July 2016 Round-up

VonG: Another late post (oops) and my excuse this time is that I was busy enjoying the suffocating humid heat of the great state of Virginia, drinking sweet tea and swatting mosquitoes. Real talk: people who live in humid areas scare me because I am weak and spent all my time sitting about two feet from an air conditioner complaining. For us desert residing folk, states where the majority of plants are green is always a novelty, so I also spent a lot of time walking around barefoot on actual living, plush grass. Remarkable.

In order to make up for my slacking last month, I outdid myself and read a whole 27 books in the summer heat. Doing nothing but sitting in front of the air conditioner probably helped the cause as well.

Nothing beats reading a trashy romance novel on the beach though, and I’m glad I was able to achieve my summer dreams. Other than that, it was a lot of YA this month! I have a friend pressuring me to read historical fiction, which I’m a little bleh on, but the sub-genre of “historical fiction focusing on woman’s right with a flavor of fantasy” is actually pretty alright (shout out to The Cure for Dreaming). I’m actually coming completely around on non-fiction, which is one of the biggest shocks of my life, but both Gulp and Rabid played perfectly into my interest in science and culture so it looks like I’ll be reading more than just one non-fiction per month as planned. My family did not enjoy being regaled with tales of the digestive system or the effects of rabies, unfortunately.

Best of July:  The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

How do you pick one book out of 27 for this? There are lot of close runner-ups, but I am so in love with this book that I have to give the place of honor to it. I’ve been a fan of Ness ever since I stayed up until 3 AM to finish The Knife of Never Letting Go and this latest book has the perfect combination of elements that makes Ness so appealing to me as an author. All of the characters are genuine, both in their flaws and their hopes. Ness treats teenagers with respect and it shows in the characterization–they never come off as vapid or ridiculous. The beginning of each chapter, which is a short blurb on the “indie” kids who are busy saving the world while the rest of the cast is just trying to get by are delightful. While they satirize YA fantasy, it isn’t mocking and Ness’ ability to play on the tropes he jokes about can only come from someone who enjoys the genre. This book includes the sentence “his lips taste of honey and vegan patchouli” so you know it’s going to be good. The story focuses on friendship, which I’m always weak for, not just romance and has a diverse cast.

Worst of July: Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell

I have a lot of feelings in regards to Greek Life. I will leave my soapbox alone, but I will say that I have had less than a stellar experience with them. Dirty Rush is sort of presented with the pretense that you’ll understand better the bonds of Greek Life by reading it but it sort of just confirmed all of my bad feelings towards the culture. To be clear, I’m not trying to drag any and all Greek houses through the mud. Maybe there are places across the country where a campus exists free of Greek-related hazing, harassment, and tragedy. I’m not sure. But until the vestiges of degradation and misogyny are purged from the culture, I can’t be behind it. So this whole book made me uncomfortable (I read it for a book club but otherwise I wouldn’t have finished it.)