In April I shared a HUUUUGE roundup of books of I read from January through March and said I needed to make sure I did a roundup each month because that one was a beast to get through. And then I didn’t post one in May for books read in April because… I realized I had included books read in April in that post, too.

I usually pull up Goodreads and go through the books I read in the time period, but I organized the last post by genre so I never actually looked at the date read. I skipped May, because I only read two books and thought it made more sense to include them in June’s wrap-up. So. Here we are.

As usual, I’ll include a short summary, my review, and a “you’ll-like-them-if” sorta section. I do this so that you can see if it’ll fit your tastes in books. I might love a book that isn’t for you, and I might feel kind of meh about a book that could be your new favorite. We all have different tastes and I want to account for that in these posts.

Let’s get into the books!

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE BY ALICE FEENEY

This novel alternates between a rising star actress whose husband is missing and a child who wanders away from her family and is taken in by strangers.

There are so many trigger warnings for this book, including abuse (child, adult, animal). They were so hard to read (or listen to, since I listened to the audiobook) at times that I took breaks throughout reading this. I don’t think I would have continued with this book, except that I heard so much about the ending and I wanted to know how it ended. It was definitely a shocking, WTF ending, but not in a good way. There are some good reviews on Goodreads, but this was a big no for me.

You Should Read Persist Through This If You:
>> Have to know how it ends.

INTO THE JUNGLE BY ERICA FERENCIK

19-year-old Lily is living in and working at a hostel in Bolivia. She meets and falls in love with Omar, a local man who left his home in the jungle to live in the city. When a family tragedy brings him back home, Lily leaves the city behind to follow him, and finds out what it’s like to live in the jungle.

This is marketed as a thriller, but it’s not so much a mystery thriller as it is a survival story that creates the thrills. While I was totally up for a mystery thriller, I’ve always been a big fan of survival stories. Ferencik’s writing is absolutely beautiful and I felt like I was there with them. I don’t have too much to say about this, other than I’ve been obsessed with the jungle, so this was the perfect book to read.

You Should Read This If You:
>> Enjoy books that allow you to escape into a different world.
>> Enjoyed The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It reminded me of that book since it follows someone who’s going to a landscape that they’re not familiar with/prepared for that comes with its own set of dangers. The familial aspects are very, very different, so don’t expect a repeat of that family situation, but if you liked the people in a foreign, dangerous landscape part of that book, I think you’d enjoy this one.

AFTER DARK BY HARUKI MURAKAMI

A look at life in Tokyo “after dark,” between the hours of midnight and dawn. This novel follows sisters Eri and Mari. Eri’s in a deep sleep and Mari’s studying at a restaurant, where she meets a jazz musician, who eventually pulls her out of the restaurant to assist with a situation at a love hotel, and encounters some of the night people in Tokyo.

After Dark is one of my favorite books and I read it every few years–or every year, when I make it a priority. It’s a quick read, but so rich with detail that I pick up something new each time. There’s also a lot to think through and different pieces of the storyline that will make you think and try to piece together possible explanations. Since this takes place in one night, it’s the perfect book to read in one night. It’s my favorite way to read it!

You Should Read This If You:
>> Enjoy books that make you think, but won’t give you all the answers.
>> Enjoy Japanese fiction/want to read Japanese fiction.
>> Enjoyed Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto. I read that for the first time last year so it, in some ways, reminded me of After Dark because of the unnatural sleep element in both of these books. However, After Dark is my favorite.

SHAMELESS BY NADIA BOLZ-WEBER

Bolz-Weber takes a look at purity culture and shame in the Christian church and proposes a sexual revolution.

I’m not going to talk about this one in too much detail, because I don’t think you can necessarily talk about the content in a one-sided written review… books like these deserve a conversation. This wasn’t always an easy book to read (or listen to), because of the stories she shares. Read this book to hear their stories. She also shares some of her own, personal stories and I can’t imagine it was easy to do that and open herself up to some of what she opened herself up to in sharing these stories. Even if you don’t agree with everything she shares in this book, I think you can read it with an open mind … if you’re willing to. If you aren’t willing to, don’t read it. If you can’t read it and treat her (and the people whose stories were shared) with love and respect, don’t read it. Are there better books about this topic out there? Probably. But if you want to hear people’s stories, this is a place to start. Also, I listened to the audiobook, which she narrates, and I thought that was a great way to do it.

