Book Reviews July 2021
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I hope you are finding a little time to get your summer reading on. Today I am posting my reviews of the books I read in July. I didn’t read as much as I usually do. Binge-watching Season 18 of Top Chef really cut into my reading time—ha! Also, the Olympics can be an excellent time waster.
Enough with the excuses.
Here you go—my Book Reviews for July 2021.
Calling Me Home: A Novel
by: Julie Kibler
When 89-year-old Isabelle (a white woman) asks her 30-something black hairdresser, Dorrie, to drive her from her home in Texas to a funeral in Ohio, Dorrie drops everything and packs a bag. Even though no details are revealed, Dorrie senses the request is important to her client.
Reminiscent of Driving Miss Daisy with a dose of The Help mixed in, the story gradually unfolds during their road trip. Chapters alternate point of view between Isabelle and Dorrie, something I typically do not enjoy but in this case works well.
Calling Me Home hooked me from the very beginning. Forbidden love, racial issues, women’s rights—this story touches on so many heart-wrenching topics. Warner Brothers is making this book into a movie. Yes, you’ll want to read the book first. It’s excellent!
Favorite Quote: The heart is a demanding tenant.
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir
by: Michelle Zauner
(Memoir / Grief & Loss)
As a young girl, Michelle Zauner struggled to fit in as a Korean-American living with her parents in Oregon. Later, as a young adult, she begins to contemplate her cultural connection to Korea while struggling to cope with her mother’s critical illness. The memoir is deeply personal yet relatable. Who among us doesn’t connect specific foods to family? If not food, then aromas or places or music?
I love a good memoir as well as a tasty plate of food, so this story hit a nice balance for me even though it strikes a depressing chord.
Favorite Quote: We re-create the dish that couldn’t be made without our journey.
The Geography of Bliss:
One Grump’s Search for the
Happiest Places on Earth
by: Eric Weiner
In The Geography of Bliss, award-winning journalist Eric Weiner—pronounced whiner (and he is one)—visits those countries considered to be the happiest places on earth. He is seeking to understand why people are happy in places such as the Netherlands, Thailand, and Iceland. While I found certain parts of the books to be entertaining and humorous, overall the writing felt forced.
Seems to me a self-proclaimed curmudgeon might not be the best person to write about happiness.
In the end, the book got me to thinking about happiness, the places where I’ve been happiest and what searching for happiness truly looks like. And there’s something to be said for a book that makes the reader think about her own experiences.
Favorite Quote: A simple question to identify your true home: where do you want to die?
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
by: Charlie Mackesy
(Happiness / Self-Help)
My mother gave me this adorable book for Mother’s Day. I recently picked it up from my to-read pile and devoured it in one sitting. Like fables from childhood, this slim volume offers timeless words of wisdom. Conversations between the Boy and his animal friends reminded me of talks between Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin.
The artwork is beautiful.
Gift this book to someone you love, or buy it as a keepsake for yourself. You are never too young or too old to be reminded of the good things in life, and this book does that.
Favorite Quote: Nothing beats kindness. It sits quietly beyond all things.
Early Morning in the Land of Dreams
by: Marla Cantrell
(Short Stories / Southern Fiction)
From start to finish, this charming collection of short stories will warm your innards; the folks portrayed are everyday people. Author Marla Cantrell (from Alma, Arkansas) is a bonafide southern storyteller who paints pictures with a precision that sneaks up on the reader.
At first, I kept a tally of my favorite stories, which are arranged by seasons. By the time I made it to fall, I tossed my list. Every story is a treasure.
Favorite Quote: I was nearing sixty, a fact I held like a cup of scalding coffee that was bound to burn me sooner or later.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by: Christy Lefteri
(Literature / Historical Fiction)
Nuri is a Syrian beekeeper. His wife, Afra, is an artist. When war breaks out, they lose nearly everything dear to them including family, friends, Nuri’s beehives, and Afra’s sight (she is blinded in an explosion). Survival means fleeing their homeland, journeying through Turkey and Greece as they struggle to reach the UK.
I hear about Syrian refugees on the news, but from my comfy home it’s hard to imagine the displacement and heartbreak these families endure. The Beekeeper of Aleppo allowed me to vividly imagine it. And oh my heart, I loved the references to bees—where there are bees there are flowers, and wherever there are flowers there is new life and hope.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo is about the human spirit and survival amid unthinkable circumstances. It’s about seeing and believing and going on. This book will sit with me for a long time—definitely one of my favorite reads this year!
Favorite Quote: Inside the person you know, there is a person you do not know.
Alrighty, that’s it for July. As I look back on this group of stories, I realize the genres are varied but there’s a common theme running through each of them—HOME.
Keep reading, everyone. Reading imparts knowledge, empathy, and leaves you with so many valuable experiences.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.