Which books are worth the read and which should you skip? Find out what books I’ve been reading lately and whether I recommend them.
My home has been a madhouse all month long.
My family had an epic family reunion this month to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. With 14 grandkids between the ages of one and nine, you can imagine how crazy things have been.
Since I haven’t been able to hear myself think with children everywhere all the time, I basically gave up on blogging this month.
Instead, I’ve been reading.
No, I mean READING. As in, I finished a book a day for twelve straight days. Add in the five books I started but didn’t finish and the ones I read at the beginning of the month, and you have a whole lot of books.
Many of them are advance review copies (ARCs) of fall releases, so you’ll have to wait a bit to hear about them. The rest I gladly review for you here so you know which ones to read and which to skip.
My July Reading List
A 2020 Release. After a careless Facebook comment, Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums of India, is accused of a terrorist bombing. Jivan’s only hope for an alibi: Lovely, a transgender woman who dreams of becoming an actress. Meanwhile, her old gym teacher decides to use Jivan’s downfall as a means to improve his political prospects. Majumdar’s debut novel illuminates the struggles of life in India and leaves you pondering the selfish side of human nature.
As a boy, Wilde was found as a feral child living in the woods. Thus, he has never really integrated into society. When his godson asks for help looking into a classmate’s disappearance, Wilde stumbles upon much bigger troubles than a teenage girl. Coben is known for his top-notch thrillers, and I can tell why. He parcels out just enough information to keep you coming back for more. Even though I loved Wilde as a protagonist, I thought the overarching mystery was a tad cliché.
A Book Set in Asia. When Japanese bombs start falling in Nanking in 1937, Hu Lian and her university classmates must walk 1,000 miles to safety in China’s interior. The group is tasked with guarding The Library of Legends, an ancient collection of myths. Along the way, Lian begins to fall in love with a wealthy fellow student and realizes that one of the tales from the Library of Legends seems to be awakening the spirits of the story. Mixing historical fiction with some magic, The Library of Legends was a charming read touching on themes of destiny, fate, and choice.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from William Morrow through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Born a Crime
Celebrity Memoir. Everywhere I turn, I hear amazing things about Trevor Noah’s memoir, so it was finally time to read it myself. Before reaching fame as a comedian and the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was just a boy growing up during the last days of apartheid in South Africa. The mixed son of a white father and a black mother, Noah didn’t fit in anywhere – since sexual relations between races was illegal. Noah hilariously narrates his antics as a young man, and yet he still manages to include deep substance and sharp commentary. My only regret is that I didn’t listen to the audiobook, which I’m told is hilarious given Noah’s spectacular power over accents.
A Book That Will Make You Smarter. After studying habits, journalist Charles Duhigg turned his attention to the science of productivity. Duhigg focuses on eight key productivity concepts and illustrates them with fascinating anecdotes and interesting statistics. Although not as gripping as The Power of Habit, I still enjoyed this book. I suspect that once I actually have time to implement his tips, I’ll get much more done with my blog.
Tired of how much more she does managing her house than her husband, Eve Rodsky turned her frustration into a Sh*t I Do List which evolved to become a game called Fair Play. Rodsky broke down all the various aspects of managing a family – from pets to home furnishings to school supplies – and placed them into 100 Fair Play categories. To the play the game, you and your spouse split up the responsibilities fairly (not necessarily equally) to ensure that all aspects – the conception, planning, and execution – fall on the cardholder.
First off, let’s start with the fact that the book’s target audience is two-parent, heterosexual, middle-class families (with kids) that mostly follow stereotypical gender lines. There’s nothing wrong with a book having a narrower target audience, it’s just good to know before you read it. If that’s not your circumstances, you’ll hate the book. If you do fall into that category, you might still hate the book. It’s bizarre to think of your marriage as playing a game, one with such strict rules.
Yet, on the flip side, there is a value in what she is saying. Women tend to bear an unfairly large portion of the household management – not because they are innately better at it but because that’s how we have been socialized to view motherhood. Good communication between spouses is vital to a successful marriage, and miscommunications and resentments tend to arise when we are clear about who is in charge of what.
