Monday, August 30, 2021

A Month In The Life: August 2021


A big month! We took our first significant vacation since before the pandemic, and were able to celebrate some big news with friends and family, which was super nice. Also nice: being able to breathe normally outside! But it was only a week, and now we're back in the smoke with no end in sight. Keep the emergency personnel fighting the Dixie and Caldor fires in your thoughts, y''s been a long summer for firefighters in the West and their work is nowhere near done.

In Books...

  • The Sisters of Versailles: Based in actual history, this is the story of four sisters (out of five) who each become mistresses of King Louis XV of France. It's an entertaining, relatively fluffy read that moves pretty quickly, though characterizations tend to be flat and a lot of the same notes are hit again and again. I would LOVE an actual high-quality biography of the de Nesle sisters, but this is fine for what it's trying to be
  • On The Move: My love for Oliver Sacks is well-documented, and I am happy to report that his second memoir (covering much of his adult life, as his first focused on his childhood) is wonderful. He recounts his struggles to live his life fully as a gay man, his love for motorcycles, living his life in the United States while never becoming a citizen, weightlifting, and professional difficulties in practicing medicine which ultimately culminated in his extraordinary writing career. I loved it.
  • The Man Who Killed Rasputin: This was my first time reading Greg King, who writes a lot about Imperial Russian history, and I was surprised that he seems to be a bit of a Rasputin apologist. He's much less charitable towards his actual subject- Prince Felix Yusupov, the fabulously wealthy and often impetuous aristocrat who was the ringleader of the group that carried out the titular assassination. I appreciate that he explored multiple accounts how events unfolded, though he seems to give unusual credence to some sources (like Rasputin's daughter, who was not present) that would not tend to be overly reliable. I'm now more interested in reading Yusupov's own memoirs.
  • The Walls Around Us: This book seemed to have less of an actual plot than just...vibes. It's successful at creating a unsettling atmosphere, but not as much at telling a coherent story. I'm often a sucker for a ballet book, but the parts of this story that could have been the most interesting to me (the actual details of how one of two best friends that might have been suspects in the murder of two of their classmates ends up in detention, while the other escapes suspicion) are glossed over. It's not what Nova Ren Suma was trying to do, and I get it, but that didn't make it any more satisfying to me.
  • The Human Zoo: This was a new release and I was intrigued by the idea of reading more about The Philippines from someone who had actual spent several years living there. The framing device is that a writer, whose mother is from the Philippines and who had spent many years of her childhood there, is trying to write a book about natives who became part of human zoos while she deals with the realities of the leadership of a Duterte-type figure. But I found the protagonist too passive of a figure to really get invested in, which meant the book didn't quite work since it's much more about her relationships than anything else.


In Life...

  • I'm having a baby: In February of next year, my husband and I will become parents! We're very excited, of course, and also a little bit freaked out about how much our lives will change. I know my reading pace is going to fall off quite a bit for a while there, so my monthly posts will likely be pretty boring for a bit! I do plan to integrate kid-centric content in here every so often, but that's not really the point of the blog so it won't be constant.
  • Vacation to Michigan: Besides a brief spin back for my sister's baby shower last September, I hadn't been back to Michigan with my husband for two years! We had a lovely week visiting with family and friends (and meeting our little nephew, who is eight months old and ADORABLE), and hope that the COVID situation allows for us to do the same next year as well.

One Thing:

The Caldor Fire may be wreaking havoc on Reno's air quality, but it's tearing through small communities in the Sierra Nevadas at an alarming rate and the people who live there are losing everything. While there are always many worthy causes out there (Hurricane Ida's impact on New Orleans will be devastating for the residents of that city for some time to come), if you'd like to join me in making a donation to support victims of the Caldor Fire, I'm supporting the El Dorado Community Foundation.

Gratuitous Pug Picture:


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