June Book Reviews

Happy July my friends! I’m spending this month off of social media which is terrifying and I no longer know what to do with my time, but if it means I’m getting these reviews out in a reasonable manner, then I guess something good is happening. I’ve also gotten a bit obsessed with Goodreads as well. I think we should make that the new social media.

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Radicalized

This book is comprised of four short stories that you could imagine appearing in a Black Mirror episode. A good concept in theory, the execution was a bit too on the nose for my taste. I think a visual sort of format would be a better fit for the stories, but I did enjoy them. The actual writing, while I think the subject matter is super important (and struck a little too close to home for my liking, hah), I wish it had been presented more subtly (when you literally have a character called the American Eagle, I tend to lose my suspension of disbelief). But if you are interested in socialism, political and moral issues, and generally want to be more informed, I think this is a pretty good fictional supplement to those topics, and one that’s easily digestible.

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Harriet the Spy

I love this book and I am partial because I grew up reading it. But when I was a kid, I didn’t realize the lesson of the book and instead just tried to mimic Harriet the Spy, complete with my own notebook and spy route. So maybe as a child this book was not a success, haha, but also I had an obsession with spies so maybe nothing could have stopped me. Either way it was a delight to read again after all these years, and I think anyone would still find this book charming. This was totally a feel good read for me, and I can’t wait for the next time I get to open its pages again.

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In West Mills

I found myself wondering if this story was written scarcely because it is indented to be a pop fiction book, or because it wanted to be subtle in its subject matter—the concepts of racism, classism, sexism were touched ever so slightly that I wondered if it was because the characters were ignorant, or if they knew exactly and realized there was nothing that could be done. They had to resign to their fate simply because of the time period they were in. What I’m trying to say is that it’s so subtle, I don’t know which way I’m supposed to go. The New York Times named him one of the four writers to watch this summer and mentioned there wasn’t much research done for the setting, which I do feel like the book lacked. But this is probably because I am a maximalist when it comes to writing and reading. I wanted more of a Faulkner feel to the book and felt there was a lot of missed characterization when we jumped to only climactic moments in the characters’ lives—I felt less connected to them even when I found myself really wanting to learn more about them. But maybe that is also part of the point. Sometimes we can’t know everything. Sometimes our past never gets uncovered, and sometimes we don’t ever get to see more than just the snapshot of even people we think we are closest to. This is definitely a book to pick up and read.

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we were witches

This was my favorite book of the month. It is also incredibly obvious with it's subject matter, but what else can you expect from a book published by the Feminist Press? If overt, almost book-bashing feminism isn’t your cup of tea, you may not like this book. But I was thoroughly delighted by how surprised I was by the language, the story, and the presentation. This book presents its subject matter in a few really fun ways that I hadn’t considered for novel writing, and it’s always fun to read something so unexpected. The plot itself is also really beautiful and heartbreaking. I loved all the characters, I loved the setting. Other than the too-obvious feminism at times, it’s a very smart book. And even the overtness is smart in certain places. Really just a delight.