So, I thought I’d begin my excursion into the wonderful world of book blogging with my TBR list for July! As a recent college graduate with a degree in English, I’m rather at a loss as to how to continue my reading and writing career in a way that is both educational and enjoyable. I’d like to have a full time job in which I can use the writing and language skills that I’ve learned in college. But, I also think that it’s important for me to continue the habit, that I cultivated in college, of reading and writing for myself.
I’ve found that the key to success is to make daily goals, and to try new things. Creating this blog is a very new experience for me. I’m both excited and nervous to share my writing on an online platform. Currently, my goals are to write two blog posts a week and read one hundred pages a day. This is a pretty big goal, but I am confident that I can do it.
I have nine novels on my list for July. These books are right at my one hundred pages a day mark, which worked out perfectly, and I am so excited to read all of them. So without any further ado, here’s my TBR for July.
1.) Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
I can’t believe that I haven’t read this national bestseller yet! I have loved novels and history books about ancient Egypt for as long as I can remember. I love them even more when they tell a story about one of Egypt’s most famous queens: Nefertiti. Since we know so little about who she was, it’s interesting to read the stories that authors create about her life and, most importantly, how she became queen. This is the book that I’m looking forward to the most this month, and I hope that this will be the most exciting novel about ancient Egypt that I’ve ever read.
Description: Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Aumunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped that her strong personality will temper the young ruler’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods.
From the moment of the arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people, but she fails to see that powerful forces are plotting against her husband’s reign. The only person brave enough to warn the queen in her younger sister, yet remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game – one that could cost her everything she holds dear.
2.) The Red Pyramid: Book One in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
My second novel for July continues with the theme of ancient Egypt. If you’ve read Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan than you might be able to guess what this series is about.
Description: Since his mother’s death six years ago, Carter Kane has been living out of a suitcase, traveling the globe with his father, the brilliant Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane. But while Carter’s been homeschooled, his younger sister, Sadie, has been living with their grandparents in London. Sadie has just what Carter wants – school friends and a chance at a “normal life. But Carter has just what Sadie longs for – time with their father. After six years of living apart, the siblings have almost nothing in common. Until now.
On Christmas Eve, Sadie and Carter are reunited when their father brings them to the British Museum, with a promise that he’s going to “make things right.” But all does not go according to plan: Carter and Sadie watch as Julius summons a mysterious figure, who quickly banishes their father and causes a fiery explosion.
Soon Carter and Sadie discover that the gods of Ancient Egypt are waking, and the worst of them – Set – has a frightening scheme. To save their father, they must embark on a dangerous journey – a quest that brings them even closer to the truth about their family and its links to the House of Life, a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
I love the sound of this series! And to be able to read more about the clash between our world and the magical world of the ancient gods is so exciting for me. I’m a lover of ancient mythology, and I don’t think that my month would be complete without it. This book is a reread for me, even though I haven’t read the rest of the books in the series (I’m not sure why I didn’t finish it!). I hope to finish The Kane Chronicles by the end of the summer. The first time I read this I was so fascinated by the spin that Riordan placed on the myths of the Ancient Egyptian gods. The use of magic and traveling between worlds was also a bonus. . .
3.) The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
I went to a writing festival back in the spring of 2016, and there I sat in on an interview with the author of this novel. I would never have heard about it otherwise. In the interview Obioma talked about growing up in Nigeria and how living there inspired this story. I was fascinated by what the author said, and his book has been on my TBR list ever since. The story takes inspiration from the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible, as well as some Nigerian folklore, I believe. I know very little about this novel other than that but I’m very excited to read it this month, and to experience a culture that I know very little about.
Description: Told from the point of view of nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings.
What happens next is an almost mystic event whose impact – both tragic and redemptive – will transcend the lives and imaginations of the book’s characters and it’s readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure, but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal. Seen through the prism of one family’s destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa, with all of its contradictions – economic, political, and religious – and the epic beauty of its culture.
4.) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Description: Acclaimed by critics, beloved by reader of all ages, taught everywhere from grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of Vignettes – sometimes heart breaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in out time have touched so many readers.
Again a novel that I can’t believe I’ve never read before. I think that I will be able to relate to this book, as someone who would invent the type of person that I would be when I grew up. As I read, I think that I will find someone that I can to relate to, someone who is just as discontent and lonely as I was. I’m excited to read a short novel (it’s only 110 pages) told in vignettes. There are so few opportunities to read novels written in this style.
