Fiction Read in June and July
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The winner of the Man Booker Prize last year. A beautifully written epic novel about an Australian POW working on the Japanese death train in Burma. Ultimately though for all the beauty of the language, I found this one left me cold in the end.
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Another prize winner, of the National Book Award last year. This one is full of cursing and the ugliness of war. But still, the stories are full of honesty and even redemption.
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
Another “epic” novel following an Irish-American family in New York City over several generations. Ultimately, it’s about marriage and love and faithfulness and also about Alzheimer’s.
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce is sent away to boarding school in Canada. The first day there a corpse falls out of a chimney. And it only gets better from there.
In the Blood by Lisa Unger
Entertaining psychological thriller. A great summer read.
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman (audiobook)
A fun twist on a school shooting story.
Figgs and Phantoms by Ellen Raskin
Read for Amy’s Newbery challenge.This one by the author of The Westing Game was weird.
A Fine White Dust by Cynthia Rylant
Also read for Amy’s Newbery Challenge. One of the very few children’s books I’ve ever read that deals with real religious feelings and faith in children or teens.
Non-Fiction Read in June and July
Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
A deliciously fun read by a long-time proofreader at The New Yorker. Norris deftly weaves personal stories in with grammar education and stories about many of the writers and editors at The New Yorker she has worked with over the years.
On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
I was really excited to read this biography/memoir by one of my personal heroes. I was deeply inspired by Sacks’ books and articles on neurology and medicine. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it was a bit disappointing. There’s too much in it and it’s somewhat unfocused. The feeling I got was of someone who just wanted to put everything he could think of into one last book. I know Sacks is dying and that might be the case. It’s understandable but didn’t make for the best book. I was also somewhat turned off by the graphic sexual descriptions. Maybe it should have made him more human, but there are just some things you don’t want to necessarily know about your personal heroes, you know?