So a thing I have decided to do is to write each month about the books I am reading as well as some thoughts about them, especially since my Goodreads share to facebook feature no longer works.
For September I finished six books.
The book I most recommend: What Comes Next and How to Like It
The Book I least recommend: The Purchase
La Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (Novel, Read on Kindle)
La Lacuna is a brick of a book coming in at about 550 pages. The plot of the book follows the life of Harrison Shepard from boyhood into adulthood as he tries to navigate is his identity as Mexican and American (and several other mutually exclusive binaries) as a gay man in the twentieth century. He works for Diego Rivera, Frida Khalo, and even Leon Trotsky and as one would guess, these associations come back to haunt him. It can be slow and a bit of a slog (I started it in July), but it is a fascinating contemplation of the artist’s life if you can stick with it.
In short: highly literary, thought-provoking, historical fiction, the artist’s life, identity politics.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Novel, Read a paperback version)
My boyfriend, P., said this is one of his more favorite books. So being a good girlfriend I picked up a copy at a used bookstore we visited. Its the story of Hiro, a 35-year-old freelance hacker who with his connections seeks to prevent the destruction of the world through a language virus. I intend to write a much longer post delving into this book as I have a lot of complicated feelings about it. I can say though it is solidly commercial sci-fi, and is definitely a product of its time, meaning that it hasn’t aged too terribly great.
In short: commercial fiction (action packed, escapist), sci-fi, revisionist history, slightly problematic.
What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas (Memoir/Nonfiction, Audiobook, which she reads herself!)
This is a memoir in which the author contemplates both a complicated friendship but also the difficulties of coming to terms with illness, death, and dying. My mentor and professor, J., has been telling me to read some of her stuff for about a year now and I am ashamed to say that I am JUST getting to it. I love her style. She writes in brief little vignettes (or baby chapters as I like to think of them) and each one stands alone by itself but together they build into this powerful book.
In short: memoir (literary nonfiction), emotional, death/dying, relationships, quick read/listen.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (Memoir/Nonfiction, Audiobook, which she reads herself!)
I have a soft spot for this book because I think that the way in which Levy approaches it is kind of genius. This is the story of how the author made a series of choice in her life with the misguided belief that we all have that the rules do not apply to us. But invariably they do and this is her story of the results of her choices. Levy is a writer for the New Yorker and has a beautiful and intriguing way of writing that is highly factual and contemplative. She is honest and while this can make her unlikable it also makes her relatable. Not to mention I admire her sheer audacity, vivacity, and courage in not only the assignments she reflects on in this book but also her willingness to open herself up to write this one.
In short: memoir/nonfiction, relationships, the artist’s life, relationships, good storytelling.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Chadarmon and Shana Knizhnik (Biography/Nonfiction, read on Kindle)
When I interned in DC, I got to go to the Supreme Court and hear two cases. It was surreal if not an inspiring experience. I had been aware of the hype around RBG but now I think I understand it more. She is without a doubt a pioneering figure for women, especially in law and other male-dominated professions. She is clever, and I admire her ability to have had an impressive career, but to also balance that with a personal life as well. I think the book was delightful but could have been stronger in terms of content, organization.
In short: biography/nonfiction, commercial/celebrity biography, history/politics/law, inspiring, quick and easy read.
The Purchase by Linda Spalding
I picked up this one because it had the promise of an interesting story: recently widowed Quaker moves to frontier Virginia in 1700 after being expelled from his community with his children and new young wife. But unfortunately, the execution failed to deliver any kind of unpacking of the highly complicated situation. Instead, the book is propelled on highly dramatic plot points that keep coming faster and faster raising the stakes higher and higher. I understood neither the character, their motivations upon completion. Maybe the other books in the series will unpack it but I highly doubt it. I always don’t go into books with any kind of expectations, but I was painfully disappointed here.