This month I put my new Kindle and Kindle Unlimited to use so the first few books I read were free (ish)! I also accidentally bought some more! It’s been a busy work month but I have pulled some great books out of the bag! Without further ado this is what I read in July…
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
This book was so fast paced and exactly what I needed to read at the time! When I fly through a book it really sets the scene for the rest of the month. The Butterfly Garden is a mystery thriller about an older professional man who takes beautiful young girls of 16 and places them in his elaborate dormitory, where he tattoos butterfly wings on their back, renames them and takes advantage of them until they are 21, when he cuts their life short as butterflies have short lives.
Though the characters don’t speak of their past, we really feel like we know them still and the protagonist has particularly good character development. Though this book is incredibly dark and I was horrified frequently, Dot writes such brutal but beautiful sentiments of the human character. My favourite line of the whole book was ‘Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing’. It reminds me of another quote though I’m not sure where it came from – ‘damaged people are dangerous, they know they’ve got nothing left to lose’.
I gave this book a 5 star rating on Goodreads and I’ve downloaded the sequel from Kindle Unlimited! Highly recommend but trigger warning for just about everything.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Probably the most important book I read in July. You know when a book catches your eye? And then you suddenly begin seeing it and hearing about it everywhere? That’s what happened with Pachinko. If you didn’t already know, I have been reading stories set in other countries to try to learn something new and this is set in Japan. We follow lots of different people but predominantly this book shows the trials and tribulations of Korean refugees in Japan. And then how surviving the Asian war doesn’t really make you a survivor since there is always a price to pay when a country is ruined.
This book shows love in every form, from a mother’s love to grateful love, love thy neighbour, the familial fight to the death to protect love and the bad love that infects everything around it.
I learned a lot about the Asian war, I know I’ll remember this book for years to come. Couldn’t recommend enough.
Do Not Say we Have Nothing by Madelein Thein
This was the hardest book I read in July. This book is set during the communist revolution in China. The two main protagonists are in each other’s lives because of the friendship between their fathers. They work together to uncover and understand the history of their fathers, both musicians. The story shows two different families, one where revolution is a key part of life and one ruined by the revolution on account of being landlords and made examples of.
There are themes of family, both the one you are born with and the one you choose for yourself and the importance of art and music in war and how it is so powerful that it becomes banned. It is informative in some ways and heartbreaking and brutal in others. Definitely give it a go if you’re into historical fiction!
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
This was my favourite book of all that I read in July! Besides from this book having an absolutely beautiful cover, this book is an absolute gem in itself! It is short and a quick read but a really important one that I hope a lot of you pick up. I learned so much about this book – it is about so much more than ‘mansplaining’. It talks about male violence to each other and to women. Did you know that the world-wide leading cause of death in women aged 15 – 44 years is male violence? That’s over war, disease, cancer and traffic accidents! Did you know that in most parts of the US a male rapist has more rights than his victim and can even sue them over abortions or for custody? Rebecca raises SO many important questions in this book and I came away angry but more informed.
We need to address male violence and inequality and I’m going to do a whole other post on this book and my takeaway soon. Until then, I urge you all to read this book!
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
This book is filled with important topics of feminism, from everyday life and narratives to stereotyping, racial profiling and politics. I especially liked the way Roxane addresses all women – but also addresses how feminists are being held to a high standard. A lot of people have the attitude that, if a woman has not addressed all types of women within her work or theory or argument then her whole argument is useless. But that’s more damaging to feminism over all because we’re dismissing stories and accounts – we need to hear more not less! Roxane talks about how one-sided contraception is, how prevalent rape and male violence is and continues to be legislated terribly and the ongoing fight for birth control and control over our own bodies.
The self-given title ‘Bad Feminist’ is only necessary because today’s culture makes it so and I find that interesting. We do have to switch off our morals to enjoy popular music these days, for as long as they degrade us. We do feel some shame in being a feminist or in not being a good enough feminist. It’s all relative to privilege but Roxane lets us forget that so we can talk about some real topics and not think they’re fundamentally flawed by privilege. It’s just a really great book and we should all read it. Even men.
As always, if you have any thoughts on the books I read in July I would love to hear them in the comments. If you don’t want to wait a month to see what books I’m reading, follow me on GoodReads!