July Reading Wrap-Up | The Reading Rush and New All-Time Favorites

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!

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The Wrap-Up

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.

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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.

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The Conclusion

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?

The Reading Rush 2020 Wrap-Up | A Bug and 2 Housewives Walk into a Bar…

First things first, I should’ve jumped on the readathon bandwagon a long time ago.

I always felt intimidated by readathons, probably because I have an overwhelming anxiety to complete an unrealistic and stressful TBR, but this time I had no excuse to not participate.

Plus, I’ve really been trying to amp up my reading, and what better way to do that than forcing myself to read for a week?

The Recap

If you’ve never heard of the Reading Rush, it is an annual week-long readathon (July 20-26) hosted by Ariel Bissett and Raeleen Lemay. The goal is simply to take one week to read more, as well as challenge your usual reading taste with unique reading prompts.

Every readathon includes 7 new reading prompts, and these challenges are, perhaps, my favorite part of the Reading Rush. They’re always so unique and interesting, and they make me actually look forward to reading something I usually wouldn’t pick up.

And, let’s face it, if anyone needs more motivation to read, it’s moi.

To recap, here’s a list of the 2020 Reading Rush challenges:

  1. Read a book matching the color of your birthstone.
  2. Read a book that starts with the word “The”.
  3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve seen.
  4. Read the first book you touch.
  5. Read a book completely not in your house.
  6. Read a genre that scares you or your least read genre.
  7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than yours.

For a detailed 2020 Reading Rush TBR, check out my previous post.

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The Wrap-Up

As a slow reader, I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete my full TBR of 7 books in 7 days — I envy anyone who can read a book a day — but I did manage to finish 3 books.

The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

The first book I finished was Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.

I’ve been meaning to get to this short, 50-page novella for about 3 years now, so I finally bit the bullet and picked it up. Don’t ask me why I never read this since it is so small because I couldn’t tell you why.

I chose this novella specifically for the read a book that starts with the word “The” challenge. I was hoping it would be able to overlap with the other prompts, but, sadly, it does not.

This story made me laugh out loud, squeam in my seat, and broke my heart all at the same time, and I ended up giving Kafka’s Metamorphosis a 4/5. I can definitely see why it’s a classic that almost everyone has read.

I specifically loved Gregor’s character and how, despite the fact that he just woke up as a human-size bug, he’s still more worried about losing his job than anything else. His character arc is very unusual and, let’s face it, nauseating, but I think the underlying metaphor has a lot to say about us as humans and our — primarily — poor priorities.

Even though the story itself was phenomenal, I couldn’t give it a 5/5 because of the plethora of grammatical errors. To be fair, the introduction of my edition stated that the edition and translation contained the original, unedited text. Kafka did not share his writings with many people while he was alive, so much of his original works are unedited and consist of a lot of errors.

I realize being a stickler on grammar isn’t the most popular opinion, but it hendered my experience with the story, personally. However, I still enjoyed the story over all, and I wouldn’t mind picking it up again sometime.

Adèle – Leila Slimani

After I finished Kafka’s novella, I immediately picked up Leila Slimani’s Adèle.

I didn’t know much about this book, other than it being about a French woman who loves attention and feeling wanted, and Noelle Gallagher hated it (which scared me a little, tbh). Little did I know that I would stumble upon one of my favorite reads of the year.

Since Slimani’s novel is set in Paris, France, I picked it up for the challenge read a book that takes place on a different continent than yours. Unlike Kafka’s novella, Slimani’s novel does overlap with the “read a genre that scares you or your least read genre” since it’s a domestic thriller, but you’ll see in a little bit that it doesn’t really matter.

I gave Adèle a 4/5. To be honest, now that I’m looking bad, I don’t know why it’s not a 5/5, but I’m sticking with my gut on this one. Don’t let the rating fool you; I will definitely be re-reading at some point, and it has become a favorite of mine.

Slimani’s Adèle follows, you guessed it, Adèle, an unhappy wife/mother living in the heart of Paris’ beautiful city. With a ER doctor as a husband, Adèle is able to participate in a complicated and secret sex life filled with numerous affairs and one-night-stands.

I’m not sure if anyone else is weird like me, but I love reading and watching movies that explore humans’ desires and sex lives. I think because of the taboo surrounding that act of sex and sex culture — even though it’s a natural thing that almost everyone is bound to explore one day — is what peaks my interest. Plus, it’s like reading about a whole other world, even if it does get weird from time to time.

Adèle reminds me of the Nymphomaniac movies directed by Lars von Trier, but toned down a lot. Adèle is such an interesting character, coming off as one of those terrible protagonists that you can’t help but root for, which we all know I love. Even though she is constantly cheating on her husband and not taking care of herself, I couldn’t help but feel for Adèle. Personally, she seems like a woman suffering from possible post-partum depression, but that could be up for debate since I’m not an expert on that particular subject.

I could go on and on about this book, but I might have to save it for another time. All in all, it was a wonderful book.

A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena

The final book I finished for the Reading Rush was Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House.

My mom let me borrow this book and said she couldn’t put it down. Naturally, I selected it for a readathon if it truly was an edge-of-your-seat type book, but, boy, was I highly disappointed.

I originally picked Lapena’s story for the read a genre that scares you or your least read genre because it’s a domestic thriller, much like Adèle, but with a layer of crime.

Whereas Slimani’s novel followed a woman’s chaotic sex life, A Stranger in the House follows Karen and Tom Krupp, a newly married couple of 2 years. Much like every other domestic/crime thriller novels, their marriage is picture perfect with a beautiful suburban house. That is, until Karen has a car accident and is found in the same area as a murdered man. Karen just so happens to wake up with amnesia (shocker), and the plot unfolds from their as everyone tries to piece the puzzle together.

I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty hard time getting through this novel, and I ended up giving it a 2/5. At first, I was pretty unimpressed with the basic writing style and typical domestic thriller clichés, but I carried on because I did want to see what happened. However, the ending completely ruined the book for me.

I’m definitely going to be making a separate spoiler-filled post about Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House because I just have to vent about this book.

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The Leftovers

Before Everything – Victoria Redel

I did start Victoria Redel’s Before Everything, which I already know is going to break my heart, and I’m about 25 pages in. Somehow, I didn’t even realize that it’s a novel written in prose, but I’m super excited to dive into it. I’ve never read a book written in prose, so I’m interested to see how that differs my reading experience. I also chose this book for the prompt read a book matching the color of your birthstone.

The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare

Technically, I didn’t start Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew for the read a book that inspired a movie you’ve seen challenge, BUT I did read the introduction. I plan on reading it immediately after writing this, so I’m counting it in the “leftover” section. From what I learned in the introduction, this play seems to be incredible — as if I expect anything less from Shakespeare — and touches on themes of gender and marriage.

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The Conclusion

I’m really happy with my overall performance in the 2020 Reading Rush, even though I didn’t get to all of the books on my TBR.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to be more involved on the actual Reading Rush website with forums and all of that fun stuff next year. I’m definitely going to be working on my reading stamina until then!