What I Read in July and August 2022

I find it hilarious that someone left a comment on my last post that said something like “Wow! You read a lot.” Because it was immediately followed up with reading almost nothing in July (I finished the tail end of Our Missing Hearts). And then reading very little in August.

For my job, I’m required-ish to read books ahead of time and nominate them for the Indie Next List. And I’m supposed to do 2 books a month. So that’s what I did here. The bare minimum. I have good news and bad news.

The Good News: You’re going to love these books. (I nominated them all.)
The Bad News: They don’t come out until October and November.

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
Pre-Order the hardcover copy here.
Pre-Order the audiobook here.

A boy named Bird lives in our not-too-distant future (alternatively, could be present day on an adjacent timeline) where America has come out of a devastating crisis, only surviving by the skin of her teeth. The world left behind is on-edge and ready to ensure dominance again by instituting harsh and racist policies in order to keep “True Americans” safe. 
Bird doesn’t care about all that–he just wants to know where his mother disappeared to and if she’s really the dangerous radical activist that everyone says she is. 
Our Missing Hearts is a soul-stirring novel about what wakes us up and how hard many of us will cling to our sleep and forces us to confront the way that the personal is political.

One thing that I found so interesting about this book is that it’s different-ish? than what I would have expected from Celeste Ng. But then when I think about it… it’s not actually all that different. I mean she thrives in suburban fiction and Little Fires Everywhere certainly had some political subtext. This one is just a touch more overt than I’ve come to expect from her. Don’t get me wrong–I LIKED IT A LOT. Our Missing Hearts is going to be an incredible choice for book clubs everywhere–there is so much conversation to be had!

The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson
Preorder the paperback copy here.
Preorder the audiobook here.

I loved this book! Think about the things you love about Emily Henry (complex characters, unpredictable narratives, the ability to turn a trope on its head). Shauna Robinson does all of those things 10 times better! 

Maggie shows up in a small town to help out at her best friend’s bookstore while she’s on maternity leave. When the town Scrooge makes an executive decision, affecting the store’s primary money-maker, sales start to drop. Maggie has to think fast and use all her charm and maybe some illegal means to save the bookshop (and bring the town together for a common cause!). 

I love that in this “romance” book, the relationship between the main character and her beau isn’t the primary focus of the story. Instead, we get to see her fall in love with this town, create a deeper connection with her best friend, and learn to trust herself. 
This is hands down THE BEST romance book I have read in 2022. 

The Islands by Dionne Irving
Pre-Order the paperback copy here.

This is an incredible collection of short stories that I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed books like, Her Body and Other Parties or Behold the Dreamers–in fact, it might be fair to describe this collection as a lovely mash-up of the two.

Personally, I’m finding it challenging to surmise a collection of stories, so I’ll share what her publisher has to say about this book. It’s a collection of “powerful stories that explore the legacy of colonialism, and issues of race, immigration, sexual discrimination, and class in the lives of Jamaican women across London, Panama, France, Jamaica, Florida and more… Restless, displaced, and disconnected, these characters try to ground themselves–to grow where they find themselves planted–in a world in which the tension between what’s said and unsaid can bend the soul.”

On top of being an incredible author (she also wrote a historical fiction novel about the Dionne Quintuplets entitled Quint which was a hit at our shop last year), Dionne Irving is a delightful woman. I had the pleasure of meeting her recently and we’re in talks to host her for an upcoming author event!

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