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Show Us Your Books, April edition: The one with the reading slump

Before we get started, let me just wish all my awesome booknerds a happy National Library Week! It’s mostly a coincidence that this month’s Show Us Your Books happens this week but it’s not a coincidence that libraries are The Armchair Librarians’ topic this week (well, we hope. Lots of tech problems) so make sure you look for the new episode landing on your favorite podcasting app this Thursday. 

Now let’s talk books. I had a huge reading slump this month, leading me to only read 5 books which is the same as last month but given the extra week between linkups it should have been more. I mostly blame Skippy Dies by Paul Murphy. I just could not get into that book (it was a DNF after 10 pages) and it sort of put me in a tailspin. But I accept that reading slumps happen and I’m not overly stressed about it. Mostly because I’ve come out on the other side but also because I read so much that to go a few days of not reading a book isn’t really the worst thing in the world. show-us-your-books-2016-300by300

As I predicted, Evicted by Matthew Desmond brought me out of the slump and now I’m back to my old reading pace. I need the library to stop holding out on me and give me what I want (namely, the 7 books I have on hold) but I’m finally working through all my NetGalley books. I also have a bunch of books on my bookshelf I’ve been meaning to read (and, thanks to Erin, I’ll plan to do that this summer. She and Dani are launching another reading challenge in June and this one is dedicated to reading the books you have on your shelf that you just haven’t gotten around to reading. Make sure you’re following her to get updates about that challenge which, incidentally, has a prize at the end!)

Beasts and Children by Amy Parker. This is a book of short stories all about, well, beasts and children. It is extremely well written but all kinds of horrible things happen to kids and animals and that made it hard for me to read at times and, if I’m being honest, I actually did not finish a few of the stories because I just couldn’t do it. I did enjoy how many of the stories were connected to each other, which is different from most books of short stories I read, but overall, this not my favorite collection of short stories. Definitely not my favorite book of the month either. I did like it more than Skippy Dies, though. 

American Housewife by Helen Ellis. Also a book of short stories but one I absolutely adored. All of the stories revolved around different types of women, mothers and wives mostly. My favorite ones were her “how to…” stories but there were some with crazy ladies, overworked ladies, and a few that were just straight up bizarre. The variation kept me reading and engaged and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened in the next story. I read this while on vacation in Massachusetts and it was a perfect vacation read. It’s really a good anytime read but it worked well while in the midst of a reading slump on vacation, too. 

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins. The final book in the Crank trilogy. This one is told from the perspective of three of Kristina’s kids, and while it still was in that sonnet/poem format which plucks all my nerves and I wish she’d written these books as novels instead, this particular book was probably my favorite of the three. She did an incredible job telling the story of her grandkids and the impact having a meth addicted mother has on them. This could probably be a standalone book if you don’t want to read the first two. I’m not sure that I’ll read more of Hopkins’s writing but I’m extremely glad I read this particular trilogy. I like books that tackle ugly subjects and take care not to sugar coat anything but still handle the subject with respect. 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I love the quirkiness of the characters, the obvious affection for books (this book is essentially a love letter to books and authors), the addressing of what happens to dying towns, and the writing. On the other hand, the book had A LOT going on, it was pretty slow until the last 100 pages, and there were way too many characters. I needed some sort of character map to keep them all straight. It was a decent book and had I read it not in the midst of a reading slump, I might have felt differently about it because this is the kind of book you need to read at the right time. I don’t know what that time is, exactly, but definitely not on the heels of a book you hated. 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Holy fuck, did I love the hell out of this book. I got it as an ARC from NetGalley because it’s right in my wheelhouse for nonfiction, and I figured I’d like it. Never imagined I’d love it as much as I did. It’s an ethnographic study of renters and landlords in Milwaukee, focusing primarily on 8 families and their quest to find safe, affordable, decent housing and two landlords who own the properties and how they make money on the dilapidated properties they own. There’s a lot about eviction (as expected from the title), relationships between landlords and tenants, and housing policy and it was fucking fascinating. Also, he is an incredible writer and the amount of research he did for this book beyond his own field work is amazing. Fun fact: The author won a MacArthur Genius Grant for his work on poverty. 

