Books

Reading Better | June.

fitting 24 covers on one page means tiny covers … please feel free to ask if you can’t make out a title!

I added another 24 books to my Read shelf last month, bringing my YTD total to 93 (Goodreads link) – whoa – I think I hit the trifecta of the pace of summer reading, a nice balance of ears and eyes, and some compulsively readable books!

Here are a few more stats from June’s book journal summary page:

  • nearly two-thirds (15/24) were words on a page.
  • 80%(!!!! 19/24)) – were borrowed, one I owned, and four were purchased (three of them “new”, and one of them “used”).
  • 20% were non-fiction – and three of those were memoir.

My Reading Intentions were a little more balanced than last month, and every single one of those 24 titles was a Delight!

Connection – 19
Growth – 5
Diversity – 10 (yay!)
Delight – 24

Three books checked all four boxes:

    1. The House of the Spirits (Novel Pairings May bookclub selection)
    2. Sparks like Stars (Modern Mrs. Darcy June bookclub selection)
    3. In the Dream House (recommended by Sara Hildreth @FictionMatters as her favorite memoir and a favorite of daughter Katie from earlier this year)

Checking boxes does not necessarily lead to stars – only one of those three received five of those!

Other ♥ notes from my journal:

♥ Maggie O’Farrell. Claire Fuller. Memoir.
♥ audio works great when I have words on the page too, especially for books that I know I want to take notes about and/or share about here. I listened to In the Dream House and then checked out a paper copy from the library (ditto Nobody Will Tell You This But Me and We Run the Tides). I borrowed both the audio and kindle versions of The Margot Affair and Crying in HMart and read both in tandem – that was fun!) I owned Intimations but saw that Zadie Smith narrated the audio, and it was available, so I listened, and then went back to a few of the essays to take notes.
♥ the library! (although I am now thinking I might need a little break from that … and wish I could just put my library card in the freezer 😉 )
♥ backlist.
♥ buddy reads (always looking for Connection!)

This month’s Sleeper Recommendation is In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (Goodreads link).

I had no idea what to expect and I was blown away. Here’s an excerpt from the jacket copy:

Prismatic, engrossing, and wildly innovative, In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s account of a relationship gone bad and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. … Each chapter in this inventive memoir is driven by its own narrative trope – the haunted house, erotica, the Bildungsroman – through which Machado holds her story up to the light and examines it from different angles. She considers her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships. 

I found it all of that, and more. Honestly, I was hooked from the epigraph(s)

You pile up associations the way you pile up bricks. Memory itself is a form of architecture. ~Louise Bourgeois

If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it. ~Zora Neale Hurston

Your mind indeed is tired. Your mind is so tired that it can no longer work at all. You do not think. You dream. Dream all day long. Dream everything. Dream maliciously and incessantly. Don’t you know that by now? ~Patrick Hamilton, Angel Street

And then I was five-stars in love because of the writing. It’s beautiful, smart, packs a punch, and it’s fun (and sometimes harrowing) to follow the narrative tropes. Here a few of the chapter titles: Dream House as Noir, Dream House as Idiom, Dream House as Exercise in Style, Dream House as Mrs. Dalloway (you get the idea).

This checked the Growth box for me because of the exploration into abuse in queer relationships. Granted, as a cis-gendered, heterosexual white woman, I have lots to learn about a lot of this! And based on Machado’s Afterward, there hasn’t been a lot written about it:

I can’t think of a more apt metaphor [“written on sand”] for the process of writing this book, which relied on finding sets that talked about queer people and domestic abouse; tow tips that have, historically, been hidden away, or rarely talked about. ~p.245

If you do pick this up, please let me know … I’m always looking for Connections!

And finally – a quick update on my Bingo card.I still have four squares to fill and all four books are on my July “really really want to read” shelf (Instagram’d here). By the time I finish all four I should have plenty of candidates for that Any Book free square, so we’ll see!

And that’s a wrap! Did you have a favorite book from June? please share!

