Thursday, May 06, 2021

End Of April Reading

In the last twelve days of April, helped by Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, I read 10 books. I read three books just during the readathon.

American Dirt

My impressions of this book were very coloured by this article from Vox about some of the controversy surrounding the book's publication, including who gets paid to tell what stories. I honestly have had this book out from the library about seven times and never once read it because I felt so conflicted about it. Then someone suggested it for our Blog Friends' Book Club and so I read it, because I don't want to let book club down and be the first person to not finish a book. (Side note: Yes, we've each finished the book every time! Win!!!) But I only read it the night before. I loved the story -- I mean it was sad and scary, but it sucked me in. And our book club discussion was so good.

But after book club, I spent a lot of time reading many of the links in the article I linked to above. And then I put as many authors' books on hold as I could at our library from this tweet. Sadly, our library only carries about ten books by all these authors combined. However, hopefully over the next month, I will get beyond American Dirt and read books written by Mexican Americans. And then my blog friend Sarah read it and linked this article in her review and I was able to put another batch of books on hold.

And there is a good discussion to be had: Who is allowed to tell what story? And the answer to that is complicated and layered but I don't just want to read diverse stories written by white people. To me it's like if the only anti-racism book you read is White Fragility by Robin D'Angelo. Sure, read that (I did) but then go further. Read racism books written by people who have actually experienced racism.

And please, if you see me doing this (reading stories only from the perspective of people who haven't lived it), tell me. I know I am blind to many of the places I am missing with my reading. Phew. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk :)

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)

Of course I loved this book. And as it got closer to the end, I loved it even more. The friendships that Nesta forms were some of my favourite parts of this book. And I keep wondering if Eris is going to get a love story. I think he might... (Those of you who have read this series know what I'm talking about and for the rest of you, I'm sorry.)

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

I don't know where I first heard about this book but I'm glad it came across my radar. It was the story of a boy born with an unusual physical trait and how dealing with it led him to some of his best friends and, eventually, to happiness. I loved the story of friendship and how Sam dealt with life when it threw some pretty big curve balls at him. I read this book in one night because it was so engaging.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

This book took me a long time to read. It was long and not what I expected. While the first part of the book was a lot about Malcolm X's story, the second half was way more about his views after he joined the Black Muslims. I didn't realize how hard his life had been and how intense his beliefs were. I also didn't realize how young he was when he died. I read about 80% of this book during Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and it was good to have big chunks of time to read and really get into this book.

Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0)

I didn't realize until after I'd started reading it, that this is a prequel to The Hate U Give. I loved it and, while it didn't make me sob like The Hate U Give did, it was soooo good. It made me think over and over again about what one of our Blog Friends Book Club members shared about something she had seen. It basically goes like this: "White people don't necessarily make good choices -- we have good choices. Black people don't always have good choices to choose from." Mav didn't have a lot of good choices and my heart broke for him. This was another book I read during the Readathon.

Across a Hundred Mountains

This is one of the books I found through the Vox article on American Dirt above. "'I wished someone slightly browner than me would write it,' Cummins says. (It is worth noting at this juncture that plenty of people who are slightly browner than Cummins have in fact written about Mexican migration.)" This book is the beginning of my attempt to go beyond American Dirt. This book was heartbreaking as Juana's family fall apart and she sets out to find a way to bring them back together. This was another Readathon book for me and I couldn't put it down.

The Book of Two Ways

This book simultaneously made me want to go back to Egypt (for longer than a few days) and not go on an airplane ever again! The stories sucked me in and I couldn't put this book down. I read way past my bedtime and when the book ended, I re-read the first pages again. This is one of those books where I thought I knew what was happening and then, towards the end, I realized I didn't know at all. Picoult is such an engaging storyteller and, while this book didn't make me see many sides of an issue like A Spark Of Light did, it did leave me thinking. Warning: This book is somewhat similar to 28 Summers so I do feel a little conflicted about it. I want to talk to someone about it so, if you've read it, let me know in the comments so we can discuss!

