Monday, August 5, 2019

July Favorites: Anti-Heroes Who are Actually Heroes, Talking Animals, and Australian Reality TV

What did Will and I read and love and loathe this mid-summer?

All of THIS!

My absolute favorite book of July--and of the entire year, so far!--is this beautiful gem:

I LOVED this book,  you guys. I LOVED IT.

Mind you, I started off hating it, and came close to simply pitching it in the library returns crate before the first chapter was finished, but I hung on because Will highly recommended it to me, and I wanted to at least be able to talk about it with her.

So I soldiered through the first chapter, and then got hooked on Elliott's machinations, although my skin crawled at how mean he was to everyone in his life. I hated him and wished that the book would focus on someone more pleasant.

But then, you know, Elliott started to grow on me, too--he was so clever, and he did some heroic stuff, and even though he appeared hateful to everyone, his actions started to give him the lie. And then, almost in spite of myself, I started to love him, and as the years in the book went on, I loved him more, and cheered him on as he took brave little steps towards decisions that would change his ugly little unused heart for the better, and oh, my goodness, you guys, I cried more than once on his behalf! Damnit, Elliott! Why are you so horrible to everyone?!?

It's because everyone has always been horrible to him and he doesn't know how to love or be loveable and he thinks he IS horrible so he's like a feral cat that scratches you before you can pet it! It's touching and endearing and painful to watch, and I want to wrap him up in blankets and let him hide on my couch as long as he wants!


And yes, I have realized that this main character is quite similar to the main character of my OTHER favorite book this year, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. Stop psychoanalyzing me!

Remember how much I liked The Boys in the Cave last month? Well, this month I read another account, and I also liked it!

It was interesting to read two separate books on the same event, because of course they each told details that the other didn't. If you read one, you should definitely also read the other, and THEN I think you'll have a thorough understanding of all that went on. And yes, it's still amazing and intense and practically beyond belief.

And here's what else I read in July!

My goal for August is to try to find some more interesting non-fiction to read--the non-fiction on my library shelves right now is mostly guidebooks and recipe books, which aren't exactly made for cover-to-cover binge-reading.

Will, as usual, read voraciously in July. She surprised me again this month by having a sci-fi book as one of her favorites:

I think that she has to stop claiming that she doesn't care for science fiction!

Another of her favorites is an old favorite, one that Will has probably read a half-dozen times since she first learned to read:

We've read all of those Chincoteague books several times, watched the movie, visited the island, and every now and then we talk about how fun it would be to go to the pony swim. Maybe next year!

Will's next couple of picks for her favorites are especially interesting, I think, because they demonstrate what it looks like for a kid to read whatever she likes. Especially in the homeschooling community, I'm always seeing parents worry about what books to offer their kids to "challenge" them, or fretting that their kids only read "easy" books. I don't think it's hard to figure out that Will has some exceptional academic abilities, and yet this silly little children's novel was one of her favorite books that she read in July:

And here's another book that she said was one of her favorites:

Yeah, that's my Seamus Heaney Beowulf, with the Anglo-Saxon on one side of the page and his modern English translation on the other side. Will reads what she likes, whether it's an upper elementary adventure novel or translated Anglo-Saxon poetry.

Funny tangent: a few days ago we were listening to something on the radio, I don't remember what, but the speaker made a reference to "Beowulf following Grendel back to his lair and defeating him," and Will and I both gasped in outrage. It's Grendel's MOTHER that Beowulf chases down into the depths, not Grendel! The very IDEA!!!

Will also really likes the HIVE books, and these three were also July favorites:

Will didn't set aside any of her books this last month for me to read--something that she does if she thinks I'd especially like them, too--but nevertheless, I'm going to re-request these two from the library, because they sound sweet and magical:

Here's some more magic, combined with another of Will's favorite themes--talking animals!

Speaking of talking animals, Will re-read this and couldn't stop talking about it. We've had a LOT of conversations in the past month about rabbit Nazis and the Black Rabbit and the fact that, you guys, all of that roaming and adventuring and wandering? They're rabbits. That whole book probably took place in the space of something like two square miles.

And here's what else Will read in July!

Our binge-watching, now, has been mostly TV series, mostly non-fiction. We rented Netflix for exactly one month so that Matt and I could watch Stranger Things, because, you know, of COURSE we did, and the first thing Syd did was watch the entire run of Nailed It. And then she got super into reality shows, only 23 years out of fashion by now, and somehow convinced me to obsess over the entire first season of some Australian reality show, Yummy Mummies. It's about these three rich, self-entitled, but still kind of charming pregnant women in Melbourne, and the tacky, vulgar, over-the-top, selfish pregnant woman who stalks them from Adelaide. It's SO WEIRD, and Syd might be developing a permanent bias against the upper classes.

And then, fine, *I* got super weird into another very strange Australian reality show, this time about lifeguards on some popular beach in Australia that frankly looks like the most dangerous place on earth. It's basically a giant urban beach with two tiny safe swimming areas between a couple of huge riptides. And there's a rocky cliff to one side where people cut themselves when they're not getting swept out to sea in the riptides.

And then Will started fighting us for the remote because she found a British reality show about a group of people who rescue wild animals and bottle feed a bunch of baby foxes and badgers and jackdaws.

It's been a very educational month, y'all!

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