I think I have a problem. And I’m not referring to my car that’s headed to the mechanic because it won’t go, the big zit on my neck, or the fact that my daughter seems to think accessorizing her dress-up outfit with one glove, ala Michael Jackson, is fashionable. I’m referring to the fact that I didn’t take a single non-blog-related picture with my camera in the entire month of July.

Luckily for me, the photo of marshmallows up there, taken last July, is relevant once again this month. S’mores are always in season, aren’t they?

Anyway. July has been a good, though photo-less, month. How was yours?

What I’ve Been Reading

Looking for Alaska by John Green: Hey, look! Only one YA book in this month’s list! Is it possible my tastes are maturing? Nah. Only temporarily, I’m sure. Anyway, this novel was about a teenage boy sent to a boarding school, the friends he makes and the adventures they have. Of course, in the edgy-almost-raw style of today’s YA, the adventures they have are more accurately described as the trouble they cause, but even though the story’s juveniles are, in fact, a bit delinquent, they’re smart and honest enough to be appealing.

That’s the thing about Green’s books. Though I have nothing in common with his main character, I still saw myself and my heart in his thoughts, words and actions.

Also, as a side note that’s actually pretty central to the book, the format of the story is done exceptionally well. The first two-thirds of the book is a countdown to some unknown event, with chapters being marked as “26 days before” and the like. It reminded me of the How I Met Your Mother episode, when Marshall’s dad died, and this book packed a punch just as visceral as that show – and then some.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe: Two readers recommended this autobiography (hi, Jennifer Young and Adele!), and since I loved Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling’s books so much, I thought, Why not? I mean, it’s not like I have a stack of serious spiritual books waiting for me. Clearly I have time for a movie star’s autobiography!

Well, here’s the thing: I really liked reading this book.

I’m a few years too young to really understand the appeal of 80s and 90s Rob Lowe. Fortunately, he made sure to tell his readers – repeatedly, in case we forgot – just how beautiful he is. He also name-dropped like crazy and gave his unapologetically biased view on his entire life, glossing over controversy and detailing his relationships with rising stars such as Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise.

And I ate it up. I didn’t necessarily love Rob Lowe when I finished the book, but the insider’s look into the making of a star – even such a biased look – was fascinating.

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren: As you know, if you’ve read any of my book reviews in the past year, I have adored Bergren’s River of Time series, as well as Susan May Warren’s Daughters of Fortune series. So a book by Bergren set in approximately the same time period as Warren’s series seemed like a good bet.

And it was. I read almost the entire 400-page book in one sitting, staying up way, way too late to finish it. And because it’s the first in a series and leaves all the story lines open-ended, I am now dying to read the next one!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Here’s the best thing I can say about this one: I can cross another book off my I Need to Read the Classics List. I know people love this book and all, but I didn’t. And I cannot fathom how a movie based on this book (even if it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire and is supposed to be fabulous) could possibly be good. I just can’t.

iPhone Photography: a Visual Guide by Alli Worthington: This, though, I love. When I got my smartphone, I was so excited to use instagram. That is until I realized how lousy my camera photos are! Alli has written a book full of tips and information about taking excellent photos with your camera, and she’s still selling it at the introductory price of $5 – but just through tomorrow (Sunday) night. So, if this sounds like your sort of thing, you should get it now!

What I’ve Been Watching

We’re skipping TV this time (gasp!) and going straight into movies. Mark and I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man a few weeks ago, and it was really good! It was long, which I do appreciate after paying a million dollars for a ticket, and the two main characters were adorable and funny.

I remember very clearly watching Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire, and I remember being surprised at how much I really enjoyed it. So I’m not sure this new rendition is necessarily better, but I will say that the third Tobey-Spidey movie left a bad enough impression that I might be swayed into voting for the 2012 version. That might not be fair, but neither was assaulting my eyes and ears with a singing, dancing Peter Parker. Bottom line: I love Spider-Man, and the new movie was a lot of fun.

I’ve also been watching the Bourne Legacy preview every single time it comes on and counting down the days until it premieres. If there’s one thing I love more than a spy movie or a conspiracy movie, it’s a conspiracy spy movie. Is that the name of the genre? No? Well, that’s what I’m calling it.

What I’ve Been Listening to

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman – or as Annalyn calls it, “Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul.” Rinse and repeat.

What were you into in July?

This post was inspired by Sorta Crunchy’s monthly post. And it contains affiliate links.

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