Book Chat

Reading Log: July 2014

July seemed to fly by in the best possible way. This summer really seems like summer again… I suppose in part because I’m finally back in the South where you are VERY AWARE of the summer heat.  But I’m loving it!  Even perfect weather gets boring after a while, and having distinct seasons seem to make me appreciate it even more.  July was packed with summer activities: a trip to the beach, a wedding, visits with family, lots of ice cream, plenty of time spent outside… and I had lots of time to read, so that was nice!

Below is my Reading Log for July 2014, 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!

July 2014

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, SFF = Sci-Fi/Fantasy, C = Craft

Title Start Finish Grade/
Format
Genre 
Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul,
by Melodie Beattie
1/1/14 Still Reading TBD
PB
SH
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures,
by Malcolm Gladwell
5/21/14 Still Reading  TBD
K
NF
Anne of Green Gables,
by L.M. Montgomery
5/24/14 7/3/14 A
AB
CL
14,
by Peter Clines
6/13/14 7/24/14 A
K
F
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,
by Piper Kerman
6/18/14 7/30/14 B+
AB 
M
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread,
by Kate DiCamillo
6/28/14 7/1/14  A
PB
CL
The Trumpet of the Swan,
The Trumpet of the Swan,
by E.B. White
7/1/14 7/13/14 A+
HB
CL
Dad is Fat,
by Jim Gaffigan
7/2/14 7/8/14 B
K
M
What Alice Forgot,
by Liane Moriarty
7/6/14 7/7/14 A+
PB
F
The Language of Flowers,
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
7/8/14 Still Reading TBD
PB
F
Peter and the Starcatchers,
by Dave Barry
7/12/14 7/28/14 A+
AB
CL
Landline,
by Rainbow Rowell
7/13/14 7/29/14 A+
K
F
Gift from the Sea,
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
7/20/14 Still Reading TBD
PB
M
Deep Black Sea,
by David Salkin
7/25/14 Still Reading TBD
K
SFF

Thoughts:

Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul, by Melodie Beattie – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // January 2014 Reading Log

Still reading… or planning on it, anyway! Completely stopped the daily readings this month with all the disruptions to my nightly routine – but sometimes vacations and visits are worth it! Planning to hop back on board in August, I’ve definitely missed it.

 …

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // May 2014 Reading Log 

I put this down in favor of Landline and haven’t picked it back up yet, but it’s waiting on the Kindle for me if I decide to try again.  The first few essays never grabbed me, so we shall see.

 …

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery – A

The Amateur Librarian // May 2014 Reading Log

I just never get tired of this story, it’s like comfort food times ten. By this time I’ve read it so many times (previous reviews here and here) that a new review is probably overkill. But since I’ve read both the paperback, annotated version, a few ebook versions, and this is the second audio version I’ve tried out, I’ll comment on the format instead. This time around I listened to the Librovox audio version, which is free and read by volunteers. Let’s just say… you can tell they’re volunteers. I laughed out loud the first time I heard Diana’s voice… and not in a good way. For some reason she had a British accent? And sounded like an old lady instead of an eleven-year-old child? It seemed like a very strange choice. But the saving grace was the narrator, who also read Anne’s part, and she was fabulous. So I put up with the differing sound qualities and secondary characters and still enjoyed the story. Perfect material for my early morning walks… now I need to find something else!

14, by Peter Clines – A

The Amateur Librarian // June 2014 Reading Log

I don’t normally read science fiction thrillers, but this caught my eye so I gave it a try.  It was a fun ride! Nate moves into a LA brownstone walkup and starts to discover strange things… as he starts to explore the building with the help of his neighbors, the mysteries get bigger and more out-there, but it was all in good fun. I liked that it remained light-hearted and witty even while everything was going crazy, which is just like my favorite kind of action movie. Lots of fun references too, with tie-ins to HP Lovecraft, Tesla, and even Scooby Doo. Fun stuff!

