What I Read and Loved in May 2023

Despite being exhausted since it’s nearing the end of the school year, May was a great reading month. I ended up reading a lot of nonfiction. I didn’t plan that, but nonfiction is always welcome. Some readers seem hesitant to read nonfiction, but there’s so much good stuff out there, especially now. Nonfiction recommendations will be an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned.

Here’s what I read and loved in May!

What I Read

Maybe an artist book cover

Maybe an Artist: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Montague
Format: Print

Maybe an Artist is a cute YA graphic memoir about a Black woman whose cartoons get published in the New Yorker when she’s just 22. I enjoyed this quick read, but I wanted more depth. Even though this book is meant for a young adult audience, I thought the author could have filled in a bit more backstory. 

Happy place book cover

Happy Place by Emily Henry
Format: eBook

One of the things I appreciate about Emily Henry’s books is that I know exactly what I’ll get: well-rounded characters, witty dialogue, and a slow-burn love story. In Happy Place, the characters are a group of college friends who have gathered at a cottage in Maine for their annual vacation. Harriet and Wyn are the novel’s protagonists, and the two broke up several months before the trip. However, they haven’t told their friends, so they try to hide their breakup until they make it through the vacation, the last they’ll have in the cottage they’ve come to love that will soon be for sale. 

My favorite part of Happy Place isn’t the romance but the relationship between the six friends at the story’s heart. It was nice to see the challenges and complexities of adult friendships realistically explored. I also liked the book’s structure, which includes flashbacks throughout Harriet and Wyn’s relationship. That’s not a technique I always enjoy, but it worked well here. 

Though I was eager to read this novel, I wish I had read it in the summer because it’s the perfect summer read. If you’re looking for something light but thoughtful for your summer reading, give this one a try.

The eden test

The Eden Test by Adam Sternbergh
Format: eBook

When her marriage is in crisis, Daisy arranges a surprise getaway for herself and her husband, Craig. They’ll be out of the city at a remote cabin where they’ll participate in a program called the Eden Test to save their relationship. Craig doesn’t want to be there at first, but the two settle into a rhythm and start making progress. But Daisy is an actress who has a lot of baggage. And Craig has some secrets, too. 

Despite some heavy-handed imagery, The Eden Test is a total page-turner from beginning to end. The twists and reveals made this thriller unputdownable. This book is the perfect choice if you need some fun and escapism. 

I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki book cover

I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki
by Baek Sehee; translated from the Korean by Anton Hur 

Format: Print

I was researching mental health books to purchase for one of the libraries where I work and came across this title about a Korean woman struggling with depression. She visits a psychiatrist and starts recording their sessions, the transcripts of which make up this book. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at therapy, but something about this book didn’t work for me. Even though some of the therapy sessions were quite vulnerable, I never felt fully invested in this story. Of course, that could be my issue instead of the book’s, but either way, I’m glad I read this, even if I didn’t love it.

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism
book cover

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell
Format: Audiobook

In Cultish, Amanda Montell explores the vocabulary used in religion, midlevel marketing, fitness, and other high-control spaces. The parts about fitness were the most interesting to me. It was fascinating to hear how the language used in SoulCycle and Crossfit worked to convince people to pledge their loyalty. Other sections of this book were a bit slow, but it’s a worthwhile read if you’re interested in language. 

How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing book cover

How to Keep House While Drowning:
A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing
by KC Davis

Format: Print

I follow KC Davis on TikTok, where I learned about her book. She answers questions her viewers have about keeping up with household tasks and lets us into her own messiness. I appreciate the subtitle of her book because a gentle approach is exactly what Davis brings to the table. Davis’s vulnerability when discussing her mental health struggles and how she continuously advocates for those who have a hard time doing routine tasks that come easily to others makes this book such a gem. (I also mentioned this book in a recent post about messiness.)

Monsters: a fan's dilemma book cover

Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer
Format: Print

In Monsters, Claire Dederer raises a question: what are we to do with the art of monstrous men? She discusses Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, Ernest Hemingway, and other famous artists. Dederer also brings several women into the conversation, such as J. K. Rowling and Doris Lessing. I found this book to be thoughtful, well-written, and engaging from beginning to end. I highlighted many passages along the way, a sign that a book will stay with me. I highly recommend this title if you’ve ever wondered how to approach art when the artist has broken your trust.

