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May was an interesting reading month. While I read mostly new books this month, I also read a couple I’ve had on my TBR list for a while (and they were both five stars!).

books read in may 2024

My goal in writing these posts is to share thoughts about what I liked and didn’t like about the books I’ve been reading lately to help you figure out whether or not a book might work for you. Just because a book didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I try to write my reviews and summaries so you can decide if it’s something you will like . . . even if I didn’t.

Even though it’s not quite summer yet, in my opinion, May is the beginning of summer reading for me, and you can definitely tell by some of my selections.

I would love to hear if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought about them, plus any recommendations you may have for me. Please share your thoughts below!

What I Read in May 2024: What Worked and What Didn’t

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

Can a relationship between a woman and the man who was driving the car that killed her sister actually work? Crazy premise, right? I was really interested in reading this book because I thought it had such an interesting premise. (And it does.) While I liked it enough to finish it, there were some parts that just didn’t work for me. First, it was simply too open door for me. I get that some romance books are going to have some spice, and I’m typically pretty good about skipping those scenes. But in this one, once they open the door, they have a hard time closing it (metaphorically speaking). Second, the main protagonist (Helen) obviously has really negative feelings about Grant, the antagonist. She can hardly stand to be in the same room as him because of the negative association. You can feel the tension! But the transition from that point to the two getting together happens surprisingly fast in a way that just didn’t seem realistic. That being said, I do think Kuang can write, and I would be open to seeing what she does in the future.

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

This book has been on my TBR list since it came out last summer. I’m only sad that it took me so long to read it. I loved this book! I enjoyed it so much that it gave me a serious book hangover after I finished it. I simply wanted more. The book centers around a Jewish couple, Moshe and Chona. Moshe owns the local theater, and Chona owns the local grocery store. The book explores race issues, anti-semitism, class, and what happens when all of these things intersect.

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

This is one of the new 2024 books I was most excited to read this summer. First, what I wouldn’t give to be able to eat at least some of the food in this book. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m surprised Reichl didn’t include some recipes. Besides being mouthwatering, this is also a book about the transformation of a woman who lived in the shadow of her narcissistic mother and how she learns to find her voice and identity. Ironically, Stella’s transformation is prompted when her mother dies, and she leaves her with a trip to Paris and a mandate that she doesn’t return until she uses up all of the money. Stella goes reluctantly, and she finds so much more. This book is a love letter to food, books, community, friendship, and more. If you love a found family novel, this book may be for you. And at only 288 pages, it’s a relatively quick read.

Content Warning: Sexual abuse. (It happens at the beginning of the story to set up the character. It is not throughout, FWIW.)

bel canto ann patchett

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I have yet to read a book by Ann Patchett that I haven’t liked, and Bel Canto was no different. What’s impressive about this book is that the entire story takes place in the same house. Terrorists crash a birthday party at the home of the vice president of a South American country who is hosting a birthday party for a visiting Japanese businessman. The entertainment at the party is a famous opera singer. The terrorists are hoping to kidnap the president, who is supposed to be in attendance, and leave. But their plans go awry when it turns out the president isn’t there. So they decide to hold the birthday party attendees hostage until the country hands over the president. What starts as a stressful hostage crisis turns into a story about unlikely friendships and romances as the terrorists and hostages cohabitate together for months.

just for the summer abby jimenez

Just for Summer by Abby Jimenez

Romance books can be hit or miss for me. While I have read some great romance stories that are captivating and well-told, I have also read some real duds, so when I come across a good one, I want to shout it from the roof tops. AND . . . this is a good one. If you read one romance book this summer, let this be the one. This book has humor and great empathetic characters, it isn’t afraid to explore some heavy topics, and it’s a beautiful love story. I tend to like my romances closed door. While this one is open-door, it’s very minimal and easy to skip.

Read my in-depth review of Just for Summer here, and find book club discussion questions for Just for Summer here. (I think this would make a great pick for summer for your book club.)

the husbands holly gramazio

The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Is it possible to have husband PTSD? I think that’s exactly what I have after reading this book. Lauren is single and living in a flat in London. After waking up after a night of drinking, she is greeted by her husband. The problem is that Lauren isn’t married, and she’s never seen this man before. But she soon discovers that her attic has special powers when he goes to change the light bulb and a new husband appears. She then learns that if she doesn’t like her husband, all she has to do is send him back to the attic and exchange him for a new one (if only it were that easy ;-). While the story explores what makes a healthy or toxic relationship, it ends up being a story about contentment. I thought it was super interesting and great on audio!

What have you been reading lately? Have you ready any of these books? I would love to hear about it.

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  1. Courtney – it’s so good to chat back and forth this morning! I loved Heaven on Earth, didn’t expect to, but was captivated by it. And I’m going to add the Ann Patchett title to my TBR list – I’ve only read a couple of hers so far, so this looks like my next read.

    Thanks for the reviews. And for connecting! A lovely way to start a Friday morning.

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