The July reading theme is proper names: first name, last name, nickname—any variety of proper name (name as opposed to place or object).
I started the hottest month of the year with a graphic novel—Lumberjanes (the 11th in the series). It was a good way to start July. I’ve also finished The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton (another great summer read; Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie only begins to give you an idea). I’m now just starting The Eleanor Roosevelt Girls, by Bonnie Bluh.
In the nonfiction realm, I’ve read a brief memoir, Grayson, by Lynne Cox (she is a long-distance swimmer and author of Swimming to Antarctica, which I have heard of but not read; I liked Grayson a lot and am now interested in checking out Cox’s other books). My current nonfiction is The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy, by Peggy Caravantes. Baker—a spy for the French Resistance in World War II—is a fascinating woman who led an amazing life, mostly in France.
For poetry, I’m nearly done with Ariel, by Sylvia Plath. This is the first time I’ve read it. Written in the last few months before her death, it probably wasn’t my best choice for a pandemic read. Next up in poetry: The Lindbergh Half Century, by Robert Lietz.
This is a marvelously rich theme, and I’m glad we have nearly three more weeks to go. Fiction is particularly enticing, and I think I’ll spend most of my time here (again: hottest month). To wit:
- Washington Black, Esi Edugyan
- Lizzie’s War, Tim Farrington
- Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter, N. Nozipo Maraire
- Adam and Eve, Sena Jeter Naslund
- I am Morgan le Fay: A Tale from Camelot, Nancy Springer
- Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
- The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Alice Walker
- Bruno, Chief of Police, Martin Walker (1st in a mystery series)
- Goodbye Tsugumi, Banana Yoshimoto
And that’s just the cream of the crop. For fiction. Seriously.
Nonfiction is much skimpier. Here are my top contenders:
- The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, Jeanne Theoharis
- Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, Isabel Allende (with recipes and beautiful drawings)
- Janesville: An American Story, by Amy Goldstein (a stretch for the theme, perhaps, but surely there was some person Jane referenced when naming Janesville?)
It’s only three books, but a pretty decent range. Still, I expect July to lean towards fiction. But that’s how I feel now. Tomorrow? You just never know.
Keep your cool and happy reading!