For The Love Of Books | What I Read In April 2018

April ended up being an awesome month of reading and a month for memoir. I'm totally into real-life stories right now and the two I read in April are both highly recommended. 

WHAT I READ IN APRIL 2018

  • Educated : A Memoir // From the very beginning I loved the author's writing style and the way she was weaving her story. I think this is one of the best, if not the best, memoirs I've read. I want to tell you that I loved this book, but I don't know if "love" is the right word because it was a hard story to read at times - for all kinds of different reasons. What I loved about it was that it was a story of becoming - of finding yourself and your own story. There were so many times I had to stop to tell Aaron something that had happened as I was reading either because it was so crazy (either awesome or terrible or almost unbelievable). I love a book that encourages us to challenge our assumptions about the beliefs we grew up with and find ourselves within (and owning) our own individual story - whether we continue to believe or walk away or distance ourselves or reconnect. Highly recommended.
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads (received from the publisher - also available via BOTM) // Back in 2014 I heard Clemantine speak in Washington DC at a summit on girls + women in Africa which was sponsored by the ONE Campaign and Google. The event itself and the stories presented were profoundly moving and educational. When I was offered an opportunity to receive an advance copy of this book I jumped at the chance to get to go deeper into Clemantine's story and I think this book is a must read. It's a hard, raw read and one that is super important for all of us as human beings. It's a complex story of her escape from the Rwandan massage as a child and eventual arrival in the United States as a refuge. It is also so much more than that story - she intimately shares the impact of that entire experience on the way she thinks about herself, the way she views the world, and the ways she has attempted to own her own story. It is a book about becoming. Highly recommended.
  • Then She Was Gone (BOTM) // I wasn't sure what I thought of this book at first and it felt a little slow at the beginning. But once it revealed a twist + then more twists, I was hooked. I liked that the narrative goes back and forth between characters - really showcasing their different motivations and personalities. It was a totally decent psychological thriller if you are into that genre I'd definitely recommend it. It would have made a good beach read.
  • Circe (BOTM) // I totally wasn't sure what to expect with this book but I picked it because I've been trying to challenge myself to read things I might not normally pick up this year (different genres, voices, etc). I found this one challenging to get into initially only because I can't remember much at all of the Greek Mythology I learned back in school (little bits here + there - but there are so many names) but once I just accepted that and started to reintroduce myself (via googling names and briefly reading their stories) I was totally into this story told from Circe's point of view. I actually decided that I liked not knowing "everything" about all the different Gods + Goddesses because it helped me to be surprised when the story revealed itself. I really, really liked how this book was written. I loved that is was from her point of view - so many interwoven themes popped up throughout the book: separation, love, fear, family, magic, monsters, bravery, and the ways we each own or own story. I think this one will stick with me for awhile.
  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety // I'm about half-way through this one and already know that I'm going to recommend it highly for anyone who has a history of anxiety or other mental illnesses. This book has comforted me, made me laugh, taught me lessons, and made me look at my anxiety/depression through a different lens. I may write more about this when I finish it during May but wanted to include it now because it's just so good. 

This month I'm also sharing a video overview of what I read last month and what I am planning to read next month.

You can also view this video on my  YouTube channel here

BOOK OF THE MONTH SELECTIONS FOR MAY

It's also time to select new books from  Book Of The Month Club

As part of their Ambassador Program I get to order from their monthly selections a bit early in order to share with you and celebrate their new releases each month. 

This month I picked two books: 

This month Book Of The Month has a fun promotion happening just in time for Mother's Day. Buy a Mother's Day gift of BOTM and get a free month for yourself. This is one of my personal favorite gifts to give and it was how I was initially introduced to BOTM a few years ago. 

FULL LIST OF WHAT I'VE READ IN 2018

JANUARY 2018

  • The Heart's Invisible Furies (BOTM) // I super, super loved this book. Just go read it. Now. 
  • The Woman In The Window (BOTM) // Perfect suspense book. Great beach read.
  • Everyone Brave Is Forgiven // It’s been quite awhile since I underlined passages in a non-fiction book but I did a few times in this one because the language and imagery used was just so beautiful. It’s a story that will stick with me.
  • The Year Of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store // Super quick read on a topic I’m interested in - how less can mean more. This book is more memoir than how-to and I was interested in her story and all the ways in which she cake to having and wanting less. Glad I read it. It’s so much more than just a story of not shopping for a year.
  • Turtles All The Way Down (BOTM) // This one was a like but not love for me. I did really like some of the writing, especially towards the end, that related to the forward movement of life with mental illness. I think these kinds of stories are important and the pieces where he was writing about her self-talk/voices really resonated with me personally.

