July has been a busy month (more on that to come in a combined June/July Reading Roundup soon!) but I finished my summer classes right after the fourth of July and finally have had a chance to read a bit more for fun! I put a ton of books on hold at the library and have been working my way through them over the month.
From long books to graphic novels, here are a few of the things I’ve read recently and a few of the things still on my list for the summer!
What I’ve read
PrairyErth by William Least Heat-Moon made its way onto my summer reading list after Sarah Smarsh, author of the National Book Award Finalist Heartland, posted about it on instagram. It doesn’t take much to convince me to read a book about Kansas, and even though at 625 pages this one is a commitment it was such a good read. The subtitle is “a deep map” and the author explores one county in Kansas through stories, history, and descriptions of walking each of it’s townships. The format is nonlinear, and the way it talks about Kansas, the people who live there, and the Flint Hills in particular were just wonderful. This is the kind of book that I want to buy a used copy of so I can return to it again and again in the future.
I’ve been a fan of Louise Erdrich since I took a major authors course on her in the fall of 2017, coincidentally the same course that caused me to start this blog. We talked a lot about Ojibwe history and culture that semester, and Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter immediately brought me back to those conversations. Daunis Fontaine is such a compelling character and this book, while being a thriller, was so much more than that. I recently reread The Roundhouse for class and this book makes me want to dive back into Erdrich’s work and add more Native authors to my reading list.
I’ve had Iris Krasnow’s Camp Girls on my list since I read a review of it before it was released in April 2020, and just now got around to it. Having spent two of my favorite summer working at an all-boys camp, it seems inevitable that I would choose to read this book about Krasnow’s history and experiences at an all-girls camp both as a child and later as an adult staff member.
I liked the book for the way that it discussed the community of camp and the relationships that can be formed there. However, I wish that Krasnow hadn’t used the words “tribal” and “tribe” as much as she did, especially since summer camps tend to appropriate Native culture. Exploring that complicated history could have added a lot of nuance to this book that otherwise just felt like a feel-good reminiscence about summer camps.
I’ve read a lot of graphic novels this summer, thanks in part to a well stocked graphic novel collection in the youth services department of the Brookline Public Library. Of those that I’ve read, Kiku Hughes’s Displacement rises to the top of the heap. Hughes explores Japanese internment in WWII as the graphic novel’s main character, also named Kiku, is pulled back in time to the same internment camp that her grandmother was sent to as a young girl. The mixing of the past and the present made this such a unique entry in a recent string of books about Japanese internment. This made me want to return to Traci Chee’s We Are Not Free which I read in my quest to read the entire National Book Award longlist last year.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
I first read and loved Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society back when I was in middle school and I fancied myself a particularly precocious child, just like the characters in this book. I had to reread it so that I felt prepared for the new Disney+ adaptation of the series, and I think this book really holds up to an adult reading of it! While I’ve only watched the first two episodes of the adaptation, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen and am looking forward to finishing the show’s first season.
What I’m Going To Read
Carry On, Wayward Son, and Any Way the Wind Blows
Rainbow Rowell’s Any Way the Wind Blows was released on July 6th and I still haven’t read it yet. This book is the third in Rowell’s Simon Snow trilogy (the first of which was released in 2015 when I was a freshman in undergrad). The problem is that I feel like I have to reread Carry On and Wayward Son in order to fully prepare myself to complete the trilogy. On the plus side, I did pick up a copy of the book at the Brookline Booksmith and was able to complete my signed set of the trilogy!
Fire & Blood
If you recall, I read the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire last fall. I started off 2021 watching the Game of Thrones TV show and delightfully I am just a few episodes away from finishing season 8 (and boy do I have a lot of thoughts). I also borrowed and read A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, a collection of three short stories set earlier in the history of Westeros. To the delight of my boyfriend Jake, I’ve borrowed his copy of Fire & Blood which is the history of the Targaryens. The book is illustrated, so I’m looking forward to that because I loved the illustrations in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. This book is also a behemoth so I reckon it’ll keep me occupied for a significant amount of time!