End of the year TBR

It’s December! That means mere weeks of reading left this year, which means I need to make sure I complete some more of my goals. There are some books that I would really like to read by the end of the year (since somehow, January magically resets everything and makes it feel like goals need to be achieved before then).

I’ve sort-of based this on books that are on “best of 2016” type lists, or up for awards, as well as personal preference. I’ve already read quite a few of the books that are popping up on “best of” lists, which is a new experience for my bookish heart that previously thought if it wasn’t a classic, it wasn’t worth my time. So, now I’m trying to read the others that are on those lists (that I already own).

  1. Finish the Harry Potter series. This was one of my resolutions for the year and I am still on The Chamber of Secrets! Whoops. Maybe I’ll read at least one or two more.
  2. The Fate of the Tearing – Erika Johanssen. So I had this book on my list when I started writing this post because it was coming out November 29th. This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I found it for sale four days early and finished it already. I loved it so much but it also hurt my heart… Somehow Johansen managed to make Kelsea lose everything, but also it had a happy ending? I really need to talk to someone about the excerpts that come at the beginning of each chapter in this series because they took on a whole new meaning after this ending. Please.
  3. Truthwitch – Susan Dennard. The sequel Windwitch comes out in January, so what better reason to finish reading this book?
  4. Barkskins – Annie Proulx. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while but its size is intimidating me. But I’ll read it.
  5. The Association of Small Bombs – Karan Mahajan. This just came out on New York Times’ list of the ten best books of the year, and I’ve had it on my shelf for a while.
  6. Gemina – Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. I’ve been meaning to read this since it came out in October, and if I wait too long then I’ll forget what happened in its predecessor. At this point I wonder if I should just reread the first book, Illuminae, anyway, since it has been over a year.
  7. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles. This one I don’t own intentionally, but Book of the Month sent me the wrong book a couple months ago, so… now I own this. I was waffling between it and the book I ending up choosing, so it’s just a happy accident.
  8. The Young Elites series – Marie Lu. I got this as a gift for my birthday, so I don’t want to wait too long to read it or I’ll feel guilty.
  9. Red Rising series – Pierce Brown. When I read Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard) I thought it had far too many similarities to The Hunger Games, and according to some reviews I read there were similarities involving this series as well. PhantomRin has been creating a lot of art for this series lately, which has piqued my interest.
  10. Lab Girl – Hope Jahren. I’ve kind-of been reading more non-fiction and this one has had a lot of hype.

I know this is a lot of books for one month, but… I was looking at my November books and even though I reread three books (which Goodreads doesn’t count), I still managed to get through 17 new reads. Plus in two weeks I’ll be on winter break and so I’ll have vast fields of time in which to read… yay! Chances are I will read books that aren’t on this list instead of some of these, but that’s the way it goes.

The Sellout – Paul Beatty

I began writing this post back when I first read The Sellout the first week of August, and somehow never finished it? So it may seem like I’m a little late to the party, but… here it is.

This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I’ve never stolen anything.

Paul Beatty’s The Sellout starts with a bang, and rarely lets up.

That autonomic eager-to-please response that’s triggered anytime you’re approached in a store and asked, “Do you work here?” The face worn every moment you’re on the job and not in the bathroom stall, the face flashed to the white person who saunters by and patronizingly pats you on the shoulder and says, “You’re doing a find job. Keep up the good work.” The face that feigns acknowledgement that the better man got the promotion, even though deep down you and they both know that you really are the better man and the best man is the woman on the second floor.”

It’s difficult to describe the plot of this book, but it focuses on a man who wants to put his city of Dickens back on the map after it has been subsumed by surrounding areas, its existence and residents forgotten, erased in the most literal sense of the word.

From the “Wiki” page for the city:

Dickens is in an unincorporated city in southwest Los Angeles County. Used to be all black, now there’s hella Mexicans. Once known as the murder capital of the world, shit ain’t as bad as it used to be, but don’t trip.

Some ridiculous things happen in this book and the narrator ends up (unwillingly) with a slave and promoting segregation, for which the narrator winds up in court. That isn’t really the focus of the book, however; it’s more about the social tension. In fact, the plot sometimes goes weird places and almost disappears entirely (a couple months after reading it and I couldn’t tell you how the court case turns out – it wasn’t the point).

This book was provocative and hilarious, but it’s more the laugh you give when you feel like you’re in collusion with the writer, you see the intelligence at work and despite your best efforts, have to recognize and laugh at the ridiculousness of these situations that aren’t so far from the truth. I’m sure there was a lot more going on in this book than I understood.

I was rooting for either it or Do Not Say We Have Nothing to win the Man Booker Prize, so I was pleased. I had a feeling this one would win out because of the timeliness, though it was also one of the smartest of all the books on the longlist (of which I read 10). I’d be interested to read whatever else Beatty writes in the future.

Character development: 4.5/5
Plot: 3/5
Prose: 5/5
Overall rating: 8/10

Bookish updates

So… I haven’t written in a while. In the last month or two I’ve had some ideas about posts – quite a few ideas, really, and they are stacking up. I think I’ll get working on those now, since I am in a good rhythm at my new job, and have a ton of book-related things I want to write about.

