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Reading Discussions > Best Books of May 2020

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message 1: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (last edited May 26, 2020 05:04AM) (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7222 comments Mod
I don't know about you, but I feel like May just flew by! It's almost summertime, time to start making our 2021 Reading Challenge list, and time to lay out on the beach (or in the backyard) and get some reading done.

Here's a thread to post your best books of the month! Let's get some great recommendations going.

Answer the following questions:

- Title
- Author
- Rating
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio)
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable)
- Brief reason why it was the best


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited May 27, 2020 04:00AM) (new)

- Title The Girl in Red The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
- Author Christina Henry
- Rating 5 Stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio) Print
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) n.a
- Brief reason why it was the best
So, I checked this book out from the library back in March, before everything hit the fan. Come to find out it's a dystopian retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story. What is the cataclysmic catastrophe that sets the Dystopian events into place, you ask? A global, air-born pandemic. With first symptom being a Cough. I kid you not.

I avoided this book for several weeks because of its subject/hitting way to close to home right now. But, I've enjoyed the author's other books and finally gave in and read it.

It's such a good book-well developed characters, a fast pace that kept the story moving along and made for an easy read, and there's enough action, gore and twists to keep you on your toes. And, even though the first few pages start out feeling eerily similar to what's actually happening in real life, it quickly veers off in a different direction. Good stuff!


message 3: by Ana A (last edited May 26, 2020 11:25PM) (new)

Ana A (anabana_a) | 491 comments - Title:
Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali
Love From A to Z

- Author: S.K. Ali

- Rating: 5 stars! (4.12 GR average)

- Format (Print, eBook, Audio): eBook

- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): 24. A book with an emotion in the title

- Brief reason why it was the best: It's a sweet YA romance but with Muslim main characters. It was well written and I think it has a voice that needs to be heard more.

(I've only read two books in May so far, and the other one I read is also a 5-star read, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, but it's a pretty well-known book already, and I want more recognition for Love From A to Z.)


message 4: by Kendra (new)

Kendra | 846 comments Title Exit Strategy
Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4) by Martha Wells
(I'd love to list the whole series, but if I have to pick just one, this is my pick.)
Author Martha Wells
Rating 5 stars (4.41 GR avg.)
Format Ebook
ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) I haven't yet, but I'm debating using it for the Maximillian Hell challenge because it's set in space, but I think that might be stretching it too much.
Brief reason why it was the best Murderbot is awesome. It's a snarky antisocial robot that just wants to be left alone so it can watch TV shows, but it keeps getting drawn in to help people.


message 5: by Donna (new)

Donna | 132 comments Born a Crime Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, nonfiction
5 Star
eBook
ATY Prompt: N/A
Brief reason why it was the best: This book has a 4.46 rating on Goodreads. He tells his story with compassion and humor and you'll be cheering him on throughout the book. His trajectory from Arpatheid South Africa to The Daily Show is remarkable.


message 6: by Pam (last edited May 27, 2020 09:16AM) (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2547 comments I had two favorite books in May:

Title: Green Island
Author: Shawna Yang Ryan
Rating: 5
Format: Hardback
ATY Prompt you used it for: #4 Time or Place I wouldn't want to live - Most of it is set in Taiwan during the period of martial law. Part of it is also set in Taiwan during the SARS Pandemic.
Brief reason why it was the best: It is well-written and very interesting family story about a time period I knew nothing about.

Title: Three Brothers: Memories of My Family
Author: Yan Lianke
Rating: 5
Format: ebook
ATY Prompt you used it for: #48 Published in 2020
Brief reason why it was the best: It is a beautifully written and a heart-wrenching memoir of the author's childhood and life in rural China during the Cultural Revolution.


message 7: by Robin P, Orbicular Mod (last edited May 27, 2020 03:10PM) (new)

Robin P | 1829 comments Mod
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Author: Leif Enger

I am only a quarter into it but my favorite for May is Virgil Wander. It is set in Minnesota, where I lived for a long time, and although some might find it the speaking style over the top, I felt it captured the spirit. I am listening to the audio and there is a lot of understated humor.

Rating - not sure yet but at least 4
Format - audio
ATY prompt - not sure because I only have a few left, but I might put in under the survival prompt, because in the very first scene, the narrator barely escapes when he plunges his car into a lake in the fog, and that affects everything that comes after. I think it has a bigger message about how any of use deals with what life throws at us.


message 8: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7222 comments Mod
I have two!

