What I’ve Been Reading Lately: July

close up photo of flower on bottle

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”

– Ursula K. LeGuin

Reading 2020.

July ended up being a good month for some reading. Rainy days…days lounging near the beach…hot, sweltering days…all great days to dive deeply into a good book.

Following my original format, I will be sharing a random quote from each book and if I check off a category from the reading challenge, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge, I will share which category it fulfills.

Since this is a running list for the year, each month will start with the number that follows where the prior month ended.

If you missed my first “What I’ve Been Reading” post, you can find the Jan/Feb reads in this post. When we became housebound, I changed the original format of bimonthly sharing to monthly sharing. You can find March reads in this post and you can find April reads in this post. You can find May reads in this post and June reads in this post. And finally, you can find the July reads in this post. After this August list, for the remainder of the year, I will once again return to the original bimonthly format.

Reading List.

45. Delicious: A Novel – Ruth Reichl

“You begin to understand that time is no more than a trick of the mind; some days I’m convinced that my young self is still here, somewhere, just walking down a different street.”

I really enjoyed this book. It went down interesting avenues that I was not expecting. It also made me want to cook some amazing meals. I haven’t yet…but it did spark an interest.

46. The Guest List – Lucy Foley

“There’s another self that I sometimes feel I lost along the way.”

This was a book that I’d had the digital version on hold for a bit when my library was still closed. It was finally my turn while the hubby and I were at the beach. It had many interesting twists and turns and kept up the suspense. Most books tend to give away too much too soon and this one kept me wondering.

47. The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton

“She was so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate.”

I read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton as a Senior in high school. I was sixteen and can still remember how I was drawn into the tale. When Ally (The Spectacled Bean) mentioned loving Jane Eyre (my favorite book) along with The House of Mirth because of strong female characters, I knew that I wanted to read this book. I already knew that Edith Wharton knew how to tell a tale and this classic did not let me down. I felt almost as if I’d read the book before. Little pieces that I could almost swear I knew so well….and yet, I did not remember the end accurately. I don’t know if I saw the movie, read it in my youth, or read it in another lifetime, but there was a familiarity to it. I really did enjoy this classic.

48. The Glass Hotel – Emily St. John Mandel

“…there are tens of thousands of ships at sea at any given moment and he liked to imagine each one as a point of light, converging into rivers of electric brilliance over the night oceans…”

Earlier this year I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It was nominated for The National Book Award for Fiction. I really enjoyed her writing style and when I saw that she had a new book out, I wanted to read it. The first book I read was post-apocalyptic where this one is described as mystery/psychological. It definitely was not a similar genre, but the writing stye was still just as fabulous and captivating.

49. Letters to a Young Poet- Rainer Maria Rilke

“…steps built to resemble cascades of flowing water – giving birth to step after broad step like wave after wave as they descend the incline.”

I have shared some Rilke quotes at various times. Whether here or on Instagram, I cannot recall. I’ve read that Rilke is considered on the German language’s greatest 20th-century poets. Many mentions pointed to this book and so I sought it out. It does not include his poetry, but is rather a correspondence from him to a younger poet named Kappus. This book also included one of Rilke’s later works called Letters from a Young Worker. I left feeling like I need to seek out more of Rilke’s poetry. Writing poetry was one of my first loves in expressing my creativity.

50. The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead

“The laggards and limpets who weren’t running the course but running deep into their character – down into the cave to return to the light with what they found.”

This book won The Pulitzer Prize. Published in 2019, it has been cited as one of the best books of the year by numerous publications. I did not know much about it outside of that it came highly recommended. I like to know everything and so once I heard that even though it is a work of fiction, it is based on a real reform school in my home state (Florida), I had to look it up. I was horrified! This book is set during the Civil Rights Movement which is also a large part of the story. I was so invested in the story that I was not expecting the twist, which left an even bigger lump in my throat than the one that was already there.

51. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

“Nevertheless, in the impenetrable solitude of decrepitude she had such a clairvoyance as she examined the most insignificant happenings in the family that for the first time she saw clearly the truths that her busy life in former times had prevented her from seeing.”

As my final checkmark for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 challenge, this is a book in translation. It will not be my only book in translation as we are already into August and I have read another. This has been on my reading list for a while as it is considered a literary classic. It definitely had its parts that left me scratching my head but its overall theme was a space that held validity.

52. Bird by Bird – Ann Lamott

“Perfectionism in the voice of the oppressor.”

