Thursday, August 9, 2018

What I Read: July

During July I didn't read any ebooks. I didn't really have a time where it would be more convenient to have a book on my phone instead of an actual book and my preferred method of reading will always be an actual book. I think due to not having an ebook to compete with the book I was reading at the time I was able to read more books than I have in past months. July was another enjoyable month of reading!
Elise carrying my book to the splash pad in her basket for me.
Regular Book:
  • American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse- I saw this book on display at the library and picked it up on a whim. It was really well written and gave an interesting perspective on the criminals who set fire to over 60 buildings in the span of a few months! I would compare this book to Killers of the Flower Moon. It was nonfiction but written more like a story with a few chapters describing the culture and background of the area where the fires occurred. I really enjoyed this book and couldn't stop reading! And, of course, loved the psychology involved and the sections that talked about the criminal profilers and the science behind trying to find the arsonists.
  • Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera- This was another book I picked up because I saw it on display at the library. It was so good I read a large portion of it in one day because I couldn't put it down. It was really beautiful and well written but also very sad. The story followed 2 different girls from Sri Lanka. One whose family escaped before the country broke out in civil war and the other who was caught in the terrible fighting. It was so sad to see how the lives of the girls unfolded. It made me think a lot about the book, Little Bee, which first opened my eyes to the broken system our country and others like ours have to protect people leaving their countries due to war. It is hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up living in a war zone and it breaks my heart to think of children living their lives knowing nothing but the violence and fear of living in an area where there is constant fighting. The storyline of the girl who lived in the war zone made me think about Black Flags: The Rise of Isis and how people can turn to a corrupt leader because their experience with the other side has been so negative and then they are brainwashed once they have joined.
  • Lady Killers by Tori Telfer- Last month I was at a ladies' game night at a friend's house and someone mentioned Countess Bathory, saying she was a serial killer who bathed in blood. I had never heard of her and was intrigued so I looked for a book about her and found this book with a chapter on her. I liked the way this book was written because it wasn't overly creepy and I had no trouble reading it and then sleeping at night. I've always been interested in serial killers and what exactly is wrong with them, from the psychological point of view, that causes them to behave as they do. Telfer chose to include mostly old cases where anyone related to the case was dead which was thoughtful. It was interesting that a woman included was living in Tulsa, OK when she was caught and there was a family of serial killers located in Cherryvale, KS which was close to my home town.  
  • When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger- This was our book club book for the month. It was suggested before it came out back in June. I immediately put it on hold at the library and it took me quite a while to get it. When I turned it in there were 64 holds behind me! I wasn't really looking forward to reading it after reading The Devil Wears Prada last month. I was more interested in reading the other books I had recently picked up but knew I needed to read this one first since there were so many holds behind me. I ended up actually really enjoying it. It was funny and easy to read, although pretty predictable. Apparently there was a book between The Devil Wears Prada and this one, titled Revenge Wears Prada. I realized that one day while looking around at the library. It was fine reading this book without the other one in between, there wasn't anything that was confusing to me because I was missing that middle piece. This book could easily be read as a stand alone without having read either of the other two.  
  • Spellman Six: The Next Generation by Lisa Lutz- This was the last book of The Spellman Files series. I was pretty sad about it until I got to the end and realized Lutz was setting it up to continue the series through the younger sister's perspective. I enjoyed this one just as much as all the others but it was also the only one that made me cry. I hated that Slayter committed suicide when his Alzheimer's Disease got bad but I understood. It was just so sad. There was one section when Lutz described corporations that not only rang true with corporations but also with government as a whole. Especially through my experience with the teacher walk-out. When you'd talk to a legislator on a personal level they knew what they were doing was wrong but then in the big group setting when it came to a vote they were validated in voting against the morally correct response because so many colleagues were as well. That herd mentality oftentimes breeds corruption and immorality. I was surprised to find it so well defined and described in a comedic mystery novel!
    Such an insightful paragraph.
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri- I really wanted to read this book after reading The Namesake, also by Lahiri, and then seeing this book had won a Pulitzer Prize. I didn't realize it was a book of short stories when I put it on hold at the library. I typically don't like short stories nearly as much as novels. I find myself wanting to know more about the characters and then the story ends and I'm disappointed. Most the time I feel like the story is unfinished. I felt that way with a few of the stories in this book. I do like how a collection of short stories can work together to tell a single story. Lahiri was able to show both positive and negative experiences of immigrants while also showing the struggles one faces when living far from family. I loved the way she ended the book with a positive story after many of the stories left me feeling somewhat depressed. I didn't like this book nearly as much as The Namesake but that may just be due to the fact that I don't enjoy short stories as much as novels. I felt, as I did before, that Lahiri is a wonderful writer. I love how she's able to make the experience of an immigrant feel so real and palpable even to someone like me who has never lived anywhere outside of the country where I was born. It has given me a new understanding of the difficulties my mom must have experienced growing up in Germany as an American citizen and then living in America after growing up in Germany, how neither place would quite feel like home.
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel- I picked this one because the cover was pretty and it was a recommended book on a blog I read. It wasn't at all what I thought it would be but all I knew was it was about a family who kept a secret. I wasn't expecting the secret to be that their youngest son was transgender. It was an interesting book about a very controversial topic and it definitely gave me a different perspective. It discussed aspects of the issue I'd never thought about. It also filled the last box I needed on my library Bingo card by reading a book with an LGBTQ+ character without even knowing that's what I'd gotten myself into!   
  • Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe- I read a review of this book that said it was really good so I had it listed as a possible audiobook to listen to. I loved Rob Lowe in Parks and Recreation and the audiobook was read by him. I wasn't expecting much, to be honest, because most of the books written by celebrities I've read have been just okay. I was so impressed by Lowe's book. I loved it so much! He was an awesome writer and I loved the way he told stories only telling the other person's first name and then at the end of the story referring to their last name so I then realized which celebrity he was referring to. I also loved that he did different voices for people in his stories and he was actually really good at it. Possibly my favorite part of the book was how he talked about Patrick Swayze. You could tell Swayze was the epitome of a bad ass in his eyes. I highly recommend this as an audiobook and may have ruined it for Ty because I told him all my favorite stories! My only gripe about the book was that he just glossed over Parks and Rec and I was really hoping to get some funny inside stories from him on the show. I'll have to see if he has another book where he talks more about it!
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton- Listening to Rob Lowe's stories about making the movie version of The Outsiders made me want to read the book again. I had just gotten 3 books in on hold so I decided to listen to it as an audiobook. We read the book in my 6th grade English class and I remembered not liking it all that much. I hated that Ponyboy was a nice boy but couldn't be a nice boy. I wanted him to not fight and just be nice. I also didn't like what happened with Johnny and Dallas. Now, experiencing the book as an adult, I understood it so much better and was amazed by how good it was. In the introduction of the book S.E. Hinton said she was 16 when she wrote the book and I couldn't believe it. There was so much thought and deepness to the book. I just couldn't imagine a 16 year old putting together such an amazing piece of literature! I noticed so many things about the book that I hadn't when I was younger, and honestly there was a lot I didn't remember. I loved that Ponyboy and Johnny were reading Gone with the Wind. I don't think I even knew what that book was when I read The Outsiders the first time. Now I just need to watch the movie version and see Rob Lowe as Soda. Since writing this I have watched the movie. Ty got really into it and didn't want to stop it when it was time for bed the first night. 

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