So, I really liked that format of book blogging I did in my last post. A list of books I read recently and a quick paragraph describing my thoughts on them. Without further ado, here’s the list of books I finished in January:
Nutshell by Ian MacEwan–This was a pretty buzzy book for me, by which I mean, it was mentioned on two podcasts I listen to and one online listicle. Mostly notable for its fetus narrator and its homage to “Hamlet.” I thought it was okay. Obviously I was interested in seeing what a story told by a fetus would be like, but I didn’t really care for the whole “fetus who talks like a middle-aged man who hates identity politics for some reason” thing. I was fascinated, though, by the narrator’s perspective. He’s inextricably tied to his mother’s fate, no matter what happens. And the fact that the narrator cares much more about his mother than his mother seems to even think about him, is kind of sad. I really cared more about what happened and what the fetus does than all the weird waxing poetic he does.
The Path of Paganism: An Experience-Based Guide to Modern Pagan Practice by John Beckett–I’ll tell you what, I haven’t thought as much about my own religious path so deeply as when I was reading this. Unlike other pagan books which talk about how to practice a path, Beckett gives us a book on how to build or think about our philosophy/world view/values, upon which we can discover or create our pagan path. Very valuable book in my opinion, and I like Beckett’s writing a lot. Fun fact, my proto-grove leader (before it dissolved) had to “well, actually” Beckett on one of his posts about hard polytheism, and it got Beckett to change his mind.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay–I listened to this on audio, and that’s pretty much the only way I want to read memoirs from now on. This book will be hard for a lot of people, because of the trauma Gay suffered, but it’s a worthwhile read. I have very little experience reading about what it’s like to navigate a skinny world as a fat person, and it taught me a lot about things I hadn’t thought of. Like chairs with arms.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black–The newest book from my favorite author. This book inspired me to cook more, I kid you not. Black has always been good at describing fairy food, and now that the only way I can cook things is on a stove/oven, it’s time to start learning to cook. Why not cook like the Folk do? I really liked Jude, and how different she struck me from Black’s other protagonists. Jude strikes me as more vulnerable, more feminine, and having different values from, say, Val, Kaye, or Tana. Jude’s in a position of blatantly wanting to fit in, and then realizing she fits in more than she ever could have imagined. Loved it. All the cameos, however, I’m not sure what to think of yet.
Valiant by Holly Black–This was a re-read because while reading The Cruel Prince, it got me nostalgic for the Modern Faerie tale series. I mentioned on Twitter that this time reading, I pictured Val as very different from the way I did as a teenager. She had a softer face, freckles, and was much younger-seeming this time, but when I was younger, Val was all sharp edges and my idea of what cool girls looked like. Makes sense. I also realized how much I’d missed reading it the first few times (I used to re-read so much more often back then). Like significant plot points or settings. I appreciated the book so much more this time around. Having read this right after The Cruel Prince, it was interesting to notice how Black’s writing has evolved over time.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead–Listened to this on audio, which I think may have been a mistake since the story has a lot of flashbacks and if I’m not paying attention I miss when we’re no longer in the present, and I get very confused. That being said, this was a really good book. It’s not my favorite, and I was considering giving it only three stars on Goodreads, but the ending was fantastic. It’s a zombie apocalypse story, which aren’t really my thing, but it was the only Whitehead available immediately on Overdrive. I ended up really enjoying it. I liked Gary, and I liked how Connecticut was never just Connecticut–always Vile Connecticut or Abhorrent Connecticut, you get the picture. Again, the ending was really good, how it tied Mark Spitz’s story up. Technically very well written, though I got a little tired of yet another author making wry commentary on modern living. I was also a little put off by how Whitehead refused to mention a single intellectual property. An odd little tick. But the writing is very very good. I’m glad I stuck with it.