What I Read in January (Non-imagey books)
Ok. So I read an absurd amount in January. Just, too much really. (That’s a lie, and I said it only for effect, of course. How dare I.) But seriously, the number is at 25 at the time of posting, so I could have slowed down a little.
However, almost all of those were comic books. So. Maybe “slow down” wasn’t so much needed as “read some prose, man,” but such are the spoils. Here are my non-comics, non-graphic novel reads from this month. ENJOY.
This is not the edition I read, but I couldn’t resist this cover. This book… this book was extremely depressing. This was one of those books that I feel like I should have already read, and I knew the story of, but I’d never read the actual text. I still haven’t read the actual text, haha, because I listened to the audiobook from Librivox, which took me only a few hours. It was much, much more entertaining than I was expecting. Kafka’s writing is excessively accessible, and his characters are very relatable, very human. But the story itself was so miserable that I was quite happy to finish. From Goodreads:
This was a reread that I go back to every year or so. It’s such a comfort read for me that it’s almost not worth mentioning, except that I am insanely competitive and I have a competition to win, here, so IT COUNTS. I actually listened to the audiobook from Librivox. STILL COUNTS.
I’ve read this before, and this time I listened to the Librivox audiobook after finishing Pride and Prejudice because I was still in the mood for something a little light and fluffy. Although it is silly to the point of being sometimes trying, this is a hilarious play and a very quick read. I recommend it for anyone scared of being bored by the classics– the fight over Earnest is both totally ridiculous and totally entertaining.
This is a book of short stories that came with crazy high recommendations from most of the internet book people I listen to. I’m not usually a short story person, but I decided that 2016 would be my year to change that, so here I am, la ti da. This book was an experience to read. I’m glad I read this early on in 2016, because I really feel like it will affect the way I read and choose books for the rest of this year. These stories were a huge departure from what I normally read, and I realized how much I’m missing in my reading life by not reading more short stories. I loved some of these stories, and I didn’t love others. Some of my favorites: Ponies (oh my god, Ponies. That’s one I really want to print out and send to people.), 26 Monkeys, Fox Magic, and Chenting in the Land of the Dead.
I’m definitely going to be recommending this, but I’ll be very careful who I recommend it to. I think it will appeal to a very particular type of reader– it’s weird, it’s vague, it’s an anxiety-ridden read. It’s strange to review the book as a whole when all of the stories seem to exist on their own, but I really enjoyed it.
Listened to the audiobook, my first Patrick Ness book. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I’ve been burned a few YA audiobooks before, especially when narrators try to sound like a teenager (why you gotta be like that?) But I was really impressed with this book. The premise is pretty simple and, at this point, pretty cliche (as all anti-cliche things quickly become). “What if you’re the guy that’s not the Chosen One?” It’s pretty heavily reliant on the concept and its constantly describing the “chosen ones” as “Indie Kids” was pretty silly, honestly. But the main characters, the “normal kids” this book follows, are exceptionally drawn. I felt so hard for the narrator dealing with his anxiety, trying to be good but still a slave to his emotions at times. He just felt so REAL. He was a dick sometimes because people are dicks sometimes, even if they’re the main character, and even if you feel for them, and I really liked that. I also really appreciated how sex and love were handled in the book. The characters are in high school, and I’m often so uncomfortable with how high school characters put so much emphasis on true love in YA, but the way Ness presents this idea of love not needing to be romantic, or permanent, to be real and powerful is neither condescending nor particularly dramatic and it’s EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN NEEDING from my YA. I wish I had this book in high school, I’m going to push it on my high school cousin and hope she thinks I’m cool. READ IT.