What I Loved

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

WEBSITE: Substack

I’ve followed several writers on Substack for a long time now, but it wasn’t until recently that I started exploring the site. My friend Mary writes a wonderful newsletter, and I also love reading Anne Helen PetersonKatelyn Beaty, and Sara Hildreth a.k.a. FictionMatters.

I wanted a place to share original poetry and discuss other poems I like, so I started my own newsletter called Andrea Is Writing. I’d love it if you subscribed.

What did you read in May? What things brought you joy?

What I Read and Loved in April 2023

I was on spring break the first week of April. My only plans were to read. I picked up my first book but couldn’t get into it, so I tried another. I couldn’t get into that one either, so I tried again. This cycle happened about five or six times until I gave up. Even though the month started with a reading slump, it was short-lived, and I persevered. I’m so brave.

Anyway, here’s what I read and loved in April.

What I Read

Home therapy book cover

Home Therapy: Interior Design for Increasing Happiness, Boosting Confidence, and Creating Calm: An Interior Design Book by Anita Yokota
Format: eBook

Home Therapy features some beautiful interiors that I thoroughly enjoyed. I wanted more emphasis on the ideas in the subtitle, however. Most of the designs in this book feel out of reach for most people.

Beware the woman book cover

Beware the Woman by Megan Abbott
Format: eBook

Jed and Jacy, a recently married couple expecting their first child, travel to the middle of nowhere to visit Jed’s father. At first, Jacy is thrilled to learn more about her husband and his late mother. Her father-in-law likes her immediately, and the fact that he was a doctor gives her a sense of calm since she’s pregnant. However, as more and more unwanted attention is given to Jacy and her unborn child, she begins to question her own thoughts and concerns.

As usual, Megan Abbott delivers impressive suspense that builds slowly with every page. I like the facet of the book a lot, and I also appreciate her commentary on motherhood and bodily autonomy. While this novel’s ending felt rushed and clumsy, Abbott fans will still find a lot to enjoy here.

Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of this book. Beware the Woman releases on May 30th.

Above ground book cover

Above Ground by Clint Smith
Format: eBook

Clint Smith’s new poetry collection is full of gorgeous and playful meditations on parenthood, love, and family.

Your emergency contact has experienced an emergency book cover

Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency by Chen Chen
Format: Print

Chen Chen’s poems are both topical and timeless. He addresses recent events, such as the pandemic and the Trump presidency, but he also writes about evergreen topics like family, belonging, and falling in love.

Love in the library book cover

Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Format: Print

I no longer work in elementary schools, and I don’t have any little ones in my day-to-day life anymore, so I rarely pick up picture books. However, this book has been in the news lately, which put it on my radar. It tells the true story of the author’s grandparents meeting and falling in love in a Japanese internment camp. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is touching and meaningful. I’m so glad I read this.

How to love the world book cover

How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope edited by James Crews
Format: Print

I’m taking part in the Unread Shelf’s monthly challenge to read more of the books I own. April’s theme was “delight,” so I knew this poetry collection was perfect. As with any anthology, there are so-so pieces, but overall, this book is full of delightful poems and writing. Some poets featured include Joy Harjo, Tracy K. Smith, Amanda Gorman, and Jane Hirschfield.

The laughter book cover

The Laughter by Sonora Jha
Format: eBook

I discovered this book while scrolling through the new arrivals on my library’s Libby app. The cover caught my eye, and when I read the summary, I couldn’t click “borrow” fast enough.

The Laughter is the story of a white, middle-aged man who’s an English professor in Seattle. He becomes obsessed with his Pakistani colleague and her nephew. The story is told from his perspective, which is great if you like unreliable narrators like I do. This book becomes increasingly tense as it moves along, and I loved every minute.

What I Loved

EVENT: Trevor Noah’s Off the Record Tour

My book club read Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime a few years ago, so we decided to see him when he came to town. I’ve never been to a comedy show with this large of an audience before, and I was surprised about how moved I felt to be part of such a massive number of people all laughing at the same thing. Noah was hilarious, and the night was so much fun.

MUSIC: New albums from JOSEPH, The National, The Hold Steady, and Josh Ritter

My musical cup was running over in April. The new JOSEPH album is fantastic, and I’ve also been listening to long-time favorites like The National, The Hold Steady, and Josh Ritter.

What did you read or love in April? What are you looking forward to in May?

