I know, I know, I’m a whole day late, but I was too tired to type out what I knew was going to be a long blog post, and I ended up meeting with two different people yesterday that I hadn’t seen in a while, so yeah, life got in the way.
I managed to get a few hours of sleep after Readathon officially ended (I literally hit “publish” on my wrap post and knocked out, couldn’t even tweet/snapchat about it). Then I realized thanks to the readathon, I’d read wayyyy more books in the past week than usual. So get yourself some popcorn or a beer, and settle in.
Here’s a book that examines how women/girls across the board are exposed to both sexualised and sexist bullshit ever since they are little kids. It focuses especially on how the commercialization of gendered products has shaped how society views women, makes assumptions about them, or judges them for being non-conforming to their self-made gender “rules”. Yes, there did exist a time that tangible items, toys, and even people, were not as gendered as they are today. This is a good book to read, especially as people are “discovering” that: 1) gender and sexuality are two different things, 2) gender and sexuality are independently spectrums, not binaries, and 3) people can choose to identify with whatever gender or or sexual orientation they identify with, and yes, it can change over time. Sometimes it feels like the author gets a little preachy, but otherwise, this is a good book. She’s done her homework in terms of the research she is focusing on and the topics she chooses to present to her audience. Doesn’t fall into the “OMG YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK” category for me, personally.
Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy Carter
I’m going to spare you all my gushing about Hamilton the musical and LMM and all of the things, and just tell you that it is gorgeous, there’s a wealth of information on the creative process behind the play, the annotations for the lyrics are funny and heartbreaking depending on whatever Lin was going for, the history of the project is fascinating, and I love how every person/artist involved in this production has taken the play and the story to heart and infused their interpretation of it into whatever part of the production they were involved in. For example, in the chapter on the choreography, Andy Blankenbuehler talks about how the moves for Burr and Hamilton are in sync with their character representations; Burr moves in straight lines, Hamilton in arcs. Stuff like that. Many tears were shed during the reading this tome.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Katie (of Words for Worms) had blogged about having listened to this book, which is narrated by Emma Thompson, so naturally, I had to get it on Audible. Here’s a classic ghost story for you, and Emma Thompson did a stellar job with the narration (shocker). She managed to make the story more creepy than it would have been if I had just read it. It isn’t the scariest thing I’ve read, but I would recommend the audiobook just because Emma Thompson. It isn’t long, it isn’t gory, so if you’re not a fan of horror/ghost stories but need to read one say, for the Read Harder challenge, this is a good pick.
Margaret The First by Danielle Dutton
This was my first readathon pick, only because I wanted to start off with a short book to contact “book completion’ success early on in the day. This is a historical fiction about Margaret Cavendish, that badass unconventional 17th century author that was taking prim and proper Europe by storm- not having the babies (not for lack of trying, apparently), publishing volumes of plays, poetry, philosophy, and (gasp) even science fiction. Dubbed “Mad Madge” by the paparazzi of the 1600s, and the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London, this is a dazzling imaginative book of what her life may have been like. Now I need to go read The Blazing World.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Ooh, this book. This book. I wish I had read this for weirdathon last month. Oh well. The story follows Yeong-hye, who is an ordinary woman with an ordinary husband living an ordinary life. Until the dreams begin. Really, gruesome, terrifying dreams. So terrifying, that she decides to give up meat and go vegetarian. You’re thinking, yeah, whatever, lots of people are vegetarian, NBD. Her family doesn’t think so. They, go, bonkers. It gets really ugly for the first third of the book. Her husband thinks she’s crazy, decides to involve his in-laws in this mess because he knows they share his POV, and things escalate really quickly. Then the POV switches to her brother-in-law, and things take a pretty weird but fascinating turn. The last part of the book is from her sister’s point of view, and examines our protagonist’s journey towards a more “plant”-like existence. This book has got to be the most bizarre thing I have read this year. This books is a dark and surreal experience. I highly recommend you give this ago.
The Sorrow Proper by Lindsey Drager
This was my favorite book from my completed readathon picks. It is a slim novel, so I read it in one sitting. This isn’t one of those books that everyone is buzzing about. I was in St. Louis about three weeks ago, and at a bookstore there, casually asked the guy that was working his shift what interesting books he’d read recently. This turned into an hour-long tour of the bookstore, where he kept gushing about the ones he’d read and I kept adding them to my basket. A fellow book-evangelist, how could I resist? Three interconnected plotlines: A group of librarians who are despairing over the upcoming closure of their library and discussing the ramifications of the end of the print era and the dawn of the digital drive; the parents of a young girl that died right in an accident right in front of that library; and displaced stories of a photographer and his lover, a deaf mathematician, each mourning their partner’s death. This book is an examination of the theory of Many Worlds. I think what most surprised me was that I enjoyed the book so much because it was so well-written. The writing style adopted by the author is typically butchered by writers who are trying too hard to sound “intellectual”, but with this book, it works. Bring on all of the thematic juxtapositions. It is a tiny, literary, beauty. Fantastic debut. I thoroughly loved it.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
After having lukewarm feelings about Boy, Snow, Bird last week, I was a little hesitant to open this book up. Especially because of all the hype surrounding it, I was having conflicting feelings of being excited for it and my feelings about BSB. I think Oyeyemi has found her niche. This is an excellent collection of short stories, with cohesive interconnections. I finished this one in one sitting and it absolutely knocked me over. The stories are connected by keys, and each key unlocks an aspect of each character. What is a key? Oyeyemi shows you all the ways a key can be used. I didn’t think a key could be that abstract a concept until I read this book. Each story is thought-provoking, so of course you can’t put it down because you need to keep going to find out what happens. Stunningly imaginative. Go and read the book.
Study Hall Of Justice (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1) by Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen (illustrations)
This was the only comic I read during readathon, mostly because all my unread comic issues are digital and my eyes were hurting too much. I didn’t know what to expect when I’d picked this up, other than that some of the Hey Panels folks had been saying good things about it. Middle-grader Diana, Clark, and Bruce? YES. All meeting for the first time and forming their own detective club at their new school to investigate the school? Even more yes. This was quite the fun story, I loved how their inherent personas are intertwined with typical middle-grader traits. Even superheros need to navigate middle-school BS, so I’m sure there’s kids all over that could relate.
Other than these, I also read Ramona The Pest by Beverly Cleary (Ramona Quimby will forever be awesome), and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (on audio). Revisiting childhood favorites is a great way to get through readathon, especially when it is 2 a.m. and you’re willing yourself to stay awake. I enjoyed both, although the mispronunciations in The Jungle Book audio were cringe-worthy. Seriously, powers that be, please be diligent about hiring people to narrate books who can actually pronounce the words in that specific language. I’m positive there’s no dearth of Indian narrators who can put on a snooty British accent and also say bandar log correctly (Take a page out of Daniel José Older’s book and go listen to Shadowshaper, so that you know what I’m talking about). For real.
Oh wow, that was long. Thank you for making it to the end. Do you guys have any thoughts on any of these books?