Books that I read in June 2021
Oh June, you went by too soon and so did July and now it is almost August. I am not sure what it is, but I just can’t read for long stretches of time these days. So, June was a slow month in terms of reading. At the start of June, I was wondering if I could complete my reading challenge for this year in half the time. But that wasn’t to be! There were so many books that I wanted to read but I managed to just finish 4. I also DNFed my first book for this year. So, June wasn’t so great in terms of reading, but I did like the books that I read in June. So here they are:
1.Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa (Translated by Alison Watts)
I like Japanese books and this one didn’t disappoint. This is a heartwarming book that reminds us not to judge people too soon.
Sentaro wanted to become a writer but after ending up in prison, the only job that he got after coming out of prison was in a dorayaki shop called Doraharu. He doesn’t like his job but does it just because he has no other option. He puts out an advertisement looking for a helper in the shop and he finds an elderly woman Tokue who is interested in taking up the job at a very minimal wage. Though he initially hesitates, he gives in to Tokue’s request to give her the job.
Thus, begins a beautiful friendship and Sentaro begins to appreciate the process of making Dorayaki (The whole description made me want to go to Japan, watch someone make it and eat it!). Tokue’s company motivates Sentaro and helps him give his best to his job. Things get better at the Doraharu and business improves but not for long!
The book continues with Tokue’s past and her story makes you cry. This book conveys a really important message that we shouldn’t judge others too soon, without perhaps listening to their side of the story. What stood out for me was the simplicity with which it conveyed this message. I’m all for reading between the lines and looking for things that aren’t said, but sometimes simplicity is the best way to send a message.
The mention of the beautiful Cherry Blossoms and all the delicious treats made me want to go to Japan. Hopefully, someday!
My rating: 4/5
2.An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Relationships are complicated as they are and marriages even more so and a book that is about a marriage makes for a good read if written well and An American Marriage is just that.
Roy and Celestine have been married for only over a year and as they are getting on with their careers and their life together, things go wrong in ways they hadn’t imagined! Roy is wrongly accused of rape and is sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Though separated because of the circumstances, they communicate through letters telling each other how much they miss each other. It is difficult for Roy to deal with life in prison. It isn’t easy for Celestial too. The letters and Celestial’s occasional visits are all they have. But then relationships aren’t easy, marriage isn’t easy especially when one person is locked up in prison.
Soon Celestial finds herself with Andre, her childhood friend and just when they are about to move in together, Roy’s sentence is cut short and he is out of prison after 5 years. Will Celestial still continue her life with Andre or will she choose to stay married to Roy now that he is back?
This book deals with the nuances of relationships beautifully. Sometimes just words and memories aren’t enough, but sometimes they are all you have. Sometimes there isn’t a simple answer: a yes or no wouldn’t be enough. At times, when everything else seems fine, it may not be the right time or the right circumstance.
What I liked was that this book is narrated from multiple points of view: Celestial, Roy and Andre and that works really well for this book. It isn’t a happy book; it is an emotional book but a beautiful one.
My rating: 4/5
3.You and Me on vacation by Emily Henry
Romance isn’t a genre that I read a lot of, but the premise of this book was too interesting to not read it!
Alex and Poppy are quite different from each other, but they are best friends. Since their college days they have a yearly friendship ritual where they take a trip together during summer. And they have done that until the last couple of years when things went sour. Alex won’t talk to Poppy like he did, and she misses him!
Poppy loves travel and she works at a place that lets her do just that. Her current life is all that she wanted it to be, but she isn’t happy! There is something missing. After 2 years of not talking to Alex, she decides to contact him and ask him if they can go on their summer trip this year.
Would Alex agree? Will things get better between these two?
The first reason I liked that book was because it had travel in it! After being stuck at home for over a year and half, travelling through Poppy and Alex’s trips felt good. But the main reason that I liked this is because of the characters. Both Poppy and Alex are such well written characters, complete opposites but still it all makes sense. The story goes back and forth in time but at a pace that lets the reader keep track of what is happening yet keeps the suspense alive.
Though this wasn’t the usual kind of book, (I don’t know what is usual anymore), I loved it!
My rating : 4/5
4.Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Continuing my little spree of reading romance, I picked up Love & Gelato because I still wanted to travel different parts of the world through books but through contemporary ones rather than historical ones.
Carolina or Lina as she is called finds herself in Tuscany one summer to honour her mother’s dying wishes. She wonders why she even agreed to it because she finds herself lonely her, away from the people she knows. She is now living with Howard, her mother’s friend from her college days but her grandma tells her that he is her dad.
All of this is difficult for Lina to process and she does the only thing she enjoys doing- running! And on one such run she meets Ren who is about her age and though she isn’t comfortable talking to strangers, with Ren she is comfortable talking about the things troubling her.
And gradually Lina begins to warm up to Howard, eats delicious pizzas and gelatos, makes new friends while attending parties with Ren and begins to think that life here isn’t so bad here. She receives her mother’s journal- the one from the times that her mother used to live in Florence, and she begins to wonder why. Thus, begins her journey of finding out more.
I enjoyed reading this book. Again, what worked for me were the characters and location! And I must also add the writing style. It is simple, yet descriptive and lyrical when required. I even ended up ordering a pizza for dinner while reading this book. It transported me to Italy and made long to really be there. I am still craving for Gelato!
“You know, people come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they stay, it’s for the same two things.”
“Love and gelato.”
I’ve only visited Rome in Italy, but if I ever get a chance, I’ll go to Florence and the rest of Tuscany just because of this book!
My rating : 4/5
So those were my June reads. Though I finished only 4 books I loved each of them! For the first time this year, I DNFed a book. I picked up “On Earth we’re briefly gorgeous” but it just didn’t feel like the kind of book I wanted to read. I tried until halfway through the book, but it just did not work out for me. The narrative was too lyrical and slow for my liking. It is also likely that audio isn’t the format that works for this book. Am I ever going to try reading it again? I don’t know. But I know I am not going to pick it up again anytime in the near future.
What did you read in June? Any interesting reads?
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