This book. Man oh man. So it only took me 7 days to read (I read multiple books at once, so that doesn’t say much– it’s super short, you could probably get through it in a day if you had the stomach for it.) Despite that… it feels like I’ve been reading this book for years. It was so. hard. to. get. through. The basic premise is Kenji, a young Japanese man, has a job escorting foreigners through the red light district of Japan, to various foreigner-friendly sex shops and strip clubs and stuff. There’s this horrible, gory murder of a schoolgirl around the same time that Kenji gets a new customer, an American named Frank who’s weirder than any character Kenji (or Weatherly) has ever encountered. And the plot goes from there, getting more and more disjointed and surreal with every twist. It is so bonkers. Ryu Murakami’s prose is really lovely to read– he cuts right to the quick of every sentence so that no description is overwrought but you get a keen sense of the atmosphere and exactly what’s happening. It’s really quick reading, too, it took me *maybe* an hour to read the first half. And then 6 days of painfully pushing myself to read the rest of it, and then an actual bribe to finish the last 15 pages. It’s been compared to Silence of the Lambs, and while it was gory, it wasn’t exactly scary. Just… really depressing, and uncomfortable, and brutally honest about human nature, and Japanese and American culture. When I finished, I was so relieved but I’m also in a book slump now, because of how much uncomfortable a reading experience this was.
Click here for my more spoiler-y review of it, I go into detail about a theory I read about this book that made me like it 100 times more.
This was my first Discworld book, and my first Terry Pratchett book, and I must say I had extremely high expectations. And I also must say… it didn’t meet them. Granted, while I was reading it, I enjoyed the experience, I could see, on a surface level, that the jokes were funny and the plot was fairly engaging. But I was never really engrossed by it, and when I put it down, I found it hard to pick it back up again. I’ll be reading another Discworld novel eventually, but I’ll be more careful about which one I pick.
My first nonfiction title of the year, and one I started six months ago. This book made me scared to connect my computer to the internet. So before reading this, I knew about Edward Snowden and the NSA and all of the other stuff this book was about from the news, of course. Or at least… I thought I did. But this book goes into such detail into Snowden, the leaks, the underlying privacy problems in the US and other countries, and all sorts of other terrifying stuff that I really feel like even if you have a decent understanding of the situation, you’ll learn stuff that will keep you awake at night. Truly excellent, really well written. Some parts were a little dragg-y because of the sheer amount of information that had to be conveyed, but I’m glad it wasn’t cut– it’s about the truth, and everything being done to try and hide it. So good.
I can’t talk about this book highly enough, and I also can’t praise it as eloquently as many people, so I’m just going to say this: You need to read this. Yes, you. “But I’m not a feminist!” You say. “But this is a new trendy thing that is the result of millenials!” You say. I don’t care. Read this. Then, if you still disagree, then you can come air your grievances. Not that I will care about them, as people who aren’t feminists are denying my right to be thought of as fully human, but like go for it. It’s less than 50 pages. Seriously, go. I’ll wait.
This was a late-finish, and my last book I finished in January. And let me tell you, it was excellent. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a personal hero of mine for her badassery on the court and her logical, even-keeled view of the law. This is a really interesting skim of her life leading up to becoming a Supreme Court justice, as well as what she’s been up to during her term. I really loved all of the little anecdotes about very RBG things (her collar and fashions, her relationship with her husband Marty, her grammar sticklerosity), because it made this glorious powerhouse of a woman seem that much more interesting. A definite must-read, and totally on-trend with the cooler, more accessible looks at important figures in history (I’m looking at you, Hamilton.)
If I wasn’t sure all of my pregnant and babied friends didn’t already have this on their shelves, I would be sending copies to all of them. LOVE. Absolutely hilarious. I laughed out loud all the way through.
I don’t have much to say about this one. I picked it up after Go the F**k to Sleep because I had the stray notion of getting really knowledgable in children’s fiction this year. But then it was pretty terrible. The illustrations are glorious, truly. Great colors, interesting, lots of textures. But the writing is just… boring. And the story? Well the story is in the title. (Guess what the machine makes? I bet you won’t guess. Nah, you have no idea.) I think I’ll keep browsing for children’s books on Scribd, but I was pretty disappointed by this one.
Those are the non-comicy books I read in January! Stay tuned for my wrap-up of comics and graphic novels (yes, there’s more. Hold onto you hats and butts, it’s a LOT. January was a pretty crazy reading month, mostly because of how little actual work I had (desk-warming for the win!!) so I’ll probably not have a month as productive as this again for a while, but it was a great kickoff to the year!
What did you read in January?