Books Read: July 2021
I found my groove with reading again this month and it felt really good. I’m not gonna lie, I’m getting a bit angry and upset with the world (or at least it’s rising to surface more right now!) and so I’ve buried myself in books to get away from it all. And memoirs have become increasingly interesting to me, seeing how folks talk about their families, personal story, and life.
John Maclean writes about family, their connection to a certain part of Montana, and his life in relation to having his family fictionalized in a famous story that became a book. His father, Normal Maclean, wrote the story A River Runs Through It, and John gives the background, the true story of his family and his own life. It’s not as poetic as his father’s story, but it’s an unvarnished look at what drove his father and himself and their connection to Montana. It made me think about my family, connections to place, and how we hang on to them or not as we age.
We fish as a way to communicate with each other, living and dead. We fish to keep a present hold on Montana and to recall the frontier Eden it once was. We fish to compete against each other—living and dead. We fish because it’s the family legacy, a demanding craft handed down from one generation to the next. (loc 2118)
Memory can and should be more than a bridge to the past. It’s also a way to see yourself as a thread in a broad fabric long in the making. (loc 2192)
Crying in H Mart
While I didn’t relate to all of the things in this memoir, it’s so beautifully written and can’t help but make you think about your relationship with family, your identity and what makes you who you are, and how you hang on to what’s important to you. Michelle Zauner writes so beautifully about her mother, her Korean heritage and the struggle to hang on to it after her mother dies, and her own struggle to figure out her place in life as an adult. I tore through this one and I guess I’m on a bit of a memoir kick as this is the second one this month.
Set in a small town in rural Australia during the second year of a massive drought, Aaron Falk returns to his hometown after 20 years away for the funeral of his best friend growing up, he’s supposedly killed his wife and child and himself. Falk, a police detective, is persuaded to investigate the deaths to see if what everyone thinks is true and at the same time he’s thinking about the death of a girl he was friends with 20 years previously. The book explores both the current mystery and the one from 20 years ago and Falk works through his own past. I enjoyed this one, but I don’t know that reading a book that is about a massive drought while living through one currently and worrying about wildfire was the best idea.
An extremely clever construction makes this book hard to put down. Two half sisters born in Africa lead very different lives and you follow their descendents through 8 generations to see how their lives had an impact on all family line. Each chapter is a different person and it rotates between to the two lines, following one in Africa and the other in what becomes the United States. Not only was this hard to put down, but the construction clearly and cleverly illustrates all the ways in which the cards were stacked against people in the various times in which they lived.
Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch
I’m not gonna lie, this was a hard book to read at times, but I wanted to see how Erin French picked herself up so I kept reading. It became obvious what was going to happen about a third of the way into the book, but how she talks about food and her story of building up the restaurant kept me in it. I’d love to eat at The Lost Kitchen, but who knows if that will ever happen.
The Last Bookshop in London
Madeline Martin tells the story of Grace Bennett who moves to London right as World War II is starting and we follow her through the worst of the blitz as she works at a small bookshop. In truth, this book is an ode to reading and stories and books; as we watch Grace fall in love with reading. It’s not a great book itself, but it was entertaining and I’ll admit the ending got me a bit teary eyed.
Ascender Vol 1 and 2
It’s been a good long while since I lost myself in a comic and I’d forgotten how much I love the genre. Ascender picks up well after Descender, after robots have been banished and a weird magic/cult has taken over the worlds. But we see the same characters, older, trying to adjust to living in this new reality and then, of course, some of our favorite robots return. It’s a great story with volume 1 doing a good job of explaning where things are at while keeping the action going and I’m on the edge now as volume 2 ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I’m going to reading it very soon.