Now that I’m starting to read more consistently, I’ve given in to making the infamous “monthly wrap-up” posts.
July was the month that I defeated my reading slump! Huzzah!
I managed to finish 5 books — I didn’t even realize I read so many — and it’s been my reading habits have been uphill ever since. Even though I did read a lot, I’m still 9 books behind on my Goodreads challenge, so there’s no time for slacking.
I’m still really happy with how much I got completed, thanks to The Reading Rush, and I managed to find a few new favorites of (possibly?) all time.
Enough of my blabbering. Let’s get to the books!
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd | 4.5 / 5
The first book I finished in July was Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, and, honey, it rocked my world.
Set in 1964 South Carolina, this novel follows Lily Owens, a motherless white girl living with her abusive father, T. Ray. Her life has been molded from the traumatic afternoon when her mother was killed, and her black housekeeper, Rosaleen, has stepped in to help raise her. After Rosaleen insults a few racists in town on her way to register to vote, Lily decides to free them both and escape to Tiburon, South Carolina — a town deeply embedded with secrets of her mother’s past.
The Secret Life of Bees resonated with me so much, having been born and raised in the “Dirty South” myself, surrounded my racism and abuse almost daily. My mother is still alive, unlike Lily’s, but my relationship with her is pretty rough. Kidd’s story of this girl attempting to rekindle a connection with her lost mother helped me process my own feelings I have towards my own mother. With that, I hold this book pretty near and dear to my heart now.
This story discusses themes of grief, racism, and feminism throughout, and it’s a book I think would be very special in the right hands. It’s, perhaps, become one of my new favorites of all time. The only reason it didn’t get 5/5 is because the story did kind of drag, but that’s literary fiction for ya.
I’ve been meaning to do a proper review of this book, but I could never find the right words for some reason. Apparently it takes a month for my brain to fully process this story. Nevertheless, I’ll probably need to reread it before I do a review to fully digest my thoughts and opinions. Let me know if you all would be down to see that.
The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka | 4 / 5
After I finished Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, The Reading Rush began — you can read all about my experience, TBR, and more in-depth reviews in my previous posts.
I mean, what is there to say about this classic that hasn’t already been said?
Kafka’s The Metamorphosis tells the story of Gregory, a traveling salesman who wakes up one morning as a giant roach. Rather than worrying about the repulsive state of his body, all Gregory can think about is not being able to work so he can support his family. The short story then follows Gregory and his family, and how they cope with Gregory’s misfortune.
I originally gave The Metamorphosis a 4/5, which I left above, but now I’m starting to think this might be a 3/5. It was a unique, memorable story that explores family relationships and the difference money can make, but the grammar errors that were intentionally left in disrupted my reading experience more than I would have liked. Maybe I should try reading a different edition? Or are all editions left original? Either way, it might need a reread. Thankfully, it’s only 50-something pages long.
Adèle – Leila Slimani | 4 / 5
After reading two literary fiction books, my brain needed a reboot. Naturally, I picked up a thriller — both easy to read and captivating.
Leila Slimani’s Adèle follows an unhappy married woman living in the heart of Paris, France, who only craves to be wanted. This character analysis dives into the complicated and secret sex life of Adèle, and the inevidable chaos that ensues.
I don’t want to spoil this novel since it is a thriller, so the summary is a bit shorter than usual.
Good news: another book I can add to my favorites of all time! July has been good to me, huh?
I love character analyses (I have no clue if I spelled that right; no judgement), especially when that character is unlikeable — Richard III, Alex from A Clockwork Orange, and the like — and Slimani did that. I feel like Adèle shows what it means to be human through her faults and mistakes, but Slimani pushes the boundaries of Adèle’s character, making you wrestle with whether she deserves pitty or punishment.
The only problems I had with Adèle is I wanted more of Adèle and her life and it tended to drag in a few spots. I was a little skeptical to pick it up because Noelle Gallagher said she hated it, but I think it’s just one of those books that you either love or hate.
Honestly, the more I discuss this book, the more I want to do a spoiler-filled review because I have so much to discuss, but I also don’t want to ruin it for people who are reading this that haven’t picked it up yet. Thoughts, anyone?
A stranger in the House – Shari Lapena | 2 / 5
If you’ve read my spoiler-filled rant about Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House, then you already know how much I didn’t like this book. This thriller had so much potential!!! Disappointments happen, I suppose.
Much like Adèle, I don’t want to explain A Stranger in the House too much because it’s also a thriller. In short, Lapena’s novel follows Karen and Tom Krupp, a newly married couple, after Karen has a car accident when fleeing from the wrong side of town. Diagnosed with anmesia, Karen is unable to piece together what happened the night of the car accident. Once a man is found murdered near the car accident, secrets from Karen’s past creep into the present.
I don’t know if it as the crime aspects or the writing style, but this was such a huge disappointment. My mom let me borrow A Stranger in the House and really hyped it up, saying she couldn’t put it down and she had to know what happened. Me, however, not so much. The writing was basic, the characters were flat and one-dimensional, and I simply didn’t give a shit what happened to Karen or Tom. Lapena had so much potential with Tom and Karen’s neighbor, Brigid, but it went in a completely different direction. If you ask me, this should’ve developed into a domestic thriller, not crime.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone | 5 / 5
We’re not going to mention or discuss the author because she’s a homophobic and transphobic bitch. Moving on…
I loved this book! Are we surprised? Absoultely not.
I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books (gasp!), and I decided that this year I was going to change that. How can you even say you love books and NOT have read Harry Potter? That’s the thing; you can’t. Okay, okay, enough of the hype.
Truthfully, this book tore at my heartstrings, made me giggle, and was overall an incredible and magical joy to read. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are the most precious group of friends, even if they did get off on the wrong foot. Nothing builds closer friendships than mutual trauma, or so I’ve heard. I’m excited to see their friendship blossom into something even bigger, and to follow more of their adventures and hoodwinks.
What a terrific reading month, wouldn’t you say?
I’m super happy with how much I was able to read this month — goodbye, reading slump! — and I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can fit in for August. Hopefully I can catch up on my Goodreads challenge — fingers crossed.
Let me know what you read this month! Any goodies that I should be adding to my TBR?