June Reading Recap: A Month of Books With Unique Structure

Published by The Connected Reader on

The Connected Reader Reader Recap

Hello, friends. I’ve been over here reading, but not finding the time to recap the last two months. But I’m back!

June was a joyful reading month for me; lots of books with unique structure that kept me turning the pages or listening. It helped that for a week and a half we were on a family trip to Chicago. I packed 6 books – hit exactly 50 pounds for my check-in luggage on the way there; had to do some rearranging when I was 4 pounds over on the way back. I needed options – you just never know what mood you will be in! (And yes, I know e-readers exist; they are just not yet for me.)

Have you read any of these? Share in the comments!

Stop What You Are Doing and Read This Now

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H.

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H.

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This book. I added it to my reading list after seeing it on @thestackspod and when I was browsing in the library earlier this month, it was featured on a new books shelf so I grabbed it. It is a memoir about a queer, Muslim woman who grew up in Asia and the Middle East and moved to the United States for college. The writing is beautiful, the journey to make sense of identity and find connection is beautiful and painful, and what really got me was the structure. Each section is connected to an important story and figure from the Quran and it was an experience for me to learn more of these stories, and watch the author reconcile these stories, her beliefs, and her identity as a queer person to find peace and empowerment.

Print Books I Read This Month

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

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This is YA historical fiction and the world and characters kept me engaged. I picked this one up because it was one of the Everyday Reading book club picks earlier this year. My copy didn’t come in from the library until after the book club had read it, but I was still interested in reading it.

The Creatures by Crissy Van Meter

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter

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This is literary fiction from a few years ago and I picked it up on the recommendation of the Backlist Book Panel at The Bookshelf’s Reader Retreat when I attended a few months ago. It is about a woman with complicated parents and how she navigates the relationships in her life from her childhood to adulthood. But what sets it apart is the setting (an island off the Coast of California) and the structure. The author creates this layered format that I still can’t articulate quite clearly, but it worked; the story is sectioned into events over the course of four days, but within each day there are sections using weather-related titles, and then one section each day that is titled using animals (the main character is a scientist) that are written in the second person. It sounds like a mess, but for me, it was beautiful.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

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This was the actual Everyday Reading book club book for the month. It is a Newbery Winner. It is over 500 pages long, which I learned when I picked it up from the library. It is a children’s/middle grade book, however, and it is told as four separate stories that come together in a fifth section at the end – which made it read much faster for me. I loved three of the stories and wished they were separate books; but I ultimately was satisfied with the way things came together at the end. Because of the length and the subject matter, I would read this with older elementary/middle school-aged children.

Ain't Burned All The Bright by Jason Reynolds

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds 

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I picked this up when I visited Kindred Stories a year ago. It’s been on my nightstand for the past few weeks and I’ve been working through it a bit at a time. It is a young adult book and a Caldecott Honor winner; it is a beautiful collaboration of words and graphic art. It’s maybe less a book in the traditional sense and more an art installation? But it does tell a story and have a clear message; as I think about it, it’s sort of an artistic balm to make sense of the last few years.

This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

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This is women’s fiction about a one-hit wonder musician. It has a unique setting and cast of characters that I liked, and there is a suspense element that kept me reading. I did find the romantic relationship a bit problematic, and the main character’s relationship with another musician was unsettling; it was meant to be, but I felt it was underdeveloped and left me feeling a bit meh.

Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez

Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez

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This is a middle grade novel in verse. I picked it up because the author is a Houstonian and the story takes place in Galveston. I stayed because the story was so engaging; a young girl navigating a chronic illness diagnosis that takes her away from her passion – swimming – against the backdrop of a family processing generational trauma. For me, it’s a book I wanted to savor, but also couldn’t stop turning the pages. It makes you think and it also is a hug. I immediately put it on the shelf for my 8-year-old to pick up.

Your Driver is Waiting by Priya Guns

Your Driver is Waiting by Priya Guns

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I heard of this one on the From the Front Porch podcast and was intrigued. This is literary fiction about a rideshare driver in an urban city processing the grief of her father’s death and caring for her ill mother. This book has beautiful quiet moments in some of the interactions between the main character and the people she drives; it also has zany moments that made me think – is this really happening? The final third of the book is very plot-driven as the conflict between the main character’s white love interest and her diverse friend and family community peaks. This is not my usual reading genre, but I thought it was well-done.

The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

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Is it a reading recap without a cozy mystery? @smtlovestoread told me about this series, and this first one takes several of Jane Austen’s most famous couples and imagines them years in the future at a house party. Of course, one of them killed Mr. Wickham. I enjoyed the author’s voice; I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan, but I felt like this accurately struck the humorous tone of the original work and I would continue reading the series.

Audiobooks I Read This Month

American Cartel: Inside the Battle to Bring Down the Opioid Industry by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz

American Cartel: Inside the Battle to Bring Down the Opioid Industry by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz

Print   Audio

After reading Empire of Pain earlier this year, I can’t look away from the systemic disaster that is the opioid epidemic in the United States. While Empire of Pain focused on one family and its company’s impact on the manufacturing and distribution of Oxycontin, this book, written by two journalists, explores the epidemic on a more macro-level, investigating the actions of several manufacturers, distributors and the governmental agencies that both aided and tried to stop the crisis. In my opinion, Empire of Pain is the more engaging read, but the details of the absolute systemic failure in American Cartel are hard to look away from.

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

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This is a “New Adult” (apparently this means between young adult and adult? After reading it, I understand it to be young adult with a lot more sex) fantasy novel about soldiers who ride dragons and the political intrigue of a made- up land. It’s a book with a map at the beginning to give you a sense of the vibe. It has blown up on TikTok. I read it. It’s fine. I gasped at the very end and now I have to read the next one, but in general, if you like dragons, I would recommend the Fireborne series over this one.

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

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I can’t stay away from a family drama that enfolds over decades. This one is about a family that is part of an exclusive summer community in Maine. It goes back and forth in time from the perspectives of a young woman and her grandmother. Was it great? Not for me. Was it perfect summer listening on my morning walks while on a family trip to Chicago. 100%.

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.


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