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july 2016 reading wrap up

After a very slumpy month of reading in June, it seems like my energy came back this month. Thanks to the Fourth of July weekend and a mini-readathon a couple weeks ago, I managed to finish seven books this month and, in an exciting twist, I even managed to review four of them, like an actual book blogger!

Here’s what I finished in July:

  1. Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam (fiction)
  2. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (fiction)
  3. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (essays)
  4. Something New by Lucy Knisley (memoir)
  5. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (fiction)
  6. The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (memoir)
  7. In the Country We Love by Diane Gurrero (memoir)

On the whole, the month was pretty excellent when it comes to reading choices. I like the mix of fiction and nonfiction, and the books touched on a lot of my favorite topics — it’s tough to pick top reads for the month.

A Look to August 

With our move coming up in just a couple of weeks, I can honestly say I have no idea what my August reading might look like. I am hoping to finish For Love of Politics by Sally Bedell Smith, a look at Bill and Hillary Clinton’s time in the White House, before we go, since I need to return it to the library!

The other work of nonfiction I’m looking forward to this month is Riverine by Angela Palm (Aug. 16 from Graywolf Press), the most recent winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. Past winners of this prize have included two books I loved — Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean and The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. Needless to say, I’ve got high hopes for Riverine. Happy reading!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

Currently | Leavin’ On a Jet Plane

currently aug 1 2016

Briefly | It’s vacation week! Amidst all of the packing and preparing and planning for a move later this month, my family’s six day trip to Portland, Oregon for my cousin’s wedding sort of snuck up on me. I think this will be the longest trip I’ve taken with my entire family since high school, which should be interesting for everyone.

Reading | My reading this week has been pretty sporadic, thanks in part to the late evenings I spent watching the Democratic National Convention. Watching Bill and Hillary Clinton made me curious to understand more about their relationship, so I headed to my local library and picked up For Love of Politics by Sally Bedell Smith, a biography of their years in the White House. Smith wrote a wonderful biography of Queen Elizabeth, and so far this one has been quite interesting too.  

Watching | The boyfriend and I went to see Ghostbusters last night — I thought it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t my favorite of the Melissa McCarthy/Kristen Wiig/Paul Fieg comedies, but it was awfully nice to watch an action comedy that didn’t objectify or demean women in any way.

Blogging | I am not doing super great on Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge for this year, but I appreciated the recommendations you all left for books to fill in my (many) remaining tasks.

Loving | I’ve been making basic overnight oats for breakfast for the last week, and I’m pretty much sold on them as a great summer breakfast option. The basic recipe — Greek yogurt, oats, milk, chia seeds, vanilla, and honey — is even better with fruit mixed in. I’d love your best suggestions for other recipes.

Hating | My car got rear ended earlier this month when I was in the Twin Cities, and getting it resolved is taking much longer than it feels like it should. There’s no major damage, and no dispute over responsibility, so it could be much worse… I’m just getting impatient.

Anticipating | Vacation! In addition to my cousin’s wedding reception, we’ve got lots of other activities planned. Personally, I am most psyched about a pilgrimage to the Powell’s flagship store on Thursday. Awesome!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

book riotLast week, in a bit of packing-related procrastination, I decided to check in on how I was doing with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge. Last year, I managed to finish 19 of the 24 tasks, which I thought was pretty good. Unfortunately, I’m not doing as well on the challenge this year. After seven months, I’ve only finished eight of the 24 tasks!

Here are the tasks, with the ones I’ve manged to complete so far in bold:

  1. Read a horror book –
  2. Read a nonfiction book about science –
  3. Read a collection of essays – You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
  4. Read a book out loud to someone else –
  5. Read a middle grade novel –
  6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography) – HRC by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes
  7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel – The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
  8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born –
  9. Listen to an audio book that has won an Audie Award –
  10. Read a book over 500 pages long – Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
  11. Read a book under 100 pages – Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso
  12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender –
  13. Read a book that is set in the Middle East –
  14. Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia –
  15. Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900 – The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color –
  17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years –
  18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie then watch the movie –
  19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes – Something New by Lucy Knisley
  20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction) –
  21. Read a book about politics in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction) – Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
  22. Read a food memoir –
  23. Read a play –
  24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness –

Given everything going on in the next few months, I’m not sure that I will get to really focus on this particular reading goal for the year. But I’m ok with that too. Either way, I’d love some of your suggestions for books that meet some of my unfinished tasks for the year!


