I’ve been so distracted with work and other writing projects that I’ve definitely been putting off a recap of my June reads. Plus, I’ve delved into such enjoyable books this month in July that the books below haven’t exactly stuck out that much since I finished them. It wasn’t until the end of the month that I realized most of what I read was non-fiction, but it seems that I’ve recently gone through phases of preferring non-fiction or documentaries over literary fiction and TV shows. Anyone else feel that way every now and then?
July has already gone down a significantly different path in terms of what I’ve read. While I’m so excited to eventually share what books I’ve read in the past two weeks or so, here’s what I have to say about the five books I read in June.
From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood, by Nancy McCabe (★★★☆☆)
I received this memoir / literary critique for Christmas a few years ago, and while I read about half of it soon after getting it, I never picked it up again. I rarely buy books because of a lack of storage, so I’ve been trying to chug through the stories on my shelves that I somehow haven’t read yet. McCabe’s book follows her adult journeys to the real-life settings of her favorite childhood books, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, the Anne of Green Gables books, and Little Women. She takes these trips with her young daughter, who is usually quite indifferent to the meaning of these locations, and looks at these classic stories from her grown perspective, often becoming disappointed with how problematic the stories actually were.
Like many girls, I reread the Little House books so much as a kid, but as I’ve mentioned before, I love going back to the Anne books and try to reread Anne of the Island at least once a year. I’m also fiercely protective of Anne Shirley, and McCabe’s critique of those books didn’t sit well with me. I get that, as an academic, it was her job to be critical of the stories, but at certain points, it just seemed like she was finding reasons to complain. I did like some of McCabe’s insights, but I was glad to part with her voice at the end of the book.
The Perfect Match, by Kristan Higgins (★★★☆☆)
This one does lean more toward being a 3.5-star read. As seen in my May Reads post, I read the two other Blue Heron books about Holland family members, really liking The Best Man and loving In Your Dreams. The Perfect Match is about the second-born Holland sibling, Honor, and her decision to enter a green card marriage with a British professor who wants to stay in the States to be near his pseudo stepson. What starts out as an arrangement of convenience becomes more complicated when Honor starts to legitimately fall for Tom the professor.
Although I’m probably more of an Honor than a Faith or an Emmeline, I didn’t love The Perfect Match as much as I enjoyed the other two books. Perhaps it was because of the wacky concept and how suddenly conflict was resolved at the end of the story. However, I really do love what I’ve read of the Blue Heron series as a whole. Higgins just created such a warm yet realistic world that feels even better when explored from the perspective of a Holland family member. I don’t think I’ll read the other books in the series, since they feature friends of the Hollands that I didn’t really care about whenever they popped up, but never say never!
Robin, by Dave Itzkoff (★★★★☆)
I don’t read many biographies, but when I do, they’re never of men. But after seeing so many ads for this definitive Robin Williams biography, I caved, checking this out as an Overdrive ebook soon after its release. It was definitely worth it!
You can tell with so many biographies that the author couldn’t be further away from the source, but that wasn’t the case with Robin. Itzkoff, a journalist, worked with him before, and he interviewed various family members and close friends of Williams for this book. He doesn’t hold back from the truth about this iconic figure, but he’s still respectful about it. The ending, which obviously covers Williams’ upsetting death, is pretty heartbreaking, and it really made me consider the negative effects of having such a quick, comic mind.
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (★★★☆☆)
No, that’s not a typo. Amy Krouse Rosenthal is the author whose “Modern Love” New York Times column “You May Want to Marry My Husband” went viral shortly before her death from ovarian cancer. I bought this book around the time of her death, but never picked it up until last month. Organized into different school subjects, the book focuses on her little insights and reflections about life in very brief bursts of words. It’s extremely short, and I got through it in about an hour. I’ve definitely read better books with similar styles, but I think knowing about the author helped me see this in an interesting light.
A Man of Character, by Margaret Locke (★★★☆☆)
This was a random find on Overdrive, and I was kind of over it by the end of the book. Cat runs the bookshop her father left behind when he died of a heart attack, but she’s afraid to live life beyond the store and her best friend Eliza, who she runs the store with. When her mom sends her an ancient manuscript she found among Cat’s old belongings, Cat soon discovers that the manuscript is connected to a family secret. When very appealing men start appearing in her life, she realizes they are carbon copies of the men she wrote about in her own stories as a teen. But does she really want to pursue a relationship with men who like her because she wrote them that way?
The concept of this story was really fun at first, but it never quite picked up and reached that level of being great. By the end, the plot was so nonsensical that I was ready for it to be done. Cute, but nothing special.