13th Challenge: May’s Chapter

Who would have thought that getting a puppy would cut down on my reading? It’s true. Suddenly my time is spent throwing the ball, going on countless walks, playing, brushing, and my pockets are always filled with puppy treats. When I don’t have pockets, there is frequently a small bag of puppy treats tucked into my pants. That’s right, my clothes smell like puppy training treats, and I usually can be found outside my building looking like I just rolled out of bed (because I did) at 6:30am. It is the look of someone destined to become the crazy dog lady. With my current unemployed status, I should lean into the crazy dog lady thing and stop showering as well. It’s a slippery slope.

But I’m supposed to be talking about books and reading.

Now that I look at the list of books I read in May, I’m going to stop explaining why I “only” read six books in the month and pat myself on the back instead. Since May included so many changes and a spontaneous week-long road trip, I’m happy I managed to read as many books as I did.

Books I read this month:

Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

Category: Book published in 1980

I listened to this book while walking my puppy around the neighborhood and I’m not sure if it is one that would have been better if I had read it. There were a few times where I became distracted and had to rewind to figure out what was going on. Even though the characters were over-the-top caricatures, the author deftly handled them and their situations. It was easy to see what drove each character’s actions and reactions. While I didn’t love the book, I can appreciate it and am glad I (finally) read it.

The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton

Category: A historical work

While I enjoyed this book, I wanted to like it more than I did. The writing was strong for a debut novel, but there were times when I didn’t always find the main character completely believable. She was likable, but her responses to challenging situations just a few months into her new life required a significant leap of faith at times. That said, I need to give a shout out to the art history class I took in college. At the time, my main focus was in staying awake each day after lunch when class started, the professor turned off the lights and began talking in his sleepy NPR voice about important works of art over time. While reading this book, it was helpful to picture the scenes from the “Golden Age” of Dutch painting to give me context.  


The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie King

Category: A reinterpretation of or partner to a classic

This novel was completely fun and entertaining. It did require me to look up Sherlock Holmes a few times to learn more background since I didn’t remember Sherlock Holmes some of the details. Of course after I read it, I realized that this was book 14 in the series. How I missed that before reading it, I have no idea. Now I need to go back and read the first 13. There are worse problems to have.

Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl

Category: A book with heavy food themes

I don’t like to read books about food unless it’s about being healthier, or cookbooks with recipes that will make life more exciting than a salad with chicken. The one except to this rule is Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton, and initially I only read it because it was given to me by someone at work. This time I only started Tender at the Bone because it was the pick for our book club and it happened to fit easily into a category of the challenge. The book was entertaining, well-written, and completely fun to read.

Read but not included in the challenge:

Never Fade, Alexandra Bracken

Sequel to The Darkest Mind, a book I read for fun earlier. The audiobook kept me engaged throughout the long eight-hour drive north. As a typical YA dystopian, female-character driven book, it will likely be a trilogy, and I’ll definitely be reading the next one. It was the perfect book to read and not have to think about real life.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, Shanda Rhimes

If you know me at all, you looked at this long title and said, there’s no way Kendra read this book.

But I did. Because of my own year of challenges, and because I couldn’t get past the first few pages of “Project Happiness”, I decided to give this one a shot. I’m glad I did. Part of the appeal for me has to do with where I am in my life right now. The book hooked me right from the beginning, showing me what a strong storyteller Shanda Rhimes truly is. My only comment is that I wish she would get to the point more, but I realize the added drama and repetition are tools used to enhance the story for some people. Before reading the book, I’ve only watched one season of Grey’s Anatomy and none of her other shows, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Coming out of listening to the book, I was motivated and fascinated by my own career choices, by my blog, writing, and what to add to my life. Then I was laid off. I almost want to read it again.


If I had to guess what I’ll be reading in June: work/career books or escape books. And for the reading challenge? A graphic novel, and a classic or two.

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