I always read a lot in summer, because I like to sit outside and read, even in the heat, and thanks to audiobooks I can read while I garden. This was a really good reading month, mainly because of the diversity of authors and locations I read about, including China, Russia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and a fictional island in the Caribbean.
It was a difficult, tumultuous month for a lot of reasons, but there were also some positives that shone through, like the Supreme Court rulings on LGBTQ discrimination and DACA and the discussions that are happening around race and confederate memorials, police brutality, and how we teach black history. I know a lot of this is just talk, but I’d like to believe some progress will be made.
I continue to feel anger and embarrassment at what is happening in this country, making it nearly impossible to get into the spirit of the July 4th holiday. I feel fortunate in so many ways, but at the same time I’m sad about missing my usual July 4th with my sister’s family, and favorite summer activities like theater, movies, and wine tasting. But I feel good about staying home, taking care of the house and the cats, and focusing on things like gardening, reading and baking. In a normal time I’d feel terribly boring, but right now it feels like I have permission to just be. I understand, though, that this time is a lot harder for many people.
- The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff (audio)
- Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson
- The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (audio)
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia
- Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (audio)
There was one book on my list I started and didn’t finish: Weather by Jenny Offill, a book that’s on the Women’s Prize shortlist but that I found pointless and pretentious.
I read three other books that weren’t on my 20 Books list:
- A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King (audio)
- Saint X by Alexis Schaitken (audio)
- White Fragility by Robin Diangelo (audio)
Favorite reads this month: Elizabeth Acevedo has another winner in Clap When You Land, a book about an American Airlines plane crash in 2001 that killed hundreds of people, mostly from the Dominican Republic. The book is written in verse, and the audiobook is fantastic but because of its form I think it almost needs to be read in print as well. It was pure coincidence that I read this in the same month as The Only Plane in the Sky, about September 11.
I loved A Monstrous Regiment of Women, the second in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. I loved the first book, so why on earth did it take me so long to read the second one? Queenie was another favorite. It took me a while to warm up to this character, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. Snarky humor but deep family issues as well. I found The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane to be a thoughtful read about culture and identity in China. And finally, White Fragility gave me a helpful way to think about my own perceptions about race.
What’s coming up: At the moment I’m reading Utopia Avenue, the new David Mitchell novel, which is already fantastic. I’m also reading How to Be an Antiracist, and I’m listening to The House in the Cerulean Sea, which I am absolutely loving.
I scored an ARC from one of my favorite authors, Emma Donoghue, called The Pull of the Stars. My book club will be reading Vox. I have way, way too many books from the library, and Alexandria just doubled the number of books I can put on my hold list, which is going to be disastrous for me.
Things that made me happy this month: Padma Lakshmi’s new cooking show, Taste the Nation. Women’s soccer on TV. My garden. Lemon cake. The Hamilton movie and the In the Heights soundtrack (the movie would have come out this month). The Supreme Court. And living in a place where our governor is a doctor and people take the coronavirus seriously.
I would say happy July 4th to those in the U.S., but it honestly doesn’t feel like a time to celebrate our country right now. I hope you’re all safe and healthy, enjoying your summer, and cherishing family and friends even if you can’t spend time with them. And if you read something good this month, please share in the comments.