Wednesday, July 1, 2020

June 2020 Reads

Happy halfway through 2020! I go back and forth from thinking this year has flown by to thinking how is it already July? This year has been the weirdest ever. But one thing that has stayed the same - my love of reading! I read 7 books this month, and I'm pretty impressed with my mix of topics - 2 memoirs, 2 educational books, and 3 more traditional fiction. My total for the year is 49, so I'm really trucking along on my way to 100!

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance - I've seen this book mentioned numerous times and finally decided to try it out. J.D. writes his memoir as the grandson of 'hillbillies' - his grandparents moved from the Appalachia mountains in Kentucky to Ohio to escape the poverty around them. I thought this was going to be more like Educated, but while J.D. talks about the craziness of his childhood {not knowing his father, his mother's issues with drugs and multiple marriages} and how, with the love of his grandparents, was able to breakout of a cycle of poverty and violence and make it all the way through Yale Law, this book also covers a lot about the problems in the 'hillbilly' culture where his roots start. I found it really engrossing but also really educational - it was interesting to read at the same time as Black Lives Matter was really hitting a fever pitch and comparing and contrasting a lot of the problems we seem to see a lot of these days. Highly recommend!

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness - I don't watch Queer Eye, but somewhere along the way I've seen Jonathan Van Ness and thought he seemed like such a fun person - confident in who he was, funny, kind, self-deprecating - and really wanted to check out his memoir, and I'm so glad I did. He had a very tumultuous childhood growing up flamboyantly gay {if not out} in an area of the US where that was NOT ok - he shared about being sexually abused as a child and how that impacted his life, his addictions, his HIV + diagnosis, how he overcame that all and learned to love himself all while making me laugh and just really love him! He seems like such a great guy, and I really enjoyed his book and the lessons he learned along the way.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle - Dannie wakes up from a dream that she knows is real, and it shows her life in 5 years and it's completely different than where she is in her life {like she's living with a man who is not her fiance in a different apartment}, and she can't shake it. Little by little the story reveals those 5 years, and it was a GREAT story. I was expecting this to be more like a Sliding Doors type story, which I LOVE, but it wasn't exactly - little by little the pieces unfold - we meet the guy, we see the apartment - but nothing adds up... I almost cheated and read the ending because I was so curious how it was all going to play out, but I'm glad I didn't. This didn't come together any possible way I could have imagined, so it was a really unique read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams - This was a precious read, and I ate it up. Nadia sees a post in the Missed Connection section of the newspaper and she thinks it's about her - from a guy, Daniel, who sees her at the subway station every day. So she responds, and he responds... I loved every minute of this - loved the characters, loved the connections of the storylines, just loved it. Right up my alley!

Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhart - This blew my mind. This book really bit into the science between implicit bias, and it was such a great read. I had ear-marked it from some anti-racism activists, and I'm so glad I read it. I learned so much from it and think it's something everyone should read!

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis - This is the second Fiona Davis book I read, and so far her books have a similar format to Kate Morton - alternating storyline between the past and present with a mystery in the past. Darby lived in the Barbizon Hotel in the early 1950s training to be a secretary. Over 60 years later, Rose, a reporter who lives in the converted hotel, sees Darby and hears a tale of an encounter between Darby and a maid that left the maid dead and Darby scarred for life. What happened all those years ago? I thought this started out slowly, but it really picked up steam in the second half, and I flew through it. There were several twists and turns - some predictable, some not, and I was really happy with how it all came together.

American Prison by Shane Bauer - Another mind-blowingly educational book that is written by an investigative journalist who went undercover as a CO in a private prison. Shane gives the history of the prison system from inception to the privatized model we see now, and it is a horrific piece of our history about exploiting the human body {and often the human black body} for profit. It was so smartly written and so educational, it was phenomenal.

See? Overall a great month of books!

Now, let's talk about what I'm reading with the kids. Trent and I haven't read anything together fully since May, but he did read Trevor Noah's Born a Crime with me - although he got to where he read the second half by himself - I was too slow. I bought the following 2 books to read with him and possibly Drew. I'm so excited!

Drew and I are out of Baby Sitters Club books right now - she got a set of #1-6 for Christmas, and we finished #6 a few weeks ago. I ordered Lightning Girl from my cousin, who is an Usborne book consultant, and Drew is loving it. There's a sequel, so I know we'll be getting that. I really hope we can get to a Half Price Books before too much longer {not doing much in-person shopping these days and HPB charges $3.99 shipping PER ITEM since they can come from any store in the country} to pick up some more. 

And to round out the end of my monthly reads...time to crown my favorite of the month. Seriously 3 or 4 could have been favorites, but I had to go with Our Stop because it was just my kind of story. Yes, it's cheesy, but it's so sweet and the characters are great, and the story is so enjoyable. Sometimes your heart just needs something light and fluffy {but NOT Hallmark fluffy}, and this hit the spot!

I'm in the middle of something really enjoyable...and a classic I'm not really loving, so July is already off to an interesting start! I hope you've got something great to read over the long weekend. Happy reading!


Erika said...

Just put In Five Years and Our Stop on hold!! Thanks for the recs!!!

Emily said...

Loveddd Hillbilly Elegy! Such an insightful book too. Lots on here I’ll be adding. Really curious about the implicit bias book. I love brain science books so I’m sure I’ll love it

Natasha said...

I also thought Hillbilly Elegy was so good. And I put a bunch of these books on hold so thank you! I'm sad that Our Stop is not available at our library though. It sounds like I'd love it!