June 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

June was kind of a weird month. I thought I was going to get a ton of reading done, but then I had to finish up school stuff and we reopened the library to the public, so I had less time to read than I thought I was going to.

I was able to finish seven books in June, which is still fantastic:

Graceland is an interesting book. It’s historical fiction about the relationship between Elvis and his mother, Gladys. It starts when Elvis is a young boy and ends with Gladys’ death in 1958. I have never been a fan of Elvis and I wouldn’t have read this if it hadn’t been the Sykes & Savidge Book Club pick for June, but I actually enjoyed reading it. Elvis and his mother had a VERY unhealthy relationship, and it was interesting to read about in the context of an historical fiction novel. There were things I didn’t know about Elvis that were included in Graceland, like the fact that Elvis was a twin (his brother was stillborn) and maybe the circumstances surrounding his birth and his brother’s stillbirth were the basis for Gladys’ unhealthy love for and treatment of Elvis. Graceland also deals with Elvis’ gross treatment of underage girls, but I was already aware of that side of him. It was his mother’s fall into depression and alcoholism when he became famous that really intrigued me. I really liked Bethan Roberts’ writing, too, and I plan on looking into her other books in the future.

Longbourn is also very good. I meant to read this back in 2013 when it was first published, but then never got around to it. Longbourn is a Pride and Prejudice story told from the viewpoint of the staff at Longbourn (the house belonging to the Bennets). But it’s not a retelling of Pride and Prejudice — it’s a standalone novel and an original story about the lives of the staff of Longbourn, and the relationship they have with the Bennets is just one part of that story. The book mainly follows Sarah, one of the housemaids, and her growing desire to see more of the world and not be held down by her circumstances. And of course there’s gossip and a love story (that isn’t cheesy at all, thank goodness). One of the things I liked most about Longbourn is Jo Baker’s frank look at personal things about the Bennet girls — body hair, menstruation, body odor, soiled clothing, etc. — and how no matter what social class we’re in, we all deal with the same issues at base level. Of course people of the Bennets’ stature don’t want to admit that they deal with all of those things and like to pretend that they’re above it all, but the staff certainly know better. I liked how that was worked into the story. I read Longbourn for Lauren and the Books Patreon book club.

You can read my reactions to the Hunger Games series by clicking the links at the beginning of this post where I list what I read in June.

I will talk a little more about the Young Wizards (So You Want to Be a Wizard) series in my July reading plans post.

I didn’t get to any of the Women’s Prize longlist books this month, but I’m hoping to get back to those in July. I have plans to read a bunch of stuff in July, though, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ll talk about that in another post.

How was June for you in terms of reading? What was your favorite book in June?

Month in Review: April 2019

Books read:  6

  • Go Ahead in the Rain, Hanif Abdurraqib
    A four-star rating
  • The Kingdom of Gods, N.K Jemisin
    A five-star rating
  • Babylon’s Ashes, James S.A. Corey
    A five-star rating
  • We Set the Dark on Fire, Tehlor Kay Mejia
    A five-star rating
  • Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
    A five-star rating
  • On the Come Up, Angie Thomas
    A five-star rating

Pages read: 2.481

Time read: 32 hrs, 58 min

Favorite book(s):

  • Go Ahead in the Rain, Hanif Abdurraqib (This book is so, so good. Oh, the beautiful writing and the nostalgia…)
  • Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
  • On the Come Up, Angie Thomas

Favorite quote(s):

Go Ahead in the Rain is quotable from beginning to end, so I’m going to share just a couple of my favorite passages here…

“But I suppose none of us truly know, Tip. Which is why the sample is a joy, isn’t it? The wind blows a memory of someone into a room through sounds, and the architect captures that memory with their bare hands and puts it on wax. Is this, too, the low end? The feeling of something familiar that sits so deep in your chest that you have to hum it out? The James Brown on ‘Show Business’ or the Sly Stone sample on ‘Jazz.’ There are cookouts and Soul Train lines on this album. There are hot rooms and hot card games. I imagine the low end to be anything you could touch once but is now just a fading dream. I imagine the low end to be a bassline that rattles your teeth, too. But I also consider the low end to be the smell of someone you once loved coming back to you. Someone who sang along to Aretha, or Minnie, or Otis. Someone who loved you once and then loved nothing.” (Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead in the Rain)

