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Romi’s Reading Round-Up for June and July

I have a lot of fun books to share this time!

But first, I want to discuss subscribing to the blog. As I mentioned in my last post, I just moved over to WordPress. In doing so, I lost my subscribers, and I’d love for people to get notified when I write a new blog post. To sign up for the email notifications, look at the symbols on the right side of the blog post and sign up there. Now on to our books!

Books I Loved

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin: I was surprised by how much I loved this book. It’s a strange story about a little boy who remembers his other lives and the mother who tries to cope. It’s an unusual topic, but one that was done with grace and dignity, and I loved the exploration of life and death, and life after death.

It’s. Nice. Outside by Jim Kokoris: WOW! This book was incredible. I read another of his books, The Rich Part of Life, when I finished this one and it was nowhere near as good. This book had a polish to it and a pace that was perfect. It was about a father who takes his disabled son on a road trip and it managed to be laugh-out-loud funny, touching and satisfying.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar: This was a look at class systems and the ways that we interact and react based on what we think we know about ourselves and others. The story could be extrapolated out to so many different scenarios. Beautifully done.

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy: I’ve been meaning to read this for years. It’s the story of four very different people during the Civil War – two slaves, an Irish immigrant soldier and a woman of society. It was fantastic.

Books I Enjoyed

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck: This was a fictionalized account of the women left behind when their husbands fail in their attempted assassination of Hitler in 1944. A book you’ll think about after.

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick: I thoroughly enjoyed this look at three damaged sisters who cope years after trying to live up to the dreams of their oppressive mother.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: This book got rave reviews and has a very interesting back story. The author wrote it as his swan song while dying. Apparently he wrote much of it with something over his head so that he wouldn’t see anything or be distracted and he managed to complete the book in four month. Unfortunately, I felt like it was written in a distant, distracted voice and, as a result, I never found any affection for the characters. The end was abrupt and out of character as well. I was very disappointed and apparently I’m in the minority, as usual, in this opinion.

The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murari: What an unusual gem. I don’t know how I found this book, but it’s the harrowing look at what life under the Taliban might have felt like. The ending was a bit silly and I started to skim, but it was worth the read.

The Healing by Jonathan Odell: This is a powerful look at slavery and those who were slightly outside of the norm as black healers. I really enjoyed it.

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde: Oh Catherine Ryan Hyde, let me count the ways that I love you. I have read almost everything by her and I simply love her straight-forward, tender way of writing and the way she juxtaposes two unusual characters in her stories. I enjoyed some of her other books more, but I certainly enjoyed this one as well.

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash: A difficult read at times, this was about one little boy coping with an evil that few realize is taking over their town. It’s about the danger of misguided charisma, loyalty, family and love. Very powerful.

Books I Hated

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill: This is another of those books that makes me think I live in an alternative universe to most readers. It’s written as the dreadful train-of-thought of one woman as her marriage falls apart. As I read the book, I felt like I was in a modern art exhibit saying, “Well, if that’s art than anyone can make art.” I thought it was complete and total junk. Blech.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss: I picked this up at the library without knowing anything about it. It was a very interesting look at commodities exchanges, Jewish life in Amsterdam in 1659 and the advent of the coffee industry. However, it was bogged down in so much detail and so much conspiracy that I just couldn’t like it, even though I really wanted to.

Sweet Tea Tuesdays by Ashley Farley: What did I expect buying a book with a title like this, right? Oh well…I was hoping for bigger things but it was completely predictable drivel. The question is why I finished it.

Books I Didn’t Finish

Which brings us to books that I didn’t finish. I find that there are a few books each month that I simply don’t finish. Sometimes it’s because the subject doesn’t interest me and other times it’s because I just can’t get myself to care. I’m always proud of myself when I don’t finish a book; life is short and we don’t have to second-guess ourselves.

City of Thieves by David Benioff: This book had a great premise and I thought I would love it. I just couldn’t get into it, even though I think many people will enjoy it.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy: How unhappy could one book make me? I read about 20% and I must have flipped back to Goodreads ten times thinking, “What in the world is this book about?” After 20% I realized…it’s about nothing. And I put it down.

Next Up?

I’m currently reading Perfect by Rachel Joyce (but I really don’t like it so far!) and Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams (which I enjoy). I also have on my short list Bright Flows the River by Taylor Caldwell and Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon which I’ve wanted to read for ages.

And what are you reading?

1 thought on “Romi’s Reading Round-Up for June and July

  1. Shavua Tov Mrs. Sussman,

    I am writing to tell you about my books to inquire whether you would be interested in including them in a future reading roundup.

    My Peretz Family Adventures series, for middle-grade readers, begins with a novel titled Yaakov the Pirate Hunter. One quiet morning, the Peretz children discover a pirates’ treasure map in their family’s robot. It leads them into the Mojave Desert, where they soon unearth a mysterious treasure chest stolen from a Santa Barbara billionaire named Aharon Sapir. Those events launch a fast-paced adventure that fills the remainder of the novel and leads to two sequels (and counting).

    If you are interested in reviewing the novel on your site, then I can send you a copy.

    Also, would you be interested in guest posts by other Jewish authors? I am part of a group aimed at helping Jewish writers to broaden their reach.

    Awaiting your reply,
    Nathaniel Wyckoff

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