July 2023

The heat is on with our summertime choices.


Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse; translated by John Bester
I’ve been meaning to read Masuji Ibuse’s sobering and acclaimed novel on the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima for years. With the film Oppenheimer coming out in a few days, I thought this would be a good time to start it as a reminder that the surviving people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to live with the brutal consequences of Oppenheimer’s creation. (Liz)

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
The story of Jack the Ripper has long held a macabre fascination for me, but this book blew me away. Rubenhold did an unbelievable amount of research to tell the stories of the women who are believed to be the Ripper’s victims. She also did an amazing job humanizing the women, and making me rethink the way the story has fascinated me. I highly recommend this book. (Dana)

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
Eh… this was pretty one-note for 95% of the book. Everything happened in the last 20 pages. (Deb)

Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens
Looking for a sapphic western? You won’t be disappointed with this story of an orphan making her own way in the wild west. (Ash)

Moby Dyke: An Obsessive Quest To Track Down the Last Remaining Lesbian Bars in America by Krista Burton
Burton spent a year travelling to the last remaining 20 lesbian bars across across the country to document what’s left. I especially enjoyed reading about her trip to my hometown bar. (Ash)

Night Will Find You by Julia Heaberlin
A young woman returns home to help find a missing girl. With gorgeous words, Heaberlin writes a mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. (Ash)

Not On Any Map: One Virgin Island, Two Catastrophic Hurricanes, and the True Meaning of Paradise by Margie Smith Holt
So amazing to read an amazing adventure about a place, in the place, I love & visit often. (Deb)

Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby
I’ve realized that I enjoy essay collections like this, but in moderation. While I loved most of Irby’s essays in this book, I did have to skip a few due to plain old lack of interest. But the best ones made me laugh out loud, which I appreciated. (Dana)

Secret Life: An Adaptation of a Story by Jeff VanderMeer by Theo Ellsworth
Surreal, creepy story paired with mesmerizing, terror-inducing art. Reminiscent of the themes present in the TV show Severance but with an abstract atmosphere that is profoundly unsettling. (Lauren)


A League of Their Own (Amazon Prime)
An endearing adaptation of the modern-classic film A League of Their Own, this series dives into beautiful queer-love themes and war-time foreboding that only briefly shimmers on the surface of the original. The extended one-hour series format gives the audience more time to soak in the period costumes and the tension of the times, with a heavy dose of bad CGI baseball montages! There’s the familiar fun and cartoonish ensemble cast, just as with the original, but in many ways, it’s a more profound and gratifying watch. (Lauren)

Barbie (currently in theaters)
An excellent film about men, the patriarchy, and what it’s like to be a woman on this planet. (Ash)

George and Tammy (Showtime)
Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon are absolutely incredible as Tammy Wynette and George Jones in this, ultimately, very sad story. (Amber)

George Michael: Freedom (streaming on Paramount+)
This is a bittersweet look at the later period of the singer’s career. I’m not sure I realized at the time how much George Michael fought for an artist’s right to do what they wanted to do, rather than what the record company wanted. Worth watching if for nothing else but the story behind the best music video ever made, Freedom! ’90. (Amber)

The next installment in the Yellowstone origin stories, this series has an extraordinary amount of gratuitous violence. Harrison Ford is woefully miscast as a cowboy; Helen Mirren shines. (Amber)

Wham! (Netflix)
Utterly fun pop candy. (Amber)


Beyond the Story: 10 Year Record of BTS by BTS
Originally announced by the publisher with the title and author hidden and an huge print run planned, my interest was peaked. When the author was announced as the popular K-pop band BTS, I wanted to see what it was all about. Listening to the audiobook has been a glimpse into the competitive K-pop industry and serves as liner notes to the 10 year career of BTS. Would recommend to curious pop culture fans with one warning: it can be a little tricky to follow the audio narrative, since there are extended quotes from interviews and un-introduced song lyrics interspersed throughout. (Kate)

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Bramer; narrated by Jennifer Pickens
In this novel you’ll meet Clover, who is a death doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people peacefully through their end-of-life process. Interesting and well-written. Good characters. Chuckled a few times, shed a tear or 2. Insightful. (Deb)

Come On Feel the Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens
This album came out 15 years ago, but I’ve been spending a lot of time in my bluetooth-less car lately and wanted to listen to something mellow and familiar from my college days. This album is a 2000s indie classic. (Liz)

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel; narrated by Madeleine Maby
Where the Crawdads Sing meets The Nightingale. Seem like an odd description? Read it for yourself and see if I’m correct! (Deb)

The Old Woman With the Knife by Gu Byeong-mo; translated into English by Chi-Young Kim; narrated by Nancy Wu
Hornclaw is a “disease control specialist” who fears she may be aging out of her profession. This is a quirky story with violent scenes that are told so matter-of-factly that the gore almost seems comical. (Amber)

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes; narrated by Daisy Ridley
Wasn’t sure where this story was headed… one of the two main characters was deeply unlikable to start. In the end… a fun adventure with some laugh-out-loud moments. (Deb)

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird by Lisa See; narrated by Ruthie Ann Miles
Lisa See’s novels always immerse the reader in a new culture. This one is historical fiction surrounding hill tribe people of China and their traditions, tea farming and family bonds. Very enjoyable. (Deb)

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