It’s been another helluva summer. And while the world often seems like it’s careening towards a mass extinction event, we keep trudging along and muddling through the mundane activities of life keeping us anchored during the storms.
Somehow I found time to read, quite a bit (and quite a bit of good stuff) this summer.
Here’s the rundown:
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon – Uncategorizable/Literary – I loved Solomon’s The Deep, and while this one has much of the same imaginative breadth, it seemed to lose its way a bit and go almost too far off the deep end. I think that was probably the point. I would recommend this one…with caution…to those already familiar with Solomon’s style or those who are fans of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead (imagine one of them writing horror/sci-fi).
The Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips – Literary Fiction/Mystery – This is another one I recommend with caution. Don’t go expecting the central mystery of missing children to be solved. This far eastern Russian based novel opens and closes strongly, but it drags in the middle as each chapter operates like its own short story, and they don’t always connect so cleanly leaving the reader confused and often lost. But maybe that was the point?
The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel – Murder Mystery/Psychological Thriller – This is a dark, dark murder mystery about people trying to rise up out of the twisted backwoods of Missouri only to be dragged back down. As a novel under 250 pages to read at night for a thrill before bed, it hits all the right marks. Read my full review on Goodreads.
The Hemingway Stories by Ernest Hemingway – Literary Fiction – There are some bona fide 5-star masterpieces in this collection (Indian Camp, The Undefeated, and The Snows of Kilamanjaro, which now ranks as one of my favorite short stories of all-time), but there are also numerous entries that seem like academic exercises where Hemingway was simply practicing his signature style. Read my full review on Goodreads.
Paper Castles by B. Fox (not pictured above as I read it in ebook format) – Literary Fiction/Romance/Coming-of-age – Paper Castles is not typically the type of novel I would read, but it still won me over. Fox’s work is a well-written, quick, breezy read that still carries emotional weight. It’s surprisingly cinematic, and I could imagine it as a movie from the time period in which it takes place (during the recent Great Recession). Read my full review on Goodreads.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (not pictured as it still sits on my nightstand) – Literary Fiction – I am still working on this short story collection. It’s soooo good, I’m trying to savor each and every one of these amazing stories that are deep, layered, and unpack so much stuff.