What I Read: June 2018

June was a lighter summer reading month for me because I went on vacation for ten days and didn’t do much reading at all during that time (save for plane reading). I did, however, read hard before I left town.

I read eight books in June:

To Explain the Word: The Discovery of Modern Science by Steven Weinberg
My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley
The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
News of the World by Paulette Giles
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Voices in the Ocean: A Journey Into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins by Susan Casey
A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future by Charles Van Doren

I’ve been trying to diversify my reading in terms of genre and publication dates, as well in author identity and nationality. Here’s what June looked like for me:

4 Contemporary Fiction
1 Historical Fiction
3 Nonfiction

Publication Dates
4 Published in 2018
3 Published in last five years
1 Published before 2013

Author Identity/Nationality
4 Women
4 Men

6 American
1 Australian
1 Canadian


Once again, I liked everything I read this month, but I do have superlatives:

Most Entertaining
My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley
Stephen McCauley has long been one of my favorite authors. If Tom Perrotta, Jonathan Tropper, Anne Tyler, and David Sedaris had a baby, it would be Stephen McCauley.

While this one wasn’t my favorite McCauley (that honor goes to The Easy Way Out), it was just as funny and poignant and generous as everything McCauley writes.

Most Beautiful
News of the World by Paulette Giles 
I’ve been a fan of Paulette Jiles since Enemy WomenShe’s a masterful writer of history. Every character feels honest; every event is rendered with care.

My tagline: Lonesome Dove meets Plainsong

Most Educational
A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future by Charles Van Doren
If you’ve ever spent any time thinking about why and how we think now, you really should read this one. Van Doren traces the history of thought from the Pre-Socratics to the late twentieth-century. What he shows is that what we can think–what we know–is largely dependent on the paradigm and standards of the historical time period. As he walks you through history, you get a sense of how knowledge changes. And you begin to see how all the pieces fit together.

Word of Warning: This was was written in the 90s and the last two chapters are hopelessly out of date. Van Doren’s predictions for computers is kind of unintentionally hilarious. And like any book written in a certain time period, his language is sometimes insensitive. I was particularly struck by the section where he calls people who contracted HIV in the ’80s through birth or blood transfusions “innocent,” implying that people who contracted the virus other ways are guilty. Given that the majority of those victims were gay, it’s a pretty egregious use of language.

I’d still recommend this book for armchair historians, especially if you have any interest in the history of science.

Happy Reading in July!



2 thoughts on “What I Read: June 2018

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