June Reviews

One of the best things about summer is obviously the time it gives me to read. June was a productive month- 9 books! Granted 4 were just this past week alone on vacation- travel time means reading time. The lowdown (please forgive my brevity):

Appointment in Samara by John O'Hara
240 pages
I received this book from Penguin and I have to be honest- I wasn't in love. I love the time period, but I struggled to invest myself in the story, characters, or writing.

Verdict: Skip (it really pains me to say that, because I had relatively high hopes)
This Song is You by Arthur Phillips
272 pages
This novel is about a recently divorced middle-aged man that falls in love with the singer of a band he hears in a bar, all the while living out his life in conjunction to his extensive iPod playlist on shuffle. Meanwhile, he's trying to figure out how to heal the wounds of his dead son, with his ex-wife. 

Verdict: It took me 40 or so pages to get into the story, but by the end I really enjoyed it. By the way, the cover (at least the one that I have) is really misleading.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
336 pages 
Ghana Must Go is a complex, non-linear, narrative about a doctor in Ghana that dies of a heart attack one morning. The perspective jumps around from himself to each of his children, examining the various points in their lives that both broke and bonded their family.

Verdict: This is truly a great book; it's not for everyone, and isn't an easy read, though. I haven't read a ton of books set in modern Africa, so that aspect was interesting as well. 

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
368 pages 
In Perotta's newest book the world is experiencing a sudden decrease in population- people have simply vanished (it's The Rapture but not The Rapture). Perotta primarily focuses on the mayor's family- the mayor tries to lead the town in a positive direction of regrowth, while his son and wife both run off and join separate cults, and his teenage daughter's struggles to handle everything that's going on around her.

Verdict: I don't think this is Perrotta's best, but it's interesting and fairly quick. For those that enjoy apocalyptic type books this would probably be enjoyable. 

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
296 pages 
Despite winning the National Book award, I really didn't enjoy this novel. It takes place on a race track and looks at the logistics behind manipulating the racing system. It was incredibly difficult to get into (I didn't) and I constantly felt that I was missing something, given my sparse knowledge on horse racing.

Verdict: I'd say pass, but those that are more informed on the subject matter may appreciate it more than I did.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
400 pages 
Several people have recommended this book to me and it was received incredibly well by a multitude of publications and groups the year it came out, so I finally picked up a copy. It was really fantastic. This nonfiction account of Henrietta Lacks and her science-changing cells is informative, emotional, and riveting. I'll do a non-fiction post on it later this week.

Verdict: It's a definite win for those that have a soft spot for biology or medical history. 

A Map of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal
272 pages 
A Map of Tulsa would be a great independent film- a random setting, a complicated yet simple relationship, and a scene where a guy and a girl are running between backyards slightly high in the middle of the night. The main character has returned home to Tulsa after his first year of college and is dealing with that all too familiar "I don't feel like I fit in here anymore" syndrome so many of us experience. He meets a girl he vaguely remembers from high school and they spend the summer together, only to be reunited several years later under unfortunate pretenses.

Verdict: This book is subtly great- if you're looking for something more obvious or explicit this wouldn't be for you. 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
400 pages 
This book begins with a 100-Year-Old Man climbing out the window of his rest home to escape his birthday party. He ends up stealing a young man's locked suitcase at the bust station, hoping there are better shoes in it, and is off on an adventure that leads to murder, elephant relocation, and riches. The narrative also reverts back to his past, where he was (often inadvertently) involved with leaders like Stalin, Mao, and Truman.

Verdict: I enjoyed this quirky, often random, tale and thought Jonasson did a good job relating the past to the present. 

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
304 pages 
I don't say this often, but the movie was actually better than the book. The book wasn't bad (a perfect pool or beach or airplane read), but it was a bit simple in terms of plot and characters. The differences themselves weren't really bothersome, I just thought the movie did a better joy developing relationships and forming a cohesive plot. 

Verdict: If you need something light and enjoyed the movie then give it a try.

Total: 2,520


  1. I thought The Leftovers was weird/fun/weird again ;) Lacks and 100 Year Old Man were definite favorites of mine.

  2. I have heard lots of good things about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I keep thinking I'd like to read it.

    You have intrigued me with The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and I am on my way to the library web page right now to look for it!