Up to 32/50 books read this year and now I’m only 6 books behind where I should be. This month’s drop in reading volume was due to the fact that I got a new PC and that messed with how Adobe Digital Editions interfaced with my Philadelphia Free Library account. I could download books when they became available, but not open them, likely because I didn’t deauthorize ADE off of my dead computer and had to create a new id, which didn’t work either. I ended up losing 2 of my available holds that way.
Onto the books! For reviews, I use the Goodreads scale, which is:
One star: did not like it
Two stars: it was ok
Three stars: liked it
Four stars: really liked it
Five stars: it was amazing
The Folded Clock: A Diary – Heidi Julavits
This is a journal covering about two years in the author’s life. What made it charming was that every entry started with “Today I,” which is how she started her diaries as a child. About 15% through the book I realized that the diary entries weren’t in chronological order, which I HATE and I WHINE and MOAN all of the time about how this stuff messes up my enjoyment of books. However, part of her reason for writing this was because at her age she was finding that her time isn’t measured anymore by mere days, but weeks, months, quarters, etc. Even I, without the multiple residences, children, jet-set writer’s lifestyle, hundreds of ex-boyfriends who adored me, etc, can relate. I tried to let the lack of chronology go and focused on the recurring themes and … it was a good read. Julavits herself seems a bit unhinged at times but you know what? So are we all. She carries a tap handle with her, I wear special earrings on the days I travel home. My diary is free online and remains mostly chronological. Three stars.
What is Not Yours is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi
Whenever I pick up a book of Helen Oyeyemi’s I know I’m in for a difficult, twisty read and I LOVE IT. This was the second ebook library loan I couldn’t fulfill on my nook and I was pissed enough to drive to my local library to borrow a hard copy. This is a collection of short stories with the theme of locks and keys. Like her other books, the characters here are wonderfully diverse and mostly human. Characters drift in and out of each other’s stories. My favorites of the stories were “A Brief History of the Homely Wench Society” and “Books and Roses.” Five stars and I’m going to start diving into her backlist.
I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual — Luvvie Ajayi
This is the book from AwesomelyLuvvie.com blogger Luvvie Ajayi. It sucks you in with funny observances about how crappy people can be in real life, and then hits you with essays on sexism and racism and homophobia before whip-lashing back into funny essays about poor behavior in social media. I didn’t mind the serious stuff — we all need to be reading that — but I’m an adult and I don’t need my vegetables pureed and hidden in my spaghetti sauce to trick me into eating them. And most of the blurbs were of the “LOL I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING!!!” type. The book was funny and well-written, but I’m about 20 years beyond the audience that would benefit most from the life lessons inside. Three stars.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear — Elizabeth Gilbert
Oh my gosh I was so disappointed in this book, probably because I lloOOOOOooooOOOoooooVVVVVeee Elizabeth Gilbert’s writings so much, even the books that aren’t Eat, Pray, Love. Even the fiction books. This was … nice … and all, but there was so much woo (and I like woo) and name-dropping of her famous friends, and casual reminders that she happened to write Eat, Pray, Love I wanted to check out after every single chapter. To save you time, here are my takeaways: We’re all creative, we don’t have to quit our day jobs to be so, and actually it’s best that we don’t quit our day jobs, and that if an idea pesters you and you dismiss it, it will find its way to someone else who will fulfill it.
Two stars. Watch her lovely TED talk instead. And if you want fiction, read Signature of All Things.
Lincoln in the Bardo — George Saunders
Bardo: (in Tibetan Buddhism) a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person’s conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death.
A super-strong showing from the only dude on the list this month. This book captivated me. It was confusing — ridiculously confusing — at first, but then once I got used to the format and the multiple narrators it gelled. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and uplifting. Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, dies at the age of eleven. His body is placed in a crypt in Washington DC. His father is distraught. We learn about this both from the ghostly residents of the neighborhood (think of a very adult version of the graveyard of Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride) and through selected passages from a wealth of historical documents. It’s a marriage of fact and faith and I read 368 pages in a little over 24 hours. Trigger warnings for rape, violence, and death.
Console Wars – Blake J. Harris. Still. This is the book I pick up when I have nothing else available.
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky – Lesley Nneka Arimah. I just started last night and a woman was just shot in the back so we’ll see how far I continue. I might not have the heart right now for extended violence.
Missed due to stupid Adobe ID/Adobe Digital Editons/Overdrive/Nook issues:
Chemistry — Weike Wang
Idaho — Emily Ruskovich
The Holds list:
This is my current Philly Library holds list. I need to add a few.
I’m going on a (non-Disney) cruise next week and I’m looking for something upbeat and fun. Beachiness is preferred but optional. I may crack and buy Sourdough, because I adored Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Maybe A Night to Remember? 😉
All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.
This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!