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A Month(ish) of Reading: June-Early July 2017

There was one other thing that happened this weekend that I left out of yesterday’s post. I got my first Bingo of the summer!

And with that I will update you on the books I have finished since I last shared a post about reading.

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
4 stars, Bingo square: Thriller
Part mystery, part thriller, part fantasy, this is McMahon’s finest work yet, in my opinion. The story is compelling, the writing is good, and there’s a circus. Highly recommended.

The Nix by Nathan Hill
5 stars, Bingo square: With an unreliable narrator
I adored this book! It’s long and full of a lot of ideas and characters and story lines but Nathan Hill ties them all together in a perfectly satisfying way. In some ways it reminded me of both A Little Life and The Goldfinch but it’s not as gut wrenching as either of those and there is a lot more humor in this one. Highly recommended!

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
4 stars, Bingo square: About art/artist(s)
The premise of the book is that altars and opportunities to worship are everywhere and found in every day moments. I think that’s a wonderful premise, particularly as someone who has drifted pretty far from organized religion. Some of it was a little preachy to me but still, the premise is terrific, the writing is great, and the author is extremely likable and wise.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
3 stars, Bingo square: Number in the title
Set in a bookstore of old, mysterious books, this story is fun and intriguing. The characters are quirky and diverse, it’s a bit of a mash up of Harry Potter, The Historian, and the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series. Plus, there’s a knitting museum! Recommended for an easy summer read.

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
5 stars, Bingo square: Wanted to read for more than a year
These poems are gorgeous, focusing on the beauty of nature and the importance of gratitude. They are very accessible and easily read but can be studied and read over and over again for even deeper meaning. Highly recommended.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
4 stars, Bingo square: Banned in a country outside the US
Dark and twisty is done so well by Shirley Jackson. These tales will make you uncomfortable at best and creeped out and downright scared at the most. Definitely recommended!

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
5 stars, Bingo square: Person on the cover
There is so much wisdom packed into this little book. It’s a story of love, devotion, loss, the frailty of the body and the triumph of the spirit. Poignant and deeply moving, it’s a must read.

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
4 stars, Bingo square: About a person with a disability
I tend to love anything Chris Bohjalian writes and this one is no exception. It’s a haunting tale and suspenseful right up to the very end. I couldn’t put it down and the ending was a complete surprise but still very satisfying. Highly recommended.

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve
4 stars, Bingo square: Set in a different season
I enjoyed this book very much, it was accessible and a quick read. I do feel it’s lacking some of Shreve’s typical depth, I could have used a little more detail to help me connect better with some of the characters. It almost felt choppy at times but the plot and setting descriptions kept me engaged and wanting to finish.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
5 stars, Bingo square: Set in a country you’ve never visited
Amazing, difficult, beautiful, horrific, important, historic, and a must read. I have too many feelings about this to say more, just know that it’s highly highly recommended.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
3 stars, Bingo square: ANY BOOK
I enjoyed this book and read it from start to finish in one day. The story is great and it’s very well written. I was slightly annoyed by the way Patchett would drop really significant events into the plot as an aside rather than giving some plot developments their proper due and that’s what kept me from giving it 4 stars. I mean, seriously, is it so hard to just tell a story from start to finish on a straightforward timeline? Maybe that approach isn’t artsy enough for literary writers but it would be refreshing to read a book like that now and again.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
5 stars, Bingo square: That you want to read in spite of the cover
A short but meaningful book about a young black woman and her friends growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, I couldn’t help but compare our childhoods while reading it. We grew up in the same years, listened to the same music, and thought about boys but the similarities end there. This book packs a punch and captures the time period exceptionally well. Highly recommended.

We Were On A Break by Lindsey Kelk
3 stars, Bingo square: Set in a different country
A bit drawn out and contrived but still a light and entertaining summer read. Think Bridget Jones crossed with Love Actually, it contains great British words and humor. Not fine literature but recommended for something easy and fun.

Woot! That’s a lot of books since June 7th. I did read a whole bunch on vacation (5 total, to be specific) and some of those were audio and a couple were quite short. I feel mostly confident in saying I’m on track for my cover all.

How’s your summer reading going?

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Oooh, I had forgotten the pins & needles feeling of reading Shirley Jackson. I see several to add to my list. Thanks.

  2. Thank-you for all of those reviews! My reading has stalled a bit but that’s just been due to good things. You’re well on your way to a cover all!

  3. As always, thanks for the reviews. I’ve added a few to my list. And yes! You are on your way to a cover-all — nice going!

    I think I’m the only person who read the Nix and liked it ok…but not as much as everyone else. It just was too wordy for me.

  4. It looks to me like you could do a DOUBLE COVER BINGO this year. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Some of these sound pretty good!

  5. Yup, I also added books to my list! I haven’t read Shirley Jackson since high school and We Were on a Break sounds like fun summer reading with British humor. Thanks!

  6. You have done a lot of reading this summer! I remember reading The Lottery in 8th grade English class, it was so creepy & frightening that I couldn’t sleep!

  7. Wow! You are certainly on a roll. Maybe two cards by summers end? Good work and thank you for rating the books and adding to my TBR.

  8. That is an impressive reading list! I just started Homegoing, so I’m glad to hear it is so good. It is very sad, though, and not really my idea of a summer read! I may wait to finish it in the winter.
    I could not get through Mr. Penumbra. It just didn’t click for me.
    I’ve heard mixed things about The Nix. I have the audiobook, so I’ll be checking it out one of these days.

  9. Just got my first Bingo also. We Were the Lucky Ones by Sonia Hunter (set in a diff. country) The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende (Set in more than one time period), Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (Free Square), Benediction by Kent Haruf (recommended by a family member) and Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Unreliable Narrator). Everyone of them was a good read! Happy Summer Reading…

  10. Carole, as always, thank you so much for your reviews. I am keeping this close so I can refer to it, and I have already added a book to my reading list. I have to say that I am always disappointed when I start a book everyone raves about and then I can’t get into it at all. The Nix was like that for me. I could not get past the college professor and his inner ramblings in the beginning of the book. So, I have laid it aside and will try later. Sometimes I am just not in the mood for a certain book. So many people loved it, there must be something there! But for me, sometimes there isn’t. LOL

  11. Wow, you have had a great summer of reading so far! and we’re just barely to the halfway mark – I predict a cover-all plus a few 🙂 I just found out The Stars Are Fire is our September bookclub selection; I’m looking forward to reading it after your review. thanks!

  12. Thank you, thank you for these reviews. My book group (The Kitchen Crew Literary Society) meets this Friday and we need some good reading options!

  13. Looks like some great recommendations. So many books- so little time [or so it seems]!

  14. You are doing great with Bingo, Carole.
    It sounds like a need to check out Shirley Jackson.
    I’ve got one bingo on my board. Commonwealth is in my to-be-read pile.

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