My July Reading Wrap-Up

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.

Watkins Glen State Park

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:

  1. Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
  2. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
  3. The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman
  4. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (audio)
  5. Matilda by Roald Dahl (audio)
  6. Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
  7. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  8. Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
  9. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
  10. 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 wrote about: this month I wrote about the authors I read the most; reading romance; and Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading recommendations.

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!

13 Comments on “My July Reading Wrap-Up

  1. The House in the Cerulean Sea is on my reading list so it was awesome to see that you loved it. I’ve heard such good things about the British baking shows – I’ve got to tune in one of these days.

    • I hope you like Cerulean Sea as much as I did! The British Baking Show is great – not only are the contestants really talented, they are just so nice to each other.

  2. If you like the Great British Bake Off, try the Great British Sewing Bee, too – it’s a little oasis of happiness & niceness, in the currently very scary world.

  3. Yes, scary times. Glad you found some good reads, but the death of American civilization is worrying. November will be interesting.

    • November can’t come soon enough for me – though I’ll be very frightened about the outcome. And I do wonder if we’ll ever be able to minimize the divide between right and left. My family can barely talk to each other these days.

      • I know, this division is so painful — and I think it’s only going to get worse, no matter what happens in November.

  4. I also don’t see how it’ll be possible to reopen schools and keep kids and their families safe regarding corona. I keep thinking it might be best to delay until maybe next year sometime and hopefully we have a better handle on the virus then.
    Same here on the stress when going out. I only visited the city, DC, but I was a little stressed about the outing as well when trying to remember all the precautions the biggest one being not to touch my face, which seems almost impossible.

    • At least it looks like Kramerbooks won’t be going anywhere! So that’s some good news. I also appreciate that our area at least is generally in agreement about social distancing.

      • Same here. And that was great news on Kramerbooks. I was there this past weekend. Couldn’t go into the city and not visit there.

  5. Ooh, I hope you enjoy Ordinary Grace—I really liked it when I read it! And THANK YOU for reminding me to follow up on getting an absentee ballot sent to me…

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