What I Read: July 2014

august reads, summer reading, what i read in august 2014, books i read, books i read this summer

First things first- I killed it in July (it being a big old pile of books). Thanks to the read-a-thon, I was extra motivated to read and ending up finishing a total of 12 books! I think that’s an all-time record for me, or at least the most books I’ve read in one month in recent memory. This recap is going to be long enough as is, so enough with this intro- let’s get to it.

HARRY-POTTER

About- Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts.

Why I picked it– In case you missed last month’s round-up, I’m reading the series from start to finish.

Grade A I think it’s now a tie between this book and the third one for my favorite in the series so far. The last hundred pages were intense and when I finished the book I was freaking out. I texted a few of my friends something along the lines of “Did that just happen? Whaa? Omg!” I’ll also admit that were some tears. I love the first three books but I feel like that was child’s play compared to this one. It just got real.

THE-SNOW-QUEEN

About- Barrett, a middle-aged man living in New York City who’s unlucky in love, and his brother Tyler, who can’t quite kick a drug habit.

Why I picked it– I was curious to read something by Michael Cunningham. I know that he wrote The Hours and that was critically acclaimed, so I wanted to read one of his books and see what I thought.

Grade B If you’ve been reading these recaps for a while, you’ll probably know that I prefer a plot-driven novel. There’s not much plot in this one, but I still liked it. I can see why he’s received a lot of praise because the writing was really beautiful. I found myself marking lots of passages and thought that his descriptions were enticing. If elegant prose is at the top of your list of qualities you look for in books, I’d say give this one a go.

WHO-COULD-THAT-BE

About- Lemony Snicket (who’s also a character in the book) attempts to solve a mystery, but unfortunately he asks all the wrong questions.

Why I picked it– My roommate has been telling me to read this for a while and the read-a-thon was the perfect opportunity to do so, since this is a quick, easy read.

Grade A- I think Lemony Snicket (the author) is very clever. I like his wry humor and the way he slips in teaching moments in a non-obvious manner. A Series of Unfortunate Events was one of my favorite series as a kid and I still prefer those, but this series is delightful too.

THE-FIVE-PEOPLE

About- A man dies in an attempt to save a little girl and when he reaches heaven he meets five people who were influential in his life.

Why I picked it– I knew this was made into a movie or tv mini series, so I was curious to check out the book.

Grade C- I was not the biggest fan of this book. I thought that it was so sappy and a little bit preachy. I think this could have been a nice story, but the approach was so heavy-handed and over the top, that I just got frustrated. Anyways, it was a quick read and now I know what it’s about!

DON'T WORRY, IT GETS WORSE

About- One twenty-something trying to make her way in the world and figure out adulthood.

Why I picked it– It sounds like the story of my life.

Grade B I liked this book- I thought it was humorous and very relatable. In some areas, her life is a lot like my life, so I could definitely sympathize. I think the title of this book is great and contrary to what it says, at the end of the book I had hope that things would get better. It was a nice reminder that I’m not the only one trying to figure it all out.

WELL-READ-WOMEN

About- Portraits of famous women in literature and quotes to accompany them.

Why I picked it– I wanted this book since I first heard about it and then several months later, I randomly got a free copy of it at work.

Grade A I thought this book was gorgeous. Each of the portraits was so lovely and I enjoyed reading all of the quotes, particularly the ones that I recognized. There were several characters that I hadn’t heard of, which led me to do some googling and look up a few books. I added some books to my ‘to-read’ list thanks to this book!

WHEN-DID-YOU

About- A continuation of the series, Lemony Snicket continues to solve mysteries and fight crime.

Why I picked it– It’s a series (this is book 2 of 4).

Grade A- This one was also delightful. I spaced out the Lemony Snicket books during my read-a-thon because it was nice to switch between heavier and lighter reads. The third book comes out at the end of September, so I’ll be looking forward to that.

HEARTBURN

About- A woman finds out that her husband is cheating on her and she has to decide what she wants to do about their marriage. Oh, and the kicker is that she’s 7 months pregnant when she finds out!

Why I picked it– I went through a Nora Ephron phase a month or two ago and I watched several of her movies. I’d never read any of her books, so I thought it was time to give one a try.

Grade A- Nora Ephron is so funny. She’s describing a terrible time in this woman’s life and yet somehow the story is still light-hearted and humorous. Rachel, the main character, is a food writer and there are recipes sprinkled throughout the book, which I liked. I loved the writing style- it’s very conversational and feels a bit like someone’s sharing a juicy story with you. I’m definitely going to pick up another Nora Ephron book because this one was great.

THE-PRINCESS-BRIDE

About- You guys have seen the movie, right? Right?!

Why I picked it– I only found out recently that the movie was based on a book and I knew I had to read it because I love the movie so much.

Grade A I think this is one of the rare cases where the movie was actually a pretty good adaptation of the book. The book is a hoot and also has the story within a story set-up that the movie does. Unsurprisingly, the book goes more in-depth to the background story, which I found really interesting. The style is such that the narrator is very self-aware and inserts himself throughout the story, which makes it a little hard to tell what’s real and what’s not! If you liked the movie, I am pretty sure that you’ll also like the book.

