It’s July and we’re hitting the dog days of summer here in rural Oklahoma. Nothing is moving out there, not even the wind. (I might be exaggerating slightly) Still, you’d think if it was that hot outside, it would be perfect for some indoor reading.
Not exactly. I’ve struggled to concentrate for whatever reason. I’ve been picking up lots of books, but quickly setting them aside. I’ve been pacing the floors of my living room in front of my book shelves, begging for something to jump out at me and grab hold of my attention. Nothing doing. It’s been awful.
As a result, I don’t have too many books to share with you this July. (Um, seriously, where did the first half of the year go? How rude is it that it’s already July?!)
The July Books
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The month actually started out pretty good. Malibu Rising released on June 1. I had pre-ordered it. I was READY for this one. I love a drama-filled family saga. (Family sagas and World War II fiction are my genre kryptonite—I am powerless against them!) I slurped this one down in a week.
It was a fun read. I got really invested in the characters and their trajectory. There were a couple of storylines that didn’t get a real conclusion. Then again, the entire thing leaves itself open for a sequel. And I want to say Reid dangled that possibility somewhere. How amazing would that be!
This has all the components of a good, beachy read. Highly recommend.
Animal by Lisa Taddeo
This was another that I heard about months ago and waited and waited for it to arrive. It got a lot of great hype. People have described the protagonist as raw and gritty, and just really fully female. I started this one the day it came out (fortunately, I finished Malibu earlier that morning, so I was free), but I haven’t finished it yet.
While I love a good gritty and raw character, sometimes they hit a nerve and I have to walk away for a bit. That’s what happened here. I am super excited about this one and I definitely plan to finish it later this month.
While Malibu would be a great beachy read to devour with a fruity drink in hand, Animal is one to read with some bourbon. It packs that much of a punch.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
I’ve owned this one for years, both in print and on my Kindle (which is really a great combination because I can read anywhere, even when I’m wanting to avoid screens). I don’t really know what possessed me to pick this one up, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far.
Bourdain detailed his training and development as a chef, which is an interesting and wild story. But he also throws in some interesting bits about food and dining out that I hadn’t really considered before, but make perfect sense, such as the ideal days to order seafood and the quality of meat you get when you order your steak well-done (I’d never commit such a sin, but I know somebody who does).
This one is fun to dip in and out of, kind of like a short story or essay collection. You don’t necessarily have to read it in long settings to get the most out of it. I’ll probably take this on my next vacation, if I don’t finish before then.
California Diaries by Ann M. Martin
This was a series of 15 books that came out in the late 90s. I was the target age for the early ones in the series, but moved on after the first few. I got an idea for a book, so I was super happy to discover the bulk of the series for sale on Kindle. They’re fairly short and written for children, so I was able to finish them quickly. I read all 15 books in about a week.
It was a fun blast from the past. I was a bit surprised at how some of the mannerisms, comments, whatever from the early books stuck in my head all these years later.
Martin also wrote the Babysitters Club series, but this one is way more gritty. The kids in this series deal with eating disorders, alcoholic parents, absent parents, and suicidal friends to name a few things. I don’t know for sure because I never read many YA or MG books (and I’m fuzzy on the actual parameters of the genres), but it feels like this was probably one of the first series for 12-14 year olds that tackled this subject matter.
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
After California Diaries is when I hit my dry spell. It was awful. I had nothing to do. (Seriously, what do people who don’t read do with their free time?)
Then I picked up an old friend, Caitlin (pronounced Cat-lin) Moran. I read this book in 2017 and loved it. Moran takes a pretty weighty topic like feminism and makes it less scary, even kind of fun. She makes some good jokes, some major points, and does a lot to dispel some of the negative stereotypes about feminists and feminism. I know there are many brands and flavors of feminism, but Moran’s really hits home for me.
I re-read this book in just a couple of days to round out the month and found an inexpensive copy that I had shipped to Angela to pressure her to read. Highly recommend this one by Moran and all of her other books as well.
Total Books Read in 2021: 18 (I didn’t count the California Diaries as individual books because I didn’t want it to skew my reading stats for the year)
That’s all for July. It felt like a pretty good mix of fiction and nonfiction. I’ll be back next month to tell you about all the great things I’m reading this month.
Tell me in the comments below: What have you been reading?
Lori Walker is the Operations Maven at DIY MFA. Though she’s fallen off the wagon as a writer, she’s hoping to return to writing essays (perhaps even a novel!) through her involvement with DIY MFA. She is also Launch Manager, Web Editor, and Podcast Producer for DIY MFA and a Book Coach. She resides in Smalltown, Oklahoma, with her husband and their cat, Joan Didion. You can follow her on Instagram at @LoriTheWriter.