Books of July

I have too many half formed thoughts muddling around in my head that I’m mulling over at the moment to be able to come up with any topic for today’s 500 words. That, and yesterday was enough of a rambling list that I thought I should do something a bit different today.

With that in mind, I’m resuscitating my earlier halted attempted of documenting in some form what I’ve read in the past month. This is book focused only, no articles or other material for the moment and is, I suppose mostly a means of remembering a few things about what I thought/read about things along the way.

So, here’s July’s list. Looks like I landed on seven books again for the month, which seems to be my accidental average.

  • “The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba” – Julia Cooke: The author lived on and off in Cuba over a period of ten years first as a university student and later as a journalist. She spent much of her time interviewing and spending time with youth in the Havana, often interacting with the same individuals multiples over several years and visits to the country. It was a different and interesting glimpse into a period in Cuba’s history that I’m not overwhelmingly familiar with, but that coincides with when my dad first began visiting the island. It was interesting to read a bit about the small business, room rentals, etc. that have been gradually given permission to function over the last couple decades.
  • “The Breadwinner” (Books 1 & 2) – Deborah Ellis: There are 4 books in this series geared towards young adults or possible older children. I read each of the first 2 over a day or two and enjoyed them. They tell the story or Parvana, a girl living in Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over and then 9/11/2001 occurs. It’s the story of her and her family told from her perspective and without outside judgement or explanation of the occurrences. I think that adds to the enjoyment and effectiveness of the story since there is no underlying judgement or lesson inserted by a narrator, but just the story left to stand on its own.
  • “One More Year” – Sana Krasikov: An interesting collection of short stories of immigrants experiences in the US, mostly from Georgia, a region of the world I’m not overly familiar with. I’m not usually a big fan of short stories, but enjoyed this book just tine.
  • “Mornings in Jenin” – Susan Abulhawa: I think this is the first book I’ve read that dives much into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and it is also from a Palestinian perspective. It left me much more interested in the topic and with a lot more reading material on my “to-read” list gleaned from her notes section. I recorded one quote in particular that struck me from page 193: “Amal, I believe that most Americans do not love as we do. It is not for any inherent deficiency or superiority in them. They live in the safe, shallow parts that rarely push human emotions into the depths where we dwell. I see your confusion. Consider fear. For us, fear comes where terror comes to others because we are anesthetized to the guns constantly pointed at us. And the terror we have known is something few Westerners ever will. Israeli occupation exposes us very young to the extremes of our own emotions, until we cannot feel except in the extreme.”
  • “Bel Canto” – Ann Patchett: This was my first work of Patchett’s after hearing her name and recommendations for quite a while. I listened to this as an audio book on my commute and picked it up rather at random since it happened to be available at the library. It was a bit of an odd one that I probably wouldn’t have made it through if it hadn’t been distraction on my commute, but it was interesting enough to keep up with. I’m not sure if this is a good one to consider Patchett on though?
  • “Fangirl” – Rainbow Rowell: This was more engaging and enlightening then I had expected. It was another audio book on the commute and thoroughly enjoyable. She hit the teenage characters in “Eleanor & Park” so perfectly and this isn’t quite there, but it was still a great book for the commute and more insightful then I was anticipating.





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