When I think back to the books I read in June, most of them were heavy with important social, political, and cultural issues. They were shocking, informative, inspiring. I was reading with a determined purpose, and those books directly reflected it. It looks like maybe my reading inclination shifted slightly in July. Classics of the Western Cannon, a YA love story, historical fiction, and the just-plain-bizarre played alongside xenophobia, racism, and religious intolerance. I guess my July reading is.....well rounded? It's also plentiful! Partly, this is due to the shorter books that I read (poetry, novellas) but also because of the #24in48 Readathon that happened. A 48-hour span of time completely dedicated to reading? Yes please!
Here are the 24 (the most I've ever read in a single month!) books that I read in July:
Autopsy of a Father, by Pascale Kramer - review here
The Abridged History of Rainfall, by Jay Hopler - Throughout this poetry collection, Jay Hopler takes you on journey across time, space, and emotion - masterfully capturing the human condition and its impact on the natural world. There is also a strong sense of play throughout, especially through the poet's word choices, rhythms, and creative phrasing. This is an immensely beautiful collection of poetry, and one I know that I will return to again and again.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens - The well-loved classic about Pip and the Great Expectations he, and his mysterious benefactor, have for him.
Quoof, by Paul Muldoon - Paul Muldoon is a lover of language and its many forms, interpretations, and interminglings. In this poetry collection, he explores animal sounds-as-language, punctuation, cultural word-use variations, and differences in English, from his native Northern Ireland and the United States.
My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, by Aja Monet - review here
The Nakano Thrift Shop, by Hiromi Kawakami - The book covers a few years in the life of a Japanese trinket shop, the items that come in and out of it, and the quirky and lovable people who come into contact with it. It is the intermingling of the characters, trinkets, and plots that makes this book an absolute delight to read.
Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn - Are you a lover of words and language? Is freedom of expression important to you? Do you value critical thinking and rationality over blind adherence to dogma? Would you be willing to sacrifice your principles and better judgment in order to gain acceptance? These are questions you'll grapple with throughout this book.
What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons - Have you ever been so overcome with a cocktail of depressive emotions...exhaustion, longing, sadness...that you begin to lose your grasp on time? That is the hazy experience captured by Zinzi Clemmons in her novel.
Even This Page is White, by Vivek Shraya - It's not only the creative use of imagery that's remarkable about this poetry collection. It's the the playful and hard-hitting employment of language. It's how the poet frames her subjects, coming at them from directions you wouldn't expect. The poems celebrate, challenge, reinforce, reverberate.
Ordinary Light, by Tracy K. Smith (audiobook) - In this extraordinary memoir, Tracy K. Smith takes us not only through her own life, but into the complex relationship she shared with her mother. It was the death of her mother from cancer that motivated Tracy to take on this project, and the sorrow and searching in the wake of this loss are tangible throughout the work.
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse - The story about a young man's search for enlightenment and truth throughout his life
The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware - A mystery/thriller about a woman on a luxury cruise yacht who witnesses what she thinks is a murder
Such Small Hands, by Andres Barba - The story of orphaned 7-year old Marina, her doll Marina, and the other girls at the orphanage where she is sent.
Margaret the First, by Danielle Dutton (audiobook) - In this work of historical fiction, the reader follows Margaret Cavendish throughout her life. But think ye not that it is dry, uninspired, or uneventful. In fact, rather than laying out a traditional biography, Danielle Dutton takes the reader inside the mind of Margaret - simultaneously into her deep introversion and desire for notoriety. It's the interplay of these two motivations in her life, along with the beautiful writing, that makes this a joy to read.
Urgent Unheard Stories, by Roxane Gay - This is a short and sweet collection of essays that meld bibliophilia, pop culture, and social justice. In true Roxane Gay style, she makes you laugh, makes you think, and makes you feel.
The Wangs vs the World, by Jade Chang - This novel is a truly madcap family road trip, like a slightly more woke version of National Lampoon.
Nothing More to Lose, by Najwan Darwish - A poetry collection, by a Palestinian writer, that is full of religious, social, cultural, and familial upheval.
The Little Buddhist Monk and The Proof, by Cesar Aira - These novellas are grounded in a visceral reality that I could clearly place myself into, but that reality is punctuated by bits and pieces of the surreal.
When I Was a Child I Read Books, by Marilynne Robinson - In true Marilynne Robinson style, these essays interweave threads of religion, science, literature, and personal experience to talk about important issues.
A to Z of American Women Leaders and Activists, by Donna Langston - An encyclopedia of American women activists, leaders, and visionaries. Even if you've studied women's history or other related courses, you'll probably find someone here who is new to you.
Madame Bovary, by Gustav Flaubert - French classic about a woman frustrated by her circumstances and gender.
City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology - A huge array of poems, many of the Beat Generation, republished by the City Lights Press in San Francisco.
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood - Dystopian tale about a conservative religious order that takes control of the Eastern part of the United States and separates the citizenry into castes.
And that's it for my July reads - a really diverse and interesting mixture of books! What did you read in July? What are you looking forward to in August?