What I Read and Loved in March 2023

You never know what you’ll get with March, at least in the Pacific Northwest, where I live. There could be a blizzard, or I could comfortably wear sandals. Each day is a surprise. Thankfully, this March had decent weather and some excellent reads. I also watched and listened to some great stuff, so stick around to see what I enjoyed last month.

what I read and loved in March 2023

What I Read

yellowface book cover

Yellowface by R. F. Kuang
Format: eBook

Athena and June are writers whose careers are going in different directions. June’s first novel wasn’t very successful, while Athena is literature’s new darling. Her work is beloved, and she just signed a deal with Netflix. While celebrating with June, Athena dies, leaving behind her newly-finished manuscript. June takes the draft, decides to do some editing, and presents the book as hers. What follows is a timely story about representation, creativity, and who can tell what stories. 

Yellowface isn’t a thriller, but it’s most certainly a page-turner. The tension builds slowly as June’s lies start to unravel. I found her panic and sense of entitlement fascinating, as well as the behind-the-scenes look at publishing. I know Yellowface will be toward the top of my 2023 favorites list, and I can’t wait for readers to pick it up. 

Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of this book. It releases on May 16.

Vintage contemporaries book cover

Vintage Contemporaries by Dan Kois
Format: eBook

Emily and Em are quick friends when they meet in the early ’90s. Emily is loud and rebellious, and Em is a bookish woman finding her way in publishing as an editor. Em also befriends Lucy, a dear friend of her mother’s, and helps bring Lucy’s books to life. These two friendships are the foundation of Vintage Contemporaries, a novel set in New York City during 1991 and the early 2000s.

As a reader who loves books about books and stories set in NYC, I’m the ideal audience for this novel, so I thought I’d love this one. While I do like it, I think it’s overstuffed with storylines. In addition to the novel’s two primary relationships, Dan Kois addresses housing rights, police brutality, and workplace harassment. The last topic seemed like an afterthought instead of an organic part of the story.

Despite my issues with the book’s occasional lack of focus, I loved Kois’s take on female friendship, specifically the intergenerational bond between Em and Lucy. I also enjoyed the honest look at how relationships change and evolve as people’s lives get more complicated. Patient readers who are looking for books about complex women and the bonds between them will appreciate the heart of this tale.

The kind worth saving book cover

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson
Format: eBook

Henry Kimball is working as a private investigator when Joan enters his office. She was one of his students when he taught high school, and now she’d like to hire him to ascertain whether or not her husband is having an affair. As Kimball starts working on the case, he realizes Joan is much more complicated than he initially assumed. 

Peter Swanson is one of my go-to mystery writers; this book reminded me why. His stories are always fast-paced, exciting, and feature twists I don’t see coming. The Kind Worth Saving is the sequel to Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing, which I haven’t read. Since I enjoyed this book so much, I want to go back and read the first one. 

My last innocent year book cover

My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin
Format: eBook

It’s 1998, and Isabel is finishing up her senior year of college at a prestigious East Coast university. Early on in the novel, she has a sexual encounter with a date that leaves her wondering whether what happened between them was assault or just awkward. As she processes what happened, she begins an affair with a creative writing professor who fills her with praise and acknowledges her talent.

This story is set at the time of the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal, and the novel does an excellent job of using that background to explore relationship dynamics two decades before the #MeToo movement would do the same thing. I love campus novels and stories with messy relationships, so I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see what’s next for Daisy Alpert Florin.

Games and rituals book cover

Games and Rituals by Katherine Heiney
Format: eBook

Games and Rituals is a hilarious, sharply written short story collection that made me laugh repeatedly. The first story is about a group of employees at the DMV, while a story with a more serious tone reveals how a woman found out her husband is seeing someone else. One of my favorite stories is about a woman and her husband who get roped into helping his ex-wife move. I really liked this book and was disappointed when it ended. 

Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of this book. It releases on April 18.

What I Loved

The edge, Bono, and Dave Letterman sitting at a table

DOCUMENTARY: Bono and the Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman

U2 has been my favorite band for nearly 20 years, so it’s no surprise I loved this documentary with Bono and the Edge. It’s set in Dublin, and Letterman talks to the guys about how they started the band, what was happening in Ireland at the time, and their music’s impact on the world. The doc also includes scenes from an intimate acoustic concert performed by only the Edge and Bono. This film reminded me why I love this band so much.

