Posted in Books

What I’m Reading: August 2018

I have two difficult drafts that I’m working on that I keep editing and restructuring and sometimes avoiding, which is why I haven’t been posting as often. I need a break from the emotional energy required by those posts.

So on to books.

I am currently reading…

  1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
    This is a reread; I bought an awesome paperback edition of this classic on my last Powell’s trip and have been itching to revisit the story. I’m picking up on more of the humor this time around and the story is flying by. Goldman’s word choice and structure are so creative. I’m having a lot of fun.
  2. Things That Make White People Uncomfortable by Michael Bennett
    A quick Google Search of this author proved…unfortunate. So that’s kind of bumming me out. But I’m not very well-versed in matters of race and institutional prejudice. I want to be better. I’m trying to get woke.
  3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
    This one may take me a while to get through, but I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. I normally don’t like history – and Claire’s husband Frank is a history buff, which is the WORST – but the female characters in this book are so enjoyable that I’m loath to skip this adventure.
  4. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    I’m a little horrified that “autism romance” is a genre…but I just watched a documentary about the diversity and progessiveness of romance, so I’m able to appreciate this story more than I might have a couple months ago.
  5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
    Woof. This might be going on the Books to Sell pile soon. I’m only a few pages in. My uncle talked it up so much – the author is a Christian, this book won the Pulitzer prize – so I want to give it a fair shot. All my Googling, though, shows there’s not much to the story: a dying pastor chronicles his life for his young son. I’ll try my hardest, but no promises.

I plan to pick up…

  1. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    I’ve honestly avoided this book since its release. My last foray into folklore-inspired fantasy became a drudge when an initially-interesting novel asked me to commit tons of worldbuilding details to memory. But people have been losing their minds over this book and I’ve heard the romance is reminiscent of Zutara. I saw it, I checked it out, here we are.
  2. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
    I’m into bummer accounts of marriage these days. Ooh, a woman struggles to stay faithful after her husband’s imprisonment? Sounds like fun.
  3. Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
    I followed a Youtuber’s recommendation and fell in love with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. That Youtuber raved about this series and its romance, so I bought the first book.

I had to put down…

  1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
    Much as I loved the writing style, I wasn’t all that interested in the title character’s sad life. Just did a Wikipedia scan; I made a good choice.
  2. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
    I loved the first third of this book, but reading about her marriage for some reason kicked up my anxiety. I’ve decided family drama is too stressful.
  3. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
    I don’t think I like Forman’s writing as much as I once did. I revisited If I Stay recently and felt nothing. As soon as the first-person perspective started in this novel, I found I did not care.
  4. Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono
    WORST Spiritual Health book so far. de Bono comes across as an arrogant, small-minded asshat. His book opens with a claim that his method is the MOST IMPORTANT cultural change in the last three hundred years. Doooooooouche.
  5. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
    I knew this book would be brutal, but I couldn’t stomach the rape that occurs at the end of the first chapter. I tried my best, but that was too much for me.
  6. The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
    Berg writes a perfectly fine account of author George Sand, but the protagonist spends more time on her family history than I can honestly care about.

 

I’ll be spending lots of time with these books while I puzzle over my upcoming blog posts.

Posted in Books

Summer Reading List

I’ve rejoiced my parents’ last day of school. I’ve purchased aloe for a terrible sunburn. I’ve broken out the baby powder for 80-degree days.

Summer is upon us.

That means it’s time to read. A lot.

If you’re looking for suggestions, I have TRILLIONS. I even organized them from fluffy to thought-provoking, with ample gray area for darker reads.

Here they are in list form. I’ll start with the fluffiest and get progressively more…mature? Serious? Literary? Whatever.

