What I Read in June

Another good month of reading – mostly audiobooks, since I tackled an 850-pager that took up a good three weeks of my spare reading time, but a sacrifice I felt was well worth it!  My thoughts on each of this month’s reads are below, listed in order of when I finished each book (no spoilers, I promise).

Rich People Problems – Kevin Kwan

Rich People Problems is the final installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, a series of outrageously trashy novels that I have delighted in reading.  I read hard copies of the first two books, but listened to this one on audio.  I have to admit that the audio added a lot to the experience.  The Audible narrator did a great job pronouncing some of the words that were in different languages, and she had really good timing as far as dialogue and pauses for effect.  This series follow several ridiculously rich Asian families and the drama that inevitably ensues.  These guilty pleasures are downright fun!

Wildflower – Drew Barrymore

I listened to Wildflower on audiobook because the author Drew Barrymore also narrates.  I probably should have expected it, but she is extremely dramatic in her narration, which turned me off a bit.  I really enjoyed some of the stories she tells from her life – My favorite was about the filming of E.T. – but she jumps around so much, I was confused as to what she was trying to do with this book.  Some chapters are about her life and some chapters read as if they are letters to her children.  This was not a “bad” book by any means, but it was not what I expected.

Outlander – Daina Gabaldon

Whew!  This was the 850 page monster of a book I was talking about!  I had heard about this series from a lot of people – fans of the Outlander series seem to be outspoken ones, and I can certainly see why.  This was a time-traveling, bodice-ripping, epic adventure tale that was a lot of fun to read.  Forewarning: There are smutty parts, some of which made me pretty uncomfortable but by the time I got to them I was 400 pages in and committed.  While I liked the story and am looking forward to reading the next one in the series (perhaps on audio this time?), by the time I got to the last 150 pages, I was ready for it to end.  Then, Gabaldon drops a bomb (not literally) on the last page that left me wanting more.

Chemistry – Weike Wang

Chemistry was my June Book of the Month pick, and weighing in at a mere 224 pages, it was a perfect follow-up to Outlander.  In this story, the Chinese-American narrator (we never learn her name) who had always exceeded in all aspects of her life reaches a turning point where she struggles with her Chemistry PhD program, a boyfriend who wants to marry her, and her Chinese-born immigrant parents.  Most of the action happens inside her head as she tries to determine what she really wants in life and how to navigate her relationships accordingly.  Similar to Lab Girl and Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (reviewed here and here), Wang weaves in scientific descriptions that serve as metaphors for what is really going on.  Overall, Chemistry was an insightful and entertaining story about self-discovery.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer – Fredrik Backman

I listened to this novella on audiobook (and it was under two hours long, if you have a short-attention span) because I recently read Backman’s A Man Called Ove (review here) and really enjoyed it. The story takes place in an old man’s mind as he talks with his son and grandson about life and aging. While you are reading, you feel as if you are aging right along with him as a result of the beautiful storytelling.  I was of course crying by the end of it (what’s new, right?).  My major takeaways from this sweet story were that life is short and that the time spent with people you love is what you look back and reminisce on.

Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah, the comedian that replaced Stephen Colbert as host of The Daily Show, is the author and audiobook narrator of his memoir, Born a Crime.  Noah describes his experiences as a colored (i.e. half-white, half-black) person growing up in a black family in South Africa during apartheid.  The title is derived from Noah being born mixed race in a time when relations between blacks and whites were illegal.  The content is serious, but he adds enough comedy to keep it light and easy to read (or listen to).  I hate to admit this, but I did not realize how recent apartheid was until I read this memoir, and I certainly did not realize how complex and sometimes arbitrary the legal system was in South Africa during that time.  Life was hard for black women especially as the reader learns through Noah’s stories about his mother.  If you listen to audiobooks, I recommend this one in particular – Noah’s personal narration adds a lot to his already amazing story.

Have you read any of these books? What was the best book you read this month?

FYI: If you decide to purchase any books from this post, I recommend you buy them from a locally owned bookstore if that is an available option for you.  If you decide to purchase from Amazon by clicking on any of the book covers in this post, I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you).  Also, if you sign up for the Book of the Month Club(which I highly recommend) by clicking on any of the links in this post, I get a free book. Thank you!

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