Successful podcast host, producer, and director Kristen Meinzer teaches everything you need to know before jumping into podcasting. Meinzer smartly skips over the quickly outdated technical details to focus on the timeless aspects of creating a podcast – how to choose a topic, find guests, tell a compelling story and so much more. I started with the audiobook then borrowed a hard copy from the library so I could take notes and ended up purchasing myself a copy. If you’ve ever considered podcasting, Meinzer’s guide is a must-read.
Laurie Halse Anderson
Bestselling poet Laurie Halse Anderson writes her memoir in free verse in this powerful tale of surviving sexual assault. Twenty years after writing Speak, Anderson is stunned at how little has changed. Sharing deeply personal stories, Shout is perfect for the “Me Too” era. I’m not a fan of poetry, but listening to the audiobook made the poems come alive – adding pauses and inflections. My library hold expired before I finished, but I enjoyed the portions I heard.
Potty training expert Jamie Glowacki promises her simple method will help you potty train your child faster and younger than others. Glowacki’s method mostly relies on reading your child’s cues and being consistent and firm. The book is aimed at children from 22 months to 36 months, with dire warnings for children who are younger or older.I finally bit the bullet and decided to potty train my youngest. You’d think I’d be an expert since she’s my fourth, but you’d be wrong. Potty training is an aspect of parenting I absolutely dread. I’m four days in, and Glowacki’s method seems to be working. Her book gave me the motivation I needed to start and the encouragement to continue even when we hit some speed bumps.
Jessica N. Turner
Trying to balance work and home responsibilities often leaves modern women feeling stretched too thin. All too familiar with the working mom guilt, Turner details how working moms can establish boundaries and set goals to better manage their hectic life. I’ve listened to so many of these empowering women audiobooks, that I basically tuned this one out. Turner’s approach to the topic is fine, it’s just extremely similar to all the other books I’ve read recently. In all, it was such a middle of the road book that I have nothing positive or negative to say about it, partly because I can’t remember anything unique enough to talk about.
Just as most religions consider one day of the week a day of rest, Shlain advocates for a Tech Shabbat, unplugging from your devices once a week. By dismissing the 24/7 world for 24/6 instead, you’ll find yourself more relaxed, more joyful, and more productive. Shlain does an excellent job laying out her guide to unplugging for a day. Yet, that is just a blog post’s worth of material. After that, the rest of the book felt like useless filler, and I ended up skipping almost the entire middle of the book.
With a few decent reviews on Goodreads, I took a chance on this legal thriller by former federal civil rights prosecutor Michael McAuliffe. In 1994, the small town of Lynwood, Louisiana, is rocked one night by a series of burning crosses. Young DC prosecutor Adrien Rush and seasoned FBI agent Lee Mercer must decide what they are willing to do to convict the KKK members. McAuliffe might be a good prosecutor but he isn’t a natural storyteller. The story lacks tension, has poorly written dialogue, and forgets the old adage to show instead of tell.
Katherine Snow Smith
Lately, I’ve been enjoying funny parenting memoirs, and so I took a chance on Katherine Snow Smith’s new book. Smith frames her life story into different southern rules that she broke, using anecdotes to illustrate each point. Right away, I knew I would never be able to finish her book. Smith’s memoir will be a fun thing for her friends and family to own, but for the rest of us, it was pointless. The best parenting memoirs make you laugh all while conveying deeper messages. Smith did neither, and to make matters worse, every chapter was weighed down by useless tangents.
A Play. Thornton Wilder’s allegorical play is generally considered his most popular work. In the small village of Grover’s Corner, you glimpse into the life of two neighboring families – the Gibbs and the Webbs. Act One establishes their daily life, Act Two covers love and marriage, and Act Three discusses death. I read the play in under an hour, and though it will never be might favorite, it does have a sweet message of appreciating life while we live it.
One of the best perks of being a book blogger is receiving advance review copies (ARCs) of upcoming book releases from publishers.
At the beginning of each month, I cover all the new book releases coming out, and the August 2020 book releases are right around the corner. Here’s a peek at the October releases I’ve already read.
My To-Read List
What’s up next for me? Before I let you go, here are a few of the titles I’m hoping to get through this upcoming month.
Be sure to come back in August to see which ones I read.
What books did you read in July?