Key:
YA: Young Adult
CR: Currently Reading
TBR: To Be Read

  1. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (YA)
    A 14-year-old Manhattanite finds out she’s actually a European princess. I will never not recommend this book.
  2. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (YA, TBR)
    Two teens with clashing personliaties meet and presumably fall in love at computer camp. I will note that I bought this for $3 at a book sale solely because of the iced coffee on the book jacket.
  3. My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
    An absolutely insane choose-your-own-adventure romance. Your choices include a sharp-tongued aristocrat, a half-dressed Scotsman, an intrepid explorer, and several fantastical creatures of dubious sanity. Rated NC-17. No, I’m not kidding.
  4. Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe (YA)
    Forensics fanatic Jasmine Callihan, along with her colorful group of friends, tries to solve a mystery involving a cat, a severed thumb, and Kermit underpants. Hilarity ensues. This is the funniest book I’ve ever read, hands down, and the biggest influence on my writing style. Show some RESPECT.
  5. The Selection series by Kiera Cass (YA)
    Published in the wake of The Hunger Games, these books ask an important question, namely: What if the monarchy participated in a “Bachelor”-style reality show to pick the new queen? THESE BOOKS ARE SO DUMB…but I own the entire series, including the spin-offs, which have made me weep REAL TEARS.
  6. The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure by Rachel Friedman (TBR)
    Good girl Rachel Friedman shocks everyone by buying a ticket to Ireland on a whim. I keep buying travelogues with mixed results, so we’ll see how this goes.
  7. Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
    An artist’s tale of her DIY wedding in comic book format. Includes recipes, photos, practical wedding tips, and pages soaked with my tears.
  8. Less by Andrew Sean Greer (TBR)
    Author books whirlwind speaking tour to cope with ex’s wedding. I’m guessing he Finds Love and Learns About Himself…but the book won the Pulitzer prize, so it has to be good,
  9. The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna (YA, CR)
    Sophie Sophia, like her father before her, has an active imagination. JUST KIDDING! She HALLUCINATES! Or does she…? A thoughtful look at mental illness in hot pink packaging.
  10. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
    Follows a New York writer as she falls in love with French cuisine. Includes many recipes I will never attempt and one for profiteroles I might.
  11. Dramarama by E. Lockhart (YA)
    Small-town girl and her gay best friend navigate theater camp politics. Come for the amateur musicals. Stay for the smart handling of sexuality, race, and identity.
  12. Ship It by Britta Lundin (YA)
    A slash shipper and an inexperienced actor go on tour following a PR slip-up. I thought it would be silly romp about shipping culture, but its deep dive into representation and belonging broke my stupid heart.
  13. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (YA)
    Bisexual bad boy Lord Henry “Monty” Montague takes a trip with sister Felicity and secret crush Percy that turns into a piratical adventure full of…frank discussions about race and sexuality? WHAT?
  14. If I Stay by Gayle Forman (YA)
    Girl hospitalized following a car accident ponders whether she wants to keep living. This was THE book in 2009 and it made everyone cry. Think The Notebook for teens, only interesting and well-written.
  15. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (YA)
    Private school girl infiltrates all-male secret society. Alternate title: A Young Girl’s Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy.
  16. The Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore (YA)
    Fast-paced, female-led fantasy novels with a feminist bent. Though all three books are excellent, Fire is my favorite.
  17. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (YA)
    “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” That first line was all the context I had going into this book. I’ve read lots of fantastical forbidden love stories in my day; I don’t often get to read one this well-written. Also, winner of the award for MOST TRAUMATIZING DEATH SCENE. I READ THIS AT WORK. I WAS UNPREPARED.
  18. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (YA)
    Grimm’s Fairy Tales…IN SPACE. Series highlights: Scarlet falling for a terse streetfighter in Scarlet and all the characters joining forces to abduct royalty in Cress.
  19. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (YA)
    Six teenage criminals pull off an impossible heist. Don’t let the book’s thickness fool you – the plot moves fast. Contains multiple romances and a gunslinger(!).
  20. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (YA)
    Pyschic-adjacent Blue meets a band of prep school boys with an unnatural interest in Welsh kings. Home to THE GREATEST YA HERO in recent memory. The Raven Cycle? More like the RONAN Cycle.
  21. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (YA)
    Anxious teenager Asa Holmes joins her exuberant best friend in a money-making scheme that results in Asa confronting her issues with intimacy, as well as her waning mental health. Contains incredibly-accurate and validating depiction of anxiety.
  22. Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore (YA)
    On orders from her deceased aunt, Jane travels to the mysterious mansion Tu Reviens, where things get weird as hell. That’s all I’ve got.
  23. The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew
    Alternate history exploring a modern-day Third Reich. Picked this up at a Blind Date with a Book giveaway. No regrets.
  24. Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew
    Illustrator Mari Andrew reassures “unsuccessful” millennials with her own journey through early adulthood. Buy this for your sad 20-something friends.
  25. The Happiness Project, Or, Why I  Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
    Chronicles Gretchen Rubin’s attempt to increase her happiness in 12 months with charts and research. Eat, Pray, Love for the left-brained set.
  26. Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
    Follows the life of a maid having an affair with a wealthy lord in the 1920s. It’s deeper than you would expect.
  27. You Can’t Touch my Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
    Humorous and thoughtful take on race relations in America. Contains one of my favorite passages on sidewalk rage ever printed.
  28. Would You Rather by Katie Heaney
    Writer Katie Heaney comes out as gay after 28 years believing herself straight. This book came out in May; I’ve already read it four times. Will appeal to anyone who has moved to a big city, struggled with anxiety, or  watched “The L Word.”
  29. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
    Gay’s essays deconstruct “perfect” feminism, popular television, rape culture, and use of the word “girl.” Now available in pink!
  30. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
    Evans ties modern church pitfalls with her own experiences using the seven sacraments. Perfect for depressives dealing with a crisis of faith. (Meaning ME. IT’S PERFECT FOR ME.)
  31. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill/Chemistry by Weike Wang
    Two stream-of-consciousness novels about women battling mental breakdowns. These books are weirdly similar, but I love them both.
  32. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
    After her grandfather dies unexpectedly, a young woman traces his origins to a village that once harbored an escaped tiger. That sound you hear is my stupid heart breaking all over the pages.
  33. The Underground Railroad by Coulson Whitehead (TBR)
    A novel about the Underground Railroad…except, in this story, it’s a literal railroad. Also a Pulitzer Prize winner, AND I’ve heard the author namedropped by my two favorite podcasters.
  34. Hild by Nicola Griffith (CR)
    A novelist’s take on medieval warrior princess St. Hilda of Whitby. Called “one of the best novels ever.” So far my experience fits that description.
Posted in Books

