July began great, with my first plane trip in a year and a half, and I got to see two of my sisters this month. It looked like things might be getting back to normal, but of course now we’re going back to masks, and I know of two people who have gotten COVID recently even though vaccinated.
I slacked off quite a bit with my yoga routine this month, so I’ll need to get back to that. I’m still finding meditation extremely helpful (I’m using the Calm app, if you’re interested).
Here’s what I read in July:
- A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
- Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner
- A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
- Marlena by Julie Buntin
- Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
- The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John
- Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
My favorite reads: So much powerful reading this month! Caste was an incredible book and one I’ll recommend to everyone, and then Devil in the Grove was a perfect (though troubling) companion to Caste. There was a lot of overlap in subject matter — in a way, Devil in the Grove is a very detailed example of what Caste was all about. I loved reading about Thurgood Marshall, one of my heroes, and I learned much about him and the NAACP from this book.
On the much lighter side, if you’re looking for escapism, Into the Drowning Deep was a LOT of fun to listen to. I told my husband it was like Jurassic Park but with killer mermaids (this is a loose analogy, it’s not about a park or DNA, but it is about science, hubris, and a whole lot of chasing and eating). And Wizard’s Guide was fun, light fantasy with a baking theme – it’s not great literature, but a battle involving a murderous sourdough starter and golems made out of bread? Yes please.
Disappointing reads/ DNFs: I didn’t make it through The Shadow King, a book I started for my book club about Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. Marlena was good but didn’t grab me, and I feel like I’ve read better stories about addiction and friendship. I’m a sucker for a “good teen gone bad” story, given some of my own experiences, but there wasn’t a lot that felt new in this book.
Books for challenges:
- Beat the Backlist: Into the Drowning Deep
- Nonfiction: Devil in the Grove (biography)
- Modern Mrs. Darcy: Devil in the Grove (a Pulitzer Prize winner), Wizard’s Guide (3 books by an author)
20 Books of Summer update: I’ve read 13 of my 20 Books of Summer list. This month I read 5: A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, Caste, Marlena, and Devil in the Grove. I had one DNF from my 20 Books list, The Shadow King. I’m currently reading She Who Became the Sun. That leaves 6 more for August — and this would be the first summer I actually completed the same list I started with.
What I’m reading now: I haven’t gotten in as much reading time as I’d like, so I’m late in reviewing my ARC of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, which published in mid-July. I’m listening to Braving It by James Campbell, a travel memoir in the Alaska Wilderness, and reading the Nebula-nominated The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk.
What’s coming up: I just received The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth (a Modern Mrs. Darcy recommendation) and my book club is reading House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma. And I have an ARC of Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, an older book that’s being re-released this year.
Added to my TBR: I added new releases by Esther Freud and Mary Lawson, two not-well-known authors I really like. From Rather Too Fond of Books, I added a book called Don’t Touch My Hair, essays about how black hair has been appropriated and stigmatized. And from Kristin Kraves Books I added John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.
Things that made me happy this month: I’ve gotten a ton of tomatoes from my garden this summer, and I’ve also grown a lot of cucumbers (not so much on peppers). Two good friends visited from England, and I was even able to use a lot of my home-grown produce and herbs in the meal we cooked for them. We’re especially liking this salad recipe that combines farro, melon, feta and cucumber.
We’re also cheering on our women’s soccer team in the Olympics, and happy to have new episodes of Ted Lasso.
In September we’ll be heading to Hawaii on vacation and I can’t wait. I’m pretty good at vacationing once I’m actually there – but in the meantime it’s also my nature to stress about the time away from work, leaving our cat, and whatever else might go wrong. I’m working on that.
Hope you’re having a wonderful summer, so far, and reading something good!