The end of July is the time of year that my alarm bells start going off to warn me that summer’s almost over- there’s still a month left, but somehow August never seems to last as long as it should. I have to mentally prepare to lose the warmth and the long days. But July was nice and leisurely, and I accomplished some quality reading!
Books I finished in July:
- The Farm by Joanne Ramos. 5 stars. Though the plot turned transparent toward the end, I loved the way this book approached a sensitive issue (surrogacy facilities) from many angles, leaving the reader to form their own opinions.
- Daughters of Passion by Julia O’Faolain. 3 stars. Though I enjoyed the concept of this one (a woman on a hunger strike in an Irish prison recounts her decision to become involved with the IRA), the structure and brevity of the story kept me from investing in the characters properly. Full review will be posted when I finally manage to read the last two Faber Stories I’m missing.
- Animals Eat Each Other by Elle Nash. 3 stars. Another shorter story (novella) that I loved in concept (a young woman becomes involved in a three-way relationship and begins to question her sense of identity), but wished for a bit more length to explore its themes more deeply. Even so, I found it dark, gritty, and immersive.
- The Stand by Stephen King. 3 stars. King’s longest novel, and also my longest buddy read to date- this one took 6 weeks! Though I surpsingly didn’t have any issues with the length or pacing, the book’s climax was somewhat unsatisfactory, as was King’s portrayal of female characters.
- Recursion by Blake Crouch. 4 stars. An impressive follow-up to Dark Matter, but rather too similar to that former novel to completely win me over. This one features a new form of technology that allows for navigation of human memories, and the worldwide catastrophe that erupts when various groups fight for control of it.
- Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. 3 stars. Though I think Kerman’s idea to reveal to the masses what life is like on the inside of a prison- and the injustices that reign there- is commendable, her perspective just didn’t quite seem to be the right fit for her intention. At least, not her voice alone. I learned a few things, but also wished this book had made space for others to chime in.
- Again, But Better by Christine Riccio. 3 stars. A YA/NA study abroad romance with a magical element. I had a few issues with style and premise, but ultimately found this very readable and enjoyable. Not a preferred genre for me, but I mainly picked this up to see whether Riccio’s writing style matched her video style, as a sort of reading experiment.
- Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. 4 stars. Though a bit slow-paced and repetitive for me (I’m fairly new to nonfiction), I found this true crime story of a shady Silicon Valley company utterly fascinating. The things people will do for money… horrifying. Full review should be up tomorrow.
- A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. 5 stars. This former women’s prize winner is one of the most difficult and emotionally devastating books I’ve ever read. The unique writing style takes a lot of patience, but the payoff was huge in the end. Full review should be up early next week.
- The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller by Henry James. 4 stars. I read this in snippets on the side while trying to work through my long list of library checkouts this month (I had to carry a couple of titles over to August, oops), but still thoroughly enjoyed it. The first story has given me a lot to puzzle over and appreciate in the days since I’ve completed it, but the second story was more immediately engaging to read- both intriguing, but very different pieces! Full review should be up next week.
Average rating – 3.7
Best of month – A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, followed by The Farm
Worst of month – Daughters of Passion, just because it felt the most unrealized. It was too short to regret reading, though.
Books hauled – 14 total, 11 of which appear in my August TBR and 3 that I read in my childhood and recently purchased to reread someday (Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Pet Sematary by Stephen King, and The Doll People by Ann M. Martin, Laura Godwin, and Brian Selznick.)
Owned book read for the first time – 5 total, 3 of which were on my July TBR and 2 that I’ve owned for years (The Stand and The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller). This has been yet another month of increasing my owned-unread TBR.
July TBR tally – 3/8. (Recursion, Daughters of Passion, and Animals Eat Each Other) –>
Year total – 78 books. I’m guessing I’ll hit my Goodreads goal of 100 in late September or early October, but anything could happen. I’m not planning to readjust my goal.
All in all, not a bad month. I was hoping to finish a couple more titles, but instead I took a few days off of reading, which was good for the soul. I’ve been much more in the habit this year of reading whatever amount feels comfortable to me on any given day rather than forcing it, which is one of the reasons I don’t want to readjust my Goodreads goal even though I’m 99% confident about reaching it early. (Not reading keeps reading fun?)
I only read 2 nonfiction books in July, and don’t have much room in my August reading schedule for nonfiction, which isn’t boding well for my lofty “Summer of Nonfiction” plans, but I liked what I did read and am eager to continue my nonfiction adventures beyond this summer, so it is what it is. Otherwise, quite a variety of genres, story lengths, and topics once again, which is just the way I like it. I wouldn’t say this was necessarily a “fun” reading month, but I certainly had quite a few interesting experiences! Buddy reads, a TV show tie-in, a Booktuber book, a Prize winner, etc.
Tell me about a standout reading experience you had this month- not necessarily the greatest (though that’s welcome too), but something you had a unique experience with!
(And of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read any of these books!)
The Literary Elephant