Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Books I Read in July

For a while there, I thought July was going to be a bust of a reading month for me. I think by July 14th, I'd yet to finish a single book. But then somehow I kicked it into high gear during the second half of the month and made it through six books in just over two weeks (that's pretty good for me). I think it was a combination of getting a nasty cold (spent a whole weekend in bed, but unable to sleep, so all I did was read) and some painting time that allowed me to burn through some audio books. Anyway, here they are.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

I haven't read Room yet (maybe will someday), but the premise of this book intrigued me so much. I was really curious to see how Donoghue was going to tackle the issue of religious miracles. While I will give the book credit for being engrossing and, especially toward the end, quite thrilling, this was not the book I wanted it to be. I was hoping for a discussion of faith and miracles a little more akin to what I found in Owen Meany, and not to be too spoilery, this was simply not that. Basically, Donoghue has no love for the Catholic church. Also, I wanted her writing to be a little more true to the time period (Dickensian), but alas, it was modern in both tone and thematic development. Still a strong recommend, just not what I wanted it to be.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This book is delightful, thoughtful, beautiful, sweet, and just all around lovely in every way. It is experimental in format, but I loved it so much. Parts of it made me cry, knowing how Amy passed away this past March (her midterm essay is all about calculating how much time she has left to enjoy life, and knowing it was so much shorter than she imagined while writing those words was just heartbreaking). I came away feeling that the world had lost a true gem. I would love to read this again, maybe even own it. It was just so wonderful. If you haven't already, read her tear-jerker of a love letter that was published in The New York Times before she passed. Then read this book. I highly, highly recommend it.

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

This was a fun little soap-opery romp, very reminiscent of the type of drama Fellowes produced with Downton Abbey, but with a much tighter story-line that resolved very predictably and happily. It takes place about a century earlier than Downton, beginning at Waterloo and ending during the Victoria era. A nice light read, very engaging, good fun.

Warleggan by Winston Graham

It took me a while to get around to this fourth book in the Poldark series (I think I finished the third one back in February). I have not seen the second season of the BBC/PBS production, and I was enjoying reading the books without the benefit of foresight, but after this one I'm not sure if I will continue. I'm just so, so, angry. So can't even handle it angry. If you've seen the second season or read the books, you probably know what upset me, but I'll try to avoid spoilers. I'm hoping the show handled it differently than the book did, because Ross is just completely unforgivable in every way, but I'm not sure I care to watch this season to find out. Any other Poldark fans out there? What do you think? The writing and story really are quite fun, is it worth going on with?

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

I'd actually not heard of this one before my university sent it me as the required text all incoming Freshman need to read this year, and since I will be teaching said Freshman, figured I ought to read it as well. It has a unique format which I quite enjoyed, a mix of poetry and essay and other media, and which made for quick reading. But the content was quite a bit heavy. Basically it explores current racial tensions in America using some of Rankine's own personal experiences, and her exploration of the experiences of higher profile people (like Serena Williams). It was interesting and eye-opening and heart-breaking. Some of the incidences were big (police shootings), but others were just the small, everyday experiences Rankine must endure, and I found those to be the even more unfathomable. People really say things like that to her? Really?

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Well, after some unfortunate library due date timing, it took me two months to finish this one, but that wasn't for a lack of interest. You can read some more of my thoughts here, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don't think everyone would love it, there's something of the contemporary literary depressiveness to it (where all the character's lives are messed up in some way), but I was just so fascinated by the premise. The story is based on a real rare book, but Brooks dreamed up the backstory of all the people who helped create, script, bind, and protect this book through a tumultuous 500 year history. It tickled the nerdy part of me that's really into books as objects of art.

Okay, have you read any of these? Thoughts? I'd love to hear!


  1. Definitely adding People of the Book to my TBR list right now! It sounds like it would be right up my alley.

    I haven't read any of these except the Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (which I adored as well), but I have read Room and quite liked it, though I'm not sure how I'd handle it now as a mom...I'm much more sensitive to stuff like that now than I used to be.

    1. Yep, I'm betting you'd love People of the Book. It's definitely one to check out.