Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 Chapter

Welcome to the Read.Write.Repeat. monthly wrap-up.  Every month, I give a quick overview of what books I read, the progress made on the 100 Best Novels goal, a few book-related links, and general blog news.  

July News 

July has been busy and hot and wonderful. Things have continued to go smoothly with our house and we close on Wednesday! It's a crazy wonderful, exciting, terrifying feeling and we love it. This time next week, we will be homeowners!

Otherwise, there is not much to report. We both worked a lot in July. Kevin is back in MBA classes, plus doing some landscaping work on the side. I am continuing prep for my fall classes (they gave me another section!) and working retail on the side. Busy, busy, busy. Not nearly as much time for reading as I would have liked. Although, I must admit - I am in a bit of a slump. I'm not loving anything at the moment, which also makes it hard to conjure up the motivation to read instead of binge-watching The West Wing or Community (the latter being in preparation for my new teaching gig this fall...obviously). I keep telling myself that laziness is ok because once we're in the house, laziness will not, can not exist. I will be racing through audiobooks while I paint every last room in that place.

The biggest blog news of the month was most certainly that time when Rachel Held Evans herself tweeted out the link to my review of Searching for Sunday and also said we could be friends. Just ask Kevin - I was freaking out. Cheers to a delightful author who is not only putting her open heart on our bookshelves and connecting with the Millennial American Christian in new ways, but also seems to be a genuinely delightful person with whom I'm sure I could have a fun, engaging dinner conversation.

No Movie Monday this month (or really since we put the DVD part of our Netflix on hold thanks to a broken Blu-Ray player), but I did want to take a quick minute to mention that we finally got around to watching both Interstellar and Unbroken this month. Loved the both. Christopher Nolan consistently blows my mind with his awesomeness. We agreed that the script felt a little weak at moments, but brilliant at others. Also, we loved that the technology in the film was not the star. Nolan made it feel accessible, possible, and even mundane, rather than glorifying it and making it the center of the whole story. Instead, the story was about humans and their humanity - beautiful and powerful.

Unbroken could be said to have the same subject matter: humans, humanity, and overcoming the odds. Louis Zamperini actually came and spoke at our alma mater when we were in school, so it was very cool to see his story on the big screen. Kevin says he either slept through chapel that day or had physical therapy for his torn ACL, so the story was all new to him, but I remembered bits and pieces enough to really enhance the movie for me. I thought Angelina Jolie really did a beautiful job with his story. I liked that she kept most precise details (lengths of time, etc.) vague enough to rebuff any potential nay-sayers (not that I have heard of any). Rather, the focus of the story was Louis himself and his endurance throughout the horrors of the war. I was shocked to realize the Coen brothers wrote the script. First Coen brothers movie I have thoroughly enjoyed; I can tell you that. Maybe they should have written Zamperini into No Country for Old Men and it wouldn't have been as awful (Amy - I hope Joel reads this and suffers afresh in my hatred for that movie). More than anything, though, I was reminded of the strength of the human spirit, the gracious, preserving hand of God, and how really, truly, completely horrible and despicable Donald Trump's comments about POWs were.

Sorry for that movie rampage - they were just good films and I hope you, as I, can appreciate fine storytelling whether it comes on page or screen. Back to books, though. Here's what went on in that part of my world this month:

Books Reviewed

  1. The Wings of the Dove - Henry James
  2. Searching for Sunday - Rachel Held Evans
  3. The Secret Rooms - Catherine Bailey
  4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
  5. Searching for Dragons - Patricia C. Wrede
  6. Alive - Scott Sigler
  7. The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
  8. For the Right Reasons - Sean Lowe
  9. Blindness - José Saramago
  10. All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
  11. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
  12. The Selection series - Kiera Cass

Books Read

  1. For the Right Reasons - Sean Lowe
  2. Paris - Edward Rutherfurd
  3. Without You, There Is No Us - Suki Kim
  4. The Elite - Kiera Cass
  5. The One - Kiera Cass
  6. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
  7. The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey
  8. Kate - Claudia Joseph
  9. An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser 
Pages Read: 3,955

Favorite Book Read: This is hard. There were several that stood out, but no one that really grabbed me. For the sake of a winner, I am going to go with Suki Kim's intense memoir, Without You, There Is No Us.

100 Best Novels Progress

  • Just one - An American Tragedy - but it's a big one!
  • 42% complete

2015 TBR Pile Challenge Progress

I finished  Paris by Edward Rutherfurd, which was one of my alternates. I am still having trouble finding Life After Art, so I may have to go to the second alternate as well.


The big literary news this month, of course, was the release of Go Set A Watchman. I have yet to read it (ugh!), but have read lots about it. This New York Times article made me sad and a bit worried, but Adam at Roof Beam Reader has a better, more balanced review, I think.

Everyone's making maps this month! Here's a map of epic literary road trips and here's a book of beautifully illustrated literary maps

I LOVED the Royal Diaries series, so I also loved these suggestions of "grown up versions" to read now.

Apparently, food stories are coming to the screen - including my favorite food memoir of all time, Blood, Bones, and Butter.
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This time next month, I will be writing from a cozy little office just off the master suite in a house we OWN. I can't wait. I also have some tentative plans to get our personal blog up and running again, in case you are interested in house renovations, etc. We'll see. In the mean time, enjoy August!

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