I’ve finally hit my summer reading groove, and that means I’m reveling in all this time for reading. I’ve started a few books I didn’t finish, but for the most part, I’ve read some good stuff. Here’s what I read in the first half of the month:
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
A moody Gothic-inspired suspense novel about Claire Cassidy, an English teacher, who discovers that someone has been leaving notes for her in her journal. When people around her turn up murdered, Claire knows that she is somehow connected to the murderer. I love the shifting viewpoints, especially because each character interprets events and each other in very different ways. It’s an atmospheric thriller that reminded me a lot of Denisa Mina’s Alex Morrow series.
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
This was such a compelling and difficult read. Two girls in India meet and forge a beautiful friendship. After Savitha leaves India because of a horrible crime committed against her, Poornima is forced to marry an indifferent husband and live with his cruel family. When her living situation becomes untenable, Poornima decides she must save herself and find Savitha. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but I will say this is a book about human trafficking. It’s not easy to read, but the characters are so real and courageous and strong that I’m glad I spent time with them.
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
The first half of the book was an interesting look at all the ways we can be “nudged” by a variety of factors and still believe we are making rational decisions. The second would have resonated more for me if I had been looking for guidance on investing, getting a mortgage, or advising congress on healthcare restructuring. I do think the first half is a good starting point for learning about behavioral economics.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Sometimes you miss out on reading a much-hyped book. This is one I’ve had on my shelf for years, but I’d never gotten around to reading it. Patchett is a glorious writer, as usual, but this wasn’t my favorite of hers. It’s about a group of important people in an unnamed South American country who are gathered to hear an opera singer perform. All goes well until the audience is taken hostage by a guerrilla army.
The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell
If you feel like people are more self-centered than ever before, your perception isn’t wrong. Twenge and Campbell point out all the ways the trait of narcissism is encouraged in our culture. It won’t make you feel any better, but it will help identify ways we can all stop building and rewarding narcissism. (Hint: Stop telling kids they are “princesses” or that they are “special.”)
This book was written in 2009, so some of the references are pretty dated. The authors talk a lot about MySpace, which is kind of funny now. They also dropped a few fat-phobic comments that revealed more about the authors than the subject matter. Still, it’s worth reading.
The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda
I love books with unreliable and unlikable narrators. Jane Harris may be the most unreliable, unlikable narrator I’ve ever encountered. She’s truly horrible. For that reason, I absolutely loved this book. It was the perfect amount of campy without being corny. It’s a great beach reach–if you don’t mind hanging out with someone you’ll loathe. Jane knows just how to keep you on the hook, never revealing too much, and always making you wonder if maybe she really is the victim.
My favorite book for the first half of the month is Girls Burn Brighter.
I have a reading vacation coming up, so here’s hoping the rest of July will be filled with sun and books.