July Reading Wrap-Up

 

Today I’m sharing everything I read in July, why each of these books is worth picking up, and which texts I consider teachable. This wrap-up was really fun to put together because July was an exceptional reading month for me. I didn’t read a single book I disliked or put aside any books I started. In fact, a majority of these titles are books I can definitely say I loved, and I’m positive that several will make it onto my best books of the year list. Plus I found a few new titles to stock in my classroom library and one novel to add to my curriculum as soon as I possibly can.

Here’s everything I read in July in the order I read them:

*The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo. To gain real insight into family relationships and to meet a group of well-constructed characters making really poor decisions.

  • Can I teach it? There’s nothing particularly objectionable here, but the themes will resonate more with adult readers.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. To bask simultaneously in a poignant story and uniquely beautiful language.

  • Can I teach it? No, but do excerpt the sections about the Vietnam War to teach alongside The Things They Carried.

*Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. To contemplate the way women’s sexual desires and traumas are treated and discussed by society, and to participate in the hottest book debate happening right now.

  • Can I teach it? Nope, nope, nope.

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley. To encounter a truly strange, yet resonant story packaged in a fascinating structure, and to re-experience the oldest English story in a modern American suburb. 

  • Can I teach it? I think so, but probably only to high school seniors. There are some adult themes, a few weird fever dreams, and one explicit sex scene, but as a feminist retelling of Beowulf, this would still be really cool to bring into the right classroom setting.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. For an extra bookish take on the lovable oddball trope, a treasure-trove of nerdy trivia, and just the right amount of romance.

  • Can I teach it? Probably not due to a combination of simplicity of language and maturity of content. 

*The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. For a powerful lesson on an overlooked aspect of America’s racist history and a beautiful depiction of friendship all rolled into one perfectly told story.

  • Can I teach it? Emphatically yes. This should be required reading in high schools.

*Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein. To peak behind the curtain or reexamine your own education through an in-depth and personal look at a powerful American subculture.

  • Can I teach it? It would depend on your school demographics, but there are certainly sections you could excerpt for discussions about rhetorical strategy.

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger. To fill the Big Little Lies shaped hole in your life, or for anyone who reveled in schadenfreude after reading The Cut’s Grace Church Preschool article

  • Can I teach it? Nope, but it would be a great book suggestion for parents and administrators.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. For a heavy dose of nostalgia and a masterfully constructed villain backstory.

  • Can I teach it? Yes! Why don’t we read Harry Potter in schools? 

*Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. To escape any cynicism evoked by the news cycle through a predictable yet uplifting story about love, friendship, and self-renewal. 

  • Can I teach it? There’s nothing too racy, but overall this is for adult readers.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. For a highly imaginative take on a fairly overdone trope, and to meet a teenage female protagonist who’s both badass and vulnerable.

  • Can I teach it? Sure! This would be great in a unit on fairy tales, myths, or retellings, or as a book club/independent reading option. And you should definitely keep this in your classroom library. The story has depth, the writing is solid, and, personally, I would love to highlight a fantasy work in which the protagonist has cerebral palsy.
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Starred books were graciously gifted to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.