Books – July Roundup

This month’s list is a bit of a cheat, but I promise, I’m making progress.  At least I’m keeping up with where I should be over the summer?  Who knows.

FINISHED:

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

My celebrity memoir for July!  I finished it at the beginning of the month, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was both fast and fun (perhaps the fastest book I finished all year), and surprised me.  I loved learning about Lauren’s writer-life and how it intersects and competes and complements her actor life.  It’s always nice to know that the people you admire are just as smart and talented as you think they are.

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

The theme for this month’s novels by female authors is “women making poor decisions” (something I have only just now spotted as I write this post up), and this particular book is fascinating.  It’s the story of the Barbizon Hotel for Women – a ladies only residential building in New York City that was built and began running in the 1920s, and didn’t admit male guests until 1981.  In the mid-2000s, the building went condo, but a few of the older residents were still living there under rent-control.  This book is a fictionalized take on some of those residents, both in the 1950s, and in modern day.  A fascinating read.

Shrill by Lindy West

I have been a Jezebel reader since it started, and while I don’t remember Lindy West joining the staff with any particular specificity, I definitely remember enjoying her pieces, and being sad when she left for bigger and better t hings.  So I knew I was going to read this book eventually.  It was a terrific mix of her personal story, and thoughts on being feminist and fat, and how those three things intersect at various points.  I also loved hearing extended versions of stories I’d heard from This American Life – how she confronted a troll from twitter, and being fat in a relationship/during her wedding.  Both terrific pieces that you can listen to online.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This was my book club book for July, and would you believe that not only did I read it in paperback (what?  a real book???), but I finished it before the meeting.  Granted, it was only a couple hours in advance, and I definitely wept big fat tears at the end (it’s that kind of book), but I did it.  And we had such a nice discussion.  I’ll confess that I had a hard time getting into it initially, but perhaps that had more to do with playing lifeguard on a ridiculously hot day to a pool party of distractingly noisy young ladies.  I was urged to keep reading, and I’m glad I did.  A complicated, sad and beautiful book.

FINISHING TODAY:

These are books that I swear to God I will finish today so that they count towards July.  I’m about 90% done with each of them, and will only require a few hours of free time to sit and read/listen, which I will conveniently have this afternoon while I get my car repaired.  So they’re not quite done, but they’re so close that I’m going to count them.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

This is by the lady who wrote Room, and that book was so oddly optimistic in spite of its dark subject matter, that it was difficult to get a good idea of the authors real style.  Also, reading that book (a while back, but still), and then following up with this one which is much more traditional in perspective, but also has an interesting non-linear narrative style is a little disconcerting.  Which voice is really Donoghue’s?  Are they both her?  I just don’t know what I would expect from her novels in the future.  In any case, this is the second “women making poor choices” book this month, and it’s the kind where I find myself yelling at the character, and inwardly groaning every time something bad happens because she was careless.  I guess that means I’m invested?

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

I purchased a copy of this book about two years ago as a birthday present to myself.  It was sitting on my nightstand, and then we moved.  And then it was in a box, and then it got moved back to the nightstand area, but was in a pile.  And then back to the bookshelf since that’s where books belong, and when I finished “A Man Called Ove”, I realized I had another physical book that I could read and potentially finish very soon.  The book says what it does in the title.  It’s very funny, and if you’ve ever read XKCD, you’ll know the style of humor and accompanying illustration to expect.  Amazingly, it’s the kind of book that makes me feel both smarter AND dumber at the same time.

IN PROGRESS:

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Yes – this is the same book as last time.  No, I haven’t really made much progress.  The good news is that I’ve got a few hours on a train coming up soon, and a couple of free evenings where I think I’ll be able to chip away at this particular tome.

***

I’m starting to think I should read some shorter books in the near future to balance out some of the longer ones that I’ve read recently.  And by the end of the day, I’ll still be three books behind on my reading challenge, which is exactly where I was last month.  That’ll be 30 books over the next five months – another 6 books per month.  I think I can do it.  It’s not going to be easy.  But I think I can.  Anybody got any good recommendations for me on books that meet this “fairly short” qualification so I can meet my goal by the end of the year?

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