Monday, December 31, 2018

A Month In The Life: December 2018

And just like that, 2019 starts tomorrow! It's been a full year, both in life and books, and as always I'm so grateful that you've followed along with me. Starting a book blog and getting immersed in this part of the internet is up there with my better decisions, and I'm looking forward to continuing to connect with the wonderful people who make being a book nerd online so fun in the coming year!

In Books...

  • Messy: This is the sequel to a book I read last year, Spoiled, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. While we return to the Hollywood world of the first book, the focus shifts from Molly to her sister, wannabe actress Brooke, and best friend, aspiring writer Max. When Brooke hires Max to ghostwrite a dishy blog to give her career some buzz, the longtime high-school enemies gain a new understanding of each other...and then a boy gets in the middle. It's got the same breezy, fun, light tone as the first book, without the weird tonal issues. Not a lot to it, but an enjoyable easy read.
  • Once Upon A River: On a dark winter solstice night, a strange man and a little girl who seems to be dead burst into the door of a riverfront tavern renowned for its storytellers. When the little girl turns out to be alive, she's claimed by three families who each have a reason to believe she could be their own disappeared loved one. The girl herself never says a word, while each of the three try to figure out if she belongs to them...and if she does, how to keep her, while other local figures dig into the mystery of her arrival. Deeply focused on the art of storytelling, this wonderful book draws together pastiches of familiar tales, tells love stories, references folklore, and knows exactly when and how to get the reader emotionally invested in its fantastic characters. I loved it. 
  • Interpreter of Maladies: I've had this Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories on my shelf for ages, but it was chosen for my book club so I finally got around to reading it! While I absolutely loved Jhumpa Lahiri's novel The Namesake, this book suffered from the usual ailment of short stories- it was very uneven. Focused on stories about Indians, usually immigrants or going through some other state of transition, the opening and closing bits are gems but there were some that seemed well-written but ultimately pointless. 
  • The Goldfinch: Donna Tartt's The Secret History has been a favorite of mine ever since I read it in high school. This, her most recent work, got a ton of critical praise and a Pulitzer to boot! While I did really like this sprawling epic about a boy who steals a painting from a museum after a bombing that kills his mother and the way his life is forever effected by that day, I didn't love it. I thought it was a trifle long and sometimes overindulgent, though Tartt's prose kept me hooked.
  • The Prince of Tides: I was excited to get back to Pat Conroy after how much I loved The Lords of Discipline when I read it a few years ago. But this one, although it had its merits, was much more flawed for me. There were some writing tics that got really old really fast, and switching back and forth between the past and present didn't always work as well as Conroy thought/hoped. His writing about the South is powerful, though, and it came around to being a solid read.
  • The Island of the Colorblind: Neurologist Oliver Sacks travels to islands in the Pacific to explore groups with a high incidence of total colorblindness and a unique neurological condition, as well as explore some rare plant life. Unlike he usually does, Sacks never quite settles into a groove, and the extensive footnotes interrupt the narrative. 

In Life...

  • BFF2K18: My yearly trip with my high school besties took us to New Orleans this year! We had a great time exploring the city, partaking in the signature beverages, and eating food that was honestly amazing across the board. My fave might have been the Middle Eastern place inside a little corner market. Such good falafel. 

One Thing:

With the temperatures dropping, it's officially cozy season. Hands down the comfiest sweatpants I have ever put on my body are these pile-lined ones from Uniqlo. Thirty bucks seems a little on the high end for sweatpants but watch for sales, they are 100% worth your money even at full price! I love them so much I have them in three colors.

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

Bonus Reading Stats!

I've been keeping track of some basic stats on my own (which I put in my annual update post in October and am not going to replicate here) since I started this blog. From using Sarah's Rock Your Reading Tracker this year, though, I discovered some things about my reading that I'd never really considered and wanted to highlight some!

I read a lot of debuts: I have honestly never even considered this metric before, so it was interesting to see! If I'd had to venture a guess, I think I would have thought I didn't read many because I think of myself as preferring established authors, but it turns out they made up almost a third of my reading!

I need to up my diversity: I don't think of myself as someone super focused on white authors and/or white experiences in my reading; in fact, I'd like to think I made an effort to include own voices. But I am not nearly as good at this as I should be! Less than twenty percent of my reading this past year was by diverse authors.