 …

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, by Piper Kerman – B+

The Amateur Librarian // June 2014 Reading Log

Everyone’s heard of the Netflix show by now – a middle-class white lady gets sent to prison for a non-violent crime committed 10 years earlier. We’ve watched a couple episodes and I can’t say I’ve fallen head over heels like most people but I was intrigued by the popularity so I decided to give the memoir a go. Strangely enough, my experience was mostly affected by the format. I started listening to the audiobook from the library, but I didn’t realize that the return date was creeping up on me while we were on vacation… so it disappeared from my app before I could finish it. (My only beef with using the Overdrive app; if f it were a real library book, it would have been worth it to me to pay the overdue fees to finish it up and return it late.) I had to wait for another hold and finished with the ebook version. A funny thing happened, though, when I read the ebook: I liked it a lot better. Based on the audiobook, I was ready to write a pretty meh review. It seemed like a flippant tale about making the best of your time in prison, with side characters that didn’t make a big impact, lots of time for yoga and running, and mostly surface-level complaints about the absurdities of the prison system. But I think the narrator had a lot to do with that impression, because when I read it in my head I was surprised that I connected with the author a lot more easily. Not that the narrator was bad, but maybe my internal reading voice is just more sympathetic to the written word. I’m not sure exactly why the translation felt so different between auditory and visual. Now that I’m getting back into audiobooks lately, I’m finding that hearing is an entirely different experience than reading a book. So, take that as you will. I liked the book just fine, but I think the general consensus is that the show is better.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, by Kate DiCamillo – A

The Amateur Librarian // June 2014 Reading Log

Super quick read with great characters and compelling story. I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since we ordered a class set for the school library I used to work at, and heard a 5th grade teacher raving about it. It’s hard to read a book about mice without harking back to Redwall or The Rats of Nymph but Despereaux managed to be original enough to forget my preconceptions. I don’t always like when the “dear reader” is addressed by the author, mainly because it takes me out of the story, but I think it worked in this book to explain certain vocabulary and remind young readers of a somewhat complicated plot. The ending was great – nicely wrapped up, but not a fairytale ending for every character.

The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White – A+

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

The third and final story in the beautiful hardbound collection of stories by E.B. White that I bought a few weeks ago. This was the only E.B. White story I read growing up, and I read it over and over. I still have the tattered paperback copy that was a hand-me-down from my cousin (I liked the boxes of hand-me-down books even more than the clothes!) but the cover is falling off so I’m happy to have a new version. (Although I can’t quite get rid of the paperback either, which includes doodles from my cousin and of course my signature on the inside cover.) I still love Louis’ adventures at Camp Kookooskoos and on the swan boat in Boston and the Philadelphia Zoo. My favorite chapter is Louis’ one-night stay at the Ritz, I think because E.B. White has such a knack for mundane details which transform an unlikely scenario into a recognizably human experience, whether it’s swans sleeping in the bathtub or ordering watercress sandwiches and tipping the bellboy. It may seem strange nowadays that Louis is referred to as “defective” so many times, or that he promises to donate a baby cygnet to the zoo in exchange for his own freedom, but I guess it’s a sign of its age. But still, this story is one of the very best.

(Shown is the cover from my childhood paperback with pictures by Edward Frascino, but the illustrations in the collection by Fred Marcellino were pretty good too.)

 …

Dad is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan – B

The Amateur Librarian // Dad is Fat Review

I guess comedians writing memoirs are officially a thing now, and here’s another one! I like Jim Gaffigan, although I can’t say I follow his career religiously or anything like that. I knew he had kids, but I didn’t know he had five – or that he and his wife and kids all live in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City – Yikes! Like the other comedians’ memoirs I’ve read (Bossypants by Tina Fey, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling), this book consists of brief essays that don’t really follow a chronological or even thematic pattern. They’re like two-minute standup bits which are great for a quick laugh but not heavy on depth. Mostly it’s complaining about his kids, but it’s funny stuff! I guess he makes one point pretty clearly through his self-depricating humor: if he’s complaining about taking his kids to the park and reading to them every night and traveling across the country in a tour bus, at least the complaints mean he’s actually doing those things! My one issue is that the essays are pretty one-note: he has a lot of kids. That’s the punchline every time. Normally I like parenting books even though I don’t have any children yet, and maybe I’ll agree with every single thing he writes about once I do, but his tone felt a bit alienating at times. Like I just couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like unless I belong to the Parent Club. All I know for sure is, parenting five kids sounds exhausting!

