What I Read | FEBRUARY 2017

This month I read some fantasy, some non-fiction, and some contemporary fiction both satirical and…weird.  Recommended books are italicized!

1Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

The second book in Hobb’s Farseer trilogy started out slow but became quite engrossing about halfway through.  Initially, I complained about the dearth of female characters, but then Kettricken wound up being amazing (I’d still like more amazing female characters in this series, please!).  I liked how the Wit was explored more, but I’m still very confused as to why it is so stigmatized when Seeing is not.  Of course, since it is the second book in a trilogy, the novel ended with everything horrible.  Here’s hoping things will get better in Assassin’s Quest!

2Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Recommended to me by a bookkeeper in Santorini, this book totally lived up to my expectations!  It’s a post- (and pre-) apocalyptic novel that focuses on cultural and individual changes rather than Outrageous Action.  It’s both haunting and hopeful, and the writing is stunning.  I definitely recommend it!

3We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

This is a beautifully sad and hopeful book about bullying, suicide, and depression that ultimately proclaims that there is beauty in the broken.  This is all pretty standard when it comes to YA novels, but this stands apart by using alien abductions as a metaphor…or maybe they were real!

4Gender & Grace by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

This has been sitting on my bookshelf for years, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it.  Using both theology and psychology, Van Leeuwen creates a very compelling and easy to read defense of the biological and cultural influences on gender and sexuality.  It’s conservative while also being open and accepting, and I really admired her balanced perspective.

5South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

I’ve been hearing a lot about Murakami recently, but I have to admit that I was disappointed by my first foray into his work.  I feel like I missed something, but maybe this book really was about a self-obsessed and possibly psychotic middle-aged man getting over his exes and finally choosing commitment simply because he doesn’t want to be lonely.  It all felt like obnoxious patriarchal “literature,” but I’ll give him one more try.

6The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

What is the opposite of patriarchal nonsense?  CARRIE FISHER!  Her last book is amazing: a testament to her wit and ability to self-reflect, and wow, when it was over did I wish she were still alive to continue gifting us with her talent.  This is the book that reveals her affair with Harrison Ford while filming the first Star Wars movie, and her memories of that time are both humorous and touching.  The world needs more people like her.

7The Liar by Stephen Fry

I picked this up at a book bazaar, and it is quite possibly the most British book I’ve ever read, by which I mean it is extremely absurd.  If you like twisty words and witty dialogue (and don’t mind a LOT of absurd British sex thrown into the mix), you’ll probably enjoy this.  Just remember, everyone is lying, all of the time.

8Packing Light by Allison Fallon

A book about a Christian writer who doesn’t want to be a “Christian writer” and packs up all her things to go on a 6-month road trip in pursuit of a simple, adventurous life couldn’t be more tailored to me.  Perhaps that is why I highlighted so much of Fallon’s memoir, but I think it’s possible that she’s also just extremely quotable.  It’s more of a thinkpiece than a travel memoir, but I recommend it nonetheless!

Sunday Summary #51

1|  Carrie Fisher was an amazing woman, and these 19 tweets complied by Buzzfeed honor her perfectly.

2|  Being “home” this month made me especially thrilled to read the Travelettes piece on the pros and cons of feeling at home, nodding furiously at everything they said.

3|  The best surprise!

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

cvr9780743264839_9780743264839_hr.jpgWhen I saw Carrie Fisher’s infamous Twitter reply (“You’ve hurt all three of my feelings”) to the unbalanced hate she received after the newest Star Wars movie, I knew I had to find out more about this sassy, brutally honest woman.  Imagine my delighted surprise when I found out she’s written books!  About herself!  Exactly what I wanted, handed to me in the easiest way possible.

Shockaholic is my first glimpse into Fisher’s life, which is so much more dramatic than I realized.  She’s Hollywood royalty, with all the glitter and horror that you’d expect from such a title.  She has bipolar disorder, and she has no reservations about sharing what that means for her and how she manages to survive a crippling mental disorder (i.e. the titular electro-shock therapy).  And she cattily addresses the very things that drew me to her in the first place.

You know the saying, “You’re your own worst enemy”?  Well, thanks to the Internet, that’s no longer true.  It turns out that total strangers can actually be meaner about you than you ever could be about yourself.  Which is saying a huge amount with me, because I can really go to town hurting my own feelings.  I know where they are…

Yes, it’s true.  All too true.  I let myself go.  And where did I go?  Where all fat, jowly, middle-aged women go–refrigerators and restaurants (both fine dining and drive-thru).  To put it as simply as I can and still be me:  Wherever there was food I could be found lurking, enthusiastically eyeing the fried chicken and Chinese food and pasta.  Not to mention the cupcakes and ice cream and pies, oh my!

How could I have allowed this to happen?  What was I thinking?  More to the point, what was I eating?  And having eaten it, why did I eat so much of it?  And having eaten that much, why did I so assiduously avoid aerobics?

Look at all that talent!!  She’s such an engaging writer, and I’m totally sold on reading everything else she’s created.  Rock on, Carrie Fisher.  Never stop being you.   Continue reading