Monday, July 30, 2018

A Month In The Life: July 2018

We're at the point in summer where it feels like it'll never be over. Though it's nowhere nearly as bad as Las Vegas, Reno gets very toasty in the summer, and our swamp cooler is one of the best things we've bought ourselves for our apartment! And thankfully, we were able to escape the heat a bit with a little weekend vacation mid-month!

In Books...

  • Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: This is an extremely comprehensive account of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. If you're already very familiar with the facts, this likely won't do much for you, but since my own memories of the coverage of the case were fuzzy, I found it informative. It doesn't have the kind of narrative flow that distinguishes the best true crime, but it's very competently written and is a solid foundation on what happened...even if the question of who did it remains frustratingly beyond reach.  
  • Disgrace: It's quite short, less than 250 pages, but this novel about a college professor in South Africa whose fling with a student lands him out of academia and into the countryside with his only daughter is rich with meaning and deeply layered. It's not an easy book or enjoyable in the traditional sense, but it's powerful and very good.
  • The Looming Tower: I'll admit I was a little concerned about reading this just six months after Ghost Wars since it seemed like it would have a lot of the same information, but I needn't have worried. This book focuses less on Afghanistan and more on Osama Bin Laden and the development of al-Queda, and for my money was the better of the two. Despite containing a lot of information, it was clearly told and resisted diverging too far from its central narrative. 
  • My Own Words: This collection of pieces of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's writings and speeches, dating from middle school all the way through her long and continuing career on the Supreme Court is a solid work. An enjoyable portrait of a keen-minded lady, though I'll confess I'm more looking forward to the biography that's on the way from the same writers. 
  • Olive Kitteridge: I feel like I've read a lot of books lately in that "interconnected vignettes" style, so I was dreading picking up this set of loosely intertwined short stories. But there's a reason Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer...each story is a full story and Olive was a character I found myself interested in reading about. She's a mess of contradictions in such a human way. There are some stronger stories and some weaker ones, of course, but it's a very solid collection.
  • The Romanov Empress: I used to read a lot more historical fiction and enjoyed it, so I was intrigued by this story of the life of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. She was the mother of Tsar Nicholas II and outlived not only him, but three of her other children as well. The book was competent but not exemplary...she lived such a long, full life that it ended up being more of a highlight reel than a story that I could really get into. I do want to read an actual biography of her now, though!
  • The Pleasing Hour: This novel about a young American woman who goes to France to work as an au pair has some truly lovely writing and does some good work with characters at points, but never really finds a compelling plot or comes completely together. It's a debut, though, so I'm looking forward to read more of Lily King's work. 

In Life...

  • Weekend in San Francisco: There was a motive behind this one that I'll let you all know about if it develops into anything, but honestly any excuse to go enjoy the Bay Area is good enough! I flew in on a Wednesday night and Drew drove over to join on a Thursday, and after a brief obligation Thursday, we had the rest of the weekend to explore the city and Berkeley, where we stayed on the spendier weekend nights to save some money. We ate, we drank, I made TWO bookstore stops. It was really fun, San Francisco is a great city.

One Thing:

Every once in a while there's a big Reddit thread about the best phone apps you've never heard of. The last time I browsed one, I downloaded TripIt! for my phone and this weekend's trip to the Bay was the first time I used it and I really liked it! You can either sign up to let them have access to your emails so it will scan them for things like confirmation numbers, or forward your emails directly (I did the former) and it'll organize them by trip so you have all your information together in one place. Maybe more naturally organized people have a system that works for them, but for me I found it really helpful to have and I recommend trying it out if that sounds like something that would work for you!

Gratuitous Pug Picture:


  1. I read both My Own Words and Notorious RBG and liked Notorious much better. She is an amazing woman and I am looking forward to the movie about her life.

    1. I have Notorious RBG but haven't read it yet. With a legal background, though, My Own Words was something I really enjoyed. She is incredible, and I super want to see the documentary on her that came out recently (which, of course, never came to Reno as far as I know)

  2. I liked the Jonbenet book - read it years ago! Also really liked Looming Tower...and glad to see it's still relevant. And, Olive Kitteridge has been on my TBR list for ages and I loved My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible, so I should probably get to it!

    1. Since Olive is short stories, it was easy to pick up, read one or two, and put back down again. Some stories were stronger than others, of course, but as a whole it's a very good collection. And I was happy to have two solid nonfiction books this month! I haven't read as much of it this year as I usually do and it's kind of nice to switch it up!

  3. Haha, I love your gratuitous pug. I’m not a summer person. I’m very ready for fall and cooler weather. The only book on your list that I’ve read is Olive Kitteridge. I read it years ago, but I liked it. Happy August!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Poor pug has to have dental surgery tomorrow and I am already fretting about it! I always think I like summer for the first couple weeks when I spend more time outside and it's nice and warm and then it gets too warm and stays that way and all I want is to feel crispness in the air again. Fall is my actual favorite time of year and I want it now!