July Recap

Summer is my favorite (and best) time for reading, and in July I had some nice time by the pool to read a couple of fun books!

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  1. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn (Nonfiction)

As I’ve already said before, I LOVED this book. I still haven’t taken it out of my kitchen because I need to reference it so often. I love the concept of the book (turning normal people into confident home cooks), and I thought the writing was thoughtful and interesting.

Best application: I’m still regularly making homemade bread and impressing all of my friends.

2. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (Fiction-Bookclub)

The Red Tent was my book club’s July pick, and honestly, I don’t think I would have made it to the end if I hadn’t been reading it for book club. Diamant takes the characters from the Genesis story of Dinah (daughter of Jacob, sister of Joseph and his 11 brothers) and creates a (very) fictionalized narrative of the story, focusing primarily on the roles and emotions of the women. The “Red Tent” is place for the women to *ahem* gather each month, and it also serves as the central hub of female activities and bonding. I think I could have enjoyed the book more if it wasn’t spinning off of true story from the Bible, but as it was, many of the more…intimate…details seemed way too cringe-worthy for my taste. As a book club choice, it was actually very good–there were lots of things to discuss and lots of feelings about the book all around. As a regular book choice, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one; it was definitely not a favorite.

Take away: Interesting if you’ll be discussing for a book club, not so great for regular reading.

3. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Willis (Nonfiction/Memoir)

The Glass Castle is an interesting memoir about a girl who grows up very poor with very dysfunctional parents. Willis recounts her childhood of adventures and hardships in a way that is really compelling. I am always fascinated by the way people relate to and feel about parents who are (seemingly) crazy, and this was no exception. Willis’s mom and dad were both pretty bizarre and probably negligent parents, but she and her siblings grew up with complicated, but often positive, views of both of them. As she matured, Willis realized some of the damage she had to work through as a result of her childhood, but she also turned out very resilient and accomplished. The Glass Castle is definitely not a light-hearted book, but if you enjoy heart-wrenching true stories, this could be a good choice for you!

My favorite part: One of Jeanette Willis’s favorite books as a child was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which also features a crazy father-daughter relationship. I read that one in March and really liked it as well!

4. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Fiction-Thriller)

Before the Fall was on my radar because of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading guide and also several mentions of it on her podcast, so when the kindle version went on sale, I snatched it up! This book starts with a terrible event: a private jet crashes into the ocean, and there are only two survivors: an undiscovered painter with some serious swimming skills and the 4 year old son of a very wealthy family. The book alternates between the present unfolding drama after the accident and the lives of each of the people on the plane ‘before the fall’. As you get to know different characters, it soon becomes clear that perhaps the crash was not an accident after all. I really enjoyed watching the mystery of the plane crash unfold as well as the commentary on human nature. A few of the characters are a little rougher around the edges, so several chapters have some language and rough content, but I still thought it was a good option for a novel that was gripping without being too graphic or scary.

5. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (Fiction-Classic)

This was a great summer read: it was fun and lighthearted and short enough to finish in just a few afternoons at the pool. Miss Pettigrew, a middle-aged, poor, recently-fired governess finds herself spending the day with a young, spontaneous, aspiring actress. She decides to say “yes” to all sorts of adventures, and it is so fun to read. She is adorable.

Best takeaway: some lettering inspiration!

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6. Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave (Audio-Fiction)

This is another one I saw on MMD Summer Reading list, so I found it on audiobook and listened to it as I drove. It was a good summer read–nothing too heavy or crazy, just a cute story about a family who owns a vineyard. The narrator had a little bit of an annoying voice (she sounded like Tammy 2 from Parks and Rec), but I still enjoyed the story.

Thing I learned: Apparently it takes 800 grapes to make a single bottle of wine. Also, after reading this book I was inspired to drink fancy wine, but then I remembered that all wine tastes the same to me.

7. Kiki Srike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller (Fiction-Young Adult)

I got this one as a loan from my homegroup leader/YA fiction enthusiast a few months ago, and I’m glad I finally picked it up! This was a cute YA book about a group of 12 year old girls who discover and explore The Shadow City, a secret underground world below New York City. Evil princesses, stolen royal jewels, quirky characters, and innocent adventures made this a great YA read. No language or violence–just fun!

8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Audio-Fiction)

Last time I was browsing the audiobooks at my local library I saw this Rainbow Rowell novel, so I grabbed it since I have enjoyed her other books so much. This one was fun! There was some language, which is always more noticeable in an audiobook, but overall I thought it was an interesting story. The book is half email conversation between two best friends at work and half narration by Lincoln, the IT guy who monitors the company emails. Lincoln gets borderline stalker-ish, but it turns out in a sweet way, so I guess it was a good thing. Another fun Rainbow Rowell title to add to my list!

What did YOU read in July?

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