I’ve heard about this book over and over…over the years. I am currently about to start week four of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I figured that a search for my muse and unblocking my creativity was as good of time as any to delve into Anne Lamott’s wisdom on creating writing. I gained many snippets of wisdom…and duly noted them in my various journals!

Now over to you.

Have you read any of these books?

What did you think about them?

Have you read anything amazing lately? I understand that we’re all living in this hazy, Neptunian world. Maybe the most interesting thing you’ve read is the back of your cereal box. That’s okay. Tell me all about it.

I’m curious if you’ve ever felt that your muse…your spark of creativity…has left the building. What did you do? Are you still searching? Did it come back? When? How?

I want to give Deborah (Circadian Reflections) a huge shoutout for sending me the video of Patrick Stewart reading Sonnet 100. Not only did I love the sonnet, but it touched my heart that I have met such wonderful people through this blogging journey that someone (a friend made through our online words and photos) would reach out to me with such a piece of treasure.

Where art thou Muse that thou forget’st so long,

To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?

Spend’st thou thy fury on some worthless song,

Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?

Return forgetful Muse, and straight redeem,

In gentle numbers time so idly spent;

I wish you all many days where your imagination overflows and notices all the magic in this world. Even the growing of the grass or the blooming of a flower is a work of wonder.

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one. -George R. R. Martin

Let your light shine!

Amy

12 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately: July

  1. I’ve only read one of the books on your list. 100 years of Solitude. I read years ago when I was in a book club. It’s not a book I would normally pick up, but I too was left scratching my head. What a strange trip that book was.

    I’ve picked through my old books and am reading or re-reading an old Sci-fi novel Footfall. The type is small and even with reading glasses and good lighting bugging me so I may not get through it. I may need to get that one on my e-reader to do it. 😀

    1. I don’t think 100 Years of Solitude would be my normal type of book either. Definitely a strange trip! lol.

      It’s interesting how much type matters. My daughter will shove something in my face and I’m like, I can’t read it from there! I don’t need reading glasses yet, but I can tell I’m getting close.

  2. I’ve read The House of Mirth [obviously] and One Hundred Years of Solitude and Bird by Bird. I’ve also read and completed The Artist’s Way which gave me the courage to consider myself creative enough to start a blog. Your other books are new to me.

    I started reading Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone. I’ve never read a thing by her but earlier this year when a friend heard me say that she literally thrust this book into my hands and said I have to read it. So I am.

    1. I’m really enjoying the process of The Artist’s Way. I’m on week 4 where you run into that scary spot of Reading (media) Deprivation. Today is day 1 and I can already feel the withdrawals. lol. But I’m usually pretty dedicated so I think I’ll be good. I’ve carved out 10 minutes every other day to respond to comments and check for vital emails (which are infrequent). Otherwise, no reading, tv, or social media. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can sustain it!! 🙂

      I don’t think I’ve heard of Ruth Rendell. I’ll have to look that up next week. Let me know if you enjoy it.

  3. I greatly enjoy all of your posts, Amy. I always appreciate your “what I’ve been reading.” You remind me, how we all enjoy writing, yet we do give birth to our stories. They then take on a life of their own.

    I did read “One hundred years of solitude” many years ago. I identify with your comment “….left me scratching my head….”. I have added “Bird by bird” to my TBR list.

    Deborah is a friend we have in common. I agree with “wonderful.” Hope you and your loved ones are well!xx

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy these “what I’ve been reading” posts, Erica. I always have the hardest time knowing what to read since there are so many to choose from and always think it’s helpful when somebody shares a book they’ve enjoyed.

      Ha!Ha! Scratching my head…it appears it left many of us doing that. I like how Deborah pointed out that it was a strange trip. And, yes, she is wonderful.

      I think you’ll really enjoy Bird by Bird. We are doing well. I hope you and your loved ones are as well! xx

  4. Hi Amy, that’s quite an impressive list of books you’ve read. Good on you for keeping your creative juices flowing. I loved the whole process of The Artists Way and it still sits on my bookshop. This past month has been more of a writing and gardening one for me. I seem to have slowed right down. Hope you’re doing well my friend. xx

    1. Hi Miriam! I am loving the process of The Artist’s Way. The reading deprivation was a shocker since that’s been a major component of my daily life. I did learn a lot of lessons from that week though. We have a lake not too far from us and I’ve recently been spending a lot more time there enjoying the quiet cove. I am doing well and hope that you are well my friend!! xx

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