Recent Reads, July 2021

It was a great month for me for reading. Not only did I get to read while on vacation (my favorite!), but I’ve also just been making time every day to read (at least) a few pages. I find that I read a lot more when my iPad is out, in front of me, rather than put away somewhere. When I can see my iPad, I’m much less likely to turn on the TV and lose myself in episode after episode. An ultimately it makes me much happier.

So here’s everything that I read over the last month-ish.

Collage of book covers: The Paper Palace, Ace of Spades, While We Were Dating, A Thousand Ships, Crying in H Mart, Something Wild, Rock the Boat, From the Corner of the Oval, Somebody's Daughter, The Magicians Trilogy, and An American Marriage.

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

(TW: sexual abuse, rape) I picked this book up when I saw it was part of Reese’s Book Club. The book is centered around Elle but kind of hops around through different “eras” of her life. It starts in present day, right in the middle of a love triangle between her, her husband, and her childhood crush/life-long friend. The rest of the story then unwinds and you learn about her life, her past, and all of the events that led up to this moment. It was a bit of a heavy, and I wish the ending had been a bit more defined!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

I saw multiple people raving about this on Instagram, so I knew I had to read it! It’s a take on Gossip Girl but with a twist… I actually don’t want to name the twist because I wish I hadn’t known; I kept waiting to see how exactly the twist would play out. The story is about an elite private high school that suddenly starts receiving text message blasts from “Aces,” seemingly targeting specific students. Those students work to unravel the mystery of what’s going on.

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

Jasmine Guillory is one of my favorite romance/rom-com authors writing right now! I love how her characters are always really well fleshed-out and multi-dimensional, and that she writes strong Black characters that aren’t always well-represented in romance. I didn’t realize that this book was technically part of a series, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not having read all of the previous ones. This book is split between the points-of-view of Anna Gardiner, an actress whose star is on the rise, and Ben, who is hired to work on an ad campaign she’s starring in. They decide to fake a relationship for the press, but as you can imagine, sometimes fake relationships lead to real feelings. So fun!

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

I really enjoy Greek mythology, but I’m no expert. This was a bunch of stories about the different women of the Trojan war, but I wished that I knew a little bit more mythology while I was reading ti, because sometimes I struggled a bit keeping track of the many different people. But I did really love that the stories focused on the women, rather than the men – they’re not usually the perspectives that we hear from in traditional mythology!

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

This was such an incredibly beautiful written memoir from Michelle about her mom’s cancer diagnosis, Michelle’s experiences growing up with immigrant parents, her time caring for her mother, and dealing with grief. Michelle also grapples with her Identity as a Korean woman throughout the stories, too. Even though I’m not Korean, and have never had to deal with any major illnesses in my family, there were still stories that I felt like I could relate to. And even if you can’t – you should definitely still read this. It’s that good.

Something Wild by Hanna Halperin

(TW: trauma, domestic abuse) Wow. Okay, so this book was great, but it was really hard at time to read – there’s a lot of generational trauma in the family that just hurt my heart to read at times. It follows two sisters in the family – Tanya and Nessa – and how they were shaped by traumatic experiences in their childhood that they’ve grappled with in very different ways. It switches perspectives a lot between the two sisters, and even between past and present, but it’s not hard to follow – just emotionally rough at times.

Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey-Stein

I actually read the next book on my list before this one – they’re both by the same author, a former White House stenographer. This is her first work of fiction, and it’s a really fun summer read. The book starts with Kate thinking that her boyfriend is about to propose to her, but instead he breaks up with her (it reminded me of Legally Blonde, ha!). She ends up going back home to a little beach town where she grew up. Of course, when she goes home, she has to deal with family dynamics, and friend/romantic dynamics, too! There’s the best friend or something more whole thing, and, best of all – a happy ending!

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

Okay I LOVED this book. It’s all about Beck’s time as a White House stenographer under President Obama. Much like Beck when she started her job, I didn’t really know what the job responsibilities of a White House stenographer really are, but it was so interesting to learn! It was so fun to see her perspectives on the behind-the-scenes of the White House. And also – it was so sweet to read about her writing, knowing that she’s written not just one but two books. Highly recommend.

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

(TW: rape) Another really great memoir. Ashley talks about her childhood, growing up – her sometimes fraught relationship with her mom, her relationship with a boyfriend who assaults her, and growing up with her dad in prison, though she doesn’t know why. When a family member tells her what her dad is doing time for, it kind of rocks her world. It’s a lot about constantly searching for meaning – in her life, in her relationships, in her career – and it’s really moving.

The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

I watched The Magicians on Netflix a while ago, and then decided that vacation would be the perfect time to read the trilogy. I really loved it – it’s about magic, of course, but it’s also about finding a place where you belong and realizing what and who you really care about. I also love that there’s a book within the book – the characters all love a series of books about a fictional land, Fillory, only to come to learn that it’s actually real. The whole trilogy is just so well-written and immediately pulled me in. I could not put it down.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

(TW: rape) I’m a few years late on this book, but it’s SO powerful. Celestial and Roy are a couple who have recently been married, and then Roy is arrested and imprisoned for a crime that they both know he didn’t commit. It’s about navigating a new marriage when one half of the couple is wrongly behind bars, and then dealing with the fallout when Celestial decides that she can no longer keep up their relationship. And then when Roy is released, there are even more issues for them to work out. It’s dark at times, but such an important story.

Everything I read:

Leave a Reply