I stared at my monitor for a full minute trying to remember what I meant to write.
Oh right! It’s wrap-up day!
May was a pretty regular quarantine month until it all went to shit.
Near the end of last month, cops in Minneapolis, MN killed a Black man named George Floyd.
Specifically, police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while three other police officers looked on. An independent autopsy confirmed that Floyd died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”
For many, these deaths renewed interest in the case of Breonna Taylor, a Black women shot by police who have STILL not been arrested.
At a protest in Louisville, KY in honor of Breonna Taylor, Black man David McAtee was killed by police.
(If you see a pattern here, it’s the the police keep killing Black people.)
Citizens started protesting these deaths in all 50 states, with other protests happening around the world.
Seattle has joined the protests. As such, things are changing daily. Curfews have been instated and lifted. Cops keep teargassing and arresting protestors. Public transportation is iffier than ever.
While Mayor Jenny Durkan says she stands with the protesters, she hasn’t stopped Seattle Police Department from inciting violence.
So…that was May.
Washington state is slowly opening back up after Governor Inslee’s enforced quarantine.
I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Spokane, a city with much fewer restrictions at the moment.
…oh, I got my job back. It’s a testament to the rest of the month that I forgot this crucial piece of information.
I’m on reduced hours, but I have a job.
I also read some books.
In April, I completed 13 books and DNFed 3 books.
Of the books I read,
- 62.5% were fiction
- 37.5% were non-fiction
- 93.75% were new books
- 6.25% were rereads
- 50% were Young Adult
- 50% were Adult
My mind is blown each month by these stats.
I thought I had a handle on my own reading tastes, but CLEARLY I do not.
My average rating for the month was 4. If this seems WILDLY POSITIVE, consider that I didn’t rate the three books I DNFed. I also read a book that I had problems with but didn’t feel comfortable rating for reasons I will explain later.
Here’s my rating breakdown:
- 3-star reads: 4 books
- 4-star reads: 4 books
- 5-star reads: 4 books
Those ratings make me look so predictable.
Math is a TRIP.
On to THE GENRE BREAKDOWN.
Look how big that religion/spirituality chunk is! Who am I?
Sadly, that is the pie slice that disappointed me the most last month.
Notable Books (AKA…all of them)
A third of the books I read last month were…fine?
They were fine.
I had pretty big problems with each of them and still rated them each three stars.
Women of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe
For some reason, instead of writing character profiles, the author of Women of the Galaxy wrote a series of essays about how progressive (?) and diverse (??) the Star Wars franchise is (???). For her primary sources, she used earlier drafts of film scripts, deleted scenes, and comic books.
The congratulatory tone of this book really stung after witnessing the treatment of women in The Rise of Skywalker.
We did it! We fixed sexism! Let’s not make any more progress!
At least the art was good.
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott
Normally I fall all over myself to compliment Anne Lamott’s writing; sadly, Hallelujah Anyway didn’t do a whole lot for me. The spiritual principles never fully crystallized into concrete ideas.
Anne relayed an incident where she purposefully misgendered Caitlyn Jenner and seemingly portrayed herself as the victim. I…was not a fan.
Reading this book prompted me to ask a friend if Anne had turned centrist. My friend suggested that MAYBE I’M THE ONE WHO’S CHANGED.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
I won I Wish You All the Best in a giveaway and was excited to try it out.
I felt like the plot was there, but the story was missing that emotional spark.
This book paved the way for other mainstream nonbinary protagonists, so I’m grateful to it for that.
Witches of Ash & Ruin by E. Latimer
Witches of Ash & Ruin was frustrating for many reasons. I wrote a 3,000-word essay about it that I have yet to post.
I would say, “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed,” but I’m super mad.
I read these books and did not know what to make of them.
A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans
I FINALLY read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by deceased author Rachel Held Evans after letting it sit on my bookshelf for OVER TWO YEARS.
Before her death, Rachel wrote some of the best, most accessible books about spirituality, so I was pretty shocked that I really didn’t like this book.
I loved the writing, as always, and was impressed by Rachel’s unmatched Biblical scholarship.
Unfortunately, Rachel’s good intentions still led to the appropriation of Judaism (PLEASE DON’T “BORROW” RITUALS FROM OTHER RELIGIONS) and some handwaving of unforgivable evangelical practices (“WELL-MEANING” MISOGYNY IS STILL MISOGYNY.)
Many conservative Christians, including Tim Keller’s wife, found this book’s take on Biblical literalism disrespectful. I found it unnecessary.