(Full Review here.)

 …

What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty – A+

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

Quick synopsis: Alice bumps her head and suddenly can’t remember the last 10 years of her life. She’s convinced she’s 29, newly married and newly pregnant, but wakes to find that she’s 39 with three kids and an impending divorce. I devoured this book wholeheartedly – absolutely perfect for the beach! You can’t ask for much more than an engaging story with nuanced characters that makes you ask yourself some thought-provoking questions. What will I think of myself in 10 years? What would my 17-year-old self think of me now? Do I like who I am and who I am becoming? How has my marriage changed with the years… and how will it continue to change when we have kids and more responsibilities? I loved the exploration of those questions as well as the social commentary on suburban life, yet it remains light and witty. I won’t give away the ending, but all I can say is… five stars for the epilogue! Oh and one confession: It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that this is by an Aussie author and takes place in Sydney, Australia… not the UK like I initially thought!

 …

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

Still reading. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while on the recommendation of a few people and lots of good reviews, so I brought it to the beach but ended up reading something else entirely. I got a couple chapters in but so far I’m not hooked. Hopefully I’ll pick it up again soon.

 …

Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry – A+

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

A delightful origin story for Peter Pan, another free audiobook from Sync – it doesn’t get much better than narration by Jim Dale (he seemed more enthusiastic than the HP audiobooks, which I liked). Great adventure story with lots of quick chapters that I imagine would be great for middle grade readers. I especially loved all the backstory explanations – how Peter learned to fly, and why he never grows up, and how the mermaids came about, and how Tinkerbell was created. Great fun to listen to over a few weekends of sewing and cross stitching.

 …

Landline, by Rainbow Rowell – A+

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

Georgie is a TV writer who has to work over the holidays, so her husband Neal leaves in a huff with the kids to visit his family for Christmas. While he’s gone, Georgie discovers a magical telephone that connects her to Neal back in time before they were married, and uses the connection to help her figure out if their marriage is worth saving. The plot verges on rom-com territory, but I liked the middle-aged angle, and of course the dialogue shines. The gender role reversal was also really interesting, with the wife being the workaholic and the husband being the one who takes care of the daily childcare and household. This is not my favorite Rainbow Rowell book, but even a book with a plot and characters I don’t particularly like is heads above most of the books I’ve read lately. The lady is magic, I’m convinced. Even though Georgie’s guilt annoyed me and her husband Neal seemed like a grumpy anti-hero, I could still read another 200 pages of the two of them just talking on the phone. And the side characters! Somehow Rowell makes them come alive and makes me love them effortlessly. Can’t help but love this book.

 …

Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

A contemplative book meant to be savored, like meditation. Anne Morrow Lindbergh is the wife of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, and mother of the kidnapped baby Lindbergh.  That’s about all I knew about her when I started reading, and I wish I had just enjoyed the book without looking for any other information. Unfortunately… I couldn’t help but look her up on Wikipedia, and that’s when I found out both the Lindberghs were Nazi sympathizers during WWII and both had extramarital affairs – she with her physician prior to writing this book, and he with multiple women resulting in numerous children.  So… I have to admit that colored my perception of her writing about how to find fulfillment in the busy modern world of American women. But without the background story, it seems like a lovely encouraging book so far.  It’s just hard to read it without thinking of Wikipedia in the back of my mind, and wondering if she really believed in what she wrote.

 …

Deep Black Sea, by David Salkin – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

This seems like a fun summer thriller, with the premise of an undersea scientific exploration gone wrong… I haven’t had much time to read it yet but so far, so good!

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

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5 thoughts on “Reading Log: July 2014

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