What I’ve Been Reading Lately: June

Jane Eyre

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.”

-Jean Rhys

Reading 2020.

I was surprised to find some time to read in June, but I did!

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. And finally, you can find May reads in this post.

Reading List.

36. Turtles all the way down – John Green

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

I have read some works by John Green. Since I used him as my header quote last month, I decided to see if there were any digital versions of his books at my library. When I saw Turtles All the Way Down it struck my curiosity since one of my blogger friends, Jonathan, has that on his main page. I had learned about the concept of the world forming on a turtle’s back while visiting a museum in Cherokee, North Carolina some 20+ years ago. However, I was not familiar with the term, “it’s turtle all the way down”, which speaks to an expression of the problem of infinite regress. While the book tackles various themes, one of the main ones is a walk inside the brain of a teenager with OCD and Anxiety. As someone who does deal with anxiety spirals, I felt like I understood the main character.

37. The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes

“There is always a way out of a situation. Might be ugly. Might leave you feeling like the earth has gone and shifted under your feet. But you are never trapped.”

This book was a fictionalized account of the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians, who were a real group of librarians (predominantly women) who between 1935 and 1943 delivered books to some remote areas of Eastern Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains. I had not heard of this group before and was fascinated because a large portion of my ancestral heritage comes out of this area of Kentucky.

My maternal grandmother, Reva Van Hoose, was born in October of 1929 in Arizona. As the depression wore on, her family moved back to the family farm in Olive Hill, Carter County, Kentucky. Her father, William Everett Van Hoose was the oldest son of Alfred A Van Hoose and the only child of Sarah Frances Griffey. Sarah died before her son turned one and Alfred married her cousin Eva Bays and went on to have many more children. My grandmother told how some of her father’s siblings were only a little older than her and still lived at home during their time at the farm.

While I did not find evidence of a Pack Horse Library out of Carter County, my research did show some in the region. From Alfred back to my 6th great-grandfather (John B. Van Hoose) the family has been traced to Johnson County, Kentucky. Located in Johnson County is Paintsville, which is the home of the original Pack Horse Library which was started in 1913 by May F. Stafford, but ended in 1914 due to lack of funding. The ones started later were funded by the WPA (Works Progress Administration). Sarah Frances Griffey’s family (Griffey and Salyer) were out of Magoffin and Floyd counties of Kentucky, area which also had Pack Horse Libraries.

I’ve shared before about my Van Hoose genealogy. Such as the fact that the name originated from Jan Frans Van Husum who was from Schleswig- Holstein (b. 1608). He and his wife (Volkje Juriens) lived in Amsterdam prior to moving to America. After I traveled to Amsterdam, I shared some of the history in my post, Street Corners of Amsterdam. The surname has many variations in America.

I’ve read, but can not verify that the move from Van Hooser to Van Hoose happened between a set of Kentucky brothers. The story goes that one was a loyalist and one was a patriot during the Revolutionary War. To separate himself, the patriot brother dropped the “r”. There are always interesting stories in family lines. Some true. Some half-true. And some completely false. I don’t know if this one is true, but I do know that John B. Van Hoose was a Colonel who fought as a patriot in the Revolutionary War.

So now that I’ve given you a history AND a genealogy lesson… I really enjoyed the book. Also, I’d like to imagine that long ago some of my distant relatives were excited about the day that the librarian would ride up on a horse and hand them books to read. I know I would have been!

38. Sophie’s Choice – William Styron

“I did not weep for the six million Jews or the two million Poles or the one million Serbs or the five million Russians — I was unprepared to weep for all humanity — but I did weep for these others who in one way or another had become dear to me, and my sobs made an unashamed racket across the abandoned beach.”

This checked off the category of a book published in the decade in which you were born. I was born in 1977. This book was published in 1979. This was not my first choice or even my second choice for this category. However, when the libraries went digital this one was available. It won the US National Book Award for fiction in 1980 and a movie of the same name, starring Meryl Streep, came out in 1982. So, I figured that spoke to its advantage and read it.

The book tackles many themes: The Holocaust, concentration camps, racism in America, mental illness, domestic violence, drugs, suicide, and sex. Even then, I’m not even sure I’ve mentioned all the topics it touches on. Considered highly controversial, the book has even banned in some places. It took me a while to finish because of limited checkout time for digital books. I will warn you if you have issues with the topics mentioned (and the sex parts are graphic) then you may not enjoy this book. I had my ups and downs, but overall I wanted to know what happened throughout the story.

39. The Water Keeper – Charles Martin 

Hutchinson Island sat off to our left. As did the inlet that led out into the Atlantic. In between us lay an underwater sandbar that stretched for the better part of a half mile and appeared at low tide – a favorite party destination for boaters and jet skiers. Sandbars like that were much of the reason folks around here owned boats.

This book was a romance novel, but also tackled a serious topic (which I won’t be giving away). This book took us down the East Coast of Florida. It felt familiar and soothed my soul since I’m not traveling there currently. I chose this quote because this is the area of Florida in which I lived prior to moving to Virginia. I even dug through my archives and found some photos from 2010 of us at the Sandbar.

40. Steal Like an Artist- Austin Kleon 

“Take time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where it’s going to lead you.”

If you’ve been following this reading challenge, then you might recognize that this was the book that I had on hold when the library closed. Our library now has opened for curbside pickup!! I am so excited!! Real books…in my hands!!

