Bookish Side of Life: June

I love books. I love reading books. So when I saw that Kelsey over at The Blonder Side of Life was setting up a book-related challenge for summer, well… I couldn’t resist.

The Blonder Side of Life

The challenge is this: three months of putting books before technology. Set a goal of books to read during the summer – June, July, and August – and at the end of each of those three months, a linkup happens with posts reviewing books, talking about the challenge, or whatever else our blogging hearts desire.

Not brave enough to see Kelsey’s goal of 20 books, I set my goal at 10. It seemed like enough of a challenge since I’ve been averaging about 2 books a month so far this year, so it would stretch me enough to be challenging, but not so much that I’d feel overwhelmed. And so, now that it’s the end of June, how am I doing so far?

Books Started in June:
Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
Woburn: Hidden Tales of a Tannery Town, by Marie Coady
Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, by Stephen Puleo
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
The Boston Jazz Chronicles, by Richard Vacca
Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill

Books Finished in June:
Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

Goal Complete So Far:
3 / 10

Thoughts on Books Read: (italicized book blurbs from Goodreads)

shutterislandShutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
2003, 325 pages

Summer, 1954.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them.

But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems.

And neither is Teddy Daniels…

Shutter Island was the book selected for the June meeting of the Shamrock Book Club, the book club within my running club. We chose it because the members present were generally all fans of Lehane’s writing, the book is set locally (Boston Harbor islands), and all but two of us hadn’t already read it or seen the movie.

Unfortunately, I had already seen the movie so I knew how the story would turn out and the twist wasn’t a surprise, but Lehane is such a good writer that I still found it to be a page-turner and flew through it happily. The rest of book club seemed to enjoy it, and we had a good discussion about it as we sat around a fire pit and drank yummy beers:





Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby
2015, 452 pages

Set in 1960’s London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby’s latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.


For reasons I can’t entirely explain, I decided a few years back that I was going to read every single book Nick Hornby wrote. I had grand plans to review them all on my blog and make deep insights into his writing style… I think the former English major part of my brain was feeling neglected at that time or something. Anyway, I read his entire back catalog, and then decided I didn’t really want to complete what I had been calling The Hornby Project. So that was that.

Even though I abandoned my weird little pet project, and despite the fact that Hornby is a gooner, I still feel compelled to read his new releases. Funny Girl in particular piqued my interest, as it a) is set in England, b) involves a character from The North, c) is about a fascinating time in British comedy; having recently read John Cleese’s memoir So, Anyway… I was curious to read another take (though fictional) of comedy at that time.

I actually started Funny Girl in May, but was interrupted when Shutter Island came in for me at the library (and I had to read that first so it would be done in time for book club). I found it a little slow at first, but once Sophie stumbled into the world of TV comedy I thought it picked up a little. Definitely entertaining, even if it wasn’t quite the page-turner that Shutter Island was.


girltrainThe Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
2015, 336 pages

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

This book… so hot right now. I put a hold on it at the library soon after it was published in January of this year, and I only just got my hands on it on June 17. I don’t usually jump on the bestseller bandwagon for this reason… if a book is so in demand that there are tens of thousands of holds on it in my public library network, then I’ll usually wait until the furor dies down before I give it a go myself. Plus, I’ve been disappointed by some hot bestsellers in the past, and prefer to wait out the hype in an effort to start a book with a mental clean slate.

The Girl on the Train, however, struck me as one I really wanted to read. Maybe the train commuter aspect appealed to me (not entirely sure why it does, but books like Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time always make it onto my to-read list), or maybe the fact that it takes place in England (I’m an admitted Anglophile), or maybe that description above just hooked me. Whatever the case, I wanted to read it!

Once I finally got my hands on it, I flew through it. It hooked me right away. Talk about a page-turner! It sucked me in even more than Shutter Island had, and I was almost totally absorbed in that one. When I finally got to the end, standing in a crowded busway waiting to complete my commute home, I felt cut adrift. I think the book had hooked me so well and had kept me hanging on, and so no matter how it ended it would have left me feeling almost stranded… if that makes sense. It wasn’t the feeling I get when I finish a really good book, like I’m saying goodbye to a good friend… it was more like the book had just dropped me and abandoned me back in reality. It was weird, and left me feeling like I didn’t love the book as much as I had while I was reading it. An odd feeling to be sure, but I’m still glad that I read it.


What books did you read this month? Any you’d recommend?

Ever taken part in a reading challenge?

17 thoughts on “Bookish Side of Life: June

  1. Now I really, really want to read The Girl on the Train. Sounds like a perfect summer book! I like the idea of a reading challenge, especially since my reading has fallen way down as of late. May need to consider something like that for July/August. 🙂

  2. cool, I love funny books so I’ll def. have to check out Funny Girl! I just finished a really good book called Brain on Fire about a 20-something girl who loses her mind! Good luck with all those books!!

    • Thanks! 🙂 I’ve heard of Brain on Fire, it sounds fascinating! I’ll have to get my hands on a copy. Hope you like Funny Girl!

  3. Oh man, I burned through Girl on the Train too! I enjoyed it but I don’t usually do thrillers because they stress me out! Just finished JoJo Moyes’s Ship of Brides, which I really enjoyed. Lately I’ve been into books about women set during war, apparently! (Other war books- I Iiked Life After Life but would have liked way more character development for a book of that length! Would highly recommend I’ll Be Seeing You which I read a long time ago but still think about!)

    • I’m with you on the thrillers being stressy! I don’t read a lot of them but oh boy, this one was good. I haven’t heard of the Moyes one, but I’ve been enjoying women-during-war books lately too… I grabbed a few at ALA that I should pass on when I see you! 🙂 Thanks for the recs! ❤

  4. This is really great! While I don’t think I’ll join the challenge this summer, I am trying to read more lately. And I’ll be looking out for your reviews to see what interests me! I’ve had Girl on the Train on my list for awhile and now I want to read it even more! Thanks!

  5. You know me, I am always challenging myself to read more ;0) This year, I’m challenging myself to read at least 90 chapter books; so far, I’m at 60!
    I read a few great books this month, but the ones that stood out/that I’d recommend were How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I’m also right in the middle of Bone Gap by Laura Ruby and, well, if the ending is as good as the first half, I’ll probably rec that, too!

    • Nice!! I’m impressed that you’ve managed to read so many books already! And thanks for the recs – I’ll have to add those to my to-read list! 🙂

    • I’m with you! I used to read so much more but lately I’ve been slacking. Now I’m trying to read during the time on my commute that I’d spend catching up on twitter and blogs… getting more reading done, but falling behind with everything else!

  6. First of all, props to you for being able to read more than one book at a time. If I tried that I’d never finish anything lol. Great start to the challenge and thanks for linkin up with me!

    • Heh, I don’t know if it’s a good thing… it was more a case of having book ADD for the past month or two! 🙂 Thanks for hosting a great linkup and for inspiring me to read more!

  7. Pingback: 30 Good Things Before 30: #28 – Born to Run by Christopher McDougall | A Normal Woman's Guide to (Mostly) Healthy Living

    • The movie was SO good, and the book is just as good, I think! I was amazed how sucked in I got even though I knew the ending.

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