What I Read in July

by - 6:07 AM

Earlier this year, in a fit of overdramatic pseudo stress, I warned Ryan that this summer was going to be so good that it would definitely also be too fast. And while I'm prone to getting too wound up over nothing, this time I was right. Duke is at this really great age and we're both equally into the beach, so we've covered a lot of coastline this summer. Time really does fly when you're having fun, so it's been on zip-mode.

So obviously, I can't believe it's already the end of July. August better put on the breaks and get uncomfortably hot because I'd like to enjoy some dog days to get me excited for cooler temps and shorter days (ugh, doesn't that just make you sick to even think about!).

I'm currently about a 3rd of the way through The 19th Wife, so I'll leave this one for August. 

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER || WALTER LORD - Non-Fiction

Kicking it old school. This book was written in 1955 and is considered the most factual and unbiased account of what happened on the final night of the Titanic's maiden voyage. It's a relatively quick read because Lord specializes in brevity and wastes not a single word on speculation, and because it is truly just the final hours. No grandiose and sweeping descriptions of staircases and food, just the facts. He interviewed dozens of survivors and if you're into this kind of thing, it's a good read. Maybe not something I'll keep on the shelf and re-read, but I liked it.

THE GOOD EARTH || PEARL S. BUCK - Fiction

Now for a book that I do keep on my bookshelf and return to every handful of years or so. The first time I read this, I borrowed it from a friend when we were in 10th grade. We went to a Christian high school that literally had nothing but bibles and Ellen G. White in the library, so I basically read anything else. Starved, you know? This is a classic though, following the ascent of a young farmer and his wife to incredible wealth. Wang is kind of a turd, but I swung between feeling pity for him and also just understanding him, and wishing as much as he did that he could just get a hot minute of peace. This is a good one guys, and it's also freeeeee for Kindle users.

THE VACATIONERS || EMMA STRAUB - Fiction

I've read this book twice now, and while I find it quite enjoyable, it should definitely be filed under "beach read." It's light and delicious, and after enough of this, I'm ready for something a little more substantial. It takes place on vacation in Mallorca and there's a ton of characters in this one. Ready for a speedy breakdown? We got - wishy-washy mom, complicated dad, surly daughter, cowardly son, cowardly son's girlfriend, mom's gay best friend, gay best friend's husband who just wants a baby, and a random local who provides Spanish lessons and sex to the surly daughter. It's a party and these characters are one dimensional, but it's a delight just the same.

Do I always want fruit salad for dinner? Nope, but when I do, this is a really nicely mixed one.

ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT || STEPHEN KING - Non-fiction

Now for some meat and potatoes. This is one part memoir and the other part instructional. Regardless of whether you enjoy King's writing, I think we can all agree that he's prolific and the sheer quantity of books he has published would imply that he knows the industry well. There's some hilarious stuff in there about his childhood - skip to the part where he gets drunk for the first time during a school field trip to DC. There's also a full chapter on his feelings on adverbs, and how he dreamed up his first bestseller, Carrie.

MODERN LOVERS || EMMA STRAUB - Fiction/Audio Book

I'm giving the audio book a spin for the first time and knowing that I mostly enjoyed The Vacationers by Emma Straub, I thought this would be a good place to start. It's actually a pretty similar story, just different place with characters who have different names. Tons of characters again and most of them are filling the same role - we've got another complicated dad and surly daughter, another potential divorce and more uncomfortable teenage sex. Some writers have a thing and I guess this is Emma Straub's.

I'm also learning to not take for granted the delightful freedom of actually reading a book, rather than listening to it. That you get to invent their voice and rhythm is no small gift. The reader on this audio version is clearly giving it a good go, with different voices for each character, but some of them I don't really get and I really hate when she tries to lower her voice for the male characters. Just not my thing, I guess.

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So there we have it. I scooped up a handful of books for .50 cents a few weeks ago at a garage sale, so those will keep me pretty busy this month, but I'm always taking recommendations. What did you read this month?

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