41. All Adults Here – Emma Straub

“The only trick was knowing that your past was never the same twice, and the past was never the same for two people. Everyone looked at things through their own eyes, and also through every single thing that had happened before that moment.”

“I think her happiness just lives in a little box, you know? Her happiness has boundaries.”

“When someone was born, they brought so many people with them, generations of people zipped into the marrow of their tiny bones.”

I loved this book. Choosing my favorite quote was hard and these three are not the only three I wrote down. I understood the family dynamic and could relate to Astrid. Not in all ways, but in those ones where you’d wished you’d made different choices in different circumstances as a mother. The second quote I can sympathize with. I want to be free. I really do. But I feel locked within a certain level of rigidity to rules and uptightness and perfection achievement. Also, I find it hard to believe that someone truly loves to be that way. It’s likely certain aspects of their life and personality have enmeshed to create that box.

42. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull – Richard Bach

“The same rule holds for us now of course: we choose our next world through what we learn in this one.”

This was my original choice for a book written in the decade in which you were born so it came in with my pile of holds once the library began curbside pickup. Written in 1970, it is a quick read. At 92 pages and quite a few of them photos…a really quick read.

43. Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner

“I was excited – I’d have so many new fans and followers! Then I was terrified – I’d have so many new fans and followers!”

The perfect beach read. Ahhh…if only I were on the beach. Well, actually I will be this coming weekend. Salt air come soothe my soul! It tackles themes of friendship, social media, body image, and self-esteem. Rarely does a book surprise me. However, this had some well-done twists.

44. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

“So on a summer’s day waves collect, overbalance, and fall; collect and fall; and the whole world seems to be saying ‘that is all’ more and more ponderously, until even the heart in the body which lies in the sun on the beach says too, That is all. Fear no more, says the heart. Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall. And the body alone listens to the passing bee, the wave breaking; the dog barking, far away barking and barking.”

This was another of my choices for the category of a classic that you didn’t read in school. And while I am familiar with Virginia Woolf, I couldn’t recall if I’d read any of her work. Her stream-of-consciousness style going through the inner workings, thoughts, perspectives of different characters. Like a river snaking its way here and there, words flowing. A rhythm. A fluidity. It was an intriguing style.

Now Over to You.

Have you read anything amazing lately?

Are your libraries open? How about your town, city, area? Virginia will be moving into their Phase 3 on July 1st. This means that gatherings can be a little larger and more things can be open.

Me? Primarily, I stay home. But that’s not much different than before the pandemic.

Don’t forget to join in the conversation. Share your favorite reads. What books have you loved? What books, not so much?

If you haven’t been reading, what else have you been doing?

Stay safe and healthy out there. Sending you all love and light! xx

Let your light shine!


9 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately: June

  1. I’m amazed by how many books you read! I am a complete slug anymore when it comes to reading. However, of the books you mention here I’ve read:

    Sophie’s Choice [in college as an English major]
    Steal Like An Artist [recently, but it didn’t resonate with me]
    Jonathan Livingstone Seagull [in college a friend gave it to me for inspiration]
    Mrs. Dalloway [in college as an English major]

    I’d like to read The Giver of Stars. I know I’ve heard about the pack librarians, don’t have a personal connection to the region like you do, but would enjoy learning more about them.

    On a similar note about getting books to people, When Books Went To War by Molly Guptill Manning is an interesting read. It’s about how a dedicated bunch of people got books to WWII GIs so that they’d have something to read/do while waiting for battles. There was, of course, governmental red tape, but the organization succeeded, at least for a while.

    1. If I hadn’t set the challenge for myself, I probably wouldn’t be reading quite as much. I’m pretty competitive with myself. lol.
      I’ve read there are also some other novels about the Pack Horse Librarians. I may look into those as well.
      I feel like I’ve heard about that book, When Books Went To War. I think that’s one that I would enjoy as well.

    1. While I always love to read, I’m not sure it would have been as high of a priority if I hadn’t set a challenge with myself. But I am really enjoying all the interesting stories out there. I truly feel like there’s so many books and so little time! 🙂

  2. What a diverse range of books you’ve read. I’ve been a bit slack this past month when it comes to reading. My joy has come from being outside in nature and reading the odd blog post. Glad your libraries are open again. Our restrictions eased but unfortunately are set to be tightened again with numbers rising. Might be time to get some more books on my kindle. Happy July Amy. xx

    1. The reading challenge is helping propel me to read more. But I definitely trade it for nature when I can. We’ve done some kayaking and hiking and are heading to the beach soon. Nature is a great soother of my soul. Some states are beginning to tighten restrictions again. Our state has taken a very slow opening approach so I don’t know if we will see tightening as we progress as well. Happy July, Miriam!! xx

  3. Amy, I like how you share a quote from each book. I have not read Sophie’s Choice although it is a Classic and it is often used as an example when making difficult choices. I enjoyed “Steal Like an Artist.” For the first time in my life I have started reading books by Indie authors (I think this is the correct term). I follow bloggers who also write books and I am curious about these books. Many gems. Beautiful photos of you and your family, Amy, on the Sandbar. ❤️

    1. Sophie’s Choice did deal with making a difficult choice. I had no idea what to expect prior to reading it. I’m trying to read books that span across all type of authors and genres. It’s been a fun experience reading so much. I’ve never made quite this much time do so. I loved that sandbar. It is huge! 💦❤️

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