Me, Again: January Books

Hello again, I bet you didn’t think I’d be back so soon. In an effort to be more consistent this year, I’ve decided to write once a month at the end of every month, reviewing all the titles I read that month. By the end of the year, I’m hoping that you’ll have heard from me 12 times in total. Less pressure for me, less long-winded ramblings for you to read. Everyone wins! Woo! Consistency! Books! So please, continue reading to learn about my 2017 so far in books.

Book #1: (!) TEACHING MY MOTHER HOW TO GIVE BIRTH by Warsan Shire

After all the anti-poetry talk in my last post, I kicked 2017 off with a poetry collection by Warsan Shire and fell completely in love. And I promise I’m not just being biased because Beyonce sampled Shire’s words in “Lemonade.” This was a really, really beautiful collection and my only complaint was that I wanted more – it was short. I borrowed it from a friend but plan to purchase it eventually, I can see myself reading and re-reading this one forever.

Book #2: AMSTERDAM by Ian McEwan

This was my second book of the year and my second experience reading McEwan. You may remember my gushing over Atonement when I read that one last year. It’s not that this on was disappointing, it’s just that it was pretty jarringly different from Atonement and I didn’t like it as much. Amsterdam is about two men who both had affairs with a woman who has just died at the beginning of the novel. One works at a newspaper, one is a famous composer. I did like it, but it was an odd story. This is also a terrible synopsis, but I’m having trouble describing the plot. You should read it and let me know what you think (or if you don’t read this one, you absolutely should read Atonement because that book feels like a masterpiece, especially compared to this one.)

Book #3: P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han

This was a YA sequel that I got for free and didn’t love. I didn’t read the first book in the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” series, so that may have had something to do with it, but overall I didn’t find the writing very strong or the main character/narrator too relatable or sympathetic. It’s the story of a girl who spends the majority of the book choosing between her two love interests. Blah.

Book #4: THE ALMOST SISTERS by Joshilyn Jackson

I loved this book. It’s not actually out until July (sorry), but I highly recommend reading it when you’re able. The Almost Sisters is the story of Leia Birch, the middle-aged comic book illustrator who accidentally finds herself pregnant after a one-night-stand with a man dressed up as Batman at a Comics convention. While Leia tries to figure out the best way to tell her Southern, traditional family that she’s going to be the single mother of a biracial baby, she finds out that her stepsister’s marriage is falling apart and her grandmother has been hiding advanced stages of dementia for too long. Several other crazy things happen, and Jackson effectively weaves all of the storylines together to tell a great story about race, privilege, and family.

Book #5: IMAGINE ME GONE by Adam Haslett

THIS BOOK WAS BEAUTIFUL. I feel like I saw it everywhere I looked last year, and now I know that its omnipresence was well-deserved. Imagine Me Gone is the story of one family dealing with the loss of their father/husband after his suicide. Each chapter comes from a different perspective (I love when books do that, I don’t know why it isn’t a cliché yet but I hope it never becomes one) of one of the family members, and you soon realize that Michael, the eldest son, seems to be plagued by the same mental health issues as his father. It is a heartbreaking beginning, middle, and end, and ultimately it’s kind of a hopeless story, but somehow it still feels like a redemption. I also knew what was coming the entire time, but still wasn’t prepared for it when it happened exactly as I expected. I don’t understand how Haslett pulled that off but ah. It was beautiful.

Book #6: WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was the last book I squeezed into January, and it was a great one. I should state (again) that I’m not being biased here just because Beyonce sampled Adichie’s words in her self-titled album – clearly, Beyonce just has great taste. This was a short book based on Adichie’s TED Talk that she gave with the same title. It is about her experiences growing up in Nigeria and considering herself a feminist. It’s refreshing and light and takes a step back to very simple lay out the world as she, as an African feminist, has experienced it. The takeaway is clear and impossible to argue with: we should all be feminists (and everyone should read this book, it’s only 50 pages.)

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