What I read in July

It’s time for my monthly what-I-read post! As always, you can follow me on Goodreads if you want my ongoing thoughts and reviews (sneak preview of next month’s blog: I’m about to finish a book that I’m giving a very poor review), but here’s my roundup of books I read in July. It was another good reading month with four books read, all of which I really enjoyed. I’ve just (as in, one second ago, scrolling through Lithub) found out that August is Women in Translation Month, so I’m going to make a goal to read at least one translated book by a female author (and ideally a female translator) in August—see below for my review of one I read in July!

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus PrisonNo Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sad and sobering reminder that the horrible treatment of innocents seeking refuge is not only an issue at our own border in the USA but also abroad. Here in Australia anti-immigration sentiment is just as virulent and awful as it is in America, and it has led to the detaining of asylum-seekers, often without end and in terrible conditions. This memoir by a Kurdish journalist and poet who was held in Manus detainment centre until its closure, is heartbreaking and horrifying. It’s also written with so much dignity and grace that it demonstrates not only the inhumane treatment of the prisoners on Manus but also the strength of the human spirit and the capacity for hope and determination. While I feel that some of the poetic nature of the writing may have been lost in translation a bit, the story is one that should be heard in any form.

Human ActsHuman Acts by Han Kang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My whole book club fell in love with The Vegetarian when we read it a few years ago for its visceral, unrelenting descriptions and stark emotion. Human Acts evokes those same themes in a different way that is just as strong and unbearably good. Heart- and gut-wrenching, with writing that is brutal as it is beautiful, Human Acts tells the story of uprising, suppressing, the death of an innocent 15-year-old student, and the pain and raw feelings that spiral from the event. The narration changes perspectives to add to the jarring, unsettling feel of the story, and the writing is as beautiful as the events it covers are terrible.

The Heart's Invisible FuriesThe Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is there a word like “bittersweet” that describes something that is both funny and sad? If not, there should be, and it should be applied to this novel. I read it expecting a tragedy, and I got one, but I also found moments of laugh-out-loud humour and wide smiles. It’s a story of contradictions in some ways; the characters are often unlikable yet overall lovable, the predictable beats occur but do so juxtaposed by the unexpected, and so on. There are points when the writing feels haphazard, the coincidences too coincidental, the references too self-referential, but somehow despite this and the near-600 page length of the book, Cyril’s life remained a journey that as a reader I wanted to be part of.

Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a stunningly beautiful book. It’s so gentle, and loving, and respectful, weaving a beautiful blanket of a story that wraps you up in the gorgeous intersection of Mother Nature and womanhood. Kya is a gem of a protagonist, with her deep connection to nature and powerful, determined personality. She is fierce yet vulnerable, and her story of love and survival is so compelling, despite her circumstances being so far from what most of us would ever imagine to experience. Delia Owens’ writing brings the Marsh to life (I feel the urge to capitalise the word because it is a character in its own right) with all of its creatures and secrets, and so many of her sentences and phrases paint pictures as vivid as those Kya creates to document the collection of shells and samples she finds there. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time, and that I’ve already got a list in mind of friends to whom I want to recommend it.

View all my reviews

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