The summer months tend to go one of two ways for me: a) it’s full of pockets of reading time and I devour lots and lots of books, or b) I end up distracted by barbecues, time with friends, spontaneous plans and video games, and no books are consumed. With that in mind, I didn’t add a whole lot of books to my July TBR list in the hopes that taking the pressure off completely would help. Thankfully, I’ve had plenty of time to laze about in the garden, on the sofa and on trains to get a decent chunk of reading in. And, I head to the South of France tomorrow for a few days of chill time with my friend Elodie, so I’m sure that’ll mean even more reading!
Here are my mini reviews of everything I read in July 2022…
Komi Can’t Communicate: Volume 2 by Tomohito Oda
Integrating some manga back into my reading ritual has been great, and getting a few volumes of Komi Can’t Communicate has really cemented my love for Komi and her world. Volume 2 feels really different from the first. We follow the characters through a ‘national health exam’ at school and Komi encounters new potential friends. All in all, another incredibly wholesome read – I just love Komi Can’t Communicate.
Bright by Jessica Jung
A Girls Generation fan of several years, I couldn’t not read the sequel to Jessica Jung’s debut novel. Bright is Jung’s second novel in a trilogy about Rachel Kim, a sparkling K-pop idol that’s in a 9-member idol group. Of course there are billions of parallels with Jung’s own life, making this a really fun read for any SNSD fan. As a novel, it falls short on ‘good writing’ and originality, there’s no doubt about that and what’s stranger still is that for a self-insert style book, Rachel Kim manages to come across really badly on a number of occasions. But I can’t deny that Bright was incredibly escapist and I loved all of the little K-pop and Hallyu wave mentions. If you pick Bright up, don’t expect any groundbreaking literature, but do expect a frivolous, sparkling and dreamy chick lit.
This One Sky Day by Leone Ross
Nominated for the Goldsmiths Prize and long listed in the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022, I’ve been excited to read This One Sky Day by Leone Ross for months. Firstly, I’m obsessed with the UK edition’s cover art – it’s been a joy to pick this up to read! Secondly, it’s beautifully weird. Magical realism is a genre that I adore and I think This One Sky Day is a great example of that. In it, we’re placed in Popisho – a fictional archipelago named from the Jamaican patois ‘Poppy Show’, which roughly means a puppet show, a spectacle or someone making a fool of themselves. Here in Popisho, everyone is born with a ‘core’, a magical power than varies from person to person, and that fully manifests by the time they reach adulthood.
These are the foundations of Ross’ incredible magical realism, tools that play with and against reality and a way to really explore big themes. This One Sky Day takes place over the course of one day (although it certainly feels like longer!) and centres mostly around the trajectory of two main characters: Xavier and Anise.
I’m not really sure how to talk about this book without revealing all of its best bits and mastery, but I really enjoyed it. Leone Ross’ brand of magical realism veers quite far into speculative fiction and I love how easily she wove in her standings on ocial, political and gender issues. There’s quite a lot of sex talk in this book, so if you’re not into that then this might not be for you. But it’s so cleverly and beautifully executed that it just adds to the overall story.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Now time for a book that wasn’t even on my July TBR! When I shared a photo on Instagram of this in a mini The Works book haul, SO many of you messaged me about it that I bumped it up.
This quietly moving, fantasy novel revolves around Addie LaRue, a woman who’s lived 300 years. After making a desperate deal in the dark, Addie passes through lives – her own and those of others – forever forgotten and unable to leave even a mark behind. That is, until she meets Henry in a small Manhattan bookshop; Henry who remembers her.
The prose in this novel is magical and dazzling, it’s exquisitely poetic but in a readable way. It flutters between the 1700s and ‘present day’ which I greatly appreciated for a welcome smattering of historical fiction, and Schwab explores what it means to be human, what it means to live (and love) and leave an impression on the world. Although the book is intimidatingly long, it is perfectly written and nothing felt dragged out or overwrought. Schwab deftly sweeps you into 1700s Paris and New York City and instantly entangles you to all of Addie’s emotions and ways. A story I couldn’t recommend more.
My August Hopefuls
I have a lot of August plans – lots of family and best friends’ birthdays, along with important work commitments – so I’m keeping my August TBR list short but sweet. I’ve even started one book in advance to try and get a bit of a headstart with things!
- Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee (started this today!)
- First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami
Shop My July Books
What have you read lately? And what are you hoping to read next?