Booking and biking my way through 2020.
30. Circe by Madeline Miller (Fantasy, Mythology)
100% this was me trying to be all intellectual and well-exposed to all the genres. I have never liked mythology. It’s always felt old, staunch, boring to me. And, well, Circe was no different. I can’t say I regret the experience I had of pushing myself, but this was a definite challenge to get through. I feel like I could have read a synopsis of Circe’s story and skipped the book. 2 STARS
31. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Historical Fiction)
This little highly rated book tackles topics of identity, class, education, parenthood, generational expectations and more. But while it’s a heavy hitter, I really struggled with the writing style. The book jumps around, focusing on the coming-of-age ceremony of 16-year-old Melody, but exploring her family history as well. I found it difficult at times to know when we were in what time-frame and who we were talking about. However, I loved the emphasis on Melody’s comparison to her mother who, at 16, gave birth to Melody and did not have her “coming-of-age” ceremony. 3 STARS
32. The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin (Chick Lit, Contemporary)
I was so unexcited by this choice of book by my book club. Emily Giffin has always just seemed ok to me – light, chick lit, airy, cute – I’m just looking for more right now in a book. The first half or so was everything I expected of it. However, the further it got, the more solid the plot lines were for me. I pretty automatically dock a star on any book that references pop culture in a way that limits its ability to be timeless, and references such as those were very frequent in this book. There were things that made me roll my eyes, but then September 11 happened in the book and things got serious and the story got real. 3.5 STARS
33. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Non-Fiction, Memoir, Race)
This book is not new, but it speaks so strongly into what we’re facing in our country right now in regards to race, that it felt as if Coates wrote it just a month ago. A letter from a black man to his son, this book dives into the history of our country and shockingly confronts the reality of why growing up black is different from growing up white. I think every middle- and upper-class white American should read this book. It might make you feel uncomfortable. It might make you cry. But it’s probably time that us comfortable, happy whites learn what it feels like to be uncomfortable and saddened for our black brothers, sisters, children, neighbors… For me, the greatest conviction was that of my chasing the white Dream. I cannot say I am not doing this, for we are programmed to do it. We are taught from a very young age that we are to aspire to one day live in a beautiful home with our perfect family and work at our steady, overly-sufficient jobs and be happy as fricken clams. This had come to my attention shortly before reading this book as I moved into my new, semi-rural, cul de sac neighborhood. I felt both a sense of a arrival and a sense of shame. Who am I to deserve this? Who am I to even want this? And while I grappled with those questions, the concept of race could not be ignored. I am chasing my white dream. I am chasing the white Dream. It will take me time to come to terms with this and to learn how to compensate for where I feel my lifestyle might be wrong, but reading books like this, I believe, are imperative for any of us to make a change. Some quotes, because I just can’t hold back this beauty:
“… enslavement is not a parable. It is damnation. It is the never-ending night. And the length of that night is most of our history. Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains—whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains.”
“The galaxy belonged to them (whites), and as terror was communicated to our children, I saw mastery communicated to theirs.”
“And she [the mother of a highly intelligent, murdered by police, black young adult] could not lean on her country for help. When it came to her son, Dr. Jones’s country did what it does best—it forgot him. The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world. I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free.”Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
At times the book was so high-level that I had to re-read portions, that is why I’m not giving it full marks, but this book is not only worth your time, it should be a priority for you. 4.5 STARS
34. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (Fantasy, Young Adult)
Back from my HP hiatus, I tackled this chunker via audiobook during my move, and 870 pages later… I think I made the right choice (though I could use an arm workout I suppose). But the content: what even happened in this, the 5th, book? Probably 700 pages of this were just meh. The last bit was great, and interesting, and I can only imagine that the reason for this being the longest book yet the shortest movie is because the movie really only had content from the last 170 pages to work with. I’m enjoying the HP process, because, this far into, I know these characters and care about them, and want to know where they’re going, but I can’t help but realize that each book has a similar flow and many of their several hundred pages are kind of pointless. 3 STARS
And now, onward with the goal to ride 2020 miles in 2020 on a bike.
My current total: 1662
498 of those miles having been outside (257 of them pulling a kid).
This month held an extra special ride as we made our final departure from our old house via bikes. We looped around our favorite trail one last time and then went the 5 miles to our new house.
And now, our new neighborhood taps into a trail system I have already (slightly) begun to love! It’s challenging to ride more than 10 miles max because I am always on a kid’s napping/eating schedule, but I cannot wait to get on that trail and seriously take off one day.
Hope you had a great August! Stay healthy everyone (ugh, why are we still telling people that? 2020 is over halfway done)!