13 Comments

  • Bonny

    I loved The House of the Spirits when I read it ages ago, but don’t remember much beyond that, so it may be time for a re-read. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a book described as “prismatic” but it does make me curious. I think my favorite books in June were Project Hail Mary and Unsettled Ground – very different from each other but both tell interesting stories.

  • Juliann

    Okay – step away from the bookshelf and get back to sewing. 24 books in one month! You will need to start a podcast for recommendations soon! And so many good books. I am NOT putting anything on my TBR list (okay, maybe one or two) but I know I can come back and find these titles later. I did look at bingo cards the other night, to see if I can find places for some of the other books that don’t fit my current card. The thrill of the chase. This is so much fun.

  • Sharon Vance

    My favorite books in June were both slow to get started but I stuck with them and loved them.
    Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley and The Unseen World by Liz Moore. I also enjoyed The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee and Dear Martin by Nic Stone.

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    What a month, Mary! I am giddy over this!

    Okay – I think you’ve read all of the Women’s Prize shortlist? You gave Unsettled Ground 5 stars and TK 4.5 — does that mean that Unsettled Ground is your leading contender?? I must know! WE LEARN THE WINNER TODAY!!!!!!!!!!! (I’m still sticking with TK as the winner. I can’t wait to find out!)

    June was a month of easy reading for me, which I quite enjoyed. My favorite was probably a reread of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!

  • Sarah

    I think The Hand That First Held Mine was my favorite read from June — it just enchanted me start to finish. I think you will find some connections in Girl, Woman, Other with In the Dream House (which I haven’t read yet but want to!). I also have House of the Spirits in my TBR pile; I really thought I had read it/owned it already, but it turns out the book on my shelf was Eva Luna, so I treated myself to a copy when Bookshop was having a free shipping day.

  • Debbie

    I had several five star reads in June and if I had to choose a favorite it would probably be Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl. This book is a collection of essays, part memoir and part nature reflections. It has caused me to be more aware of our place in nature and to slow down and pay attention.
    You have read so many wonderful books and I look forward to read what you think of Girl, Woman, Other!

  • Margene

    I read In the Dream House earlier this year and LOVED it, too! I also loved Girl, Woman, Other. You’ve read 20 more books than I have! My 5 star books for June are The Rain Heron and Strange Flowers. There are 5 more squares on my Bingo card to fill and I’ve got my non-Bingo book picked out and expect to be enjoying it by mid-August. xo

  • Carole

    I think my favorite book from June was Unsettled Ground. Also, you mentioned putting your library card in the freezer. They should have a way for you to temporarily suspend your holds if you’re getting too many books at once.

  • Carolyn

    Thanks to you, I’ve got Dream House on its way to my hold shelf! (But first, I’m finishing a walking memoir and Song of Achilles is up next.) It’s really fun for me to see your book/reading stats–and I’ll bet it’s fun for you to compile them! Sort of like choosing books…building a bingo card or creating a reading challenge…the ‘business of reading’ is as addictive (sometimes more?) than reading the book! (I guess it’s in the same Fun category as trip planning for me. Maybe how some people feel about shopping?) Anyway. Here’s to your near-complete coverall!! Because you’re really almost there…

  • kym

    You’re on quite the reading tear, Mary! I couldn’t read that many books in a month even if I wanted to. . . I like a little space between my reads — ample time for me to think and process. 😉 And Carole is right — you ought to be able to “suspend” your holds at the library so the books don’t keep avalanching down around you. Happy reading!

  • Lydia

    Wow-that’s a lot of books. I’m making steady progress through my stack on the nightstand and probably have ready/listened to more during summer bingo than ALL of last year- so progress!

  • Kat

    What a list of books, Mary! Wow! I loved The House of the Spirits and The Summer House… so much! And Transcendent Kingdom… such an incredible book! My favorites of July though… Anxious People and Piranesi. Gah, they were both so good!

  • karen

    I’m on the other side of this move, now to get back to reading….I hope each day gives me more time to do so!!! You are inspiring me 🙂