Book Blogger Memory Challenge

I’ve seen this tag going around and it looked like fun, so here we go.

The Rules:

You must answer these questions without looking anything up on the internet and without looking at your bookshelves!!

The Questions:

367232461. Name a book written by an author called Michael.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.  I’m sure there are other books by an author called Michael that I’ve enjoyed more than this one, but this is what came to mind.  (Ok, I just cheated and looked on my Goodreads shelves after I typed that answer.  This is literally the only book I’ve ever read by someone called Michael, apparently?!?!?)

2. Name a book with a dragon on the cover.

This one is killing me!!!  I hardly read fantasy, and when I do read fantasy I can’t say I’m drawn to dragon books.  I know one of the UK Harry Potter covers has a dragon on it and I suspect it’s Goblet of Fire but I honestly can’t even picture it in my head right now, so, pass.  I have been defeated by the dragon question.

134516723. Name a book about a character called George.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  This isn’t my favorite Steinbeck – East of Eden gets that distinction, but I do think this is a fantastic book that I should probably revisit at some point.

 

250582124. Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.

How to Be Both by Ali Smith.  My first Ali Smith that I read earlier this year.  I’ve read a short story collection since then, and I’m very keen to read more of her work.  How to Be Both is a stunning book.

 

181423245. Name a book set in Australia.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld.  Set partially in Australia and partially in coastal England.  I didn’t completely love this book but it was definitely an interesting and innovative read that had some excellent commentary on gender roles.  And I just love that cover.

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6. Name a book with the name of a month in the title.

Middlemarch by George Eliot.  I haven’t read this but I couldn’t think of anything else!

 

7. Name a book with a knife on the cover.

Well, apparently I am not good at visualizing covers because I can’t think of anything for this one either.

136221678. Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.

Antigone by Sophocles.  Probably not exactly what this question was looking for but I say it counts.

110169. Name a book with a eponymous title.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  Somehow I’ve only read two Bronte novels and I am well aware that I need to remedy that.  But I love Jane Eyre so much that I suspect it will remain my favorite.

 

2799380810. Name a book turned into a movie.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.  I’ve only read two Toibin novels – this one and House of Names – and I gave both 3 stars, but I get the impression that I just haven’t read the right Toibin novel yet.  I did like Brooklyn although I didn’t love it, but I thought the film was beautiful and so well-acted that it really added some much needed depth to the story.

Tagging whoever wants to do this!

The Coffee Book Tag

I was tagged by Hadeer to do the Coffee Book Tag, and these lovely graphics were made (I think) by Romie We Deserve Love.  So let’s jump right in shall we?

But first I feel like I should admit that I don’t actually drink coffee.  I’m all about the tea!

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a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans

6307964A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.  Admittedly I never would have read these books if it hadn’t been for falling in love with the tv series back when it was good (everything after season 3 is dead to me), but I ended up loving the books despite some major issues I have with Martin’s overly detailed storytelling.  Because of the sheer amount of characters you need to keep track of, this is an extremely difficult series to enjoy as a casual fan – you really do have to be obsessed in order to keep everything straight.  I have an exceptionally good memory but even I struggled with these at times.

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a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year

15994537I feel like Wuthering Heights is a popular one to visit and revisit in the colder months.  This book is bleaker than bleak and definitely suited to more dismal weather.  Side note: I’m actually considering giving this book another try in a couple of years?  I read it last winter and really did not enjoy it, but the more I think about it the more I’m wondering if that was just a knee-jerk reaction based mostly on how much I disliked Emily’s prose.  But I think there’s probably more merit to it than I initially thought there was… Anyway, we shall see.  Definitely not revisiting it this year.  I’ll give it some more time.

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a favorite children’s book

I really don’t like reading children’s books as an adult and Harry Potter is a boring answer and honestly nothing else jumps out at me as my favorite book from my childhood… pass!

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a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish

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You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann.  I read this recently on a whim and was very pleasantly surprised by it.  I don’t think the conclusion was anything special, unfortunately, but the lead-up was so tense and chilling.

