My husband and daughter left me AGAIN in June, though this time for a shorter period of time. Also at the beginning of the month, I got sick. Like, running a fever, feel like death, coughing so much I couldn’t sleep in the same bed with my husband kind of sick. It sucked, and honestly, I’m not sure it’s completely gone even now. But it made for some good reading time. Here’s some of the best of what I read last month:
Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar. This was a really interesting new perspective on Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, told from the perspective of Virginia’s sister, Vanessa Bell. There was a lot of stuff I didn’t know about their relationship, which seems much rosier when told from Virginia’s perspective, which it usually is. I wasn’t sure about the fragmented nature of the narrative at first–it includes a lot of notes and letters from Leonard Woolf and Lytton Strachey. But it worked really well in conveying the way they really did lead a life in letters. Just a very well-done book.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. I think I stumbled onto this through a Goodreads list. It’s based on a real-life experiment where families adopted chimpanzees and attempted to raise them as human children. In this fictional account, things go a little further. The book was really well-written and raises a whole host of interesting questions about what makes us human, as well as about the nature of family.
Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby. A lovely little young adult novel with some fantastical elements, but also very much about a community. And of course, I’m a sucker for stories about communities and towns and places. My step-daughter read it, too, and liked it. It was a good introduction to ambiguity in story-telling–that sometimes you don’t have to have all the answers.
Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, by Justin Martin. I also spent a few days in North Carolina this month and had the chance to visit the Biltmore Estate. An incredibly gorgeous place inside, but the outside was designed by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted–also responsible for Central Park and Cherokee Park in Louisville. I’ve always wanted to know more about Olmsted and my sweet husband bought me this book at the gift shop. Interesting, though I’m now wanting a book that’s less about Olmsted’s life and more about his life’s work.
It’s Not Me, It’s You, by Mhairi McFarlane. I’ve been hitting the shelves of new fiction at the local library pretty heavy this summer, and that’s where I found this book. What would you call it? Women’s fiction? Romance? I don’t care. It sweet and enjoyable and just perfect for the moment.
Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg. I’ve heard about this book for a long time. It was one of those I meant to read, so this month I finally got around to it. It’s young adult with a main character who’s gay. His sexuality is at the center of the story, but not in the way you’d expect. He’s been out since he was in 8th grade, but in order to escape the label of “the gay kid,” he moves to a all-male boarding school and sort of goes back in the closet. Then, of course, he falls in love. Great book to read in the wake of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.