Wednesday, August 01, 2018

What I Read: July

The book of the year, guys.  I read the book of the year.  Maybe the book of a lifetime. SPOILER ALERT.

I also read some other stuff, and it was all really good.  I just hit 122 books for the year, which means I have been averaging a little over 17 books a month.  July was below average, but also? REALLY ABOVE IT.  Most of these books are must-reads.

Read this if you like the Red Queen series:

15. War Storm by Victoria Aveyard:  I was all in on the Red Queen series, but the ending did not feel satisfying.  I skipped like 350 pages in the middle and I ddn't need to read them to know what was going on.  Not a good sign.


Read These If You Are Looking For Something Fraught and Sad but Well-Crafted:

14. The Party by Elizabeth Day:  This is a great, quick, sad and thrilling little read.  Excellent characters, and she makes the plot fresh by shifting the perspective.
13. The Only Story by Julian Barnes: Interestingly written, well drawn characters, quirky, ultimately so sad.

Read These if You Already Like These Authors:

12. The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand:  I haven't read her before, but a book club friend posted a pic of this one on Instagram (or, maybe it was another one of her books because all of the covers look the same), and I liked it just fine.
11. Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley:  These essays are really funny, and I LOVED "Outside Voices" when I read it a while back in The New Yorker (oh my god--most pretentious sentence EVAR). But!  I didn't connect with them like I had hoped.  My book club is reading it next month, though, so maybe I will like it better then.

Read These for Great Characters:

10. Sorority by Genevieve Crane:  Yes!  Read this!  It's quick and witty, and the voices are excellent.
9. The Ensemble by Aja Gabel:  Give this book a few pages.  It gets good.

Read These if You Want to Cry:

8. Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg:  WOW!  This memoir is gripping, and this book is a fast-- but not entirely easy-- read.
7. You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac:  Oh this is sad!  Like cry at the pool sad.  But also funny and fast-paced.  If you like Lisa Genova and Jojo Moyes, you will like this one.

Read These if You Want a Page-Turner to Lose Yourself In:

6. Mrs. by Caitlin Macy:  I love a send up of NYC preschools, and this one was juicy.  A great pool read!
5. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware:  I LOVE HER SO MUCH.  This one is just as good as her others, and I flew through it at a baseball tournament-- a should-read for sure.

Read These Because They Are WONDERFUL:

4. The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll:  Yes!  Read this!  Funny!  Scary!  Tense!  Keeps you guessing!  (Or, kept me guessing, anyway)
3. Providence by Caroline Kepnes:  I am an unabashed Kepnes fan, but this one is not as good as You or Hidden Bodies.  It's good, though, and super creepy.
2. Educated by Tara Westover:  Any other month, this book would be the clear winner. This memoir is astounding.  I mean, you guys, it was literally breathtaking.  Like, something would happen, and I would gasp and have to put the book down.  Read this!

Read This Because it Might Be the Best Book Ever:

1. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai:  Book of the month.  Book of the year. Maybe the best book ever.  I was so wrapped up and invested in the characters, and I was simultaneously spellbound by the plot.  She does a wonderful job of describing the early days of the AIDS pandemic and painting its path of destruction,  juxtaposing this harsh reality with the tragic fantasy of young men who think they have finally found a safe space for their sexuality.  The present-day plot is similarly devastating.  I sobbed like a baby at the end-- and I knew the final tear-jerking moments were looming for the last 100 or so pages, but I was heartbroken anyway.  There's a point midway through the book where an old Wisconsin woman is talking about her dead artist friends and how when she goes to a museum, she can see their absence that nearly killed me.  Makkai does this throughout the book-- she invokes a very specific tragic moment for her characters in a way that triggers the reader to read-in our own lived experience, even though our experience is different than her characters' lives.  What's the same is the feeling of longing for the last best moment we didn't know was the last best moment when we lived it.

1 comment:

pinkandgreenpolkadots said...

Love your book reviews....did you read The Sound of Gravel? If not get it now....perfect vaca read.....