Thursday, August 4, 2016

For the Record: June and July 2016

I didn't post about my June reads; I was seriously considering discontinuing my blog. Instead I started journaling, and it dawned on me (yet again) how much the act of writing helps me be a well-adjusted, highly-functioning person. Not only that, but I actually like the introspection of looking back at my reading each month. So here I am again :)

5 Books Read in June
4 Books Read in July [45 books year-to-date]

1 Nonfiction:
  - Gratitude, Oliver Sacks (4)  This tiny reflection on life was easy to embrace. The mood of each of the four small essays is nothing if not open and honest. It didn't feel as introspective and impassioned as Elie Wiesel's Open Heart or Kent Haruf's final novel, Our Souls at Night, and so didn't touch me in quite the same way, but it did create a moment for me to stop and reflect.

2 Junior Fiction:
  - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling (5) I forgot how good this was!
  - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling (4) I never read past the first in the series, but after I started watching these movies with my 12yo, I decided it was time to branch out and read on.

6 Fiction:
  - The Saving Graces, Patricia Gaffney (3.5) Read for book club - I thought it would be sappy and irritating but ended up being a nice summer read.
  - I Will Send Rain, Rae Meadows (4) Read for LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. Books about the Dust Bowl often seem to hyper-focus on the hopelessness of the situation to such a degree that the characters no longer seem like real people: they've been reduced to caricatures representing a reality that remains unfathomable. This didn't happen for me with I Will Send Rain. The characters were just as unique as their situation, and just as much a part of the reason to keep reading. Each person coped with their lack of hope in a different way, and the reader is left with a sense of how it might actually have been to live in that situation.
  - Chasing the North Star, Robert Morgan (3) Read for LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. Disappointing quality of writing. Characters seemed disconnected from their own plight, which is a pretty big issue when the story is about slaves escaping the South. Not at all like Gap Creek.
  - Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi (5) Powell's Indiespensable selection. Probably the best book I've read that examines how we are connected to our ancestors without even realizing it. Bonus points for being a culture not my own and keeping me totally enthralled.
  - In a Dark, Dark, Wood, Ruth Ware (3.5) I hoping this would actually be a little scary - I was just in the mood to be diverted from daily life - but it wasn't at all. It was entertaining, though only somewhat suspenseful.
  - Barkskins, Annie Proulx (4) Powell's Indiespensable selection. The quality of writing carried me through this book, though my love of forests didn't hurt. The ending sort of rambled of into the sunset - a disappointing conclusion to 700+ page novel. The glimpse into French Canadian history was very enjoyable, and the tribute to the Native cultures was wonderful. But reading this on the tail of Homegoing made it pale in comparison. There isn't a strong enough sense of direction and the family trees were very confusing. After the two initial characters being painted rather vividly, many of the rest were rather shadowy structures.

    


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