July was a fantastic month because of our trip to Hawaii. When I travel, I don’t necessarily try to tie my reading to my trip location. But on this trip I noticed a few interesting parallels. First, I read The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding, which is about the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, while we were visiting Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor is how we got into the war with Japan, and the bomb was, sadly, how we ended it — but of course both events are a lot more complicated than that. I learned so much history from both the book and our visit to Pearl Harbor.
I also read The Fifth Season, which is a science fiction story about geologic forces and people who can control the movement of the earth (e.g. creating earthquakes and tsunamis). At the same time, we were traveling around Hawaii seeing the impacts of volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.
Here are the books I read this month:
- The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey (almost finished)
- Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst
- Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
- The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
- The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
- The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton
- The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel
I don’t really have a favorite read this month, or a least favorite. Dictionary was the most interesting if you’re interested in Japanese culture and Nagasaki. This book was nominated for the Bailey’s Prize and was better than expected. I loved The Fifth Season for its complexity and writing style, and The Smell of Other People’s Houses was a lighter but often emotional read about teens living in Alaska. Harmony gave me a lot of insights about parenting a child with Aspergers, something I’m always interested in learning more about, although I had mixed feelings about the story.
What I reviewed: The Sunlight Pilgrims, Everybody’s Fool, Some Possible Solutions, and The Big Sheep. I also wrote about our trip, books around the world, and some interesting (I hope) Facts About Me.
What’s next? Once I finish The Girl with All the Gifts, I’ll be reading The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerny and Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal. I want to read The Girls by Emma Cline and the new Maggie O’Farrell novel. And I may have time in August to get into a classic or two.
It was an interesting -and important- month in politics here in the U.S. We followed the Republican convention from Hawaii and I stayed up late every night last week to watch the Democratic convention (the first one I’ve really watched closely). I try to keep politics out of this blog but I don’t think I can right now. I plan on writing more soon, when I can do it thoughtfully. But I don’t want you to think I’m ignoring the important things happening around us.
On a lighter note, what did you think of the Outlander Season Two finale? I was in Hawaii when it aired so I just watched it. I think this season has been really good, and got steadily better with each episode. For the finale, I’ll just say this: I went back and forth between yelling “that’s not how they did it in the book” at the TV and at the same time being an embarrassing sobby mess. I’ve actually been to Culloden and have a picture of the same Clan Fraser stone that Claire sits beside in the show (I even pulled out my old photo album from the 1998 trip).
How did you like the casting of Brianna and Roger? I didn’t at first, but by the end of the episode I could really see them in the parts. Bree is a little too glamorous looking, but then Sam Heughan as Jamie is a prettier Jamie than I imagined, and my husband thinks she looks perfect as his daughter. I can live with that. Two things I didn’t love: the Jamie/Claire parting got rushed for my taste (not enough of the great dialogue that’s in the book) and that scene at the very end was just cheesy. But all said, a great finale and a season that really lived up to the book. I’m curious how they’ll do Book 3. If it were up to me, I’d cover the first half of Book 3, skip most of the second half, and go right to Book 4.
But that’s a discussion for another time.
I’ll be traveling for the next week and then I’m looking forward to a quiet August. We don’t have much planned, although I’m looking forward to a show with Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally later this month. And then I know I’ll be sad because summer is ending (despite the steamy hot mess that is a DC summer).
Happy August and enjoy the rest of your summer!