Into the Wild

This book was gifted to me by a Readathon friend, Jenna, when we met her in early 2019. You can read about our meetup here. Since it was a book which didn't have a due date, it went onto my non-library TBR pile and there it's sat, until earlier last week. This was an interesting book to read about a person who took living to extremes. As someone who doesn't relate to that at all (I don't challenge myself through nature survival), it was interesting to read about but I still don't understand it. The author clearly felt some affinity with the person he was writing about as the author is also another person who challenges himself through extreme encounters with nature.


While this book did not cause me to change my life, I really enjoyed it. I like Doyle's no nonsense approach to life and her thinking that our kids will learn more from us if we don't sacrifice all our hopes and dreams on the altar of their childhood. This book made me feel less guilty about participating in readathons and showing my kids some of the more real side of me -- I get frustrated and angry and sad and joyful and it's all good. This book will not be one of my favourites but I am glad I read it.

I had such high hopes for this book because I LOVED Ready Player One and honestly, it left me disappointed. I feel like Cline just needed an excuse to show off all his Prince/Lord Of The Rings/John Hughes knowledge so he wrote another book where he could geek out, and it fell flat. I got so lost in the end and was just reading it because I wanted to finish it, not because I loved it. If you haven't picked this one up, you're not missing anything. But DEFINITELY read the first book because it is so good!

So that was the reading I did in the last half of April. Have I inspired you to pick up any of these books? Have you read any I didn't love and you want to convince me I'm missing something? Did you read American Dirt and, if so, what were your thoughts? Let's discuss in the comments.


  1. I agree with you on American Dirt! I also did read The Book of Two Ways!

  2. Good comments on American Dirt, I will be seeking out more books too.

  3. I really want to read American Dirt - the articles about it are interesting but I've heard strong reviews too - I am conflicted!

  4. I don't think I need to add my thoughts on American Dirt ha. I think you, me, and Erika need a separate zoom to just talk about ACOTR - I have SO much to say ha. I definitely think Eris will get a bigger story at some point - there is something he isn't telling us about what happened with Mor that is going to redeem himself somehow. I also have thought a lot about Erika's comment about 'good choices' - that really struck a nerve with me (in an eye-opening, good way) - I've talked about it with the kids a lot too. I haven't read Concrete Rose yet but plan to. Thanks for the info on Ready Player Two - I had it on my TBR but I think I'll take it off. There's too much good stuff to read out there to spend time on 'meh' stuff ha.

  5. I haven't heard a single good thing about Ready Player Two, which is so sad...I loved RP1!!! But also I'm glad to know to not waste my time. I read Book of Two Ways a few months ago. I didn't love it as much as I love most Jodi P books, but I think it's because I am most certainly NOT an Egyptologist or even remotely interested in any of that, so those sections did nottttt keep me interested. I liked the other storyline with the death doula much more. (Also I remember very little about it at this point, so forgive my super general thoughts here.) I felt same as you about Untamed. Interesting, but not quite the brain-exploding book a lot of my friends found it to be. That's okay though. :) And yes I'm up for the ACOTAR discussion with you and Allena any time!!!

  6. There are many books that really peaked my interest on this list! The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hill and Across a Hundred Mountains are definitely now on my reading list!

  7. You always amaze me at how much reading you get done- so inspirational- thanks for sharing some great reads!

  8. Regarding "Into the Wild," I watched the movie but never read the book. I, too, have no interest in "living off the grid" but through both my job at a blue collar factory and my growing up in a very redneck area, I understand it's a BIG thing many people want to do. Just not me. I like my modern comforts, thanks. I am a few chapters into "Untamed" and so I don't have many opinions yet, but we will see!

  9. I haven't read any of these books; though I did attempt The Book of Two Ways I had such a hard time slogging through the lessons about ancient Egypt and mummies, etc. near the beginning of the book that I ultimately gave up on reading it.

  10. Thank you so much for this thoughtful book review post. I have wanted to read American Dirt and proposed it to my book club but they chose another title to read instead. Thank you for sharing Across a Hundred Mountains. My library has a copy of it and I will request it. I feel certain I have known a number of children who have felt the same pain and heartbreak that Juana experiences. Would like to read the author's memoir, too.


Thank you for being interested in my life as I blog it and for leaving a comment. Comments make me happier than reading a good book and drinking a cold Coke. Almost :)