Saturday, July 31, 2021

Adult Summer Reading Log 2021

Each year our four local libraries sponsor child, teen, and adult reading challenges.  I've only participated a handful of times. I decided to participate this summer though, partially thanks to the ability to take out e-books from the New York [City] public library.  That ability was granted to all New York State residents during the pandemic, and is (so far) continuing.

Only one of the local libraries permitted you to list books you didn't take out from their library.  I know, their rules, like it or go somewhere else.  There may be good reasons to require people to take books out from their library (funding for the library, I'm thinking, would be a primary reason).  "So be it".

I just finished my fourth book. There's no minimum, which is nice, because it end by August 19.  Here are my four, with a little (or a lot) about each (NOT to be considered a book review).

TRIGGER ALERTS - the first book I mention includes scenes of murder, rape, and other horrors of war and its aftermath.  The third book's topic is a pandemic.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.  This is a retelling of Homer's The Iliad from the point of view of a female character, Briseis, a Trojan queen taken captive and enslaved when the Greeks take her city and sack it.   I don't read much historical fiction but this intrigued me because I have never read The Iliad.  I had to study The Odyssey, a kind of sequel, multiple times, but never The Iliad, and I have no idea why.  Could I enjoy Ms. Barker's book without any Iliad background?

YES! (although I had to look things up from time to time).

Now, I want to read The Iliad but it's going to have to wait for winter.  As for this book - I have mixed feelings about it. On the whole, it was well written. However, the British slang threw me out of the story more than once (minor quibble - certainly the soldiers couldn't speak in Greek for the English audience!) .  Also, I wondered why, if this was a book telling the story from the point of view of a woman who never had a chance to tell her story, Ms. Barker spent enough time writing from the point of view of one of the major male characters, Achilles.  So it's a book about a silenced woman partially written from the point of view of a man?

I understand Barker isn't done telling the story of Briseis, which I look forward to when the next book in the series is published.

Four Stars.  I recommend it.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan.  I enjoy dystopian literature and (some) zombie literature.  I love a good zombie apocalypse, and looked forward to a good read.  It disappointed me. Stilted writing and one of the weirdest love triangles I've ever run across in dystopian young adult literature, just for starters.   I won't be seeking out the sequels.

The End of Men by Christa Sweeney-Baird.  What I loved about this book is that it was written not long before before the COVID-19 pandemic.  So, one could compare and contrast the reactions to the pandemic in the book (a virus that kills only males, and kills most of them) to what happened "in real 2020 and beyond life". The book is presented to us as written by an (initially) unknown author some years after the pandemic struck.

Ms. Sweeney-Baird did an excellent job anticipating how people would behave, even though the pandemics were totally different.  The book is written from the points of view of several women, and one man (Spoiler Alert - the man survives). One of the characters, at the end, is revealed as the author of the book, someone who interviewed the rest of the people whose stories were told in order to help the author to heal.    The book also ponders many questions, from "what if a pandemic kills loved ones of almost everyone alive?" to "how do we handle a labor force in a world where much of the population dies over a matter of months?", to the obvious "how do we keep the human race going?"

I give it five stars.  Highly recommended.

Finally, a non-fiction book Zero Fail, The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service" by Carol Leonnig.  For the benefit of my non-American readers, the United States' Secret Service is tasked with many duties, the most important of which is the 24 hour day protection of the President and Vice-President of the United States and his/her family.  Carol Leonnig, an investigative journalist with over 20 years experience, has written a well documented (and scary) book of triumphs and failures taking place mainly from the Kennedy administration to right after the end of the Trump administration.  

It can be a bit hard to follow at times, and it took me part of the summer to wade through it (because I was only allowed to take it out for two weeks, and then I returned to a holds list), but it was well worth it. You learn a lot about our various Presidents - perhaps, in a few cases, too much for comfort.

I give it five stars.  Highly recommended.

As I approach my 70th year on this planet, I get more and more impatient over books that seem to be wasting my time.  Three out of four of these books delivered.

Now, perhaps in the next week, I'll start The Forest of Vanishing Stars, which I need to read and write a book review for on Goodreads after winning it in a contest.

Read any good books recently?


  1. Our library system does a summer reading "contest" but I've not participated. When my kids were little we always signed up and enjoyed participating in it. Liked also to do the activities the library would plan that were usually free :)

    I too like e-books and our library has a great assortment of them. We can hold 8 books at a time and check out 10 books but only for 2 weeks. In contrast, if you get an actual book from the library, you can renew it literally forever if it is not on hold for someone else. In fact I have books I checked out in April of this year; just finished the first of the three I checked out lol (I read an actual book before sleep, read the e-books on my tablet when exercising on the treadmill).

    The books you featured here seem interesting. Might have to check them out. I agree with you. If a book doesn't hold my interest, I won't finish it. Too many good books out there.

    Recently I read The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel that I really enjoyed and The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah which I also enjoyed though it is a sad story.

    Happy reading!


    1. Thank you for listing some of your recent reads, Betty. Our local libraries allow you to take books out for 3 weeks but you are only allowed one renewal (none if someone has it on hold.) I like the NY Public Library e books because of convenience but I would rather read a physical book.

  2. I've been so happy with the increased access to ebooks through thr Pandemic and now continuing. But recently I've gotten my mojo back and have been writing another biblical fiction, so I've neglected my reading! Thank you for the recommendations!

    1. Writing a book is the best reason for reducing your reading.

  3. That seems to me to be a strange requirement, that the books have to be from that library. Not a way to encourage reading! I participate in the summer reading program every year. Last year it went to an online system, which they have this year, or the option of printing out the log. I've already read enough for the prize of a free book. I picked the one I mentioned on my blog a bit ago, which I highly recommend, even though I dislike historical fiction! It's by Julie Otsuka, When the Emperor was Divine, about a Japanese American family in WWII and their internment. I usually read mystery and suspense.
    Did you put those reviews on Goodreads?

    1. When the Emperor was Divine sounds interesting - I like reads centering on WW II. I did not put those reviews on Goodreads. Still not ready for that.

  4. Our library also does a summer and winter reading program for all ages. Although our library been closed, do to political issue and now is open.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

    1. Ours was closed for part of 2020, then curbside pickup only, but things are "almost" back to normal. My most local library still limits visits to 30 minutes and strongly recommends masks.

  5. Nothing wrong with not finishing a book you do not enjoy. It's not like you're being graded on your reading. You're doing it for yourself.


Thank you for visiting! Your comments mean a lot to me, and I appreciate each one. These comments are moderated, so they may not post for several hours. If you are spam, you will find your comments in my compost heap, where they will finally serve a good purpose.