Title: The Heart's Invisible Furies
Author: John Boyne
Rating: 5 Stars
Format: Print
ATY Prompt you used it for: Week 34. A genre or subgenre that starts with a letter in your name (literary fiction).
Brief reason why it was the best: I'm not usually big on character studies, but this book was captivating from start to finish. It presented a unique LGBTQ+ perspective, and I was all in for the character's life story for the entire book (which.. is a long one).

Title: The Book of Longings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Rating: 5 Stars
Format: Print
ATY Prompt you used it for: Side read
Brief reason why it was the best: The premise was unique (Jesus had a wife?!), but the story focused on Ana and her journey from childhood to marrying Jesus to having to be separated from him. Ana was such a strong female character, and her plot line took me through twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. I really connected to her and her story!


message 9: by Linda (last edited May 29, 2020 05:51AM) (new)

Linda (linnola) | 336 comments I read 14 books in May, my favorite is:

- Title - Next Year in Havana
- Author - Chanel Cleeton
- Rating - 5 Stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio) - Audio and eBook
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) - ATY #46 - "We Didn't Start the Fire" - Cuba reference
- Brief reason why it was the best - The author's descriptions of Cuba made me feel that I actually visited.


message 10: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 787 comments I have two as well, good month:)

1. The Notebook by Ágota Kristóf, 5 stars. Here is my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

It surprised me on so many levels, I couldn't put it down (actually dived straight into book 2 when I finished it). It's been a long time since I've been so engrossed in a book.

2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, 5 glowing stars

This was even better than I thought it would be. Shame on me for thinking I knew all about it having watched the show.


message 11: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 787 comments Donna wrote: "Born a Crime Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, nonfiction
5 Star
eBook
ATY Prompt: N/A
Brief reason why it was the best: This book has a 4.4..."


A truly great book!


message 12: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 787 comments Emily wrote: "I have two!

Title: The Heart's Invisible Furies
Author: John Boyne
Rating: 5 Stars
Format: Print
ATY Prompt you used it for: Week 34. A genre or subgenre that starts ..."


I look forward to The Heart's Invisible Furies, haven't heard of anyone who didn't enjoy it.


message 13: by Robin P, Orbicular Mod (new)

Robin P | 1829 comments Mod
Hilde wrote: "Donna wrote: "Born a Crime Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, nonfiction
5 Star
eBook
ATY Prompt: N/A
Brief reason why it was the best: This ..."


I hope you had a chance to listen to the audio read by him. Because of his upbringing, he learned multiple languages and is a genius with accents and intonations. All the more impressive that he now discusses world events, American politics, social issues and literature with international guests on his show, considering everything he had to overcome in his life. And the book is very funny!


message 14: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 787 comments Robin wrote: "Hilde wrote: "Donna wrote: "Born a Crime Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, nonfiction
5 Star
eBook
ATY Prompt: N/A
Brief reason why it was t..."


Yes, luckily I heard it on audio, and I agree. Trevor is a gifted storyteller for sure!🤩


message 15: by Donna (new)

Donna | 132 comments No, I read the eBook. Perhaps I'll try it again later with the audio version.


message 16: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Kristick | 544 comments This is so hard this month - I had four five-star books: The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, Lethal Remedies, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and Last Train to Istanbul - four completely different books.

I think I am going to pick the one I am most likely to reread.

- Title Lethal Remedies
- Author M. Louisa Locke
- Rating 5 stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio) ebook
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) #27: History of historical fiction (would also work for #2, a book by an author whose last name is one syllable, #41, a mystery, or #48, a book published in 2020)
- Brief reason why it was the best This is the latest book in a series that I really love - the San Francisco Victorian mysteries. All of them are well researched, and this one is chock-full of information on medicine in the 1880s and women doctors of the period.


message 17: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (anastasiaharris) | 1331 comments TitleThe Grimoire of Kensington Market

AuthorLauren B. Davis

Rating 5⭐'s

Format ebook, but it is available in paperback

ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) Fantasy

Brief reason why it was the best

It is a folk tale that takes place in Toronto. It has elements from many different tales of different cultures, just like Toronto. The characters are well written and the land is very rich. It is also about addictions.


message 18: by Traci (new)

