I passed the 90-book mark in the wee hours of July 25th and now I’m counting down toward 100, which will be a personal best for at least the last few decades. So…
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay — Full Review I hope that readers will understand what it is Gay is saying here, not just about being fat in a world that values only thinness, but about being female in a world that values us as objects, not people. Hunger isn’t just about Roxane Gay. It’s not just about being fat. It’s not just about being different or challenging society’s expectations. It is about being female in a world where everything you are is public property, and where you are expected to take up as little space as possible.
- Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson — Full Review I can’t improve on Lawson: “I’m fucking done with sadness, and I don’t know what’s up the ass of the universe lately but I’ve HAD IT. I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE.”
- Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher — Full Review I ended up with more respect for Carrie than ever before, but a deeper sense of sadness that she’s gone too soon, and as a result of her own emotional problems. I hate seeing her as a cautionary tale, but I can’t help but feel that she might enjoy being thought of as a terrible warning.
- Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3) by Rachel Caine — Full Review After a bit of a slow second book, this series picks up again with Ash and Quill, and races to an unexpected (for me) cliffhanger that had me shouting at my Kindle at one in the morning. Yeah, that good.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle — Full Review An old favorite from my childhood, one I’ve read dozens of times. I decided to read it again on the strength of the first movie trailer which looks fantastic. I was not wholly disappointed, but I did realize that I’m past the point of being uncritical about it.
- Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson – Full Review Hanson is what I think of as a great science writer. He engages our imaginations while imparting facts, and I suspect that is at least in part because he has such a lively sense of wonder that he can’t help but infuse even the most prosaic of information with a feel of awe as if the evolution of feathers or seeds, or whatever else he’s writing about is pure magic. And in a sense, the things he writes about are magic, or as close to as we get in our world.
- Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill — Full Review (such as it is) What caught my eye, and my imagination was this comment about how time will not change Murdoch’s novels, and yet with each subsequent generation that discovers them, they do change; every reader changes them. Hill says: “…because until it is read, a book is a dead thing.” That’s true. Books depend on us as much as we depend on them. They must be read to live. I underlined that in neon pink, in keeping with the color scheme established by the Roald Dahl fan who owned this book before I did. … This is a book with heart, not just because of its contents but because the physical copy I own has been well read, loved, perhaps shouted at, as I did when Hill went on a rant against e-readers. And I will concede this one point to her: No ebook could ever be so beautifully aged. People who insist on pristine copies miss a lot of the deeper beauty of a physical book.
- Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West — Full Review I didn’t find Shrill as laugh-out-loud funny as Furiously Happy, nor did it make me break down in tears as did Hunger. It made me furious, it helped me — here’s that word again — assimilate a lot of the experiences I’d had in my life and understand how they’d shaped my attitudes. It helped me to forgive the unintentional hurts and view the intentional ones with a resolve never again to let anyone make me feel like a bug to be squashed. And remember: “They talk to you this way until you make them stop.”
- Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini — Full Review Avast, ye lubbers, here’s a fine tale of hearty men, stout ships, proud wenches, (well, one anyway) and brave deeds! … I’m declaring this one a No Guilt read. Read what you want, put it down when you want, pick it back up only if you want, and have some fun with it. It’s not to be taken too seriously.
- Parnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley — Full Review There’s a lot of charm to this book. The characters are all too human, but in the end they have become sympathetic and appealing, and I found myself cheering for them. So while I’m not at all sure why I spent the $0.99 on the ebook, I’m heartily glad I did.
- The Golden House by Salman Rushdie – Full Review The Golden House is far greater than a fictionalized view of the House of Trump. Rushdie is not heavy-handed, he doesn’t make this a thinly veiled portrait of an easy target, but creates Trump-flavored touchstones in an attempt to do much more than simply criticize or satirize a single figure or family. Rather, peppered as it is with popular culture touchstones, it becomes a portrait of an age in American life, and not a pretty one.
- The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami – Full Review I still have no idea what actually happened. I mean, I know what the book says happened, but I don’t really understand it at a visceral level except as a fairytale that doesn’t seem to make any sense. To be fair, I find a lot of fairytales from outside the most familiar cultures make little sense to me, and this is more alien than I’m used to. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be clear on why.
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – Full Review I’m willing to give props for a compelling story told in such a break-neck fashion that had I not been paying close attention to the text, I might never have caught these problems. Or at least they might not have gotten up my nose so completely. What you have is a decent thriller with a great plot and a damn good hook: cloning dinosaurs. It was timely then and it still is, it plays to our fears and our desires, and Crichton knows how to manipulate both. My 94th book this year.
I started The Invisible Library, by Genivieve Cogman last night, in hope that I could finish it today, but since I virtually passed out about 15 minutes in, and woke up at 3:45 this morning with all the lights still on, and since I still have work to do, that’s not going to happen. My final tally for the month is 13 books. Year-to-date: 94 (oooh, so close to having done 95!) I’m going to start adding some statistics to my monthly recaps so when I do the year-end one, I can see what kind of progress I’ve made in reading more widely and diversely.
Statistics for July
- Books read this month – 13
- Books by Women: 7
- Books by People of Color: 2
- Books in Translation: 1
- Books by LBGTAQ Authors or with those themes: 1
- Books about Books: 4
- Sci-Fi and Fantasy: 4 (I count The Golden House as a fantasy, though it’s as much a Greek tragedy as contemporary mythology.)
- Mysteries and Thrillers: 1
- Science: 1
- Bio/Memoir: 5
- High Adventure: 1