reader finds the characters struggling to rebuild their lives after their mother and friend, Kate Ryan, died.

 

Tully Hart, Kate's best friend, is a mess. Gone is her television success from the previous book. She can't get work. She started abusing drugs and alcohol after her friend died and rarely leaves her condo. 

 

Marah Ryan, 16, spun out of control after her mother died. She ran away with the wrong boy and is essentially homeless. 

 

Johnny, Kate's husband, is trying desperately to hold his family together. He's raising his twin sons, but Marah won't speak to him. As a result, he often doesn't even know where to find her.

 

When Tully almost dies from an impaired driving crash, the characters come back together for her. They receive unlikely help with Tully's care from her estranged mother. Kate also gives Tully strength and wisdom from beyond the grave.

 

I enjoyed Fly Away more than I liked Firefly Lane. But this isn't the last you'll hear from me about either book. I read them so I could watch the Firefly Lane series on Netflix. So I'll be back with a review of both books and the movie.

 

Jar of Hearts

If you love thrillers as much as I do, you cannot miss Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier. It is the best thriller I've read in a long time.

 

Jar of Hearts is the story of three best friends and one extremely dangerous boyfriend. 

 

Angela Wong disappeared when she was 16 years old. Some people thought she ran away, but her best friend, Georgina Shaw, knew the truth. Geo knew because she was there when Angela died, and she helped bury her. Geo's boyfriend, Calvin James, killed Angela. Then Calvin went on to become a serial killer. 

 

When a man discovers Angela's remains 14 years later, it blows Geo's life apart. And she's forced to tell the secrets she's hidden all of this time.

 

But when police start finding the bodies of other women and children, it is up to Geo and Angela's former best friend, Kaiser, to find the killer before he gets Geo.  

Sleeping Dogs Lie

Audible Originals, free books offered with your Audible subscription, are hit or miss. Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing was a good listen, but not worth it if you don’t already have an Audible subscription.

 

Shelby works as a dog walker. When she goes to return a husky named Pluto, she finds his owner dead. When a detective comes to interview Shelby, it becomes apparent that the death was not an accident, and there's more to the story than previously believed.

 

I enjoyed the book and plan to read more of Downing’s books in the future. I also really enjoyed her book, My Lovely Wife. It’s on my list of 25 thrillers to read

The Good Sister

Fern Castle loves her sister, Rose, more than anyone else in the world. So, when Fern discovers that Rose cannot get pregnant, Fern decides to have a baby for her.

 

But Fern isn't an average young woman. She has a sensory disorder that causes her to avoid crowds, bright lights, and loud noises. It also results in her viewing the world differently, perhaps even more honestly than others. 

 

Fern seems to find her perfect match and intentionally gets pregnant. But giving their baby to her sister turns out to be more difficult than Fern expected. Rose intends to take the baby no matter what, and Fern discovers that her sister isn't the loving protector she thought.

The New Corner Office: How the Most Successful People Work from Home

I get what Laura Vanderkam was trying to do by making her most recent book digital-only, but I'm bummed about it. I need to be able to touch and highlight this book. 

 

Vanderkam is my favorite productivity author. Her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think changed my life. It's one of my favorite productivity books.

 

Vanderkam has worked from home for a while. In her book, she draws on her experience as a productivity researcher, work-from-home speaker/author, and parent to help guide the rest of us. 

 

Vanderkam encourages the following as we embrace the new way of work:

 

  • Manage Tasks, Not Time.  Gone are the days when we worked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or punched a clock. Today's managers and workers focus on getting necessary tasks done and moving on with their lives.

  • Embrace a Rhythm. Routine is important when you work from home. Each person has to determine a morning, work, and shutdown routine that works for them. Otherwise, you'll feel constantly pulled between work and home. 

  • Nurture Connections. Working from home doesn't mean working alone. Vanderkam encourages readers to network in new and old ways.

 

The New Corner Office is an essential read for anyone who works remotely or supervises remote workers. You probably won't learn anything earth-shattering from the book, but it's still important to think about the basics. 

Happy Reading!

 

There they are! My favorite books of May. I hope you find something on the list to read and love. 

 

As always, happy reading!