TERRIBLE PROSE TUESDAY: Harry Potter phenomena I don’t understand

If you hadn’t guessed, I love Harry Potter. It’s a story I return to often and enjoy even more with every read.

I’m not too crazy about the fanbase.

I wouldn’t say it’s an entirely negative reaction, but more of a puzzled one. The fanbase has decided on things that I don’t agree with and/or comprehend and I wanted to take today to go through some of those things. Continue reading “TERRIBLE PROSE TUESDAY: Harry Potter phenomena I don’t understand”

Posted in Books

TERRIBLE PROSE TUESDAY: Vague physical descriptions

When I’m reading a book, it’s really important for me to know what the characters look like. If I’m going to spend an entire book with these people, I’d like to be able to picture them.

Now, I’ve read books. Across the kajillions of young adult-, sci-fi-, fantasy-, and chick-lit-novels I’ve read in my 22 years, there are 5 descriptions I keep running into. As common as they are, they don’t seem to be anything other than confusing. They don’t help me picture characters–if anything, I have an even harder time. Here are the top 5 vague physical descriptions I have come across in my travels.

  1. “almond-shaped eyes” (see also “slanted eyes,” “upward-tilting eyes”)
    Sounds like you mean Asian but are afraid to say it.
  2. “shoulder-length hair”
    Oh, goodness. Is it long!? Is it short!? Is it average? Say that instead! I don’t know what shoulder-length means! Is it touching their shoulders? Is it past their shoulders? How long is their neck in comparison? People have different opinions on which length category this type of hair falls under, and I still have no idea.
  3. “olive-toned skin” (see also “olive-skinned”)
    Could be a Caucasian who tans in the summer, could be biracial, could be of Greek descent… My problem is that sometimes people say “olive-skinned” and mean white, or say “olive-skinned” and cast Alexis Bledel in the movie version, so I’m not clear on what this looks like.
  4. “auburn hair”
    This one has bothered me for a long time. I’ve always thought “auburn” meant red, or having a red tone. Very well. If you describe a character’s hair as auburn, you cannot also describe them as “dark-haired.” My hair is dark. Shay Mitchell’s hair is dark. Neither of us has red/reddish hair. Get it straight.
  5. “bronze-colored hair”
    Okay, this one’s not as common as the others. I’m going to pick on Twilight because this description has always puzzled me. I can easily picture “golden” hair. I know what “silver” hair is. Bronze is the color you don’t want to win in the Olympics, which is a bad association to have. And, like auburn, do they mean red? Brown? Orange? What are you going for? Choosing this specific color clears up nothing!