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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

May Wrap-Up: My Favorite Reads of the Month



My very favorite Bossy May reads!

Here are the six books I most loved reading this past month.

If you've read any of these titles, I'd love to hear what you think!

And I'd also love to hear: what are some of your recent favorite reads?


 

01 The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak's The Island of Missing Trees explores past Turkish-Greek conflicts in a small island community while illustrating the interconnectedness of grief, love, community, and nature in this heartwarming literary fiction story.

Since her mother Defne went into a coma and never woke up, young loner Ada Kazantzakis has continued to live in London with her distracted botanist father Kostas, who has little brain space for anything but his plants.

A fig tree with its own voice and point of view--I loved that there was no explanation, just a plunge into this omniscient, sometimes prickly, often opinionated view--witnessed Kostas's young love with Defne. The fig tree shares the story of the young lovers and while exploring the conflicts between Turkish and Greek characters in the book, also emphasizes the interconnectedness of nature and of humans over the centuries through her ecologically-centered vision of life.

The ending section is lovely, with heartwarming promise, hope, resolution, and a fig-tree-related revelation that I loved.

I listened to The Island of Missing Trees as an audiobook.

For my full review of this book, please see The Island of Missing Trees.


 

02 We Must Not Think of Ourselves by Lauren Grodstein

Grodstein tells a poignant, powerful story of the Warsaw Ghetto--of making a life within its prison walls and of finding resistance and even love in the face of despair.

As Lauren Grodstein's We Must Not Think of Ourselves begins, it's November 1940, and Adam Paskow is one of the thousands of Jews newly imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. He teaches English to children and adjusts to the shock of living in a flat with many other people--and understanding that this is his new reality.

The heart of this story was inspired by the real-life project aimed at preserving the testimonies of Jews in the Ghetto, code named Oneg Shabbat. Stories of various characters are interwoven through the historical fiction novel and add depth to the story.

Adam finds love in unlikely places, recalls his life, and finds ways to try to make a difference in the face of despair. Grodstein presents this incredibly difficult situation through various characters' attempts to accept impending doom, their wavering hope, and the incredibly powerful bonds they build to each other.

I listened to We Must Not Think of Ourselves as an audiobook.

Click here for my full review of We Must Not Think of Ourselves.


 

03 Baby X by Kira Peikoff

Baby X explores the complex issues around an imagined future with genetically chosen embryos; Peikoff also digs into origin stories and sense of identity, duty, trust, and vulnerability in the various storylines of this intriguing book.

In an imagined United States of the near future, any cell can be transformed into an egg or sperm. The process of creating embryos has been revolutionized, and parents can use Selection to analyze and choose an embryo based upon certain traits they desire in their offspring.

But anyone with nefarious intent can theoretically create an embryo with the DNA of anyone with whom they've come into contact and obtained cells from. This means that sought-after DNA specimen sources such as celebrities are in potential danger of having their DNA stolen while going about their daily lives--and ultimately having biological children that they're unaware of.

I was happily intrigued by how all of the pieces of this story fit together, and the revelations that came late in the book kept me hooked. Meanwhile Baby X explored interesting, complex, sometimes moral and ethical issues, including those around choosing qualities in a baby, balancing various dangers and promising traits. Peikoff also touches on the importance of origin stories and identity, and her characters fight to trust, to show vulnerability, and to do the right--sometimes difficult--thing.

Click here for my full review of Baby X.


 

04 Betting on You by Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter delivers funny, charming banter and an opposites-attract tension in this heartwarming rom-com about divorce, trust, blended families, and vulnerability.

In Lynn Painter's rom-com Betting on You, rule-following seventeen-year-old Bailey and sarcastic, joking Charlie meet at a fraught moment--they're both leaving Alaska and coping with their parents' divorces. They're polar opposites, and they drive each other crazy.

Now they're living in the same hometown again, and, coincidentally, they're about to be working together at a bizarre hotel fun park.

When Bailey and Charlie fake date in order to try to thwart the new relationship between Bailey's mom and her always-around boyfriend, Bailey realizes she's got feelings for Charlie. And Charlie's emotionally immature, but he's never let his guard down the way he does with Bailey.

Painter delivers charming and funny banter, emotional growth, deep friendship, plausible missteps that keep the couple apart, heart-wrenching moments of vulnerability, and heartwarming looooove.

Please click here for my full review of Betting on You.


 

05 The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year by Margaret Renkl

This gorgeously written set of fifty-two love letters to nature encourage reflection and urge the reader to pause to honor even the less glamorous wonders of wilderness.

In The Comfort of Crows, Margaret Renkl offers a literary, nature-focused devotional of 52 chapters, each meditating on an element inspired by her close examination of the goings-on in her backyard.

Renkl's beautiful, striking observations range from a New Year's Day sighting of a crow and her exploration of crows' senses of community and cleverness, which she hopes set a tone for the year to come; to a grief-stricken examination of deadly fads such as the desire to have a vibrant green yard, free of weeds, and the widespread impacts of the poisonous chemicals required to achieve such a thing.

Renkl weaves in stories of her pivotal childhood encounters with nature, and for me the book really shone when she included her family's current shifts and changes in poignant passages she linked to her observations of nature. I adored this element--possibly because with a senior in high school, I am also facing enormous pending alterations to the makeup of our household.

I listened to The Comfort of Crows as an audiobook, but I think this one would have been even better read as a physical book for easier pausing and pondering.

For my full review, check out The Comfort of Crows.


 

06 The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

This captivating story involves time travel, but it's primarily about deep human connections, complete with fantastic, funny banter; awkward adjustments to the time period; and love and deep heartbreak. The ending is wonderful.

In a world of the near future, a young (unnamed) woman is one of several civil servants offered a mysterious job: she'll be a handler for expats--and paid very handsomely for her work.

But the expats the government is gathering aren't necessarily from another country. They're from other times in history.

The main protagonist's focus in her work is Commander Graham Gore (a character based upon a real figure from history), who has been whisked from a desperately failed expedition in 1847 to the book's future setting.

In order to be a "bridge" for Gore between his past and the present, she'll have to explain why she's showing so much skin, why it's not healthy to smoke all day, and what a washing machine is.

But the bridge and her client are building bonds deeper than either could have imagined; the love story between the bridge and Gore is strange, heartwarming, steamy, fraught, and just lovely.

For my full review, please see The Ministry of Time.

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