This month I read Australian, American, and British.

Book turned film…

Breath by Tim Winton was recommended by my husband who remembers reading it many years ago. Since my 14-year old student, Mark likes surfing he thought it would be a good read. But what he forgot was that the story has some very inappropriate sex descriptions (and subject matter) that I had my student skip once I realized my faux pas. Yeahhh.

Winton writes beautifully though. It’s a dark story, darker than I would have preferred, but it’s one of those novels, at least for me, that expands your world and perspective because it wasn’t something I’d normally read.


Couldn’t stop reading…

I’m fairly certain Nicki Chen over at Behind the Story left a comment recommending this book. Since I had read Kristin Hannah’s other books like The Nightingale and The Great Alone, I figured it was a pretty safe bet. And when your life is in transition, sometimes a good solid read is exactly what the body and soul needs.

Although, it wasn’t exactly light-hearted. I knew the book was about the Great Depression (spoilers!), but I didn’t expect it to be so damn hard for the protagonist, Elsa. It was gobsmacked unbelievable what people went through during the “dust bowl”, and I learned a lot, actually.

Funnily, I told myself “if this doesn’t get better for her, I’m going to stop”, but I kept turning the pages. The novel is also billed as “the strength of mothers” but again, even though I’m not a mom myself, the story was so engaging. Kristin Hannah is turning out to be one of my favorite authors.

[Thanks, Nicki. And incidentally, she’s an author herself having recently published When in Vanuatu, which is fictional but I believe she drew a lot from her experience living on the island many years ago. I bought it, but like so many books, it’s on the TBR list!]


When you join ISIS and realize your mistake…

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie was chosen by my 16-year old student. She got it off of her high school summer reading list and it sounded interesting. I’ve never read anything on Muslims, let alone British Muslims that I can recall. Kamila based the book on Sophocles’s play Antigone, so if you know about that story you’ll get a sense of what’s to come.

But read it because it’s good. The story unfolds through four different characters from two different British Muslim families, more or less centered on Parvaiz’s mistake of joining ISIS and wanting to return home to England. It’s a prize-winning novel that’s smart yet easy to access, and I’m looking forward to reading other books by her.


And that’s it! My life has been turned around and I’m still treading water, so the evening routine of reading before bed flew out the window along with normality in 2020. But if you’re interested in reading about my move so far, you can go here. The link will open in the browser.

How was your July? Did you get any reading done?

24 replies on “πŸ“š Reading Roundup: July 2021

  1. I’m a fan of Tim Winton. His characters aren’t life’s winners but they are so lovingly written you can’t help but stick with them. I only read the local book club title last month — Hungry by Grace Dent which was a fun read but not something that will stick with me. In the background I’m still chipping away at Where the Crawdads Sing and Moby Dick. Need to finish these so I can start on my International book club reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great way to put it. He’s descriptive without being tiring and the surfing images he conjured up were pretty amazing.

      I keep hearing about Crawdad’s but it doesn’t strike me as interesting, but that’s me. I’d been keen to hear how you found it.

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  2. Oooo Home Fire looks really good. I haven’t read any books focused on Muslim culture or characters either, so that would be an excellent read! Thanks for always posting such a great reading list with so much variety

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    1. Thanks, Mary! Yes, highly recommend. She did such an excellent job of stepping into each of the characters and moving the story forward effortlessly.

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    1. Awww, thanks. I hope you enjoy it.

      Claustrophobic, eh? Interesting. I wouldn’t have associated that feeling with the book. Drowning seems like a romantic way to die on paper so maybe that’s why. But spoilers, no one drowns in this book!

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  3. I don’t think we can really understand history unless we read good historical fiction. I thought I knew about the Dust Bowl, but I had no idea what it was really like until I read The Four Winds. And yes, it was a hard book to read. Sorry. But I think historical fiction helps us understand our own lives and times from a larger perspective. Now I’m reading You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe. It wasn’t historical fiction when he wrote it in the 1930s, but reading it now, it is. It gives a lot of insight into what the US was like in those days.

