February was a book month! Every time I'm on planes I read hella, so here's my list for this month:
Of all of them, I loved Conversations With Friends, which was really enchanting (again, check out my review for more dets., I loved Rejection Proof which I really needed to feel better about my most recent writing rejection, and I loved I Might Regret This because Abbi Jacobson is a real genius with a beautiful vulnerable side that kept me warm in the A/C-FREEZING Singapore airport.
Finished Raven's Peak to try the Online Book Club paid review thing (see December 2018 for more details). I realized I'm terrible at writing reviews and sound kind of cliché? So I'm putting a lot more work into my review-writing. So, after I read Fruit of the Drunken Tree, I wrote a review about it. It's incomplete, it's the first attempt, but I did it! And I know I'll get better this year.
Short pieces I've read this month:
And I finished with Fever Dream, a novel that I heard about on an NYT podcast and exceeded expectations. Thank you, Latina authors for starting my year off right.
Every year, my book club puts together a list to read together. I contributed Ready Player One last year and Vox this year. While the list isn't totally finished yet, this is how it's going thus far. Will update once everyone takes their pick.
Book Club List 2019
January - Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras ✅
February- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (already read, might read again) ✅
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Beautiful Justice by Brooke Axtell
Vox by Christina Dalcher
Ah, what a year indeed. What's funny is I started my book journey in Vietnam with NO IDEA I'd finish the year here too. Life is crazy.
I finished Sour Heart. Then I read a pre/post-apocalyptic novel called Severance that tells the story of a sickness that takes over the world and a pregnant woman that seems to be the only immune human around. She's a millennial, she works for a book publisher who works with Chinese producers of Bibles and she manages the publication of Bibles from special editions to children's and beyond. Once her job is done, left with no family, she stays in New York until it's no longer possible and then she makes a decision on what to do with her life, after a long emotional journey.
Right now I'm reading What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine, which is kind of trippy because I was not expecting the fantasy aspect that came at me in the first 5 pages. Interesting enough to continue, will report if I finish by the end of the year, as well as add a nice reflection on the books read in 2018.
I didn't finish What Should be Wild, I didn't finish anything else. I started reading 100 Años de Soledad with a student of mine to help her improve her Spanish (which was her idea, and that's baller).
I also signed up for this page called onlinebookclub.org which pays you to write HONEST reviews about books. I'm reading my first one, a fiction called Raven's Peak which is super cinematic and very Silence of the Lambs-esque.
Still reading Sour Heart,
but also here are some cool pieces that I liked:
Finishing any book has been a challenge for the last few months. I actually didn't read much while traveling in Mexico and in Argentina, since it really looked mostly like this:
My days were running to get wifi to teach Spanish, walking 15,000+ steps a day, sweating lots, eating lots and spending too much money.
Before leaving I started but didn't finish Florida by Lauren Groff (which was actually super enjoyable and engaging). But, between the two trips, I actually read one novel called Little Fires Everywhere which I really enjoyed and started a book of "short stories" called Sour Heart which I absolutely adore. I stare at how she tells stories and I want to be this girl. Sour Heart brought me back to my immigrant childhood while reminding me that my family had it easy compared to families who truly went to the U.S. with nothing, only to be discriminated against. Like my family, the main character's nucleus is just a mom, a dad and a daughter who immigrate. They love each other to pieces, literally, as their relationship breaks while the plot gets more complex. Images of the three of them sleeping together, child in the middle, remind me of thunderstorms in the Kansas City fall in my parents' bed.
Being the Colombian classmate, I had it pretty easy and only tolerated a monthly cocaine joke, with my nationality affecting very little else in my life. Still, the story is darker than what the first few years of our immigrant life tell. More on that later? Maybe. I haven't quite finished Sour Heart, but I'm close.
On my list for next month:
I'll be on lots of flights in 10 days and hope to read a tonnnnn.
I ended up reading half of "The Good Immigrant" starting "Dopesick" and finishing nothing. This month I am embroidering more than I'm reading, watching lots of Netflix (everyone go watch "She's Gotta Have It"), and laying around. It's just what my body is asking for so that's what I'm gonna give it.
I'm traveling all next month and I think that will lead to a whole lot more reading.
This month, to start I'm reading Just Mercy for my book club. The meeting is this Sunday and I haven't started so I'm right on track, nice job, Ximena.
I also downloaded books that make me soooo excited.
Man, if I could get these three read this month...if only. *reaches out longingly*
UPDATE: I read NOTHING.
This month, to start
I Read Educated and felt like I needed to look up what Tara Westover looks like. Turns out, she looks like a normal blonde woman. She looks like a historian. She does not look like someone who was beaten and mentally tortured and brainwashed. Of course, I'm not really sure what that looks like. I don't know what I expected, but I was in awe all the same. This woman went through hell and still accomplished so much. It honestly made me want to go study a Master's! What? I won't do that just yet. I didn't get very far on Number One Chinese Restaurant, not because it's bad, but because I got sucked into looking up other books to read, and Educated was long as fuck.