You Should Read This If You:
>> Want to hear people’s stories and will listen with an open mind.

I’M STILL HERE: BLACK DIGNITY IN A WORLD MADE FOR WHITENESS BY AUSTIN CHANNING BROWN

Brown writes about growing up with a name that makes people think she’s a white man (which was intentionally given) and the experiences she’s had with that, as well as growing up as a black Christian in predominantly white spaces and working with organizations in racial reconciliation.

I listened to this one on audiobook, which is narrated by Austin Channing Brown. I love listening to non-fiction when the author narrates because I think hearing them tell their story adds a lot to it. I’m also planning to buy this to read at some point, too. I don’t have too much to say about this, other than this is definitely worth the read to connect with someone who had similar experiences to you if you had a similar upbringing or to hear her story and hear about her experiences if you didn’t.

You Should Read This If You:
>> Everyone should read it.

I’M AFRAID OF MEN BY VIVEK SHRAYA

The description says: “A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.”

This, to me, was reminiscent of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists because she discusses why some of the views we have about masculinity are harmful to all–including men–in addition to giving her own experiences. This is a short read and I appreciated it as an introduction into LGBTQIA+ memoirs. I definitely believe it’s worth the read to hear someone else’s story–or to read a memoir by someone with similar experiences to you. After I finished it I read some of the conversations on Goodreads and I’ll definitely be looking into more books like this in the future.

You Should Read This If You:
>> Everyone should read it.

REASONS TO STAY ALIVE BY MATT HAIG

Matt Haig shares his experience with depression and how he ultimately learned to appreciate life through it. He shares his story, statistics, and, yes, reasons to stay alive.

I listened to this the same week that I read the other three non-fiction books listed above (and probably should have listened to it after the one below… I read/listened to all of these in the span of a week and a half). I read it after I had read an article that that still disturbs me over a month later and while I was dealing with some friendship stuff and family stuff and work stuff. And also grieving the unexpected death of an animal that belongs to a friend who I loved. So it might have been the perfect book to read at the time that I did. I really appreciated that he was so candid about his experience with depression, that he shared where he’s at now, that he gave as many facts about depression as he did, and that he ended it on such a hopeful note. There were so many quotes that I appreciated. I just… really, really appreciated this.

You Should Read This If You:
>> Need a story you think you can identify with. (Just be aware that he discusses his experience. While I found this book to be hopeful, he does discuss his experience and if you think that would be too hard/would need outside support while reading about someone’s experience with depression, take care of yourself.)
>> Have no idea what living with depression is like and want to catch a glimpse from at least one person’s perspective.

PURE: INSIDE THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT THAT SHAMED A GENERATION OF WOMEN AND HOW I BROKE FREE BY LINDA KAY KLEIN

Klein shares the history of the “purity movement” in the 90’s and shares how this has impacted the lives of women (and men).

This book is filled with stories of women who were harmed by purity culture and the purity movement and many of them are so hard to read, one in particular that just… she deserved so much better and I hope one day she finds a group of friends–or a church–that will help her heal. I really appreciated the history of purity culture and the purity movement, because it’s not something that was prevalent in my church experiences. I was a little perplexed when women started to speak up about the negative impact the purity movement had on them and continues to have, but after hearing more about the history and what it was like in youth group… I’m not. This isn’t an easy book to read, but worthwhile to see what kind of harm has been done so that we don’t continue to do this to another generation of women and can provide a place for healing for the men and women impacted by this.

You Should Read This If You:
>> Want to see churches be a safe and loving space for people.

And that was all from May and June! It was an intense reading period and I’ve taken a little break from non-fiction after everything that I read. If you’re a fan of thrillers, keep an eye out for another recent reads early in August. I’ve read quite a few already and have a few more I’d like to read before the end of the month.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING?