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Hello! I’m Sara Hildreth: a reader, writer, and lifelong learner dedicated to putting great books into the hands of great people.

 But around here, the reading life goes beyond books! So grab a cup of something cozy & find the resources, products, and recommendations you need to live your best literary life.

August 5, 2021

Favorite Things

July Favorites

July flew by and even though I’m not returning to the classroom this August, the end of July still feels a bit like summer’s end. The next couple months will be dedicated to prepping for the arrival of our baby and getting as far ahead as possible on work projects.

So while there are many exciting things to come, today, I’m celebrating my July favorites. From the books I read to the purchases I made, here’s the best of the best of summer’s end.

What I Read

This month I read my third Louise Erdrich book, The Round House, and I think it was my favorite yet. It’s a devastating book, but it’s also beautiful and contemplative. The way she sheds light on contemporary issues through story is truly exceptional.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht was the FictionMatters Book Club selection for July. The group had mixed feelings about it, although almost everyone agreed that it was an impressive book. I absolutely loved it, in large part because of how different it is from so much contemporary fiction–it just feels like a special book. The magical realism is lovely, as is the relationship between a granddaughter and her grandfather that sits at the heart of this book, even though so few pages are devoted to times when they’re together.

The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht

Like many of my fellow millennials, I’ve been watching the saga of Britney Spears play out with horror and fascination. Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino Britney article is the most informative piece I’ve read about the situation and brings to light questions about all manners of ethical questions surrounding conservatorships and guardianships.

I know many people have found joy and hope in watching the Olympics, and, as always, I’ve found the athletes themselves to be truly inspirational. But I have to admit that I keep thinking about this article about the Olympics that chronicles the detrimental impact on the environment, politics, and even the athletes’ health. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to approach the event with the same reverence again. 

As someone who’s about to experience a major life transition, I really appreciated this advice about maintaining friendships across different life stages.

What I Watched

I didn’t watch much TV for the first half of the month, but the last couple weeks have included several marathon watching sessions. We finished the new season of Lupin (it got repetitive, but was a fun watch), Alone (utterly riveting TV but skip it if you’re squeamish), and Hacks (so enjoyable!). 

We watched the new Steven Soderbergh heist movie No Sudden Move, which is streaming on HBO Max. The cast was phenomenal and it was a super fun watch, but I have to admit I spent about 75% of the movie having no idea what was happening.

Inspired by the release of Old (which I have still not seen), we decided to watch an older M. Night Shyamalan film. We chose The Village because I’d never seen it, and it made for a thoroughly entertaining evening. I still can’t get over how much the plot overlaps with one of my favorite reads from middle school, Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

What I Listened To

I loved this episode of The Ezra Klein Podcast about why we work so much.

Lately I’ve been craving bookish podcasts that don’t make my TBR explode (yes, I recognize the irony of this as a co-host of a podcast that offers book recommendations). Of course I love my standbys, but I often find that the hosts are so good at selling a book that I feel like I need to have it and then it either sits unread or I read them and they’re just not for me. Recently I’ve been queueing up Witch, Please, a podcast that uses literary theory to explore the pleasures and problems of the Harry Potter books, and Marlon and Jake Read Dead People, which is just two insanely smart people talking about old books in the most entertaining way.

Witch, Please

This season of Slow Burn about the lead up to the Iraq War is the best podcast I’ve listened to in a long while. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper

I did quite a bit of audiobook listening this month. One of my favorites was Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper which was a beautiful story about home and family made even better by the inclusion of beautiful songs. I also listened to Sense and Sensibility narrated by Rosamund Pike. It’s not my favorite Austen, but it is one of my forever comfort reads and I’m very happy I got the chance to return to it this month.

Sense and Sensibility

What I Made

Other than Blue Apron meals, we’ve mostly been recycling old staples for meals. After ordering way too much Sweet Green in recent weeks, we finally started keeping ingredients to make arugula salads for lunches. It’s been a game changer.

We did find a new go-to dish with this easy oven-roasted chicken shawarma. We pickle some veggies, buy some fancy olives, and add store-bought pita and humus for a truly delicious feast.

I’ve made good progress on The Great Book Organization of 2021. I spent much of the month culling my piles and piles of books. I’ve been sorting them into three categories: books that will be housed on my beautiful new builtins, books to pack up for storage, and books I’m okay parting with forever, or at least for now. It’s been tough because I’ve collected literally hundreds of books over the last few years of bookstagramming and blogging. The two keys have been considering what unread books I’m still genuinely excited to read and what read books make me smile when I see them on my shelves. I can’t wait to show you the finished product.

The Things I Loved

A couple years ago, I was sent a pair of MODO sunglasses in a publicity package. I absolutely loved them but had no idea how nice they were until I lost them and tried to replace them. Since then, I’ve been dragging my feet on buying actually nice sunglasses and relying on $15 Target pairs. Those have been fine, but I finally bit the bullet and bought a great pair from Warby Parker. They remind me a lot of my former Modos but were about half the price and they’re so much better than my cheap pairs. Fingers crossed I can keep track of these ones!

Warby Parker Thorpe

I’ve been having some hip and back pain throughout my pregnancy, and wearing these ridiculous pillow slides around the house instead of going barefoot on the hardwood has helped immensely.

Pillow Slides

I’d been falling asleep to beloved audiobooks for so long that I was started to grow weary of hearing the same stories over and over. This month I started using Calm app sleep stories to wind down and they’ve been super effective. I don’t think I’ve made it to the end of a 30 minute story without falling asleep!

I work from home and have still been pretty cautious about social gatherings so I really haven’t needed to buy many maternity clothes. My collection of Lululemon Align leggings and bike shorts combined with a few hand-me-downs have been pretty much all I’ve needed. The few things I have filled in have been from Kindred Bravely, who makes the softest bamboo maternity clothes, and Piper and Scoot, a sustainable fashion line that makes maternity and nursing friendly clothes.

Staying hydrated during these 90 degree dry Denver days has been a challenge. I love my Simple Modern Tumbler because it holds 28 oz. and I drink way more from a straw top than a regular water bottle.

I’ve been curious about Page Anchor for a while and was thrilled when they offered to send me one to review. I’ve been using mine nonstop! The design is so beautiful and the practicality of having a way to keep my book open handsfree is a game changer. While it is definitely easier to use when you’re towards the middle of your book, I still think the average reader would get a ton of use out of this bookmark…not to mention enjoyment because they are just so pretty! If you’re interested, you can use my code (fictionmatters) to get 15% off your Page Anchor purchase.

Page Anchor

What were the best things you read, watched, and listened to in July?

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book lists


Read With Me!


Follow Along

Hello! I’m Sara Hildreth: a reader, writer, and lifelong learner dedicated to putting great books into the hands of great people.

 But around here, the reading life goes beyond books! So grab a cup of something cozy & find the resources, products, and recommendations you need to live your best literary life.