Here’s what made it off my to-be-read list, and onto my “done” list in July! I’m thinking of tackling a very big book for August (it’s often a good month for it). Recommendations welcome. I spotted Anna Karenina on my shelves; I’ve read it but it’s been 18 years.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
I was in a hotel room in late July and hunting for available titles on Libby (the library e-book borrowing app) and this came up. Tyson, the famed astrophysicist, discusses theories on the origins of the universe, and its various components, in accessible language. Fine as these things go, though not terribly memorable. Good to borrow from the library!
The Art of Non-Conformity, by Chris Guillebeau
This self-help book by a man who visited all 193 countries encourages people to be their authentic selves, and discover new ways to support themselves economically. He now runs a daily podcast called Side Hustle School that readers might want to check out.
Time to Parent, by Julie Morgenstern
I read this ahead of Morgenstern’s appearance on Best of Both Worlds. She devises a job description for parenting, based on the acronym PART: providing, arranging, relating, teaching. She gives readers ideas for making time for all these things, and then reminds readers that they are building their own lives while raising another human. Finding time for “SELF” — sleep, exercise, love, and fun — makes everything go smoothly.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gotlieb
This frequent entry in posts on the best books of the year came off my Libby hold list, so on my reading list it went! Gotlieb, a therapist, discusses what she does in her work, while recounting her own adventures in therapy after a bad mid-life break-up. This book is highly readable and the stories gripping. Many people have commented on how unique this book is, but that’s partly because therapists aren’t generally supposed to write about their patients. So Gotlieb created composite characters, and changed a great many details. I took a class with John McPhee — the master of narrative non-fiction — in college, where he mentioned that there is a word for non-fiction that takes such liberties: fiction. My discomfort here is that Gotlieb is borrowing from the power of non-fiction, but when you change details, the stories inevitably become neater than life would make them. I know most people aren’t bothered by this (hence the popularity of memoir!) so feel free to put me in the spoilsport corner now, but there you go.
Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This novel also made a lot of hot summer read lists. It’s written as an oral history of a 1970’s rock band that made a big splash and then fell apart. The short entries, voiced by multiple characters, help the story move along quickly. Of course, with so many characters (Daisy Jones and the six make seven right there, and there are a lot of others…) it becomes hard to care about any of them. Plus, there are some good girl/bad girl/tortured boy tropes that are a little tired. It’s a reasonably fun read, and I liked the format (and occasionally the lyrics Reid dreams up for the band’s songs — “Regret Me” would be a good song concept), but I’m not sure it’s going to make my “best of” list.
In other news: Box office predictions time! Jasper, my 12-year-old, has been working on his predictive models this summer. I’m not quite willing to let him start a YouTube channel to share his movie predictions and reviews, but I am willing to post them on my blog.
He got the order right for the top 5 grossing movies last weekend, though he was a bit more bullish on The Lion King than turned out to be justified. He predicted it would gross $94.5 million domestic; it actually took in $76.6 million. He predicted Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would open in second place at $45 million; it hit $41.1 million. Spider-Man: Far From Home took third place. He’d predicted $11.5 million and it actually took in $12.5 million. Toy Story 4 came in just slightly over predicted revenue ($10 million) with $10.5 million. Crawl also did slightly better than predicted. Jasper had it in fifth place with $3.6 million; it actually took in $4.1 million, though I’d like to note that in his first draft of predictions, Jasper had this at $4 million, and then decided to lower it…
For next week! He predicts Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw will open in first place at $75 million. The Lion King will take second with $40 million. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will take third with $20.5 million. Toy Story 4 will hold the fourth place spot with $7 million, and Spider-Man Far From Home will drop down to fifth with $6.65 million.
Photo: Favorite reading spot, though this photo is from a while ago.