Tuesday, December 11, 2018

October/November! And the final #readmyowndamnbooks update.

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 The Final #readmyowndamnbooks Update

I divided my TBR pile into two last month, putting books I bought before this year on a separate shelf to remind me that they've been waiting for me to read them for months or, in some very sad cases, years. When I look at them, it makes sense that I've put them off. Rebecca Traister's All the Single Ladies reminds me that I thought we'd have the first female president right now, as does Hillary's What Happened. I have books that daunt me with their page length (two more in the Outlander series plus Anna Karenina), alongside classics I don't honestly think I care about reading (Dracula, The War of the Worlds, The Red Badge of Courage). Then there's The Wrath and the Dawn, which is only there because I've read two other Arabian Nights-inspired titles this year.

But mostly, I see how far I've come. My book hoarding was an accidental byproduct of depression and the hope that I'd eventually get out of it and read many of those books. And now I'm down from over 100 books to about ten, plus a handful that I purchased this year. It's become manageable again, much like my life. I am very unlikely to clear off this stack by New Years' Day, but that's also okay. #readmyowndamnbooks served its purpose.



And with that, onto what is probably my last post of this year:

Nonfiction

1. Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman

This was everything I expected and then some. I came for the sled dogs (which are all over her Twitter feed!), the cold (Texas summers last until October), and the idea of escape (I have always wanted to run away and start over to varying degrees). What I didn't expect (and probably should have) was the amount of sexual harassment and assault that Braverman experienced throughout the memoir. From her host father during student exchange to her boyfriend, it's a reminder that even when braving the elements, women have more to fear than most men do. It also reminds us that being brave can reap incredible rewards.

2. Dead Feminists by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Feminists and letterpress fans will both enjoy this title, which expands and highlights their Dead Feminists collection of broadsides. Their beautiful, limited run prints sell out quickly, but this book binds them together with more information on each woman, plus a look at their design process for each broadside. I loved the details for all of them, but honestly it is just so pretty to look at that I ended up buying some of the reproduction postcards and framing them.

Classics

1. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

I have loved this story since the first time I saw the Branagh/Thompson film, likely sometime in high school. Beatrice has all the wonderful snark of Katherine from Taming of the Shrew, but none of the awful break-her-spirit nonsense. The Hero/Claudio storyline does leave something to be desired, though it does end happily. It would be great if men could just believe women, wouldn't it???

2. A Room With a View by E. M. Forster

A Room With a View (the Helena Bonham Carter version, obviously) was another of my teenage favorites. Lucy and George finally kissing in the middle of a field in Italy? Perfetto. The film is a surprisingly close adaptation,  I was remembering nearly scene for scene as I read. From that fateful room switching to terrible Cecil, it's a fairly easy, enjoyable read, despite all the trouble societal rules cause. Ignore the postscript because it's sad and garbage. #notmyroomwithaview

Best of the Rest

1. A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

I am not a woman who cares about the rich and famous, let alone the rich and famous of yesteryear, yet here I am telling you about this incredible story of Alva Vanderbilt. Without her family's pre-Civil War money or a mother (and with a very sick father), she schemes along with her best friend Consuelo Yznaga to marry into the Vanderbilt family. She gets everything she ever wanted, including money for her sisters, but it isn't what she expected. Never fully accepted into the family, she is braver and more determined than any of them to make a name for herself alongside them. Alva's perseverance is amazing, especially when the perfect image she's built starts to crumble.

2. The Girl With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Ellie's grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, had always called perfect days "red balloon days," which is why, during a class trip, she reached out and grabbed a red balloon that transports her back to 1988. Germany is still divided, but people are getting over the wall with these magical balloons that make them invisible so they can safely fly across it. When Ellie pops up, the entire group of runners and balloonmakers is confused and concerned. She shouldn't be there, but that doesn't mean there's an easy way to send her back. I really loved this book, especially since it is set in a time period that doesn't get very much attention. Plus magic! And romance!

3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Sometimes I think that the phrase "this sucks" is the only way to summarize something, yet it's also wholly inadequate. Roy, a large black man, is accused by an old, fragile white woman of sexual assault. He is sent to jail in his hometown in the middle of Louisiana, far from his life with his wife Celestial in Atlanta. He is sentenced to 12 years, despite not committing the crime. While he's in jail, Celestial finds it harder and harder to live this version of her life. Her father's friend still works to free Roy, she still adds money to his commissary account, but she also can't be married to a man who will be away longer than they have been together. Told through letters and multiple points of view, this was such a thought-provoking read.

I hope that everyone has found something to read through these posts. The format will probably change next year without my #readmyowndamnbooks goals, but to what I am not sure. Hopefully you'll come back to find out!


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