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Summer 2021 Reading Round Up

Sun's out, tongues out!

I can't believe how quickly summer flew by, and I can't believe how much life got away from me that I'm posting this round up at the end of the year. But better late than never and this is part of learning to be kinder to myself.

This blog is supposed to be about fun and sharing joy after all!

Looking back, my summer reads covered quite the range. But I read some really amazing books that I'm still super excited about!

1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Okay. This book got me. This was another book club pick, and I was having a hard time getting into it, even though I had heard rave reviews about it. I wasn't sure if it was because I wasn't really feeling it or maybe just in a reading slump. Around Part III I feel like I started to get into it. Really cool story and concept. There were some ways that I wish the story had more but I gave it five stars anyways because I want Luc. Should I be ashamed of sounding thirsty? Perhaps. But am I? Absolutely not!

2. Self-Care Down There: From Menstrual Cups and Moisturizers to Body Positivity and Brazilian Wax, a Guide to Your Vagina's Well-Being by Taq Kaur Bhandal

This book is the lifetime of a vagina summed up in bite sized pieces, with body affirming language and encouragement to explore and nourish our bodies, specifically our vaginas and pelvic areas. A great starting point for those looking to feel empowered in their bodies and health choices, but might also feel they have no one to turn to. Periods, fertility, and sexuality can all be taboo topics across cultures. This book helps diminish the stigma and bring us back to our bodies.

I love that the author provides options while empowering you to make the choice that’s best for you and your body. While there might not be a lot of depth to each topic, there is a huge breadth of areas covered. Perfect for the busy schedule most people with vaginas find themselves caught up in. Along with all the additional resources and references, a reader can find reputable sources to explore the areas they are most concerned about!

3. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Wow, what a story. I picked this up because it was part of the Audacious Book Club picks by Roxanne Gay. I at no point knew what was going to happen next. But not in like a thriller kind of way. I struggled a little bit to get into the book sometimes. Maybe sometimes the drama just made me cringe. Some of the topics also hit way closer to home than I expected. There were a few times I felt myself wince. It definitely gave me a lot to think about when it comes to motherhood, sexuality and gender, and I really appreciated the insight into the experiences of trans women, and I appreciate that the author acknowledged this was the experience of white trans women. I do not have the experience or knowledge to be more critical of that representation, but overall I thought this was a good book!

The next handful of books are all from the Pocket Change Collective, which I mentioned previously in the Spring 2021 Reading Round Up! The Pocket Change Collective is a series of short, pocket-sized books, that highlight personal journeys as it relates to activism. I noticed them on the shelf at my library and swiped all the ones I could see in the hopes of getting back on track with my Goodreads Challenge!

4. This is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew

I read Black Futures, which Kimberly Drew co-edited, earlier this year and I was obsessed. Still am. It’s an amazing book. Reading this book in the pocket change collective series was such a treat in getting to know more about Kimberly Drew. She shares her personal story with art beautifully, no surprise at all. But it was just really lovely to get some insight into the experience of someone who I think is an incredible genius. I can’t wait to see more of her work.

5. The New Queer Conscience by Adam Eli

I really wanted to like this book but bleh. Maybe I have to remind myself that a lot of authors in this series are really young and I need to cut them a break? This book had a lot of positive energy and I feel weird critiquing it because who am I to do that, but the first time I raised my eyebrow at the book was when the author mentioned that one of the A’s in LGBTQIAA+ stands for ally. I’m pretty sure it does not and allies should not try and insert themselves or center themselves in these spaces. At least that’s what I’ve always learned when listening to queer folks discuss what allies should and shouldn’t do.

6. Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa

I love the optimism that Hannah Testa brings to the plastics crisis. I loved the expansion of the 3 Rs to 5. One thing I think this book was lacking was the cost of being eco friendly. She acknowledges that companies and brands need to do more, but still, most of the tips put the responsibility on individuals. Swapping what you use for more eco friendly variations can be costly and with so many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, it's not as easy as she made it seem. There was also a lot of talk about how plastics from one place can end up on the other side of the world, but I wish the book had really emphasized how the west and industrialized countries are responsible for the climate crisis while other countries deal with the majority of the cost. Overall a great, short, concise read.

7. Concrete Kids by Amyra Leon

This book is different from all the others I've read in the Pocket Change Collective and it's beautiful. The themes are heavy and pieces break your heart, but the prose is beautiful. The writing is amazing. I highly recommend.

8. Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon

This is the one book in this series so far that I had a hard time finishing. I can't quite place why I struggled to get through it, especially when it's so short, but I did. It might have been that reading so many back to back they somewhat lost their impact, or possibly I was heading into a reading slump.

9. We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

This book just really flows. I don’t know how else to explain it. Samra Habib sounds absolutely amazing in the work that she does for the Queer Muslim community, and this memoir is a beautifully written story about that very personal journey in balancing her queer and Muslim identities. Content warning they is mention of sexual assault/rape towards the beginning of the book, and referred to again towards the end of the book. I grabbed this book for the Sarbat LGBT+ Sikh book club, and as always the recommendation was great!