I think most of the books I read are decent-to-good: I set my "successful book" standard at 7/10, and over 50% of the books I read get there (58% at that)! If you add in books I read that I rated 6/10, though, it goes up to over 75%, so the vast majority of my reading is on the good side of average.

I'm pretty good at picking books for myself by browsing and going for trusted authors: When I look at my top recommendation sources, trusted authors (ones whose work I've read and loved before) feature highly (nearly 25% of my successful books!), as do things I've picked up just while browsing the Kindle sale or a secondhand bookstore collection.

My favorite reads are likely to come from Penguin Random House: No other publisher came close to publishing as many of my successful books...just under one third came out of one their imprints! Only Harper Collins and Knopf Doubleday had over 10% from the remaining publishing houses.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Book 161: Valley of the Moon

"It is naive, I know, but you never think the unspeakable thing will happen to you. That is something that happens to other people. That is the accident you watch from the side of the road, unable to tear your eyes away from the mangled body in the street, a stranger, somebody's mother, somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, somebody's wife. Somebody's beloved, but not yours. Never yours."  

Dates read: July 17-20, 2017

Rating: 7/10

What is "women's fiction"? It seems to mean mostly books written by women with a primarily female audience in mind. It concerns things like relationships and marriage, family and friendships. Basically, it treats women and the things that are important to many of us as serious topics worthy of literary output. But there's an undeniable prejudice against women's lit: books by and about women are considered books for women, while books by and about men are considered books for everyone. Women are asked to think critically and empathize with the viewpoints of men, and that's great, but why isn't the reverse true?

I started thinking about my own bias about female-driven books when I read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud a while back, and I resolved to do better. And so I picked up Melanie Gideon's Valley of the Moon, a book about time travel with a romance element. The story is told in alternating viewpoint chapters: that of Joseph, living at the turn of the 20th century in Greengage, a kind of commune in the Bay Area, and that of Lux, a single mother of a biracial child living in 1975 San Francisco and working as a waitress to make ends meet. Joseph's community in the Valley of the Moon experiences the earthquake that rocked San Francisco in 1906, but in a very different way: they find themselves surrounded by a thick, poisonous fog, cutting them off completely from the outside world. Until one day, when Lux walks out of the fog and into their lives.

Lux, for her part, has just reluctantly shipped off her young son Benno to visit her estranged parents in New England for a month. She decides to go camp in the Valley of the Moon one night, and awakens to find herself surrounded by fog. She walks through, and meets Joseph, his wife Martha, his sister Fancy, and the rest of the people who make up Greengage. Joseph left his wealthy life in Europe and founded the community based on the principles his warm-hearted, egalitarian mother lived by: everyone works, and everyone's work is valued. Lux finds herself enjoying her time in the past, and develops a rough estimate of how time passes in Greengage relative to the real world, allowing her to make periodic visits without being missed.

Well, mostly. Two major developments in the book stem from time working differently than it was "supposed" to. If you're a reader who wants a logical explanation for the events of the books you read, this will likely be bothersome. But for me, I found it kind of refreshing that there was never any real attempt at an explanation of how or why the time travel happened or worked. It's a device that can cause many a plot hole if there's too strong an attempt to get into the mechanics of it, and I think that for all practical intents and purposes, you either have to buy into time travel in a story or put it down. Besides, Valley of the Moon isn't trying to tell a story about particle physics or whatever it might be that would make time travel possible. It's a story about two people, from two different times, building a connection.

The immediate comparison to be made for any time travel relationship story is The Time Traveler's Wife. Which is a high bar to clear, because many people (myself included) really liked that book. And while this one isn't as good, I was still surprised at how much I did enjoy it. It's not the type of book I'm usually drawn to, but Gideon paints interesting, complex characters (particularly Lux) and tells a compelling story about them. I liked the way she handled the romance, neatly sidestepping the insta-love that drives me up the wall about a lot of books in the genre and instead giving it time to develop organically. I also liked that it wasn't the most important element of the narrative: Lux's relationships with her family, friends and co-workers, and her own personal development, are all given plenty of space to grow. This novel isn't going to change anyone's world, but it's easy and pleasurable to read, and that's what counts at the end of the day. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Tell me, blog friends...which genres do you shy away from that you think you should give another chance?

