This past week has been a whirlwind, with very little reading time until the weekend. I did manage to knock a few books out of the way, but we both know my TBR is the gift that keeps on giving. Here’s an overview of the week:
This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett:
This is a collection of essays/memoir by Ann Patchett, with stories from her childhood all the way to the present day, and covering a variety of topics. If had never read any of Ann Patchett’s books before, and was pleasantly surprised by the literary tone of the book. It isn’t just a memoir by a writer, it is a beautifully written piece of literature. Even though I hadn’t read any of her other works before, I never felt lost when she referenced any of them or told stories about them. My favorite essay was ‘The Right To Read’, in which she talks about the time people protested her book “Truth And Beauty” as a required reading for the freshmen at Clemson University, and includes the convocation address she gave there. Here’s my favorite passage from that address:
“Unlike your first twelve years in school, your education is no longer compulsory. What that means is that you are choosing to be here. No one, not even your parents, can make you go to college. Your education is an enormous privilege that sets you apart from most of the people of the world, including most of the people in your own country. Just over twenty-five percent of Americans your age will receive a college education. One in four. I want to emphasis this: higher education is a privilege and a choice. It is perhaps the first real choice of your adult lives.”
A book that brought me joy listening to it, I hope it does that for you.
13 Ways Of Looking At A Fat Girl by Mona Awad:
I picked this up thinking that it would be a collection of essays by/about different women, but I was wrong. I also picked it up because I thought it was meant to be humorous. Boy, was I wrong. It would be wrong to call it a funny book. Witty? Sure. The story revolves around Lizzie and her friend Mel, and through a series of interconnected stories, explores the raw struggles of their friendship, Lizzie’s body-image issues, her subsequent weight loss, the challenges associated with being fat and then being skinny, all the while looking for that validation from loved ones. I think I started and finished the book with a love/hate relationship with Lizzie and Mel. What this book does do is reveal the ridiculousness that is our body-obsessed culture. This will punch you in the gut if you’ve ever been there. I’ve been there. I’m still there.
Black Panther #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze:
Okay guys, Wednesday was a long-ass workday that started before 7 a.m., which is before the comic bookstore opens every Wednesday, and ended nearly 12 hours later. I have never been so grateful for digital comics and Comixology until that day. I had been waiting for this series to drop for a while, and only because it was by Coates (Side note: If you have not yet read Between The World And Me, drop everything now and go read it. I mean, literally, drop your device NOW and go pick up the book. Even better, listen to Coates narrate it, because then you can blame your tears on the onions you’re chopping and not him. Just, trust me on this one.)
Anyway, I was in the middle of my workday when I realized that I wouldn’t make it to the store before they were sold out, and nearly cried. I didn’t waste any more time getting a digital copy (and have reserved a physical copy now that they’ve gone into their second print), and HOLY COW Coates is not here to play, my friend. He has not wasted time or words. The art, of course, is spectacular. If you haven’t already, pick it up n0w. Disclaimer: This was my first Black Panther comic ever and I had no trouble following the story. I’m also sure Panels will feature a piece or two in the near future, so there’s always that.
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud:
Angry female protagonist? GIVE IT TO ME. Nora Eldridge wanted to be an artist, but now she’s an elementary school teacher that is “the woman upstairs”- quiet, reliable, and doesn’t get in anyone’s way. Until Reza Shahid walks into her classroom one day, and her life changes. She falls in love with the Shahid family, and is desperate to keep them close. The books starts out brilliantly, with an angry rant that would make most people wary of her: “Really I’m angry because I’ve tried so hard to get out of the hall of mirrors, this sham and pretend of the world, or of my world, on the East Coast of the United States of America in the ﬁrst decade of the twenty-ﬁrst century. And behind every mirror is another fucking mirror, and down every corridor is another corridor, and the Fun House isn’t fun anymore and it isn’t even funny, but there doesn’t seem to be a door marked EXIT.”
She then goes on to describe the circumstances under which she first meets Reza, and for the next part of the book describes getting acquainted with and becoming attached to each of the Shahids. The next part of the book slows down for a bit, but the ending brings back that strong, kick-ass, gloriously angry Nora. There are some points of the book where it feels like something is lacking in terms of plot (I am unable to pinpoint exactly what that is), but all in all, I would still recommend this book.
Yoga update (since some people did ask): I didn’t end up going to a class because I had to run other errands on Saturday and didn’t feel like leaving the house on Sunday, but I did about 45 minutes of yoga on both days. My sciatica was on fire on Saturday, so I did a bunch of stretches prescribed by my chiropractor along with suryanamaskarams (Sun salutations). On Sunday I did a bunch of flow asanas. My sciatica still hurts, but it has definitely opened up a bit, so it’s the good kind of pain. I will be relying on a foam roller for the better part of the next few days.
Upcoming literary things:
The Chicago Reader’s Book Swap is happening on Wednesday, April 15th, out in Ravenswood. I’m attending a conference all day, and will be driving out to this shindig right after. The difficult task is putting together books I’m willing to trade, which I’m going to do at the last possible minute because it is too damn hard.
I’m also really excited for Dewey’s readathon, and I’m looking forward to curating a reading stack for that soon. If you haven’t signed up for it yet, make it so.
That’s all I’ve got, folks. What have you guys been reading? If you read any of the books mentioned in this post, what did you think?
Until next time,