Currently reading but didn’t finish in time to include it in the linkup: Crooked Little Lies by Barbara Taylor Sissel. So far, it’s a decent read. Update: thanks to a raging case of sleeplessness, I finished this book. Don’t bother with it. I give the author an A for effort but it’s a terrible mess of a book. It can’t decide what it wants to be and while it’s definitely a cozy mystery, it’s poorly done. It worked too hard when it didn’t need to and then no hard enough at other times. I can’t even with the dialogue throughout, and the rest was just meh. P.S. This was also a NetGalley book. 

Now it’s your turn! Bloggers, link up with your posts and nonbloggers, tell me in the comments what you’ve been reading. Don’t forget to visit Steph as well as some of the other bloggers joining us this month: 

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66 Comments

  1. Erin

    National Library Week? Could that be the reason I checked out seven library books yesterday?!

    I wouldn’t call 5 books a slump if you enjoyed them. But, when you are struggling through some, yeah, I’d call that a slump.

    The “Evicted” one has my interest, but I feel like I have several non-fiction ones waiting for me on my bookshelves at home that I really, really want to get to.
    Erin recently posted…I show you my books; you show me yours… vol.15My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Of the 6 books I read last month, I really only enjoyed 2. Well, 3 if you count Readers of Broken Wheel but I have mixed feelings about that book. That’s definitely a slump, not to mention my lack of motivation to pick up any books.

      Even if you don’t read it soon, put Evicted on your radar.

      Reply
  2. Kimmi

    I literally just put American Housewife on hold this morning! I am so excited I did now that I read your review!
    Kimmi recently posted…Currently….AprilMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      YAY! I hope you like it!

      Reply
  3. Olya @ The Siberian American

    I had a book that left me in a reading slump this month too. American Housewife sounds great! Adding that one to my list. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It really was a fun book! I liked it a lot, even the bizarre stories.

      Reply
  4. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    I hate reading slumps. I love to read but meh books just make me sad or grumpy. 🙂 I’m going to pass on Beasts and Children because I can take bad shit happening to adults but kids and animals, nope. American Housewife sounds good and I love the premise of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. I’ve seen mixed reviews, but it’s going on the list because why not. It seems like the kind of book to read in-between heavier reads.
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…The Year of Yes: Owning Your BadasseryMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m the same way. Bad shit happening to adults? Bring it on! Bad shit to kids and animals? Nope. No, thank you.

      The Readers of Broken Wheel is shelf candy. Definitely a good break between heavy books.

      Reply
  5. Pingback: The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed in March

  6. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad

    I get awfully confused with multiple characters, especially with audiobooks for some reason? Evicted sounds right up my street, I really enjoy historical and/or social studies, and as a lifelong renter I think I’d find this very interesting – and probably make me very grateful for my current situation!

    And happy National Library Week!

    Reply
  7. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad

    I’m sure I posted a comment but it seems to have vanished 🙁 the general gist was that slumps are the pits and I’m glad you’re out of yours, and that Evicted sounds right up my alley. I love all things social history, especially well researched ones. And finally, happy National Library Week!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Sometimes comments go into spam jail when they shouldn’t. That’s where you ended up. I got you out, though 🙂

      Evicted was an incredible book. So well written and well done.

      Reply
  8. kristen

    so i heard you mention skippy dies a few times on your podcast and i also wanted to let you guys know it was the name of a show back home about a kangaroo, i shit you not. it made me laugh when you were talking about it and that one character from something else and the peanut butter, so i thought i’d also throw skippy the bush kangaroo in there. anyway, now that i’ve started this comment off sufficiently awkwardly… i had a bit of a reading slump lately as well, but i had a day off yesterday so plenty of time to read while waiting in the dentist waiting room.. hopefully back at it. i really enjoyed the readers of broken wheel, but i agree with what you all said on the podcast as well, it is super slow. i didn’t mind it because i think i read it on vacation, maybe? not sure, but it didn’t bother me. it was cute though.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It was definitely a cute book. I wanted it to be better, though.

