What I Read in July 2023

Hi, friends! Back with my monthly reading wrap-up! The summer has been flying by as 2023 has been all year, especially now that we’re only a month out from our wedding.

PAGEBOY by Elliot Page – 3.5 stars

I got lucky with my Libby hold an didn’t have to wait long to listen to Elliot Pages’s memoir Pageboy! Elliot Page was another actor whose life I didn’t know much but besides his queer identity and gender transition. Page opens up quite a bit his book in a way that reminded me of Pamela Anderson’s book. I appreciated the opportunity to listen to Elliot Page share his story but wanted a little bit more out of it.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT by Clare Pooley – 4 stars

I picked up a copy of The Authenticity Project from a little free library while in DC a few weekends ago. The title and the cover intrigued me and it delivered exactly what I hoped it would. A lonely artist in his 70s confesses his truth out of desperation, in a green journal he titles “The Authenticity Project.” His cry for connection and others to share their truths somehow works?! There is love, friendship, drama, and a twist I did not see coming! I love a good story of strangers being vulnerable and befriending each other unexpectedly so The Authenticity Project filled my cup. It reminded me of Fredrik Bachman a little bit.

HAPPY PLACE by Emily Henry – 3.5 stars

I had high hopes for Happy Place, Emily Henry’s newest release. Granted I’ve only read one book by her before (Book Lovers; read my review here) but I had really like that one and I saw MANY people rave about Happy Place being their favorite Emily Henry book yet.

One of my first thoughts going into Happy Place was “oh good, these people have real problems they are dealing with.” Sadly, Happy Place ended up being one of those books where the premise and setting are so promising but the characters and the plot are annoying.

죽고 싶지만 떡볶이는 먹고 싶어 2 (I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokpokki 2) by 백세희 (Baek Se-hee) – 4 stars

I read the first volume of I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokpokki at the beginning of this year and didn’t love it as much as I hoped. I meant to read the second volume (I picked up a combined copy of books 1 and 2 in NYC last year) shortly after but had totally forgotten about it until recently! I’m SO glad I read the second book because it delivered what I expected out of the first book. The format of the book is identical to the first. The chapters are organized by weeks of therapy sessions–her conversations with her therapist followed by reflective commentaries. There is more development and reflection and more ups and downs in book two; it doesn’t have a neat happy ending but definitely has a more of a conclusion and presents a change in perspective.

Considering that book one ends on the author’s 12th week of therapy and book two picks right back up on 13th week, I wonder what the rationale was for separating this into two volumes. Even the author comments in book two how she ended the first book a bit inconclusively (대안없이). I will say there are some comments reflecting on response received for book one which I appreciated reading. At this point in time when both books have been out for some time, I suggest you read both books as if they’re one continuous story (because they are) to fully appreciate the narrative.

RUBY LOST AND FOUND by Christina Li – 4 stars

I have certainly been reading a lot more YA this year and am loving it! I borrowed Ruby Lost and Found from the library after seeing it on Bookstagram. It’s about middle schooler Ruby who is going through a couple of big transitions in her life—passing of her grandfather Ye-Ye who she was so close with and cross-country move of her best friends which resulted in the breakup of the trio. Additionally her community is facing a great loss as May’s Bakery is under the threat of a permanent shutdown. Because I grew up with my grandparents (with my parents and siblings all under one roof) for the first decade of my life, stories about grandparents always really resonate with me. Other challenges Ruby faces felt both real and appropriate for middle grades.

LATE BLOOMERS by Deepa Varadarajan – 4 stars

Late Bloomers is about an Indian American family of four, each of whom is more on their own and lost than the rest of the family suspects. Following a divorce after thirty-six years of arranged marriage, Suresh and Lata are dipping their toes in the dating world though in very different contexts. They are worried about their daughter Priya because she is still unmarried at her age though she is not quite single. Their son Nikesh seemingly has a perfect life with his law firm job, his wife, and their new baby though things are not as they seem. They all find themselves together and entangled in each other’s mess ahead of the first birthday of Nikesh’s son. Late Bloomers was messy, funny, and stressful just like families are.

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