So Far This Year (Plus Mini Reviews)

This was meant to be a Top Ten Tuesday post, but I’m about a week and a half late and deciding to share it anyway. As usual, putting together a mid-year list of the best books I’ve read makes me think that my end-of-year list will be impossibly long—although admittedly, there are a few books…

Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde

Four stars, read in March and April 2017. I have meant to read Audre Lorde for so long, and now that I have, I see the irony of it having been her prose that I read first, and not her poetry. Poetry was everything to Lorde, not just a form of art but a framework…

Dietland, by Sarai Walker

Three and a half stars, read in March 2017. This book was a strange mix of things. I loved the premise and the protagonist’s character development, but was a little confused and unsatisfied by the progression and conclusion of the Jennifer storyline. In the first place, it seemed weird to me that the protagonist was…

Just Kids, by Patti Smith

Four stars, read in February 2017. I didn’t know much about Patti Smith before this and hadn’t heard of Robert Mapplethorpe at all, so this book was a springboard into a huge number of artistic works for me to explore. I’ve been listening to her first album, Horses, since finishing the book a few days…

Coretta: The Story of Coretta Scott King, by Octavia Vivian

Four stars, read in March 2012. I wrote this review back then, on my old blog, and have meant to repost it here. Now the timing is even more perfect, not just because of Black History Month, but because her name is in the news since Elizabeth Warren was punished for reading her words against Jeff…

Mini Reviews: Comics and Manga

Everything I’ve read so far in January and February 2017, because apparently I haven’t reviewed any of them yet! Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 1, by Fumi Yoshinaga. Four stars. What an absolutely fascinating combination of ideas at play in this book. A sort of dystopian premise with a historical setting, a matriarchal society that still…

We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Four stars, read in January 2017 (though I watched the TEDTalk it’s based on at least a couple years ago). I hadn’t technically read this yet because it’s essentially a transcript of that TEDTalk. But we just got a few brand new copies of it at the library, so I took it home and it…

Manazuru, by Hiromi Kawakami

Four stars, read in January 2017. There is sort of a dreamlike quality to this whole book, even the scenes you know are taking place in real life. It’s a little vague at times, but coalesces in the end into something like relief. Maybe contentment. Kawakami has a beautiful way with words, describing feelings I’ve…

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

Four stars, read in January 2017. [There are going to be spoilers in here, because I think the statute of limitations runs out at 150 years.] I consider the fourth star as belonging to the audio production, which is absolutely outstanding. Anna Bentinck is the narrator, and I was continually impressed by how well she…

Juliet Takes a Breath, by Gabby Rivera

Four stars, maybe five. Read in December 2016. I’d been excited about this book for a while, and there was a surprise right up front because for some reason—because of the glorious cover design—I had thought it was a graphic novel. It is not. It has a very self-published look underneath that fabulous cover, which was…

The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins

Four stars, read in August 2016. This was exactly what I was hoping it would be. I started calling myself an atheist a few years ago, but I hadn’t yet read any of the oeuvre, though I’ve been vaguely meaning to. This ended up being a good first choice, since Dawkins wrote it with the explicit…

Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong

Four stars, read in December 2016. This was fascinating, though slightly different than I expected. I’d had the impression that the protagonist leaves her marriage and goes through a process of sexual liberation meeting many men—but it’s actually just one man, and that sort of changes the dynamic. It’s also surprisingly heavy on the Freudian psychology…

The Girls, by Emma Cline

Four stars, read in December 2016. This book has a good plot, but the amazing thing was how much it really is about girls. Emma Cline remembers so well, so specifically, the embarrassing agony of being a teenage girl. Oh, the scene where Evie pushes over Henry’s motorcycle; I felt that scene. I’ve been in…

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, by Helen Oyeyemi

Four stars, read in November 2016. This ended up being my choice for fiction for the Goodreads Choice Awards.  I am still a little torn because I loved this book, and I didn’t understand it—not all of it, anyway, and it’s hard for me to not be able to understand completely. It took me until…

