Looking Back: May Highlights

With all the whirlwind of Book Expo and travel and some big life changes coming my way, it's nice to take a moment to look back on what was a lovely month and remember how many good books came my way. The Bout of Books provided just the push I needed to get my reading self back in gear, and a lot of time on planes and trains meant even more reading than usual. Which is not at all a bad thing.

An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay: This may have been one of the most difficult books I've read all year, if not in all my reading life, and also one of the best. As such, I've struggled to write about it--how do you review something that is so brutal and yet so honest, that reveals the depths of human cruelty and also our capacity to withstand the worst life can throw at us? You don't, I've decided. But still, you should read this. Just be prepared for an author who refuses to shy away from pretty much anything.

Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley: This little gem showed up in the second Book Riot Quarterly box, and I devoured it in just a few days. A charming story of a woman who takes her destiny into her own hands--by buying a travelling bookstore, no less. Who doesn't want that life?

Invisible City, by Julia Dahl: An awesome mystery-meets-journalist-intrigue story of a young woman investigating the death of a murdered Ultra-Orthodox woman. Read my full review of Invisible City, and stay tuned for my interview with Julia later this week.

My Real Children, by Jo Walton: Jo Walton is my homegirl, I think. Among Others was one of my absolute favorite books of 2011 (is it really that old!?), and while My Real Children is very, very different, it's also very, very good--especially if you enjoy books that push the boundaries of what is possible to ask the "What if?" question again and again.

Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughn (Volumes 1 & 2): Someone recommended this series to me after I lamented the wait for the next volume of Saga, and I don't regret it. It's funky, it's weird, and it's got a balance of girlpower and girlcrazy that just... works.

Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig: DUDES. HOW DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS!? Wendig is an awesome writer--I knew that from reading Blue Blazes--but Blackbirds is so amazingly kick-ass that I cannot believe it took me so long to pick it up. Violent and thoughtful and generally amazeballs, this is. Read it. Read it now.

What were the best books you read in May?


  1. Emily@As the Crowe FliesJune 5, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    I've been hanging on to a copy of The Untamed State for a few months now--got it from my rep because it sounded great, but also tough, and have been waiting for just the right moment to read it.

    May wasn't a great reading month for me. I was pretty slumpy and read only two "real" books, two audio books, and two novel-length pieces of Harry Potter fanfiction. June should be MUCH better!

  2. Untamed State definitely requires the right timing. It's one of the most difficult books I've read all year, but it is excellent.

    And if six books in a month is slumpy, I'm impressed by your normal reading speed!

  3. Looks like you had a great reading month! I've been thinking about buying Blackbirds and The Untamed State for while, I've been hearing good things about both. You might have just convinced me.

    I love Parnassus on Wheels, it's a great book. I read it a couple of years ago for a Novella challenge.

    Like you I've been waiting, probably not so patiently, on the next instalments of Saga, but for reason I'm not very motivated to check out Y: The Last Man..

  4. Both Blackbirds and An Untamed State are amazing, though COMPLETELY different.

    Interesting on Y: The Last Man. It's a different series than Saga, for sure, but it has elements of Vaughn's storytelling that I like a lot. Really I just wish the next Saga volume would come out already...

  5. Emma @ Words And PeaceJune 5, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    thanks for sharing, I want to try the Morley one. here is my wrap up with my 2 favorites: http://wordsandpeace.com/2014/06/01/2014-may-wrap-up/

  6. Looks like you had a great reading month. The best book I read in May was Before I Die by jenny Downham. I highly recommend it.

  7. Invisible City sounds really intriguing to me. I'm going to have to take a better look at it.

  8. The Morley is quite literally short and sweet, and wonderful!

  9. I haven't heard of that, will have to look it up!

  10. It was really fascinating. Up today is my interview with the author, who also writes as a journalist--lots of interesting stuff!

  11. OKAY I will read Blackbirds then. I wasn't totally in on the premise but I cannot resist your raving, esp. when coupled with other ravings about Jo Walton, whom I also love.

  12. I loved Parnassus on Wheels! So charming. And although An Untamed State isn't the kind of book you can really love, it's definitely one of the best, most powerful things I've read.

    And, uh, okay, I will read Blackbirds!

  13. It's really well-done and very very smart. And Jo Walton is just wonderful, isn't she? I loved Among Others.


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