Though I get the point Rachel was trying to make, I wish she’d taken herself more seriously. The self-deprecation and lack of self-awareness REALLY UNDERLINED THE book’s failure to address churchwide misogyny.
However, I didn’t feel I could rate this book because I knew Rachel wrote it prior to her deconstruction.
I knew that, in 2012, she was trying to take risks while toeing the line.
I accept it, even if I don’t like it.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
TL;DR: I reread The Night Circus and it didn’t suck.
I still feel conflicted about it.
Some of the problems I had during my initial read persisted.
This time, though, I was able to appreciate the writing and worldbuilding, something I WAS NOT able to do in 2012.
This book is all right. Though it’s not my favorite, I would read it again.
I tried to make progress in these books and just couldn’t do it.
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
ALL OF YOU TOLD ME REIGN OF THE FALLEN WAS GOOD.
IT WAS EVEN NAMEDROPPED IN THE LAST SUMMER OF THE GARRETT GIRLS AS THIS BADASS BISEXUAL BOOK.
GUESS WHAT, GANG? NOT SO MUCH.
THE WRITING IN THIS BOOK WAS ATROCIOUS AND I HAVEN’T SAID THAT IN A WHILE.
IT WAS ACTIVELY BAD.
I STRUGGLED FOR 90 PAGES AND GAVE UP.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Each chapter of Girl, Woman, Other feels like its own novella.
I made it halfway and ran out of steam.
I want to pick this one back up later, though, because the writing is gorgeous.
IN ORDER TO DO THAT, I had to give myself the option of not reading it right now.
Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller
I finally gave up on Belle Révolte.
Maybe someone else will love this book.
I thought it was SO BORING.
Think not as bad as Serpent & Dove, but also not as interesting.
I gave it back to the friend who lent it to me without reading it herself. I can’t wait to see what she thinks.
These books were all-around greats and I highly recommend them.
All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson
I read George Johnson’s memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue at the beginning of the month and really liked it!
Black men on Twitter have given touching testimonials of how Johnson’s stories affected them.
(CW: sexual abuse)
In one chapter, Johnson penned a complex letter to the family member who molested him that I think survivors need to see.
This book came for toxic masculinity and won.
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski
A very nice reader bought me The Midnight Lie, a book I didn’t know I wanted and didn’t expect to like!
Though I have issues with the ending, the writing was great! The world was interesting! The romance was swoony!
This book laid out emotional abuse in a very clear and understandable way. I would caution readers with abusive backgrounds who want to read it; the writing is very realistic and could be triggering. I found it both difficult to read and very cathartic.
Because I have issues with the ending, I’m hoping the sequel will fix things and make me love this book even more.
The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
I read Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s debut novel, The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea and I loved it! Imagine Peter Pan, only with queer characters who face racism, misogyny, and colonialism. It was very well done.
I’ve not read a book with a bigender protagonist before, so that was fascinating. GENDER IS COMPLICATED AND SO ARE PIRATES!
These books vaulted their way into my crowded bookish heart.
I can see myself rereading them year after year.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
I read two Erin Morgenstern books this month and didn’t hate either of them.
I hate this whole “growing and changing” thing. I’m not about it.
The Starless Sea genuinely floored me. I loved how all the subplots eventually merged to say something beautiful about art.
Also there were romances and cats and bees and I am a mushy fool.
This is a book I feel comfortable calling an “epic.”
The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting by Alanna Okun
Did you know I love knitting and personal essays?
If you do, you won’t be surprised to learn that I rated The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater five stars.
I was nodding along to every page.
I guess I’m more committed to fiber artistry than I realized.
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
As you can see, I read LOTS of essays this month.
Can all poets write essays like these? I would like that very much.
I did not expect this book to cover art, female friendship, and true crime AS WELL as systemic racism.
All these elements come together in the final essay and it is something to behold.
Please read this.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
It took a year, but I gave The Gilded Wolves a shot.
IT WAS SO GOOD.
I have seen La Belle Epoque romanticized many times. Roshani Chokshi addressing the racism and prejudice of the era made the time period so much more real to me.
Somehow she did this while serving hilarious jokes and AMAZING CHARACTERS?
I AM SO INVESTED AND I MUST HAVE THE SEQUEL.
This book will be in my Top Ten Books of 2020.
Once again, that was May.
June should see continued protests and more restrictions lifted.
Donate to bail funds, crowdfunds, and community orgs if you can.
Sign petitions and support black creatives.
A bunch of Black authors released and/or announced books this month – PLEASE check them out.
Stay up-to-date. Stay safe.
Thank you for reading. I’m really glad you’re all here.