Blue Iris, by Mary Oliver

Four stars, read in October 2016. It’s confirmed; Mary Oliver is one of the rare poets whose work just works for me. I adore her style and her subjects—the scenes in nature, the exquisite detail, the stunning imagery. In both of the collections I’ve read so far, I enjoy every poem, but find two or three that…

Owls and Other Fantasies, by Mary Oliver

Four stars, read in September 2016. As I often mention, I’m not a poetry person. The genre doesn’t do much for me as a whole, but there are certain poems and poets I really connect with, and Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” is one of them. You do not have to be good. You do not…

Where Am I Now?, by Mara Wilson

Four stars, read in September 2016. I discovered the grown-up Mara Wilson on Twitter earlier this year, and I was excited to learn she had a book coming out. Like many women our age (including Mara Wilson, who is two years younger than me), I was strongly influenced by Matilda as a child. There were so few…

Silk, Vol. 0 and 1, by Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee

Four stars, read in September 2016. This is a great story, and I’m so excited about Silk/Cindy Moon as a character. As with Spider-Gwen, it was frustrating to be reading volume zero—basically a prequel in itself—and still have tons of backstory missing from all the Spider-Verse comics. Robbie Thompson does a pretty good job filling it…

Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki

Four stars, read in August 2016. I found this just lovely in a very quiet, no-frills way (which is the usual, I suppose, for the Japanese writers I’ve been reading). It’s the story of a young man’s relationship with his mentor, and I particularly appreciated the exploration of Sensei’s inability to trust people, including himself. Somehow…

Lumberjanes, by Noelle Stevenson

Four stars, read in August 2015. This is a fabulous, diverse, female-led fantasy series about the girls at a summer camp “for hard-core lady-types.” The Millennial humor is a little much for me, but mostly it’s fun. I love all the exclamations referencing women from history—”what the Joan Jett,” “oh my Bessie Coleman,” “holy Mae Jemison!”—and…

Storm, by Greg Pak and Victor Ibanez

Four stars, read in September 2016. I have been looking for this comic for so long. The thing is, about comics, that there are way too many of them, and they are too expensive. There are so many I want to read, but unless I can find them at my libraries or Half Price Books,…

Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Four stars, read in July 2016. This was gorgeous. Each story is full of imagery, fascinating characters, and an examination of the time period (early 1900s). I can’t believe how closely I relate with the autobiographical stories. “Spinning Gears,” especially the ending, was amazing—sort of hauntingly visual—it almost felt like a movie. I’m not sure…

Black Rabbit Hall, by Eve Chase

Four stars, read in August 2016. Spoiler warning, as this was a review I couldn’t write without them. The first and last paragraphs are safe; everything else mentions specific details. Maybe it’s the fact that this is a debut novel. I’ve read so many brilliant ones, and I really did love this, too. But maybe…

Hollywood Women Memoirs

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling Three and a half stars, read in October 2015. I like Mindy Kaling, and I enjoyed her first book. This second one was ninety percent frivolous and fun, ten percent actual awesome shit. The last couple pages made me feel like it was a much more important book than it was the…

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Four stars, read in June 2016. I’ve been considering whether to change this to a five-star rating . . . Can’t quite decide. I already know I want to read it again, and I’m thrilled to see that Goodreads has given it a series page, meaning at least one sequel will be happening. These are…

Speed Reviews (Catching Up)

I haven’t been exactly sure what’s going on here lately. I’ve been through some reading slumps and revivals and slumps again, and I think the same is true of my blogging. But in the past couple months, a lot of really great books have come through for me.   The Vegetarian, by Han Kang Five…

Top Books of 2016 So Far

It’s June, so it feels like we’re halfway through the year, but also it’s only the beginning of June, so really only five months have passed. If this post is any indication, I am going to have a hard time narrowing down my “best of” lists when January 2017 rolls around. Despite my falling into…