My July Reading Wrap-Up

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.

And I’ve already written about Crying in H-Mart and Psalm for the Wild Built.  I recommend both. 

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!

  16 comments for “My July Reading Wrap-Up

  1. August 1, 2021 at 9:58 am

    I read A Psalm for the Wild Built in July too! I just adore Becky Chambers!

    I keep meaning to read Into the Drowning Deep. Jurassic Park with mermaids sounds perfect!!

    • August 1, 2021 at 8:20 pm

      I think Chambers’ books just keep getting better! If you read Drowning Deep, I hope you like it. Killer mermaids are hard to beat.

  2. August 1, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Completely agree about Caste – I’m almost finished with it (about 100 pages to go) and it is definitely going to be one I recommend to everyone, too.

    • August 1, 2021 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks Melissa. I had heard so much about this book, but it really lived up to expectations. It’s a devastating read but an important one.

  3. August 1, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    I’m glad you got to travel at least a little and that your garden is doing so well! Hawaii in September will be amazing, have a wonderful time.

    I’m reading A Stranger in Olondria, and Reading Lolita in Tehran — both about books and the power of reading that could hardly be more different. It wasn’t an intentional pairing but more often than not my random choices seem to pair up like that.

    • August 1, 2021 at 8:24 pm

      Thanks Lory! I love a good random book connection, I feel like that happens to me all the time. I hope you’re having a good summer!

  4. August 1, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    I’m ON book 13 in my 20 books of summer but the rest are novels so I should be OK. We’ve just started Ted Lasso and are really enjoying it, so nice there’ll be a second series to start!

    • August 1, 2021 at 8:27 pm

      Ted Lasso was so good, I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it. One thing that really surprised me was how well developed the female characters were. We watched the first season again to prepare for the new season, which I hope will be just as good!

  5. August 1, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    Caste is definitely on my reading list for 2022–I absolutely loved Warmth of Other Suns, also by Wilkerson.

    Glad to hear you were able to visit your sisters before the second wave broke. I think we are in for some rough months and we are just going to have to be strong again.

    Stay healthy and read on!

    • August 1, 2021 at 8:31 pm

      Isabel Wilkerson is amazing, I’ll definitely look at her other books. I hope you’re having a good summer. Stay safe!

  6. August 1, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    Hawaii is the best! I’m glad you get to go in September. I hope you have a wonderful time. And that book A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking sounds hilarious. I’m going to have to check that one out. 🙂

    • August 1, 2021 at 8:36 pm

      Wizard’s Guide is great, it’s funny and clever with great characters. I also recommend Kingfisher’s other books, Clockwork Boys and Wonder Engine.

  7. WendyW
    August 1, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    I’m so glad you got to visit your sisters. I’ll be visiting mine in two weeks, but, they are close enough where I can drive, so I don’t have to fly. Happy Reading!

    • August 1, 2021 at 8:37 pm

      Thanks Wendy, I hope you have a good visit with your sisters! It’s so nice to start seeing family again.

  8. August 2, 2021 at 9:42 am

    Enjoy your vacation! I’d love to see Hawaii someday. I’m also getting lots of tomatoes from our garden. I have to find something to do with them all. Have a great August!

  9. August 2, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Nice wrap-up! I loved Into the Drowning Deep — maybe I’ll go back to it and reread via audiobook. Sounds like a great summer adventure! I really want to read The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking as well.

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