Monday, May 27, 2024

It's Monday 5/27! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by The Book Date


Whew, last week was just as hectic and crazy as I expected! I had something (sometimes two things) scheduled every single day, which is not usually the way I roll. I took my elderly book buddy out for lunch on Tuesday, then enjoyed a fun game night with my closest friends.


Wednesday, my husband and I attended a lovely memorial for a good friend's mom. She (our friend) is one of the original members of the local chronic illness support group I started 14 years ago, and a bunch of other members attended the memorial, too. Since most of us are immune-compromised and avoiding crowds, none of us had seen each other in person since 2019! It was wonderful to see everyone (masked, of course) and reconnect, though some payed dearly for the effort, which is heartbreaking.

Thursday was my neighborhood book group meeting, and we had a fabulous, in-depth conversation on a wide variety of topics inspired by A Woman Is No Man (see below), a very powerful novel. Friday, I had a long overdue massage therapy appointment, and I launched my annual Big Book Summer Challenge (with a few technical glitches, but I eventually got everything running smoothly). 

Saturday, we started shopping for a new washing machine (clothes)--ours is still working but not spinning well and on its last legs! And ... we went to look at a camper that we ended up putting down a deposit on! It's a 2017 but like new, barely used by its owners, and just what we wanted, for easier travel on longer trips (we'll keep our pop-up as well). More on that when we pick it up! Finally, we had good friends over for dinner last night and enjoyed catching up with them. A whirlwind week!

Oh, and we're guinea pig sitting and enjoying little Queso!

Tuckered out after a busy day!

Queso loves to sit outside!


On the Blog

Movie Monday: The Holdovers - my husband and I enjoyed this warm, funny movie and can see why it won so many Oscars.

Big Book Summer Reading Challenge 2024 - It's here! Now in its 12th year, this is an easy-going challenge to read a book (or more) of 400+ pages between now and September 2. It began on Friday and is already in full swing. Wow, I've been stunned by the response this year! Several bloggers have already linked their Big Book Summer posts on this page (check them out), dozens of Booktubers have created (and plan to create) their Big Book Summer kick-off videos, 54 readers have already joined the Big Book Summer Goodreads group, and my kick-off video already has almost 2700 views (most of my book videos get 50-100 views)!

 Join the fun! Anyone is welcome to participate, and you can find the details at the link.

My Big Book Summer Plans 2024 - My own "pile of possibilities" for the challenge this year, with a colorful stack of books, all 400+ pages, from my TBR shelves - this challenge is great for helping you read from your own shelves!

NEW: I've created a bunch of fun Big Book Summer products to help participants enjoy the season (with lower prices than before). You can see them all at my new Printify shop. Here are a few things I've already ordered:

Women's T-shirt

Aluminum Bookmark



On Video

30 Great Book Recommendations for Spoonie Readathon or Anytime! - These are wonderful books that I enjoyed, in a wide variety of types and genres, that are all either written by a disabled author or feature disabled character(s). Add your own recommendations in the comments!

Big Book Summer Reading Challenge 2024 - my kick-off video for the challenge, with a quick overview of the guidelines, how it started, and my own Big Book pile of possibilities for this summer (recorded on our screened porch with birdsong in the background!).


 What We're Reading


My last shorter book before diving into Big Book Summer is The East Indian by Brinda Charry, a Booktopia book/author from 2023. I chose it because it was the shortest novel on my shelf but also because it was my mom's favorite last year at Booktopia. Historical fiction about the first native of India to come to colonial America in the 1600's, it's based on a real historical figure. Twelve-year-old Tony (obviously not his original name!) sails from his home on the eastern Indian coast to London on a British East India Company ship, after his mother dies and he's left alone. He's settling in at London, with a job and a home with a fellow Indian immigrant when he is kidnapped along with a bunch of other kids and taken across the Atlantic to Virginia. Tony encounters a lot of challenges and sorrow, but eventually, he is on his way to living his dream of becoming a physician. My mom was right--this is a wonderful novel, filled with fascinating historical details about the colony and 1600's medicine, plus a poignant portrait of Tony and his fellow young servants. I should finish it today.


