Books read in July 2019

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.

10 thoughts on “Books read in July 2019

  1. I’m planning to read “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” as I’ve heard good things about it. My best friend is a child psychologist and she’s in my book club. We’ve read several books that feature a psychologist/therapist and the books piss her off because she says they do not accurately portray the role of a therapist. She read Gottlieb’s book and loved it because it was true to what a therapist does. So I am looking forward to checking it out. It doesn’t bother me that she changes details to make it legal for her to write about patient experiences but that does technically make it border-line fiction.

    My best book of July was “Ask Again, Yes.” I’m grateful to Anne Bogel for highlighting this book; I wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise!

    I’ve been thinking about tackling a long book soon, too. I think I might read “The Warmth of Other Suns” which is about the great migration of African American people from the south to northern and western cities. It’s 600+ pages but given the hefty subject matter, I think it will take awhile for me to get through it. I’m hoping my Half Priced Books has it as I don’t want the pressure of trying to get through it during a 3-week borrowing period from the library.

    1. I loved Ask Again, Yes! Such a good recommendation from Anne Bogel. I don’t always agree with her views, but this was a win. I also read The River on her recommendation, which was also very good. And Recursion was already on my TBR list when she recommended it. It was great!

  2. Like you, I am bothered by the Maybe You Should Talk to Someone structure, and it’s one of the many reasons I’m not going to read it, despite it’s popularity right now. I’ve seen mention of a TV/film option for her, which, for me, underscores your point. From a privacy perspective, even the fact that she is blending patient stories bothers me.

  3. Oh dear, I just got “Maybe You Should Talk To Someone” off of my library hold list! HMMM.
    I really liked Daisy Jones while I was reading it, but I liked other off of the MMD Summer List more in retrospect. Currently reading The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin and it’s pretty intriguing so far . . .

    1. @SHU- to clarify, the Gotlieb book is very engaging. It didn’t feel like a chore to read. Just keep in mind that it’s fiction!

  4. Big book recommendation: The Count of Monte Cristo, UNabridged! It’s ~1500 pages. I’m currently at the 50% mark and I’m LOVING it. I’m reading the Modern Library edition, translated by Lorenzo Carcaterra. I had compared this one with the unabridged Penguin edition at the bookstore by reading the first two pages of each (I don’t recall the Penguin translater’s name) and, to me, the Modern Library edition flows better. The Penguin edition sounded more “old-timey” and my reading pace felt slower than with the Modern Library edition.

  5. Daniel Deronda or the Mill on the Floss (my all time favourite). Or something by Wilkie Collins? Woman in White or the Moonstone. I teach Victorian Lit, and my students never complain about the length of those lengthy novels! (I can also assign Jane Sure at the end of the semester, the busiest time for essays, and get no complaints about length!)

  6. Love the list! Sadly, I’ve had zero time to read, but am hoping that improves on my next rotation(family medicine!). Right now, I’m debating driving (30 min either way) versus taking the train (45 min either way), and the potential 1.5h or reading time is starting to sway me…

    1. If there’s a risk of traffic jams, and trains are stable in your area, definitely take the train because of all the things you can do while not driving!

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