Currently | Starting to Look Forward

currently  july 25, 2016

Briefly | This week it felt like all of the big changes coming up finally became real. We settled on my last day at the current job, and I finally got around to posting the news on Facebook. As it turned out, I made “the announcement” almost exactly five years to the day I shared that I was hired for the job I have now. Life is a little weird and coincidental sometimes.

Reading | Even though I didn’t officially sign up for the 24 in 48 Readathon, I spent most of Saturday reading. I finished two books I had in progress, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore and Sleeping Giants by Sylvian Neuvel, and a book I’d set aside earlier this year, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero and Michelle Burford. They were all great, although I was reading them in kind of a blur so I’m not sure I’ll have much to say about them.

Watching | The last time the boyfriend and I made a major move (out of one city and into another), I spent the period when I was packing and emotionally vulnerable binge watching Prison Break. This time around, my network drama of choice is Madam Secretary. It’s a refreshing political show in a time when current politics feel out of control.

Blogging | This week I shared mini-reviews of some books about modern womanhoodThe Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood, You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein, Something New by Lucy Knisley, and Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam.

Loving | There were lots of great moments in Something New, but this piece of advice — “We Make Our Own Adulthood” — resonated with me a lot this week.

Anticipating | My breakfast routine is getting boring, so I’m trying overnight oats this week. I’m starting with this basic recipe, but I would love some suggestions for good adjustments or additions.

Can’t Let It Go | The folks behind the AP Stylebook are really good at Twitter, but I particularly loved that they decided to respond to this question during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night:

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

As I was skimming back through my most recently-read books, I realized that I’ve been on a bit of a kick reading books about what it means to be a woman — challenges, contradictions, friendships, expectations, institutions, whatever. It makes sense, really, since so much of the last few months has been wrapped up in thinking about turning 30 and all the changes that are coming up. But still, it’s fun to see those themes come up in books that otherwise really don’t have much in common.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

the natural way of things by charlotte woodInstead of writing about The Natural Way of Things, I’d like to just to point you to Shannon’s review at River City Reading, but that would make me a pretty lazy blogger. So, an attempt: The Natural Way of Things is a dark and twisty sort of novel, one that starts with a dystopia-like premise — a group of women who have all been involved in some type of sex scandal are imprisoned in a compound in the Australian outback. They’re forced to work outside each day, guarded by two men ostensibly working for the corporation imprisoning them, all with entirely unknown motives. As the novel progresses, the rules of the compound begin to break down, and each of the women is forced to grapple with their circumstances in a different way. This novel is complex and weird and visceral in a way that I can’t even quiet describe — I enjoyed it a ton.

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

you'll grow out of it by jessi kleinOne of my favorite sub-genres is feminist essay collections, especially those about the contradictions facing modern women. When I saw that Jessi Klein, head writer and executive producer of Inside Amy Schumer had just this kind of collection coming out, I was really excited. You’ll Grow Out of It covers a lot of familiar ground — challenges of dating, finding a therapist, getting engaged, wedding dresses, early motherhood — but I thought Klein had fresh takes on many of these topics. She also writes about her journey into comedy, and a bit about what it’s been like working on her current show. It wasn’t my favorite collection of this type, but it was certainly a fun book to read through when my brain wasn’t ready for anything more serious.

Something New by Lucy Knisley

something new by lucy knisleyLucy Knisley is such a delightful comic artist. I love her style, and the way her books have grown — both in topic and in ambition — as she’s grown. In Something New, Knisley tells the story of her wedding and how she approached writing a book about how great and how nutty weddings can be. I loved that the book took a broader look at wedding culture and the challenges of making moments that are individually meaningful amidst a broad range of traditions that mean more to some people then others. The whole thing is really charming and thoughtful.

Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

rich and pretty by rumaan alamYep, I totally got sucked into all the big summer buzz about Rich and Pretty. A quick synopsis, because the jacket copy pretty much nails it:

As close as sisters for twenty years, Sarah and Lauren have been together through high school and college, first jobs and first loves, the uncertainties of their twenties and the realities of their thirties. Sarah, the only child of a prominent intellectual and a socialite, works at a charity and is methodically planning her wedding. Lauren — beautiful, independent, and unpredictable — is single and working in publishing, deflecting her parents’ worries and questions about her life and future by trying not to think about it herself. Each woman envies — and is horrified by — particular aspects of the other’s life, topics of conversation they avoid with masterful linguistic pirouettes.

This book is great, and really spoke to me at this particular moment. I could see myself and many of my current friendships in Sarah and Lauren, and I could really feel the way each one felt torn about how to speak to and interact with the other as their lives diverged. If you’re still looking for a buzzy book to dig into this summer, Rich and Pretty would be a great pick.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.