Reading alongside a river.

13th Challenge: June’s Chapter

My reading has decreased since I got a puppy, but then, so has my sleep. On one hand, I feel like I should be spending my days reading, while amazingly attractive men feed me grapes. On the other hand, reality.

I think I mentioned before that I neared the end of my “fun” book categories and am now filling in with books that range further from my normal reading. This is where the horizon-expanding begins.

Books I read this month as part of the 50 categories:

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

Category: A book with polarizing reviews

This book is one that people either love or hate. I found it just creepy enough to keep me pouring through it, but not a book I wanted to read right before falling asleep. It’s 90 or so years in the future, mankind in the U.S. has been nearly killed out by vampires, that man created. They are the non-sparkly ones that are somehow fun to read about years after vampires are cool. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy.


The Pearl that Broke its Shell, by Nadia Hashimi

Category: A book set in the Middle East

I’ve actually read a few books set in the Middle East this year, and of them, this was the worst written of them all. That sounds harsh but likely I can chalk it up to my inability to mesh with the author’s writing style. It’s her debut novel that tells a compelling story of two different women separated by 100 years, in war-torn Afghanistan. The novel explores the interesting practice of bacha posh, where families who have only daughters can essentially turn one of their daughters into a son until puberty. This allows the bacha posh “son” to go to school, escort his female family members as needed. These daughters are treated as a prized son until they are of an age where they need to go back to the restriction of being a woman in a patriarchal society. I had no idea this practice existed and found it fascinating how the family encouraged the behavior, then made no allowances for exceptions once the girl became a girl again. This book opened my eyes to this dichotomy and a society that found a workaround from its normally harsh views towards women.


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba

Category: A book written by an African author

This book popped up in a feed as a book I’d enjoy so I decided to try it. Sometimes I’m easily influenced like that, and in this case, I’m glad I was! Surprisingly, I found myself referring to William Kamkwamba’s story twice in different recent conversations. The author’s eagerness to find ways to help his family and his village are endless. If you don’t know the background of the author, when he was 14, his family couldn’t afford to send him to school, he went to the library and learned how to build a windmill. He then went to the junkyard and cobbled together scraps to build a working windmill, thereby providing electricity to his parents’ house, the first house in the village to have it. He talks about filling out his application for a Ted Talk while sitting under a mango tree on a hot, dusty day. It is a sweetly inspiring book and worth reading! If this 14-year-old inventor can make electricity in his African village using junk he found and repurposed, our possibilities are endless with all the resources we have.


A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway

Category: A classic you’ve never read

As a general rule, I’m not a Hemingway fan. After the Old Man and the Sea, I opted for Fitzgerald or Steinbeck when forced to read something from that era. In fact, I DID opt for Steinbeck! I listened to the first half of Travels with Charley on my drive to Northern California, with Westley in the backseat. “We’re almost the same, me and John Steinbeck,” I may or may not have whispered as I drove through the Salinas region on my way home. The plan was to listen on the way back home and finish the book. Only my dad rode back with me. Since the book wasn’t called, “Travels with Charley and Kendra’s dad”, we listened to podcasts and old radio shows. As a result, I have yet to get back to Travels with Charley. Then I saw Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and decided to give him another try. A Moveable Feast chronicles his time in Paris early in his career. He hangs with Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound, he travels with F. Scott Fitzgerald and the list goes on. It’s fascinating to read his memoir and it might be enough to prompt me to pick up another book of his next time. Maybe. It’s nice to have options.


Not included in challenge:

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

This book was supposed to be “A classic I’ve never read” before I started Travels with Charley. Instead, I read the entire book and didn’t remember reading it until 30 pages from the end. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? The book is a classic, I should remember reading it. And the worst part is, I think that happened last time I read it as well. Maybe time is unsticking for me like it did for the main character. First I’m in a college class reading Slaughterhouse Five, then I’m reading it now, then I’m reading it whenever the last time I forgot that I’ve read it and felt the need to read it was. Hopefully now that I’m documenting it, I’ll remember before I read it a fourth time. Funny thing was, even though it isn’t a book I would normally read or like, it was extremely well-written, and, even enjoyable. As war PTSD books go.

Departure, by A.G. Riddle

More science-fiction than I prefer. It was like “Lost” with they eventually discovered that a few of the characters ran the world, deciding the fate of the world between the time jumps. Honestly, I had to look up more about the book to remember, and I read it less than 20 days ago. If you like sci-fi then go for it, if not skip it. It’s a solid C rating from me.

Ice Like Fire, by Sara Raasch

A sequel to a book I read earlier this year. It’s a dystopian young-adult book that took the “young adult” aspect too far. I don’t know if the author was trying to bridge books, or if she had a contract for three books so she decided to fill the middle one with endless angst and very little action. Whatever the reason, I doubt I’ll read the third book, I barely made it through the second one. Don’t do it.


That’s June’s reading list. July’s book list is starting out strong, so I hope it continues that way!


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