It can be totally overwhelming to pick a new book, and when reading time is limited I want to make sure that my choices are going to be well worth it. About once a month, I share my reading list in the hopes that it makes your reading list a bit easier to navigate and, more importantly, helps you discover books you really love. After all, life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy!
I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to share my reading list this month.
On My Nightstand This Month
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Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
True confessions: I’m not a cook but I do love a good food-based novel, and if you’re a fan of that genre I recommend adding this one to your list. The author’s love of the upper Midwest is endearingly woven throughout the life of Eva, the daughter of a chef and wine-loving waitress, who, from the very beginning of her life, finds her story being told by food. The structure of the novel is unique as each chapter is written from the perspective of a different person and highlights a unique ingredient. If you’ve spent any time in the Midwest, you’ll find great comfort in the tiny towns and simple ingredients that make up this book. This is not a cheesy romance or fluffy dessert book but it is a beautiful story worth reading.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
When Tara Westover raised her hand in a college classroom to ask what the Holocaust was, she wasn’t prepared for the stares and whispers of her fellow classmates. Nothing about her upbringing by survivalist and fundamentalist parents on an isolated mountain in Idaho had prepared her for this, her first time in school. As she goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge and a fellowship at Harvard, Tara uncovers just how extraordinary her own childhood really was. This memoir is full of difficult and painful experiences in a family that is plagued by mental health crises, abuse, and poverty but there’s also threads of identity and truth that make this a compelling read. For fans of The Glass Castle or The Sound of Gravel.
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
This is the perfect summer beach read if you’re looking for something to lay by the pool with. A sweet romance story but with an interesting premise that keeps it from being total fluff. Margaret’s life changes in an instant on what should be one of the happiest days of her life. Instead she finds herself in the hospital with her perfectly constructed future crumbling around her and an estranged sister and gruff Scottish physical therapist as her only company. I found the characters interesting and deep enough that I wasn’t bored (a hazard of this genre). Katherine Center’s gift is helping us see the complexities of relationships and she certainly does it again in her newest novel.
The Oracle Year by Charles Soule
I grabbed this one as my Book of the Month selection a few months ago even thought as a suspense tech thriller, it’s not in my usual genres. But I’m really glad I did because this was an interesting and a bit mind-bending. Will Dando wakes up one morning with 108 predictions about the future. He decides to post them anonymously online and soon the whole world is obsessed with finding the identify of the mysterious “oracle.” As governments, religious leaders, and powerful corporations all vie for the control of these mysterious predictions, Will must decide how much power the information really contains and the impact of knowing the future will effect humankind.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
My book club picked this one for June, and I’ll be honest in saying I’m not sure I would have read it without their invitation (and isn’t that the point of a good book club!). This is Amor Towles’ first novel set in New York City in 1938. Katey Kontent, a modest secretary and boarding house resident, starts the year in a lowly jazz club where she meets Tinker Grey, a banker and part of New York’s elite. She never could have imagined where that chance encounter will take her as she winds her way through the layers of New York society. Towles’ writing is elegant and sophisticated but also also lends itself to the existentialism of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gadsby. I’m anxious to discuss this piece of literary fiction with my book club.
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What was your favorite read this month? Have you read any of these books before? I’d love to hear what’s on your nightstand so leave a comment below!
PS. As always, you can find all my book recommendations here.
Gotta update my TBR list again. I loved The Glass Castle so I’m definitely going to check out Educated. Also, I have recently been down a reading rabbit hole about the Fitzgeralds and their generation so Rules of Civility sounds intriguing, too. Thanks for the book recommendations!
Rachel @ Never Enough Novels says
I’ve had Rules of Civility sitting on my shelf for over a year. I need that same push to actually read it! I keep seeing amazing reviews and I love the Great Gatsby / Roaring 20’s time period, so who knows what’s stopping me haha.
It’s definitely literary fiction and not a breezy beach read but I’m glad I did read it. It’s not set in the 1920s (1938, actually) but it feels so much like that time period that I’ll be you’ll love it. It’s certainly an homage to New York and Long Island during that time period.
Allison @ My Novel Life says
I read Great Kitchens of the MW a couple of years ago. I kept reading it waiting for it to get better, but it never really did for me. I would get frustrated reading an entire chapter about a peripheral character just to get a few details about the main character. I absolutely loved Educated though. I can’t say enough good things about it. Love your other book recs too!
Allison, I can totally see what you’re talking about with Great Kitchens. It doesn’t leave you satisfied with much about the main character so it’s not as straight forward. I’m glad you like Educated. It was a tough read but really interesting. I highly recommend The Sound of Gravel if you haven’t read that one. It’s another memoir much like Educated. Thanks for commenting!
Stacie @SincerelyStacie says
I really LOVED Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I live in Iowa and have family in Minnesota so could relate to a lot of his story. I’m #3 on Educated, so I’m patiently (not!) waiting for it from the library. I work in education and loved both of the memoirs you mentioned so I’m sure I will love it!
Stacie, I agree, having some sort of Midwest context really made the book relatable. I grew up in Michigan but in a church with a lot of Scandanavian heritage so I connected with lots of the recipes and stories. I hope you enjoy Educated. Of the three is was probably my least favorite but only because I loved the other two so much. Educated felt like it could have used 5-10 years further away from the story to really gain that reflective aspect of a good memoir. I’ll be anxious to hear what you think!
I liked Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow so I am looking forward to reading Rules of Civility. My recent book reviews are linked in my name
Jones the Writer says
The Oracle Year sounds super interesting and up my alley. I’m going to buy it now! Thanks for the recommendation.
It was a super interesting read! Hope you enjoy it.