Monday, February 5, 2018

January Update


So far, I feel really great about my #readmyowndamnbooks challenge. My shelf is down eight books, both from reading and from tossing some into a box to take to Half Price Books. If there is anything that this past month has taught me, it's that I have curated a nice little library for myself.

The exception is my classics collection. Reading more nonfiction last month was a breeze, but I only finished one of the classics I started (and I didn't like it). I have plenty more to choose from, so maybe I just picked the wrong ones to start with. Alternatively, the classics are actually terrible and it's just one of those things we're not supposed to say out loud. Who knows?

Challenge Reads:

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty: 
I felt like this book was as much about the postmortem lives of bodies as it was about grieving processes. The grieving is what really stuck out for me (though fans of Mary Roach's Stiff might enjoy the other component more). There are so many cultures that Doughty explores that keep their dead close and have rituals that give some sense of closure. We don't really do that here. It would be interesting to bring funeral rites back from professionals to family (though I see it as unlikely), but I at least like knowing that there are options for when I eventually die. Like having an open air funeral pyre provided I can purchase land in a specific Colorado county before my death (goals) or picking out decomposition spots with my spouse at the Forensic Osteology Research Station in North Carolina to aid people in law enforcement (less goals, but romantic?).

What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Dan Rather:
I loved this collection of essays, though I admit some of them hit the spot more than others (an entire essay on books and libraries). What brought it home for me was the hope and buoyancy I felt after reading it. There have been things going on in America that I am not proud of, but Rather puts them into perspective in a way that makes me feel that we can weather them. Courage.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller:
I finished it! Maybe it's better live?

Lady Killer, Volume 1 by Joelle Jones:
I love this series, so I was happy to pick it up again for comic book club. Josie Schuller is picture perfect as a stereotypical 1950s housewife, but can whip up dinner for her family just as easily as she can murder a man. It's both a classic and modern tale of a woman trying to juggle work and family in order to have it all, especially when it seems that her male colleagues think she's gone soft and prefers her home life. The artwork is crisp and the colors are vivid, which make for a beautifully told story.

The Best of the Rest:

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli:
I hate myself for not reading this sooner. That's what I messaged my friend who had been pushing me to read it for years, but clearly I'm stubborn and sometimes spite myself. Simon is gay. He knows it, but only one other person at his high school knows it. And they only communicate by email under fake names. Except one day, Simon forgets to sign out of his email and another guy reads them, screenshots them, and lords it over Simon for a date with Simon's friend. What I really loved was how sweet the emails between Simon and "Blue" are, but also how realistic this felt.

Brazen by Penelope Bagieu:
I love Bagieu's work, so her name has been on the blog before. She's the author and illustrator of California Dreamin' about Mama Cass, plus so many other great titles. This one might be my favorite though. Told in short comics, Bagieu shares the lives of roughly 30 women and what made or makes them great. Her artwork is beautiful, plus I feel like she did a pretty good job choosing a diverse group of women to highlight. Mostly nonfiction, but not 100% certain. This comes out next month, so get your pre-order in today!

Send me your best classic recommendations! How are your book challenges going? Do you hate classics? I probably hate classics!

Until next month!