July Wrap Up Pt. 1 | 2019 | Kendra Winchester

July Wrap Up Pt. 1 | 2019 | Kendra Winchester

Hello my name is Kendra Winchester, and
welcome back to my channel. So I’m gonna be doing the first part of my July
wrap up. Yes, it is August. I’m just behind. It’s fine. It’s fine. Well, we’ll get all
the videos up eventually, but I read nine books in July, which was okay. It’s been a
bit of an interesting time health-wise these past six weeks, so I’ve been
reading a very eclectic group of books. And kind of behind on my required
reading, but that’s fine. That’s fine. Well, fine.
Anyway, so the books that I read in July. Let’s just jump in, shall we?
All right, so first up is a five-star book for me, and that is THE COLLECTED
SCHIZOPHRENIAS by Esmé Weijun Wang, and this out from Graywolf Press. She won the Graywolf nonfiction prize. We’re talking about this book on the Reading Women
podcast. It’s one of our discussion books. We talked about it for a very long time,
so I’m not really gonna say much. Other than that, I think that if you
don’t know much about schizoaffective disorder. You definitely need to check
out this book. Also, I feel like as Esmé Weijun Wang talks a lot about how people
think that physical chronic illnesses are more serious than mental illnesses,
and so they treat them as like less than. And don’t take them as seriously, which
is definitely a problem. so I really appreciate the activism that Esmé is
doing with this book, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s also on Book
Outlet as we speak. I don’t know if it’s still there,
but you definitely should go check it out if you haven’t already. Because I
love it so much, and I will link those episodes down below as they become
available. So you can go listen to me talk about them for a probably a solid
combined half-hour, so you’re welcome. The next book I have is BOY SWALLOWS
UNIVERSE by Trent Dalton, and this is an Australian book and I’ve seen everyone
and their mother’s brother gush about. This book and this is about Eli Bell, and
his very difficult family. And I don’t know how to describe this book the style
is very different. I listened to the audiobook, so it does take a little
to get used to, but I really enjoyed this book and what throat author was doing. I
feel like it’s kind of a hot mess, like the cover, but in all of the best
ways. And I really enjoyed hearing this story. I feel like, I forget who I had
this conversation with because I’ve had it with so many different people, maybe
it was Matthew and I. Matthew was one of the people who really loves this book,
but we were talking at a different time about how if you’re going to write a
story that’s been told over and over again (ie a white guy of European descent
writing his coming-of-age story), you need to have something new, and I definitely
feel like this qualifies as bringing something new to the conversation. This
book made me think about things that in regards to Eli Bell’s coming-of-age
story that I hadn’t really thought of reading other books about, you know, white
guys coming of age. And so I really enjoyed the book I’m interested to see
where Trent Dalton’s career goes next. I’m going to link Matthew’s and
Jaclyn @ Six Minutes for Me review videos down below. I feel like they
deeply connected with the book in a way that I didn’t. I still enjoyed the book,
but it was definitely like one of their top reads, I think probably, of the year.
So I feel like you just can’t match that kind of enthusiasm. So definitely go
check out BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE by Trent Dalton.
So the next book I have is one that I feel like everyone and her mother’s
brother was talking about, and that is DISAPPEARING EARTH by Julia Phillips, and
this is a debut novel. And this is set on a peninsula in Russia. The author is
like a Fulbright fellow and got that to go study in Russia for this book and
everything. And so this is about two girls who are traveling around, and
someone picks them up. And we know that they’re being abducted. They don’t really
figure out until later, and the whole book is about the community . . . about the
community on the Kamchatka Peninsula. I listened to the audiobook of
this, and while I really enjoyed the audiobook, this is told from
multiple perspectives in a sort of like this long short story kind of style. And
all the different perspectives meld together
to create multiple voices around this community, and I think the author is
incredibly talented. And I think that each section worked on its own, but I’m
not sure that this really, like, pulls it together in the end.
I feel like this definitely was a debut novel in that she’s very good at what
she does, but I still feel like, you know, there’s a lot way to go. If she continues on
the direction that she’s going, she’s gonna do very well. But I never really
could sink myself into this story because by the time, you know, some voices
I enjoyed more than others, and then we had to leave them and we never returned
that perspective again. And I felt as a reader frustrated, and I kept asking why
does any of this matter? And I don’t think those are questions that you want
your readers to have. Now plenty of people have really enjoyed this book.
It’s gotten a lot of great reviews, but for me, it just was a fine. It was a fine
book; it was okay. Sometimes in certain viewpoints I considered seriously
considered DNF-ing the book. And other ones I really, really loved the
perspective, and I can’t tell you what the perspectives are because that would
be a spoiler for the book. But still if you were looking to try to pick this up,
and you were looking forward to it, please still do so but for me personally.
I just was kind of disappointed that this book wasn’t as great for me as
everyone was saying that it was. So I was really in the mood for a more nonfiction
after reading THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS. So I picked up DON’T CALL ME PRINCESS, which is an essay collection by Peggy Orenstein. And Peggy Orenstein
writes about feminism and culture, like sexist culture around girls, in
particular in coming-of-age. She wrote books that I really loved called
DON’T CALL ME PRINCESS, which is about the girly girl culture for girls, and
then she also wrote about GIRLS AND SEX, which is how sex culture has changed for
teenagers now than it used to be, like when I was a teenager many, many months
ago. Anyway, so I really enjoy her essays, and these are just ones that are
collected from various parts of her life. Now she is a breast cancer survivor and
recently in the last several years she had recurred, and so she had to go back
and start a new treatment. And her discussion of women and women’s breasts
and women’s identity as a woman related to their
breasts and how who we are as women we feel often is defined by our body parts
as opposed to how we identify personally. And I find this conversation very
interesting, and she talks about realizing that she is in a body. And I
don’t know if this is because I’ve, you know, a disabling chronic illness and I’m
very aware of my body doing things I would rather not. It’s like why am I in
this body? It’s like a thing unto itself. And for her a big part of having breast
cancer was discovering that her body was kind of separate from who she was as
someone who identified as a woman and how, you know, her relationship with her
breasts changed when she had breast cancer. And she also had infertility and
trying to have a child, and also her child is half Japanese and so like being
a mom who has a biracial child and what it’s like to be in that, you know, kind of
circumstances where you’re trying to help your daughter connect to her
father’s culture etc etc. So I really love her perspective, and I find
her such an interesting writer. She points out a lot about girly-girl
culture and how we treat little girls, and I think this is an important
conversation that we have about how we hyper sexualized little girls and make
them obsessed with pink. And so if you’re interested in Peggy Orenstein, I think
this would be a great sampling of what she has to offer and then you could pick
one of her longer works that focuses in on these different topics. I don’t think
she’s written a book about breast cancer, but she has some really great long
pieces in here that I was very impressed with, especially since that’s something
that . . . well, I have not personally experienced but several of my family
members are breast cancer survivors, so I think it’s such an important
conversation that we as a society generally need to be more aware of. Okay,
so that is the first part of my July wrap up. I will be back soon with the
second part and thank you for watching, and I will see you in the next one. Bye,