5.) A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle
This is the second book in L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series. In the first book of this series, A Wrinkle in Time, unsociable Meg Murry and her strange little brother Charles Wallace, along with their friend Calvin O’Keefe, are taken on a magical adventure through space and time to save their father from a mysterious evil. While A Wrinkle in Time is about Meg’s internal struggle, A Wind in the Door is about Charles Wallace’s.
Description: Just before Meg Murry’s little brother, Charles Wallace, falls deathly ill, he sees dragons in the vegetable garden. The dragons turn out to be Proginoskes, a cherubim composed of wings and eyes, wind and flame. It is up to Meg and Proginoskes, along with Meg’s friend Calvin, to save Charles Wallace’s life. To do so, they must travel deep within Charles Wallace to attempt to defeat the Echthroi – those who hate – and restore brilliant harmony and joy to the rhythm of creation, the song of the universe.
This is the only children’s book that I have on my list, but I am so excited to read it. I first read this series when I was a kid, and I loved it! The thought that child misfits like me could fight against magical and spiritual evils was captivating and empowering.
6.) Four Souls by Louise Erdrich
Since Louise Erdrich is my favorite author I’ve listed two of her novels in my TBR. The first in Four Souls. I love the world that Erdrich has created in her books. As a Native American of the Ojibwe tribe, she writes about her people, and their life on the reservation. All of her characters are fictional, but Erdrich’s beautiful writing style brings them to life. The author employs a technique we literature nerds like to call intertextuality. Nearly all of her novels are set on the same fictional Indian reservation, and even though all of her novels are stand alone books, they aren’t a series, many of the characters keep popping up throughout. After finishing one of her novels and then beginning another, I was pleased to find that another piece of the story was revealed, and then told in its entirety.
Description: After taking her mother’s name, Four Souls, for strength, the strange, and compelling Fleur Pillager walks from her Olibwe reservation to the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. She seeks restitution from and revenge on the lumber baron who has stripped her reservation. But revenge is never simple, and her intentions are complicated by her dangerous compassion for the man who wronged her.
I’m excited to read this novel because Fleur has quickly become my favorite character in Erdirch’s novels. She appears and is mentioned in many more books than this one. Louise Erdrich’s works have been described to me as novels about relationships. They are very character driven, which is one of my favorite things about them.
7.) Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich
This second Louise Erdrich novel on my TBR is much longer than the first and includes many more characters.
Description: Five very different women have married Jack Mauser, a charming, infuriating schemer whose passions never survive the long haul. Now, stranded in a North Dakota blizzard they have come face-to-face – and each has an astonishing story to tell. Huddling for warmth, they pass the endless night by remembering the stories of how each came to love, marry, and ultimately move beyond Jack. At times painful, at times, heartbreaking, and oftentimes comic, their tales become the adhesive that holds them together – in their love for Jack and in their lives as women.
Erdich’s novels are often very feministic and I’m sure that this one is no different, since it’s about a group of five women and the one husband that they have in common. There are many instances of marriage and divorce in her novels. It is at times heartbreaking, but I have recently found out from articles about Erdrich’s work that divorce is a natural part of the Ojibwe culture. The goal in marriage is not necessarily to be married for life. Another wonderful characteristic of these novels is that the author includes themes that reveal important aspects of the Ojibwe culture.
8.) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Wow, I really missed the bandwagon on this one! If you’re not aware, this novel was super popular about a year or two ago. Everyone was reading it and raving about it. I bought it right after it went on sale for Christmas and it has sat on my shelf, unread, ever since. I thought about putting it off some more (shame on me!), but it’s been a long time since I’ve read a good World War II novel. I also recently read another Pulitzer Price winning piece of fiction and I absolutely loved it. I really hope that I enjoy reading this novel as well.
Description: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
9.) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Ever since I read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie I’ve been a fan of magical realism, but I don’t read enough of it. Magical realism is a literary devise that I like to call “supernatural occurrences disguised as natural events” or “magic that no one notices.” For example, in a magical realist novel, a child may be born with wings, he may be the first baby ever born with wings, but his parents only consider it an inconvenience, and the child will have to figure out how to fit in since he’s just “different” and not considered a magical creature. As far as I know, Márquez is one of the forefathers of magical realism, and I have been told many times that I should read this novel.
Description: One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women – brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul – this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.
I love Nobel Prize winning books, and I hope to enjoy this one as well.
I apologize if this post is longwinded but I wanted to begin my blog by talking about the kinds of books that interest me and why. I hope that this post will be the first of many. Let me know what you think of my TBR list in the comments! Have you read any of these books and did you like them? What’s on your TBR for July?