Traci (tracibartz) | 954 comments Title: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Rating: 5 stars
Format: ebook
ATY Prompt you used it for: NA
Brief reason why it was the best: Very approachable history of the migration of the African-American population from the south to the north and west in the early-mid 1900s. It focuses on three individuals and their lives, but also has snippets from other interviews and more general trends/messages/etc. I highly recommend.


message 19: by Rachel (new)

Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 2672 comments Title: House of Earth and Blood
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 5 stars
Format (Print, eBook, Audio): Print
ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): It was for a rejects prompt - a book with the moon or stars on the cover
Brief reason why it was the best:I was so nervous going into this one because it's a huge book, and I was worried it would be very slow, but it wasn't! I loved all the characters and especially loved the build-up to the main relationship.

I think Middlegame would have given this one a strong run for its money if I had actually finished it this month as intended, but I've been reading it much slower than expected.


message 20: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Harris | 757 comments I read 2 five star books in May.
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.
ebook
# 45 A book by the same author who wrote one of your best reads in 2019 or 2018.
I gave it 5 stars because she is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is so honest and she always makes me think.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
ebook
# 33 a book about an non-traditional Family
I had been looking forward to reading this book. I think I enjoyed it so much because I was positive going into it.


message 21: by Jackie, Solstitial Mod (new)

Jackie | 1305 comments Mod
Best book of May for me was Sadie


message 22: by Donna (new)

Donna | 132 comments A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

I already chose my "Best Book of May", but I have to add a second book. I finished A Piece of Cake, by Cupcake Brown, and also gave it 5 Stars. I chose the book on a whim, as I needed a new audio book in a hurry, and had nothing planned. This book had an awesome cover (if you like pink!) so I chose it. It tells the story of a young black girl, who at age 11 is sent to a foster home which is devoid of love and intent on inflicting harm. She ends up on the streets, but eventually finds her way to lead a rich and successful life. This book broke my heart, but I can't recommend it enough. There are *many* adult situations and a great deal of profanity, so be forewarned.


message 23: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 4 comments It's really hard to pick a favourite, as I had a few 5-star reads in May. Here are my top 3 (in no particular order):
Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris 5* (my review here. I read a paperback edition, and used it for Prompt #45 (A book by the same author who wrote one of your best reads in 2019 - The Tattooist of Auschwitz). A grueling read at times, but a (fictionalised) story of real courage in the face of injustice.
Conviction by Denise Mina 5* (my review here. I read a paperback edition I borrowed from the library before lockdown. This was a fast-paced, multi storyline thriller with quirky characters.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith 5* (my review here. I read an e-book borrowed from my library using the Libby App. It was a charming and amusing coming of age story, told journal-style, set in 1930's England.

Cilka's Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #2) by Heather Morris Conviction by Denise Mina I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


message 24: by Heather (new)

Heather (relocatedyankee) | 10 comments Best Book of May- American Dirt
Author Jeanine Cummins
Rating 5🤩
I’m usually an evening reader but I dragged this book around with me all day. I have heard that there are some historical and cultural inaccuracies, but it was a work of fiction after all. I had no appreciation of the migrant experience before reaching the border. Stunning read.


message 25: by Sara (new)

Sara Snarkapuss | 1 comments Oooh... favourite book of May... that definitely would’ve been Shaun Bythell’s “Confessions of a Bookseller”. Yet again, Bythell’s wit and observations regarding humanity and all of its ticks that plague local shopkeepers standing in the looming shadow of online megastores is hilarious and on pointe. I’d definitely recommend this one as a summer read. Or a cozy winter relaxation companion. Or an off work and exhausted distraction.


message 26: by Stacey (new)

Stacey D.  | 1744 comments Title: My Dark Vanessa
Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell
Rating: 5 stars
Format: eBook from Libby
Brief reason why it was the best: The book is a stark, yet truly realistic look at sexual abuse. Left in the wrong hands, this could have turned out to be a real mess. But the author, who spent 18 years writing the novel, is so gifted, it proved to be a gritty, yet sensitive and riveting read. I read this for the NYPL's new and wildly popular Book Club pick for May.


message 27: by Milena (new)

Milena (milenas) | 607 comments - Title
Bring Up the Bodies
- Author
Hilary Mantel
- Rating
5 stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio)
Audiobook
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable)
#27 A history or historical fiction
- Brief reason why it was the best
I love reading about this period in time. It's fascinating, and the writing is very good.


