So not my most successful month in terms of quantity. Ten books, one a re-read, and one I didn’t finish because once I got halfway through, I had to admit I wasn’t feeling it. Here’s my list along with some observations:
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari — Interesting, challenging, but ultimately not as convincing as I would have hoped. I was with him through most of his arguments, but when he presented his conclusions, my response was often, “Um… what? Where do you get that?”
- Stockholm Delete by Jens Lapidus — The one I didn’t finish. I really wanted to, but I found I was forcing myself to read and that’s never a good thing.
- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie — A perfectly charming book that reads like a fable. If there’s a moral to this story it’s that you can’t use books. Books use you.
- The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein — A good, solid piece of scholarship that did cast some new light on people I thought I knew well. It reminded me of why I don’t often read bios of most of these people. They weren’t very pleasant.
- Marlene by C.W. Gortner — I shouldn’t have been disappointed, but I was. This was like Real Person Fanfic, something that’s always given me the willies. I don’t want to read sex stories about real people. Ugh.
- The Changeling by Victor LaValle — Not my favorite LaValle, but still a damn good book that gave me chills.
- The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge — A lovely, light-hearted book about a child’s grief. Boy, I never thought I’d ever write something like that, but there you are. Edge has a deft touch, never allowing Albie to wallow even though we do feel his loss.
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin— My re-read, though in fairness, the last time I read it was in the mid-1970s. It’s a great example of how time and your stages of life can change your perceptions of a story. I saw a whole new novel this time around, and it was fascinating.
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee — One of this month’s clear winners, and a total surprise to me. I let myself be led by the folks over at Litsy, who loved this book, and I am so glad that I did. It’s a book with heart.
- Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard — Possibly the biggest disappointment of the month at least in part because I was expecting so much more… or different… or something. I still really don’t know why I was so let down.
- The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck — I finished this last night taking my year’s total to 81 books. It’s wonderful, and I’ll be reviewing it this weekend. But briefly, it’s a story about the immediate aftermath of WWII in Germany, and the cost to the human psyche.
I don’t honestly know where I’ll go from here. I need to read the Salman Rushdie, and a couple of other ARCs, and Glinda is raving about The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, so I need to get back to that. I have way too many books in my TBR pile.
Anyway, onward to July.