Pride Month is over.
In truth, it didn’t really feel like Pride Month.
It felt more like Wrath Month.
I saw an old friend, met up with my writing group for the first time in over a year, and visited my brother.
Oh, and I joined a book club and completed a mini readathon.
I finished my final book for the readathon (Siege and Storm, in case you were curious) just before midnight on the 30th.
All in all, it was a good month.
Gonna be real, I’m not sure how I managed to read as many books as I did. Perhaps it was the two week break I took from school.
On to stats, I guess.
In June, I completed 29 books and DNFed 7 books.
Of the books I read,
- 67% were fiction
- 22% were nonfiction
- 11% were graphic novels
- 67% were physical books
- 25% were audiobooks
- 8% were ebooks
- 31% were Young Adult
- 69% were Adult
- 86% were new books
- 14% were rereads
I know I say this every month, but it genuinely bothers me that I read so much Adult fiction now.
Up until last year, I read YA almost exclusively.
Change feels weird and wrong.
For the month’s genre breakdown, I read a lot of romance, it seems.
I forgot I read comics!
DC Comics released its first Pride anthology. I really enjoyed it, especially the comic about Dreamer.
In another comic, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy defined their relationship while fighting a giant monster. Quality stuff.
I don’t know that my average rating will ever hit 4.0.
You’ll notice some fractions in my ratings. I had complicated feelings about June’s books.
As for mood, I forwent joy and Pride for feelings and reflection. This was an actual choice I made.
June’s chart has probably the largest “challenging” slice so far. Rather than avoid books with Pain, I embraced them.
Should we talk about books?
I don’t think I’ve done favorite and least favorite books of the month before.
My favorite books from last month were One Last Stop, The Fact of a Body, and Beach Read.
As I’ve mentioned in past posts, my friend and I read One Last Stop for our informal long-distance book club. OLS became my favorite book of the year and new favorite comfort read all at once. Margaret’s ingenious sandwich post reminded me that the book even includes breakfast recipes! This book is perfect and magical and made me feel so many things. I was really pleased when the love interest revealed herself to be both radical AND trans-inclusive. I cheered. I’ll say it again: this is my favorite book of the year.
I learned about The Fact of a Body from Libro FM’s Pride Audiobooks quiz. I was fascinated by the book’s structure: the author blends the facts of a murder case with their own history of sexual abuse, resulting in a magnificent story. I learned a lot about the justice system and how we define “guilt” and “truth.” Spoiler alert: it’s complicated! I thought the ending was a slam dunk. Once I finished, I immediately gushed about this book to several of my coworkers, all of whom were horrified by my reading tastes.
I read Beach Read to fulfill the Beach Read requirement on my Seattle Public Library Book Bingo card. (Also, Éimhear recommended it on her blog a million years ago and she has the best taste.) I thought it would be a cute, Opposites Attract novel. Instead, the story covered grief, vulnerability, and second chances. I don’t want to sell the romance short – it was great – but what really got me was the father-daughter relationship. I felt like the emotions were earned and thus I ugly-cried my way through the last quarter. I like this book even more than my beloved Well Met. Jury’s out on whether I like it more than Winter’s Orbit.
My least favorite book from last month was Tiffany Midge’s Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I gave it 2.5 stars and that rating feels generous.
I struggle with satire and, sure enough, there were a few essays in this book that left me confused as to their intended target. The following snippet from “Jame Gumb, Hero and Pioneer of the Fat Positivity Movement” stuck out to me:
A real woman is not a porn star or a sewing mannequin or even a living, breathing, biologically born female. She’s real. She’s me in a skin suit made out of a crazy-quilt of lady parts and stitched-together hides I hunted and kidnapped myself, replete with authentic stretch marks and cute little dimples on the booty. That’s real.Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s, Tiffany Midge, 2019, p. 69
I typically hear phrases like “real women” and “biologically born female[s]” used to denigrate trans women. This is why I struggle with satire: was the intent of this essay to shit on trans women, cloaking hatred with humor for plausible deniability? Or was the use of transphobic language unintentional? In the end, how much does intent matter?
Transphobia aside, I didn’t find the book’s essays about Trump very funny. In those essays, the “satire” consisted mainly of calling Trump variations on big ol’ dumb poopoo head. The man spent four years trying to kill my friends; I don’t see how mocking his speech patterns or likening his cabinet to chimps accomplishes anything.
On a more positive note, I also read Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex last month and loved it.
Most of the ace books I read focus on sex-repulsed or sex-indifferent ace people. I was excited to get the perspective of a sex-favorable author. This book covers multiple facets of the ace experience, including ones you might not expect. It’s very good. Read it.
My excitement about finishing my first editing class led me to binge-read a bunch of Princess Diaries books in a row.
I’ve read this series dozens of times and written about it plenty. Many of my previous opinions still stand; Michael and Lilly get a lot meaner from book 6 onward and the last five books genuinely feel like a different series altogether. I’m currently reading book 7. Even though book 9 is one of my favorites, I’m dreading what comes next.
I read some great graphic novels in June, including The Girl From the Sea, An Embarrassment of Witches, and Almost American Girl.
By now, I’ve talked up The Girl From the Sea enough. Just know that the hype is warranted.
Embarrassment and Almost American had great art and solid coming-of-age plots. The jokes in Embarrassment were hysterical; Almost American included a visual representation of speaking a second language that I found fascinating.
Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All got me into the Tudors and, by extension, The Tudors on Hulu.
Before you tell me about the show’s historical inaccuracies, know that looking at Henry Cavill’s face helps me retain information. I’m most fascinated by the religious aspects of the time period. I knew vaguely about Anne Boleyn and Henry’s excommunication, but there’s so much more to it. I’m having a great time.
One last bummer before I close out with a good book: I tried reading Boyfriend Material and didn’t like the humor.
A couple reviews say the humor masks Big Feelings in the final third. I didn’t get that far. Most of what I read felt contrived. Like, I’m autistic and even I’m not this awkward. Now that I think of it, this book heaped on the Adorkability. For unknown reasons, both the word and the concept fill me with rage. This was my most disappointing DNF of the month.
If not for my church’s book club, I probably wouldn’t have picked up Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
I’m really glad I read this book. It’s historical fiction with an ensemble cast, great writing, and strong characterization. I finished the book a couple days ago and I’m still thinking about Yaw and Marcus and all the familial connections. Gyasi’s follow-up, Transcendent Kingdom, is available at my library. Checking it out stat.
My informal book club is reading Anna-Marie McLemore’s Blanca & Roja this month.
My formal book club is reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.
I’m still trying to get a blackout on Seattle Public Library Book Bingo card.
It’s going to be a busy reading month.
Stay cool, everyone.