10. Make Yourself At Home: Discover Your Style and Transform Your Space for Inspired Living by Moorea Seal

I’m not sure who the intended audience is for this book. It seems like it’s for beginners because it’s encouraging you to find your style, and in true Moorea Seal fashion there are great prompts to get you thinking about what you want and can do, as well as blank note pages in the back for you to get creative. The DIY ideas in each suggestion are also cute. But then you see words like mid century modern throughout the book and as someone who doesn’t know anything technical about interior design I had no idea what that meant. It isn’t until the end of the book that you get into what each design style actually means. I think that would have been more helpful either in the beginning or throughout so that as you’re seeing examples you know what to look for. The way different bloggers were highlighted was nice too but I felt a lot of them either had similar looks/stories or none of their styles resonated with me. & content warning, one of the bloggers’ personally stories mentions the loss of a child. So heartbreaking and not something I expected when I picked this up. Overall I think the order of the information could have been better depending on the intended audience.

11. Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

Whenever people throw in Gandhi as if he was great I want to throw the book across the room. But besides that moment I loved this book. It takes a lot of grace to share your not-to-spectacular moments with the world, which the author does. It’s also not easy to shed a light on the flaws of the people around you who you love. This was a fast read but every ‘conversation’ felt authentic. None of the conversations around racism came across as sugar coated. Content warning for loss of child.

I have a friend Sam, who is wonderful and I love talking books with him. Or talking about anything really. But Sam is really the only person I know that will dive completely into a genre like children's literature or an author's entire body of work. I have authors that I like and enjoy reading but I've never just binge read one author.

I'm not sure what possessed me to try this now. Maybe I was looking to cross off some books from my TBR, or catch up on my Goodreads Challenge. Probably a mix of the two, as well as availability from my local library to request a bunch of books from one author. But I decided to give it a try with Marjane Satrapi!

12. The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi

This was a cute short story with nice illustrations. What didn't click for me was why the author needed to emphasize that one of the sisters, Orchid, was ugly? It just seemed odd and unnecessary. I kept waiting for that detail to somehow be relevant to the story but it never really seemed to be. Then at the end I was left feeling like I read something written by someone quite childish.

13. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

I read Persepolis a few years ago. It was the first graphic novel memoir I had read and I really enjoyed the style. I decided to finally sit down and read part two. While this was a great book and there were moments that packed a punch, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first. Marjane’s parents are wonderful and I wish there was more of them in this book, but I imagine the author also wishes she had more time with her parents. In some ways I wish this would have expanded more on her parents’ experience/feelings.

14. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

A quick read and a fun book. Reminds me of afternoons over chai with women in my family. Fun, full of stories and gossip, and in some ways an emotional roller coaster!

15. Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi

A good story but God the fatphobia! I’m starting to notice a pattern with this author, that I don't think I would have if I hadn't read multiple works back to back.

16. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Another pick from the Sarbat LGBT+ Sikh book club. I couldn’t put this book down! I really enjoy novels in prose, and that style is in part why this book was so easy to fly through. As always I had to force myself to slow down and take it all in. But I absolutely loved it. And luckily I brought this with me on weekend getaway so it was great not having to stop and just enjoy by the fire at our campsite. Highly recommend!

17. Einstein Simplified: Cartoons on Science by Sidney Harris

I got this for Greg when I saw it on PaperbackSwap thinking he would enjoy it and maybe I would learn something about science to better understand the things Greg enjoys. But maybe a handful of these made me chuckle or laugh. Most of them were meh. I also learned this book is much older than I thought. It was published in 1989, which explains a lot because I raised an eyebrow at some of the "jokes" wondering who let that get published. Big yikes!

18. Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones has such a way with words. Absolutely incredible. I previously read his memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives, and his work always packs a punch. This collection of poems was no different.

19. The Bride by Julie Garwood

This was such a fun read! It was just what I needed to shake the reading slump I was getting in. I couldn't put it down. It was cheesy in the right ways. I will probably come back to read more by this author.

20. The Wedding by Julie Garwood

And by "probably come back" I mean this will be all I want to read now. Honestly, give me all of the Highland romances. This is what summer is about! I truly wish there was a third book in the series. It would have to be about Faith and Quinlin. And I would devour it just the same!

21. The Secret by Julie Garwood

After having binge read two of Julie Garwood's books, it didn't seem to be enough. I ended up grabbing The Secret next as it was readily available through my library's ebook app. It was so cute. Honestly the friendship between Judith and Frances Catherine is the best and makes this romance one that stands out. I honestly feel like I would be content to read romances the rest of summer, if not ever.

22. The Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

I know this is a short book but I had a really difficult time getting into it and it kind of really dragged. I was so sure I would like it but ultimately I had to force myself to sit down and just finish it so I could return it to the library. Not sure if this is the result of a reading slump, but I think I need to get better about DNF'ing books, before they force me into reading slumps.

23. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

I couldn’t sleep and basically read this book in one sitting. I love retellings of Pride & Prejudice and this was another fun one! Although I would say it’s more inspired by then a retelling. Some characters from the original feel combined in this story but either way it was a great read!

Life continues to be a roller coaster, and in that sense, my reading habits are starting to surprise me too!

If you check out any of the books listed here, I'd love to know what you thought of them!

Happy reading!

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