Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Books I Read in July


Well, it's that time of month again. Time for me to report on my reading for July, and I'm happy to report that my reading pace continues to be quite positive, despite the lack of commute/audio books this summer. Of course, I'm probably ignoring all the housework/school prep/children more than I should be to read these books, but I'm not sorry. Summer days were meant for pleasure reading!

The Black Moon by Winston Graham

I zipped through the first four books in this Poldark series a couple years ago, after watching the first season of the TV show, but I quit because ughhhhh! The drama, and I was so unbelievable angry with Ross, and I just didn't see how I could view him as a hero to root for anymore. So I was done. But then, over a month ago I read a blog post or article or something from somewhere talking about Ross and Demelza's marriage, and how it develops over the years, and I got intrigued again, and decided to jump back in. So I read this one, and remembered that yes, there is so much to like here. The time period is super interesting (French Revolution!), and the historical details are great, and maybe I do like the characters after all...

The Four Swans by Winston Graham

Or, maybe I don't. Demelza's the one who let me down this time. Plus all the other nasty drama from other quarters. Sigh. But it is such a soap opera I couldn't quite pull myself away yet, and picked up...

The Angry Tide by Winston Graham

I think it was the point in this book when I actually agreed with George Warleggan's assessment of Ross that I decided I need another break. I've just got to be done with the gross masculinity that gets thrown around here. So, I may finish this series off some day (I'm a sucker who just needs to know how the story ends!), but I've hit my drama saturation point for now, and will take some time off.

Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery

So I delightfully threw myself back into this series, after loving Emily of New Moon so much last month, and guys! So wonderful, so wonderful! I can see why this series isn't quite as popular as the Anne series, but I really think I relate to Emily just a touch more than Anne, and this second book in the series did not disappoint! If you love Anne, and you haven't read the Emily books yet, you really, really should!

Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery

Oh Emily! This was my least favorite in the series, mostly because I was so frustrated by the stupid pride and lack of communication that kept Emily and Teddy apart for so many years! (Not to mention the near miss with Dean!). But it all still ended happily ever after and was completely wonderful and is fully worth your time! Read it! I know you'll love it! (And I'm sorry I ended every sentence in this brief review with an exclamation point, but as Emily says about her use of italics, sometimes I just can't help it!)

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Based on the real life story of one of the first practicing woman lawyers in India, this fictional mystery set in 1920s Bombay was a lot of fun (which feels weird saying about a murder mystery with some heavy thematic content). Perveen Mistry studied law in Oxford, and while she can't argue a case in court, she is allowed to act as a solicitor in her father's law firm, and finds herself in the unique position to cater to certain female clients, specifically a family of Muslim widows who have chosen to live in Purdah, cutting themselves off from the outside world and having no contact with men other than their husband. It was a fascinating culture (Perveen herself is Parsi, another sect I learned a great deal about), and I enjoyed all the cultural/historical details. The story itself was compelling, and I enjoyed it, but it did seem a bit under-polished. However, I think I'd be willing to pick up another book by Massey in future. We shall see.

The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

I would love to have a conversation with Bryson, because while I have no idea if he would find me interesting at all, I'm pretty sure I would find everything he has to say fascinating and hilarious. I don't think his books are for everyone (he can be tedious, I'll admit), but everything about this book tickled my nerdiest spots. While I already knew a lot of this information (after all, I am getting a PhD in English, I have learned a few things about the history of the language), I still found his geeky enthusiasm completely infectious. I just wish I'd read this prior to my last semester when I made my students do research papers on the English language, they would've found certain chapters here to be great resources. Lots of fun! (Note, I listened to this on audio, which was both great and terrible. In the sections where pronunciations were being discussed, it was great to hear how things were pronounced. But in the sections where spelling was the main topic, it was terrible to listen to words spelled out too quickly to really catch it all, and I much would've preferred to see it written on a page. Just something to think about if you pick this one up!)

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

I read (well, heavily skimmed in parts) this one for book club. And while I can't say I *loved* the book, I do think it was a fabulous book club book. It was fascinating. I learned a lot about the Hmong culture, about medical practice, and even though most of this story took place over thirty years ago, the issues of refugees and culture clash provided really relevant discussion fodder for book club. However, I feel like Fadiman needed to give this book a serious edit. She includes so. much. detail that I did not find useful or interesting (she details so many of the medical records from encounters, or goes off on really long historical tangents, it just needed to be summed up more quickly to keep the story flowing). Still, very much a recommend if you're interested in refugee issues or thinking about modern medicine vs. traditional/cultural medical practices. Lots of food for thought.

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

Oh, I just needed some more Montgomery in my life. I believe this one wasn't published in her lifetime, and I wouldn't say it was my favorite, but there was still so much to love! Bless Montgomery forever for making the lives of  adolescent girls feel meaningful and important and worthy of being written about! And bless her for writing heroines that are flawed and face really hard circumstances but are deeply good and strong and full of all the things I want my daughter to be. This one is very much worth reading!

And there we go! What a lovely month of summer reading! Have you read any of these books? I'd love to hear your thoughts on them!

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