May 2023 Book Marks
What does this month bring? Mother’s Day, Spring showers and flowers turn to summer blooms and, of course, so much to read! Without further fuss, let’s get down to some possible choices for your bedside table, your beach bag, e-reader or audiobook….
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sittenfeld’s light-hearted romance is a feel-good romp centered around gender relations and the search for true love in the modern age. Sally Milz, a writer for a popular network Late Night show, (think SNL) has largely given up on the idea of eternal happiness. Even her co-writer, an average looking guy, is coupled up with a beautiful actress, confirming her belief that it’s a boy’s world. Sally begins to wonder if the reverse could ever be true. Enter rock singer Noah Brewster, a guest on that week’s show. As Sally and he run through lines for his sketches, she feels something click, but they both go back to their lives. When the Pandemic hits a few months later, Sally moves home to the Midwest, and she and Noah begin texting, which culminates with Sally driving to LA to visit Noah. What happens next will reinforce your belief in true love and good-hearted men.
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai
Bodie Kane spent four miserable years at a rural New Hampshire boarding school, arriving from the Midwest as an uncool kid with a tragic past. When her roommate, Thalia Keith, is murdered in her senior year, the school’s athletic director is convicted. And that’s where everything stays until, years later, as a mother, podcaster and film professor, she is invited back to the school to teach a course. While on campus, the past comes flooding back, exposing the flaws in the flimsy trial. Bodie believes the killer is not the man who sits in jail, but someone else they were all close to. As this story unwinds back to 1995, Bodie begins to realize that she may hold the key to the case. This book manages to be both a thriller and a literary read. Makkai’s previous novel, “The Great Believers,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Not only is this an incredible work of research, but the writing masterfully weaves the story that brought three immigrant families, (one Jewish, one Irish and one Italian) together in a tragic ending. The author threads psychological, historical, and personal narratives that help us understand how generational trauma can determine our own experiences. While it reads like historical fiction, it breezes back and forth between homes and families, a prison, the medical community and the use of prisoners for medical experimentation to reveal the often hidden forces that drive our own lives, loves, and shape the moment in time into which we are born.
Social Engagement by Avery Carpenter Forrey
In the honeymoon suite at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Callie Hart’s marriage is seven hours old and already unravelling. The bride is lying in the bathtub eating pizza, the sauce staining her wedding dress as her groom, Whit, lies passed out in the next room. So what happened? Going backward in time, we see Callie first moving in with her girlfriend to an all-expenses paid upper East Side apartment and life holds some promise. When her ex-boyfriend returns to the city, things begin to unravel and she discovers the explosive secret that her best friend’s family has been hiding. The book is a fun and fast read that reveals what can happen if we remove all the filters in our lives and strip the world down to our authentic selves.
Milwaukee Blues by Louis-Philippe Dalembert
The death of unarmed black men across the country at the hands of law enforcement forms the heart of this beautiful and heartbreaking novel. Drawing from news headlines and stories, this book is a fictional 360 degree look at the step-by-step events leading up to a tragedy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Emmett (named for Emmett Till) is a victim of police brutality. Told from the perspective of the shopkeeper who dials 911, the victim’s former girlfriend, his teacher, football coach and a friend, this is a moving look at the ongoing struggles of racism and the inexplicable pain connected to being a Black man in America.
Between Two Strangers by Kate White
Out of the blue, Skyler Moore receives a phone call from a lawyer and learns she’s the recipient of a large inheritance that will change her life. But when the name of her benefactor is revealed, she’s never heard of Christopher Whaley. When she begins to put the pieces together, she realizes it’s a man she spent one night with, bizarrely more than a decade ago but she needs to know why. Christopher’s angry widow threatens revenge and then one by one, other bizarre events begin to happen. As Skyler starts to solve the mystery, she comes to realize why Whaley chose not to take his secrets to the grave. But if she doesn’t play her cards right, there could be terrifying consequences.
Joy is My Justice – Reclaim What Is Yours by Tanmeet Sethi, MD
We live in a world where we’ve all been told that “joy” and resilience” are within our grasp. And yet, as humans, we will confront challenges, heartbreak, and trauma. Dr. Sethi’s comprehensive guide helps all of us access the power of healing through compelling stories, guided exercises, meditations, and neuroscience. Using her own personal story of having a son with a rare disease, she demonstrates and instructs how joy can be reclaimed at the cellular level, despite the burden and sorrow of past traumas, an unjust world and what greeting card philosophies tell us about being happy.
The Wager by David Grann
Based on the true story of the survivors of her Majesty’s ship, “The Wager,” in 1742, Grann sketches out a tale so grim and gripping, it sounds like a fiction. This well-researched book covers the reality of life at sea in the 18th century and the horror of being marooned for months on a grim, rocky island off the coast of Patagonia. Originally charged with chasing a treasure-filled Spanish Galleon, the Wager’s ship and crew are in trouble almost instantly. When the first group of survivors reaches England with their story, they are lauded as heroes. But when the second rag-tag group arrives six months later, they have a very different tale. Were they heroes or mutineers? And who is telling the truth? Sprinkled throughout the story are the stomach-churning moments of life at sea before antibiotics and sterile surgery. Limbs are lost, children are pressed into service and scurvy and other diseases, not to mention the weather, make life look like a complete hellscape.
*These are books I genuinely love and am thrilled to recommend to my friends. These are Bookshop.org affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I get a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Alternately, if you prefer to rent books at your local library or buy from your local bookstore, I very much support that!