Halfway into the calendar year, I ritually consider what I’ve read so far and what I’ve not yet picked up. For the past few years, I’ve straightened the stack at hand mid-year, and gotten reacquainted with any over-lingerers, but this year I’ve been a tidy reader. (Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers had lingered for months, but I finished it in June.)

2016 was to be my year of finishing books that I’ve habitually gotten stuck in (like Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale) and series that I’d left unfinished (like Margaret Drabble’s Thatcher Years trilogy). Did you have a specific reading goal for this year?

So far, so fair. I’ve fnished six series, have read on with eight, but, yes, it’s true, I’ve started three four new ones (Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan, Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway, Brad Smith’s Virgil Cain and Susan Philpott’s Signy Shepherd) but I’m already up-to-date with one of those.

And, really, I’m okay with that math. I don’t want to be stuck in the past, with an endless TBR that never alters, but I don’t want to be stuck in the present either!

July’s stack has some long-time shelf-sitters in it, but some new books too:

July 2016 StacksErnest J. Gaines’ A Gathering of Old Men – I think this landed on my TBR because of Aarti, who drew attention to the fact that it’s a story told from a number of different perspectives, which inherently appeals to me.

Toni Cade Bambera’s The Salt Eaters – This has sat too long unread, despite the fact that, no matter what page I open to, there is evidence of the most careful crafting at the sentence level. Although previously I’ve only read her short stories, this one is getting pushed to the top of the stacks this month.

Deni Ellis Béchard’s Into the Sun – Coming in September, this novel “explores the personal impact of America’s imperial misadventures and draws an unsentimental portrait of the journalists, mercenaries, messianic idealists, and aid workers who flock to war zones”. I’m eager to read it, but plan to dip into his earlier works first (see below).

Jessi Klein’s You’ll Grow Out of It – This will be published July 12th, with a snazzy blurb by Amy Schumer: “Jessi Klein is a brilliant comedic mind and this book is a perfect reflection of that. It’s like having a glass of wine with the best friend you wish you had.” I would enjoy a glass of wine right now.

Robert Arthur Alexie’s Porcupines and China Dolls – The author was a Teetl’it Gwich’in, from the land now called the Northwest Territories, telling the story of a handful of community members who have survived the residential school system and carry a legacy of painful memories from that experience. This has sat neglected for too long on my shelves.

As I continue to work to shift some of my reading habits, I am returning to more regular library usage, and I’ve got Madeleine Thien’s Certainty in my sights, as preparation for reading her new release, Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

Library July 2016Since I heard her read from Simple Recipes, several years ago in London, Ontario, I have been charmed by Thien’s insightful and acute vision, her attention to detail, and her subtle touch in displaying and unravelling the complexties of human relationships. I have been wanting to read Certainty for so long that it almost feels like I’ve read it already.

It was Deni Ellis Béchard’s forthcoming novel Into the Sun which brought his work onto my reading radar (see above), but I am intrigued by the diversity of his backlist, and I am particularly curious about his first novel, Vandals, and his memoir Cures for Hunger.

Amy Jones’ We’re All in This Together – I’d better hurry up and read this one because I have heard so many good things – not just from the expected corners, like the Terry Fallis blurb on the cover – from reading friends that it might turn into one of those books (like Richard Wright’s Clara Callan and George Elliott Clarke’s Whylah Falls) which I begin to avoid because I fear that it just can’t be THAT GOOD (but I loved both ot those too, just as much as everyone said I would, and maybe more).

Alissa York’s The Naturalist – As one of my MRE Authors, I was immediately and heartfully excited and pleased to learn of her new novel, but also anxious and hesitant. She has broken my heart a few times. And I trust that she hasn’t lost the knack of that. But I also trust that she tells important and vital stories, stories which need hearing as much as they need telling. And I can’t resist that. Her books are irresistible for me. But this is not going to be an uncomplicated reading experience.

What’s in your July stack? Have you read any of my stacks’ residents? Do you know any of the authors’ other works? Are you eyeing any shelf-sitters? Are there any forthcoming books which you are eager to dive into? Has your reading year shaped up as expected, or has it contained some surprises? Do tell!