One of my favorite parts about summer vacation is the time to read. Since my last update, I have been reading constantly, and here's what I've finished.
Book #76 of the year was Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles. Set in New York City in 1938, this wasn't as wonderful as I'd been led to believe, but it was a fun read.
Book #77 was The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller. In this retelling of the Iliad, Achilles and Patroclus are not just friends, Thetis hates Patroclus, and Achilles has no interest in Briseis, but keeps her around to please Patroclus. Everything turns out the same as the original. If you're a lover of the Iliad, like I am, you'll enjoy seeing how Miller handles the story.
Book #78 was Home Life: A Journey Through Rooms and Recollections, by Suzanne Fox. I'm not entirely sure of all the reasons I love this book so much. The last time I read it was 2014, but for a while in my thirties I read it every year. The book is a series of essays about rooms, in long-lost houses, the author's current apartment, and even in a museum. Fox explores the meaning of home, growing up, being alone, decorating, and many other topics. Every time I read it, I find new things. I thought about it again recently when one of my childhood homes, in a country I haven't visited in thirty years, burned down, and I saw a YouTube video of the fire. Why do houses stick in our minds so much? I lived there when I was four years old. Chances are, I would never have gone there again. But it was my home, and I grieved its loss. This book has helped me think about home at many points in my life, and I'm sure I'll read it again.
A friend from graduate school has started writing romance novels, and book #79 was her second, Chasing the Heiress, by Rachael Miles. Check out her blog, where she gives interesting insights into her research, including how she finds out what vocabulary she can use to keep the authenticity of the Regency period she's writing about. I liked Jilting the Duke, the first one in the series, and this one was also good, and very eventful! I'm looking forward to the third one in the series, coming out in October.
Book #80 was About Grace, by Anthony Doerr. Everyone is reading and talking about Doerr's more recent book, All the Light We Cannot See. I loved that one, but honestly I think this one is even better. The gorgeous writing, the long trajectory of the story, and the entirely convincing character and relationship development: all were completely satisfying.
Book #81 was The Arrival, by Shaun Tan. This is a wordless graphic novel. I don't really know how to read a book like this, since it's all pictures. The pictures are amazing, but I wished for words. My daughter says I just have to read more graphic novels.
Book #82 was When You Were Here, by Daisy Whitney. In this YA title, Danny has lost his mother, and he's trying to figure out how to continue his life. I liked the Japanese setting of a large part of the book, and I also liked the different kinds of relationships Danny had in his life.
Book #83 was Kindred, by Octavia Butler. Dana, an African American woman in the seventies, is ripped back to the time of slavery, again and again. She can't control when it's going to happen, and the fact that she sees slavery through the sensibility of a modern woman intensifies the reader's experience of the horror of life for Dana and the other slaves.
Book #84 was lighter fare, but still quite thought-provoking in its own way: What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty. Alice has an accident at the gym and hits her head; when she wakes up, she's forgotten the last ten years of her life. The last thing she remembers is being in a happy marriage, contentedly waiting for the birth of her first child. Now she and her husband are getting a divorce, and she has no idea why.
This post is linked to the June 25th edition of the Saturday Review of Books.
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