Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reading Recap: July Edition

Today on Instagram (bookstagram to be more precise) I saw someone posting about the 24 books they read last month.  I don't really know how that is humanly possible and I found myself both jealous and repulsed. 

I didn't read 24 books, or 12 books, or even 6 books.  In July I was able to finish 5.  I'm hoping you feel neither jealous or repulsed.  4-6 seems to be about where I land every month and I'm proud of that.

Here's what I read when I wasn't refereeing a fight, finding food for my children to eat, or washing another load of wet towels from the pool:

Convenience Store Woman
"And here was everyone taking it for granted that I must be miserable when I wasn't." 

I preordered this book and then read it in one day.  You might say I was a little excited.  There was something about the cover, the culture (Japanese), and the premise that had me so intrigued. 

Convenience Store Woman is about a woman in Japan whose only aspiration in life is to work in a convenience store.  This is troubling to her family.  She considers making a change to satisfy social norms. 

There is a lot of food for thought in this slim little novel.  Family, work culture, what does success mean, is success the same for everyone, loneliness in a hyper-connected world...these themes were rattling around in my brain long after I finished. 

The book is quirky and definitely not for everyone.  It's a translation and so some of the words and phrases weren't completely natural, but I love that.  It reminds me that I'm reading a book whose primary audience is a different culture from me.  It's refreshing.   

One of my dearest friends, who also loves books, was headed to Japan in July and I gave her a copy of the novel before she left.  She said it was fun to talk with her Japanese friends about the translation.  One of the things she mentioned is that the Japanese title is Convenience Store Human.  Interesting choice.  We both agreed that Keiko, the protagonist, probably has some form of Autism, but the author never explicitly tells us.  Another interesting choice.

Hum If You Don't Know The Words
"When in doubt, just do what I do, Robs.  Hum if you don't know the words."

There were many good quotes from this book, but I really like this one from the title.  The characters in this book, just have to keep humming despite the ups and downs of life.  

I wrote a long post about this book so I will just go ahead and link to it here.  The gist of the post is that I really didn't want to read the book and was determined not to like it.  But then, I completely fell in love with the story, the characters, the writing.  It was seriously so good that I keep wondering why is this book not getting more attention.  So read it, and spread the love.

Henry and Beezus

I drive a lot in the summer.  And the fall.  And the winter.  And the spring.  So, every now and then the kids and I listen to an audiobook.  Last month we picked Henry and Beezus because I bought the whole Henry Huggins collection on audible.

When I was a kid I read all of the Ramona books and they are still some of my favorites.  I really missed out on Henry back then but I'm so glad I get to experience new material from one of my favorite authors with my kids.  

Henry wants to buy a bike and it'll cost him $50.  He and Beezus scheme different ways to get the cash or find other solutions.  Hilarity ensues.  We were all laughing at the different vignettes and the kids enjoyed thinking about their own business opportunities like Henry and Beezus.  

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Beverly Cleary is a national treasure.  

The Widows of Malabar Hill
"And for the first time, she'd realized what her power as a lawyer really meant."

I'm a member of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book club.  I think I may be involved in too many book clubs because I'm always reading a book for a club and not because I just want to read it.  It's just that FOMO gets me every time.  

This was the July pick and I really enjoyed it.  It's a novel about the first women lawyers in India during the 1920's.  Perveen is a fictional version of the women who fought for more equality in Inda and she is a delight.  You get to see her struggle up close and it really made me consider how hard women all over the world have to fight for equal rights.  

The story flashes back and forth between before she was a lawyer and after she started working with her dad at his law firm.  The author definitely did her research and in order to build a complex, interesting mystery she included some of the legalities of India in the '20's.  I found this very interesting but thought that some readers might be turned off by the minutiae.  

Perveen's friends and family are great.  I looked forward to every scene that included her parents and her friend Alice, from England.  The descriptions of food and location had me dreaming of a trip to India...I settled for a date night with my husband at a local Indian restaurant.  I love that palak paneer.

The resolution of the mystery wasn't terribly shocking, but I didn't need it to be.  The story was well told and I found myself glad the mystery wasn't uber dramatic so I could focus on soaking up the setting, the characters, and learning about how women have lived in a different time and place.  

The Screaming Staircase
"His face was uniquely slappable—a nun would have ached to punch him—while his backside cried out to heaven for a well-placed kick. He slouched, he slumped, he scuffed his way about the house like something soft about to melt."


Another book club book...this time my mother/daughter book club.  One of my daughters picked this and just like last month's book, I found myself grateful for YA's ability to immerse me in a magical world.  It's just so much fun!

The Screaming Staircase is about a big problem: the world is dealing with ghosts and lots of them.  Children are the only ones who can fight them.  Lucy is a girl who has the ability to sense ghosts.  She goes to work at a ghost hunting firm run by Lockwood, an eccentric teenage boy, and his assistant George.  They get a very crucial job that deals with...drumroll please...a screaming staircase.

This was creepy and fun and well done.  Again, I'm not sure how this book isn't getting more attention.  The writing was humorous and intelligent.  There wasn't any smooching.  It was good, clean ghost fighting fun.  

We haven't had our meeting yet, but early reports show that the girls love it as much as me.  

And there you have it.  My five books.  I'm hoping that I can read 6 in August and I just saw this meme that may help me put my phone down and get it done:

I read all 4 🌟books this month which seemed a little odd.  Nothing made my all time favorite list, but they were all solid reads.  Spoiler alert for August: this will not be the case.  I'm almost done with a book I can barely stand to look at. 

What did you read in July?  Anything good on the horizon for August?  Let's finish summer reading strong.

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