July is a month of school vacations and weekend plans so I came up a bit short in the reading department. I’m coming for you, August.
- Maphead, by Ken Jennings: I live with two mapheads. Our family’s idea of fun is printing off blank maps of the continents and filling in the countries (guess who does the worst?). I like geography to the extent it’s necessary for my actual great love—travel. But being married to a maphead means whatever foreign city we find ourselves in, my husband will be riding the subway like a pro within a few hours. When we watch the Olympics or the World Cup, my stepson runs into his room to find the represented countries on his world map. He’s now a two-time Geography Bee champion for his district. So what I’m saying is, I suck at geography, other people I know don’t, and I love those people. This book was fun and full of trivia for mapheads and normals alike.
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith: I somehow got through school without ever being assigned this book, and so it seemed like about time that I read it. Francie Nolan’s story of growing up in Brooklyn in the early 20th Century evokes a world that feels long, long gone, especially when you consider the upwardly mobile hipster image of today’s Brooklyn.
3. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyles: It took me a long time to get to this one, because I don’t usually read in this genre. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just not what I reach for first. But as with other very popular books that I held out on reading, I really enjoyed this story about a very normal girl who takes a much-needed job as a companion for a quadriplegic. Working against the clock, she sets out to prove to him that life is still worth living, but what made this book good was that it doesn’t end there. It’s not a story of PYT teaches invalid to love again; it’s a discussion of who gets to make the big choices and the extent to which we must respect them.
4. The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan: Let’s call a spade a spade here: this is William and Kate fan fiction. It’s also a bestseller, and so in honor of Pippa’s engagement, I picked it up.
5. Party of One, by Dave Holmes: As a teenager who ran home every day so as not to miss the beginning of TRL, Dave Holmes was right in the MTV sweet spot for me. Much of this memoir in songs takes place before he landed at Viacom, but it’s funny and interesting, and the entire thing is worth it for the scraps of info he offers about pop starts of the late 90s and early 00s.
And the best thing I read this month...
6. In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware*: The logline for this thriller asks who would bring a gun to a bachelorette party, and that alone should pique your interest. Written in the Agatha Christie-style of an isolated location with a small, set cast, this atmospheric mystery had me checking that my security alarm was on.
*Debut author, please support (although this particular debut author has already made the New York Times Bestseller lists without any help from me).