Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Review copies of some of the books mentioned below were provided for free by publishers in the hopes that I would mention them on my blog.
Hey, everyone! I hope you’re keeping cool and reading lots of great book this summer. Here’s what I’ve been up to this past month…
Here are the books I bought/received in July:
- Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky (Review Copy)
- Missing, Presumed: A Novel by Susie Steiner (Book of the Month)
- Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (Purchased)
- Dog Songs: Poems by Mary Oliver (Purchased)
- Sad Animal Facts by Brooke Barker (ARC)
- Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy Keller (ARC)
July in Review
Books & Audiobooks
Last month I finally read the gorgeous Folio Society edition of Beloved by Toni Morrison, which has been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year. The illustrations are stunning, but I was largely disappointed with the rest of the book. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it just didn’t strike me in the way I thought it would.
What did strike me was Colson Whitehead’s upcoming novel The Underground Railroad. The premise–the Underground Railroad reimagined as an actual network of railroad tracks running through tunnels all over the South–is genius. This is definitely one to add to your fall reading list.
Silence by Shūsaku Endō, is the story of a Portuguese Catholic priest who travels to Japan as a missionary. During the seventeenth century, the era the novel is set in, Christianity was illegal in Japan and Christians were tortured until they apostatized or died. The book is in the process of adaptation for the big screen. Martin Scorsese, who wrote the forward to the new edition I read, is directing the film, which will be released in November. You can watch the trailer here.
I also listened to a recent audiobook production of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, read by John Lee I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the writing is incredibly eloquent. On the other hand, it was pretty tedious at times. It’s a rather impersonal narrative spanning seven generations. The epic scope of the story is impressive, but it really doesn’t help that half of the many characters are named José Arcadio or Aureliano. It’s hard to keep them straight.
I kicked off the month reading Frackopoly, Food and Water Watch activist Wenonah Hauter’s scathing criticism of the gas and oil industry and their eco-destructive extraction methods. The book is a bit dry, but it’s exceptionally well documented. I highly recommend it if you want a factual, logical look at this important environmental issue.
I have mixed feelings about Irons and Mock’s If Eve Only Knew, a Christian feminist manifesto. The authors provide an excellent analysis of many of the sexist beliefs and practices currently trending in American Evangelicalism. Unfortunately, they seem to think that the gospel needs to be effectively castrated (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one) in order to achieve gender equality. My review will be coming in the next couple of months.
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It Didn’t Start with You is a primer on Family Constellation Therapy, a practice based on the sciences of inherited trauma and neuroplasticity. Its approach is radically different from traditional psychology, which I have always found wanting. I’m impressed by rigor of the ideas presented in this book.
Essays & Misc.
Women in Science is a delightful compendium of brilliant female scientists, beautifully written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky. It’s my pick for best book of the month.
I am at a loss to explain how it is possible to be disappointed by a photo book of baby animals, but that is exactly what happened with Cute Emergency by Tony Heally. The photography is mediocre and the captions aren’t all that funny. I laughed out loud exactly once in the course of reading. If you’re having a cute emergency, look elsewhere for help.
Bad Feminist is a collection of essays on gender, race, and culture by Roxane Gay. While I certainly don’t agree with Gay on every issue, I am deeply impressed by the nuance with which she explores these touchy topics. I listened to the audiobook, read by Bahni Turpin, which was an engaging listening experience.
Movies & Television
I’ve never been into westerns before, and after watching Jane Got a Gun, I realize that’s probably because most of them are all about men. If you’re looking for a great female-led western, definitely check out this one.
I read and reviewed Room, the book this movie is based on, when it was released in 2011. It seemed like the sort of story that would be difficult to adapt for the screen without losing the unique perspective of the novel, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a faithful and brilliantly acted adaptation.
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Orange Is the New Black (Season 4)
I have to wonder which is more representative of the prison experience in America–the first season of Orange Is the New Black or the fourth season, which made me wonder exactly when a funny, progressive show about the female prison experience morphed into American Horror Story. They pulled out all the stops this season. We have murder, dismemberment, the women’s prison version of Fight Club, sadistic guards, the most twisted mind games you can possibly imagine, Abu Ghraib-style humiliation and abuse, and finally, a cliff-hanger prison riot. It’s messed up. I don’t know what’s going to happen next season (and yes, I will definitely be watching), but I hope they manage to bring it back to reality just a little.
News from the World of Books
- It was recently announced that John Crowley, the award-winning director of Brooklyn, will direct the adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch.
- Actress Kirsten Dunst will make her directorial debut with an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. The film will star Dakota Fanning in the role of Esther Greenwood.
- In addition to his talent for being a murderous dictator, Saddam Hussein apparently had artistic aspirations. Before his death, he wrote (or, more likely, supervised the writing of) a novella called Zabibah and the King, described by publishers as a mix of the UK version of House of Cards and Game of Thrones. Now the book is being translated into English, because obviously everyone will want to read it, even without a gun to their head.
- Tim LaHaye, author of the bestselling Left Behind series, which promoted the controversial eschatological theory of a pre-tribulation rapture, died last week in a San Diego hospital after suffering a stroke. He was 90 years old.
- Dave Hemingway of Macon, North Carolina took home the grand prize at the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Content in Key West Florida this past month. He is of no relation to the famous author, but says that he likes women and having a good time, and feels “like Ernest.”
Best of the Bookosphere
- Why Calvin and Hobbes Is Great Literature – LitHub
- Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview – The Millions
- Most Anticipated, Too: The Great Second-Half 2016 Nonfiction Book Preview – The Millions
- The Greatest Harry Potter-Themed Newborn Portrait You Will Ever See – BuzzFeed
- 17 Creative Bookshelves Every Book Lover Will Go Crazy For – Pulptastic
- 10 Must-Read Books of the Last Decade – RELEVANT
- 21 Hottest Books of the Summer – Goodreads
- 20 Shakespearian Names You Should Never Give Your Baby – Bustle
- 100 Must-Read Titles About Women’s History – Book Riot
- 25 Books to Read When You Feel Like the World Is Falling Apart – Modern Mrs. Darcy
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Most Popular Posts of the Month
In addition to creating some of the greatest fictional heroines of the 19th century, Jane Austen brought to life some of the most swoon-worthy heroes of romantic literature. Which Austen hero is the greatest? Opinions vary, but I’ve ranked all the Austen heroes based on their virtues, faults, and my own preference.
I don’t know about you, but when I logon to YouTube, I usually end up spending hours clicking from video to video. It’s probably not the most productive way to spend an afternoon, but it’s hard to control myself when there are so many amazing vloggers (video bloggers) talking about books!
This month’s featured book blogger is Cait Drews from Paper Fury. She avidly consumes YA fiction and is an aspiring author in her own right. To date, she has completed a mind-blowing sixteen manuscripts (Did I mention that she’s 21?) and is already represented by a literary agent. Cait also runs a successful Etsy shop where she sells handmade origami baby mobiles, kusudama balls, and sundry bookish items.
Best of the Archives
Can’t wait for the next season of The Americans? Check out this list of books to make the wait fly by.
Books to Watch for in August
- Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
- Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
- To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
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- I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong
- The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children by Alison Gopnik
- The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
What are the best books you read last month?