monthly recap | july 2021.

between traveling, dog sitting across the city, and the olympics, july was a hectic month!

july highlights.

birthday celebrations // new york adventures // reunions with many of my favorite kiddos // lots of new dog sitting opportunities // finding my routine again

july books.

even i still can’t believe how many books i finished last month.

transcendent kingdom by yaa gyasi. this was the june bank holiday book club selection, and i am so grateful to have had the opportunity to finally read it. gifty’s story is truly a gift to readers, and this novel cements gyasi as one of the best storytellers out there. it touches on some heavy topics, like depression, addiction, family trauma, and death, but it never feels overwhelming.

the kiss quotient by helen hoang. i learned of this only after reading hoang’s second book in the series, the bride test, and was intrigued by the story of an autistic woman who wants to learn how to be good at relationships. so many autistic characters are men, and i loved reading about navigating that world as a woman. hoang herself was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum in her 30s, and i appreciate that she let us into her world a bit. i thought this was a cute, fast book, and i am excited to read her third book soon [like really soon. it’s my august book of the month selection!].

the wedding party by jasmine guillory. the third book in guillory’s wedding date series, this one is the story of maddie and theo, best friends of alexa from the first book. this was the first of guillory’s books where i connected with both leads, and while i often wanted to scream at both of them to just have a dang conversation with each other about their feelings, it made a big difference to be invested in them both. i think this one might be my favorite so far, although i have a feeling her latest, while we were dating, will be a top contender as well.

we are the brennans by tracey lange. i love a good family drama with multiple viewpoints and slowly uncovered mysteries, and this one hit all the notes. the writing was a little draggy for me in a few points, but overall i enjoyed the story of the brennan family and getting to know each of the characters.

the hating game by sally thorne. sometimes a well-hyped book falls flat, and this one was that for me. my main takeaway was that joshua is a low-key stalker, and i really couldn’t get past that.

get a life, chloe brown by talia hibbert. a re-read from last year, because i love it so much and because i felt like it.

the guest list by lucy foley. i dog sat for some friends and they had a copy of this at their house, so i took advantage and read it while i was staying there. i enjoyed the multiple narrators, and while much of it was predictable there were a few twists that took me by surprise. this was a quick, easy read but ultimately not one that will likely stick with me.

didn’t it make her lucky to finally understand she could put her heart into so many homes? and to find herself absolutely ready to come back to this one.

hideaway by nora roberts. while this wasn’t my least favorite nora roberts book that i’ve ever read – and i’ve read a lot of them – it’s definitely near the bottom. i feel like there was a lot of exposition and very little action, and the end was extremely anti-climactic.

party of two by jasmine guillory. this one is the story of olivia, older sister of alexa from the wedding date, and max, her boyfriend who happens to be a united states senator. i am a big fan of olivia but went back and forth on max; sometimes he was great, and sometimes he was a little too white-man-on-a-power-trip for me. i also kind of felt like guillory left the conflict for too late – you always know it’s coming – and so it felt a little forced.

‘you gotta be tough to tell your truth, but it’s the only thing worth doing next to loving somebody.’

somebody’s daughter by ashley c ford. ford is a favorite writer of mine, and i have been waiting for months to read her memoir. this telling of her life growing up with a single mother, a father in prison, and extended family who look out for her but also keep secrets from her is poignant and beautiful, and i look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

malibu rising by taylor jenkins reid. this was the first book by reid that i have read, but it won’t be the last. she is a fantastic storyteller, and i found myself enraptured by the riva siblings and all the twists and turns of their lives.

the flatshare by beth o’leary. this book covers some serious topics, like stalking and emotional abuse and racial profiling and wrongful imprisonment, but it is still somehow delightful to read. i flew through this story of tiffy and leon in 2 days, and i loved how their friendship and then relationship evolved.

currently reading: i have three going at the moment — designing your life by bill burnett and dave evans; stealing buddha’s dinner by bich minh nguyen; and the glass hotel by emily st john mandel.

the best things i watched.

while i was in new york maggie and i watched plan b, the story of a high school student and her best friend on the hunt for a morning-after pill in a state with very little access. this movie has it all: family dynamics, the power of friendship, conversations around reproductive health, and a whole lot more. highly recommend. available to stream on hulu

season 2 of never have i ever is here, and it is great. complete with a guest appearance from common which was absolutely magnificent. available to stream on netflix

between traveling, dog sitting, and the olympics, i didn’t watch much else last month. apple tv+ has started releasing season 2 of ted lasso, so that’s what i will be watching in august.

the best things i listened to.

conduct unbecoming [on our watch, may 27]. this episode investigates what happens when women come forward to report police officer for sexual harassment, and how the system continues to fail them. this entire series is fantastic.