MUSIC: Songs of Surrender by U2

This album contains 40 rerecorded, stripped-down songs from throughout U2’s career.

Daisy Jones and the Six poster

TELEVISION: Daisy Jones & the Six

Like many readers, I loved the Daisy Jones & the Six book by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It’s written as an oral history, so I knew it would translate beautifully to the screen. This 10-episode series has its flaws, but I did enjoy it, especially the music. It was fun to hear this fictional band come to life. 

Next in fashion poster

TELEVISION: Next in Fashion season 2

I don’t watch much reality TV, but when I do, I like lighthearted shows that champion creativity and star people who actually like each other. Those attributes are exactly what I got with season 2 of Next in Fashion, hosted by Tan France and Gigi Hadid. Each episode features a different challenge in which designers sketch and sew an outfit (or more). I know very little about fashion, but I do know this show is a lot of fun. (This second season is much better than the first.)

Ted Lasso season 3 poster

TELEVISION: Ted Lasso season 3

I love Ted and his group of friends. I’ll miss this show when I get to the last episode.

What did you read and enjoy this month? Is there anything I should read or watch in April?

What I Read and Loved in February 2023

As an introduction to this post, I reflected on February and what my highlights were when I realized they were the naps I took. February was especially busy and had far too much snow for my liking, so I found solace in my comfortable reading chair, blankets, and candles. What’s better than a cozy nap? Not much, that’s what.

When I wasn’t asleep, I did manage to read some stuff. I finished six books last month, and I’m on target to reach my goal of 75. Let’s get to the books and a couple of other things I loved in February.

What I Read

Share your stuff. I'll go first. book cover

Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level
by Laura Tremaine
Format: Print

One of my hopes for 2023 is to be more intentional with my friendships. I’ve also started journaling again, thanks to Laura Tremaine, so I knew it was the perfect time to read Laura’s book, which addresses friendship through ten questions that also make excellent journal prompts. Laura challenges readers to delve deeper with their friends as she shares her life and answers the ten questions. Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First. is a quick but thought-provoking read that will be valuable to anyone looking to learn more about their friends and themselves.

Go tell it on the mountain book cover

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Format: Print

Sometimes I hesitate to reread books I’ve loved because I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed the second time. However, after reading Go Tell It on the Mountain again for my book club, I’m happy to report I love it even more than before.

The novel is set in 1930s Harlem and follows John Grimes on his fourteenth birthday. John is the son of a charismatic preacher named Gabriel, who overlooks John in favor of his younger brother, Roy. The other main characters are John’s mother and Gabriel’s sister, two fascinating women with difficult pasts.

Baldwin’s first novel is remarkable for many reasons, but the one that stands out most is how well-developed all the characters are in this relatively short book. If you’ve read Baldwin before, you know he’s a master of prose, and that gift is on full display here. If you like books that deal with faith, identity, and family, be sure not to miss this one. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

Exiles book cover

Exiles by Jane Harper
Format: eBook

Investigator Aaron Falk is back in the third book of Jane Harper’s mystery series. Each book is set in Australia, and this one takes place near a vineyard owned by Falk’s friends. He’s on vacation visiting them, but he can’t help but be pulled into the active case of Kim Gillespie, a woman who disappeared the year before at a summer festival. She left her baby alone in a stroller, and one of her shoes was found, but that’s all the police know. 

As always with Jane Harper’s novels, Exiles is atmospheric and full of lovable, memorable characters. The supporting cast is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. I liked seeing Aaron Falk with his friends and appreciated the slow burn of his new romance. The mystery at the heart of this story was wrapped up beautifully, and the pacing was perfect throughout. Exiles is my favorite Falk novel so far.

You could make this place beautiful book cover

You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith
Format: eBook

I’m a fan of Maggie Smith’s poetry, so I knew You Could Make This Place Beautiful would be gorgeously written, and it is. This memoir tells the story of Smith’s divorce and how she rebuilt a life for herself and her two children after her marriage ended. The story unfolds in a non-linear way, with vignettes imagining Smith and her husband as characters in a play. My favorite parts of the book were the longer sections because I liked the chance to settle down in a scene for a while instead of moving along to the next one. Smith tells her readers at the start of the book that her memoir isn’t a tell-all, but I wish she had delved deeper in certain passages or stayed with a moment for a few more pages. Despite that minor quibble, I enjoyed this book, and I’d recommend it to anyone who appreciates a well-written memoir about life’s second chances. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of this book. 

