June 2023 Books

Books Reread

The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians book 3 of 5
Last month I read Riordan’s new book about Nico so it was nice to reread this one to remember how it all began. Baby Nico is so cute! In this installment of the Percy Jackson series, Percy and Grover must team up with the Hunters of Artemis to save both Annabeth and Artemis herself in a cross-country adventure full of monsters, gods, good friends, and bad jokes.
4/5 dam store t-shirts

New Books Read

Indian No More by Traci Sorell and Charlene Willing McManis***
CW: racism
Regina and her family are moving off the Umpqua rez and 10-year-old Regina isn’t sure why. Her mom says the government doesn’t recognize them as Indians anymore. Her dad says it will be a great opportunity for them to move to the city and become real Americans with better opportunities. Regina has to balance fitting in in her new home with holding onto her history and identity that her grandmother passes down to her in the form of stories. This is a great middle grade read for anyone looking to learn more about Native Americans, particularly the Indian termination policy of the 1950s.
3.5/5 neighborhood kids

Dry by Jarrod Shusterman and Neal Shusterman
CW: climate change, natural disaster, attempted rape
This book was frighteningly plausible. In a near future climate crisis, the water in Los Angeles is shut off as the Colorado River is diverted from flowing into California. All the nearby lakes, rivers, and reservoirs have already dried up. The book follows four teens and one child as they try to navigate an increasingly desperate situation. I really liked this book; I think everyone should probably read it. I liked the way the authors gave the reader several archetypes of the kind of people who emerge in natural disasters like these: the kind of end-of-the-world preparer type, who of course will never really be prepared enough, the opportunistic capitalist who knows they can make a few dollars off everyone else’s desperation, the one who is just trying to survive, the one who keeps their humanity and wants to help others, and the sort of everyman, who is trying to balance being a leader who can keep their group alive with difficult decisions they might not be able to live with. I thought it created a really interesting dynamic in the group.
3.5/5 water bottles

Milkweed Editions

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea by Debra Magpie Earling***
CW: rape, rape of children, slavery
This book is stunningly unique and thought provoking. In an imagined history of one of the most celebrated Native American women in history, Earling fills in the gaps of what history knows about Sacajewea. Everything we know about her comes from accounts of white men: Lewis, Clark, Sacajewea’s “husband” Charbonneau (who let’s not forget purchased her as a 13-year-old, forced her into a nonconsensual marriage and raped her). So Earling’s book takes the reader on a journey of what it may have been like to be Sacajewea. The most arresting part of Earling’s narrative is the style in which she writes. She uses rhythm and sound and repetition in a way that makes the whole narrative almost an epic prose poem. It’s challenging but also visceral and immediate. Earling doesn’t shy away from the horrifying parts of Sacajewea’s story–in fact the history we learn of Sacajewea is almost devoid of horror, despite the known facts of her kidnap, slavery, and rape as a child, so Earling’s narrative reminds readers that Sacajewea was a human and however great her contributions to history, geography, science, and this nation, she was a child who was wronged.
4/5 horses


The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama***
Every year former president Barak Obama shares a list of the best books he read. This book topped his list in 2022—though he may be a little biased. Following her gorgeous memoir Becoming, The Light We Carry walks the line between a memoir and a self-help book. Obama shares fresh stories from her life and uses them to impart wisdom and insight on living through increasingly uncertain times. Since her first book, the world has faced a global pandemic, political turmoil, economic and climate insecurity. Obama offers practical advice on understanding and using fear, caring for relationships with friends, partners, and children, and what it truly means to “go high.” Compassionate, compelling, and inspiring, Obama’s book oozes with sincerity and conviction. Obama also reads her own audiobook which I highly recommend.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia***
CW: forced marriage, murder, infanticide
I rescued this book, along with Dry and Indian No More from the trash room at my apartment complex. They deserved a better home. I really liked this book. Noémi, a young socialite in Mexico City, receives a concerning letter from her cousin, married to an Englishman in a remote part of Mexico. Noémi travels to the dilapidated manor where her cousin and the Englishman’s family live in the ruins of their wealth from a now closed mine. It doesn’t take long for Noémi to realize something odd is going on. Is the house haunted? Is it driving her cousin mad? Is it driving her mad? Is her cousin being poisoned? And worst of all, will the house let her leave? I very much enjoyed this. It was dark, it was mysterious. Noémi was plucky and smart. It was a treat for anyone who loves a good old Victorian gothic novel.
4/5 mushrooms

