My April Reading Wrap-up

How was your April?  This month moved a lot quicker than March — life at home is feeling more normal.  I guess I like having a routine, and we’ve been keeping virtually busy, actually (online wine tasting, book clubs, zooming with family).  Our cat, Harley, got really sick this month, so we had to go to the vet several times and hand our poor kitty off from the car and then talk to the vet by phone.  She’s on the mend at last, and at 18 years old, we’re grateful for every bit of time we have with her.

We spent the month walking, cooking, and dragging out old “comfort movies” from our collection.  We watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder version of course), Forgetting Sarah Marshall, WALL-E and Wallace and Gromit.  For whatever reason we’re watching a lot of Jeopardy and Antiques Roadshow (and feeling very old  doing it).  That’s life in the time of quarantine.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about spending money during this time and who to buy from.  I’ve made a conscious effort to reduce Amazon buying – I bought from my local bookstore and I’m looking at non-Amazon reading options like Kobo (if anyone uses one let me know).  I’ve been buying household goods from Target because I think their employee policies are better.  There was an article in the Washington Post recently about frivolous buying and people endangering workers to buy things like clothes and makeup.  I guess I don’t know right now if it’s better to spend a bit to keep the economy moving (or if I’m being honest, just to treat myself) or if I should limit anything shipped to absolute necessities.  Somewhere in between?  What do you think?

It was a really fantastic reading month! Here’s what I read in April:

  • Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (audio)
  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Nimona (graphic novel) by Noelle Stevenson
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper (audio)
  • No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder
  • The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
  • Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (audio)
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers (audio)

My favorite read: Rachel Louise Snyder’s No Visible Bruises about domestic violence is a thought-provoking must-read.  Get A Life, Chloe Brown was one of the best romances I’ve read in a while, and Bringing Down the Duke was also surprisingly good. My surprise favorite this month was Jane Harper’s The Lost Man, which is a mystery set in rural Australia.  It’s a slow-paced book with wonderful characters, just what I like.  And Sadie was haunting, and a perfect book to listen to.

DNFs: I got a few books from the library this month that I started but decided not to read: The Topeka School by Ben Lerner, Strangers and Cousins by Leah Cohen and The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff. Graff’s book about 9/11 looks pretty fascinating (it opens with an astronaut watching the events of 9/11 from space), but it just felt way too dark right now, and I had too many other books to read.

It wasn’t a great month for challenges:

  • Nonfiction: No Visible Bruises
  • Read Harder Challenge: The Lost Man (a mystery where the victim is not a woman), Get a Life Chloe Brown (a lead character with a disability)

What I’m reading now: I’m really enjoying Kwame Onwuachi’s Notes from a Young Black Chef and Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman, and I’m listening to Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow.

What’s coming up:  I have one ARC I need to read, Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht, the sequel to the excellent Who is Vera Kelly?  I also have way too many books pending at the library.  I may post about my library hold list so you all can help me prioritize.

Added to my TBR:  Based on a review on The Readers Room, I added Sharks in the Time of Savior by Kawai Strong Washburn, about Hawaiian mythology. From a review in the New York Times, I added When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann, about her father’s experience in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust.  That looks like a memoir that will really resonate.

Things that made me happy this month:

  • Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version – I’m always happy to remember how damn good this movie is, even though I’ve seen it so many times.
  • Cooking – I’m improving my egg-cooking skills but not getting better at baking. We had a cookie bake-off last weekend and Mr. CG’s peanut butter cookies beat my coffee-toffee cookies by a lot.  I still keep trying though!
  • The Parks and Recreation reunion — funny and touching, an impressive filming-at-home accomplishment, and for a good cause: http://www.feedingamerica.org.

I hope you and your family and loved ones are all doing well.  Here’s to staying home and doing what we can to support each other.  Take care.

  13 comments for “My April Reading Wrap-up

  1. May 1, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    I hope the kitty gets better quickly! I’m also confused about what I should be buying. I’m trying to only buy necessities and to tip the delivery drivers well. I hope you have a good May!

    • May 2, 2020 at 9:37 am

      Thanks AJ! We don’t usually see delivery drivers to tip them, they run up to the house, drop off and leave. That’s a great suggestion though. Hope you have a good May too!

  2. May 1, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    I hope your kitty will be okay!! And your month of reading looks great! I also had to set aside some “darker” books and make room for light, romances instead during this time. Also!! I didn’t realize the sequel to Who Is Vera Kelly is coming out so soon! I’m really excited about this!

    • May 2, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Thanks Hannah! I’m glad to hear you liked Vera Kelly as much as I did. I was thrilled to pick up the sequel on NetGalley. The book comes out June 16 in the U.S.

  3. May 1, 2020 at 11:33 pm

    Ahhh Jane Harper! Would get my hands on her book soon!

    • May 2, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Lost Man was so good, and I loved the audiobook narrator. I really got lost in this story, more than The Dry. Hope you enjoy it!

  4. May 2, 2020 at 2:42 am

    Oh, library holds! I let mine get way out of control and then cancelled most of them because it was causing me so much stress when I felt I had to read the books that came in, even if I didn’t have time at the moment. So now I keep a burgeoning TBR on Goodreads and I try to check out books that are available from that. With a few exceptions, but not more than 2 or 3.

    As for ereaders — most of my borrowing is as ebooks and I do have a Kobo. I try to stay away from Amazon too, but unfortunately I have a feeling that their product is better than the competition, and our non-Amazon options are sadly limited.

    Still, I have stuck with Kobo so far; my first two were quite glitchy, but I’m on my third one now (a Kobo Glo) and it basically works. I almost never purchase books because I still have a prejudice against buying something that seems so ephemeral, but for library books I find it fantastically convenient. Let me know if you want to know anything else about it.

    • May 2, 2020 at 9:32 am

      I definitely spend too much time stressing about my library holds – but it’s hard to resist free books and most of the books I want to read are on a wait list. Having two library accounts adds to my selection but also to the overflow problem.

      Thanks for the Kobo feedback! It sounds like they work really well for library books, although I understand you can only connect to one library at a time, so that might be problematic.

      • May 2, 2020 at 12:44 pm

        I’ve checked out books from more than one library. I just download the books on my computer and access them through adobe digital editions. I’m not sure if it would work with the newer ones that have overdrive installed – it is a bummer if that limits your options.

  5. May 2, 2020 at 3:51 am

    Looks like a great month of reading. I have not read anything from your list.. where do you listen to the audio books from ? Any resource outside audible ?

    • May 2, 2020 at 9:25 am

      I get most of my audiobooks from the library. The Libby app works really well for audiobooks. I also tried Scribd, which is inexpensive and lets you listen to unlimited books, but their selection is limited and I had some issues with their app. Kobo is another service I’m looking at.

      • May 2, 2020 at 9:53 am

        That’s great. Thank you for your recommendations. It’s really helpful

  6. May 4, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    We had a cat who spent 19 years with us, so I was glad to read that your cat pulled through to miaow another day! I confess, I don’t recognize any titles on your list for April, but pleased to hear you had a good reading month.

    Austen is always one for getting us through tough times – it’s time I rewatched that 1995 P&P myself 🙂

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