Happy Friday! After a long, long delay, I’ve finally gotten around to sharing my suggestions for May’s reading challenge. The month of May has been absolutely crazy for me, and, unfortunately, the blog had to get pushed to the bottom of the list! Now that things have slowed down for the next few months, I’m planning on resuming my regular posting schedule. Thanks for your patience–the first weeks of May are often the busiest time for teachers everywhere.
May’s theme for the Twelve Months of Books Challenge is “Family Ties.” I thought with Mother’s Day, graduations, and all the other recitals and awards ceremonies that sometimes come with this month, reading books about family relationships might be just what we need.
You can shop the full list of books here, and I’ve written a bit more about them below! This month, I’ve chosen exclusively fiction books. Although there are a huge number of nonfiction books about family, and there are lots and lots of YA reads that feature wonderful families, I thought it might be fun this month to focus on the complex nature of family relationships. I also tried to pick unique books that weren’t the first ones that jumped into my head!
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- I am currently reading The Poisonwood Bible for the first time, and I love the mysterious style and storytelling elements Kingsolver uses. The novel follows a missionary family as they journey to Africa, but their relationships take center stage.
- Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
- Henry VIII’s family life was characterized by intrigue and drama. This sequel to Mantel’s Wolf Hall can stand alone, and I think it moves at a quicker pace than Wolf Hall. If you love well-crafted historical fiction, this is a great option!
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- There are sisters aplenty for Elizabeth Bennet in this Jane Austen classic. If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, I’d recommend the Audible version narrated by Rosamund Pike to fully immerse yourself in this witty comedy of manners.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- I read this book as a freshman in high school, and I vividly remember the many different mother-daughter relationships Amy Tan paints for her readers. This is a great book to read if you’re looking to expand your reading and draw in books from diverse cultures!
- Brideshead Revisited by Eveyn Waugh
- The story of a family in decline, Brideshead Revisited is an interesting look at how our beliefs shape our relationships. Fans of Downton Abbey will like this look at the British nobility in the twentieth century.
- Howards End by E.M. Forster
- This novel traces fascinating people and their equally fascinating families at the turn of the century. Philosophical and funny by turns, I’d recommend this for fans of British Literature.
- The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
- If you’re looking for a challenging read, try Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. A portrait of a particularly dysfunctional family, this novel will make you think about time, memory, and the choices we make.
- The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- Both of these books are sometimes difficult to read, but so rewarding. The deep family ties and conflicts at the hearts of these novels will grab you and keep you turning, page after page!
- Half Gods by Akil Kumarasamy
- Though this book doesn’t release until June, it’s absolutely perfect for this month’s theme. Tracing one Sri Lankan family throughout the course of that nation’s civil war, Half Gods is a beautiful and thought-provoking collection of short stories.
- Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
- Whenever I recommend this book to people, I explain that it’s a slow-building book that perfectly encapsulates the idea of homesickness. Brooklyn is an immigrant story that highlights the American dream and the importance of moving forward in hope.
- Peace Like a River by Lief Enger
- This novel is a moving picture of faith and fatherhood. Miracles, road trips, and engaging prose take this story set in the American west to the next level. I loved this novel, and it’s a perfect beach read–deep and interesting, with a gripping plot!
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- An American epic of sorts, East of Eden traces the paths of two brothers. This novel was hugely influential in my own writing process, and I underlined just about every other sentence. If you like gritty stories of American life, I highly recommend this one.
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- Gilead was one of the best books I read in 2017, and this amazingly beautiful book tells the story of an aging minster as he looks back over his life. I loved Robinson’s quiet, elegant prose. If you’re looking for a literary masterpiece that feels relatable and poignant, Gilead is a great pick.
- Circe by Madeline Brown
- I finished this book in the month of April, and I LOVED it. I will be sharing a full review later, but if you’re interested in re-imaginings of classic stories, this is the book for you! Brown tells the story of the famous Greek witch Circe–the same one who turned Odysseus and his men into pigs in The Odyssey. I loved this book because of how Circe grows as a woman over the course of the story. Plus, her extended family of Greek gods and goddesses will fascinate you!
Well, there you have it! Which of these books look the best to you? Let me know in the comments if you have other family reads to share, and don’t forget to shop this list here.
In the mean time, if you need me, I’ll be gearing up for tomorrow’s Royal Wedding by shopping for tea, scones, and reliving the glory days when I got to be in London for Will and Kate’s big day!!