But first, a quick update:

Last week I reached my Goodreads goal of reading 125 books this year. My goal was a bit weird because I kept changing it based on how much I was reading. It went 75-100-125-150-125. I finally settled back on 125 because I spent September (and part of this month) rereading books, which didn’t count towards my total. Ok, TBH I was rereading the Throne of Glass series because Empire of Storms kicked my ass and I felt like everything had finally come together and that series has given me something to fangirl over like I haven’t since I used to rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and had the soundtrack for the musical episode on repeat. I’m a grown-ass woman, but I’m also like “where is all the Rowaelin fanfic?!”

I really think that Goodreads needs to change that so rereads count, because I would actually be at 130 right now, but that’s fine. I’ve read more this year than I ever have, so I’m not going to begrudge those missing 5 rereads. It’s still entirely possible for me to get to 150 for the year, but I’m not pressuring myself.

I have cried more because of a book in the last couple of months than I have in a long time (hello, Crooked KingdomJust MercyWhen Breath Becomes Air, A Court of Mist and Fury, and Empire of Storms, I’m looking at you. Oh, and The Assassin’s Blade). Especially thanks to Crooked Kingdom. I couldn’t stop crying for an hour after I finished that book, and when I tried to tell my partner about it, I just got worse.

This has basically been me lately, after reading almost anything:

crying gif.gif

Even Sweetbitter, which I read last weekend, nearly did this to me. Tess is such a fuck-up, but I understood her on a weird level that I wish I didn’t.

This next week has several exciting bookish things – first, this weekend my department and several breweries in town are hosting a book festival, which means books + beer, which is basically my weekends in a nutshell, anyway. The town has just decided to make it official, apparently, that the cool thing to do, which my partner and I have been doing for about a year, is to take a pile of books to a brewery and read and drink all weekend.

This weekend is also Dewey’s 24 hour readathon, which I am planning on participating in again. Last time I read 17 or 18 hours, but this time I am going to push myself a bit more. I’ll post updates on Litsy (booksinotherwords) and Instagram, mostly.It might be hard with the book festival going on the same weekend (and some personal family things), but I’m going to do my best.  Especially considering…

…in the next week there are two more bookish events, including an author signing (Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman, Jessica Cluess, and Kiersten White) and the winner of the Man Booker Prize being announced. Combined, I’d really like to read 6 books in order to prepare for both of those things. In the next 7 days. So… we’ll see how that goes. I know I am capable of doing that, it’s just that things come up, shit happens, etc.

24-in-48-fall

I would really like to read these in the next couple of weeks, if not in the next week. Right now my feelings about the Man Booker are The Sellout = yay, you deserve it, Eileen = ok, won’t be mad if it wins, and Hot Milk = will be annoyed if it wins. The three books on the bottom of the image are the other three that are shortlisted, so I have no feelings yet except for the cover of Do Not Say We Have Nothing is gorgeous. It’s even better in person.

Look for more posts in the future… I hope. As I mentioned, I’ve had ideas brewing, I just need to take the time to work them out.

Happy reading!

Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh

…like all young women, I hid my shameful perversions under a façade of prudishness. Of course I did. It’s easy to tell the dirtiest minds – look for the cleanest fingernails.

Thus is the life of the titular character of this Man Booker Prize long listed novel – a quiet, painfully thin, small woman, made smaller by her drunk, abusive father, co-workers who make fun of her, and the man she lusts after who barely acknowledges her existence.

Eileen

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Ten books I’d buy right now…

…if someone gave me an unlimited gift card. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a good idea for people with self-control. People who don’t act like money grows on trees and find ways to constantly acquire new books every week, despite having put themselves on book-buying bans.

That’s not me.

So, what I decided to do is think of books that I would buy, if they existed or if there wasn’t some other obstacle besides money. Because when it comes to me and books, there are few reasons why I don’t/can’t get my hands on them.

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The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney

So this is the first dedicated review of a book that I have written since January. Whoops. Of course all I do here is write about books, but finishing grad school reduced me to blurbs. It might take me a while to get back into the swing of things, reviewing-wise.

This summer I read several books on the shortlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction: Ruby by Cynthia Bond, The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie, The Improbability of Love by Rothschild, The Green Road by Anne Enright, and The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I also read a few from the longlist, which were My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and Girl at War by Sara Novic. I own a few more, which makes me eager to get to them.

However, as there can be only one, The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney won, and I was lucky to get an advanced copy of it to read this week.

glorious heresies
I think this is the U.K. cover, but it’s prettier than the U.S. one, so there’s that.

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Anticipated Releases – Fall 2016

Last year sometime I created a list of my top ten anticipated releases of 2016, which wasn’t actually very conscious of many things coming out in the latter half. Nor was it conscious of literary fiction, in general. I decided to update the list based on things I’ve discovered since then. Until I made this list I didn’t realize how many good things are coming out, so I’m really excited!

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