July Books – Quick Lit

I missed a month of writing about the books I’m reading. Turns out that travelling with two small kids in a VW Bus for a month is not as conducive to reading as one may think. I had packed a bunch of books that I had envisioned reading in the evenings, sitting in front of a bus with sleeping kids, drinking a cup of tea. I read exactly one.

But this month we are back on Spiekeroog (or: the island, as husband calls it) and my mother and sister are helping to entertain the kids and I’m actually managing to read some stuff. And shower regularly. So here we go:

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

A colourful story about the lives of a few family members and connected people in the early 1900s in Korea and Japan. It begins with Sunja, a young Korean girl, her family, and her love affair with an older, rich Korean and ends generations later in Japan.
I thought the writing was a bit bumpy at times, but that may have been the translation. Mostly I was fascinated by the things I learned about the history and culture of Korea and Japan. I had no idea about the colonisation and about pachinko and all the other little details, be it food or clothing or family politics. Well worth a read and likely to become a sort of classic, I think.

The Montessori Toddler – Simone Davies

I plan on writing a longer piece about this book, it’s so well done.
First of all: the artwork and design and set up are great. The book is so beautiful, it’s worth having on the shelf just for that. But the structure is great as well and I find myself returning to lots of the tips and explanations and ideas over and over. I will never have a full-on Montessori home. I am way too messy and impatient for that, but I like to raise my kids Montessori-ish, at least. And this book is a wonderful resource for that, as well as explaining a lot about the development of toddlers. I highly recommend it!

American Prison – Shane Bauer

One of two incredibly depressing books about the USA I read this month. Bauer alternates between recounting his experiences from spending four months undercover as a prison guard in a private prison and writing the history of (private) prisons in the US. I honestly can’t say which part was more horrifying. The history is crueller and bloodier than the current situation, but the current situation is only marginally better and one would think that nowadays people had learned a bit from history.
I’m not really sure why I read it, I find the topic of prisons so horrible anyway, it may have been a bit of an overkill to read an entire book about prisons. Also an awful book to read in the middle of the night.

Maid – Stephanie Land

Depressing book number two. But at least this one ends on a positive note.
It’s a memoir about the years Land spent working as a maid and raising her daughter. But in a broader sense it’s also a book about poverty in the United States. Besides working as a maid, Land is on more than ten (I think) types of government assistance, and she is still barely able to make a living survive. It’s a joke that this is even called assistance.
I don’t want to put my head too far above the parapet, but I doubt that the things she describes are possible in Germany. At least not on this scale. At least I hope not.

It also made me feel incredibly inefficient at cleaning, but that’s beside the point.

As Long As We Both Shall Live – JoAnn Chaney

The thing with ebooks is that you can’t really read the summary on the backbone. Or maybe you can, but I haven’t figured out how. So I tend to start reading books without knowing what they’re about. After the two depressing books about the US I felt like I deserved a love story and started this one. Turns out it’s not a love story but a thriller. Not exactly what I was going for. It kept me guessing and it often made me very uncomfortable, so I guess if one enjoys psychological thrillers, it’s probably a good book. Just not exactly my cup of tea.

Still Life – Louise Penny

I will probably spend the next few weeks reading Louise Penny novels. The setting of her mystery is so charming and quaint and the characters are colourful and (often) lovable and a few of her descriptions are so insightful I even highlighted them.
Jane Neal, a beloved villager and part time artist is found dead in the woods and Inspector Armand Gamache is brought in to investigate if it was an accident or a murder. I didn’t really enjoy the actual mystery that much, but I hope the next one will be more intriguing. The village and characters made up for that anyway. I also loved the Canadian details (which to Penny are probably not even Canadian details, for someone who has never been and knows nothing they are, however) and the fact that by the end of the book I had even figured out how to pronounce Sureté (in my head).

4 Comments

  1. I want to read American Prison too- you’re right, it’s just so horrible but it’s really whats happening over here. Louise Penny books have been on my long term list to try.

    1. annaadmin says:

      I’m on book four now, I hope that once you get to Louise Penny you’ll enjoy her writing.

  2. Elena says:

    I am adding The Montessori Toddler to my TBR! I am interested in the approach and would love to read more about it! Pachinko sounds so good but the length of the book is a bit daunting!!

    1. annaadmin says:

      That’s a definite plus when reading ebooks, you’re less likely to be intimidated by the length 🙂

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