Reading Recap: July 2018

July has passed us by and it’s time for another reading recap!  This month, I wrapped up my summer grad school classes and dove into several of the titles that have been burning on my to-read list for months.  Overall, it was a really solid month of books!  I thoroughly enjoyed almost everything I read.

During June, I made a physical pile of books in my room I wanted to cover this summer.  I’d stare at them longingly before I went to sleep each night, waiting for classes to be done so I could read them.  When the time came, I was surprised that the first title I grabbed from the pile was The Great Gatsby.  It ended up being the perfect palate-cleanser as I transitioned into summer break.  The next title I picked up was Tomi Adeyemi’s debut, Children of Blood and Bone, one of my most highly-anticipated books of the year.  For my morning Christian nonfiction, I had the delight of reading Rachel Held Evans’ new book on the Bible.

After such a solid month of reading, I’ve been waffling a bit on what I should pick up next.  I’ve started three books in the past week and none have hooked me.  What books have you read recently?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

ReadingRecapJuly2018

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 10
  • Number of pages read: 3,590
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 3
  • Longest book: Winter by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: Sublimity by McKenna Hight
  • Highest ratings:
    • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (5 stars)
    • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (5 stars)
    • Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (3 stars)

Some notes on my stats:

  • Audiobooks are included in total page count.  It takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, so I count them
  • My ratings are on a 5-star system and are ridiculously subjective

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.


Mini Reviews

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

  • Pages: 462
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Format: E-book
  • Reread
  • Thoughts:
    • This was my third time through Six of Crows within the past twelve months and I regret nothing.  As far as I’m aware, this book is absolute perfection.  How Bardugo manages to balance the narratives of six characters (each with their own unique motivation and backstory) with the complex plot of a heist story blows my mind.  She makes it look effortless.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Pages: 184
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Reread
  • Thoughts:
    • This American classic was the perfect palate-cleanser as I transitioned from grad school reading to pure pleasure reading.  It’s short, profound, takes place in summer, and HOLY CATS Fitzgerald can write!!
    • Gatsby grows on me with every reread.  I’ve now read it four times: twice for school and twice for pleasure.
    • Fitzgerald’s prose is absolutely flawless.  I could lose myself in his writing.  I must, must, must read more of his work.
    • There are so many layers in this text.  From rich symbolism (that, yes, is heavy-handed at times), invocation and inversion of medieval Courtly Love tropes (in which Daisy is both the beloved and a representation of the American Dream), to the careful characterization, Fitzgerald’s most famous work is an absolute masterpiece.  It’s a profound statement of American identity.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

  • Pages: 827
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Reread
  • Thoughts:
    • This audiobook was impressively long, 21 disks!  Rebecca Solare is a fantastic narrator.  Her voices for characters, inflections, and pauses breathed life into this story.  It was an absolute delight to listen to!
    • Winter is a solid conclusion to a wonderful series.  This was my third time through and I enjoy it just as much each read.
    • There was a scene near the end of this book where all eight main characters were gathered together and I felt such kinship with them.  I wish they were real, so I could be part of their group hugs and be their best friend forever.
    • Throughout this series, Meyer balances four romances.  For each one, she adopts a different relational trope.  Each relationship is completely unique.  Cinder/Kai are the famous person-falls-for normal-girl couple.  Scarlet/Wolf are the instant-attraction couple that are passionate from day one.  Cress/Thorne fit the model where one person has an unrealistic crush on the other and, through getting to know each other, they realize the real thing is better than the fantasy.  Finally, Winter/Jacin are the childhood best friends who fall in love.
    • The Snow White aspects of this adaptation are absolutely fantastic
    • Winter is such a fascinating character.  Normally, characters who are beautiful, kind, and beloved are boring.  Meyer overcomes this by making her mentally unstable, which is endearing.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

  • Pages: 177
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • This graphic novel contains stories and snippets from the author’s life: falling in love, finishing grad school, getting married, navigating a job, etc.  She shares her perspective of doing these things as an introvert in a world designed for extroverts.
    • The art in this is absolutely delightful.
    • This is a must-read for introverts everywhere.  I related to Tung on so many points, especially when she talks about social energy levels.  She introduced me to the phrase “social hangover”, which is quickly becoming part of my everyday vocabulary.  It’s the feeling introverts get when we use up all our social energy and are drained, exhausted, crabby, and need to recharge.
    • More than anything, this book reminded me that I’m not alone in my introversion.  Other people experience the world this way.

