Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Recent Reads | May

During the month of May I read 11 books, far more than I've managed to finish in a month in a very long time. I picked a few of the most noteworthy ones to talk about here, but a complete list of what I've read can be found on my bookshelf.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
One of this 2015's most popular novels - often called "the new Gone Girl" - is The Girl on the Train, a murder mystery told through several characters' unreliable POV. The novel switches between Rachel, an alcoholic barely holding her life together; Anna, Rachel's ex-husband's new wife; and Megan, a woman whose life Rachel sees in seconds at a time from her daily train journeys. Rachel obsesses over the other two women, and when Megan goes missing she tries to involve herself in the investigation but the truth goes far deeper than she expects. The Girl on the Train has a lot of hype surrounding it but I was let down by the conclusion. The novel dragged on in parts and I thought the ending was too obvious, but it is a fun read and kept me entertained for a few hours while travelling. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Hannah's latest novel centers around two sisters and their roles during World War II - Vianne, the more cautious of the two, allows German soldiers to board in her home and focuses on keeping her family alive, while Isabelle, a rebellious, reckless spirit, assists the Allied efforts in any way she can. The story goes back and forth between their narratives, occasionally crossing but more often highlighting their differences. The Nightingale tells a war tale not often told: the women's war. With all the men in the story away at war (aside from the Nazi officers), the choices and sacrifices the women had to make are clearly displayed, making for a captivating read.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

I read Kleon's short and sweet advice piece on the recommendation of my friend Shannon and it was one of the best book decisions I've made yet. Steal Like An Artist is stuffed full of ideas for sparking creativity and getting in touch with one's own artistic side. The book is structured around 10 main ideas that Kleon wished someone had told him when he was starting his career, including the truth that "nothing is original" so artists should be free to embrace influence and learn as much as they can from those they admire. Steal Like An Artist is a quick read but full of so many good ideas that I felt instantly inspired when I read it.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
I've been on a bit of a Neil Gaiman kick lately and I picked up this children's book from the library as a quick way to pass the time. It's short - barely over a hundred pages and took less than an hour to read - but in true Gaiman fashion is one of the most entertaining books I've read. Fortunately, the Milk is the tale of a father who takes an overly long time to go to the store and buy milk for his children, and when he returns, he makes up an elaborate story as to why he took such a long time. The book is primarily made of the father's story, and it reads like Gaiman made up the most ridiculous events he could think of and squashed them together in a short story. It's absolutely absurd and is quite a change of pace from his regular adult sci-fi novels.

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