One year ago, I was reading: Rebecca

Two years ago, I was reading: The Guineveres

Three years ago, I was reading: Hood

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Classics You Shouldn't Be Intimidated By

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! Since I shuffled a bunch of December topics, here's the freebie I was supposed to do like two weeks ago! Since today is Christmas and some of you may have gotten gift cards, and next week is New Years and some of you may be resolving to "read more classics" (a resolution I made for years before I actually started reading them), here are ten that aren't nearly as intimidating as you might think!

Emma: If you've seen Clueless, you know the basic gist of Emma. A wealthy, pretty, smart young woman decides to play matchmaker for a less fortunate friend, and experiences her own romantic complications. It's a great way to get introduced to Austen's sharp satire and wit.

Anna Karenina: Yes, it's super duper long. And yes, there are some boring parts about farming in rural Russia. But this book has a love rhombus that rivals any in a modern-day YA book and tells an absolutely fantastic story.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A modern feminist audience will recognize the slut-shaming, madonna/whore complex, and double standards that Thomas Hardy presents as the nonsense they are.

Great Expectations: Dickens was paid by the word, and it shows in all his work. But this, for me, is his best, and once you read it you'll recognize it as the source for a lot of other literature. It is funny and smart and full of incredible characters.

The Picture of Dorian Grey: This story about the rot that can fester beneath a perfectly curated facade and how people often mistake visual appeal for moral goodness is definitely relevant to our time.

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn: Anyone who was a bookish child will likely recognize themselves in Francie Nolan, and her journey towards maturity is a deeply affecting one.

Jane Eyre: I'm not big into Gothic lit, so I avoided this one for a long time, but it turns out it's an amazing story about a young woman determined to make her way in the world despite many obstacles...and there is a truly WTF plot point that's fun to talk about!

1984: There's a reason this one gets referenced all the time a world where "alternate facts" are trumpeted, this has very real lessons for us all.

Vanity Fair: This book is lengthy and there are some boring-ish bits, but Becky Sharp's scheming her way up the social ladder is entertaining. The OG scammer.

The Age of Innocence: This is truly A+ drama about super rich people in Old New York having romantical problems.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Book 160: Crazy Rich Asians

"Annabel knew at that moment she had made all the right decisions for her daughter- enrolling her at Far Eastern Kindergarten, choosing Methodist Girls' School over Singapore American School, forcing her to go to Youth Fellowship at First Methodist even though they were Buddhists, and whisking her away to Cheltenham Ladies' College in England for proper finishing. Her daughter had grown up as one of these people- people of breeding and taste. There wasn't a single diamond over fifteen carats in this crowd, not a single Louis Vuitton anything, no one looking over your shoulder for bigger fish. This was a family gathering, not a networking opportunity. These people were so completely at ease, so well-mannered."

Dates read: July 14-17, 2017

Rating: 5/10

Meeting the parents for the first time is always a little unnerving. I remember being crushed when my first serious boyfriend's parents didn't really like me. In retrospect I think it was less about me and more about the fact that I was the first girl he'd really brought home and his mom was a little overprotective, but either way I felt the sting of disapproval. Other parent-meetings went generally better, and my in-laws I've gotten along with since I first met them, so it all turned out fine in the end. But that moment you're knocking at the door, holding your boyfriend's hand, waiting to see if the people on the other side are going to think you're good enough for their kid or not is pretty scary.

Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians takes that scenario and turns it up to 11. Rachel Chu and Nick Young, both professors in New York, have been dating for about two years when Nick's best friend invites him home to be the best man in his wedding, and he decides to bring Rachel along. Rachel knows that home for Nick is Singapore, but knows precious little else about what she's getting herself into. You see, Nick isn't just another guy from Singapore. He's the scion of an incredibly, obscenely rich family, and when you combine that with his good looks, he's one of the most eligible bachelors in Asia. And his mother's plans for him don't really feature a future with an Chinese-born but American-raised daughter of a middle-class single mother.

The focus of the book is Rachel living a deeply fish-out-of-water scenario among the jet set elites of the island, but it's structured in an alternating-chapter format, so we see the perspectives of Nick, his mother Eleanor scheming, and his best friend/cousin Astrid struggling with the decline of her own marriage to someone outside their class, and other players in the drama as well. There are twists and turns and more designer name-dropping than you can shake a stick at as the action propels toward the central wedding and its aftermath. While this does keep the plot moving forward and keeps any one storyline from getting too bogged down, it also makes it hard for there to be much character development, especially of our leads Nick and Rachel.

