Updates, updates: All my stuff was packed and shipped, and I moved back to Muscat about a week ago. My last few weeks in Chicago were spent catching up with as many friends as I could, and generally taking in as much Chicago as I could before I left. Yes, this did include visiting all my favorite bookstores one last time. It was an emotional rollercoaster of a month and now I’m catching up on sleep, enjoying my mom’s cooking, and just chilling. My body is appreciating this kindness.
As most of you know, I participated in the Epic Reads’ Reading Decathlon Challenge. They had three different levels of challenges- gold, silver, and bronze- and you could choose to attempt whichever you wanted.
I chose to go for the gold- mostly because I had a 15 hour flight from Chicago to Muscat and I needed some motivation to kill my time up there reading. Plus, what better way to make a dent in that TBR? I managed to finish 10 books in 9 days, and it was so much fun having all this time to read!
Here’s a rundown of all the books I read:
Sweetbitter is a coming-of-age novel about a young woman who moves to New York City for a fresh start and ends up working at fancy restaurant. The novel explores her relationships with her co-workers both inside and outside of work, the inner workings of the restaurant with its own rhythm and beat, and her relationship with the city itself. The plot is predictable but the writing is wonderful, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for her future books.
The Story of My Teeth is the weird tale of Gustavo Sanchez Sanchez, who bumbles through life with an ordinary job, a wife, and a son. His true calling, which he accidentally stumbles upon, turns out to be auctioneering, where he uses his eclectic storytelling skills and ability to drop “infamous” names to sell his items. He is also a collector; his most prized possessions are teeth of famous people. This is a witty and riveting book set in the backdrop of the industrial parts of Mexico City. Enjoyed this thoroughly.
Problems is a dark, twisted book about a young woman whose cynicism spoke to my soul. She’s a heroin addict in a dead-end job and self-sabotaging relationships with men. Her dry wit and observations had me hooked. Addiction, unlikeable characters, recovery, and redemption tropes are smashed by this narrative. A highly compelling book.
Tenth of December was my first time reading George Saunders, and I can totally see the appeal. Remarkable literary prowess. An excellent collection of stories with fantastic character perspectives. My favorite stories were “Escape From Spiderland” and “The Semplica Girl Diaries.
Enchanted Islands is a doozy of a historical fiction. Set in World War II and inspired by the memoirs of Francis Conway, the story begins in her childhood in rural Minnesota and her relationship with her childhood bestie, their estrangement and subsequent reconciliation later, and her marriage to a spy and their life in the Galápagos during the war. A fascinating story that was hard to put down.
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry has one of my favorite character types- the cranky old person that’s a giant softie on the inside. I love me a badass grandma and the story was interesting, but not as compelling for me as A Man Called Ove.
Another Brooklyn read like poetry. At its heart it’s a woman’s examination of her memories of various significant moments of her life, all of which have played a role in shaping the kind of person she is. It’s also the story of four young girls growing up in 1970s Brooklyn trying to navigate the world, and how their friendship fuels them. It is also a story of a child waiting for her mother to come home. Poignant and beautiful.
More Happy Than Not is a book I thought I had figured out about halfway in and I totally didn’t. A teenager is trying to keep it together after his dad commits suicide, with the help of his girlfriend and his mom. He befriends another kid when his girlfriend is away for a few weeks, they grow really close, and that’s when everything starts to unravel. Teenager can’t take it anymore and opts to get a memory-altering procedure at the Leteo Institute so that he can feel normal again. What happens next? Read and find out. Sidenote: Adam Silvera needs to keep writing books. Also whoever says YA is dumbing things down for kids obviously doesn’t know a damn thing about YA.
Negroland: A Memoir tells the story of what it is to grow up in the elite Black community of America and the constant evaluation that comes with being a Black woman. Margo Jefferson has no qualms posing very difficult questions about privilege, and wields her talented prose to take the reader into a raw and thought-provoking space. Powerful stuff.
The Walls Of Delhi is a collection of three novellas: A street sweeper stumbles on some black money and whisks away his underage mistress to see the Taj Mahal only for shit to hit the fan; a young man works towards education in an attempt to discard his low-caste fate only to have his identity stolen and his rightful jon snatched away; a baby is born with a rare disease as his desperate parents struggle in search of a cure. Here is an account of India that is real without the tropes, a examination of the perils of poverty and class. This is an author who writes fearless of the criticism of the establishment. An engrossing read.
Have you guys read any of these books? What were your thoughts?