Wednesday, May 2, 2018

April, or how did I not manage to bust my #readmyowndamnbooks plans???


Truly, honestly, did not expect to have fewer books on my TBR shelves than I started the month with. I know myself too well to anticipate that I won't spend my birthday month spoiling myself. Plus, birthday presents (thanks for ignoring my request for no books or yarn, family!).

But it's okay because I am officially down a whopping five books for the month and 30 for the year. I'm sure there's some calculations for how fast I need to read to keep up and actually clear off the shelves, which actually sounds like a fun challenge now that I think about it. Math is fun!

Oh well.

I did end up doing both the 24-hour Readathon AND the Austin Independent Bookstore Crawl, though! I probably read....10 hours? My eyes started crossing around midnight and I thought my fingers weren't attached, so I went to bed. And I only visited three of the stores, but I have no regrets there. Quality>quantity.

I visited:

1. Monkey Wrench Books, where I had to take a picture with something that resonated with (anxious) me:

2. Book-Woman, where I was to take a photo with a children's book (SHEEEEEEP):

3. Half Price Books, where I had to find Audrey II:

And of course, I supported the local economy:

This is also why I only went to three stores (and why I should be supervised). 

I ended the day very, very, very tired with Pillow Thoughts and Butters:

It's not obvious yet, but I really leaned into the fact that April was National Poetry Month. I bought poetry collections, read some poetry collections that I had, and picked up a novel-in-verse from the library. I still don't think that all poetry is good poetry, but I definitely enjoyed more of it than I didn't. So I will start there.

The Good Stuff:


1. Not So Deep As A Well by Dorothy Parker:
Dorothy Parker is known for her witticisms, and her best poems are the one where this is allowed to shine. Not all of these were gems, but some like "News Item", "Song of One of the Girls", "Observation", and "Sanctuary" made me laugh. There's also a good mini-collection of poems full of snark on other authors.

2. DROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker:
Parker is the partner of amanda lovelace, a poet who I love, so I was excited to pick up this collection partially inspired by lovelace. The first part is heartbreak, the second part is rebuilding and a love letter to lovelace. It's all beautiful, and I recommend reading the works of both poets,


1. I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O'Farrell:
This was a surprising read. While at first I was skeptical of how anyone could nearly die that many times, it was quickly apparent that not all brushes with death were quite as close. O'Farrell titles her stories by what organ nearly killed her along with a year it happened, jumping forward and backward to tell her story. This style made me think of my own brushes with death. While still not as numerous, it was a good reminder that life still needs to be lived and to trust your gut.

2. Meaty by Samantha Irby: 
This memoir takes place before Irby's other work, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (also good, go read it), but it was just as good to read it after. In some ways, funnier, because she spends so much time talking about something that ultimately happens and she writes about in her second memoir. This felt a bit, dare I say it, meatier than her other memoir, if only because it includes taking care of her ailing mother as a young child and teen, then losing both parents before she was 18. It's an important part of her story, but it's not her entire story. Irby will still make you laugh, even when the subject is gross or sad. 


1. The Awakening by Kate Chopin:
I really love when classics come with an introduction that tells you the ending (sarcasm). I know that I am far beyond spoilers for this by now, but who thought this was a good idea? I enjoyed it, despite that. I somehow picked this novel up at the exact right time in my life. Edna Pontellier and I both started the novel at 28, with her birthday celebration towards the end of the novel and mine only days away once I finished it. Despite the current era, it was easy to understand Edna's feelings of being trapped and bored by her life. There are still many unwritten rules for how women should behave, from the day they are born to the day they die. Much like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, she wanted more than her family and society could allow. When she had a chance to go a little wild, she took it. 

Another month without rereads. I've got no time to go backwards. 

The Best of the Rest:

1. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson:
First off- THIS IS A STANDALONE TEEN NOVEL!!!! How novel is that in this current era of everything-is-a-trilogy-or-more? But it is also excellent. In this world where fairies are real, they can't cook or write or paint or anything that might be considered a Craft, so they are totally impressed with the humans who provide those services for them. Isobel is an incredibly talented painter, so all the best fairies visit her for their portraits. Eventually this leads the autumn prince, ruler of one of the realms (all seasonal), to her doorstep. She paints him, but includes something impossible- human emotions on his face. It spooks them both and sets off a series of events that could change the entire fairy realm. 

2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein:
Finally had to read this one for book club and now I know why I was avoiding it- FEELINGS. At first, this novel made no sense. A spy, has been captured by the Nazis in France. They are having her give all the information that she can, though she is adding in stories about her friend Maddie and how she ended up captured. Time seems to be running out for her, with threats that she is going to be sent off to a special camp for scientific experiments. Then it switches to Maddie's perspective, filling in pieces of the story as she is hunkered down outside of the city, trying desperately to find and save her friend. This is one that you will instantly want to reread, trying to make sense of everything. 

3. Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough:
This novel-in-verse tells the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian painter known for biblical female stories, but also for her sexual assault at the hands of her tutor and the trial she endured to clear her name. I really loved how McCullough told Artemisia's story, with the inclusion of Susanna and Judith from the Bible as guides. We see that through painting them, Artemisia captured what it is to be a woman, especially one usually shown through the lens of a man. I've known of Artemisia since I was a teen, so I am glad that she is getting more attention, especially told so beautifully.

And so now, I leave you with a photo of my shelves. 
At least all my books fit at the moment! 


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