DSC_0879

I took advantage of my summer break and spent all of July traveling; my English friend Molly was visiting the US for the first time, and she tagged along on the road trip.

The first few days of the month were spent driving to DC, with stops in Savannah, GA; Florence, SC; South of the Border, SC; Fayetteville, NC; Wilson, NC; and Richmond, VA. Savannah and Richmond were the only overnight stops, and I enjoyed rediscovering the former and exploring the latter for the first time.

DSC_0278

We camped for 3 nights in Greenbelt Park, and commuted via Metro into DC each morning. I loved being in the midst of America’s history and politics, and it’s also safe to say that I got my camping fix for the year (or decade).

DSC_0474

DSC_0687

From DC, Molly and I made our way to the Midwest, where we spent the next several weeks visiting my family and friends in Ohio and Indiana. My grandparents’ cottage was in the perfect location to give Molly a taste of Amish culture, and my dad made sure that Molly got to experience her first baseball game with a day trip to Cincinnati.

DSC_0891

After a wonderful few weeks with my family, it was time to head south again. We stopped in Cincinnati once more for a little more socializing—what I thought was going to be a quick breakfast at Taste of Belgium turned into a half-day of walking through Washington Park, downtown, and then stopping for several hours at a board game bar called The Rook, which was one of the many gems of Vine Street that had opened since I moved away 3 years ago.

DSC_0939

Other stops on our way south included Louisville, KY; Mammoth Caves; KY, Nashville, TN; and Franklin, TN.

DSC_1012

From Franklin, we went to Alabama, where Molly caught a bus to Biloxi and then New Orleans, and I spent another week with my family in the Bama mountains. We even managed to find a $40 flight for Josh to come up and spend a few days with us, because I didn’t want him to miss out on the unique pleasure of playing Pokemon Go with my siblings.

Finally, as July came to a close, Josh and I crossed the border into Florida, and I rejoiced at being home after so long.

What I’ve Been Reading

Nothing! After reading so many books last month, I think I was slightly burned out. Plus, I was with family for so much of the month that when faced with the choice between reading another chapter of Outlander or making silly snapchat videos with my siblings, I think it’s obvious what I chose to spend most of my time doing.

What I’ve Been Listening To

Despite having not read any print or ebooks this month, I did listen to a few on audio.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai: The subtitle sort of says it all, and I was definitely in tears at multiple points through the story as Malala survived the obstacles she faced in Pakistan that ultimately led to her becoming the youngest person to ever win the Noble Peace Prize.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye: This was a loose retelling of Jane Eyre. Jane’s iconic line of “Reader, I married him,” was tweaked slightly in this retelling to, “Reader, I murdered him,” in order to reflect the fact that this Jane is an assassin. I enjoyed the audiobook narrator, and the language was every bit as Victorian as Bronte’s original, so it was a delight to listen to, though with the darker plot twists, I actually enjoyed this more than Jane Eyre.

Prudence by Gail Carriger: This book fits the exact definition of “campy.” Steampunk werewolves and vampires exist in this version of Victorian England, and a plucky heroine who can take the form of either supernatural creature is charged with traveling to India as the captain of a dirigible decorated like a giant ladybug, so that she may acquire (by questionable means) a large shipment of a new variety of tea. The audiobook narrator, with her wonderful range of voices for all the characters, put on such a wonderful performance that even though I probably wouldn’t have gotten past the first chapter if I’d read it in print, I couldn’t wait to get back in the car for the next installment.

I’ve also had some good podcasts to keep me company during my drives.

The Invisibilia podcast’s second season finished last week, and I highly recommend it for those of you who look to look deeper at psychological issues.

Slate’s Working podcast has continued to publish interviews with White House workers, and those have all been very illuminating.

“Ten Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten” on the Freakonomics podcast: A lot of interesting thoughts on how to make changes in our current political system.

“Caitlin Moran on ‘How to Be A Woman’” on the Fresh Air podcast: I was on the fence about reading Moran’s book before, but I’ve added it to my list after hearing how funny and pragmatic she was in this interview.

What I’ve Been Watching

Nerve: Not the kind of movie I’d usually pay to see in theaters, but it was released on my sister’s birthday, and she really wanted to see it, so I shelled out and actually ended up enjoying it a lot. It’s one of those stories that’s set in a world almost completely identical to our own but with one minor tweak that makes things very complicated. I would almost say this was like a teenage version of The Purge.

HGTV: I don’t have cable (thank you, Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/etc!), and the only thing I really miss out on is HGTV. Luckily, that channel is a family favorite, so this month I got my fix of Rehab Addict, Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper, Love it or List It, and Flea Market Flip!

On the Blog

Love, Elizabeth

I hope everyone has a lovely month of August!