Good day, relentless readers! July is coming to a close, and I’m here to wrap it up. Things have been incredibly… incredible? Smarter people than I have written commentary on the times, and I encourage you to seek them out. As for myself, I’m doing some personal work, having important (sometimes uncomfortable) conversations, and trying to put my money where my mouth is (sometimes literal money, but not always). Every bookish person I know has purchased books on combating racism. I do hope that we do the work that those books suggest. Let’s remember that this isn’t a bookstagram trend. Citizens are hurting and need our help. Check in on your people. Hold your other people to a higher standard. Remember to take care of yourself as well.
Now, for the books! Here’s what I read in July:
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
Monogamy by Sue Miller
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (This was not #OwnVoices which was a disappointment. I’ll be more careful in the future.)
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Skincare: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide by Caroline Hirons
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (Let’s get nostalgic and read a childhood favorite! How I wish I hadn’t because it was not good. Fat jokes, anyone?)
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (This will be a new obsession I’m quite sure.)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Weather by Jenny Offill
For anyone keeping track that’s 8 fiction and 4 non-fiction. I’m pleased with the reading I did this month. Once again most of my books are audio. I’ve learned a bit about my learning styles, and I’m an auditory gal. I am much more likely to remember things if I’ve heard them. It only took me 40-some years to figure that out!
I hope your July was smashing, I’d love to hear about it. As always, WEAR A MASK!
In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve
Publisher: Hub City Press
Publication Date: May 2013
Categories: Literary, Saga
Source: Hub City Press via TLC Book Tours
Shortly before daybreak in War, West Virginia, a passing train derails and spills an avalanche of coal over sixteen-year-old Emma Palmisano’s house, trapping her sleeping family inside. The year is 1924, and the remote mines of Appalachia have filled with families like Emma’s immigrant laborers building new lives half a world away from the island of Sicily. Emma awakes in total darkness, to the voice of a railroad man, Caleb Sypher, digging her out from the suffocating coal. From his pocket he removes two spotless handkerchiefs and tenderly cleans Emma’s bare feet. Though she knows little else about this railroad man, Emma marries him a week later, and Caleb delivers her from the gritty coal camp to thirty-four acres of pristine Virginia mountain farmland.
In the Garden of Stone is a multi-generational tale about the nature of power and pride, love and loss, and how one family endures estrangement from their land and each other in order to unearth the rich seams of forgiveness. Bleak, harrowing, and beautifully told, In the Garden of Stone is a haunting saga of endurance and redemption.
The Setting~ West Virginia came alive through the descriptions in this novel. The descriptions of the landscape made me feel as if I were really there.The times featured were interesting as well. When we imagine the past we think of a simpler time. Things may have been simpler but they were also harder than we can imagine.
The Pace~ This tale unwound in a deliciously slow way.
The Characters~ The people in this book were flawed, which is just another word for realistic. I miss spending time with them. Can we expect a sequel? I’m crossing my fingers.
The Format~ You could argue that this is a book of short stories. I enjoyed learning new details about certain events when the story was told from a different characters perspective. This method really worked to drive the story forward in a unique way.
The Mood~ The description above nailed it: bleak, harrowing, and haunting. The language is beautifully poetic.
In the Garden of Stone is a book I can easily recommend.
Susan Tekulve’s nonfiction, short stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Georgia Review, Connecticut Review, and Shenandoah. Her story collection, My Mother’s War Stories, received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize. Author of Savage Pilgrims, a story collection (Serving House Books, 2009), she has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Scholarship and teaches writing at Converse College.
To visit the other stops on this tour please visit TLC Book Tours