I’m sharing my thoughts on the books I read in June, including The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Happy & You Know It, Me and White Supremacy, Dear Edward, and All We Ever Wanted. I’m also sharing one middle grade fiction book my kids and I loved!
My June reading was decent. Nothing knocked my socks off (other than the middle grade fantasy book I’m sharing at the very end of this post!), but I didn’t read a single complete dud either.
To be fair, I do think my reading standards change a bit in summer. Not that I necessarily have higher standards. Just different.
In warmer months, I tend to be more active. I spend a lot more time outdoors, and since my kids are home I am interacting with them a lot more. So I like a faster paced book in those seasons. Something that gives me a higher dose of satisfaction more quickly.
I share this insight because I think my reactions to these books could have been different in colder times. Just food for thought.
My June Reads
All We Ever Wanted
Author: Emily Giffin
A bunch of Nashville teens make some bad choices and a degrading photo taken of a sophomore girl at a party gets passed around their elite private school. To make matters worse, the photo caption included a racist “joke” made by the son of some of the schools biggest donors – and the girl is from a single parent family that doesn’t have the financial means to fight back.
More info –>
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin has been on my to-read list for a couple years. I heard good things about it when it first came out, but I never did get around to reading it. But this spring I saw it at my favorite local used book store, so I grabbed it to read this summer.
I really wanted to love All We Ever Wanted, but the book just didn’t do it for me. I enjoyed the overall concept and the story has a lot of potential. But I think the author tried to cram too many ‘tough subjects’ into too few pages. If she had more time to really explore each topic, it might have been better. But then perhaps the plot would have suffered. Also, the lack of character development left it all a bit flat.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Nina Hill is an introverted bookstore worker who copes with her anxiety by strictly adhering to a schedule and by filling her social life with book clubs and trivia teams. She doesn’t have space in her life for a boyfriend, let alone the large extended family who she’s just found out about. This book is witty and sweet and lots of fun.
More info –>
June was my month to pick a book for my Book Club, and this was my pick. I selected The Bookish Life of Nina Hill because it was recommended for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (which I loved).
This wasn’t as dark and tragic as Eleanor Oliphant, nor was it as moving. The main character does have a bit of a transformation, but she was doing pretty good to start with. However, I don’t necessarily need tragedy to enjoy a reading experience. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was a delightful feel-good story! I loved every minute of it.
Author: Ann Napolitano
Dear Edward is a realistic look at a 12-year-old boy’s recovery as the sole survivor of a horrific airplane crash. Edward’s journey is both sobering and uplifting. The reader also gets to know the other airplane passengers’ backstories and hopes for the future in a heartbreaking hour-by-hour account of the plane ride.
More info –>
Dear Edward was one of my Book of the Month Club selections. I read two BOTM picks this month because I got a couple months behind and I’m trying to catch up.
This one took me a bit longer than usual to finish. I very much enjoyed the story itself, but it was slow moving. I didn’t find myself losing track of time or avoiding housework in order to keep reading. The story is very moving, but did not grip me. This is why I mentioned my seasonal reading preferences. I could see myself enjoying this much more cozied up with a blanket and some tea over a slow, snowy weekend.
Happy & You Know It
Author: Laura Hankin
Struggling musician, Claire Martin, reluctantly accepts a gig playing for a playgroup of babies and toddlers. Unexpectedly, Claire actually likes the ultra-privileged moms and hanging with them brings color back to her life. But things take a dark turn as Claire begins to discover their secrets and betrayals, learning that these picture perfect Insta-Moms aren’t as perfect as they lead on.
More info –>
Happy & You Know It is a fun and juicy page-turner with some unexpected twists. There’s a lot to appreciate about this story and I couldn’t put it down!
The character development in this book had me absorbed. These NYC upper-crust moms are not the one-dimensional self-absorbed image-obsessed women you often see in the ‘Peek Into the Lives of the Rich’ trope. They are dynamic, complicated women with past identities who struggle with the various aspects of being a mom, from worrying constantly about developmental milestones, to second-guessing their choices to give up their careers.
The plot is twisty and turny and reveals bits and surprises all the way through (although the biggest shocker comes near the end). And as juicy and unexpected as the plot is, it is also believable and well-developed. My only complaint is a few slightly unrealistic scenes (there’s one salacious scene in a kitchen that seems to defy physics).
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
Author: Layla F. Saad
Layla Saad’s best-selling book, Me and White Supremacy, grew out of an Instagram challenge she created by the same name. This workbook-style book gives historical and cultural context to the 28 day challenge, encouraging readers to explore and own up to their ingrained racists behaviors in order to combat racism and become a good ancestor.
More info –>
Me and White Supremacy was my pick for the #FriendsWhoRead2020 challenge June prompt (personal development/inspirational books). When I purchased this book in hardback, it was back-ordered. But I wanted to get started right away, so I borrowed the ebook from my library while I waited. I felt a bit useless during the amplification of the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. And digging deep to do some self-work felt like a good place to begin making a difference.
I read through the book in the month of June, but I’m still only about halfway through the journal prompts. They are challenging and require lots of self-honesty and excavation of memories. I want to really do the work, and not just skim through it. So I am taking my time on the journal aspect.
If you are looking for a place to start your own antiracist work, this book is a great resource. I highly recommend purchasing your own copy. Not only does purchasing books of this nature help to support black authors, but it also allows you to revisit your work so you can continue to grow.
Middle Grade Recommendation:
Author: Anna James
Purchase: Bookshop | Amazon
Tilly Pages comes from a long line of book lovers. In fact, she lives right above her grandparent’s bookshop called Pages & Co. But her love for books leads to a strange and mysterious adventure as her favorite book characters begin to show up right in the bookstore – and then she starts showing up right in the pages of her beloved books.
More info –>
This has become our favorite read-aloud. My daughters, ages 6 and 8, could not get enough of this book! The Bookwanderers has everything we love in a middle grade chapter book: friendship, family relationships, mystery, adventure, and a little magic. And as a bonus, the brave female protagonist lives in a bookstore. I ordered the sequel, The Lost Fairy Tales, before we even finished The Bookwanderers because I knew we’d want to read it right away!
On Deck for July:
I plan to read the following books in July, although this could always change! 🙂
- In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (my Book Club’s pick)
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet (my Book of the Month Club pick from June)
- The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
- The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper (my July Book of the Month Club pick)
- The Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James (our middle grade chapter book read-aloud)