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It’s been a slow reading month for me–you might call it a reading slump. I’ve had a couple of books that I didn’t finish, at least one that I put aside for later, and others that have just taken a while to get through.
Some of it is the busyness of summer, but I think I also haven’t chosen very good “summer reading” books that better fit into this busy season.
I backed off on the number of books I added to my July reading list, which is helping. If I stay in this rut, I’ll probably load up my August reading list with some lighter reads. Suggestions welcome!
Here’s what I have been reading lately:
As a young child, Tara Westover's upbringing seemed almost charming and old fashioned. Living on a mountain in Idaho, the family strived for self-sufficiency based in faith and closeness to one another. As Tara grew up, however, she realized that their lives were driven by paranoid survivalism, religious extremism, abuse, and possibly mental illness.
Tara's memoir traces the path from her cloistered upbringing--during which she never set foot in school--to her eventual education at BYU, Cambridge, and Harvard.
But more important than her formal educational path is her move toward awareness and a sense of self that wasn't allowed in her mountaintop life. Educated explores her attempts to reconcile this new sense of self and the boundaries she learns to set with the love and longing she feels for her family.
An incredible read both for the excellent writing and the author's thoughtful, unblinking, nuanced look at herself and her own life.More info →
This Pulitzer-Prize winning novel brings imagines the life of Little Women father Mr. March, absent for most of that famous novel to serve as a Union chaplain in the Civil War. As a childhood fan of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, I gave little thought to their father and had only a dim understanding of the transcendentalist beliefs driving March and Marmee's ways of being and raising their family. I certainly never imagined him to be in much danger during his service (why, I'm not sure).
Brooks' imagining of March is based on the life of Alcott's own father, Bronson Alcott, heavily documented in his letters and journals (though dramatized and fictionalized by Brooks).
The tie to the Little Women provides points of familiarity, but it isn't the focus and fans hoping for a new perspective on the girls will be disappointed (though the new view of an outspoken and impulsive Marmee is refreshing). Instead, the novel provides insight into one man's experience of the Civil War, life as an abolitionist, and his human fears, failings, and moral quandaries when faced with the violence of war and the horror of slavery.
Lately, I'm appreciating darker, more realistic takes on my childhood favorites, and March puts Little Women more clearly into historical context. This was a slow read, at times, but worth it for fans of both Little Women and historical fiction.More info →
Six-year-old Zach squeezed into a closet with his classmates on the day a shooter showed up at his school. He survived. His ten-year-old brother, Andy, did not. In the aftermath, Zach is faced with his parents' deep grief and his own complicated feelings about losing a difficult and sometimes cruel brother. Told entirely in Zach's voice, Only Child offers the perspective of the youngest of victims of the mass shooting epidemic.
The book is a reminder of the need to turn away from rage toward compassion and revenge toward forgiveness as we consider the dialogue and our next steps when these horrific tragedies occur. Nonetheless, it suffered a bit from being solely told by Zach and might have benefited from an alternating adult narrator.More info →
Teen romance is not my usual fare, but I felt the need for something very light. A lot of people love this series, so I grabbed it on Libby. As I read, the story felt vaguely familiar--I'm pretty sure I've read it before. That, or it's just that predictable. Which it is.
But it's also charming and sweet. The characters are almost all likeable, and Lara Jean, the main character is endearingly innocent and well-meaning. Her quiet life gets turned upside down when the five secret letters she wrote to the boys she's loved over the years actually get sent to them. Including the one to her sister's recent ex-boyfriend.
In an attempt to get things back to normal, Lara Jean fakes a relationship with one of the boys--Peter--who wants to make his ex-girlfriend jealous.
This was total brain candy, but it struck a nice balance with high school characters who aren't living in a fantasy-land, but they also aren't plumbing the depths of teenage depravity either. I'll probably read the two that follow this for more light summer reading.More info →
I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.
What have you been reading lately?