Monthly Reading Report: July 2020 Edition

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Back again for my monthly reading report!  I’m excited and chagrined to write this update at the end of August about my July reading.  Excited, because, wow! I read a bunch in July.  Chagrined, because my August showing was. . . abysmal.  I was busy creating and launching the SimpleMoney Club, but still.  My reading took a backseat.  Hopefully September will be an improvement in that department.

If you have read my prior summaries, you know that I decided to write a monthly reading report as a way to keep myself accountable.  It helps me reflect on what I’ve read, and it reminds me of my other goal: to have at least half of the books I read in 2020 come from my shelves, versus buying new books.  Clearly, the pandemic has provided an assist on this: I hardly run ANY errands these days, let alone browsing bookstores.

In June, I read mostly nonfiction, but in July it was mostly fiction.  Here are the books I read in July, 2020.  (Links to the books on Amazon are provided for your convenience in the paragraph headings and elsewhere in the post.*)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien (shelf)

You may recall that my daughter Rowan and I decided to make a summer project of reading the LOTR trilogy and then watching the three movies.  In June, we finished the first book and movie, and in July, we read the second book and corresponding movie.  Rowan’s school starting date was postponed to September 8, so we might just get the third book and movie finished by then.  Haven’t read the trilogy?  What sort of alien are you, anyway!

Y is for Yesterday, by Sue Grafton (shelf)

A few months ago, I talked about my love for Grafton’s books.  I’ve now read the entire series, from A to Y.  This one was just as good as all the others, and I’m super sad that the series is no more.  I will sincerely miss the adventures of Kinsey Milhone, private investigator.  Never fear, I’m picking up the pieces of my heartbreak by gearing up to continue the Elizabeth George series where I left off a decade ago.  And of course, there is Louise Penny, my current mystery series favorite author.

The Overstory, by Richard Powers (new)

Oh my goodness, I loved this book.  I loved it so much that it took me about five months to finish it.  Unlike some books that you just want to plow through because you can’t put them down, this was a book to savor.  Powers tells multiple storylines about various characters and their relationship to trees.  Eventually the storylines converge in a powerful love story dedicated to the tall green beings of the earth.  Love nature and the environment?  Do yourself a favor and read this book.  Not a tree lover?  Then I’m afraid we can no longer be friends.

Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris (audio)

July found me continuing my foray into listening to thriller audiobooks.  This was an interesting “read” featuring a perfect couple that wasn’t so perfect.  The diabolical husband intent on torturing the handicapped sister of his new wife was. . . creepy.  Some listeners criticized the fact that the wife had opportunities to leave and didn’t, and therefore she was to blame.  I feel the author adequately painted the picture of the wife’s terror and eventually, her cunning.

How to Read the Air, by Dinaw Mengestu (library)

This was our July book club selection.  I wanted to like this book.  I really did.  But alas, it was not to be.  I felt the story was aimless and the main character was boring and spineless.  I thought the writing was good, however, and that saved the experience for me.  To me, there is nothing worse than a book with a plot and characters that I dislike that is also poorly written.  (I’m on a very LONG streak of reading our book club selections, so I had to power through!)  Moving on. . .

Before I Go to Sleep, by S. J. Watson (audio)

This is thriller #2 for the month.  This was an interesting story about a woman who suffered some trauma and developed a strange sort of amnesia.  Every time she goes to sleep, she wakes up and cannot remember the past.  Through the assistance of a doctor and a journal that she keeps, she eventually catches up with her memory and unravels a mystery involving her loving husband.  Things are not what they seem!

The Year of Living Virtuously, Weekends Off, by Teresa Jordan (shelf)

This was a sleeper hit for me.  When I started it, I anticipated a very different sort of book.  Instead, I got an interesting tour through the virtues and deadly sins, and I learned a whole bunch of things along the way.  Jordan’s series of essays is well-written and engaging, and quite humorous at times.  Overall, it was a favorite this month.

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (library)

What happens if the government were to ban all books, ALL books, and provide only state-run propagandist television programming as entertainment?  It’s a horrible thought, I know.  Bradbury was ahead of his time with his “what if” scenario, but even decades later, it’s a frightening thought experiment.  Except that in our current society, it’s not all that far-fetched, which kinda makes this a horror book.  I’ll leave it right there.

The 100-Year Life, by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott (new)

I can’t recall now how this book caught my attention, but it was a fascinating read.  In my financial planning practice, we talk a lot about longevity and why it’s important to financially plan for a long life.  This book totally backs up that assertion with science and insight.  The main premise of the book, however, is that we need to be looking at the trajectory of our lives differently.  The whole idea of going to school for the first 18-22 years of our lives, followed by 40-50 years of work, followed by some semblance of a retirement is outdated at this point.  Gratton and Scott outline a better plan.

Personality Isn’t Permanent, by Benjamin Hardy (audio)

For years now, it seems like I have followed Hardy’s work.  His first book about willpower was excellent, and this book didn’t disappoint, either.  The main point Hardy makes is that who we are is not set in stone.  It is completely within our power to become the person we wish to be.  How’s that for an empowering message?  Hardy narrates the audio book, and it is excellent.  Someone gave me a hard copy of the book, so I’ll be definitely giving it a second read.

True Wealth, by Juliet Schor (shelf)

I’m a fan of Schor’s work, and this book was a used-bookstore find a few years ago.  On my shelf it went, and on my shelf it sat.  Since I’m actively working to purge my shelves of some books, this book finally had its day in the sun.  Because I’m a fan, I enjoyed the book, but honestly, it was pretty dated at this point.  Nevertheless, Schor painted an attractive picture of a better world.  She outlines how we are destroying the planet with our unending quest for growth (read = profit), and she gives a recipe for fixing it using her concept of “plenitude.”  If you are a fan of Elgin’s Voluntary Simplicity or Schor’s other works, be sure to check this one out.


Whew, that was a big haul.  Fortunately or unfortunately, next month will be far, far shorter, given my paltry reading output in August.  I hope you enjoy these monthly reading reports.  Thanks for reading!


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You might also enjoy:

Book Recommendations: June 2020 Edition

My Reading Goal is on Track: Books I Read, May 2020 Edition


*I am an Amazon Affiliate.  If you purchase items using my links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thanks!





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