Books – June Roundup

Remember how I was being slow with book reading?  Well the summer slowdown is real, and vacation is a blessing, both of which provided plenty of opportunities to start and finish books.  Would you believe that 4 of this month’s books were read on the Kindle, and not as audiobooks?  Shocking, I know, but when you’re not commuting, or simultaneously trying to eat your lunch, and you’ve got some free time to sit and read using both hands…it’s amazing what can be accomplished.

FINISHED:

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

This book feels SO LONG AGO.  I think I finished it at the very very beginning of the month.  June 5.  But it was enjoyable, and felt sort of like hearing about a real-life Indiana Jones.  A little disjointed at times, but I feel like I know lots more about the history of “modern exploration” and also have a good idea of what an unforgiving place the Amazon can be for those who aren’t prepared.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

The Boy likes to make fun of people who write memoirs while they’re still young enough to be out and about accomplishing things.  But you know what?  I kind of like these “where I am now” books.  I think Anna Kendrick is adorable and spunky (which either sounds bad, or like she’s a spirited teenager from the 40s), and her personality really shines through in this book.  Really, I think it’s most refreshing to hear about a young actor who started out in theater, who slogged and struggled with money.  Who really appreciates where she is now because she wasn’t immediately a glowing ingenue.  And who is hilariously funny.

Luxe by Anna Godbersen

I have no idea why I read this book.  I mean, I know I read it because it was on my kindle.  It was probably a very cheap book on Amazon one day, but I don’t remember who or what told me to read it in the first place.  It’s very fluffy, vaguely YA fare.  Having watched entirely too much of Gossip Girl, it felt like that, only set in Gilded Age New York City.  There was a lot of nearly-pornographic descriptions of dresses and fabrics.  There was a silly love triangle.  A “twist” that I saw coming from a mile away.  Oh – and it’s part of a series!  Because you can’t write YA literature these days unless you’re establishing a brand.  This book was not just brain candy – it was brain cotton candy, because it melts upon touch.

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

I’m not sure how I finished this one so fast.  Actually – that’s nor right.  I do know, and it’s because it’s a strange and compelling story of a man who writes letter/turn-based role playing games, and who is physically disfigured.  It’s written in a non-linear way, which gives you access to different aspects of our main character at unexpected times.  The only disappointing thing for me is that I was really interested in the game he had created, and the reasons for his disfigurement/the lawsuit he faces as an adult were less interesting to me.  I wanted more of the game development, and more about how and who played the game.  But I suppose that’s a different sort of book.  Maybe I just wanted to play the game myself?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My book club book for June!  Shockingly, this was the first time I failed to finish my book before we met.  How embarrassing!  In any case, we met, and talked, and sort of only talked up to the point that I got to, and then it was talked around on my behalf.  But this pushed me to finish the book soon afterwards, and I’m so sad I didn’t finish it in time, because as one of my fellow book club members bemoaned – the end is a little bit nebulous.  That’s not a reason to not read the book, because it is perhaps one of the most visually stunning books I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.  The descriptions are amazingly sensory, and you feel like you are at the circus.  It’s a book I may read again, if only because it’s the kind of book I’ve been told makes sense more after a second reading.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Speaking of re-reads…the Boy got this one for Christmas a couple years back on my recommendation, and while on our recent trip, he had a chance to both start and finish it.  He was so effusive – saying things like, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT BOOK WAS SO AWESOME?” (which, I did, but whatever), and “OMG SO GOOD”, that it made me want to read it again.  And thanks to shared kindle libraries (where he can see my embarrassing gilded-age YA, and I can see his per-Norman-Conquest-Britain-historical-fiction), I was able to re-read it right away.  I adore the unabashed love of nerd-culture that’s present.  The pace of the story.  The twists and turns.  How it has some of my favorite “shopping for and describing the new things I bought” scenes.  Plus, I needed to brush up on the story before the movie comes out, since I’d last read it more than 4 years ago.

The Girls by Emma Cline

I’m not sure I knew what to expect from this novel.  It was, like many of my books this month, written in a not-entirely-linear fashion (done as a series of flashbacks).  I think I knew there was something about a cult, but the rest of the story surprised me.  I’m sort of surprised that it has been as popular and widely talked about as it has been, because the female characters are mostly unlikeable and manipulative – something that usually kills media that contains it (despite not being a problem if those same characters are male and unlikeable).  But I enjoyed reading about an aspect of the summer of ’69 that I had not yet encountered – the rebellion against society taken to it’s illogical and dangerous end.  If someone had described the plot to me more fully, I’m not sure I would have wanted to read the book, so I’ll do you a favor as well and just say that it’s very interesting, and worth your time.

IN PROGRESS:

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

I started this one on the plane immediately after I finished Wolf in White Van.  I guess it goes to show how a more methodically paced novel, and one that’s longer (550+ pages vs 200-ish pages) is going to take a little longer to read.  Add in the fact that I needed to finish my book club book, and then got distracted by Ready Player One, and I’m still about halfway through the novel.  I’ll get there.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

Yup – another celebrity memoir.  I don’t know – I wanted something fast and frivolous after The Girls, and when this came up as available right now on Overdrive, I knew I had to borrow it.  I’m a fan of Graham, and I picked it up hoping she’ll mention our mutual hometown (she went to the rival high school), but in any case, it should be fast and fun.  Perfect for summer!

***

So for my reading challenge I should have read 31 books by this point, and I’m only up to 28 total finished – but being 3 books behind is better than last month when I was 5 books behind.  Progress!  And I think having two well in progress, and plenty more summertime available to devote to reading means I can potentially catch up in July.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

And as a note – Monday is not a federal holiday, but Tuesday is.  I’ll be taking Monday off to give myself a break (because I definitely needed one after being away on vacation, you know), and will be back on Wednesday, fully rested up and ready to go!

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