While this novel, with its satire and fluff, was a great palate-cleanser from the deep and meaningful Kavalier & Clay, it indulged far too much in one of my least favorite plot devices: relying on people not talking to each other to fuel the drama. In order to buy into the entire premise of the book, you have to believe that Rachel knew virtually nothing at all about Nick's family before she landed in Singapore...which means you'd have to believe that after two years in a serious, committed relationship, they've never actually discussed his family once despite the fact that he'd met her mother long before. And while I could buy that someone coming from a rich, private family wouldn't have splashed out all the details to his latest weekend fling, the idea that he wouldn't tell (and she wouldn't push, frankly) doesn't really hold up. There's another giant plot hole where we're meant to believe that even though Rachel has been bullied by a group of girls at a weekend retreat INCLUDING SOMEONE LEAVING A SLICED OPEN DEAD FISH IN HER ROOM AND THREATENING HER, that she never told her boyfriend because they were boning and she didn't want to "spoil the mood". That is not a healthy relationship and I do not want those people to end up together.

I know that this trope doesn't necessarily bother everyone though, and besides my own personal beef, it's a fun, sharp, biting satire about the lifestyles of extravagantly wealthy people. And as much money as those people have, they're still at the end of the day dealing with the same problems anyone is: figuring out family, wrestling with love and heartbreak, trying to find happiness. They're just doing it in outfits that cost more than most of us make in a year. I actually found Nick and Rachel's story pretty boring (which is why I doubt I'll pick up any of the sequels) but did really enjoy Astrid's parts of the narrative. The movie version of this got great reviews over the summer and even though I did not love the book, I'm interested in seeing it! It sounds like the virtues of the book translated well to the screen. While it didn't work for me, this would be a great book for someone that wants something fluffy that does hit some emotional points but never too hard.

Tell me, blog friends...what's your plot pet peeve?

One year ago, I was reading: The Power

Two years ago, I was reading: The Red Queen

Three years ago, I was reading: Occidental Mythology

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope I Find Under My Christmas Tree

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! Like last week, I've taken this TTT topic slightly out of order. But this week, I'm highlighting some of the books that have been on my to-purchase list a little long and would be a delight to find under the tree for me next week!

The Queen's Diamonds: I'll be real, this one has been on my to-buy list so long because it's expensive. But I looooove jewelry books, especially royal jewelry.

Ida Lupino: I've been interested in reading about this early female director since hearing about her on the You Must Remember This podcast, so this bio seems like a perfect place to start.

Poland, The First Thousand Years: I've gotten super into Eastern European history lately, and my great-grandpa came over from Poland, so this would be a great book to learn about my heritage!

Dominion: I have the first four parts of this comprehensive British history, so I'd like to add part five!

Call Them By Their True Names: I love Rebecca Solnit's clear, incisive writing.

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Anne Helen Petersen is one of my very favorite pop culture writers...and classic Hollywood had drama to spare!

Waiting To Derail: Ryan Adams is my favorite musician and was a true mess during his early years, which this book chronicles.

The Female Persuasion: I enjoy Wolitzer's writing, and her latest got rave reviews from some of my most trusted bookish voices!

Gated: This YA fiction about a girl who grows up in a cult seems right up my alley, honestly.

Becoming: I listened to this on audio and it's soooooo good and I want it for my shelves!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book 159: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

"The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits could be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew that it was only an illusion. The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place."

Dates read: July 6-14, 2017

Rating: 10/10

Awards/Lists: Pulitzer Prize, New York Times bestseller

I hate plenty of pieces of beloved literature. I had a whole post on it quite soon after I started my blog, but to save you the effort of going and finding it and myself the cringing I'd surely do if I went back and read it (I like to think that I'm getting better at writing this thing as I go along), I'll give you some of the highlights. I got nothing from Gone With The Wind. I LOATHED The Catcher In The Rye. I find Pride & Prejudice the least compelling of the Austen I've read so far. I did not at all care for The Great Gatsby when I first read it (thankfully, I re-read it after high school and now it's a favorite). Part of it is that everyone has different tastes, and part of it is the hype that comes from reading something that so many people have told you is amazing. It creates expectations that are really hard to live up to.

