Book Chat

Reading Log: June 2013

Is it seriously July 1st already?  June seemed to fly by – I can hardly believe it’s officially summer and we’re halfway through 2013 already.  I had a great month, life-wise.  Our trip to Seattle was much anticipated, even if it did end too quickly.  We have another trip in a couple weeks to look forward to, which definitely makes working through the summer more bearable.  As for my reading life, I stumbled upon a couple of really great summer reads which made my commute that much more enjoyable.  I’m trying to read more at home like I used to, but these days most of my reading takes place on the bus.  I always think I’ll read a lot on vacation, but then I end up too distracted to pick up a book.  Ah well, such is the summer life!

So here’s my Reading Log for June 2013, with my thoughts about each book to help me remember what I read.  I’ve included all the books that I’ve read or finished during the month (even if I started some of them outside of the month).  And of course I keep track of my rating on the grade system, the binding, genre, etc… just for fun!

June 2013

HB = Hardback, PB = Paperback, AB = Audio book, K = Kindle.
F = Fiction, HF = Historical Fiction, NF = NonFiction, YA = Young Adult,
CL = Children’s Lit, B/M = Bio/Memoir, SF = Sci-Fi/Fantasy, C = Craft

Title Start Finish Grade/
Format
Genre 
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,
by Cheryl Strayed
5/25/13 6/30/13

A
PB

M

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them,
by Meg Jay
5/26/13 6/1/13

A
K

NF

Little Miss Austen: Pride and Prejudice, a Counting Primer,
written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
6/1/13 6/1/13

A+
HB

CL

Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen,
by Alyssa Shelasky
6/3/13 6/11/13

C
K

M

Eleanor and Park,
by Rainbow Rowell
6/11/13 6/20/13 

A+
K

YA

September Girls,
by Bennett Madison
6/21/13 6/26/13

A+
K

YA

Attachments,
by Rainbow Rowell
6/26/13 Still Reading

TBD
K

F

Thoughts:

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed – A

The Amateur Librarian // Reading Log: May 2013

I read this after intensely loving Tiny Beautiful Things, and I have to admit that at first I was a bit disappointed.  The memoir focuses on the months that Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother died and her marriage fell apart.  The circumstances were very intense, but I started to lose patience with how very self destructive and unprepared she was leading up to and during her journey.  Even as poignant as her memories and struggles were, I just didn’t get it.  I wondered where all that wisdom from Tiny Beautiful Things had come from.  But as the book wore on, I really came around…  I guess life experience comes from mistakes, and you have to live through them to come out on the other side as a better person.  It was nice that the events all happened fifteen years ago, which made the conclusion so satisfying because she has more perspective on how the journey shaped her life and what happened next.  Probably the best ending I’ve read in a long while.

 …

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them, by Meg Jay – A

The Amateur Librarian // Reading Log: May 2013

I’m glad I read this book now, at 26, or I might get even more frantic about the timeline of my life.  As it is, I’ve wrestled with many of the problems and scenarios described by Dr. Jay, a therapist who’s counseled many twenty-something clients.  It all boils down to using this time of growth and potential, instead of wasting it and thinking that it will all come together later.  The book covers three sections – Work, Love, and Life.  Clearly written, with case studies and patient testimonies – good stuff.  I think I’m doing ok for my mid-twenties, and I have a pretty good idea of what I want the next five years to look like.  But I was definitely struck by quite a few items, especially the idea that working toward a goal is much more fulfilling than just waiting for something to happen.  I like the last lines of the book too – “Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do.  You are deciding your life right now.”

 …

Little Miss Austen: Pride and Prejudice, a Counting Primer, written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver – A+

The Amateur Librarian // June 2013 Reading Log

Such a cute board book – a counting primer that follows the Pride and Prejudice story.  Love the illustrations and inside jokes for adults, while still being colorful and accessible for children.  Can’t wait to start collecting the series, with themes like opposites, vocabulary, colors, etc. through including classics (like Moby Dick, Dracula, Sense and Sensibility, etc.).  Adorable!

Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen, by Alyssa Shelasky – C

The Amateur Librarian // June 2013 Reading Log

Book club pick for June.  It was occasionally fun and glib, but mostly I had a really hard time liking the main character at all.  I know nothing about Top Chef or the foodie world in New York, so most of the name-dropping was lost on me.  It felt like a lot of gossip that might have been more interesting if I had known who she was talking about.  The recipes included were fun, but this memoir just fell flat for me.  And once again, a book by a blogger – I know everyone has a blog these days (and who am I to talk?) but it’d be nice to read a book that doesn’t involve blogging as the author’s rag-to-riches superstar career.  Or at least a likeable narrator.  Maybe I should steer clear of blog-to-book novels for a while.

 …

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell – A+

The Amateur Librarian // June 2013 Reading Log

I kept hearing about this new YA book all over blog world, but I was skeptical.  Once I got started, though, I was immediately hooked.  The bare bones seems typical – a boy and girl fall in love in high school – but the writing and the way it all comes together is heartbreakingly powerful.  The year is 1986 – does that make me officially old now, that the year before I was born is long enough ago that it can be written about with nostalgia?  Do today’s kids really not know about mix tapes and Elvis Costello?  Anyway, I really enjoyed this book – it was painfully tender and honest, full of nuanced reality.  However… the ending.  OMG you guys!  What were the three words written on the post card?!?!?  I was stunned for about a week before I could accept that the ending was actually perfect.  And that’s all I can say about that.  Read the book, I promise you’ll love it!

September Girls, by Bennett Madison – A+

The Amateur Librarian // June 2013 Reading Log

I think I fell in love with this book – or at the very least, I was definitely entranced and a little obsessed.  This is a fairy tale retold in the best way possible – modern and tense, yet soulful and haunting.  The characters existed in a dreamlike haze and I was swept right along with them.  I’m going to go ahead and mention a spoiler, because I knew about it before starting and it actually improved my experience – the story is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid.  Except it’s told from the boy’s point of view.  And with a bit of sirens and sailor folklore and a dash of Disney references thrown in.  Even apart from fulfilling my childhood fascination with mermaids, the writing was definitely the best part.  Somehow it managed to be teeter between adolescent anguish and philosophical reverie – somewhat like the mood swings of a young adult on the cusp of evolving into adulthood, I suppose.  It was lyrical but unsentimental, basically my idea of a perfect summer read.

A note on GoodReads – I try not to read reviews until after I finish a book, but I was so obsessed while reading that I started looking online anyway.  I was shocked at the disparate opinions – the reviews on Amazon seemed to reflect my positive experience pretty closely, but the reviews on GoodReads were overwhelmingly negative.  A lot of people said they couldn’t stand the sexism, which took me off guard.  There are certainly characters that spew a lot of sexist ideas, but it’s part of the characterization and serves to highlight the changes that the main character goes through.  I thought the themes of beauty and what it means to “be a man” were very feminist, especially the ending!  The mermaids are not damsels in distress, and true love doesn’t conquer all – how much more feminist can you get?  It made me feel like I hadn’t read the same book that everyone was talking about, like they just read the first chapter and condemned the whole thing.  I’m starting to have the same experience with a lot of books on GoodReads, though – the reviewers seem very critical and I don’t really agree with them most of the time.  I’m not going to stop using the website, but it’s definitely affecting my impression of GoodReads – I’m starting to take the star ratings and reviews with a grain of salt instead of relying on them for recommendations.

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // June 2013 Reading Log

Started this a few days ago – I just can’t get enough of Rainbow Rowell!  She has another book coming out this fall too, which I will probably gobble right up.  Good stuff so far, although not quite as heart wrenching as Eleanor and Park.  I’m OK with that though, I can’t handle it too frequently!

So that’s what I’ve been reading during the month of June.  Anyone reading a good book?

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