  1. Omg the “that’s fine” meme feels like my life at the moment 😂🙈 And thanks for sharing my review of BSU 🥰 Another Aussie male author that really connects with that idea of doing something unique in the “white male coming of age” narrative is Ben Hobson in his new novel, Snake Island (literally out in the last week or so in Aus). It has come highly recommended to me by the same friend who put Trent Dalton on my radar 😉

  2. Look out for an author called Nathan Filer. He's an RMN ( mental health nurse) who writes about mental illness.

  3. I loved boy swallows universe and felt the narrated did a great job. I'm highly anticipateling disappearing earth and the schizophrenic book. Not sure I'm going to like disappearing earth as I loathe too many perspectives but at least I can prepare myself.

  4. Great wrap-up! I loved your review of boy swallows universe. I agree, there’s a freshness and energy to the prose that makes it feel new. Will seek out Don’t Call Me Princess.

  5. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton is my favourite read so far this year, but Jeanette Winterson has been able to nudge him a bit off the perch. Trent has also written a brilliant & beautiful short historical book, By Sea and Stars. It's about The First Fleet journey and colonisation of Australia, taken from about 8 journals of the voyage of that time. I have an ancestor who was on the First Fleet and is mentioned in one of the journals.
    Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips was compelling and so interesting. It was a bit of a who-done-it mystery with a lot of interesting red herrings thrown in with some vodka chasers. 😀
    Loved it!
    I read both in print and didn't really connect with either on audio.

  6. I keep hearing great things about The Collected Schizophrenias… while my mental health issue is not schizophrenia, the book is intriguing

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