July 2022 Reading Wrap Up

So, I read quite a lot this month. Here is everything I read.

1. Vladimir by Julia May Jonas (4/5)

This was such an interesting book. It followed an ageing academic whose husband has been accused of sexual misconduct with his students, and her infatuation with Vladimir, a younger colleague. A dark, acerbic read full of unlikeable characters.

2. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren (3.5/5)

This is a romance novel that follows Macy, a paediatrician who is engaged to an older man and leads a rather ordinary life. Then one day she runs into Elliot, who used to be her bookish best friend and first love. I’m usually not a fan of romances where two people are so strongly ‘meant to be’, with moving on being impossible and all. However I still really enjoyed this book.

3. How High we go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (3/5)

This is a work of sci-fi that is a collection of shorter narratives in an overarching framework of a post-pandemic world. It deals with everything from climate change to pandemics to genetic engineering to space travel. It was an interesting read, with some of the narratives being more engaging than the others.

4. Things have gotten worse since we last spoke by Eric LaRocca (4/5)

This was the very short, very gruesome tale that follows the relationship between two women who meet on the internet and one of them gets pulled into a sadistic game by the other. A quick, horrifying read.

5. Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh by Sharanya Bhattacharya (4.5/5)

Funny story, I thought this book was called Desperately seeking Shah Rukh Khan till a few minutes ago. I’m only just realizing it just says ‘Shah Rukh’. This was a really interesting work of nonfiction about the fandom surrounding the Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, and women’s place in the Indian economy. If you’re wondering what the relation between the two is, read this book. I thought it was a really interesting read.

6. Duino Elegies by Ranier Marie Rilke (3.5/5)

The thing about poetry is that while I can recognize its beauty, it rarely sticks in my head, and that was the case with this one as well.

7. Wahala by Nikki May (4/5)

This was a really entertaining novel! It follows three half-Nigerian women in London who have been friends since forever and how their dynamic is upset when a fourth woman joins them. An enjoyable, fast-paced read!

8. The American by Henry James (4/5)

Classics tend to be a hit or miss for me, and I really liked this one. This follows the American-in-Europe theme, a staple of Henry James. This story is about the eponymous American’s courtship of a French aristocrat.

9. Paradais by Fernanda Melchor (4.5/5)

This was a really short book that totally packed a punch! Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes, this book is set in a luxury housing complex in Mexico, and it follows two teenaged boys-a resident, from a wealthy family, and a gardener. The latter dreams of getting himself out of the misery of his daily life by joining a cartel, the former dreams of sex with an older attractive female neighbour. Both are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to fulfill their desires. A really incisive read about classism and misogyny.

10. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (4/5)

This was a carry-over from June. Following Marion and Shiva Stone, the twin sons born in Ethiopia through a secret relationship between a British doctor and an Indian nun, this tells an expansive story about Ethiopia as well as about the practice of medicine. I really enjoyed this one.

11. Four Strokes of Luck by Perumal Murugan (4/5)

Translated from the Tamil by Nandini Krishnan, this is a short story collection revolving around life in rural Tamil Nadu. Like most short-story collections, this was a mixed back, but it was a good read for the most part.

12. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth (4/5)

This was a really enjoyable psychological thriller. It follows Lucy who’s mother-in-law-whom she always had a troubles relationship with-is dead. It deals with the aftermath of the death and the mystery of how the death occured. It definitely kept me turning the pages.

13. Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker (5/5)

This was such an interesting work of nonfiction that has become all the more relevant today. It makes a strong argument on the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. Dr Parker, who is an African-American and a Christian talks about how he came to the conclusion that performing abortions on women in need of them was the best way he could help humanity. An enlightening book full of empathy.

14. Three Apples Fell from the Sky by Narine Abgaryan (4.5/5)

This was a really pleasant and heartwarming read (though not without its bleak moments). Set in a remote, isolated village in Armenia, it follows the lives of the inhabitants. It paints an intimate portrait of a community, and particularly of the characters Anatolia and Vasily, who find love in the twilight of their lives. Translated by Lisa C. Hayden.

15. The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji (3/5)

This was a murder mystery, translated from the Japanese by Ho-Ling Wong. Modelled after Agatha Christie’s And There were None, it follows the members of a mystery club who are in an island where a murderous crime took place in the past. Honestly, I thought this was just okay. I wasn’t particularly captivated by it.

16. Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (2.5/5)

This is a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, because somehow this book did not really capture my attention. It is about a Palestinian woman who was raped and killed by Israeli soldiers in 1949, and a woman in present-day Ramallah who becomes obsessed with this ‘minor detail’ of history. Which was a really interesting premise but the writing style somehow did not click with me. Translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette.

17. Miss Iceland by Audur Eva Olafsdottir

This was the first Icelandic book I read in translation! Translated by Brian FitzGibbon, it follows a young woman trying to make it as a writer in 60s Iceland, where the literary scene is still male-dominated. She is repeatedly asked to be part of the ‘Miss Iceland’ pageant, something she has no desire to do, and often judged by her looks rather than her literary capability. It also talks about her relationship with her best friend, a gay man. A really interesting read about the barriers both women and queer folk faced in the 60s.

18. The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, Good News by Meghna Pant (3/5)

This was a fun, light-hearted read about a 34-year-old divorced woman in small-town India who makes the unconventional decision to become a single mother, through IVF. Apparently the writer is a screenwriter planning to turn this into a movie, and I think this would work a lot better as a movie. I had some issues with this book, but it was overall a good read.

19. River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder (3.5/5)

This was again a ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ situation, for this is a really acclaimed book. It consists of scenes set in different periods in Indian history ranging from 400BCE to the 20th century, all with certain recurring character names. It was an interesting read but somehow not much about this book stuck with me. Translated from the Urdu.

20. Seahorse by Janice Pariat (4/5)

This book, set between Delhi and London, follows Nem, a young artist who in his uni days was infatuated with Nicholas, an art historian. It deals with a number of themes-art, relationships, queerness etc as Nem moves from Delhi to London, and meets Myra whom she knew through Nicholas. Inspired by the Greek myth of Poseidon and Pelops, this was an interesting read.

21. The Law of Desire by Madhavi Menon

This was a work of nonfiction that analyzes various court judgments in India on the topic of sex and sexuality. This includes ruling on marriage, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality etc. and was an interesting read.

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