‘where we come from’: by any other name . luvvie ajayi jones and her friend tiffany aliche talk about their connections to their names and how much of their identity is tied up in them. loved this episode.

lin-manuel miranda daydreams, and his dad gets things done [taken for granted, june 28]. i loved this conversation adam grant had with both lin-manuel and his father luis and their understanding of how their different working styles can co-exist.

feather thy nest [hear to slay, june 28]. roxane and tressie interview memphis' own carmeon hamilton, interior designer and recent winner of hgtv's design star. i met carmeon at young collectors contemporary a few years ago, and she is awesome; i love that her star is continuing to rise across the country.

lord of the rankings [revisionist history]. malcolm gladwell and his team unearth the secrets behind what goes into those us news and world report college and university rankings. and it's kind of sketchy. shout out to patrick for getting me back on the revisionist history train

you, but better [hidden brain, july 5]. a conversation with behavioral scientist katy milkman about how we can use our minds to stick with change and do things that are good for us but are hard.

tricks to improve your credit score [life kit, july 7 / originally ran in november 2020]. some great info on what makes up your credit score and how you can make financial decisions to improve it.

under color of law [on our watch, july 8]. this episode breaks down what happened the night oscar grant was shot and killed and what happened to the police officers involved in the shooting after the fact.

designing safer cities for women [monocle 24: the urbanist, july 9]. gemma burgess recommended this episode and this series has now become one of my new favorites. i am so interested in learning about how public spaces are created, and this had some great insights into how to include the needs of women and girls when doing so.

project dillard [revisionist history]. continuing his dive into college and university rankings, gladwell looks into why dillard university ranks as low as it does on the list and how it can rise higher in the rankings.

playing the gender card [hidden brain, july 12]. a great look at how gender stereotypes play out in the workplace and conversations with people who are fighting to disrupt those notions.

abuse inside canada's residential schools [the daily, july 16]. if you've been hearing about the recent discoveries of mass graves at some of canada's residential schools and needed some background, this episode is a great primer for why this is so significant. it also includes a conversation with a survivor of the residential school system.

sohla el-waylly [asian enough, july 13]. such an interesting chat about representation in cooking, the difference between appropriation and appreciation, and cooking with a south asian mother.

stuff the british stole [99% invisible, july 13]. this episode of the podcast stuff the british stole was especially interesting for me because it was all about tipu sultan, the former leader of the kingdom of mysore.

cross-cultural casting [consider this, july 16]. a look inside the recent rise of non-white actors being cast in traditionally white roles.

100 years since sadie alexander [planet money, july 16]. sadie alexander was the first black woman in america to receive a phd in economics, but because it was 1921 and she was a black woman, she wasn't able to get a job. one hundred years later, our country continues to have a shortage of black women earning this degree, not because of a lack of interest but because of a lack of respect and opportunity.

olympics: behind the five rings [throughline, july 21]. this is a really thoughtful episode that discusses how the ioc has commercialized the olympics and what happens to cities after they host the games. as a huge fan of the skill and talent of olympic athletes but someone who dislikes the politics and the ceremony of it, i found this episode very educational and thought-provoking.

we should allow sad days, not just sick days [work life with adam grant, july 27]. as we continue to push the conversation around mental health further, adam grant discusses why companies should allow employees to take sad days without fear of anger or retribution.

the story of simone biles [the daily, july 30]. at this point i think most everyone knows of simone biles' decision to withdraw from the team finals at the olympics due to mental health concerns. this episode traces her life and career from childhood to the athlete she is today and some of the instances that led up to her decision.

the best things i read on the internet.

when the child you are meant to parent is already out in the world. ndtv via maggie

how to experience new york like a true local. there are some real gems in here. new yorker via maggie

lindy west rewatched titanic, and her recap is amazing. jezebel via cup of jo

do you know which city is the farthest from where you live? this website will tell you! the farthest from memphis is apparently perth, australia. furthest city via creative mornings

this profile of rebekah neumann, wife of wework's former ceo adam, confirmed my take that she is hella sketchy. vanity fair

hannah waddingham on the gift that is ted lasso. town & country via hitha palepu

jasmine guillory's book recommendations. elle via hitha palepu

some tips on how to break up your workday. kelly vaughn via hitha palepu

friend news alert! washington post


ed note: the book links are bookshop affiliate links, so if you purchase any of the books through the links you will be supporting independent booksellers and i will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. the only exception is we are the brennans, which is an amazon affiliate link.

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