“But this makes me wonder, what did it feel like not to know what that was? To be the titans roaming the landscape, if for just a short while. Maybe you don’t give a shit about basslines or sound frequencies or how low the human ear can hear. Maybe you don’t care about the way a good bass kick can briefly stop the heart before it starts again, refreshed. The right speaker makes the body a quick ghost before kicking it back to life, and I find that fascinating, and if you don’t, that’s fine. I guess I can’t expect you do do much but show up and do what you imagine your job is. Shaking the table. Rapping better than anyone else in the room.” (Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead in the Rain)

Updates:

April was still super busy. I really want to write about Hanif Abdurraqib’s ATCQ memoir, Go Ahead in the Rain, but I just don’t have the time. I could have included at least ten more quotes in this post–the entire book truly is quotable. If you’re a fan of A Tribe Called Quest, or if you’re a fan of 90’s hip hop, I highly recommend reading Abdurraqib’s book. It really is phenomenal. If I had had the time when I finished it, I would have started it over from the beginning right then. The subject matter is close to my heart, so it brought on a ton of nostalgia, but Abdurraqib’s writing is beautiful, too. Soulful. I can’t say enough good things about the book.

Month in Review: March 2019

Books read:  9

  • Nemesis Games, James S.A. Corey
    A four-star rating
  • Sunshine, Robin McKinley
    A five-star rating
  • The Abundance, Annie Dillard
    A five-star rating
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin
    A five-star rating
  • What If It’s Us, Beck Albertalli & Adam Silvera
    A five-star rating
  • Odd One Out, Nic Stone
    A five-star rating
  • The Broken Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin
    A five-star rating
  • Early Riser, Jasper Fforde
    A five-star rating
  • Home and Away, Candice Montgomery
    A five-star rating

Pages read: 3,211

Time read: 45 hrs, 55 min

Favorite book(s):

  • The Abundance, Annie Dillard
  • What If It’s Us, Becki Albertalli & Adam Silvera
  • Early Riser, Jasper Fforde (It was SO NICE to read Jasper Fforde again. I just love his writing and his sense of humor.)

(The only book I wasn’t really impressed with this month was Sunshine. It was just meh.)

Favorite quote(s):

“There aren’t any new starts. All the new ones pack the old ones along with them. If we ever really started fresh, it’d mean not having a history anymore. I don’t know how to do that.” (James S.A. Corey, Nemesis Games)

“Like any child, I slid into myself perfectly fitted, as the diver meets her reflection in a pool. Her fingertips on the water, her wrists slide up her arms. The diver wraps herself in her reflection wholly, sealing it at the toes, and wears it as she climbs rising from the pool, and ever after.” (Annie Dillard, Abundance)

“For as long as I could remember, I had been transparent to myself, unself-conscious, learning, doing, most of every day. Now I was in my own way; I myself was a dark object I could not ignore. I couldn’t remember how to forget myself. I didn’t want to think about myself, to reckon myself in, to deal with myself every livelong minute on top of everything else–but swerve as I might, I couldn’t avoid it. I was a boulder blocking my own path. I was a dog barking between my own ears, a barking dog who wouldn’t hush.” (Annie Dillard, Abundance)

“I personally stopped blushing after I had my first lover, and discovered that absolutely the last thing I would want in a boyfriend is a permanent hard-on.” (Robin McKinley, Sunshine)

Updates:

I have been SO BUSY. March was horrendous, really. We have a big project going on in the library, I was doing at least three people’s jobs, and my school work has been out of control. I’m taking an Art History course, and while it’s been very interesting, it is also taking up more of my time than any other class I’ve taken. When I had free time (ha!) in March, I read. I didn’t want to get online to do anything after spending hours online for my classes. So I have set the blog aside for two months now because I just don’t have time for it. This post and my month in review for April might be the only posts I write this month. Phew!

