Books I read in May

The list is shorter this month. Partly it was because my car was in the shop for almost a month (first getting the problem figured out, then getting the transmission replaced under warranty), and the loaner car did not have a working CD player, so my library audiobooks sat and waited week after week (fortunately the library is closed for a move and nothing is due until it reopens). Partly it was because I had finished several books at the end of April and needed to catch up on doing other stuff.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon – this was for the book club at the local library. I also thought it would count for a book set in the decade I was born, but about halfway through the book, the year 1970 rolled around, and toward the end of the book, decades were flying by. I could probably have justified saying it was set larger in the late 1960’s, but it turns out it could also count as a book from a celebrity book club. I had not heard of the Richard and Judy Book Club, probably in large part because I don’t live in England and I don’t care about celebrity book clubs. Perhaps this category is meant to get me to read a book because it is recommended by a celebrity book club, but I really don’t care what celebrities are reading. I joined the local book club, in part, to read books I would not have otherwise, and I think our librarian’s choice is at least as good a recommendation as that of some stranger who happens to be famous. It’s a really good book, giving insight into the lives of people who used to be considered less than human. One line from the book I particularly was struck by is “Sometimes you think you know what you want … until you see how much more you can have.”

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel – for years I had been meaning to read this book, but had not gotten around to it. Then my sister recently sent it to me in a package of books or other stuff. It’s not exactly a gift in the same was as a Christmas or birthday gift, but as far as I’m concerned it counts as a book I borrowed or that was given to me as a gift. And I did enjoy reading it, learning about history and invention as well as how politics and egos got involved and had such an effect on the course of scientific progress on this issue.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – this was my choice for a book about mental health. I had seen two friends on goodreads mark it as one they wanted to read, and while I was not all that eager to read another John Green book, this seemed like a good recommendation. I thought it was a very good portrayal of mental illness and how it so thoroughly shapes one’s life but does not need to define one’s identity. Not that I have personal experience of this type of mental illness (either in myself or people I know), but it seemed very realistic from what I do know of it. I was glad that Green did not either give the novel a “happy ending” or, conversely, a tragic ending. As the book emphasizes, “life goes on.”

The Deceivers by Alex Berenson – this was the second of Berenson’s John Wells books I had read, and I enjoyed this one also. It certainly fits with current concerns in the news about Russian attempts to influence American elections, and I assume that is what gave Berenson the idea for the book – though in his story they go way beyond what they are suspected of in real life. I don’t know how believable the plot is, but I liked the main characters, and it was certainly entertaining reading.

The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry – this is at least the fourth or fifth of Berry’s Cotton Malone books I have read, and for the most part I enjoy them. There was one gruesome torture scene I could certainly have done without – it may be realistic for the character/situation being described, but I would prefer not to have the image stuck in my head. There is also some very interesting history about pirates and privateers, and the novel served its purpose of helping motivate me to ride my exercise bike every morning.

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