If you’ve been wondering where the recipes went this month… I do have a post in the works. But I suppose you can blame these books for my procrastination because I’ve been doing a loooot of reading. A trip to the library made my to-read stack grow quite a bit and I’m truthfully a less ambitious cook in the summer. So here we are now.
Take a look at this month’s reads below and stay tuned for a recipe, coming soon:
Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening (by Manal al-Sharif) – I read this book because I actually wrote some pieces back in the day about the Women2Drive movement in Saudi Arabia — a social media movement that highlighted Saudi women’s attempts to drive (which they are not allowed to do). Al-Sharif was a key figure in that movement, having dared to get behind the wheel and having it filmed and posted online. This book was a really enlightening look into her background and the events surrounding her push to drive in Saudi Arabia. It was a compelling read that I sped through over the course of a couple of days.
The Master and Margarita (by Mikhail Bulgakov) – So I’m not going to lie, I struggled with the first couple of chapters of this novel, about the Devil’s visit to the Soviet Union, which is hailed a classic. But after taking a break and returning to it, I got sucked in. That said, there were still chapters later in the novel that I didn’t have the easiest time with, but I’m glad I stuck it out even though I’m not sure it’s a book I would revisit at a later date.
Hunger (by Roxane Gay) – This was a quick but difficult read detailing the author’s troubles with overeating and body image after being raped at a young age. Gay hasn’t hidden the devastating event from her readers, but this book delves into the subject more deeply than her previous works have. It’s an important, enlightening book that I think everyone should take the time to read.
Swing Time (by Zadie Smith) – This novel, which spans decades and continents, is told from the point of view of a biracial narrator who grew up in London. It focuses largely on her friendship with another biracial girl and later focuses on her relationship with a pop star (a bit Madonna-esque based on some of her traits) she’s working for. I felt the novel started out strong, but somewhere in the middle and toward the end, it lagged a bit for me. I think the story became a little unfocused and while I understood why the narrator and her childhood friend drifted apart, I felt certain aspects of the latter’s character development were a little foggy.
A Separation (by Katie Kitamura) – A young woman’s estranged husband goes missing and she sets out to find him (largely to get their divorce figured out) with some unexpected results. I had read some really good reviews of this novel, but ultimately, it fell flat for me. I honestly didn’t care about the characters and even though it was a short novel, I actually started finding it tedious to read at times. Not my favorite.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter (by Scaachi Koul) – I read this collection of essays that focuses on growing up the child of immigrants, racism, sexism and some completely random topics all in one night. There were parts that were laugh-out-loud funny and others that were really profound and relatable — a perfect summer read for me.
The Refugees (by Viet Thanh Nguyen) – This collection of short stories focuses on the various experiences of Vietnamese immigrants to the United States — it’s a tight collection of stories that I found a little more focused than his novel, The Sympathizer. The stories are really well written and definitely worth a read.
The John Lennon Letters (edited by Hunter Davies) – I had this on my to-read shelf for ages after buying it on clearance a while back. It’s very nicely put together (divided into different periods of Lennon’s life) and there are some lovely photos in there. However, I don’t think I really learned anything I didn’t already know about John Lennon through this and there were times I felt a bit guilty looking through his letters (I also felt a bit of a twinge when I read one letter where he said he suspected he’d live to be ripe old age). It’s kind of neat to look at if you’re a Beatles/Lennon fan, but I don’t think I’ll be adding my copy back to my shelves after this — cool to look at once, but I don’t think I’d open it again.