Meet our newest addition to the Main Street Reads family! Ashley is a yoga teacher and insanely avid reader. She will read anything from non fiction science about eighteenth century medicine to contemporary fiction or psychological thrillers.

Currently she’s really into reading about different races and cultures and how we can all learn from one another.

You can often find her reading one of Stephen King’s old novels which were introduced to her by her mother at a young (probably too young) age.

Such a Fun Age 
By Kiley Reid

This book frustrated me. I won’t lie.  I read it in two days mostly because I needed to get to the end and “figure it out” because I felt I had to be missing some huge plot point or idea. I got a little more than halfway through and I thought to myself, “duh. You’re white. You don’t get it and you never will”. That was when I understood what Reid was writing about. Then I was able to see myself in some  characters and place myself in the shoes of other characters. 

It was painful. It was real. It was shameful. It was fantastic.

At the beginning of the novel, the main character (who is black) gets harassed by a security guard simply for existing in an affluent white neighborhood. I spent the days after finishing this novel with her words running through my head.

“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.” 

Racism. Classism. Ignorance. To be a true ally in the fight against racism we must recognize the systemic conditions and institutions that perpetuate it. This story portrays the experience of what it is like to be a Black woman every day. Asking questions like: Who can I trust? What places do I need to avoid because they are unsafe? And so many more.

The Bad Muslim Discount
By Sayed M. Masood

I absolutely loved this novel. It is funny, informative, emotional, and real. 

Masood takes the reader through the coming of age of two Muslim people in the 1990s. One character is a young boy raised in Pakistan by a very religious mother and a father with a sense of humor and a knack for matching songs to the emotion of any situation. As you follow Anvar through his childhood and his relocation to California, you watch him struggle with following the rules of his Muslim culture, and wanting to make a new life of his own and make his own choices. 

At the same time we are following Anvar, we also walk along Safwa in her heartbreaking journey through Baghdad. We see the differences between Anvar’s loving, religious, comfortable family life and Safwa’s fear-filled, war-torn life with her father as they are forced to become immigrants into the U.S.

This novel taught me so much I didn’t know about different Muslim cultures. It made me angry to see the hatred of Muslim immigrants in the United States and it pained me to see that not much has changed since the time in which Masood set his story. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to put themselves in someone else’s shoes for a while. It’s a quick, fun, and insightful read you won’t regret.

Final Girls
By Riley Sager

Riley Sager consistently has me up too late reading her suspenseful twists and turns and Final Girls was no exception. Just when you think you’ve got the ending all figured out, Sager throws a new, believable twist in that has you saying “just one more chapter before bed.”

The term “final girls” refers to girls that have survived horrific incidents. This particular woman, Quincy managed to be the only one of her friends to escape a cottage weekend gone terribly wrong. From Quincy’s point of view, you meet other final girls and watch them form bonds with each other. Through doing this Quincy uncovers what actually happened that night and makes some terrible realizations about the people closest to her. 

The Dot
By Peter H. Reynolds

The Dot is a fun way to show children how creative they can be! 

Vashti is convinced she can’t draw. She is too nervous to make a mistake. Her teacher gives her confidence by telling her to “make a mark and see where it takes you.” She makes a dot and the teacher frames it and places it where everyone can see it. This inspires Vashti to make more dots, some small and simple, some colorful and elaborate. 

While being an excellent book to help children tap into their creativity, this book shows adults just how much of a mark they make on children every day. Just a word or action can show them all that they are capable of. 

The Hidden Life of Trees
By Peter Wohlleben

Peter Wohlleben was a forrester who spent a lot of time among trees. This book shows his deep love for the trees and all that he learned about them. He explains the amazing way that trees interact with the environment and with each other. He touches on how they support each other and share nutrients they don’t need with other trees that do need them.  He teaches the reader how trees communicate with each other and with animals and insects around them. 

This lovely book shows us how we can make the trees happy and healthy and what eco-friendly practices we can adopt to benefit the health of our trees and our planet. 

The Lost Apothecary
By Sarah Penner

This story has three main characters. The first is an apothecary in 1791 London making poisonous tinctures and concoctions for women to kill men. The second is a young girl who meets this apothecary with questions about magic and curiosity about the apothecary’s work. The third is a present day woman from Ohio, alone on her wedding anniversary trip to London. 

While there may not be tons of character development in this story, I didn’t feel it was a loss. Information is presented in this story on a need-to-know basis. Penner spends only a moment explaining why Nella is the apothecary killer of London, why little Eliza has found her way to Nella’s doorstep, and why Caroline is alone on a trip she was meant to spend with her husband of ten years. The details are in the urgency of emotions in this adventure. Caroline finds a 200 year old relic on her trip that throws her into an exploration into the history of London’s lost apothecary. At the same time Caroline is presently unraveling mystery after mystery, Nella and Eliza are coming within inches of their lives and, at the very least, the end of the apothecary that helps women. 

This was a fun, quick read with each chapter ending in a way that leaves you needing to continue to the next. Needing to find the answer to the next question. Penner’s novel also reminds the reader that doing what you love is important and if you choose to push that aside, it may sneak back up on you at an inconvenient time, altering the course of your life as you know it.