We'll see if that drops off the radar or I pick up later.
It appears that I simply cannot wait to finish a book before starting the next. It's also probably entirely unnecessary.
I started The Best American Short Stories edited by Junot Diaz, started passively reading Leaves of Grass, and made the font on my kindle smaller, cause that's what's going to kick my ass into action...*eyeroll*
While before I'd fear reading two books at once, now I'm reading ten or more. I listened to a podcast (can't even remember which) about Tayari Jones, where she was interviewed and spoke of her novel An American Marriage, and she sold it so well! So that's what I'm reading now.
The beginning was difficult because it brought up fights and relationship issues which seemed to be leading to a breakup (but wasn't) and it was both moving and devastating.
However, as the plot swerved and grew to be much more than a mere breakup novel, I found myself ignoring other tasks to be able to read. And that's where I am. Neglecting life to read about this couple.
Thanks, Tayari. I needed this.
Then, I read Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, which was mind-blowing. I went through every possible emotion in TWO DAYS. Then I cradled my kindle to my chest like a wittle baby I could comfort. But, really, I was the one needing comforting. Bra-fucking-vo. One for the books, hah, I'm hilarious.
I finished off with Sphinx, which I really really didn't like. That story was going nowhere and I (figuratively, cause I have a Kindle) closed the book for good at 70%. Still counts as a book, don't even try to tell me otherwise.
I've really been winging it this month with what I'm reading. I pick up my kindle when I have some time and read whatever catches my eye.
I also sorted through a box of stuff I left behind before going to Asia and came upon a gem: This is how you lose her by forever bae, Junot Diaz. I read it in a couple days and felt so refreshed after.
Junot Diaz has this way of making me feel incredibly understood, but also kind of turned on and insanely envious of how he can write all at the same time. I need that in a man. I love that in a book.
On the side, I'm still reading Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed slowly but happily. She's got that mom tone for sure, but that young mom that's like "if you wanna cheat, cheat, but deal with the consequences."
My mom would say some shit like that. I finished the book late in the month and was overall happy with it.
Finally, my book club is reading Being Mortal, which I was slightly afraid to read because everyone had started to mention in the group chat that it was super sad. I'm 8% through so far and it's super interesting! I also found a freakonomics epi in my podcast feed about it coincidentally so hoping to push through the book in the next 10 days and then give it a listen.
I didn't finish Being Mortal but I fully plan on doing so. I'm 45% through, didn't make it to the meeting because I was supporting my friend's coffee brand that night, and have put off finishing it now that the pressure's off. Ain't that always the case?
Time will tell.
Didn't finish a single book last month. I've started about four books and am now working hard on Book Club's Ready Player One, which I totally want to see in theaters once I'm done.
Though... Spielberg makes things wayy too flowery (think: The Color Purple).
Every other book I read this month will be the cherry on top... if I even get a cherry.
#tired #nottravelinganymore #nolongcommutes
I am over two weeks into March and have not read at all, pretty much. I started reading a book called "Woman Code" suggested by my cousin. It's also very "follow these rules which will save your life!" which I have a hard time digesting, but it's been very on point with facts on the circumstances we find ourselves in after decades of hyper-prescribed birth control.
My book club is reading Lolita, but I read that ages ago and all I can say is: OMG, tongue in eyeball nightmare.
We'll see what happens as I ease into being back in Medellin, having a full schedule, and trying to read as well.
After Bukowski, I was ready for more. I found three recommendations online on various news feeds (mostly on Instagram) : The Power, and Brave, and The Best Place To Work. I was recommended the dystopian novel Exit West and I finally got to my friend's recommendation from months ago, Antifragile. I'm finishing the last one and will be updating at the end of the month.
MARCH UPDATE: I definitely didn't finish Antifragile. Having trouble with the tone it's written in. A lot of what he says it's interesting but it's weird to me when authors elevate themselves to this "I invented this!" way of writing. It's really modern it seems. I don't think Socrates was talking like "write this down, I invented it!" Hard to cope with, that tone.
I needed something to get me off this super square mindset I was in. I kept thinking only of business strategies, marketing, self improvement, investing and I was growing tired of reading. So I picked up the ultimate anti-square guy, Bukowski.
This post office worker's life of drinking, fucking, sweating, recovering, raising a middle finger to the man, and by the end of the day starting all over, was everything I needed and got me back on track. Now I'm trying to alternate fiction and self improvement/informative books.
I also constantly listen to the podcast "by the book" and feel like I'm reading those as well-but I'm totally not.