What I Read – May 2021


We Want What We Want – Alix Ohlin (House of Anansi Press, 2021)

The Orange Tree – Carlos Fuentes (translated by Alfred Mac Adam) (Harper Perennial, 1994)

Forgiveness – Mark Sakamoto (Harper Collins, 2014)

The Past is Red – Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom, 2021)

Villette – Charlotte Bronte (Vintage Random House)

Did Not Finish:

Dead Souls – Sam Riviere

I really tried with this one because it was an e-ARC I requested from NetGalley. I pushed through to around 30% but had to give it up when I realized reading it felt like work and I was avoiding all reading so I wouldn’t have to pick this up. It’s a very esoteric story about a writer accused of plagiarism, told by an unnamed narrator who, at least as far as I got, is hearing all this at a literary party. As a literary person who has even worked in publishing I thought I’d be the right audience for this book but I am not. There was so much exposition and zero characterization. There was so little physical description that I struggled to remember what I was looking at or where we were. There is definitely some bookish humour here but it was too buried for me to enjoy it.

Currently Reading:

A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry edited by Czeslaw Milosz

The Samurai – Shusaku Endo

Sufferance – Thomas King

2021 Goals:

Books Read: 30/100

Books Reviewed: 26/30

Asian-Canadian Literature Challenge: 3

A Virtuous Reading Challenge: 2/12 (none in May)

Current TBR: 221 (previously 220)


A bit of a slower reading month and Goodreads is helpfully telling me that I’m 11 books behind my 2021 Reading Goal but I guess I’m okay with that. My May reading was quite diverse – short stories, non-fiction, translated work, climate fiction, and an old classic. Each one had elements I liked and some I didn’t and at the moment it’s hard to choose a standout.

What’s Next:

Feeling like I need to put a little effort into getting my TBR out of control, I’ve added a couple holds at the library and so will hopefully be reading Floating City by Kerri Sakamoto (which will count for the Asian-Canadian Literature Challenge as well) and The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton. I also have several ARCs to work my way through, starting with Sufferance which I’ve just begun. My next ARC after that will be Made in China by Anna Qu (not to be confused with the book of the same title by Amelia Pang. For my Virtuous Reading Challenge, I’ll next be re-reading A Tale of Two Cities, something I’m looking forward to since it’s my favourite by Dickens.

Other Reading:

My Bible Reading Plan had me finish 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, and Acts. I’ve really appreciated the way the plan has me reading 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles at the same time, as well as pairing related Psalms with the chapters. I’m getting a lot out of reading the Bible this way and seeing all the many connections between the books. I’m no reading 1 Kings, 1 Chronicles, and Romans.

We finished reading A Little Princess with the girls at bedtime and are about halfway through Heidi together.

13 thoughts on “What I Read – May 2021”

  1. Goodreads is the worst boss I’ve ever had – they constantly tell me I’m failing without any regard for my feelings! We should start a union… 😉

    1. I’m still sorting through my feelings on that one! I did not like it for a lot of the book but my view shifted closer to the end and I was impressed but I’m not sure I’m at love yet!

    2. Fair, it is weird. I like it largely because it is possible to describe it as “Jane Eyre on drugs”.

    3. That’s a great description! I was absolutely waiting for the ghostly nun to turn out to be someone’s crazy wife!

  2. How did the kids get on with A Little Princess? That can be a hard one, which I think we talked about, not only because the India setting is a result of colonialism and the father living there with the military, but all the French that crops up, too.

    Will you read Anne of Green Gables to Rose and Pearl?

    1. They really liked the idea of being a secret princess. And I appreciated the perspective that you can be a princess based on your actions and kindnesses toward others. The language is definitely old-fashioned and they did not understand the concept of kids being sent away from school. We didn’t really get into the colonial setting of India, I think they viewed Sara more like an immigrant to England. I read the French to them but then translated so they could understand what was happening. Fortunately I still have enough high school French for that!

      I think we’re going to read Anne of Green Gables next! I bought the Puffin in Bloom collection for Pearl for her most recent birthday and Anne is one of the books (along with A Little Princess and Heidi).

    2. Oh, I completely forgot about the message that a princess is based on a person’s actions. I’m not sure how I forgot, but I did, because Sara and Becky are the princesses.

    3. It’s quite a lovely message. There’s a real emphasis on helping others and even when Sara is a poor servant she tries to help a girl she sees begging because she recognizes that this little girl is worse off than her.

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