What are you reading this summer?
As a way to balance my constant drive toward simplicity with my constant desire to acquire new books, I occasionally put a shopping ban on reading material in order to make a dent in my TBR pile.
I did so a few months ago, and have been happily surprised to find much of what I’ve been pulling off my shelves to be engaging (not always the case, sometimes those books are collecting dust for a reason!).
What I Read
The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro. I broke my no-buying rule and picked up a copy of this at the Provincetown Bookshop while on vacation, then proceeded to read it in a few days. It’s very well written, and very engaging, and delightfully weird and a bit sinister, and while I do think Fierro pulled a fast one for the final section, tying things up too quickly, I’d still recommend it.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. This one had been in my TBR pile for a while, and now I know why. I did enjoy the language, and found the characters endearing. The arc of the story is well-done and the ending is a heartbreaker, but it’s a slow read.
Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Mossfegh. My friend Sarah invited me to see Mossfegh read at the Odyssey Bookshop and I’m so happy I went along! I picked up a copy of her stories, which I figured was a good place to start, and they are amazingly, uncomfortably awesome.
You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. My second read-through of this one, which keeps me on point for various money-related things. Her advice is kick-ass and her voice is funny, and when reading about money, it’s always good to have someone make you laugh.
Butch Geography by Stacey Waite. Picked this up at AWP in Minneapolis and finally sat down with it. I forget how much I enjoy reading poetry. As the title suggests, this one covers a lot of ground in regard to gender and sexuality, and Waite is witty and astute and the book is riddled with charm.
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I’ve only has this one kicking around, half-read, since 2003. Finally dug into it, and while some of it’s a little too touchy-feely for me, and while I think of myself as pretty feral as is, for the most part it really resonated. It’s interesting to think about your life as a process, and as the events and emotions that occur as guides rather than obstacles.
Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom. This arrived at my house via Allie’s publicist, and WOW am I ever glad it did. A beautifully written exploration of the rise and fall of domesticity, its influence on femininity, the terrifying effects of perfectionism, and how patriarchy controls cultural expectations. The history of Jell-O is intimately connected to Rowbottom’s family history, and she weaves her grandmother’s, mother’s, and personal stories through this engaging, clear-sighted cultural history.
The Importance of Reading Women
It was a bit by accident that my reading over the last 6 weeks was all female authors. Though I don’t make it a point to focus exclusively on women writers, I generally sway that way.
I’m not saying anything new here when I say how important it is to read women writers. Despite the number of female authors publishing amazing books, the VIDA count continues to find that “men dominate the pages of venues that are known to further one’s career.”
Those of us with purchasing power can help turn the tide in another direction, despite how mainstream media operates. Every book purchased, every book loaned out from the public library, every book talked up on blogs and reviewed on Goodreads, makes a big difference (for all writers, but especially for women!).
Minimalist vs Bibliophile
In June, we also made a big life decision: we’re selling our house and buying something more suited to our current family dynamic. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re excited, but we’re now also steep in the decluttering process, and I’m staring down the gauntlet of (yet again) packing up my book collection. I’m currently weighing the strength needed to pack, haul, and unpack those books against my desire to remain a bibliophile.