Vinyl moon book cover

Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne
Format: eBook

Vinyl Moon tells the story of Angel, a girl recovering from an abusive relationship with her former boyfriend. Her worried mother sends her from California to live with her uncle in Brooklyn. As Angel finds her footing in a new school and discovers writers like Toni Morrison and James Baldwin, she realizes the power of her voice and begins to use it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but I wish it were longer. I felt I was just getting to know Angel and the other characters when the book ended. Nevertheless, Angel is a compelling protagonist who will inspire many teen readers who need a story of someone who overcomes and finds their way.

The Writing Retreat by Julia Hartz
Format: eBook

Alex is a struggling writer who can’t believe her luck when she’s offered a spot at an exclusive women’s writing retreat hosted by her favorite author, Roza Vallo. She learns that her former best friend, Wren, will also be there, and even though Alex can’t bear to think about what she did to Wren a year ago, she knows the retreat will be worth the awkwardness. But things aren’t what they seem at Roza’s estate, and when Alex realizes some people around her aren’t who they say they are, she knows she’ll be lucky to get out alive. 

This thriller has an interesting plot, but The Writing Retreat didn’t work for me in the end. I found the characters flat, the twists unbelievable, and some parts too violent for my taste. 

What I Loved

TELEVISION: Cunk on Earth on Netflix

I hadn’t heard of Cunk on Earth until Jamie B. Golden gave it a green light on The Popcast. I’m so glad she did! This show is a mockumentary about the history of civilization. Diane Morgan is brilliant as Philomena Cunk, a journalist who goes everywhere in boots and a long coat, no matter the weather or location. This five-episode series is completely ridiculous and delightfully stupid. I loved every second.

MUSIC: Cozy Coffeehouse Covers playlist on Spotify

I love a good cover song, so I listened to this playlist a lot last month. It’s folksy, mellow, and makes for good background music while working.

That’s it from me! What did you read and enjoy in February?

What I Read and Loved in January 2023

January can be a bit of a downer, but it turned out to be a fantastic reading month for me. I read seven books, and all but one was a four or five-star read. I hope this momentum continues in February. I’m also sharing a few non-book loves for the month. Let’s jump in!

What I Read

One of us is dead book cover

One of Us Is Dead by Jeneva Rose
Format: eBook

One of Us Is Dead is a thriller about a murder in Buckhead, a wealthy neighborhood in Atlanta. The victim is part of an elite group of women with important spouses and equally important images to maintain. These women spend much of their time at Glow, an upscale salon owned by Jenny, who is interrogated by a detective throughout the novel. He’s hoping the secrets shared in Jenny’s salon chair will help him find the killer. 

This book is entertaining, but the story fell flat for me. The characters seem like caricatures, and I got tired of their gossip and backstabbing. However, the book is a quick read, so if you want something light and fast-paced, you might like this novel if you’re in the mood for plot over character development. (Also, the author is one of my favorite TikTok follows.)

Strangers to ourselves book cover

Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us by Rachel Aviv
Format: eBook

In Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us, Rachel Aviv introduces readers to four people experiencing psychological crises. First, we meet Ray, a once-successful man who can’t let go of his anger. He thinks his doctors are unable to treat him and he resents how his life has turned out. Next is Bapu, an Indian woman who feels an irresistible call to her religion, choosing her god over her family for most of her life as a wife and mother. Then there is Naomi, a poor Black mother who kills one of her sons in a moment of manic desperation. Finally, we meet Laura, a privileged white woman who doesn’t know who she is without her antidepressants. Aviv also shares her own story of being diagnosed and hospitalized with anorexia as a young child.

Each case study is powerful, especially the ones that focus on women. I appreciate how Aviv chose diverse subjects, both racially and economically. Yet, despite their diversity, each person feels trapped in their illness, struggles with hopelessness, and experiences difficulties getting proper medical and psychiatric care. This book makes important points about medication, access to good healthcare, and how one’s environment plavs a role in illness and recovery. Strangers to Ourselves is a book l’Il be thinking about for a long time.