Sublimity by McKenna Hight

  • Pages: 88
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts: See my full review for my thoughts on my friend’s debut poetry collection

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

  • Pages: 525
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • A YA fantasy based on African tribalism in which the author (as noted in the afterword) fueled her anger about police brutality and racism in the United States?  YES, PLEASE.  This was one of my most highly-anticipated reads this year.  I actually purchased my own copy before reading (usually, I use the library) and held onto it as a reward for wrapping up grad school summer classes.  It was worth the wait!
    • Adeyemi creates a lush, rich world in Orïsha with a comprehensive mythology and magic system.
    • There was good character development and growth.  I could tell Adeyemi adhered pretty closely to the Hero’s Journey plot structure, which was effective.
    • My one critique is Inan’s character development felt rushed.  His journey was the most compelling for me and I felt let down by how quickly he changed.  The transformation wasn’t believable enough.
    • As far as debut novels go, this one is top-notch.  I can’t wait to follow Adeyemi’s career.

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans

  • Pages: 240
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • I’ve read all of Held Evan’s books and this is easily the best yet.  She approaches the Bible through the lens of story, examining how God uses narratives to connect with His children.  In each chapter, she focuses on a different type of story that appears in the Bible (creation stories, war stories, fish stories, etc.).
    • Held Evans discusses the origins of biblical stories, their function, and ties them together with the stories we tell ourselves today.
    • This book is thorough and very well-researched.  I wrote down several of the books she cites for further reading.
    • The subtitle is “Loving the Bible Again”.  While I never stopped loving the Bible and haven’t experienced doubt to the extent Held Evans has, this book made me love the Bible even more.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

  • Pages: 417
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • I love Matson’s books.  As a representation of quality YA, this fits the bill perfectly.  Save the Date was stressful at times, but an enjoyable, light summer read.
    • The story centers on a family wedding where everything that can go wrong does.  Simultaneously, the mom of the family is the artist behind a nationally famous newspaper comic based on her family.  This comic is ending the same weekend as the wedding.
    •  Because of her mom’s comic, our protagonist Charlie clings to an idealized family and life and cannot see the cracks.  She’s been looking forward to the wedding weekend for months, seeing it as the last time the whole family will be together like in the good-old-days.  Amid a chaotic weekend, she learns about growing up, accepting change, and loving what’s in front of her instead of a fantasy.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafszai and Christina Lamb

  • Pages: 327
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Thoughts:
    • My coffee shop book club read this memoir this month.  It’s been on my list for years, so I was thrilled to have a reason to pick it up!
    • This memoir centers on the life of Malala, an activist for women’s rights and education in Pakistan.  At the age of fifteen, she was shot in the head by the Taliban and miraculously survived.
    • What I most appreciated about this book was the overview of Pakistani history and culture.  Every time I read about the Middle East, I’m astounded at how little I actually know about that part of the world.
    • Malala also provides an account of the slow infiltration of the Taliban regime.  I was a young teen during these years so, while I remember hearing about it on the news, don’t know many of the details.  Hearing about terrorist organizations from the perspective of Pakistani locals was so valuble!
    • Malala is a courageous, inspiring young woman.  I’m really looking forward to tracking her life and accomplishments.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

  • Pages: 343
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • Sometimes, you just need a fluffy, easy YA novel that you can read in two days.  Albertalli, in this respect, never disappoints.
    • I didn’t love this one.  It wasn’t a bad book, but I’m starting to think I’m outgrowing high school stories.
    • What this book does best is provide great representation for LGBTQ+ teens
    • I don’t think this book will age well.  There was a lot of teen slang that even I didn’t grasp. (I had to look up what it meant to call someone a “cinnamon roll”.)  Language usage changes so quickly, it’s only a manner of time before this becomes obsolete.
    • There were lots of half-described side characters that I just didn’t care about.  Even though I’ve read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, it was hard keeping everyone straight.  (Haha, get it?  Straight?  It’s a LGBTQ novel?  Okay, I’ll see myself out…)
    • My favorite thing about this book was the constant Harry Potter references.  Leah uses her favorite fanfic ships to describe changes in her emotional life, referring to herself as, “the worst kind of Slytherin. I’m the kind who’s so stupidly in love with a Gryffindor, she can’t even function. I’m the Draco from some shitty Drarry fic that the author abandoned after four chapters.”

See you next month for another recap!

For more of my reading adventures, add me on Goodreads

Want more regular bookish content?  I’m on Bookstagram!  Follow me at @librarianamelia

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