When you have a novel that tops many critical lists as one of the best of the 21st century, is considered a modern Great American Novel, and has won the Pulitzer, that's a lot of hype. So I have to admit I was a little nervous to start Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. What if all the hype was just, well, hype and I'd be slogging through like 600 pages of something I couldn't connect with? But starting on like page 50, I turned to my husband and announced "this is a really good book that I'm reading". I proceeded to announce this to just about everyone who might possibly care and probably several people who didn't. The hype is real, guys. This book is amazing.

It begins with the arrival of 19 year-old Josef Kavalier in Brooklyn, where his 17 year-old cousin Sammy Klayman is startled to find that he has a Czechoslovakian cousin, much less one with whom he's suddenly expected to share a room. Joe has just been smuggled out of Prague, where it's becoming more and more dangerous to be a Jewish person as Hitler's power begins to rise, and he's determined to make the most from the sacrifices his family undertook on his behalf and get them out, too. When he notices his cousin's talent for drawing, along with his own knack for a catchy story, Sammy has an idea: comic books. Superman has enraptured American youth, and soon the team that dubs itself Kavalier and Clay has a hero of their own: The Escapist, who cannot be contained by lock or key. The book then follows the players through time, as their comics become quite popular indeed: the bond that grows between them, Joe's struggle to get his family back, both men falling in love for the first time, and the fallout from major losses that rock them.

The quality of the writing is so, so good. I'd read Chabon's more recent Moonglow several months prior to this, so I was prepared for a well-told, wide-ranging tale, but this blows that one out of the water. I've added several other of his works to my TBR, but I'd be shocked if they could measure up to this one. Not that he's not extremely talented, but this has the feel of a masterpiece. It's detailed and rich and involving...I moved through it at a pace significantly slower than I usually read because there was so much there and I didn't want to miss a single turn of phrase. There are several situations in the book that are fantastical to the point of almost being preposterous, but Chabon lays so much groundwork and is so sensitive to the emotional truth of his deeply-realized characters that he's earned the trust of the readers to go there and they very much work. It's an incredible book and I would recommend it to any human that enjoys reading.

Tell me, blog friends, what super-hyped books let you down?

One year ago, I was reading: The Girl in the Tower

Two years ago, I was reading: The Wonder

Three years ago, I was reading: Occidental Mythology

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter 2018 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! I'm actually switching up some of the December prompts, so technically this one isn't supposed to be until next week, but I want to do it now so I will! Anyways, without further ado, here's my upcoming reading schedule!

The Prince of Tides: Ever since I loved my first Conroy, I've been looking forward to reading more!

The Island of the Colorblind: I'm working my way through Oliver Sacks' backlist!

Margaret Beaufort: Ever since reading Philippa Gregory's The Red Queen, I've been super interested in the actual historical Margaret.

The Cuckoo's Calling: I love J.K. Rowling, and this crime novel got very good reviews even before it came out that she was writing it!

Astonish Me: I didn't love Maggie Shipstead's first novel, but I am a sucker for a ballet book, so here we are.

The Winter of the Witch: This final piece of the trilogy was supposed to come out earlier this year, but it got pushed back! Even if my ARC request doesn't get approved, I have this preordered.

Say Nothing: The Troubles are a historical era I know about mostly because of U2, not anything I learned in school, so trying to rectify that.

A Tale for the Time Being: I've heard great things about this novel dealing with the 2011 tsunami.

Hausfrau: This was a buzzy book several years ago, and I'm just now getting around to reading it!

The Mind's Eye: More Sacks backlog catch-up!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book 158: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud

"There's a highly circumscribed performance of femininity expected at each stage of a woman's life—a certain way her face and body should look. All of these ideals are some form of striving for youthfulness, but only to the extent that it's 'appropriate', and with any part of the body that fails its duty hidden from sight."

Dates read: July 4-6, 2017

Rating: 7/10

Like most girls of my age, when I was little, I was told that I could be anything I wanted to be. And for a while, I (and I assume most everyone else) believed it. But as you grow up, you realize that no matter what you are, girls are expected to not be "too much". Don't be too smart, that intimidates the boys. Don't be too ambitious, set goals that are high but not too high. Don't be too capable, guys like being the ones to "rescue" you from spiders and leaky faucets. Don't be too direct, people won't think you're very nice. Look how big this box is, you have all the room you need in here. Don't get out of it.

