Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Month In The Life: July 2021


The summer after session is a glorious time...there's still work to do, of course, but it's such a dramatic stepdown from the headlong rush of the session that it all feels very leisurely. It would be a great time to hang out on the deck outside, but unfortunately, Reno is not really cooperating with those sorts of plans. It has been beastly hot, so we are very grateful that our air conditioning is working at least!

In Books...

  • The Snow Child: I love stories based on folklore, and had heard good things about this, so I was really excited to read this take on the Russian tale of "Snegurochka". An older couple who can't have children move to Alaska to forget their woes, and after a night where they build a snowgirl together, they start seeing a child in the woods. I just never got drawn in and thought the attempts to play both sides as to the child's origin worked against the book.
  • Pachinko: I came into this having gotten tons of hype from friends, which can be a double-edged sword, but it delivered for me. Multi-generational family stories often appeal to me, and this one taught me quite a lot that I hadn't known about the relationship between Korea and Japan while telling a powerful story. I really loved it!
  • Homeland Elegies: Another month, another book club selection that didn't quite come together for me as a reader. I'm always a little leery of autofiction, and this was the sort that I tend to find irritating (where the memoir-esque elements are very strong). And while I understand the vignette-type structure, I rarely enjoy reading it and that held true here as well. 
  • Dreamland: In 2021, we're reading headlines about players in the pharmaceutical industry settling enormous, multi-state lawsuits. But in 2015, when this book was published, the opiate epidemic was really just starting to fully come into focus. This is sometimes repetitive and bounces around a little too much for my personal taste, but it's a wide-ranging look at the factors that came together to create one of the most devastating public health crises of our time. 
  • The Council of Animals: This is a short little book, about several animals trying to decide what to do with a small group of surviving humans that have been discovered after a never-specified-but-human-caused Calamity. I was worried it was going to go hard in an Animal Farm direction, which it didn't, but it also failed to really capture my attention. Pleasant enough but insubstantial. 
  • Nabokov in America: I'd been looking forward to getting to this one for ages but honestly, I was really underwhelmed. Lolita is one of my all-time favorite books, so reading about the author's time in America (where he wrote the book) seemed like it would provide an interesting perspective, but this was criminally boring. I'm always wary of a non-fiction book that constantly excerpts large chunks of its sources because it seldom has much original to say, and books like this are why.


In Life...

  • It is smoky and disgusting outside: Wildfires are a fact of life in the West in the summer, but it feels a little early for it to be as bad as it is. This is especially dismaying because recent research has shown that the smoke makes COVID symptoms worse and COVID numbers in Nevada (mostly in Clark County where Las Vegas is, but in northern Nevada too) aren't looking very good recently

One Thing:

I've long had mixed feelings about the current state of YA, a genre I read heavily as a teenager but only occasionally now. It seems like virtually anything with a teenage central character (particularly a girl) is labeled as "young adult", even when it seems much more directly targeted at an adult audience. This article, written be someone who was a literal teenager at the time the YA boom really started taking off and writes about what it was like to be in the Twitter community around YA, allegedly the intended consumer, and experience the intensity and harassment of the adult participants. It's a really interesting read!

Gratuitous Pug Picture: 


  1. I'm not at all patched in to the YA world, but your post reminded me that I recently had a bit of a shock when I learned halfway through that one of the books I was reading (Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi, which I really liked) was apparently actually marketed as a YA book! Given that the last few YA books I read were all from the Hunger Games series (where the subject matter is quite dark, but it's still engaged with in a way that feels very Twilight-era YA to me), I was just not prepared for the idea that this extremely adult-feeling story was marketed towards teenagers. I think I have read actual YA-feeling books that engaged with similar mature subject matter as Yolk, but the direct, unflinching way it was talked about in Yolk felt very "not-YA."

  2. I felt the same way about The Snow Child. I was looking forward to it, but I ended up feeling pretty “meh” about the whole thing. I also feel the same way about the wildfire smoke. I’m in Colorado, and it’s gross. I hope you have a great August!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!