I’m always happy when July comes to a close, if only because it means that the hot weather is mostly past, and my beloved Sweater Weather is that much closer.
And no, I didn’t mind the end of summer when I was a kid, either. A small, nerdy kid who preferred books to social gatherings and who sunburned in fifteen minutes flat? Yeah, I was not a sweet summer child.
What I Read in July:
- Storm Warning (Mage Storms #1) by Mercedes Lackey
- Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, et. al.
- Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse
- Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno Garcia, ARC provided by NetGalley
- Bring up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell #2) by Hilary Mantel
- Storm Rising (Mage Storms #2) by Mercedes Lackey
- Lyric Poems by John Keats
- Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom
- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
- Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer
- Dune (Dune Chronicles #1) by Frank Herbert
Eleven books in total. Nothing to sneeze at, but it’s not the most books I’ve read in a month. That said, two of the books were quite long. Lonesome Dove was 858 pages, while Dune was 883 pages.
Statistically speaking, 36.4% of the books were written by men, and 63.6% of them were written by women. Six were by Americans, four were by British authors, and one was by a Canadian author. Genre-wise, five were adult fantasies, two were memoirs, and there was one each of historical fiction, poetry, western, and science fiction. Most of the books were from the library, though two were from my own shelves, and one was from NetGalley. The publication years ran from 1820 to 2019.
It would be hard to pick a favorite since I liked almost all of the books for one reason or another. Lonesome Dove was the most difficult to get through thanks to its length and occasional brutality. But it was still a fantastic book, and I’m glad I read it. Storm Warning and Storm Rising were part of the 2019 Valdemar read-along I’m taking part in along with Jackie at Death by Tsundoku and Mel at Grab the Lapels. It’s my favorite of Mercedes Lackey’s trilogies. I’ve read Dune at least ten times, but I’m happy to read it again. This reread was for the DuneTube read-along, where a group of BookTubers is reading all the books of the Dune Chronicles, one each month, until the end of the year. I’ve read the next one, Dune Messiah, and part of the third one, Children of Dune, but I haven’t read any of the others.
What I Plan to Read in August
My August TBR might be over-ambitious, but I’m going to give the stack a shot anyway:
- The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip
- Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising sequence, #1) by Susan Cooper
- Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) by Naomi Novik
- Amberlough (Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly
- Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee
- Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier
- When True Night Falls (The Coldfire Trilogy #2) by C.S. Friedman
- The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
Notice a pattern? All of these books are fantasy novels written by women. All but Over Sea, Under Stone are adult fantasies. Cooper’s Dark is Rising Sequence is a middle-grade series that I’ve been meaning to reread for a long time.
Why, you ask, am I reading all these fantasy novels by women?
I’m glad you asked.
So I subscribe to several SFF BookTube channels and recently started listening to The Legendarium podcast, and something that had been building in my mind finally boiled over last week.
I love science fiction and fantasy. They’ve been my favorite genres since I was five-years-old and watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Empire Strikes Back for the first time. They captured my attention like nothing else, and thirty years later they haven’t let go. But recently, some of my favorite BookTube channels have been reading the same books by the same handful of authors, and while it started out interesting– they all have different takes on the books, after all– it’s begun to annoy the heck out of me. Why is this, you ask? Because when you’re only hearing about books by the same white, male authors whose series show up on every “Best of SFF” list, every podcast you listen to, and almost every channel you watch, it starts to get really old really fast.
And I get it. People like Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Scott Lynch, Robert Jordan, and Joe Abercrombie. Their books are popular for a reason. But when a BookTuber with more than 50,000 subscribers states that they don’t review less popular books because those “only” get a few thousand views? Well, I find that incredibly disheartening. I always hope that a reviewer is doing what they do for the love of it, and not the statistics. And sure, everyone can do what they want with their own channel or blog*. But when your reach is so wide, even your least-watched video can open hundreds, if not thousands of eyes to new books and new authors, instead of just talking about Brandon Sanderson and Stephen King. Again.
So in August, I am going to get to as many of these fantasy novels as I can and talk them up as much as I can, because there are some fantastic female authors out there, and it seems like no one is talking about them. If I can convince one other person to read, say, The Curse of Chalion or Jade War, then my job is done.
Other books on the agenda for August:
- Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2) by Frank Herbert
- The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
- A Hero Born (Legend of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong, translated from the Chinese by Anna Holmwood
I’m reading Dune Messiah as part of DuneTube, wherein a collection of BookTubers (most of whom I don’t watch…) is reading one of Frank Herbert’s Dune Chronicles books each month from now until the end of the year. Dune Messiah is the second book, and the only one of the Dune Chronicles that I have finished, aside from Dune itself. The Long Call, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and A Hero Born are all NetGalley titles I need to finish before September.
It’s an ambitious TBR, but so far there are only twelve titles. Given that I read 11 books (with two of them being more than 800 pages) in July, I think I’ll be able to read all of them before August draws to a close.
*So yeah, people can run their channel however they see fit. And I’m well aware that I don’t have to watch these channels. And so far, I haven’t watched the one that annoyed me the most. We’ll see if I start watching again in the future.
If you’re interested in BookTubers who aren’t constantly jabbering on about the same handful of white, male SFF authors, try these three. They’re not as prolific as others, but their insights and reviews are extremely thoughtful, and the range of books they cover is broad.
And finally, here is a gratuitous kitten photo: