July felt like a long month. There are a lot of things happening in this country that quite frankly terrify me. Among other things, I’m furious about the way school re-openings have been politicized. Two of my sisters are teachers – one is desperate to go back to the classroom, and the other is worried about putting her health and the health of her family at risk. Personally, I can’t see a way that students can go back to the classroom safely, and I wish school systems were concentrating their attention and resources on making distance learning as effective as possible, while also making sure that some in-person services are available for the students who need it most. Whatever school systems decide, it shouldn’t be about politics, not when people’s lives are on the line.
July had a few happy moments related to Supreme Court decisions, but also devastating moments like the loss of civil rights great John Lewis, and scary moments like federal troops gassing and detaining protesters in Portland, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg going into the hospital. Honestly, it feels like this country is falling apart and at this rate I have no confidence we’ll last until November.
Mr. CG and I took our first road trip away from home since February; we went wine tasting in upstate New York (the Finger Lakes area). It was beautiful, and so nice to be away from home for a couple of days. We tried to be very responsible about mask-wearing, etc., and the wineries and hotels were also very cautious. It was a nice experience but also a stressful one. We were really limited in what we could do, and every interaction with people felt a bit fraught. And I wondered if we should be out and about at all.
Here’s what I read in July:
- Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
- The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (audio)
- Matilda by Roald Dahl (audio)
- Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
- The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
- The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
My favorite read: I’m definitely feeling the need for feel-good reading right now, and The House in the Cerulean Sea was absolutely the perfect read. I’d heard mixed things about Utopia Avenue, but I loved this story of a band in the late 60s. And I really got a lot out of So You Want to Talk About Race, which I highly recommend.
Most disappointing read: I had high expectations for Simon the Fiddler, because I loved Jiles’ News of the World, but this book seemed lacking in both heart and in character development. I enjoyed Sharks in the Time of Saviors but not as much as I’d hoped to. I also started but didn’t finish Gideon the Ninth, The City We Became, and Vox.
What I’m reading now: I just finished Code Name Helene, which was absolutely fantastic. I’m currently reading Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (a recommendation from my library), How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, and I have an ARC I need to finish called Craigslist Confessional.
Added to my TBR: I added a number of books from Dwell in Possibility’s anticipated new releases list, since she clearly likes a lot of the same authors I do. I also added some books from the just-announced Booker Prize longlist.
Things that made me happy this month: It doesn’t feel like there’s a lot to be happy about, but I like to end on a positive note. This month we enjoyed Britain’s Best Home Cook, which is a lot like the British Baking Show and features Mary Berry as the head judge. I also appreciated artist Amber Share’s “Subpar Parks” series of posters of vintage national parks – she took bad yelp reviews and incorporated them into the posters, and the results are pretty hilarious.
Lastly, we watched “The Vote” on PBS about women’s suffrage 100 years ago – so much I didn’t know. I highly recommend it. And on that note, I just registered to vote by mail in Virginia — thanks VA for making voting by mail easier! Please make sure you’re registered to vote!
That’s my wrap-up for July. Here’s to enjoying the rest of the summer, and to getting kids and teachers back to school safely. Hope you’re all doing well and reading good books!