TBR for July 2017

As I’ve mentioned previously, like in my June Reading Wrap-Up, I’m at the end of a book bet with my husband. He was supposed to read The Silmarillion and I am reading Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. Whoever finishes first wins. That person is going to be me. I’ll give my husband credit because 1) it’s very hard to beat me at reading and 2) The Silmarillion is not exactly a page-turner. In a way, he comes out a winner because he has made me into a Neal Stephenson fan. On the other hand, though, this bet involved money, so I am most definitely The Winner.

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So, starting with the last 400 pages of Cryptonomicon, here are the books I plan to tackle in July:

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson — It took me a little bit to get into this book/begin to track all of the stuff that was going on, but then I definitely got hooked. The novel shifts between a number of different storylines, mainly alternating between a present-day narrative (circa 1999) and several narratives that all take place during WWII. The book covers everything from cryptography to Nazi gold to fiber optic cables in the Philippines to a fictional group of British islands called Qwglhm (pronounced Tag’em). It is a fun and quirky ride, written in an absurdist tone that reminds me of Tom Robbins or David Foster Wallace.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate — I’m reading this for a book club and I’ve heard really great things from booksellers and friends alike. It just came out last month. Before We Were Yours is historical fiction, starting out in 1930s Memphis. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss is left in charge of her four younger siblings when her parents must leave their shantyboat home and rush to the hospital. While they’re gone, strangers come and abduct the children, taking them to a Tennessee orphanage. The novel then cuts to present-day Aiken, South Carolina, where the wealthy Avery Stafford is about to be married. She is suddenly called home to help her aging father through a health crisis, and while she is there, she begins to uncover some long-hidden secrets in her family’s history. All of this is apparently based off of a real-life scandal involving a Southern adoption agency. I’m interested to learn more about the plot and how it all weaves together.

Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh — This is another book club read for me (different group). I’ve long had this on my list as it was named one of the best books of 2016, so I’m excited to finally get to it this month. Another fiction novel, Heat and Light focuses in on the small Pennsylvania town of Bakerton, where the local coal mining economy is quickly dying out. When a large deposit of natural gas is discovered in the area, however, it could mean new life for the community. The decision to drill or not to drill divides neighbors, families, and even the inner consciences of the main characters. The subject matter seems incredibly relevant to one of the biggest national debates going on right now, and one that I am very interested/invested in as well. Should be an engaging read.

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers — I have been trying to get to this book for months now but keep getting distracted by other things. I declare this is the month that I finally read it! I heard Susan Rivers speak earlier this spring and she was absolutely hilarious and fascinating. Her talk inspired me to buy the book — which is proof that she’s interesting and persuasive! I believe this is her first novel, though she has been a playwright for a long time. The book is set in the South during the Civil War era. Major Hockaday must go off and fight, leaving his new and very young wife, Placidia, alone and in charge of his farm and infant son. When he returns two years later, he comes home to find Placidia jailed, accused of having borne and murdered a baby in his absence. The rest of the novel explores what really happened. From what I can tell, I think this is all written in an epistolary style, so that will be something different from the other novels on my list.

The quarter-life crisis is v real.

Chemistry by Weike Wang — This was one of my Book of the Month selections and a recent release that has gotten a lot of press and buzz in the literary world. The unnamed narrator of the novel is in her third year of graduate school, studying chemistry. It appears that she begins to have a quarter-life crisis, questioning if she even likes science at all and unsure of exactly what she wants for herself. Undone by the mounting pressures of her studies and her engagement, a life that has been bounding along without reflection, she is forced to leave it all in search of deeper meaning. I hear this is supposed to be both funny and poignant and that the narrative voice is very unique. I think this one will be a love-it or hate-it read.

That’s my list! I see now that it is very fiction-focused. I’ll have to tackle some more nonfiction TBRs in August. I’ll have a wrap-up on these reads at the end of the month. What are you reading in July??