SLIDER

Quick Lit: July 2020 (Part One)


I read 18 books in July, and I'm reviewing nine of those books today in Part One and six tomorrow in Part Two. What about the other three books? Two are mentioned briefly at the end of today's post: one was a re-read and the other was a graphic novel that I didn't have a ton of thoughts on. The third book was one I loved so much that I'm wring a longer, separate review for it: Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis. I'm so excited to chat about my July reads! If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.


BIG SUMMER BY JENNIFER WEINER – This novel, my first from Weiner, tackles a number of topics – mostly focusing on body image, female friendship,  and influencer culture. The heroine is an adult at the start of the book, but there are lots of flashbacks to her adolescence. I thought this worked really well, and I was very invested in her story! The friendship at the heart of the book is a toxic one, and I could understand how it happened when the heroine was a teenager but less so once she was an adult. Thankfully, the story went in a different direction right around the time I was losing patience with the heroine. I So Enjoyed It overall, especially the way it looked at the pitfalls of social media and a highly curated life. This would be a good beach read – engaging, fun, and fast!

RELISH BY LUCY KNISLEY – When I was looking up food memoirs, I came across this one. It caught my attention because it's a graphic novel, something I've barely read. I thought this might be a fun way to try the genre! The early chapters were engaging, but the book overall felt inconsistent. Many of the stories felt disjointed, unfinished, or... dare I say it... boring. I loved the idea of exploring moments in life through the lens of food, but many of the ones here didn't seem noteworthy enough to share. They felt like the kind of stories that get repeated within a family where the listeners actually know everyone involved. There wasn't enough there to warrant a memoir, for me. I preferred the illustrated recipes over the anecdotes, which was a bit of a bummer. I'm So Okay With It.

SISTERS FIRST BY JENNA BUSH HAGER AND BARBARA BUSH – Since I've been in a memoir mood lately, I was browsing the non-fiction audiobooks available from my library. This was one of them, and I decided to give it a try since I've been enjoying many of the Read with Jenna book club picks. There were a number of things I enjoyed about this book, particularly the look inside a close-knit family. Their love for one another was evident in every story! I did think the writing and editing was somewhat frustrating – for example, the way the stories jumped around meant things were often repeated (perhaps as a reminder to the reader?) and left me wishing the structure was a bit different. But I So Liked It overall and thought it offered an interesting look into their lives.


SEX AND VANITY BY KEVIN KWAN – After loving Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series, I was thrilled when this new release was announced! My excitement skyrocketed when I learned it was a retelling of A Room with a View, one of my favorite classics. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put it down. I don't think Kwan is necessarily the strongest writer, but there's something about his characters and stories that I find insanely fun and engaging! I loved the nods to the inspiration, the footnotes often made me laugh out loud, and I really appreciated the way Kwan explored identity and racism through the experiences of the mixed-race heroine. I thought that gave it a lot of depth! I So Loved It, thought it was perfectly paced, and give it extra credit for being an excellent retelling.

HOURGLASS BY DANI SHAPIRO – There's a moment in this memoir about marriage where Shapiro talks about how their TV was programmed to cycle through thousands of family photos, at random, jumping back and forth in time. It was a telling anecdote because it's also how this book is written. There's a stream of consciousness to it, and memories aren't shared in chronological order. That would typically bug me, but it didn't here. Perhaps it was Shapiro's poignant observations, her deft maneuvering through the years, her vulnerability, or the loving honesty with which she wrote about her husband, but this book worked for me. I loved that it focused so much on time and memory, and it made me feel so reflective. This was more literary than other memoirs I've read, but So Enjoyed It.

BIG FRIENDSHIP BY AMINATOU SOW AND ANN FRIEDMAN – Before starting this book, I saw another reviewer mention that this was primarily the story of the authors' specific friendship, not necessarily an examination of the general topic, and was glad I went into it with that knowledge. I haven't listened to their podcast, Call Your Girlfriend, so their personalities and backstories were entirely new to me. I didn't always connect with them, which can happen in a memoir, but I loved many of the insights they shared about making a friendship last for the long haul. The concept of stretching within a friendship and repairing a broken one were two chapters that stuck out to me, in particular. I So Liked It and immediately wanted to call my bestie so I could read her my favorite quotes.


THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES BY GRADY HENDRIX – I don't read horror, but I trusted my sister when she said I should try this book. The 90s South Carolina setting was so vivid, and I could imagine the Southern women who populated this small town coming to life before my eyes. I gagged at some of the gore (rats! cockroaches!) and was not a fan of the scenes where the vampire attacks victims, but I did love how Hendrix illustrated that racism and sexism pose as much of a threat to this community as the vampire. The vampire is allowed to go unchecked for so long because no one believes the Black community he targets first or the "bored housewives" who unravel his lies. It was a perfect blend of thought provoking and entertaining, and I So Loved It

NOTHING TO SEE HERE BY KEVIN WILSON – This was such an odd, unusual read, but it was on my radar after my sister reviewed it. Though she didn't push it on me, it sounded so quirky that I had to try it! I'm so glad because this ended up being a delightful little story. It was such a fast and short read that I almost felt there should be more to it, but then couldn't think of what I'd add. The characters were well developed, and I loved the story and its conclusion. I thought the voice of the heroine anchored the story really well, and the twins provided just the right amount of spark. The story was surprisingly emotional, and I loved this little chosen family trying to claw their way out of dysfunction. Plus, a lot of the dialogue and the heroine's observations cracked me up! I So Enjoyed It.

KID GLOVES BY LUCY KNISLEY – On the hunt for a few more graphic novels to try, I picked up this one. In it, Knisley chronicles her fertility problems, miscarriages, nine months of pregnancy, and traumatic birth story. There are chapters woven throughout that discuss the history and science of reproductive health, and those ended up being my favorite part of this book. It was so informative! Knisley's pregnancy and labor were interesting to read about, though we had very different experiences. I did find it stressful at times and wondered how I'd feel reading this if I didn't have children or was currently pregnant. I have no idea! But pregnancy really is "nine months of careful chaos," so I respect how this book illustrates that fact. I So Enjoyed It overall. 


Additionally, I re-read American Royals by Katharine McGee, one of my 2019 favorites. After getting a review copy of the sequel, Majesty, I knew I had to re-read this one first. I listened to the audio, which was totally delightful. The drama, intrigue, and creative twist on history still worked for me. It's not a super deep read, but I So Loved It! Check out my original review for the reasons it worked for me, and stay tuned for my review of the second.

I read Go to Sleep (I Miss You) by Lucy Knisley, too. It's a cute little book of illustrations that focus on life with a baby. It doesn't have a narrative and is more of a collection of snapshots from Knisley's first year as a new mom. I could relate to a lot of them! It was a fun, quick read that was just right for this season of my life. I So Liked It, though I probably wouldn't have picked it up if I hadn't recently had a baby. I'm glad my library had a copy!

What have you been reading lately?

2 comments

  1. I can’t believe you’re only now reading your first book from Jennifer Weiner. She has so many other great books you should check out!

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  2. Great reviews! I'm eager to read Kwan's latest, so I'm glad to see it was such a hit for you.

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