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    1. Oh, cool. I’ll remember that. The Four Winds was hard, but I think the feeling was exacerbated by the times we live in and transitioning… But K. H. pulled it off beautifully.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’re so right about the difficulty of reading it during a time of global warming and a pandemic.

        I think I will finish You Can’t Go Home Again, but I don’t know that I’d recommend it. It’s very long, about 665 pages.

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  4. Sounds like a good round up of books for the month. I’ve come across Tim Wintons’ works previously and agree with Tracy that there is a theme of drowning in his writing. Congratulations on the move north and it sounded like quite a journey driving there and getting settled. Hopefully you will feel at home as you can be soon enough and the teaching gig turns out well. July was busy over here, and also back into lockdowns for us once again which once again made life interesting. Looking forward to reading more about your new chapter, Lani πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I appreciate it. Today I got most of my books for my classes and — whooweee — it’s a lot, but I’m excited.

      Must read more of Tim Winton. Glad to have finally read such a popular Aussie author. Cheers.

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  5. Your faux pas made me giggle, Lani. I’m amazed you even had time to read, but I guess that also offers a respite for being in one’s head too much with what must have been a very busy time for you. I just finished reading “The Secrets of the Notebook” by Eve Haas, which documents her search for her ancestors, which was a fascinating read. Not sure I mentioned “My 1001 Nights: Tales and Adventures from Morocco” by Alice Morrison, a great female adventurer living in Morocco? I will definitely read her other books, as she lives a fascinating life. I want to be like her in my next life. πŸ˜‰
    I find that time passes by so quickly these days that I am often confused which month I find myself in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1001 Nights sounds good. I need a good non-fiction read to add since I’ve been reading only fiction these days.

      Technically, I finished Breath at the very end/beginning of the month so I forgot about it, actually, and then after I posted, quickly added it.

      The faux pas caused me to FREAK out but in the end it all was okay. My student is such a gem that he made my life easier by just going with it.

      Cheers! xo

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      1. Thank goodness for students like that.
        I’m just the opposite from you in that I mostly read non-fiction, and love a nice recommendation for fiction. I just finished “The Curios Charms of Arthur Pepper” – what a lovely light read it was. Thank you again for recommending it.

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  6. Nice faux-pas, Lani, really a classic. πŸ˜‰ Done it myself once, I think it was the “Earth’s Children” series by Jean M. Auel. Wonderfully researched and an inspiration for every history nerd, but also quite juicy. πŸ˜‰ Ah, well, kids need to learn about that too, don’t they? Haven’t been reading much myself this month but listened to an awesome audiobook “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey – and he’s reading it himself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, we’ve read other book with salacious scenes and moments before but ***spoiler alert*** asphyxiation as a means to heighten sex was absolutely mortifying — the worst.

      I keep hearing about Greenlights audio version and I really must do it! Thanks, Sarah!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yikes! Definitely the worst! πŸ˜‚
        You’re going to love Greenlights, I was dubious at first but it’s really great. Which just adds to all that unfairness: he’s good-looking, he really acts so damn good AND now he writes this fab autobiography!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I managed to read quite a bit in July! A 900 pages historical fiction about a Jewish family and a Palestinian one, from the end of the 19th century until the present days (Shoot Me, I’m Already Dead by Julia Navarro, I recommed it), then a police thriller also by a Spanish author (The Impatient Alchemist by Lorenzo Silva) and then I managed to finish a book I had started some time ago about how to communicate with children, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, thanks. I’ll check it out. πŸ™‚ 900 pages. OMG. Wow. Good for you – that’s 3 books in one!

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  8. Hannah is solid, if sometimes a bit long-winded (imo). I’m amazed you got any reading done during your big move–not exactly down the street, huh? Glad it went smoothly enough, and I’m so enjoying the photos on IG!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha. Long-winded. I suppose she is but she somehow manages to keep me along for the ride. πŸ˜›

      Thanks so much! See you around chica πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

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