June Reading

I read nine books in June, a good number for me. The books include six in print, one ebook, and two audio books. Seven of the books were nonfiction, and of the fiction, one was a collection of short stories, so only one novel! That’s unusual. I read a lot of nonfiction, but generally it’s maybe half nonfiction/half fiction. I wrote a round-up of nonfiction for Book Riot, which will be published sometime soonish, so that partly explains it, and I also came across a couple essays collections that sounded appealing, and I finished the month with those.

My favorite was Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno, which I wrote about in my previous post. So good! Here is a list of all the books:

  1. American Harvest by Marie Mutsuki Mockett. This is a memoir/travel book about a summer Mutsuki Mockett spent traveling with wheat harvesters. She writes about the coastal/midwest cultural divide, religion, race, and farms. I wrote about it some here.
  2. The Toni Morrison Book Club by Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Cassandra Jackson, and Piper Kendrix Williams. Some thoughts are here. My first audiobook.
  3. Ramifications by Daniel Saldaña Paris, translated by Christina Macsweeney. This one is available in October. It’s my one novel of the month. I read an ebook version to write a review for Foreword Reviews, so more thoughts later, but I liked it. It’s about a young man unable/unwilling to leave his bed as he thinks about the year his mother abandoned his family.
  4. Afropessimism by Frank Wilderson. This book is part memoir, part argument about anti-Black racism. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the overarching argument (and would love to read reviews from Black and non-Black POC reviewers — I’ll have to look around and see what I find), but the ideas are fascinating and provoking, and the memoir part makes for absorbing reading.
  5. Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno: thoughts here.
  6. Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Mallory Ortberg, who now goes by Daniel M. Lavery. This was my second audiobook. I had mixed feelings about this one. It’s partly a memoir about Lavery’s gender transition, and that part I liked a lot. His thoughts as he slowly made the decision to transition were fascinating, especially his accounts of people’s reactions. Then there was other material that’s sort of imaginative takes on various literary and cultural figures and those I didn’t always like. Sometimes they made me laugh out loud; other times they just puzzled me.
  7. Bluebeard’s First Wife by Ha Seong-nan, translated by Janet Hong. This is a short story collection set in South Korea. These stories are dark! I loved them. They vary, but many of them are about women struggling with husbands/fiancés and children.
  8. This is One Way to Dance by Sejal Shah. An essay collection about growing up the daughter of Gujarati immigrants, about living in Rochester, N.Y. (my hometown!), about writing, race, attending weddings, moving around the country chasing jobs. It’s warm and thoughtful.
  9. A Fish Growing Lungs by Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn. Another essay collection, this time about being diagnosed as Bipolar and then learning later that this diagnosis was a mistake. She describes her struggles with mental illness and drug use and writes about finding her way toward a more stable place. It’s an interesting look at the world of mental health treatment and at the slow process of growing up and figuring out the person she wants to be.

Finally, my review of the really great short novel The Bitch by Pilar Quintana, translated by Lisa Dillman, is up at Foreword Reviews.

Here’s to a great July! Oh, wait, it’s 2020. Here’s to surviving July!

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