The Glorious Heresies, by Lisa McInerney

Four stars, read in February 2018. I was drawn into this hard, once it got going. The audio narration is excellent, but gives no indications of the physical format—sections that are printed in italics, occasional illuminating “chapter” titles (they’re not really chapters but what do I call them?)—so the book wasn’t really working until I…

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, by Nina Sankovitch

Two or three stars, read and reviewed in July 2014. This was not as exciting as I expected it to be, I think because I had a hard time connecting with the author. It may be obnoxious of me—and this wasn’t the only reason I didn’t connect with her—but I get impatient with women who…

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Four stars, read in June/July 2017. I loved the premise and the atmosphere of the post-Arthurian setting, and found the first half of this book very engaging. It follows characters who live in sort of medieval villages of Britons and Saxons, and although no one seems to remember any specifics, we know it’s been a…

The Origin of Others, by Toni Morrison

Four stars, read in December 2017. When I think back on this book, the anecdote I remember is the one Morrison shares about coming across a woman near the fence on her property. The scene of their meeting is peaceful and friendly (because fences are “where the most interesting things always happen”), and Morrison’s thoughts…

2017 Reading Survey

Now that I’ve finally gotten around to it . . . Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love, but didn’t: Jane, Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore Most surprising (in a good way): That Old Ace in the Hole, by Annie Proulx Book you recommended to people most: Dark Money, by Jane…

Snow Country, by Yasunari Kawabata

Three stars, read in January 2018. Widely considered to be his masterpiece, the Goodreads description says, but . . . Hmm. I was decidedly underwhelmed by this book. There is absolutely beautiful imagery in his descriptions of snow country (I gave it an extra star for that reason). It was a stern night landscape. The…

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

Four stars, read from October to November 2017. I decided to read this book right now because of some TV show we were watching recently, and I’m hoping that by the end of this post I’ll be able to remember what it was. A character must have made a reference to the opening lines of…

Things I would like people to stop mocking Trump for:

His hair. Stop making fun of his physical appearance. His skin color. Stop making fun of his physical appearance. His hands. Stop making fun of his physical appearance, especially something he can’t control. His body/weight. Seriously, I shouldn’t have to explain this. Being a “draft dodger.” War is not patriotism, and patriotism, AS WE NOW…

My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, by Wendy Simmons

Four stars, read in January 2018. I almost didn’t take this home, irritated with it for seeming flippant about a subject that is not in any way amusing (particularly after I’d just finished accounts by Jang Jin-sung and Suki Kim that were emotional and difficult to read). I flipped through to see the photos, of which there are many,…

Part Three: Scream Into the Roaring Waves

And for all the things I can’t get enough of, there is too much of what should not be at all. There is too much wrong for one world. The more I read, the more injustice I discover, and it seems like I can’t pick up a book anymore without uncovering a whole new field…

Part Two: Too Much/Not Enough

There is too much world for one person. There is too much to experience, and I’m interested in so much of it. I have tried to learn so many languages, and I still want to learn so many more. I play piano and bass clarinet, but haven’t played either in years. I’ve attempted to learn the…

Part One: I Can Never Catch Up

I think if I could have an entire year in which, except for the passage of the year itself, time didn’t move—ignore the paradox, just let your imagination make it work—maybe then I could catch up on everything. I’m annoyed that it’s January 15 and I haven’t finished my end-of-2017 posts. I did finally manage…

Writing’s On the Wall

Sitting in my car at the Mesquite library, crying into my Schlotzky’s and Starbucks, which I’d gotten because the tiny break room was full of people and the only way I could survive that job was having an hour alone for lunch. Knowing I’d have to go back in to work soon. It was raining….

Best Books of 2017

It was a pretty good reading year, I guess? It’s hard to say, because I read some really outstanding books about some really fucked up things, and my reasons for reading them were upsettingly practical. The majority of my reading fell into two categories, nonfiction (including a few biography/memoir) and literary fiction by women. I’ve always read…

And the Winner of 2017 Is: Audiobooks

I am so excited about the queue I have waiting for me in my Overdrive app, already checked out and downloaded. A defining characteristic of my reading this year has been the number of audiobooks (and the excellence of them). I started a new job in May, moving from the circulation deartment to technical services….

I Do Not Like This

Look, I liked Jennifer Lawrence as much as everyone else, until she was in everydamnthing. She seems very much like someone I would’ve been fantastic friends with in college, and I think I would love her as a person. But she’s the female equivalent of White Guys Named Chris, and she is a ludicrous choice…

Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Romance Novel Here

[The author] has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, she read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. Is that a normal jumping off point, or does anyone else feel that Schoolhouse Rock doesn’t lead quite…

All or Nothing

I’m finally realizing why I can’t find a manageable way to keep up with things, why it seems to be either all or nothing. It’s because it is. There are no universal news sources anymore, there are not even universal facts anymore. To be well-informed you have to keep up with multiple sources, all of…

New-to-Me Authors in 2017

I switched the topics for this week and two weeks from now, because I can’t list my favorite books until I’m sure the year is over. Authors I’d been intending to read for a long time, and finally got to in 2017: Angela Davis Charles Dickens (I’d read A Christmas Carol before but this was my first…

November Mini Reviews

Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds. Five stars. Oh, wow, I loved everything about this. The premise is such a cool one, with the elevator and the chronological ghosts; the verse is skillful and adds visually to the story; and the protagonist’s voice is just so painfully young and real. God, if only we could…

Book Settings I’d Like to Visit

Most of Middle Earth, Lothlorien, Rohan, and Rivendell in particular. I’ll skip Mordor, please. Yes, Hogwarts, I cannot resist.   Vianne Rocher’s chocolaterie from Chocolat, by Joanne Harris. Though I have to admit I’m thinking of the film version, because I’d like Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Lena Olin, Alfred Molina, and Johnny-Depp-in-character (not Johnny Depp in real…

Amazing Peace, by Maya Angelou

One star, read in December 2013. Of course this was gorgeous, and in general, I love Maya Angelou’s . . . everything. But I didn’t love this book’s illustrations, and frankly, if the poem weren’t written by Maya Angelou I would give it negative stars. Because as nice an idea as this “amazing peace” is,…

A World That Is Disappointing Us Every Single Day

A little while ago I read a great interview with Bob Odenkirk. When asked if he thought of himself as a cynical person, this is what he said: Most people who are described as cynical are truly not. They’re idealists, and the cynical points of view that they espouse are literally their idealistic mentalities reacting…

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel

Five stars, read in July 2014. For the first 50 pages it seemed like I wasn’t making any progress—it’s one of those books that looks longer than it is, so you feel like it will never end. Once I got to the last hundred or so pages, I was hoping it never would. It’s funny, really, because several of…

The Bedlam Stacks, by Natasha Pulley

Five stars, read in September 2017. I’ve never read anyone who writes male characters the way Natasha Pulley does, and it’s irresistible to me. This book took longer to get going, but it’s also more polished than her first book; by the end, I’d fallen in love with Merrick and Raphael nearly as hard as…

Upcoming

In progress: Monstress is still shockingly beautiful and horrible simultaneously; Bill Nye is Bill Nye, fabulously; but Ta-Nehisi Coates is just woooooow. I am constantly in awe reading his work. Next: I’ve been waiting for The Origin of Others to come in at my library and I just got the notification this morning! I won Invisible No More in a giveaway from…