      Skippy the Kangaroo! I love this so much.

      Reply
  9. Heather

    Love National Library Week 🙂 The podcast is awesome so far – loving it!! Hope your slump passes soon (although I feel like sometimes it just happens and it needs to happen). Thanks again for hosting this awesome link up 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think it’s passed, thankfully. We’ll see what the books I have lined up this month do for me.

      And thanks for listening to the podcast!

      Reply
  10. Nadine

    American Housewife sounds fun, I haven’t really read many short story books. Evicted sounds interesting. I used to work for a property management company when I lived in Atlanta. Sadly, I had to evict a few people. But for the most part, they kind of deserved it. Spending all the rent money on clothes and cars. There were a few sad stories though, as there always are.
    Nadine recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      If you worked for a property management company, you would probably enjoy or relate to Evicted on a different level. It’s was a fucking awesome book. I can’t say enough good things about it.

      Reply
  11. April

    Man, I don’t know if I could read the Beasts and Children book. Was it about animals being hurt? If so, I’ll have to bow out of that gracefully… 🙁

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      There were a couple of stories where that happened, yes.

      Reply
  12. Kelli

    I’m currently in a reading rut, I just don’t have a lot of time and then when I do have time I just veg out in front of the TV because everything else feels like too much work.

    I did add the Broken Wheel book when I saw you had read it on Goodreads, I like boosk about books.
    Kelli recently posted…It’s All About The Books – Vol. 12My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s more of a love letter to books set in the midst of a story rather than a book about books.

      Reply
  13. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I hate it when you get into a reading slump, but it sounds like you’re out of it now which is good news! After hearing you talk about the Crank series, I really want to read them! It sounds like a tough read, but so interesting too! I’ve heard good things about The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, but that sucks that there were a ton of characters! Sometimes that really hurts the book.
    Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders recently posted…Show Us Your Books- What I Read In MarchMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It did not help the book at all to have that many characters. It was also not the book to read in the midst of a slump but it was not terrible at all.

      I do highly recommend the Crank series.

      Reply
  14. Linda sheridan

    Love the library. A safe haven. Opens the universe to all of us. I cannot read sad and bad stuff about children and animals.
    The library is calling me. I need to visit soon.
    Love. Steph’s. Momma.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It definitely does open lots of worlds!

      Reply
  15. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I’m hoping today is the day the library tells me it has books for me. Even though it’s raining and honestly I’d want to take a cab there which is foolish.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Show Us Your Books – What I Read in MarchMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I got an email that 3 of my books came in so I’ll be headed to the library today, too.

      Reply
  16. Lauren

    Adding Evicted right now. Keep the non-fiction deep dive heavy researched recs coming!

    On that note, have you listened to or heard of the Embedded podcast? I heard a snippet on NPR and I think it’s up my sociological observation alley, but I haven’t listened to it yet. I’ll let you know if I can recommend it.
    Lauren recently posted…books in a wordMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I have not heard of that one. I’ll have to check it out.

      I can’t wait to hear what you think of Evicted!

      Reply
  17. Jess

    American Housewife sounds right up my alley. I love short stories, especially when they are kind of messed up. Although I can’t handle any child or animal horrible stories, so I am staying away from that one.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      If you’re going to read short stories, definitely pick American Housewife over Beasts and Children. It’s just a better book all around, even taking subject matter out of it.

      Reply
  18. Brittany Pines

    The Housewives book sounds good- I haven’t done a short story collection recently, although I am starting one for thrillers!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m finding myself drawn to short stories more lately. Just something about them!

      Reply
  19. Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue

    Hmm, I’m not usually a fan of short stories but American Housewives sounds really good, Might give it a chance!

    Reply
  20. Mackenzie

    I had no idea it was National Library Week! Good thing I stocked up yesterday when I was there 🙂
    Mackenzie recently posted…As The Page TurnsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It was a happy coincidence to find that out!

