July 2021 Reading

I’ve read a lot this month, and it’s proven to be rewarding and enjoyable. Here are my reviews:

American Gods (American Gods #1) by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had to read this fantasy fiction for uni; it isn’t something I would naturally gravitate towards. I tend not to read things about ‘gods’, and I don’t read much fantasy, either. In saying this, Neil Gaiman is a talented author, I just didn’t enjoy the content of this book. Not only was it… all about gods… but there were some graphic scenes that felt very unnecessary to me, and the explicit language could also get a bit out of hand. For someone who likes this topic, however, I can see why this is considered a good book.

All Along You Were Blooming by Morgan Harper Nichols

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve owned this collection of poetry for a long time but I struggled to get past the first page. Not for any deep or profound reason, simply because I was wary that so many contemporary poetry books are vague, and don’t hold much substance. I was worried this would be another. But I was wrong. I picked this up and couldn’t put it down – though I know at some stage I’ll want to take in the poems one at a time, and slowly rest on them. The sentiments in this book are not only beautiful and poignant but can be backed up by scripture (even one I can recall mentions Ecclesiastes by name). While in a way the sentiments in this book are repetitive and relatively generic, because I could relate to them on a spiritual level, I found them quite touching, but without that I might not have rated it so highly.

Grocery List Poems by Rhiannon McGavin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This collection of poetry was captivating. Rhiannon McGavin’s words are so raw and emotive and vivid, I can’t help but feel attached to nearly every single poem. I also appreciate that this collection is so polished and sophisticated compared to a lot of other contemporary poetry. The author hasn’t copied any trends or styles but has written in what is clearly her own voice, which is rewarding in how stunning the imagery is.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A despairing novel set in a postapocalyptic world, this story follows a father and son as they travel towards a warmer climate in the hopes that will prevent the (sick) father from death; if the monstrous people they meet on the way don’t kill them first, that is… This book is disturbing, unsettling, made me feel sick in some parts due to the constant descriptions of rotting flesh left in the open air, and completely unnecessary. Only not for me, because it’s part of my university course. Not something I’ll ever read again, not something I liked reading, yet something almost compelling about it. Still, yuck.

The Emperor’s Babe by Bernardine Evaristo

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this verse novel for university, otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it up. Set in “Londinium” in AD 211, this story follows Zuleika as she is forced into an arranged marriage with an old Roman guy and has an affair with an Emperor. I didn’t like the story itself, or any of the characters, but some of the parallels to modern-London made me smile, lifting this to a two-star rating. (If you had to write essays about books you don’t enjoy, you wouldn’t be feeling too generous either.)

Metanoia by Anna McGahan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I admit; the first quarter of this book had me second-guessing whether I wanted to continue. The five stars shows just how glad I am I kept going, however. Intensely personal, emotional, spiritual, and moving, I found myself unable to put this down once I had broken that initial first-impression that had me thinking ‘this book is too much’. On the contrary, it is the perfect amount. I hope more people meet God in the way Anna McGahan has. What initially had me concerned was the unravelling story of an eating disorder and sexuality, as I didn’t expect them to be written as they were. I’m thankful I stuck around, though, as Anna McGahan weaves a life that is messy and finds healing, that is complicated and imperfect and finds redemption. Through the heartache and through the confusion, here lies a story that leads the reader directly to Jesus.

Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

4 of 5 stars

This book goes through some different spiritual disciplines the author uses in her everyday life that bring intimacy with God and spiritual transformation. While some reviews I’ve seen discuss the lack of scriptural evidence behind the practises, I found the author quoting appropriate scripture consistently in each chapter, and the practises she explores are well-grounded; one being the Sabbath, which is specifically discussed, encouraged, and applied in the Bible.

A standout for me in reading and applying the practises in this book is Lectio Divina, a method of reading the Bible that’s been around for a long time. As someone who has been known to skim read the Bible and not thoroughly study it, I have found this method both accessible and fruitful. I also like that this is not simply an academic study of the word but a meditation of the scripture that allows for further conversation with God.

Emotional Female by Yumiko Kadota

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A sobering view of the Australian health system, but one I was glad to have read. Yumiko Kadota has written in a way that is accessible, factual, engaging, and heartwrenchingly honest. I feel terrible for what she experienced but am thankful she has been able to spread awareness of where people fall through the cracks. Definitely worth reading, and incredibly encouraging. Yumiko Kadota is inspiring.

Happy reading!

Sarah xx

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