Eight books this month, ranging from YA fantasy adventures to historical scandals in early Hollywood. Oh, and I finally read The Little Prince, which was a LONG time coming.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Woodson’s prose reads like poetry, which helps make her story more palatable. I mean, it’s GOOD, but it is a devastating look at growing up female, black, and poor. There is an thread of hope throughout, though, which left me feeling like the book was short and beautiful. The main thing I took from Woodson’s novel is that I need to be more intentional about including diverse authors in my reading list.
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
The setup of this book made me assume that it would deal with its central issues of agoraphobia and panic disorders with casual flippancy, but I was so mistaken! Everything was handled respectfully (and entertainingly, since it is, after all, a novel). I really liked that the story revealed how messed up everyone was, whether they were diagnosable or not. Well, except for Clark. Just like our two main characters, I also fell in love with him.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
This story has existed in the periphery of my experience for years and years, but I was never interested enough to sit down and read it. Until this month, when I bought a cute little hardback copy on Santorini and immediately read the whole thing. It is so sweet, so sad, and so poignant. I love the emphasis on childish creativity and love, and how valuable it is to cling to those things even as we become adults. I especially loved the story of the fox and how we are responsible for the things (and people) we tame.
Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen
It is a testament to Petersen’s writing capabilities that I have almost no knowledge of classic Hollywood or the actors and actresses that dominated tabloids in the 1910s – 1950s, but I still really enjoyed this book! That because the book is not about the people specifically; it’s a fascinating look at culture, fame, and changing societal mores. It asks why one person’s scandal was forgiven while a similar scandal ruined someone else’s career. I could easily imagine modern equivalents to these situations, and I found myself wishing she would write a follow-up book!
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
I bought this at the recommendation of a bookshop worker, and wow was it weird. It was genuinely creepy because everything was OFF in this indescribable way. I was so unnerved by it that I could only read it during the daylight hours, but I had to keep reading because it’s story was so compelling. I had decided to buy it because I was intrigued by its cast of characters including only women, and this remained its high point for me.
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
I wanted this book to be about the merging of two cultures (Indian and French) and how food brings people together. It was not about that. It was about how an Indian prodigy chef managed to rise to fame despite his humble background. Which, now that I phrase it that way, is a compelling story. Unfortunately, it was not the story I expected, so I found myself increasingly uninterested.
Magnus Chase: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
I am continuously amazed at how Riordan manages to take the same formula and finds ways to make it fresh. I am especially amazed that the way he chose to make the Magnus Chase series fresh is by ramping up his level of representation. This book is phenomenal, boasting a five person main cast that includes a practicing Muslim woman, a formerly homeless teenage boy whose talents skew feminine, a black dwarf devoted to fashion, a deaf elf, and a transgender/genderfluid person. I LOVE that Riordan decided to take the fantasy trope of shape-shifting and use that to explicitly talk about gender fluidity. That is total genius. Oh, and the plot is super fun, I love how Loki is both very evil and very victimized, I love the giants and their illusions, I love the epic wedding showdown. More, please!
The Thread by Victoria Hislop
This novel tells the history of Thessaloniki specifically, and Greece generally, through the story of one family. It helped me SO much to piece together all the holidays I’ve seen celebrated and names I’ve heard dropped while living in Athens for a year. Finally everything was put together in a cohesive narrative, and I understand more than ever the pride and pessimism that makes up the stereotypical Greek mindset. A lot has happened in this country in the last century, and I enjoyed reading its history within a novel. Great sneaking education!