Back in January, after a few months of overachieving in the reading department, I got cocky and upped my yearly reading goal from 25 books to a lofty 50. I'm sad to report that so far, I'm falling pretty short with just 15 books under my belt. Sigh.
However, it's no surprise to me as to why I've been slacking so hard. The two hours I used to spend a day reading on the train to and from work are now mostly used as nap time. Commuting appears to be getting to me, and it makes me sleeeeepy. So, because of that I'm definitely falling behind, but I'm hoping I can catch up a bit over the Summer (what else am I going to do at the beach?). Regardless, some of the books I've read have been bangers, so here's my
Room. God, this book broke my damn heart. Our book club decided to read it because the movie version was coming out (SO good, if you haven't seen it), and it was totally the best book we've read as a group so far. Five-year-old Jack and his quirky kiddo voice speaking on very adult events — his mother is kidnapped, held captive in a small, soundproof shed, and raped repeatedly, which results in Jack's birth — made for one of the most interesting perspectives. I highly recommend this one, and if you're going to read it, don't watch the movie beforehand (because obviously, even though it was an Oscar-winner, the book was better).
The Age of Miracles. This book, despite making me feel extremely paranoid about my life on Earth, was amazing. It's about a young girl who is living in a time where the Earth starts spinning just a bit slower on its axis every cycle, making each day just a bit slower until everything from the climate to agriculture starts becoming affected. It's a stressful read because it seems like such a real possibility of something that could happen to us, but it's also relatable in that it's about a young girl just trying to grow up and fit in, something that everyone has gone through to an extent. It's a very different take on a coming-of-age story.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I have always said that this is my favorite Harry Potter book, and so far, it still is. It's a very close match to its movie counterpart, but still has all of the extra flair J.K. Rowling intended that you can't get from the on-screen version. There's just something about reading about dragons, underwater adventures, and other high-stress competition tasks that makes this one even more of a page-turner than the others.
Before I Fall. I randomly picked this book up from the "New YA" table at the bookstore and it sounded like an easy read, which is what I was looking for. It ended up actually being pretty great. It's a bit like Groundhog Day, but focuses on a teenage girl and her friends who are in a car accident on the night of a party. The narrator, Samantha, wakes up for seven days straight after the accident, and lives the same day over and over again surrounded by her bitchy friends and the peers they are constantly mean to. She tries to change things about herself and her friends each time to see if she can prevent the car accident that she has figured out likely took her life.
After You. This is the follow up to Me Before You, and though I knew that there was no way it would live up to the first novel, it was pretty good. The story starts eight months after the last one ends, and you are reintroduced to Lou and hear what she's been up to since everything that happened with Will. It's a bit sad along the way, but it's hard not to root for a character like Lou, so you'll enjoy the chase for happiness.
The Silent Wife. Snooze fest, man. We read this for book club (I swear this book club is cursed, because most of our choices end up being mediocre at best) because it's becoming a movie, but most of us didn't like it. I thought it was slow, the characters were horrible people who were totally unrelatable, and the story premise itself was a fraud. I hate telling people not to read a book because I didn't like it, but unless you are like me and need to read a book before you see the movie, you can skip this one.
The Girl You Left Behind. I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. I've been well into period dramas since last year, and this one took place half in the present, half in France during World War I, and revolves around a painting of a French woman named Sophie. The first half is from her perspective and about her life before she gets taken by the Germans in 1917, the second half follows the woman that has ended up with her painting 90 years later. Through both parts of the story, you desperately try to figure out what happened to Sophie. It's a heartbreaking and beautiful story.
The Hypnotist's Love Story. This was cute, but as with many of Liane Moriarty's books, there are a few things that end up bothering me. To talk about those little issues would give away too much of the story, but the gist of it is that I can't stand how her stories tend to end very quickly, and in this case, with very little consequence for horrible actions.
The Light Between Oceans. This was the latest book club installment, about a couple who live out on a lighthouse hundred of miles from the coast of Australia. The first bit was kind of tough to get through, as it's a ton of talk about the sea and how lighthouses work and such, but after that I really enjoyed it. The couple has gone through a few miscarriages, and a boat with a baby happens to wash up on the island they live on. They keep the baby, and the rest is a tense story about the web of lies they weave to protect the baby and each other from anyone finding out.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I forgot how totally different this book is from the movie that I have come to memorize every word of. There is so much more character complexity when it comes to Umbridge and Sirius, and even Dumbledore and Harry's relationship is more intense than it's portrayed in the film. This is also probably one of the longest of the series, which is why the movie ended up cutting so many things. I'm really glad I read this one again.
The Art of Crash Landing. I haven't read a book in a while without knowing any single thing about it, and I definitely picked a good read to do that with. Melissa DeCarlo is the exact type of writer I hope to be someday — she's funny, she weaves a great story without giving too much along the way, she makes you think about your own life while you're reading, and she creates characters that are relatable in some small way no matter how wholly different than you they are. I loved this one so, so much.