FEBRUARY 2018

  • Bel Canto (finished this one right at the end of January) // I really, really enjoyed this book. I love her writing style and I loved the way the story flowed all the way until the end. It felt super abrupt - but I guess that's how life goes sometimes too. I loved the themes of adaptation, of love, of change, of escape (literally from the life you were living one moment before), and the push and pull between relationships. Oh and it totally made me want to go to an opera.
  • The Great Alone (BOTM) // I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one last night because I just couldn't stop reading. I loved this book. I loved that Alaska + the climate was basically a character. The subject matter is challenging for sure - violence, loneliness, family issues, etc. - but the story is rich and complicated and well-told. Love these kinds of epic stories. So, so good. 
  • The Broken Girls (BOTM) // This book legitimately freaked me out multiple times. The kids around here all know I was reading a scary book because I kept saying “this book is scary” - ha. Loved the twists and turns - I zoomed through the last half super quick. If you are looking for a haunting style of story this one’s for you. I actually almost stopped reading it at one point but I am so glad I finished. 
  • An American Marriage // I read this one without knowing anything about it because it was recommended highly by a friend (and then I saw it popping up everywhere). This is an emotional, real, raw and very well written story that is different from what I've been reading lately. I love being surprised. Beautiful, compelling writing that really gets to the heart of complicated human relationships. A line I loved : "But mostly my life is good, only it's a different type of good from what I figured on." This has been the lesson of my life as well.

MARCH 2018

  • The Astonishing Color Of After (BOTM) // This book started out a little hard for me to get into but once I did I ended up adoring it. Totally adoring and loving it. I loved the interplay between the present and the past, the treatment of the experience of grief, learning about Chinese/Twaianese traditions, the magic of the way she views her family memories, and the continual use of colors as descriptors for scenes and feelings. I feel like this is one that will stay with me for a long time. SO GOOD.
  • The Last Equation Of Isaac Severy (BOTM) // This one took a long time to hook me - not sure if that was due to my sporadic reading this month or the story itself. I almost moved on 1/2 way through but decided to give it one more try over a weekend getaway and I was glad I did overall (but also happy to move on to the next story).

You can also see everything I read in 2017 here.

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11 thoughts

  1. CraftyCat says…
    05/01/2018

    Per your review, I ordered EDUCATED on Kindle. It was a gripping read!

    now on to reserve The Beast Beautiful at my library. I love your book reviews!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. vmrn1 says…
    05/02/2018

    Ali, since you like memoirs you might be interested in reading "The Gospel of Trees" by Apricot Irving--it is the story of spending her late childhood/teen years in Haiti where her parents were missionaries. Her father was dedicated to helping the Haitians plant trees. It was interesting and also a little hard to read (especially for me--her father is my cousin). She has a beautiful way of writing, very lyrical. (Plus, she lives outside of Portland so there is a little Oregon tie-in.)

    Take care. Vicki M

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. christieamber says…
    05/04/2018

    I ordered a gift my mom and did not receive my free month. I contacted customer service and they said that this is not a promotion at this time. Just wanted to let you know! I don’t want anyone else to be disappointed!!

    Love you reading your reviews every month.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      05/05/2018

      Thanks for letting me know! I am reaching out to my contact there for clarification.

    2. AliEdwards says…
      05/07/2018

      Someone from there should be getting in touch with you!

  4. Madeline says…
    05/04/2018

    WOW Ali Just finished 'And then she was gone" Never saw any of that coming Great read Thank you so much

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. charris says…
    05/05/2018

    Just an FYI....I also used your link and ordered a Mother's Day membership and did not receive the free month. It's ok because I was going to do it anyway, but thought you might like to know. Thanks Ali. Love your blog!

    Reply 4 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      05/05/2018

      Thank you! I am looking into this with my contact!

    2. AliEdwards says…
      05/07/2018

      Someone from there should be getting in touch with you!

    3. charris says…
      05/07/2018

      Ali, That was very kind of you to reach out to BOTM. Yes, they did just reach out to me, so thank you so much for your efforts! That was certainly above and beyond, and greatly appreciated. Thanks, Connie

    4. AliEdwards says…
      05/07/2018

      Oh awesome - I really like working with them so I'm glad they followed through ;).