message 28: by Chrissy (new)

Chrissy | 840 comments I had three 5-star books in May, so it’s hard to choose! I think I’ll go with How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang, a fairly new release. I used it for a Popsugar prompt (western), but it could fit AtY weeks 2, 16, 22, 23, 27, or 48. It was (for me) a new look at gold rush times, with a great protagonist and beautiful writing.


message 29: by °~Amy~° (new)

°~Amy~° (amybooksit) | 2926 comments - Title Recursion
- Author Blake Crouch
- Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio) - print
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) - NA
- Brief reason why it was the best - I'm a sucker for a well written, sci-fi


message 30: by Entropia (new)

Entropia | 278 comments - Title Unity in Action
- Author Joseph Hocking
- Rating 4 stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio): eBook
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) - N/A
- Brief reason why it was the best - found out a lot of useful stuff, and it wasn't boring.

- Title: Station Eleven
- Author: Emily St. John Mandel
- Rating: 4 stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio): eBook
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): A book with major theme of survival
- Brief reason why it was the best: loved the idea, don't like couple of things about the execution, but still had a blast reading it.


message 31: by Robin P, Orbicular Mod (new)

Robin P | 1829 comments Mod
Convenience Store Woman
Author Sayaka Murata
Rating 4 stars
Format audiobook
ATY prompt- book related to the 2020 Olympics in Japan
I liked the different culture of the store and the unusual main character. Unlike Eleanor Oliphant, this woman learns she doesn’t have to change in order to be happy.


message 32: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 2219 comments - Title: The Secret Life of Violet Grant
- Author: Beatriz Williams
- Rating: 5
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio): book
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): A history or historical fiction
- Brief reason why it was the best: An intriguing story about Vivian in 1964 and Violet in 1914 and how their lives intersect.


message 33: by Alesha (new)

Alesha (musicgal17) | 38 comments - Title
The Help
- Author
Kathryn Stockett
- Rating
5 stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio)
Audio
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable)
10. A book that is between 400-600 pages
- Brief reason why it was the best
Written so realistically it almost reads like a work of non-fiction. LOVELY characters, and extremely important messages. Would HIGHLY recommend the audiobook, it was a treat to listen to Octavia Spencer and the rest of the narrators!


message 34: by Fee (new)

Fee | 92 comments Title The Blade Itself
Author Joe Abercrombie
Rating 5 stars
Format (Print, eBook, Audio) audio
ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) 5. The first book in a series that you have not started
Brief reason why it was the best This author does a phenomenal job with his characters. They are really not the nicest and most likeable people but you just like them anyway. Their motivations are understandable. The character development as well as the interactions and relationships between them are really interesting to follow.


message 35: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 238 comments I had 3 5-star books this month:

- Title: No One Belongs Here More Than You
- Author: Miranda July
- Rating:5 stars
- Format: eBook
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): n/a
- Brief reason why it was the best: I won this short story collection in a Goodreads Giveaway that I forgot I even entered. But I'm glad that I did. It's rare that I read a short story collection where I really like all of the stories. The quirkiness and awkwardness of July's characters was unique and I found the stories to be compelling.

- Title: Murder on the Orient Express
- Author: Agatha Christie
- Rating: 5 stars
- Format: eBook
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): 41. A mystery
- Brief reason why it was the best: I'm a fan of Agatha Christie and her character Hercule Poirot in general, and this story did not disappoint. Great story telling and build up the mystery right to the end.

- Title: East of Eden
- Author: John Steinbeck
- Rating: 5 stars
- Format: Print
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): 47. A classic book you've always meant to read
- Brief reason why it was the best: This book is very well written and has so many layers and angles to look at it from. There's the surface level story of the lives of 2 families across a couple generations, but then there's also the Biblical allegory and social/political/regional discourse from the time period woven into the story without bogging down the movement of the plot. It's a very rich and engaging novel.


message 36: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Luchetti | 727 comments Title: Watching You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Rating: 5 Stars
Format (Print, eBook, Audio): Audiobook
ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): Book with a silhouette on the cover
Brief reason why it was the best: This book is all about assumptions and perceptions and I guarantee yours will be wrong. It's definitely a "fluffy" thriller, but a very entertaining read that I would recommend to all wishing to scratch that mystery/thriller itch


message 37: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 349 comments I want to share one nonfiction and one fiction. Actually, I want to share more. I read some fantastic things this month but I made myself choose just two.

