What I Read This Summer: July Readings

Continuing my record of books I read while on blogging break. If you want to chat about any of these, please comment!

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli: There was so much I loved about this book, but it didn’t come together as a whole for me. There was just too much going on, even when the individual elements were great in isolation. The two parts that really lost me were the book within a book and the voice of the 10-year-old character. I did like a lot of individual passages, and I was gripped by the wanderings of the son and daughter in the latter section of the book. But the experimental style tended to keep me at too much of a distance.

Final Payments by Mary Gordon: I really liked this book as I was reading it, but it has hardly stuck with me at all. I remember that it grappled with Catholicism in some interesting ways, and I appreciated that it showed how hard it can be to please yourself after years of pleasing others.

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynn Jones: The final book in the Howl’s Moving Castle series, although Howl and Sophie are not the main characters. Instead, it focuses on Charmain, a young woman who is looking after her great uncle’s cottage. I loved the world of the cottage and its many moving rooms

Ninepins by Rosy Thornton: A very good book about Laura, who rents out a house on her property to Willow, a young woman with a troubled past. As Willow and Beth, Laura’s daughter, become attached, Laura starts to worry about Willow’s influence. What’s great is that this is a story about decent, but imperfect people, all trying their best. They mess up sometimes, but they keep going, together.

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson: I mean. It’s Kate Atkinson. It’s Jackson Brodie. And Reggie, a favorite character from When Will There Be Good News! Seeing Reggie again, doing so well, was a highlight. The crimes in this book, involving sex trafficking, are especially dark, but Atkinson manages to balance the horror and her particular brand of dark humor really well.

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol: I wish I liked this book more than I did. I loved getting the glimpse into the history of the Phillipines, and its intersection with the movie industry. But the way the book was structured was too much for my brain. I think it may have been a victim of timing, alas. I read it while my cat, Anya, was very sick (and ultimately put to sleep). I kept thinking I should switch to a different book, but my brain was incapable of making that decision, so I hung on even after I was clearly hopelessly lost.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Such mixed feelings about this book! First, it gets credit for holding my attention after my cat died. Not many books could do that. And I liked the nature writing. The story itself was pretty absorbing, even so that I didn’t question how preposterous it was. Once I stepped back, I got irritated at the use of dialect to convey characters’ intelligence (or lack thereof). And I got distracted at how often the characters crossed the state to go to Asheville when other cities were much closer. Some frustrating racial stuff, too, with the black characters existing mostly to save the white lady at the center of the book. That part of the story could have been much worse, however, and it didn’t go in the direction that I was fearing toward the end, so that was a relief.

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3 Responses to What I Read This Summer: July Readings

  1. I started reading Where the Crawdads Sing, and it was just too sad at the beginning for me to continue. I told myself, I’ll try it again when the holds list dies down. Well, it hasn’t died down yet – over a year later! I’ve not seen a book in such high demand (library) in years. Even people who don’t normally read much are being told to read it by their friends.

    • Teresa says:

      It does seem to have been everywhere, and I can totally see the appeal of it. I only read it because a friend gave me his copy. It wasn’t a book I was inclined to buy, and the library list was very long here as well.

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