LIGHT-OF-THE-DIDDICOY

About- A young boy moves from Ireland to Brooklyn, where he has to join a gang in order to survive.

Why I picked it– This was a book club pick. We haven’t actually met to discuss this yet, so I’m curious to hear what everyone else thought.

Grade C+ I’d never heard of this book or this author before, but when I posted on Goodreads that I was reading this book, I got several comments from strangers about how much they enjoyed it! I think they were excited that someone else is reading this book because it has very few ratings on Goodreads. I felt pretty neutral about it. It’s not the kind of book that I would have picked because the subject matter doesn’t interest me that much. I also found the writing a bit difficult because it features dialogue in an Irish accent. Once I got used to the language, it got a little bit easier to read, but I still didn’t find it very exciting. There were a few poetic passages that I appreciated, but I had difficulty connecting with the characters.

LANDLINE

About- Georgie, a television writer, experiences a rough patch in her marriage during the Christmas holidays.

Why I picked itRainbow Rowell.

Grade A- After I read Eleanor & Park (if you haven’t read it yet, you should!), Rainbow Rowell quickly became one of my favorite authors. I immediately went back and devoured her previous two books and I was super duper excited for this new one to come out. Can we talk for a second about how gorgeous the cover is? Seriously, whoever designs her books should pat themselves on the back. That was how I discovered E&P in the first place- I saw the cover when I was browsing at Barnes and Noble one evening, looked up the title when I got home, and soon after read the book. Anyways, I digress. Rainbow Rowell has a way of immediately drawing the reader in, which is something I love about her writing style. She’s also able to take serious topics and add levity. Even though this book is about a marriage that’s falling apart, I thought it was far from depressing. She writes both YA and adult fiction, so if you haven’t read one of her books yet, I highly recommend that you do.

FRIENDSHIP

About- Two best friends living in New York City and just trying to get by.

Why I picked it– This book was getting some good buzz, so I snagged a copy from work.

Grade A- I ended the month on another great book. This is the second book on this list that mimics real life for me- set in New York City, poor twenty-somethings, and working in publishing. Check, check, check. This book examines a friendship between two women, with its ups and downs. I could definitely see some of myself in the main characters, which was a fun experience for me, but also a bit disconcerting. I thought this was funny and realistic and sad and touching. Her characters aren’t perfect, which is what makes them so human. This book reminded me of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and of GIRLS, so if you like either of those things, you might like this too.

Tell me: What was the last good book that you read?

Disclaimer: Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse was sent to me by the publisher for review purposes, but these are my honest thoughts and opinions. Also, I received copies of The Snow Queen, Landline and Friendship for free at work (I work for a publishing house), but that doesn’t affect my review and again, these are my honest thoughts and opinions about these books.

  • I really like your book reviews because you usually pick a couple I’ve never heard of that sound interesting! I’m currently reading Delicious Ruth Reichl and plan to follow that up with Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

    • Thank you Shenneth! You give me ideas with your book reviews too :) I looked up Delicious and added it to my TBR because it sounds good! Also, forgive me if I’ve asked this before, but are you on Goodreads?

  • sartorialsidelines

    I’m writing Book of Ages by Jill Lepore right now and it is absolutely amazing!

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

    • I’ll have to look this one up right now!

  • You did so well!! I’m so impressed (and I hope that does not sound condescending!). I need to step up my game! I always want to read more but, reading always gets pushed aside in place of everything else I’m doing after work hours. Oy. Knowing this fact is so sad to me since I often prided myself in exclaiming how much I read! But, I’m so inspired by your July reads!
    xo,
    nancy

    http://www.adoretoadorn.com

    • No, it doesn’t sound condescending at all- thank you Nancy! :) I know how that is- a few years ago, I had to make a conscious effort to get back into reading because I’d graduated from school and suddenly had free time again. Setting a goal on Goodreads really helped me- it gave me something to work toward. And I tried to choose my books carefully and pick things that I was really excited to read. Good luck to you- I know you can do it! xx

  • The Princess Bride!! One of my all-time favorites. Did you know William Goldman actually adapted the novel into the screenplay himself? That’s why the movie and book work so incredibly well together, I think.

    I had the same reaction to Goblet of Fire, except that I was still very much a kid and I didn’t like that the series was growing up. The third book was always my stalwart favorite, but I’d love to go back to them as an adult now that I can probably better appreciate the darker edge.

    Loved your thoughts on everything else; Snow Queen sounds as I expected, but I tend to like books that meander a bit and I’m a sucker for pretty writing. Well-Read Women is still on my wishlist – amaze! And Heartburn is so fun. I’m glad you liked Landline, I’ve heard some mixed opinions. I still haven’t read anything but Attachments so I need to get busy!

    • I think I did read that somewhere. I love when the author is involved in the adaptation because they usually turn out better, in my opinion.

      If I remember correctly, you enjoyed Attachments, right? If so, I’d definitely recommend reading her other ones because I think they’re even better!

      • I loved Attachments, yes! I have Fangirl, which I’ve been meaning to read all summer (so many books I didn’t get to, ah!), but I’ve heard such great things about Eleanor & Park, too, so I want to get that one as well. I think she has a really fun, unique voice. (: