What I Read in May 2024

Hello, friends! May was a surprisingly prolific reading month for me. I’ve been needlepointing a lot (currently working on my first Christmas stocking!) which means lots of audiobooks. I might also be finally becoming a Kindle girly–the minutes left remaining in chapter have been really motivating! I also prioritized tackling my TBR backlog which feels really good. Anyways, here’s everything I read in May:


The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of my favorite books, and I had been meaning to read more from John Boyne. Well, it only took me five years but here we are! While on the shorter end, The Absolutist is yet another brilliant work of historical fiction. Following the end of WWI, Tristan Sadler travels from London to Norwich to meet the sister of Will Bancroft, to deliver the letters she had sent to Will during the war but also to speak to someone who knew of Will, who Tristan found very special. Tristian recounts his friendship with Will as he spends the day with Will’s sister, and the story might be what you expect. In his storytelling, John Boyne gives us space to reflect on the the morality and futility of war in a complex and layered way.


Obviously 2024 is the year of me FINALLY reading all of R. F. Kuang’s works (Poppy War series is next on my list!). Her latest novel Yellowface is quite different from Babel. t’s a contemporary story where you primarily get to know one character, the narrator in this case. June Hayward has been long-time “friends” with Athena Liu, a wildly successful author. June is actually with Athena when she dies, and she gives into the temptation of taking the final draft of Athena’s latest book which she finishes and publishes as her own. This book makes the dream come true for June: people know who she is, her book is critically acclaimed, and she’s making great money from writing. However, It’s not unicorns and rainbows forever because people start asking questions… Undoubtedly, Yellowface provides insight into the publishing industry and what many authors of color face and have to overcome. June is an unreliable narrator (with an evolving delusion) throughout the story but in a way that makes complete sense for storytelling.


What I know to expect from Tia Williams after reading Seven Days in June is that she is going to deliver on the romance front and then some more. Ricki Wilde is the black sheep of her family. Rather than following the path laid out for her and joining her family’s empire of funeral homes, she dreams of working with flowers. Ricki is given a chance to do so in New York City thanks to Ms. Della who comes into the funeral home on one of Ricki’s last days. As she explores her new neighborhood, she keeps running into this mysterious stranger who has an unimaginable secret!! I found A Love Song for Ricki Wilde a little bit less sad overall. Maybe because of the magical elements to the storytelling or the special people that make up Ricki’s chosen family in NYC?


Convenience Store Woman came recommended to me from a coworker a couple of years ago. It took me shockingly long to get around to reading it, and I hope you don’t make the same mistake! Translated from Japanese, Convenience Store Woman is a short and sweet story about Keiko who has worked part-time at the same convenience store for the last eighteen years. Those around her do not understand why she’s still working at the convenience store after all these years and why she has been single forever. One day, her life seems full of potential to become “normal” and “accepted” thanks to a (not so great) co-worker. Thought not explicitly stated, Keiko appears to be on the autism spectrum based on her interactions with others (i.e. her sister coaching her about people’s expectations and providing her with “appropriate” responses) which adds some context to Keiko’s life.


Third book in the Aunties series, The Good, The Bad, and the Aunties is my favorite yet (though my very favorite Jesse Q. Sutanto book is Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murders!). This time, Meddy, Nathan, and the aunties are in Jakarta, Indonesia to celebrate Chinese New Year. Somehow (but in true Aunties fashion), they find themselves in the middle of long-standing feuds between three of the most powerful people in Jakarta. There may be bribing, kidnapping, and fearing for one’s life… 👀


Another coworker recommendation, Edible Economics seemed a bit out of my comfort zone (what even is economics?!), but Ha-Joon Chang is an expert scholar who provides a digestible introduction to economics using food ingredients as a starting point or segues. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about geopolitical influence on really everything in life from time zones to the K-Pop. Edible Economics further bolsters that thinking. Chang begins with chapter with an ingredient and either how it’s used in different cultures or how different countries were introduced that ingredient via trade/colonization/history otherwise. This was such a fun and fascinating read!

A MAP FOR THE MISSING by Belinda Huijuan Tang

I had a copy of A Map for the Missing sit on my physical TBR bookshelf for over a year. I can’t recall if I won this in an Instagram giveaway or I was gifted this book when I used to be more active on Bookstagram but I’m smacking myself yet again for not reading this sooner. Now a professor at an American university, Yitian is confronted with the life and people he left behind in the rural village in China when he returns after a sudden disappearance of his father. He has hard time reconciling the post-Cultural Revolution China he is having to navigate and the one he remembers from childhood. In search of his father, Yitian seeks out the help of his old friend and first love Hanwen who was one of those kids from Shanghai who were “sent down” to YItiian’s home village. A Map for the Missing artfully navigates between timelines and big cities and small towns as it depicts the changes and challenges China went through in the late 20th century.

A THOUSAND SHIPS by Natalie Haynes

If you know me, you know I LOVE greek mythology, and that love extends to retellings as well. A Thousand Ships is a tale of the Trojan war and the years following told as stories of many women who were impacted by the series of events but so often left out and forgotten. Author of Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, Natalie Haynes fully seizes the opportunity to present the stories of women, even presenting the perspective from Calliope, the supposed Muse for Homer who is of course the poet who wrote the Odyssey and Iliad. A great read if you’re a fan of Greek mythology retellings or retellings in general.


As the name suggests, Pride and Protest is a contemporary take on Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, but make it gentrification in DC instead of zombies. While not an identical set of characters, Liza B.’s and Dorsey Fitzgerald’s family and friends closely resemble those of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, which makes it pretty easy to follow the dynamics and the plot. Nikki Payne does a great job of putting a modern twist so it’s not an exact replication set in 2020s so you’re still invested in learning about the characters and how the story moves along.

P.S. I’m currently reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen!

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