• Amy Stephenson

May 2019 Books

I have lots of thoughts (good and bad) about performative reading that, if I didn't have a sinus infection, I might be inclined to explore—and maybe someday I will! For now, I've been doing a #tinybookreview tag on instagram for a long time now and I get lots of messages from people saying they love it and they use it for reading lists etc., and so in the interest of giving zuck less content, I figured I'd move it here.


Fair warnings:

1. It's a lot of mysteries, especially in summer when it is most appropriate to read them in the shade with a cold drink.

2. I don't really do ratings, sorry if that's your thing. I spent ten years writing shelf talkers, which are quick and dirty one-graph thoughts you stick on a bookshelf under a book in a bookstore, with the idea not to rate the book but to enable the right person to find it (hence: tiny book reviews). That's how my brain does reviews, these are they.

3. I don't use goodreads, sorry! I quit when amazon ate them.

4. I'll try to do this at the end of every month, but no promises!


So, here, in antiquated blog form, I present you with the books I read in May:



Fake Like Me / Barbara Bouland

(out June 18!)


Babs is a goddamn force of nature. This is a story about an unknown but successful artist whose loft burns down—and all of her work with it. She moves to a secretive artist commune in upstate New York and shenanigans ensue with Rebecca vibes. Fake Like Me is a whip-smart and darkly funny commentary on contemporary art and capitalism, a meditation on the piles of dead female bodies in art, and a literary summer camp mystery that I absolutely devoured. I loved it enough to carry it in my purse while dancing at the Lizzo show, so that's a testament. Best enjoyed with good scotch, neat or rocks (your choice).


Go see Babs with my pal Colin at The Bindery in July.


Caleb Carr / The Alienist


Hey, I finally read this thing you've all been yelling at me to read forever! I wouldn't call it a thriller, tbh, I found it fussy and plodding (which is not bad, just not... thrilling), BUT, there's a sex club in it called The Golden Rule, which for me is the best detail ever created in fiction and every sex club should be called that. I described it to a friend via text as "turn of last century new york noirish comedy of errors journalist-cum-detective story, think sherlock as frugal yankee" and I stand by it. Best enjoyed with a gin rickey.







Lisa Jewell / Then She Was Gone


Holy moses I loved this one. Her daughter disappears, and ten years go by without updates on the case. She's hanging on by a thread, emotionally. She meets a suspiciously good man and starts to really live for the first time since the disappearance, BUT, his extremely weird daughter is a dead ringer for her daughter at the age her daughter was when her daughter disappeared. Goes down smooth and easy, twisty and wild, compulsive, sexy, and pretty to look at (that cover!). Read it. Best enjoyed with an ice cold sauvignon blanc, perhaps in spritzer form.






Alice Feeney / Sometimes I Lie


This one took a minute to click with me but once it did, it was off to the motherfuckin' races. Told from the perspective of a woman in a coma trying to figure out what happened to her via snippets of conversation around her when she's lucid but still unconscious. Everything about it is disorienting, like sleep paralysis in book form, like a slowly unfurling anxiety attack, like watching your past engulf your present. I didn't see any of it coming and neither will you. Best enjoyed with a cheap rosé.







Ruth Ware / The Turn of the Key

(out August 6!)


Here's what I love about Ruth Ware: I always know exactly what I'm getting. Her specialty is 1) hopelessly naive girl 2) in a remote location 3) where there is more to her surroundings than it seems at first glance, 4) with maybe an element of the vaguely supernatural and lots of creepy stuff that happens in the dark. I love her so, so fiercely as a writer and storyteller and she does what she does so well it looks easy, just a wave of her hand. Then you wake up and 300 pages have gone by and you don't know what room you're in or what time of day it is or why your dog is barking. She's genius. Best enjoyed with an aperol margarita.




ALSO: I am haphazardly rereading three books at the mo for research purposes which I love and those are: Sally Rooney's Normal People which needs no introduction from me; Val Brelinski's The Girl Who Slept With God which is high-key one of my weirdest faves; and Richard Bradford's Red Sky At Morning, which is better than Catcher there I said it.




shout out to 2S