July Reading Recap: A Little of This, A Little of That

Published by The Connected Reader on


July was all about returning to routines and settling into a summer schedule at home, and books were an anchor for me during this time. Lots of walking while listening to three audiobooks; a read aloud book with my oldest child, and three print books filled my cup this month. I hope you find some books to add to your reading list!

What did you read this month?


My Favorite Book of the Month

Book Image: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

Print   Audio
Steven Rowley wrote The Guncle, which was everywhere last summer – and I thought it was good, but I really wanted more backstory for the main character. In The Celebrants, five college friends make a pact to have a “funeral” for each other whenever one of them hits a hard time in life and is in need of some extra love. Rowley delivers the backstory for this new set of characters through a unique concept and structure that gives the reader a glimpse of the friends and their interactions across decades and I thought it was a really satisfying picture of this friend group.


What I Read in July

Book Image: We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian

We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian

Print   Audio
I picked this one up because of the Houston connection and my ongoing interest in the systems that control our lives in the U.S. It is about two groups of siblings who were adopted from the foster care system and later died, along with their adoptive parents, under suspicious circumstances. Instead of zooming in on those circumstances, the author mostly focuses on the birth families and the children’s path to foster care, as well as the failure of systems to protect the children once they were adopted. It calls out the racism and lack of humanity in the child welfare systems at the state level, and the murkiness that happens when state lines are crossed. 


Book Image: Freaks, Gleeks, & Dawson's Creek: How 7 Teen Shows Transformed Television by Thea Glassman

Freaks, Gleeks, & Dawson’s Creek: How 7 Teen Shows Transformed 

Television by Thea Glassman

Print   Audio
This is a nonfiction book that explores how seven shows about teenagers (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, My So Called Life, Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geeks, The O.C., Friday Night Lights, and Glee) impacted television. Each section is devoted to one show and there’s lots of behind the scenes info, though a lot of it is more from the production side, less about the actors, and none of the most famous actors are interviewed. I was obsessed with all but one of these shows at some point in my life (sorry, Freaks and Geeks) and so this was a very nostalgic and engaging read for me. If you weren’t a fan of any of these, I think you can skip it. P.S. – After some Internet digging, I have 95% confirmed that the audiobook narrator is Christine Lakin, of ABC’s TGIF Step By Step fame, and I think this is just perfect.



Book Image: Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World by Eve Rodsky

Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World by Eve Rodsky

Print   Audio
If you’ve been around The Connected Reader for a minute, you’ve probably heard enough about this book. I read it a year ago and it changed the way I think about how I spend my time, and motivated me to make a lot of changes. I read this again because my friend Sarah (@smtlovestoread) and I hosted a book club on the book this summer. The book club discussion was so validating and inspiring; if you are looking to create more meaningful time for yourself, I can’t recommend this enough as a starting point for crafting that time – and definitely recommend reading it with a friend, since the discussion really enhances the reading experience.


Book Image: Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore

Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore

Print   Audio
This was a good summer audiobook for me; definitely something that would help to break a reading rut if this is your kind of genre. The story is set on Block Island, a summer beach destination in Rhode Island, and brings together three family members – a famous, aging actor; a 19-year-old former child actor and social media influencer; and a middle-aged high-school teacher who aspired to be a playwright – to produce a Shakespeare play. Pretty much any summer beach community story is for me, and even though I thought this one was a little too long and lost steam at the end, I still enjoyed it.


Book Image: Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker

Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker

Print   Audio
This is a YA book about twin teenagers in New Orleans and the world of magic they and their family inhabit. My book club is reading it next month, otherwise, I probably would have paused it. I loved the world and the concept; I found some of the plot to be clunky and underdeveloped and the dialogue sometimes felt out of place for the characters. If you are looking for a Young Adult book set in the South, about magic that comes from your ancestors, I’d go with Legendborn.


Book Image: The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau

The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau

Print   Audio
This is the fourth book in a middle grade series from the early 2000s about a community of people who survived a world disaster. Big E, my eight-year-old, and I have been reading aloud the series and the first book is one of my favorite books of the year so far. The series is very uneven (the third book was just so bizarre to me I almost stopped reading it), but this edition brings the series back to its roots with a lovely mix of adventure, mystery, and friendship. I love books that end in flash-forwards, and the last chapter of this one is one of the most beautiful flash-forwards I have ever read.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Even if you don’t use the links, I highly recommend checking out Bookshop.org and Libro.fm for access to tons of titles while still supporting an indie bookstore.


1 Comment

Denise Lechler · July 30, 2023 at 7:08 pm

I enjoy this blog so much! Your book descriptions are make it clear to me whether or not a book might interest me. I am very interested in any bookish get togethers you are planning. Also, I’m sorry the last book club was such a fail for me. I feel like I let you down. No excuses. But I look forward to future book clubs and will try to manage my time better in order to participate.
Also, I love ya!! an xo

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