      Reply
  21. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually

    The Poverty and Profit one sounds really interesting. My brother in law actually just got into real estate this year and is technically a landlord so it’d be interesting to see which aspects relate to his company. I was trying to remember the last time I was in a reading slump and I think I just don’t notice when it happens. Prior to starting a blog, I didn’t buy books – I just reread my old favorites, and I frequently went months without reading, so I guess that could count as a slump, but it didn’t seem like it at the time. It was just how I lived. This way is better!
    Jenn @ Optimization, Actually recently posted…“Outside of a Dog, a Book is Man’s Best Friend…My Profile

    Reply
  22. lisacng @ expandng.com

    I’m going to add American Housewife to my list because I’m trying out short story collections this month. I’m starting with “We’ve Already Gone This Far” and I have “Me, My Hair, and I” on-hold. I’ll add “Fallout” to my list and give that sonnet/poem format a try since you said this could be a standalone book. “Evicted” is already on my list.
    lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted…Tweetviews – book reviews in 140 charactersMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m picking up We’ve Already Gone This Far today!

      I hope you love Evicted. And Fallout. I’d recommend Crank, the first one in the trilogy, but you can probably pass on Glass (I said that because it made me laugh).

      Reply
  23. carly

    I need to check out your podcast– few things are better than talking about books! I’m in a weird reading slump too- I read an amazing book (a prayer for owen meany) and have just been reading fluff books since then for some reason. I tend to enjoy books about books, but I usually don’t love when there are too many people / things going on so I don’t know how I would feel about Readers of Broken Wheel…

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Owen Meany was a big DNF for me. I just couldn’t do it. I tried, too. But fluff books after that one make total sense.

      Reply
  24. Gwen

    I hate it that one bad book can bring down your whole reading mojo. Evicted sounds really interesting. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction but I love how much you loved it.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I loved it so much. I want to give it a giant hug for being so amazing.

      Reply
  25. Jessica @ Pleas(e) and Carrots

    I’m glad you finished reading Crooked Little Lies so I know not to read it now! I don’t want to get in a slump from reading a bad book, I hate when that happens!
    Jessica @ Pleas(e) and Carrots recently posted…March BooksMy Profile

    Reply
  26. Nancy @ NY Foodie Family

    Glad you liked Fallout. I added Evicted to my to read list. I love a good non-fiction book.
    Nancy @ NY Foodie Family recently posted…March 2016 ReadsMy Profile

    Reply
  27. Dani

    Thanks for the shout out!!! American Housewife is on my TBR, and adding the Crank series. So sad you didn’t love the Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, but I know what you mean by needing to read it at the right time and the menagerie of characters; I’m pretty sure I did have to make a character map. Also, I just wanted to say that I (finally) started listening to your podcast last night and I LOVE IT, particularly all the tangents you guys go on. It really made me miss my old book club because that’s exactly how we were! I’ve only listened to the first 2 so far, but I’ll definitely be listening to the rest shortly!
    Dani recently posted…Show Us Your Books: March EditionMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      We are very good at tangents! Those are probably the best part of the show.

      Broken Wheel was a fine book. It didn’t rock my world but I finished it and I think maybe, had I not read it in a slump, I would have like it more.

      Reply
  28. Jackie

    Books that put you in a reading slump are AWFUL. I hate when you force yourself to finish a book, hoping it will redeem itself, and then it just leaves you disappointed.
    Jackie recently posted…A Must Read: MarchMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I typically don’t force myself to finish a book I don’t like. It’s a rare occasion when I do but usually a bad book that was DNF will trigger a slump for me.

      Reply
  29. Crystal

    Oh, man! I almost requested Evicted, but then I was like nah, I need to catch up on the other eleventy billion books already on my Kindle, so I passed. I grew up in rural-ish MO, where affordable housing is abundant, so I was really surprised how hard it as to find an apartment that was both within budget and non-murdery when I moved to Orlando! Finding a place to live – one of the most basic needs we have – shouldn’t be so stressful!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      You can probably get it from the library at this point and I highly recommend that you do. I really can’t say enough about how much I loved this book.

