Oh hey there. It's been a minute hasn't it? July was basically a blur of airports and adventures and laundry and repacking for more adventures (so basically it was my favorite month ever :) ). I will say my reading has taken a hit this summer. There are so many children around right now. And there are so many adventures to be had. So I got a bit less read in July and I’m not on track to change that in August. But a bunch of what I did read was awesome. And the rest wasn’t terrible.
Since I missed posting about my June reading in July I’m going to cover the best of June and July today. As always, I’m linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly quick lit post.
Here’s the rundown of June and July:
Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters
The Dry by Jane Harper
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
Every Wild Heart by Meg Donahue
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
A year of Living Danishly by Helen Russel
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
The premise of Underground Airlines is that the civil war never happened and slavery still exists in modern day America in four states, known as the hard four. It was so uncomfortable and, frankly, unsettling to see our modern day government systems and conveniences within the back drop of slavery. The book follows a black slave catcher who is on the hunt for an escaped slave, trying to infiltrate an abolitionist group along the way. The story itself is riveting, fast paced, and intense but it was the premise itself and the ease of which slavery could still exist in this modern world that haunted me. I couldn’t stop thinking about this one and recognizing the ways our laws and systems still protect other injustices.
Lincoln in the Bardo was one of the buzzed about books and when I heard that the audiobook included an all star cast (featuring prominently my favorite couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally) I knew I wanted to listen to this one. It took me a beat to get into this book, it was so outside the norms of literature in many ways, but I love what Saunders did. It’s part play, part novel, part history lesson, poetic and beautiful. It explores the period of time after Abraham Lincoln’s son dies, imagining him encountering the spirit of his dead son in this middle place between life and death. I’d highly recommend the audiobook, but you may need a copy of the physical book nearby at first to understand exactly what’s going on (I did).
This is How it Always Is was one that a number of people with fabulous taste had been recommending on line or in person. I’m so glad I read it. I think this may be a good book to go into with very little knowledge about the story so all I will say is that its characters are so beautifully and realistically drawn, the unravelling of the story so honestly and powerfully revealed and the interpersonal dynamics among the family members so authentic and loving that I felt like I knew these people and I was a friend on their journey with them. It made me think, lay down assumptions and grew my empathy, just like all good books should.
I’d had Hillbilly Elegy on my list for a long time but kept avoiding it for some strange reason. I’m sorry that I did, because this was a beautiful story that I couldn’t put down. Vance tells his life story with such love and care for the people and place that raised him without denying the complicated and conflicting aspects of them both. As a reader you can disagree with the characters he draws while still loving them fiercely as Vance did. It helped me understand large areas of our country that I’ve been wrestling with lately. I very much appreciated and respected the way Vance told this story; he honored the best of his community while still calling out the worst, doing so in a way that set him firmly within the community, not as an outsider pointing fingers at a problem. His voice and leadership is remarkable and I hope we hear more from him.
The Hate U Give will definitely be on my best books of the year list. I am obsessed with this story. The characters in this are so incredibly and authentically written that I found myself so sad to leave them when I got to the last page. I read this book in about two days. Main character Starr is a teenage girl who walks in two worlds, the upper class white community of her private prep school and the urban, black, more impoverished community she lives in. She finds herself thrown in the national spotlight and drawn to activism when she witnesses her unarmed friend shot by a cop. The story is relevant, nuanced, and engrossing. It’s technically YA, but this should be required reading for everyone. I can’t recommend it more highly or enthusiastically.
Almost Missed You was an engrossing tale about a husband who disappears with his son, leaving behind a wife to unravel the secrets he’d been keeping about his past. The Dry was a really good murder mystery set in the Australian outback. Talking as Fast as I Can is Lauren Graham’s memoir about her career with a focus on her time shooting the Gilmore Girls reboot. Graham is a pretty good writer (did you know she has a fiction novel out??) and I super enjoyed this peak behind the scenes of one of my favorite shows. Every Wild Heart follows a mother and her teenaged daughter in this equal parts mystery and love story. It was an easy, fast read that tied up a little too neatly at the end. Into the Water is the newest work from The Girl on the Train writer Paula Hawkins. It was a great story and definitely in the same vein of Girl on the Train, but not earth shattering. I’ll probably give A Year of Living Danishly its own post because I have a lot of thoughts on this one. A british woman moves to Denmark with her husband and spends the year trying to discover why the Danish are considered the happiest people in the world. I See You is another new one out by the author of I Let You Go, a novel who's surprise twist had me gasping out loud. This was another great psychological thriller that had me turning the pages as fast as I could.
That's a lot of words about two months of reading (so much for Quick Lit!). I can't wait to hear what you've been reading!