What I Read in July

I thought that July had been a bit of a slow reading month, I just couldn’t settle on a book and I wasn’t reaching to pick anything up. However, when I actually looked back on my reading list for the month, I might not have read a lot (for me), but what I did read was an absolutely stellar set of books!

Out of the 7 books that I read in July, 5 of them were 5* reads and 2 of them are very likely to make it onto my favourite reads of 2021 list. I also managed to get my hands on some very exciting, very beautiful advance copies so all in all, July turned out to be a great month of reading. So, let’s get stuck into the reviews!

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

I actually did a little dance when this book arrived in the post. Nightbitch has been on my highly-anticipated books of 2021 list for quite a while, so when Harvill Secker offered to send me a proof, I nearly bit their hand off.

Nightbitch is the story of a mother who starts to suspect that she is turning into a dog. It’s an exploration of motherhood, expectations placed on women, work, rage and how you can maintain your identity when so many other factors are at play and calling for your attention.

I enjoyed reading this book and I think it will connect with a lot of people. However, as I’m such a huge fan of the uncanny and weird stories about people becoming animals, I’d hoped it would lean a little more into the strangeness and the transformation element. That said, I loved how feral this book felt, the anger coursing through it and the ending was just fantastic.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

I feel so lucky to have received a stunning advance copy of Crying in H Mart, thanks to Picador. This is another book that I’d been eagerly anticipating the release of so to receive an early copy, especially the gorgeous hardback version, was such a treat.

Crying in H Mart is a deeply personal, honest and moving memoir about Zauner’s experience of growing up Korean American, losing her mother and the important role that food has played in forging her identity and throughout her life. It’s an absolutely stunning book and so evocative, I highly recommend picking it up.

Home Sick Pilots Vol. 1 by Watters, Wijngaard, Bidikar and Muller

I stumbled upon this graphic novel when I was searching for something to fill the gap left by Paper Girls and well, to cut a long story short, I have another new series that I am in love with. The art! The colours! The story!

Home Sick Pilots is about three friends in a punk band, and when one of them wanders up to the haunted house at the top of the big hill and goes missing, they have to try and find her, and find out what’s actually going on inside that old house. The colours and the design of the haunted house and all the freaky things that happen inside it are just so up my street and I loved it.

I cannot wait for Volume 2 to be released later this year.

The Nuckelavee by Oliver Barrett

This was a re-read but this stunning piece of folklore art calls to be read time and time again.

The Nuckelavee is a retelling of an old Orcadian folk story, which follows Tammas Kelpy as he heads out in a treacherous storm to meet with his love. Meanwhile, something terrifying and ancient waits for him in the dark.

Written and illustrated by Oliver Barrett, The Nuckelavee is a black and white masterpiece featuring hand-drawn ink and pencil art throughout and it has the most gorgeous hand screen-printed dust jacket. The book was limited to just 250 copies – and I somehow was lucky enough to nab one from a local Oxfam bookshop!

You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann

I bought this book on a complete whim as I was on my never-ending hunt for the perfect quiet horror / psychological thriller / haunted house story and well, You Should Have Left did more than tick every box, it obliterated every box.

You Should Have Left is about a man who goes, with his wife and daughter, to stay in a house that they’ve rented in the mountains, so that he can focus on writing the sequel screenplay to the movie that launched his career. However, whilst there, strange things start to happen inside the house and he begins to lose his grip on reality.

What. A. Book. I could scream about how much I loved this – so hold on tight. This pocket-sized gem weighs in at just over 120 pages and the cover design is absolutely gorgeous. The story is creepy and weird and chilling. There were points where I literally sat up in bed and shouted ‘nope!’. It gave me actual shivers, and as someone who reads quite a lot of these sorts of stories, you know you’re onto a winner when that happens.

Honestly, I just love this book. The imagery is so vivid and uncanny, you start to feel everything fall apart and nothing makes sense any more. It’s like an existential nightmare in book format. If you hadn’t already guessed, I cannot recommend this book enough – and if you have read it, let me know what you thought! I am desperate to find people who have read about it so I can talk! about! it!

The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst

This was a surprising favourite for me. I don’t tend read rom-com style books, but I think that’s because I struggle to find ones that suit what I am looking for. The Lock In absolutely nailed it, though.

The Lock In is a fun tale about two best friends, a flatmate, and a date from the night before. Whilst nursing a hangover, Ellen discovers the kitchen is flooding and goes in search of something in the attic to stop it. Things take a dramatic turn, however, when all four end up locked in the attic with no way of escaping.

It’s such a fun and joyful book to read. I really loved that this book was not super romance-heavy but instead looked at the lives of the characters and more so at the friendships with each other and in their past. It was also a treat to be transported back to the 2000s when MSN was the main form of communication. The time was so perfectly captured by Luckhurst and I could remember everything down to the little notification sound when someone logged in.

If you’re looking for something lovely and light to read this summer, make this top of your TBR list! The hardback is also gorgeous so there’s double the reason to buy it.

Huge thanks to Michael Joseph for the advance copy!

The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

This story is about an undetected narrator who obsessively follows the everyday life of a woman in a purple skirt. The narrator lures this woman into working in the same company as her so she can watch her even more closely, and the obsession continues to grow.

Unfortunately, The Woman in the Purple Skirt turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for me. I really wanted to love this book but I personally found it to be nowhere near the intense, unsettling or claustrophobic story of obsession that I thought it would be. I might have misinterpreted how it was sold, but I had high hopes that it would be a gripping, weird tale but it didn’t hit that mark for me. Some parts felt a bit rushed, and others seemed really inconsequential. There were odd parts that I enjoyed but on the whole it fell flat.

I have, however, heard other people say that they really enjoyed this book so don’t write it off, just don’t go in thinking it was the kind of book that I thought it might be!

What was your favourite read in July?

It’s hard to choose from such a great bunch but I think I have to say that it’s You Should Have Left. I am still awestruck at how weird and wonderful such a little book could be. I am definitely going to be reading it again soon. Also Crying in H Mart and The Lock In were amazing reads that I devoured as soon as they arrived and I would highly recommend both.

Don’t forget you can follow me over on Twitter to keep up to date with what I am reading and the books that I am looking forward to reading for the rest of the year.

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