June Book Report

I know I haven’t posted a blog for a while, but I have been busy catching up on my reading life. I wonder if scientists can go back to working on cloning ourselves now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available. This way, I can work at my day job, feed my family, clean my house, read, and blog.

Is that such a tall order? I guess so.

But I digress. My reading life has picked up quite a bit over the last month. I completed my book-buying ban in May and, I learned a lot about myself and my reading habits. First, I really can survive a month without buying books. I have the most amazing stories at my fingertips, and I am thoroughly enjoying them. I’ve read four books in June, and I’m halfway through two more titles which should be completed by the weekend.

The second thing I learned is that once I lifted the ban, I found out that I cannot be trusted in a bookstore or a library. And my Kindle has been getting a lot of extra attention lately. So here it is… the moment of truth. I borrowed four library books, downloaded eight titles, acquired two novels as gifts, and bought one from Amazon.com.

Yes, I know—15 titles in total! YIKES! I’m so ashamed.

(Well, I wouldn’t go that far… it was fun to buy books again).

But, now that I’ve had my fun, I am putting the book-buying ban back in place starting tomorrow for the rest of the summer. That’s right, no more book purchases until September 1st. I promise! And to show that I’m serious about this, I canceled my coveted subscription to the Modern Mrs. Darcy Bookclub and stopped following several FB and Instagram book blogs so that I won’t be tempted. But, I am hanging on to my membership to the Unread Shelf online community. Like Weight Watchers, I need to be surrounded by people with similar goals – in this case, reading the books we already own instead of buying new ones.

June was a productive reading month for me. It turns out that when I get serious about turning off Law & Order and tuning into my reading goals, I get a lot accomplished. I finished another four books this past month. Here is what I thought of them – (all book titles are linked to Goodreads to learn more).

Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist – Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox wrote this book back in 2009 after his best-selling memoir, Lucky Man. Fox takes a deeper dive into his family life, his faith, and his acting career and activism for stem-cell research and a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. I have read three out of four of his books and find them all to be well-written and engaging. He is candid about his good fortune as an actor and how he feels about the cards he has been dealt with this debilitating, progressive, and incurable disease. His attitude for living his best life is both contagious and inspiring.

Brat: An ’80s Story – Andrew McCarthy

Speaking of 1980s heartthrobs, this memoir by Brat-Packer, Andrew McCarthy, was the first book I bought following my book-buying ban, and it did not disappoint. McCarthy offers up the perfect mix of stories about his difficult family life, his personal struggle with drugs and alcohol, and the behind-the-scenes look at some of my favorite movies – St. Elmo’s Fire, Weekend at Bernies, Mannequin, and of course, Pretty in Pink. His writing is both sincere and entertaining. His “good-guy” persona comes through the best when he writes about balancing success with his anxiety and imposter syndrome. I would have liked a few more juicy details from the movie sets, but he isn’t the kind of guy to kiss and tell. However, he does give just enough for me to want to watch those movies again, experience his talent and charm, and melt at his sexy smile.

Next Year in Havana – Chanel Cleeton

If you are looking for a good beach read, this is my pick of the month. This family saga takes place over two lifetimes – one in Havana 1958 during the rise of Fidel Castro, and the other in Miami 2017, where a freelance journalist travels to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes and fulfill her dying wish. Family secrets are uncovered, and romance and adventure ensure all against a backdrop of a revolution and a dangerous political climate. I learned more about Cuban history than I ever knew from this novel. Cuban culture, food, and traditions jumped off the pages and into my vivid imagination. I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott

I mentioned this one last month and have since finished it. If you ever wanted to take a creative writing class but don’t know where to begin, this is the book for you. Anne Lamott is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. For years, she taught a writing class at an esteemed university, and all of her words of wisdom for aspiring writers are in this book. She is a brilliant teacher and writer, and I have no idea how long this book has been sitting on my shelf before reading it. But, it is my new writing bible for when I need motivation, inspiration, and when I just need something to light a fire under my ass and start writing. There were a lot of wonderful lines that I highlighted throughout the book. Right now, one of my favorite quotes from her is this, “We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Up Next

I am still working my way through Sally Hepworth’s, The Family Next Door. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and it is keeping my interest. I’m still waiting for the moment when the storyline is so good that I can’t put it down. I also want to read Jenny Lawson’s Broken (in the best possible way) – a collection of humorous essays about the writer’s mental and physical health journey. The next book on my radar is Emily Henry’s People We Meet On Vacation. I’ve heard it is a When Harry Met Sally-like tale set in the 21st century. I’m down for that! Stay tuned for my review.

As always, I hope you will buy books from an independent bookstore this summer instead of a big box company. Since I am going back on my self-imposed book buying ban, I need your help keeping these wonderful places in business.

Thank you, and happy reading!

Elisa

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