July’s Book of the Month

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic: What’s the best book you read in July?

July turned out to be one of those rare months where I genuinely enjoyed every book I read, though they were all quite different. Here’s my reading wrap-up:

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young – This book grabbed me from the beginning, thanks mostly to boyfriend Harlin. He was so sweet and loving and attentive and HOT, I flew through the pages wanting to read more scenes with him. The story as a whole was incredible and–dare I say–rather inspiring. And the ending… yowza… I’m still sort of reeling from it, but in the best of ways.

Chime by Franny Billingsley – I raved about Chime in this POST, so I won’t bore you with further accolades. I will simply say: I LOVED it.

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder – I’m not sure why I continuously shy away from books written in verse. I always end up enjoying them. This one, especially, was lovely. I’m awed by how much story was packed into one day in Amber and Cade’s lives (only about 20K words), and  I’m seriously envious of Lisa Schroeder’s gift for language.

Forever by Maggie Steivfater – If an author can truly sell me the love story in her book, I can overlook many a flaw relating to pacing, plot, and character development. I ADORE Sam and Grace of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. They’re sweet and romantic and so respectful of each other, plus,they have subtle but undeniably hot chemistry. It’s because of them (and Cole!) that I didn’t mind Forever‘s fairly predictable plot, or the continued weirdness of Grace’s parents, or the complete implausibility of the last quarter of the story. Forever struck me as a fitting end to this trilogy, yet I still wanted more from it.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – It’s been awhile since I read a craft book, and lately I’ve been in need of some writing inspiration. I’d heard great things about Bird and it did not disappoint. It’s succinct, funny, and honest. My favorite take-away lessons? Be authentic, view the world reverently, and do not be afraid to make mistakes. I highly recommend Bird by Bird if you’ve yet to read it.

And July’s Book of the Month is… Room by Emma Donoghue.

From GoodReads: To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer. Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

Admittedly, I was hesitant to read this book. While I like stories that are bizarre and/or disturbing, books that include sensationalized violence against women do not appeal to me. Also, Room is narrated by a five-year-old boy. As the mother of a precocious almost-four-year-old, I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend 300 pages locked in that mindset. Well, I’m glad to report that Room is neither the lurid account of a tortured woman or the juvenile narration of a preschooler. Room, instead, is about the strength of the human spirit and an incredibly unique mother-son bond.

A comment on Jack’s narration: In my opinion, this story couldn’t have been told by anyone else. Jack is an intelligent, thoughtful boy, and his observations about what’s around him (from Room to his Ma’s sometimes erratic behavior) are eye-opening. His simplicity veils the brief scenes of violence, and he is key to all the action that takes place–we’d miss out if we weren’t in Jack’s head. It’s fascinating to view the world through his innocence. Donoghue did an amazing job capturing the mindset of a child.

I don’t want to tell you too much about Room‘s plot; I think its  impact will be stronger if you travel through the pages uninitiated. While I wouldn’t call this book a “thriller,” I certainly found it to be a page-turner. I was desperate to know what would happen to Jack and Ma as their story unfolded. Yes, I know Room isn’t a young adult novel (I think it’s actually my first adult Book of the Month!), but I highly recommend you check it out.

Tell me… what’s the best book you read in July?


32 thoughts on “July’s Book of the Month

  1. katharine owens says:

    I haven’t read ANY of these!

    I have bird by bird, but haven’t read it cover to cover. The others sound intriguing. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Room, but I’m still shying away from it for the reasons you describe. I’ll get to it eventually. :0)

  2. aleeza rauf says:

    i managed to find a copy of ROOM after searching for it for a bajillion weeks. i’ve yet to get to it but i’m definitely going to read it as soon as i can 🙂

    and bird by bird is a book i also need to read. as well as on writing by stephen king. i haven’t really ever read any books on the craft of writing, but i want to give these two a try! 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      I haven’t read ON WRITING yet either, Aleeza, but it’s definitely on my list. BIRD BY BIRD is a great craft book to start with because it’s got lots of personality, short chapters, and really great advice.

  3. Sophia Richardson says:

    Paper Towns. I had to look up what I’d actually read this month outside of my review books, and as soon as I saw Paper Towns I was like d’uh, self. I took so many notes from that book, literally copying out parapgraphs and pages because it was so good. The characters are great and the MC’s voice is both funny and deep, but about a quarter of the way through I was all about the writing and the ideas. John Green is the best combination of funny, insightful, and relatable, and if I ever had the chance to meet him I would tell him so.

  4. Amie Kaufman says:

    I’ve been hesitating over ROOM, but perhaps I should give it a go after all. I’m sold on A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL — have just downloaded a sample to my kindle so I don’t forget to buy it!

  5. Alicia Gregoire says:

    Yikes. I don’t know about Room. It sounds interesting, but disturbing at the same time. Though I might go take a peek at A Need So Beautiful once I clear out some of this TBR.

    • katyupperman says:

      Good luck clearing out the TBR… I can never seem to do that. 🙂 ROOM is definitely interesting and far less disturbing than the concept would have you believe. It’s very good!

  6. Tracey Neithercott says:

    Chime’s one of my favorite reads all year. I love that book. And I’ve been dying to read Room, but also apprehensive at the same time. I have a feeling there’s be an entire box of tissues involved in the reading process. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      CHIME is one of my favorite 2011 releases too, Tracey! In fact, I remember reading your “nonreview” shortly after I bought it. I was so glad to hear that you liked it so much!

      I hope you give ROOM a shot… let me know what you think!

  7. Pam Harrris says:

    You got to read SO MUCH this month–but I have to agree with your choice for the best. I read Room months ago and it still haunts me. The writing was so beautiful. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      I did get through quite a few books this month–that’s what happens when your husband is deployed and your kiddo goes to bed at 7:30. 🙂

      Glad to know we’re in agreement about ROOM. I agree: Totally haunting.

  8. Rebecca B says:

    I love, love, love BIRD BY BIRD. Such a great craft book! I’ve stayed away from ROOM so far because it seems so intense. But I’ve heard such great things–I might have to check it out.

    • katyupperman says:

      It’s definitely intense, but not nearly as disturbing as I thought it would be. Graphic violence is almost completely left out. Let me know what you think if you give it a shot!

  9. Jennifer Hoffine says:

    I loved Bird By Bird, and Chime is in my To-Be-Listened-To pile. I usually avoid disturbing books like Room, but I keep hearing such great things, I may need to check it out.

    • katyupperman says:

      I bet CHIME is an excellent audio book. The writing is so beautiful, I’d be willing to bet listening to it is quite an experience.

      Hope you enjoy ROOM if you decide to check it out. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      It’s definitely worth a try, Jessica. As I’ve said, the graphic violence is glossed over and the story is well worth a shot. Let me know what you think if you read it!

  10. Stephanie Allen says:

    I haven’t read any of these! (Although I think all of them are on my TBR.) Room looked intriguing but I wasn’t sure whether to read it or not…I’m leaning much more toward reading it after reading this.

  11. Carolina Valdez Miller says:

    I’ve always been terrified of reading books in verse. But I read an ARC of Stasia Kehoe’s AUDITION and was totally wowed. If I could read more books in verse like that one, I’m totally sold on the style. What skill!

    • katyupperman says:

      What is it about books in verse that can be off-putting? Poetry units we suffered through in high school, maybe? THE DAY BEFORE is excellent, though. You should definitely check it out. Oh, and AUDITION looks awesome!

  12. Kaitlin says:

    Wow you read so many more books last month than I did! I have pretty much only heard good things about CHIME. ROOM sounds interesting!

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