Scholastic Inc

Solitaire by Alice Oseman
CW: depression, eating disorders, homophobia
This book follows one of my favorite characters from the Heartstopper series: Tori Spring, Charlie’s older sister. Tori Spring is just trying to figure out how to survive high school; she doesn’t have the time to figure out how to be happy. Two new boys join her year: Lucas, who was a childhood friend, and Micheal, whose reputation as a prankster precedes him. At the same time, a mysterious individual or organization named Solitaire begins to prank the school. Tori isn’t really interested in finding out who’s behind the pranks…though they all seem to be connected to her. I really enjoyed this book. I read a review that compared it to Catcher in the Rye and I do see the similarities, but Tori Spring is just so much more likable than Holden Caulfield. It’s a timeless exploration of coming of age, friendship, and finding happiness and purpose as a teenager.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee***
CW: AIDS epidemic, rape, sexual harassment, trauma, death of a parent
Undoubtedly one of America’s best writers, Chee constructs intimate windows into his life in the form of personal essays. Each essay stands alone, but taken together in this book, the essays become a mosaic of a queer writer’s life. Chee writes about his mixed-race identity, the particular challenges of being a writer in the industry, the experience of being a gay man during the AIDS epidemic, the long shadow of trauma, and much more. My favorite essays included “The Querent,” about how to believe in or trust what isn’t visible or easily explained, and “Rosary,” an essay about growing a rose garden, but also an essay about creating something out of barren ground, about being shaped in turn by this thing you’ve created. Chee writes with searing honesty about extremely personal subjects, and yet the universality of his essays is apparent. They are relatable and resonant, contemplative and insightful, and I can’t recommend them enough.   
4/5 roses

I reviewed this book for Under the Sun. You can read the full review here.

Pan Macmillan

Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes***
CW: rape, victim blaming
I will never not be obsessed with feminist retellings of Greek myths. A retelling of the myths of Medusa and Andromeda, Haynes conducts the reader through the myth from only female perspectives, changing a story we thought we all knew–how Perseus slew the evil gorgon Medusa and then used her severed head to kill the monster that was menacing the Princess Andromeda–and showing us that we never really knew it at all. Haynes gives us an arsenal of complex and interesting female characters and writes with an intimate and casual tone, evoking a bedtime story told by a grandmother. I was a big fan.
4.5/5 stones

**Book Hangover Alert indicates the kind of book that will leave you full up on love. Satisfied, but wishing the book never had to end. You’ll be laying on the floor with no idea what to do with yourself (other friends have called this feeling Good Book Depression or say that certain books necessitate Floor Time). This is the kind of book that gets its teeth in you and won’t let go easily. After the last page you’ll be thinking about this book for a long time. You’ll bother all your friends trying to get them to read it so that you won’t be alone in your Hangover.

***This book is part of my Books for a Social Conscience series! Read Indian No More to learn about Native American history and how Native identities were erased by this policy. Read The Lost Journals of Sacajewea to finally hear about the great journey of Lewis and Clark from Sacajewea’s perspective–even if it must necessarily be speculative. Read The Light We Carry to become a better person. Read Mexican Gothic for a diverse and anti-colonial take on the Victorian gothic horror genre. Read How to Write and Autobiographical Novel to learn more about a gay man’s experience living through the AIDS epidemic, and about navigating the world as a mixed race child of immigrants. Read Stone Blind for Greek myths but make it feminist.

Reads marked as part of the Books for a Social Conscience series will regularly address topics like race and racism, colonialism and post-colonialism, LGBTQIA+ experience, feminism, BIPOC experience, social and political issues, history, identity, class, disability experience, immigration, gun violence, poverty, colorism, environmentalism, and more! The goal of these books is to diversify the stories we’re reading, grow our empathy for those who are different from us, and amplify voices who are often silenced.

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