Only two books on the July Reads list? Say it isn’t so! Yes, friends. I only got around to reading two books this month, but they were both heavy hitters in their own rights. One was an historical fiction novel that’s on all the must-read lists this summer. The other was a memoir by a writer I have loved for years and years. Both made me think. And both made me feel all the feelings.
This is going to be a quick post, so let’s just get to is, shall we?
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Oh, this book. It was enthralling, infuriating, intriguing, heartbreaking and humorous all at the same time.
Goodreads says it’s “a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure.” Jamie Golden of The Popcast gave it a green light and pronounced it a “sexy book about a sexy time” in history. They’re both correct.
But it’s also a book about a young girl being thrust into a time and place she didn’t understand, making decisions she was too inexperienced to make, and the repercussions of those decisions. Add in some Manhattan, some showbiz, some jazz, and some WWII along with Elizabeth Gilbert’s provocative storytelling and you’ve got yourself quite a novel.
Honestly, I was hooked from the first few sentences that made me literally laugh out loud:
In the summer of 1940, when I was nineteen years old and an idiot, my parents sent me to live with my Aunt Peg, who owned a theater company in New York City. I had recently been excused from Vassar College, on account of never having attended classes and thereby failing every single one of my freshman exams. I was not quite as dumb as my grades made me look, but apparently it really doesn’t help if you don’t study.
Another friend read this book recently and had the same reaction I did. We both thought that in order to really process the book, we needed to talk about it with someone else. There was just too much that went on that we both understood yet disagreed with (or simply didn’t understand). That said, it would be an excellent book club selection.
The Middle Matters by Lisa-Jo Baker
I have loved Lisa-Jo Baker for a long time. Back when blogs were an actual thing (HA!), I read hers faithfully. When her first book, Surprised by Motherhood, came out, I snatched it up. Her second book, Never Unfriended, was lovely. When she started a podcast with author Christie Purifoy (Out of the Ordinary), I was instantly smitten with their obvious friendship and delicious storytelling abilities.
This book, though, hit me right in the middle of everything. The middle of my battle against my weight and size. The middle of my mothering teenagers. Of marriage to someone I’ve known longer than I haven’t, of trying to make and keep friends in our 40s, of faith, doubt and wondering why. This book addresses all of that and more in Lisa-Jo’s beautiful language of love, faith, and a South African accent.
Here are just a couple of the (many) gems I underlined while I was reading.
We live in a world where the Enemy wants to trick us women into building walls between one another. Walls of comparison and insecurity and jealousy. But we are mentored by a God who builds walls of protection around His friends. (p.219)
Friendship is what anchors you to the realest version of yourself when the rest of the world feels like a bobbing sea of other people’s opinions (p.198)
This is what we mothers do for each other — we offer our own failures as proof that our sisters and daughters, our nieces and grands, will make it through the perilous journey of mothering, too. Because no matter how many books you read or podcasts you listen to, nothing can prepare you for the fall you weren’t expecting (p. 92)
If you are a middle-years mother who loves God and her family and an extra dessert or two, this book is for you.
A Year in Review!
I can’t believe I’ve been sharing books for a whole year now! Thirteen months, to be exact. And in that 13 months, I’ve read and shared 34 books with you. Most I have enjoyed. All but one (I think), I’ve actually finished! Ha!
I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have so far. And I hope you come back to check out next month’s selections, one of which is going to make you believe in miracles. I promise.
How about you? What have you been reading lately?