July Reviews

July has been very good to me- it's brought me two mini-vacations, a ton of time with friends, a family visit, more sleep than usual, and a healthy dose of good reading. Knowing that August is usually an asshole and is followed by the stupid bitch that is September, I'm becoming very nostalgic (I obviously hate the whole reestablishment of the back-to-work routine nonsense). And don't you dare give me the whole "most working adults don't get a summer vacation bullcrap"- you try being stuck in a room bursting at the seams with adolescent teenagers that are coming back from an even lazier summer than I enjoyed. So defensive, so unprovoked... It's a talent. So is providing brief mediocre analysis on the books I read:

Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman
464 pages
I actually already wrote about this text in a post, but I will once again say that it was quite interesting- Reitman offers a complex, detailed history of Scientology. There were a few dull parts, but those that were a little more scandalous made up for it. 

Verdict: If you're interested in the subject, or in religion in general, you will probably enjoy it. 

Underworld by Don DeLillo
5,555,555 pages
I wrote about this as well, considering it was such a freakin' feat to finish after tenish years of being in the process. DeLillo is an excellent writer and I'll probably read some of his shorter works eventually. I'm still really trying to hone in on what this book was about, but I can say one of the overarching concepts is connections- who we make them with, when we make them, and where.

Verdict: If I have to suffer you should too.

The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle
432 pages
I really, really enjoyed LaValle's latest, which I think comes out later this month or next. It wasn't quite as serious or philosophical as his last book, Big Machine, but it was still fantastic. The main character, Pepper, is admitted into a mental hospital that he struggles to be discharged from. As he gets to know the other patients he also discovers that there is some sort of "monster" lurking the halls. The novel is of course much more complex, exploring themes of family, friendship, race, identity, and freedom. 

Verdict: Don't be discouraged by the length (not that most of you would)- it read fairly fast and doesn't have any dull moments. 

Arcadia by Lauren Groff
304 pages
Another novel I very much enjoyed this month (probably my favorite, actually). I have a soft spot for hippies- for some reason, despite my aversion for dirt, I feel like I would have been a bra-burning, commune-living, free-lovin' flower child if I had been alive in the sixties. Bit, the main character in Groff's novel is raised on a commune, where idealism and practicality clash on a daily basis. Eventually, when Bit is a teenager, his family has a falling out with the leader and they move to the city. The book continues to span several decades as Bit becomes a man, an abandoned husband, a father, and a caregiver for his mother. 

Verdict: I think this is a book that a lot of people with various types of reading habits could enjoy.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
288 pages
I posted about this million dollar acquisition the other day, arriving at the conclusion that while it's an interesting premise and an entertaining read, it's not worth the price Random House paid. The main character, Julia, is a sixth grader that must live in a world where the Earth has stopped rotating quite as fast, therefore slowing down the day. Life drastically changes, resulting in changes to the economy, agriculture, and social fiber of society.

Verdict: I actually think it's worth the four or so hours it takes to read it- it made me consider my own perception and reliance on time.

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by Daivd Ulin
151 pages
I plan on posting more about this tomorrow, but this short nonfiction text is really an extended essay written by David Ulin, a Los Angeles journalist. I've had this on the shelf for a few years and have kept putting it off. I thought it might help me get back in the school mode, which it did. The title is pretty self-explanatory- Ulin discusses in great deal why we need to keep reading and what it does for people as individuals and a society. 

Verdict: While I found it very interesting, I don't necessarily think this is one for everyone. It's a light-weight academic text and isn't meant to entertain, rather than to argue for the need to be conscious of how technology is constantly present and, of course, to read. 


  1. I love when you do these posts! So many good books. Of all of these, these Scientology one has got my interest the most. I'm always impressed by how many pages you read. You put my snail's pace to shame.

    Do you have nightmares at back to school time? I do! I always dream that the kids are misbehaving and I'm passing out detentions and they don't care. They've realized that I have no real power over them. Terrifying.*

    1. Thanks!

      I do have nightmares, or at least dreams. I'm moving to a new room this year and I had a dream recently that I completely forgot about it and just went along business as usual in the old room, sans ALL my stuff. The nightmares involve waking up before 6 am, haha.

  2. I'm going to grab Arcadia today, but only because of your recommendation....and because I too have a soft spot for peace lovers. Despite my aversion to dirt ;)