Diary of a void book cover

Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi; translated by David Boyd and Lucy North
Format: Audiobook

Ms. Shibata is a lonely woman in her mid-thirties working a dull office job. Because she’s a woman on a team of men, her coworkers expect her to make the coffee, clean the break room, and take care of other menial chores. Shibata is understandably tired of this role, so one day, she makes an announcement: she’s pregnant. Except she isn’t. 

Diary of a Void explores what happens in Shibata’s life over the next nine months. The “pregnancy” not only allows her to get out of chores, but she can leave work early. With her new free time, Shibata joins an aerobics class for expectant mothers, cooks healthy meals, goes on walks, and marvels at the slower pace of her life. Weight gain and padding help Shibata keep up her ruse. 

I love this book’s exploration of motherhood and how that role impacts how a woman is seen and treated. Diary of a Void reminded me how much I enjoy Japanese fiction’s playfulness and subversive nature. 

Spare by Prince Harry book cover

Spare by Prince Harry
Format: Print

Spare surprised me. It was one of those books I picked up intending to skim, but I found myself quickly engrossed and read the entire thing in two days. So much has already been said about Prince Harry and some of the things he reveals in Spare, but what stands out above all else is how difficult it would be to grow up with the level of fame he endured and is enduring. Autonomy would be nearly impossible. Mistakes would be headlines. The worst moments of your life might just be entertainment to others. I was moved by Harry’s story and found the section in which he discusses his military service especially interesting. This book could have been shorter–something I say about many of the books I read–but I’m glad I read it. 

Illustrated Black history book cover

Illustrated Black History by George McCalman
Format: eBook

Illustrated Black History is a collection of brief biographies of important Black figures throughout history, including athletes, artists, politicians, chefs, dancers, and many others. Each biography is accompanied by a gorgeous, bold illustration of the subject, which makes this book a joy to read. 

Sam book cover

Sam by Allegra Goodman
Format: eBook

I love reading a novel with solid character development, and that’s what I got with Sam. The book begins when Sam is a little girl and follows her through her teen years. Throughout the book, Sam lives with her single mom Courtney, who’s working two jobs to keep her family afloat. Sam’s dad Mitchell struggles with addiction, so he’s in and out of her life, making promises he can’t consistently deliver. As Sam grows up and becomes more complex, so does Allegra Goodman’s writing. Sam is a heartfelt, moving, and memorable coming-of-age story about a girl I’ll be thinking about for a long time. 

I have some questions for you book cover

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
Format: eBook

Bodie Kane is a successful podcaster and professor who returns to Granby, the New Hampshire boarding school she attended as a teen, to teach a couple of classes. In her podcasting course, a student starts digging into the murder of Thalia Keith, Bodie’s former roommate at Granby, who was killed on campus. Though the case has been solved for years, Bodie can’t help but ask questions and begins to wonder if justice was really served.

I Have Some Questions for You is a masterful mystery novel about growing up, injustice, and the secrets we keep. Granby feels like a real place, and the characters who populate its campus are complex and interesting. Rebecca Makkai builds tension slowly and methodically until the book’s satisfying conclusion. This novel is the very best of dark academia. I know it will be one of the best things I read all year.

Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of this book. It releases on February 21.

What I Loved

A hand journaling
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

ACTIVITY: Journaling

I’ve kept journals off and on since I was in elementary school, but I stopped over the past few years. I realized how much I missed the practice, so I took Laura Tremaine’s online class, Journaling for Grownups. The course was terrific, and I learned a lot from Laura and the other students. Picking up journaling again has been such a gift. I’ve been using Archer and Olive journals, which I love.

Sheng Wang sweet and juicy comedy poster

COMEDY: Shang Wang’s Sweet and Juicy

A friend recommended this special, and I’m happy to report that I laughed through the entire thing. I’m eager to watch it again. It’s on Netflix.

A stack of Jess Walter's books

EVENT: Jess Walter’s Library Visit

Jess Walter is a prolific and popular local author who visited one of my school libraries last week. He talked about his writing process, answered questions from students, and read an unpublished short story. As much as I enjoyed hearing him read, my greatest delight was hearing him answer kids’ questions and encourage them to write. (Walter’s latest book, The Angel of Rome and Other Stories, is marvelous.)

FRAGRANCE: Jazz Club by Maison Margiela

While I journaled, watched comedy specials, and listened to local authors, I smelled like Jazz Club, my new favorite scent. Wearing it makes me feel much cooler than I actually am, so it’s worth every penny.

That’s it for me! What did you read and love in January?