March wound up being a bit of a scattershot for me—rather than sticking to my reading plan, I threw the rules out the window—I know. Who am I?—and read what I felt like reading. I did read Force of Nature, I Was Anastasia, The Hazel Wood, Stay With Me, Lab Girl, and Freshwater as planned. I started but abandoned Oliver Loving—not a bad book, just not the right book last month for me. I still didn’t get to Priestdaddy and, though I flipped through it, I couldn’t bring myself to care about reading the middle grade Diverse Books Club offering this month, Finding Wonders. I started but have not finished On the Road, Gloria Steinem’s memoir. I wound up adding a few unplanned books to the reading/listening—The Romanov Sisters, Educated, When They Call You a Terrorist, The Good House, The Line Becomes A River, and This Will Be My Undoing.
Force of Nature
Force of Nature is the second offering from Australian Jane Harper and continues to follow Detective Aaron Falk (or whatever Australians call detectives—I don’t have the book anymore as I had to return it to the library.) This one seemed to follow Aaron less (a little less need to introduce him to the reader in the second book) and stuck fairly close to the story of a team-building camping trip gone very, very wrong. I use mystery/thrillers like palate cleansers—when I’ve read a lot of heavy books and don’t want to think too hard and just want entertainment, they’re perfect. With this in mind, Force of Nature was a fun diversion with a few twists that kept it from being predictable. The Australian setting, particularly this time, felt like an exotic adventure from my couch. I think each of Harper’s books stands alone and don’t necessarily need to be read in order, though knowing who Falk is from the first book made the second easier to read—without it, I’m not sure you’d care as much about him.
The Romanov Sisters
I Was Anastasia left me wanting to know more about the Romanovs so I wound up picking up The Romanov Sisters from the library after I finished that one. I think almost to the day that I finished reading Lawhon’s book, Anne Bogel posted a match up recommending it as a companion read. I took it as fate and picked it up. It was a bit dense for a pleasure read—Rappaport heavily footnotes her sources (as she should!) and uses extensive quotes. It was surprisingly readable for what it was, which felt much more like an academic text than a narrative nonfiction meant for a mass audience. I’m not sorry I read it since this is a gaping hole in my historical knowledge, but it was kind of niche—I’m not sure how knowing about three year old Alexey Romanov is going to help me in the future.
I noted in my review of I Was Anastasia that there was less treatment of Nicholas II’s moral failings than I would have liked at the point I was in the book. Rappaport did wind up addressing these briefly, though not as much as I think it probably merited, particularly since she made a point to mention at the end that his image had been rehabilitated somewhat in that the entire Romanov family had been designated as victims of repression. This can be true—no one deserves to be summarily executed in a basement; however, it would be easy to read that book and see the entire Romanov family as a victim when Nicholas had some culpability in the catastrophic failure of his government and the resulting revolution.
The Good House
The Good House had one of the best audiobook narrators and one of the plots I cared about the least. I literally kept listening for the voice, though I couldn’t bring myself to care that much about the actual story or main character, Hildy Good. If you enjoy unreliable narrators and characters you alternately cheer for and hate, The Good House is a solid character study and a book you may enjoy it..I just couldn’t get into it.
I know, this section is why you’re still here. I thank you for being as invested in this information as I am. Overall I finished eight physical books and five audiobooks in March for a total of 2569 pages read and 30 hours and 15 minutes listening. That puts us at 8602 pages for the year, and 114 hours, 23 minutes listening, kids. Thanks for playing along.
Only one of the books this month did I already own, though I now own the ARC of Educated so we’re going to count that as two books for #theunreadshelfproject. I also took a few books to the Half Price Books because the only thing harder than reading all the unread books is giving some of them away, thereby bringing that number down.
I’ve already actually finished two books this month—the emotionally moving but quick Monster and Home Fire which just jumped into my top ten books of all time list. Katherine (@kathareads) is doing a buddy-read of Pachinko with #readwithkat so I’ll be finally getting to that one this month. The Diverse Books Club focus this month is on Poverty with Salvage the Bones (another that’s been on my TBR! And will count for #theunreadshelfproject) and Crenshaw as the picks. I’d like to add Evicted into the list since that’s been on my TBR and I think will fold nicely into that theme. I’ve got an ARC of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics as well as The Last Equation of Isaac Severy and the The Queen of Hearts from the library. That list will probably keep me busy for most of the month!
Are you reading anything fun this month? I’d love to hear what you’re enjoying these days. <3
Featured image credit: Sushobhan Badhai