July 2016, In My Stacks

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!



  1. Starr k August 18, 2016 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    I’ve been trying to read a gathering of old men for a long time…for the exact same reason. I will get to it one day.

    • Buried In Print August 22, 2016 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Sometimes it takes awhile, hunh? And, well, the new and shiny books do compete with the shelfsitters, with an unfair advantage too. If it helps, it actually reads very quickly; I could have finished it in an afternoon, whereas I’d expected it to be too weighty to move that well.

  2. Kat July 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    I love Margaret Drabble’s Thatcher trilogy, but somehow I can never make myself reread the last novel. Perhaps it’s too gory?

    • Buried In Print July 16, 2016 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Well, also it’s the longest. And of course there are endings in there. Besides the actual ending. Comparatively I suppose it’s rather grim (and it’s not the only one with a body count even). And, yet, there’s some wonder in there too.

  3. Naomi July 2, 2016 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    You’ve made me want to rush headlong to the library to get the rest of Alissa York’s books!

    As you know, I also wanted to read mostly books from my own shelves, but I’ve had a major setback with this project the last couple of months with all my library books. Ah well, there’s always next year… (They’ve been good ones, though!)

    • Buried In Print July 6, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      There’s still a few months after the summer: you can still do both! And I’ll stop talking about how amazing Alissa York is (especially Effigy and Mercy and Fauna and her short stories, Any Given Power – that’s everything, I think). Wait! I’m supposed to be helping. *stares at screen*

  4. Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis July 2, 2016 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    My reading goal for this year was to read books on my own shelves and move some of the physical books out. I suspended all my holds at the library but I can’t seem to stop downloading to my Kindle, or requesting ARCs or entering contests, so thus far I have made very little progress toward that goal.

    I’m taking it easy for the summer and most of my reading will be ocean-themed. The ocean, the sea, the beach – it will lead me from YA (Olive’s Ocean to Rachel Carson (The Sea Around Us, with some cozy mysteries in between. I think it will be fun.

    Have a good reading summer!

    • Buried In Print July 6, 2016 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      That’s such a great reading project, Debbie. I’m sure you have no need of additional titles, but I can’t stop my booklist-loving-brain from thinking of options. Maybe I’ll have to join you!

      I can relate with the books-from-every-direction dilemma. I can stop the flow in one direction, but the bookish waters just swell upwards in other places. If your other sources are too irresistible, would it help to put a number to them, so you can make just a little progress and not feel disheartened by all the new arrivals (which are supposed to be awesome)?!

      Sometimes I find quantifying helpful…but not always!

  5. jessicabookworm July 2, 2016 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Well done on the progress you’ve made on your stacks. Through July, I am taking part in the 10 Books of Summer challenge which should hopefully help me get through 10 books that have been on my TBR for too long! Happy reading in July 🙂

    • Buried In Print July 6, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Jessica. That challenge must be a popular one: those shelf-sitters need attention! Good luck with your ten: that seems reasonable!

  6. Melwyk July 1, 2016 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    I’ve just finished Do Not Say We Have Nothing, and it has to be one of the best of the year. Complex, beautiful, and the characters are unforgettable.

    I read The Naturalist recently, and also thought that was very well done – the writing is lovely and the story was unexpected.

    Sadly, I didn’t love We’re All in This Together but it’s not really my favourite kind of book so it’s not the book’s fault – I’ll be interested in your opinion, as I’m sure you’ll find many things I missed in it, as you usually do!

    I am not nearly so systematic as you are with books and reading choices – I’m just hoping to polish off a few that have been languishing on the TBR for too long.

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