Title: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Author: Matthew Desmond
Rating: 5 stars
Format: Audio
ATY Prompt you used it for: A book with a major theme of survival.
Brief reason why it was the best: I learned so much from this book that was hard to stomach. I can only imagine how COVID-19 has made the eviction situation much worse.


Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Rating: 5 stars
Format: Audio
ATY Prompt you used it for: A book by an Australian, Canadian, or New Zealand author.
Brief reason why it was the best: Reading this book felt healing to me. I intend to read the rest of this series.


message 38: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Suzanne wrote: "I want to share one nonfiction and one fiction. Actually, I want to share more. I read some fantastic things this month but I made myself choose just two.

I also read Anne of Green Gables in May for the first time! "Healing" is exactly right, I so loved settling down every night to escape quarantine with Anne and Marilla and all the rest.


message 39: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 349 comments Hannah wrote: "I also read [book:Anne of..."

That's so funny. I've also started watching the show on Netflix "Anne with an E."


message 40: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (patchworkbunny) | 1729 comments Title: Good Girl, Bad Blood
Author: Holly Jackson
Rating: 4 stars
Format: ebook

I barely read anything in May, but I did enjoy this follow up to A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, where Pip tries to find a missing teenager, who the police won't consider missing yet. It kept my interest and kept me guessing for quite a long time.


message 41: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 563 comments Title: A Month of Sundays
Author: Liz Byrski
Rating: 5★
Format (Print, eBook, Audio): eBook - thank you to Bolinda/BorrowBox during lockdown!!
ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable): Not read for ATY
Brief reason why it was the best: I love books about books!! And this is a book about an online bookclub that meets in real-life for the first time for a month-long break in the Blue Mountains with a bookclub session every Sunday! The women discussed about 5 different books (some of which are now on my TBR list!) and we got to know more about each woman. Nothing earth-shattering, but a good solid comfort read!


message 42: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 563 comments Hannah wrote: "Suzanne wrote: "I want to share one nonfiction and one fiction. Actually, I want to share more. I read some fantastic things this month but I made myself choose just two.

I also read..."


That is a GREAT way to be transported out of lockdown!! I've read and reread each book in the series (except the Chronicles and Further Chronicles - once each of those was more than enough!) several times throughout the years! Great for when I was studying and wanted something to read for 15 min, but didn't want to get swept up in a story I wouldn't be able to put down. I could put the Anne books down, because I knew what was going to happen! And then they were ready for me next time I needed a break!


message 43: by Sara (new)

Sara (phantomswife) | 928 comments Title Burning Bright
Author Ron Rash
Rating 5-Stars
Format (Print, eBook, Audio) Print eBook
Brief reason why it was the best A shockingly good collection of short stories. I had not expected to love this book as much as I did. Each story was written so completely, it was like each was a mini-novel. Not a bad one in the bunch.


message 44: by Kim (new)

Kim (kmyers) | 508 comments - Title - The Victory Garden
- Author - Rhys Bowen
- Rating - 5 stars
- Format (Print, eBook, Audio) - print
- ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable) - None, but fits historical fiction
- Brief reason why it was the best - I really enjoyed this book for its strong women characters, the way it portrayed the English countryside during World War I, and the courage, strength and resourcefulness of the main character.


message 45: by Jillian (new)

Jillian | 1670 comments Title
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik Spinning Silver
Author
Naomi Novik
Rating
5 starts
Format (Print, eBook, Audio)
ebook
ATY Prompt you used it for (if applicable)
30. A book from the New York Times '100 Notable Books' list for any year-
Brief reason why it was the best
I just loved the story!


message 46: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Sj | 303 comments - From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
- Caitlin Doughty
- 5 stars
- Print
- related to four horsemen of the apocalypse
- death is a favorite topic of mine, and it was really interesting to read about traditions regarding death and funerals around the world


message 47: by Karissa (new)

Karissa | 440 comments Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2) by J.K. Rowling
- Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Author: J.K. Rowling
- Rating 5 Stars
- Format: Print
- ATY Prompt you used it for: Side Read
- Brief reason why it was the best: Harry Potter, duh!


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