July has been a slow reading month for me and for the last few weeks I’ve only been able to listen to audiobooks. I don’t seem to have the ability to sit down and read a book lately. And it’s funny because less than a month ago I couldn’t figure out how to listen to more audio because I was reading with my eyes so much. Everything ebbs and flows for me and I’m thankful to have the flexibility to capitalize on whatever happens to be working at any given time.
We finished two readalouds over the last couple of weeks. Meet Josefina was my pre-bed reading with Bronwyn. I never read any of the Josefina books when I was little and I’m really enjoying her story, Set in the 1800s in New Mexico, Josefina is the youngest of four sisters living on a rancho with their father. Their mother recently died and they’re all working hard to make her proud. I love all the Spanish vocabulary and this family. I’m looking forward to more Josefina stories!
Bryce and I read Flora & Ulysses each night before he went to bed and I really enjoyed this one, too. As usual – Kate DiCamillo is just so darn funny. Flora was such an interesting little character and I caught myself laughing out loud so much. I think there’s a movie version on Disney+? I’m hoping that we watch it soon to compare the two.
When I start to despair about my reading life, I turn to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I just do and it always helps. I listened to this book twice last year and I’m not embarrassed to say that I just might listen to it twice this year too. Every time I read it, I laugh out loud all over the place. And in other places, I put my hand over my heart and lean against a counter because it’s so moving. I love this setting and these characters.
Some of you know that this is also my annual Christmas movie. After I put the kids to bed on Christmas day, I boil water for hot cocoa, crunch across the wrapping paper-strewn living room floor, and settle in with this on Netflix. Knowing this movie is coming is what gets me through the sugar fueled hurricane of a day and it always makes me so happy. So yes – I love this book and hope to keep returning to it!
But I can say fairly confidently that I will never return to The Books of Jacob. I am so relieved to be finished with this thing! This is mostly set in 18th century Poland and follows Jacob, a Messianic-like figure. The positives for me: I loved the setting and how the author illustrated how a charismatic leader can create a following. I was also quite interested in the mystical beliefs about ancient Jewish texts and the history of the Jewish people in the region. But there were so many characters and it just seemed to go on and on and on and on and on. I couldn’t wait for it to end.
I was also annoyed by how readily people seemed to believe in Jacob and to follow him. I have some unpopular religious beliefs and am very skeptical about any claim of a Messiah (including the big one in Christianity – I’m very sorry, I’m not trying to insult anyone, I just have a very difficult time with it ALL), and this book reinforced all of my mistrust. So to be clear: I thought Jacob was disgusting and found him to be a predator and an opportunist. And I’m still confused about all of the characters and the point of 965 pages of this. But maybe the point of this book was to spark my outrage? If so, then it worked. So I gave it three stars on Goodreads. And I’m glad it’s over.
I swear that I’m trying to read books with my eyes but I am not making any sort of progress. Here’s where I stand with my books in progress:
- Civil to Strangers and Other Writings by Barbara Pym – this is a buddy read with Laila at Big Reading Life and I’ve barely made it through 50 pages. I have been laughing out loud — it’s funny. I’m enjoying it. But I can’t seem to sit down with it long enough to make any progress.
- The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich – this is the most recent read for the Erdrich-Along and again — I can’t make it past 50 pages. The book is fascinating and beautiful and so interesting… but my brain can’t handle it right now.
- Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree – a buddy read at Fiction Matters. I’m still not even 100 pages in. And once again – I am fascinated by its opening pages and am looking forward to understanding what’s happening. When I can figure out how to sit down with a book again.
- The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths – I’m hoping to start this audiobook today. It’s the newest in the Ruth Galloway series and I’m so excited to find out what Ruth’s been up to. And because it’s an audiobook, I feel fairly confident that I’ll be able to make some progress on it by next Wednesday.
I’m being a little dramatic about my frustrations around not getting in much reading with my eyes. I am okay with focusing on audiobooks right now, I just think it’s funny how quickly things can change for me. I know that I will get to the books that are important to me when the time is right. So please know that I’m not really upset or feel as though I’m in a reading rut. I am doing just fine in my reading life! There’s a season for everything.
Friends — I have been reading your blogs on my phone but I always have log-in issues when I try to comment, so I haven’t been able to chime in like I’ve wanted. But I’m hoping to make some comments soon and to respond to all of your lovely comments on my own blog. And I plan to be back on Friday with another update. Until then – take good care!