      Reply
  30. Kristen

    Ugh, reading slumps are the worst for me! I always feel like it takes forever to get back into the swing of things. I’m glad all of your books weren’t complete duds.

    I don’t read a lot of short story collections, but I think I may try American Housewife at some point. It sounds like something I’d like.

    I agree with your comments about Ellen Hopkins. I’ve only read one of her books (Identical), and I liked it overall. It was dark and fucked up (like most of her books, it seems), and, as you said, she doesn’t sugarcoat … It’s raw and ugly, but it’s also fascinating. That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the way it was written. I actually love poetry, but I just feel like her books would be so much better if they were written as traditional novels.
    Kristen recently posted…From the Bookshelf: Recently Read – April 2016 EditionMy Profile

    Reply
  31. Christina

    I DNF Skippy Dies too. I just started Evicted today! American Housewives is on my nightstand too. I’m adding Fallout. I read the first two, but the second one annoyed me, so I didn’t want to go any further. I’m happy to hear the third was so good.
    Christina recently posted…What I Read in MarchMy Profile

    Reply
  32. Kara

    Yay for crazy housewives! I really like American Housewives. Sometimes I need a book that I don’t need to be invested in like that and makes me laugh.

    Reply
  33. Emma @Ever Emma

    Evicted sounds really interesting! I don’t know what it is, but for some reason I am really excited about non-fiction titles this year. I’ve seen American Housewife everywhere, but didn’t know much about it. Based off of your description, I bet I would enjoy that too!

    Reply
  34. Erin

    Just tweeted: Hot damn. I made my way through the #ShowUsYourBooks link-up AND got a few promising leads on engagement rings. All in a day’s work 🙂
    Erin recently posted…Girls’ Trip to France~Switzerland~Spain: Wanderlust WednesdaysMy Profile

    Reply
  35. carrie

    oh man, Evicted sounds right up my alley! I lived in Milwaukee for 4 years while I went to college so I really have to read that book!
    carrie recently posted…What I Read: MarchMy Profile

    Reply
  36. Jackie @ My Sort Of Adult Life

    I have a new appreciation for short stories and American Housewife sounds really good! Going on my to-read list!

    Reply
  37. Lauren @ Oh Hey! I Like That!

    Hmmmm…The Reader of Broken Wheel Recommend sounds intriguing, so I put it on my TBR list, and I DEFINITELY added Evicted!

    Reply
  38. Brie @ A Slice of Brie

    I’m generally not a fan of short stories (because I always want more!), but American Housewife sounds really good. I’m familiar with the Crank books, but I can’t bring myself to actually read them as I’m not sure how I feel about a book written in sonnet form. I imagine they are a quick read though?
    Brie @ A Slice of Brie recently posted…The Books I’ve Been Reading {8}My Profile

    Reply
  39. alyssa

    Happy National Library Week! I had nothing to link up this time but I’m determined to finish “Life of Pi” and dig back into my massive TBR pile ASAP, but not before adding to it many more titles from this linkup of course.

    Thank you for kindly, once again reminding me I need to read the whole “Crank” trilogy. I don’t know why I’m fascinated by the subject matter, but I am. Thanks also for the “Broken Wheel” warning. I’m hugely in a slump right now so I’ll let that one be for a while, though it is on my TBR.
    alyssa recently posted…A Few New ThingsMy Profile

    Reply
  40. Pingback: Reading Challenge Update #8 – Never Enough Novels

  41. Rose @ Ramblin' Rose

    I thought Readers of Broken Wheel was decent but it was just a little too cutesy for me. It’s saving grace was the book element.
    I don’t typically love short stories but Beasts and Children seems interesting. I loved messed up stories.
    Rose @ Ramblin’ Rose recently posted…March 2016 Book ReviewMy Profile

    Reply
  42. Beth @ Being Beth

    I’m going to have to check out Evicted. It sounds right up my sociological alley.

    Reply
  43. Allison

    Oooh, Evicted sounds right up my alley! I have a hard time getting into short story collections but American Housewife sounds interesting. I don’t think I could handle Beasts and Children.

    Reply

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