I just noticed that I accidentally skipped July’s book reviews! Blame it on summer vacation mode, but I hope you did a lot of reading over the summer, things that made you feel like you saw something of the world, be it the external world or the interior, psychological one. My reading list sort of dabbled in both, and I’ve already got some great recommendations for September too… which of course will blink by in an instant. 😉
Best Fiction of the Month: The After Party
I never read books about the cloistered lives of glamorous women, but somehow I couldn’t put this down. A story of friendship set in wealthy American south in the 1950s, Joan and Cece are best friends since childhood, until Joan runs away to Hollywood for a year and then resurfaces, keeping her distance from Cece and spiraling into self-destruction. I felt completely transported to this era and this lifestyle, where just leaving the house was cause to get dressed up. The narrator isn’t entirely likeable but it doesn’t matter- her love for her friend goes deep into long-held secrets. If you loved Mad Men, I think you’ll love this.
Best Nonfiction: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved
Kate Bowler was in her mid 30s -with a job she loved, a husband a toddler – when she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. This book is a brief but staggering narrative of how she found out and how she came to grips with a life that is going to be cut short, the way she moves from shock to anger and grief to acceptance and back through the emotions again. The book is loving and brave, and if you need to be remind that life isn’t fair and that you need to make the most of the time you have, this is it.
The One I’m Recommending to Just About Everyone: Tell Me More
I think I devoured most of Tell Me More in a single sitting, because the essay are that good, and Kelly Corrigan has a knack for telling a story that embodies the moments of being human where someone says the right thing at the right moment and we feel seen, understood, and heard. The titular essay, Tell Me More, is the best of the bunch but they all have their resonance. If you loved Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar, then I think you’ll like this one.
The Coffee Table Book that I’m Devouring but It’s Too Big and Heavy to Take Anywhere: Letter of Note
How is it that this just came across my radar?! This book is incredible, with letters by those you have heard of and those you have not, that illuminate the scope of historical events and remind you that good, intelligent people are present in every era. The Queen sent Eisenhower her recipe for scones and included tips on substituting ingredients, someone claiming to be Jack the Ripper taunting a police detective, a freed slave responding to his former ‘master’ when he asked him to come back, Annie Oakley offering a team of women sharp shooters for the war… I could go on and on. The book is spectacular, and letters are a really underrated form of literature. This would be an amazing gift, too.
Crafty/Home Decor/Recipe Book I’m Loving: Get It Together!
This is the funniest home decor book I’ve ever read, and it is full of gorgeous ideas and stunning rooms that actually feel within your reach – except for the cover image, which isn’t that great in my opinion. The rest of the book has far more lovely photos and ideas. I’m all for aspirational home decor, but give me practical tips any day of the week. Orlando’s book is laugh-out-loud funny and utterly beautiful. If you are looking for ideas on how to pick out furniture, maybe do a few DIYs, and figure out how to make a room function for how you really live, give this a whirl.
What have you been reading this summer? Any top recommendations? Share them in the comments!