Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What I Read in January

I have been a reading machine so far in 2018. While many who know me might claim I'm always a reading machine...
Exhibit A
In point of fact, I am an inveterate re-reader and much of my reading machinery is taken up with revisiting old friends who must get tired of me reading them.

2018, on the other hand, has been 4 1/2 weeks of reading new works non-stop. I have read, thus far in 2018, 13 books total. 

I can't tell if I've reached a new era of reading voracity, or if I'm just trying to escape the real world as often as I possibly can.

In either case, this does mean I'm very likely to actually meet my annual reading goal of 52 new books for the year. (I clocked in at 45 books in 2017, which was far closer to my goal than I thought I'd get.) So I figured I might as well do a monthly recap of my reading. I am pleased to say that all 13 of the books I've read so far have all been written by women authors. I am trying to increase my reading of both women writers and writers of color, and 8 of my January reads were by non-white authors (although 7 of the 8 were in the same series, so I'm not sure how much it counted).

On January 1st, I borrowed this book from Audible's Romance library. The first three minutes had me laughing so hard the kids told me to go in another room. Kyra Davis, like her character Sophie Katz, is both Jewish and African American, and she is quite funny in skewering some of the expectations our society has of her.

Also, this book made me feel a little old because it came out in 2005, but felt kind of dated. It took me a while to realize that a book written in 1985 would have felt dated by 1998, too, but I still felt sad to realize just how long ago 2005 was.

Started: January 1, 2018
Finished: January 3, 2018

While Sophie's mother is on the radio trying to tell the news anchor that her other daughter, Leah, is innocent of her husband's murder, she starts telling the greater San Francisco area what a looker her Leah is and how she just needs to meet a nice Jewish guy once the whole murder investigation thing dies down. I was howling with laughter.

Started: January 3, 2018
Finished: January 5, 2018

Started: January 5, 2018
Finished: January 7, 2018

This was my least favorite in the series, and part of it had to do with the treatment of a character who is revealed to be transgender. This book was published in 2009, and it's really clear that a lot has changed in 9 years. Sophie, the main character, refers to the transgendered character as a tranny, which in itself could be just a sign of the times. In fact, I believe the word transsexual is what's used, rather than transgender, because even our vocabulary has changed a great deal in less than a decade. But the fact of the character's gender identity is a little bit of a punch line (like when Ross mocked Chandler for kissing a guy in Friends in the 90s), even though one of my favorite characters of the series makes the point of saying that transgendered individuals are no different than anyone else.

Started: January 7, 2018
Finished: January 8, 2018

Started: January 8, 2018
Finished: January 9, 2018

I can't quite explain why, but I think this one was my favorite. Going to Vegas for a sex toy convention is always the best way to get over a breakup, don't you find?

Started: January 9, 2018
Finished: January 10, 2018

All I can say about this one is that the magical cupcake recipe--which seems to be able to calm anyone down--should have been included with this book.

Started: January 10, 2018
Finished: January 11, 2018

8. A Bachelor Establishment by Jodi Taylor, writing as Isabella Barclay

Apparently, Jodi Taylor is the author of a series of time travel novels, and Isabella Barclay is one of her characters within those novels. I went looking for a light palate cleanser after gorging myself on the Sophie Katz series, and came up with this. I love historical romances set in Victorian England, so this seemed like a perfect fit. It was just meh, however.

But--it did get me intrigued about Jodi Taylor's time travel books--enough that I requested and borrowed the first book, One Damned Thing After Another, from the library. Alas, I didn't finish it (or even start it, if I'm being honest) before the library fine enforcement squad sent a couple of goons to my email inbox. I'll get back to it eventually.

Started: January 11, 2018
Finished: January 13, 2018

9. Charming the Shrew by Laurin Wittig

(I'm a little embarrassed by this cover, but dammit, I'm going to do this right.) 
So this is the February selection for my Feminist Readers of Romance Fiction book club, and we all decided it was exactly the ridiculous story of Highland Scottish romance we needed. We giggled when we chose the book, and I have no doubt we'll giggle all through our meeting (at which I plan to serve shortbread, but not haggis, because there are limits).

I actually was a little annoyed by the fact that Catriona was constantly referred to as a shrew when she seemed perfectly gentle and ordinary to me. I'm guessing that this is proof that I'd be hanged as a witch in 15th century Scotland because nothing she did seem particularly shrewish, and I'm channeling my inner rage bitch 24/7 these days. See--even when I escape from 2018, I don't really escape.

Started: January 14, 2018
Finished: January 15, 2018

10. A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

I have been eagerly waiting for this book since May of last year, when I first discovered the Veronica Speedwell series, and swallowed the first two books whole. I have re-read and re-listened to the first two books multiple times, because it is just that delightful, and A Treacherous Curse did not disappoint. Veronica Speedwell is who I want to be when I grow up, and yes, I know she's (as of the time of her stories) younger than me and fictional and all of that. She gives absolutely zero fucks what anyone thinks of her, and she does it with style, humor, and butterflies.

I LOVE these books.

Why, yes, I did read it all on the day it came out, and yes, I did get a hardcover copy, a Kindle copy, *and* an Audible version. It's that good.

Started: January 16, 2018
Finished: January 16, 2018 (and now I have an interminable wait for book #4 to come out)

11. The Watchmaker's Daughter by C.J. Archer

This was recommended to me by Audible, which proves that I'm having some sort of emotional affair with an audiobook provider. An historical romance set in Victorian London with some steampunky magic type weirdness thrown in?  

Why you so good to me, Audible?

Started: January 17, 2018
Finished: January 20, 2018

12. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

I've never read A Handmaid's Tale, because I am pretty sure I can't handle it. Future Home is a similar dystopian future, wherein women's bodies become tools of the theocracy. Evolution has started reversing, and there's no sense of what kind of world is in store for the not-totally-human babies that women are birthing. Cedar, the main character, is already pregnant with a wanted and beloved child at the beginning of this novel, but those in power want to imprison her and take her baby, for the "good of humankind."

My friend Natalie asked me to read this book, and after I finished it, she described the feeling of reading it as being "hollowed out." She was right. I had such a book hangover, and I was left with these heartbreaking images from throughout the novel. It touched on my feeling lately that there really is no such thing as justice. The quote "the arc of the universe is long, and it bends toward justice" is just that--a quote. Something someone said once. We are swimming in chaos, and all we can do is be kind to one another and make the meaning we can.

This was not exactly an escape from 2018, considering how many of the concerns in Cedar's dystopia ring true in our world, but it was good to spend time here. It reminded me of the badassity of motherhood, the importance of kindness, and the randomness of it all, which is both blessing and curse. I'm sure I'll look back on this as one of the best books I read this year.

(Also: Louise Erdrich is Ojibwe, and reading this book helped me realize how little Native American literature I have read. I want to remedy that).

Started: January 21, 2018
Finished: January 25, 2018

13. The Mapmaker's Apprentice by C.J. Archer

This was the perfect end to the month. The second book in the series that begins with The Watchmaker's Daughter, this was another light and fun read that had me dreaming of gaslights and old-fashioned timepieces.

Started: January 26, 2018
Finished: January 28, 2018

No comments:

Post a Comment