I realized something about myself recently.
Every year I blame my summer reading slump on some circumstance: pregnancy or travel or having a toddler running around.
But I’ve realized the summer reading slump is just that—a seasonal slump that happens regardless of circumstance. It’s time to embrace the slump and just accept that I read much more in the cooler months when there are football games on TV and blankets to snuggle under and the sun sets earlier than I do in the warmer months when there are pool days and work projects and more family activities.
It’s been three months since I’ve shared a list of the books I’ve read, and I’ve finished a total of eleven books in that time (and three of those have been in the last two weeks!).
That’s why I’ve never met my Goodreads Challenge to read 100 books in a year—although I’m well on my way to hitting 75 this year, especially since I’ll have a newborn to cuddle for the last two months of the year—and I think I’m okay with that, as much as I’d prefer to be a more consistent reader.
Here’s what I did read (linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy!):
The Invention of Wings: With Notes by Sue Monk Kidd
I think this may be one of the best southern fiction slave narratives that I’ve read. It’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching story based on historical events and the lives of the first female abolitionists in the U.S., and I appreciated that Kidd didn’t try to make the main character appear perfect in the face of slavery within her home but gave her a realistic struggle with the norms she’d grown up with.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
My great-grandmother suffered from Alzheimers before her death, and I remember visiting her in the nursing home while she talked about people and events from far in her past. Alzheimers has always been one of my greatest fears, and this story was a beautiful look at the struggle of a woman who is at the top of her career as a university professor when early-onset Alzheimers begins to steal her memories. But it’s also a story about the love of family in the face of the unimaginable. Not a happy story by any stretch, but one worth reading nonetheless.
The Heir (The Selection, Book 4) by Kiera Cass
I gave this book three stars on Goodreads, and that was generous. I loved the first three books in this series (not as high literature, but as fun, easy reads), and the series probably should have stopped there. This one was just silly, repeating many of the situations and characters from earlier books but without any character development. I was looking for a fun, easy read, but it just left me unsatisfied.
Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution by Sophie Hayes
I don’t know whether sex trafficking is a growing problem today or just one that is finally being put into the spotlight, but as the mother of four girls, I’m keenly aware that many prostitutes are not there by choice and that even middle class girls are being trafficked today. Other reviewers questioned whether this story could possibly be true and why Sophie Hayes didn’t simply run away, but I found this memoir to be realistic and her reaction to the psychological games her captor played (“I will hurt your family…”) to be understandable.
Astonish Me: A novel (Vintage Contemporaries) by Maggie Shipstead
I wouldn’t say I loved this book, although it is very well written and really interesting, but I learned more about the world of ballet than I could have imagined!
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley
Sometimes it’s challenging to review books knowing that other people are reading those reviews! I really liked this book, but it’s not one I’d recommend without any caveats. There are many references to intimacy between the main characters, but I actually thought most of the scenes were lovely descriptions of marital intimacy and not particularly graphic, so they didn’t bother me. However, there are also scenes between lesbian lovers, and while they’re still not overly graphic (and only found in the first couple of chapters), I’d hesitate to recommend this book without acknowledging those. Overall, however, I found the storyline intriguing from start to finish, and I kept reading because I was never sure what would happen next or where exactly the author was taking us!
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel by Tom Franklin
This may have been my favorite book of the past few months. I liked the first three-quarters of this book, but I loved the ending. It’s heartbreaking and thought-provoking and sad and awful and beautiful all in one.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
Although I started reading this one last month—and read the first few chapters really quickly—I found myself discouraged by the prospect of “tidying my whole house once and for all” and set it aside when life got busy. However, Anne recently shared her tips for the life-changing magic of tidying up for kids, and it feels a little more realistic once again, so I hope to finish this one this week.
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
One of my goals over the next couple of years is to read through all of the books used in the early Classical Conversations Challenge levels (7th and 8th grade) so that I’ll be able to discuss them with the girls when they get there. (We still have a couple of years, but I’m trying to be realistic about my reading habits!)
Although I truly can’t fathom the horrors of slavery—and I honestly think we only scratch the surface when we try—I love that this story focuses on the strength of Amos Fortune and his quests for freedom and finding his sister.
The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir
I avoided this book for along time because nothing about it appealed to me. But after reading yet another raving review, I finally picked it up, and I was sucked in from the first page. Highly technical (and known as hard science fiction because it includes so many scientific details), the story has the potential to be dry and boring, but I really liked the main character—despite his love of crude language and f-bombs—and I found the book exciting throughout. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie with my husband!
How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp by Shawn & Maile Smucker
I love memoirs, and I was excited to read this one as we begin making plans for our own RV adventure. But what I love about memoirs in general is the stories themselves, and I felt like this one tried too hard to make the connection between their experiences on the road and important life lessons, and I would have rather just read about the details of their trip and made the connections myself!
What have you read recently? Do your reading habits follow a seasonal pattern?