Month in Review: February 2019

Books read:  5

Pages read: 2,494

Time read: 45 hours, 7 minutes

Favorite book(s):

  • Everything’s Eventual, Stephen King
  • The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton
  • Pandaemonium, Christopher Brookmyre

(I didn’t dislike any of the books I read in February, but these three were my favorites.)

Favorite quote(s):

“Still, when one prick faces off against another, there’s a certain satisfaction to be had in the anticipation that at least one of them will suffer as a result of the encounter, and if you’re really lucky, both.” (Christopher Brookmyre, Pandaemonium)

“So, having waited nine billion years for Earth to form, then held off another four and a half billion for his chosen species to fully evolve, He blows his wad early by sending down his messiah during the Bronze Age? If he wanted us to believe in Him and to live by His Word, couldn’t He have hung on another infinitesimal couple of millennia and sent his miracle-working superhero ambassador in the age of broadcast media and other verifiable means of record, instead of staking thirteen and a half billion years’ work on the reliability of a few goat-herders in an insignificant backwater of a primitive civilisation?” (Christopher Brookmyre, Pandaemonium)

“‘You bring books up mountains?’ Cameron asks.
‘I bring books everywhere. You never know when you might get a quiet five minutes to read.’” (Christopher Brookmyre, Pandaemonium)

(I didn’t think to keep track of quotes from the other four books I read this month.)

Updates:

February felt like the longest short month ever this year. Usually February doesn’t bother me, but the weather has been crap and we’re super busy at work (doing heavy lifting/moving stuff), so February wiped me out. I didn’t get as much (pleasure) reading done as I would have liked, either.

March isn’t going to be any better, as far as school and work go, but spring is almost here. It has to be. So I’ll keep looking forward to that.

Month in Review: January 2019

January 2019

Books read:  8

  • Formation, Ryan Leigh Dostie 
    A five-star rating
  • The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, David Lagercrantz 
    A five-star rating
  • Severance, Ling Ma 
    A five-star rating
  • The Fireman, Joe Hill 
    A five-star rating
  • The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin 
    A five-star rating
  • Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle 
    A five-star rating
  • Universal Harvester, John Darnielle 
    A five-star rating
  • Cibola Burn, James S.A. Corey 
    A five-star rating

Pages read:  3,608

Time read:  61 hours, 54 minutes

Favorite book(s):

  • Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle
  • Universal Harvester, John Darnielle

Favorite quote(s):

“Harper thought it would be a toss-up, which term for women she hated more: bitch or hen. A hen was something you kept in a cage, and her sole worth was in her eggs. A bitch, at least, had teeth.”  (Joe Hill, The Fireman)

“It is impossible to convey the pleasure of routine to someone who does not find routine pleasurable, so Varya does not try. The pleasure is not that of sex or love but of certainty. If she were more religious, and Christian, she could have been a nun: what safety, to know what prayer or chore you’ll be doing in forty years at two o’clock on a Tuesday.”  (Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists)

Updates:

Being back in school really cuts into my reading time…I cannot wait until I am done with school so all of my reading can be pleasure reading. And I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now: at the end of the 2018-19 spring quarter, I will have just one year left to go for my Bachelor’s in Psychology degree. I will have that degree at the end of spring 2020! Then I’ll be going on to get my Master’s in Library and Information Science, which is another 18-24 months of school, but still. I can see the light. I am getting there. I’m a lot closer now than I was three years ago.

I’m working on an author highlight post about John Darnielle–I really, really liked the two books of his I read in January. That post should be up soon. I would love to have more time to blog, but again, until I’m done with school, posting here will be intermittent.

Hope everyone has a nice February!