Book Blog: June 2022 Favorites
It’s finally summer, and not a moment too soon, really. Rather a wet spring in the PNW, it was nice to have a bit of a family vacation and some sunshine now and again to read. I feel like I’m a bit fickle but I certainly stopped reading a few books for this week. I was rewarded with some fantastic books. Here are my favorites from the eleven I read.
Peril at End House and The Dumb Witness (Agatha Christie): First up, Peril at End House… A lighthearted, silly young lady has been experiencing all of these “accidents” as of late… or are they really attempts on her life? This classic Poirot and Hastings tale kept me very engaged and I couldn’t put it down a I tried to understand what exactly was going on. This is Christie at her cleverest!
And for The Dumb Witness… This was a fantastic Poirot book that centers around an accident by Bob the Terrier, who, in leaving his ball on the stairs, falls and injures his mistress, who does a short time later from natural causes.
But IS IT natural causes? Poirot is on the case!
Good Company (Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney): I’m a little surprised the reviews for this book are so mixed, though I knew about D’Aprix Sweeney’s writing style from reading her previous book, The Nest. Like The Nest, Good Company is a very character-driven novel that doesn’t focus so much on plot but on the rich inner lives of multiple characters — Flora, her husband Julian, and daughter Ruby; plus her best friend Margot and, to a lesser degree, Margot’s husband David. It’s not that these characters aren’t likable per se, but they are complex and not necessarily consistent, simple people. To me, this is a strength, but I can see how some folks might be frustrated. The book is anchored in key points in Flora’s life, mainly as she transitions into marriage and motherhood, and how one small discovery later in her marriage makes her question the whole thing. The writing is crisp and funny, though I have to wonder why words like “ameliorate” ever need to appear more than once in a novel. I can see how this witty writing comes off as pretentious (and it is a little bit so), but at its heart it’s a well-written and relatable human story.
The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness (Meghan O’Rourke):
This is the best book that I’ve read this year, and as someone newly diagnosed with not one but two autoimmune disorders, I was really curious to learn more about them. As you might imagine, there is so much not known about autoimmune disorders, and because of this there is great disagreement in the medical community, especially between traditional (allopathic) doctors and alternative (homeopathic and naturopathic, etc.) medicine. Given the amount of medical misinformation right now — and that long CV seems to behave similarly to autoimmune disorders — there’s a lot to sort through. Not only does O’Rourke share her personal challenges but she writes such a well-cited book that gave me many more sources to dig into. If you or someone you love has an autoimmune disorder, this is the book for you!
Love That Story (Jonathan Van Ness): JVN is amazing, and I love all of his stories. This book includes their musings on many different topics, including how to better support LGBTQ+ folks, why HIV care matters, and why, as white people, we continue to benefit from our privilege. I wish this book came with videos of JVN’s amazing flips but I guess I’ll just have to get on the internet for the joy that he brings to whatever he does.
Beautiful Country (Qian Julie Wang): I was still in line for this book at the library during AAPI Heritage Month, but it was well worth the wait. I’ve been curious about learning about different AAPI narratives outside of those that are well-known, and Wang’s story is certainly that. She arrived with her mom in NYC when she was a young girl to meet her father who had already been illegally working here. As many new immigrants experience, America is not always a land of dreams and opportunities, not when you are forced into the underground labor market and when you live in fear of being deported. Wang’s story really touched me because of her humor and her observations (it seems she didn’t miss anything) and her bravery in bridging the worlds of her parents and her new country.
The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth (Sam Quinones): This book was fantastic for all the worst reasons, namely that it is awful that there are so many of my fellow Americans who struggle with drug addiction. I had already read Quinones’ first book, Dreamland, about the opioid crisis, and this book picks up more less where that one left off. Quinones mixes facts, research, and stories, but it is really the stories that carry the book. He humanizes the people who are struggling with addiction. Even though none of this was a surprise to me, it reminds me how homelessness and joblessness are often rooted in addiction.
The Hidden Lives of Owls (Leigh Calvez): This book — and the topic — is completely charming, and it was a lovely respite from some of the heavier nonfiction reading I’ve done as of late. Calvez adds enough science, policy, and conservation information to help the reader learn more about owls, but the bulk of the book details her own adventures to find owls in their natural habitats. She helps tag and measure owls, helps feed owlets, and hikes in the rain and in the night to find them in their natural habitats. It is the awe of owls that made this book such a joy to read
So there you have it! I’ve also it up. to. here. with Medium because I can’t post photos, but we’ll leave this to another day.