I've long-since looked forward to Anne Helen Petersen's work on Buzzfeed. She's so good at not just really looking under the surface of our cultural climate, especially in how we perceive and treat women, but explaining it in a compelling, understandable way. If you haven't read her Cool Girl essay, go read it right now because it's phenomenal. And so of course I was psyched when I found out she was writing a book, Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud, about women who transgress our social norms. Who among us hasn't stepped outside the lines, peeked out from inside the box and felt blowback for it? Who hasn't looked at the women who do get out there and live out there and regarded them with a curious mixture of revulsion and envy? Petersen highlights nine (well, ten technically) "unruly" women, focusing on how each in turn has challenged the expectations we place on lady people. Many of these challenges focus on the body, from Serena Williams' "too strong" frame to Madonna's refusal to cover up because she's "too old" to Caitlyn Jenner's "too queer" gender confirmation surgery. There are also women who make other choices they're not supposed to: Hilary Clinton might be smart and ambitious, but she's "too shrill", and Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (the Broad City team) make us uncomfortable because they're "too gross".   

I wanted this book to be amazing and mind-blowing and incredible. And it was good! Petersen's writing is lively and insightful and serious without being ponderous. But I think maybe it would have worked better if it had been split into two volumes, one focusing on body and one focusing on personality. The essays felt like they skimmed the surface, taking a shallow dive into concepts that deserve deeper thought and analysis that I would have loved to read Petersen's take on. In writing about how Nicki Minaj is "too slutty", for example, Petersen refers to and gives some brief background on how black female bodies are sexualized and fetishized. But there's so much there that because the book needed to be a reasonable length and there are eight other subjects, she doesn't really have space to really give it the full context it deserves. I felt the same way, perhaps even more strongly, about the chapter on Jenner and trans issues. It would have felt problematic to leave the gender binary untouched entirely, but to only briefly interact with it doesn't feel quite right either. 

One essay, though, that really made me think was the piece about "too loud" Jennifer Weiner, who won't just quietly accept the judgment of her writing about women and their lives (which, to be perfectly honest, I don't personally much care for) as mere "chick lit" not to be taken seriously. I know I fall into that trap with my own reading, disdaining titles with pastel covers or shoes and shopping bags prominently displayed. It's snobbish, but if I'm being transparent here, I will say that it takes a lot to get me to take a second look at a title deemed "women's fiction". Which is actually pretty bullshit of me. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is just as good as Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, so why is the former a "girl book" and the latter a book for everyone? There's not a good reason why we treat stories about women's lives and problems, written by women, as lesser than books written by and about men. I love Nick Hornby, but he writes lighter fare that would probably be shrugged off if he and his protagonists were ladies. I need to do some work to think about my own internalized misogyny, especially when it comes to my reading choices.

Tell me, blog you think of books by and about women as less important than books by and about men?

One year ago, I was reading: The Games 
Two years ago, I was reading: Seating Arrangements

Three years ago, I was reading: Occidental Mythology

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Wintry Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! Now that it's December, it's basically wintertime (I know it's not like "official" winter for another couple weeks but it's cold already). So as the weather outside starts to get are some books where the weather is also frightful!

The Bear and the Nightingale: The first of the four books on this list that are set in Russia, where I basically assume it's always winter. I've picked books where the wintery-ness is an actual real part of the plot and not just assumed! A frost demon plays a central role here, so winter is very much present.

War and Peace: So much of this book happens during the winter, because...Russia.

City of Thieves: That this book, and its central search for eggs, takes place during the winter. The Siege of Leningrad winter, at that, so a bad one even by Russian standards.

Child 44: I read this several years ago now, so maybe it doesn't mostly take place during the winter? But I feel like I remember a lot of winter-ness and snow.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: All the Harry Potter books have Christmas scenes, but the Yule Ball in this one really makes the winter-ness of it memorable!

Lirael: Like to rest of the Clayr, Lirael lives in a glacier, in a world carved entirely from ice.

The Shining: The Torrances head to the Overlook to take care of the hotel during the long winter off-season, and anyone who's lived in an area where snow is real knows how isolating winter can be when you're snowed in.

In Cold Blood: The murder takes place on November 15th, which is technically fall rather than winter, but we all know mid-November is basically winter and there's something about this true crime classic that feels wintry to me.

Snow Falling On Cedars: The snow's right there in the title, and the image of the island community buried, even isolated under its weight, is resonant.

The Golden Compass: The portions of the book that take place at Svalbard, northern and wintry, are the ones that stick out the most in my memory.