Surznick Reads: May 2017 - The Surznick Common Room

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Surznick Reads: May 2017

Hi there! We hope you all had a wonderful May. Ours was busy, but great - we just had a Memorial Day visit from my mom, Nick's sister and brother-in-law, and our sweet niece Cece! We had some time to get a bit of reading done this month, so we're excited to share our May books with you below.

Also, just to clear the air - we're still kind of in blog limbo. Projects have been pretty nonexistent around here, so we're lacking inspiration and things to share with you guys. Is there anything you want us to see from us this summer? Outfit posts? Recipes? More house stuff? Shoot us an email or leave a comment below. Knowing your thoughts will definitely help us figure out the future of the Common Room!

Anyway... Sarah's Reads!

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
From "Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now..."

Like seemingly everyone, I recently read The Handmaid's Tale, wanting to have the book under my belt before I dove into the new Hulu original series. I've never read anything by Margaret Atwood, and her writing style was definitely different and took a bit to get acclimated to. Once I did though, I was hooked. This story is fantastic, though terrifyingly realistic, and I've been thinking about it constantly since finishing the book. I will say though, I'm now 6 episodes into the show and I love it even more than the book. Offred is a relatable 21st century badass and I'm thoroughly enjoying how much the characters and the plot are being developed. There's more context, the story is modernized, and I'm obsessed. While I highly recommend you read the book (we're actually reading this for our June book club at our house), I highly, highly recommend the show.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
From "At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."

Wild got wildly popular a few years ago with the release of the Reese Witherspoon-starring movie, but I was never much interested until recently. Actually, I think it was the Gilmore Girls revival that convinced me I should pick up the book when I saw it. So finally, I did find it at a Goodwill or book sale and gave it a go. It took me a little while to get into, but overall I really enjoyed it. There's a lot of flashbacks to childhood and her previous marriage, which I found less interesting than her time on the trail. The chapters about the hike, however, were completely captivating to me. I haven't seen the movie yet, but hope to watch it soon.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Surznick's Reads!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
From "'Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.' So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another."

So we both read this book for our monthly book club and liked it a lot. For any of your interested in reading it, please read about the book first. Take ten seconds to figure out what this book is about: family. I read nearly 75% of this book waiting for "something to happen" or waiting for a reveal about the murder. The first line of the book, "Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet," is quite misleading. If you're expecting a mystery/murder story, look somewhere else. Once you realize this is a truly beautiful portrait of a family growing together and apart, you can allow yourself to enjoy this book. Really a great read, give it a try! -N

Sarah's Rating:  4 Stars
Nick's Rating: 3 Stars

Sarah & Nick


  1. I still have to read Handmaid's Tale but I'm happy to hear you liked it! Excited to get started :) I've seen the movie Wild (on a plane!) but haven't read the book and I really liked it.