Happy July! I spent a lot of time on airplanes and in hotel rooms over the last month, so theoretically my book total should be higher, but I just wasn’t feeling it (hence the 4-hour Property Brothers marathon a few weeks ago). I also had a few books not pan out. On the flight from Portland to Newark yesterday, I wound up reading through a whole issue of The Economist very thoroughly (and it pretty much filled the 5 hours).
Anyway, here’s what I got through in June 2019:
Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred M. McClay
I finished this in May, but I posted my books read in May 2019 write-up before the end of the month. So this one is going in June. The Wall Street Journal ran a story saying this was the anti-Howard Zinn version of American history, though I’m not sure this is quite true. Like Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, Land of Hope is accessible and broad, covering the whole of American history. McClay is generally more positive on America, though he doesn’t shy from pointing out the problematic things people often regarded as heroes did (he isn’t fond of Woodrow Wilson…which I totally get). While telling the American story, he reminds readers that people can’t see into the future, and they often have to make choices in situations where there aren’t good choices. This might be a good book for a high schooler looking to brush up on the basics before taking an advanced US History class.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
This was my first successful read from Libby — the app that lets you borrow ebooks from your local library. I mostly enjoyed Kaling’s memoir of her years running The Mindy Project, though with some mixed feelings. Parts were hilarious. I loved reading about Kaling’s career, and how the television business works. Her stories of her own dating life and her romantic comedy sketches, though, made me cringe. This isn’t anything about Kaling’s talent, which I know is impressive; I just don’t like the whole genre. So I skimmed those parts. I might read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? but I’m not sure if it’s more of the professional memoir or more of the dating stuff — so I welcome feedback from anyone who’s read it.
Things that Matter, by Charles Krauthammer
I also borrowed this book from Libby. The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist (who died in 2018) pulled together some of his writings from over the past four decades. It was interesting to read of-the-moment pieces from the past to see what people were thinking then. I had almost forgotten what a huge controversy stem cells were in the early 2000s (Krauthammer, who was paralyzed in an accident during medical school, served on the President’s Council on Bioethics). I would have been interested in learning more about his personal life, but Krauthmammer generally stuck to politics, and had a wide variety of positions — sometimes hard to peg one way or the other.
I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron
In the same vein as Ephron’s other book of humorous essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, this book looks at aging and life from the perspective of the always hilarious journalist, novelist, and director. Just one warning: it’s a very quick read, so if you download this to get you through a plane ride, might want to have a second book too.
The Joy of Missing Out, by Tonya Dalton
Dalton, who runs inkWELL Press, is a longtime friend of this blog and my podcasts. Her book on figuring out your priorities, and scheduling them into your life, will be out in October for anyone who’d like to pre-order!
The Happiness Equation, by Neil Pasricha
Pasricha gave me a copy of his bestselling book when we were both speaking at a conference earlier this month. His short essays walk readers through various steps they can take to boost their happiness, from embracing your own weirdness to making time for your passions.
Dune, by Frank Herbert
My husband had bought this famous science fiction novel for our older sons to read, but neither of them had picked it up (at 800 pages, it does look daunting!). So I decided to give it a whirl. I don’t generally read science fiction, but I enjoyed seeing how Herbert created a whole universe, and specifically the desert planet of Arrakis, complete with an intricately described ecology and a civilization that could survive there. Despite the length, the book moves quickly — there’s a lot of action and suspense, and also dialogue, which keeps the pages turning. There were a few issues; the book aims to be epic in scope, but various things would be introduced as a huge deal later in the story that hadn’t really come up before. But in any case, I generally got into the story and I’m glad I read it, given how culturally important the book was to its time.
Now, to figure out my next read…another 800 pager?