What to read in May 2024

Open book in front of a stack of hardback books on wooden table with a turquoise background.

A reread and a new book. I’m not sure I changed my mind on the re-read, Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng, but I may have better insight. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman – well, I’ve found a new favorite.

It was a good month!

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Book cover for Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Book description from Kobo.com

Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. His mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet, left without a trace when he was nine years old. He doesn’t know what happened to her—only that her books have been banned—and he resents that she cared more about her work than about him.

Then one day Bird receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, and soon he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of heroic librarians, and finally to New York City, where he will learn the truth about what happened to his mother and what the future holds for them both.

Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s about the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children and the power of art to create change.

My Take

I read this book in November 2022 and shared my opinion here. Having now read a number of books that are categorized as Book Club Fiction, I’m starting to understand why I don’t enjoy some of the books I read. Don’t get me wrong. Celeste Ng wrote Little Fires Everywhere and I loved it. I think it has the same general theme as Our Missing Hearts, what do we give up as mothers, but it approaches it differently. Yes, both books also focus on the Chinese Americans. Yes, both books address the unfair treatment that can be seen between cultures.

But I think it is the tone of the book that changed things for me. Our Missing Hearts feels dark and heavy. Little Fires Everywhere seemed lighter and the family was more relatable to me. It goes to show that by changing the tone in the book, authors can attract a different set of reader. But it is important to note that not all readers like the same tone.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Book cover for Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Book description from Kobo.com

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

About this book

My Take

Love it! Absolutely love this mini plot story about a bank robbery gone wrong. This book is a masterwork example of how to weave together the stories of characters who have nothing in common and make it seem like they couldn’t live without each other.

I will definitely re-read this one someday. And if they make it into a movie, I’ll be watching.

What am I listening to?

The wait is over! I listened to a new audiobook. This one is non-fiction and a bit out of the ordinary for me. I listened to Annie Duke’s Thinking In Bets.

Duke is a champion poker player who is now a business consultant and this book helps you let go of the need for certainty and make accurate assessments of what may or may not happen. The details of process are still a bit fuzzy to me (remember, I’m a words person more than a numbers person). Suffice it to say, I now understand that the best I can do in any circumstances is to calmly and unemotionally evaluate a situation, make a decision and move one.

But I’m still not playing poker!

Until next time…