On audio, I listened to our book group selection, A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum. It was on every Top Books list of 2019 and a Read with Jenna (Today Show) pick. It's about three generations of Palestinian-American women, beginning with seventeen-year-old Isra in 1990 Palestine, who is married off to Adam, who brings her back to his home in Brooklyn, NY. In 2008 Brooklyn, Isra's eldest daughter, Deya, is also being forced to get married by her very traditional grandmother, though Deya's dream is to go to college. The audio was excellent, with multiple narrators for Isra, Deya, and Isra's mother-in-law. It's a powerful but brutal novel, with stark depictions of domestic abuse, but the author says that it's very autobiographical. There are signs of hope and change at the end. We thought it was especially important for us to understand some of the perspectives of Palestinian-Americans right now, and it was a great discussion, though we agreed that, though it reflected the author's experiences, it should not be taken as a depiction of all Arab-American families. A stunning novel I will not soon forget.

Now, I have started my first book for Big Book Summer, on audio: The Women by Kristin Hannah. I've been saving this one for summer! Twenty-year-old Frankie, recently graduated from nursing school, has taken her family's dedication to service to heart and enlisted in the Army, to join her beloved brother, Finlay, in Vietnam. But her parents are horrified, especially after they are notified that Finlay was killed. After basic training, Frankie is shipped to Vietnam and immediately taken to a remote field hospital. It was all men on her flight, but in the field, she meets her roommates, Barb and Ethel, two other nurses. Her first day there, multiple helicopters carry in soldiers, wounded in horrible ways, and Frankie is immediately out of her depth. Apparently, the novel also deals with the aftermath of the war and what the soldiers experienced upon returning to the U.S. I just started it yesterday, but I am already fully engrossed.


My husband's first Big Book for the summer (yes, he joins the challenge, too!) is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, one of my favorites from last summer (my review at the link). I hope he enjoys this suspenseful, funny, heartbreaking classic as much as I did.


Our son, 29, is still reading book 2 of the Licanius Trilogy by James Islington, An Echo of Things to Come since he was pretty busy this past week driving all over the US! When he was a kid, he'd bring an entire duffle bag stuffed full of books on our 3-week summer road trip, but he's trying to keep his girlfriend company when it's her turn to drive. They've had an amazing road trip so far, with stops in Shenandoah National Park, Nashville, New Orleans (which his girlfriend fell in love with, as we knew she would!), Oklahoma (where my husband grew up), Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Utah. They're headed to Idaho, where she has family, today. That was all in just over a week!!

Hiking Blackrock Summit at Shenandoah NP

At City Park in New Orleans


What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.
 What are you and your family reading this week?


  1. You have had a really busy time that looks like a lot of fun. Wow a new camper, which I hope you'll really love. Congrats on the big start to the Big Book Summer Challenge. It's getting off to a wonderful start.

  2. So much activity and it all sounds fun (except the memorial though I bet it was wonderful to see people in person). I think you will really like reading The Women, it's one of my favorites so far this year.

  3. Wow! So much in this post to comment on! A new camper, and Big Book Summer (ack! already?), and guinea pig sitting. Not to mention the books!
    A Woman Is No Man sounds daunting to me, but worth reading. I After all the light vacation reading I've been doing this week, I need to put some more serious reading on my TBR!

  4. You've been so busy, Sue!! So much of it looks delightful, but I hate that so much that some of the folks who went to the memorial ended up getting sick, even with y'all's precautions and care—my fingers are crossed for them. 🤞 On a happier note, *wow*—what an amazing reaction for Big Book Summer!! I feel like you building a YouTube presence and getting people interested on that platform was such a smart move. Annoyingly, I just finished a book that was 390 pages—not quite there! I may try to get through a giant graphic novel I have that I think is the right page count.

    And then for books, I saw Linda Baie this week also reviewed The Women—it sounds incredibly powerful and also intense. A Woman Is No Man also sounds powerful and intense—I like y'all's takeaway that even as it represents a Palestinian-American perspective, you don't want to generalize that one experience to a whole group of people.

    I really appreciate your thoughtful post, and enjoy your week!

  5. The Grapes of Wrath was such a powerful and moving book. I still remember having to read it for a book club and finishing it at the last minute.