Despite taking what feels like years to finish American Gods, I’ve been in a very bookish mood. I blame it on the weather. It’s finally warm enough to start dreaming about days in the yard or on the beach reading a juicy, scandal-filled novel. I will certainly be on the hunt for the next Crazy Rich Asians, but first we’ll start with a sweet and lighthearted book recommendation.
And the first book rec of the year is The First Book of Calamity Leek by Patricia Lichtarowicz! I picked this book up on a whim in one of the sale sections during a trip to Barnes and Noble. I figured it’d be a quick, easy read in between some heavier books I have on my TBR. When I started reading though, I was pulled right into this odd world I couldn’t make sense of, and the book quickly became a favorite.
It’s a New Year! It may be a little late for the celebrations, but maybe a look back to last year we’ll be inspiration for this one. That strategy wont work with everything, but definitely for books. I’m a little amazed that I was able to stick with this PopSugar Reading Challenge for an entire year. My only other successful resolution has been starting a regular practice of yoga (which I’ve been doing now for over 3 years.) So push away the thoughts of abandoned resolutions past for a moment and maybe you’ll at least find a good book rec below.
Three books! What a fail. Though to be fair, We, the Drowned is nearly a whopping 700 pages. I spent all of September working my way through it and I’m just finishing up the last hundred pages now. That’s a super long time to spend on a book, easily the longest of this challenge. But since I have so few books for this quarter here are some mini reviews below.
Though I read about the same number of books as last quarter, I feel like this one has been a bit of a reading slump, or at least not as many books as I wanted to read these past few months. On the bright side, this quarter was filled with books that surprised me, and are sure to be long time favorites. Here they are:
The first book in a series you haven’t read before
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you &
Also known as the series I won’t shut up about, I’ve been reading this series most of the quarter and frantically flipped through my print out of the challenge to make sure each book fit into to some slot. It’s a new all time favorite. Great for anyone interested in different cultures, drama and hunger and envy inducing descriptions of food.
I had been reading this book during my trip to Cancun and had left it there since I returned and figured this was a great excuse to pick it up again. Adams’ joyful Nihilism can make anyone like sci-fi.
I know this matchup is a bit of a stretch because ‘yesterday’ isn’t actually a day of the week, but this book was shoved in my hands before I could think of if it fit anywhere. Thankfully it’s a short and sweet read.
I decided to take on a reading challenge for the first time this year. I chose the POPSUGAR reading challenge because it had really interesting prompts that I think would change up my usual reading habits. I want to try and read more books in a variety of genres (instead of just memoirs and adult lit) and more books written by women.
To combat the freak out over time moving so fast (a quarter of the year has already past!) I figured I’d reflect a bit on what I’ve read so far:
Shocked by Patricia Volk, has been on my reading list for so long that by the time I picked it up I had no idea what it was about. Though, sometimes it’s a more exciting way to approach a book. Thankfully, I’m a sucker for anything about fashion and mothers. The memoir revolves around her mother, Audrey, who wore Shocked perfume, and Elsa Schiaparelli, whose memoirs were Volk’s transformative novel and the perfume’s designer.
I love the comparison of these two women because with the removal of any idea of competition, it highlights how different we can be. Personally, this was a exercise in not fully relating to either Schiaparelli or Audrey, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book. Instead, I thought about the women in my life and how I differ from them, without it diminishing my love for them.
Shocked was a leisurely read, like sitting on at the feet of your mother or grandmother as they give you advice and tell you about their past. With pictures at the end of every chapter, it was like going through an museum exhibit. Volk’s family photos, Schiaparelli’s designs, and the surrealist art that inspired them seem other worldly now.
Sunday kind of love by caidyboo is a very relaxing playlist. It’ll give you a bit of an old-timey feel and is super appropriate for a less than cheesy valentine’s day listen. The strong presence of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and more pair well with the opinionated Audrey and Schiap.
The Book: I was straight-up pumped to start reading Where Am I Now? I started following Mara Wilson on Twitter about a year ago, and was thrilled to hear she was writing a book. As a lover of memoirs (spy Grace in the stack) I’m always up to looking into to people’s live, particularly what they themselves have to say about it. Though, this one caught me off guard the minute I read through the first page.
Sitting on the subway headed back to my dorm, I was torn between shock and falling off of my seat laughing: essentially, completely hooked. She takes a storytelling approach to each chapter, sectioned off by life experiences, not fully contained by chronological order. The way she writes is humorous without losing a sense of connection between her and the reader. As I was reading, I could tell she wasn’t trying very hard to be relatable, and that made it more so. It took me back to a time where I would watch Matilda every time it was on TV, but it also made me think about my convictions and thought process through those years, both bold and naïve.
This is a great book for anyone who thinks they were a weird kid and recognizes that it’s not a point of shame, but a moment of growth. And we are still growing.
While you’re reading you should listen to:
The Playlist: It was difficult finding a playlist to exactly match the book. Every chapter has such different emotions, and though it flows well in word-form, playlists usually stick to a stricter theme. Instead I share with you something that reminds me of my childhood, Throwback Jamz by axelas. It includes the essential Disney mega-hits and bubblegum pop music that was certainly too sexual for my age.
Book:This book was such a surprise. Admittedly, when I picked up Love in a Wych Elm & Other Stories while I was in Dublin I was looking forward to reading Pygmalion more. I was hunting for Pygmalion after learning more about it in the Dublin Writer’s Museumand everything else I picked up was just what caught my eye that moment.
Now, many months after my trip, I’ve picked it up and hitting myself for not reading it sooner. Having never heard of HE Bates, buying the compilation was a bit risky, but I was intrigued by the notion of “a snapshot of England (and to some extent a Europe) that is no more,” mentioned on the back. Fortunately it delivered that and much more.
Love in a Wych Elm is a compilation of Bate’s short stories, but I hesitate to call them that. Technically speaking I suppose they are short stories, but reading them they feel much more like snapshots of moments. Instead of a tale you get moment in a character’s life that’s rather simple. No adventures, prophecies or profound wisdom here. I particularly admires Bates ability to write about these moments of life in a way that wasn’t senselessly happy or cynical. Every story is incredibly relatable particularly emotionally.
Playlist:Where the Pages May Take You by huntuer is one of my favorites for reading or casual studying. It’s a mix of instrumental and modern music and super calming. Similar to how the stories are simple and sometimes seemingly mundane, the playlist is steady and pleasant.