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a book you see everywhere

35959740Circe by Madeline Miller.  Ok guys, I have to admit.  I just don’t get the hype.  I love Greek mythology, I loved The Song of Achilles, I love feminist retellings, but Circe was just… fine?  I thought that Circe’s character arc was really spectacular and the way that Miller altered the conclusion of the original story I thought was fantastic, so it’s not like I disliked the book at all.  But I did think the pacing was all over the place (hundreds of pages of tedium punctuated by a lot of action over the span of a few pages), and while I understand that that was intentional (to a point) in order to mirror the tedium of Circe’s immortality, I just felt like that element was handled so much better thematically than it was narratively; I just can’t forgive the fact that I was bored for huge stretches of this book.  Anyway, I liked it, I didn’t love it, and it is everywhere.

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a book by an indie author (a shoutout)

I have two indie author friends that I know of, and both are deserving of a shout-out:

I.M. Flippy (obviously a pseudonym) is an author of self-published romance novels; I genuinely thought I hated all things romance until I read her delightful book A Fugitive In Grass Valley.  I’m not just saying this because she’s a friend (she will never see this post).  I just think she’s a fantastic writer.

Callum is also an indie author and while I have not (yet) read any of his books, I’ve read a couple of short stories and think he is an incredibly talented writer.  Which is also evident in his blog posts, tbh.

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a book you were expecting more from

36679056The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon.  I did end up giving this 4 stars, but for being one of my most anticipated books of the whole year, I have to admit it fell short.  I did think there was a surprising amount of thematic depth for the short page count, and Kwon’s writing was superb, but the characters were all incredibly thin which made it difficult to get invested.  I definitely think this would have benefited from 50+ more pages where the characters could have been fleshed out into more than just archetypes.

 

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a book or series that was both bitter and sweet, but ultimately satisfying

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Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee.  This book about mental illness and the toll it takes on two Chinese-American sisters is absolutely soul-crushing.  But it has a lot of moments of tenderness as well.  I read this about a year ago, and what resonates when I think about it is the relationship between the sisters, and also the vividly beautiful setting of Ecuador.  I’d highly recommend this one.

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a book or series that is quietly beautiful

6334Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I’ve talked about this book before, a lot, but my love for it was sort of reawakened recently when Steph read it and fell in love with it.  We had about an hour and a half long conversation about this book on Halloween night which imo is the best way to celebrate Halloween.  Anyway, this book.  Quietly beautiful is really the only way to describe it.  It’s breathtaking but in such a subtle way; it really creeps up on you and gets under your skin.  I’ve read this book a couple of times now (I can never remember if I’ve read it two or three times) but now I’m dying to read it again.  It’s hands down my favorite contemporary novel.

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a book or series that makes you dream of far off places

36336078Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman.  I have… a lot of thoughts about this book and they aren’t all positive, but it ultimately won me over, and Aciman’s descriptions of Italy were some of the most evocative I have ever read.  Most of my favorite memories from living in Italy somehow involve being out at night in the summertime, and there’s this one sequence in Call Me By Your Name when the characters are in Rome and they’re at a party that lasts all night and takes them to all these different restaurants and bars and then they eventually end up wandering around by some fountain and anyway, I don’t know how else to explain this but I felt that scene in my bones.  Aciman knows how to bring a setting to life.
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favorite classic

SO MANY!  But this is my holy trinity: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Iliad by Homer, East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

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Marija / Emily / Alex / Kristin / Sarah / Ally

OMG That Song Book Tag

Let’s take a break from the Booker!  I saw this tag on Callum’s blog and it looked like fun.  Also, go follow Callum who has an excellent taste in music as well as books.

MY JAM: A song you have to listen to no matter how many times you’ve heard it and a book that you’ll never get sick of

SONG: Conversation 16 by The National.  I love everything about this song.

BOOK: The Iliad by Homer.  I want to read as many different translations as possible.

THROWBACK: A song that reminds you of the cringiest time in your life and a book you read that you wouldn’t like now

SONG: Jenny Was a Friend of Mine by The Killers.  This song is actually objectively very good so it’s not the song that’s cringy, it’s me being 14 that was cringy.

BOOK: Anything by Sarah Dessen.  I’m not sure I even liked her books back then, but I kept reading them because my friends were reading them and I hadn’t been introduced to books that are actually good when I was in middle school.

REPLAY: A recent song that you have on repeat and a recent favourite book

SONG: Nina Cried Power by Hozier.  I’m actually not the biggest Hozier fan in the world (I think he’s fine but the hype around his last album was blown a little out of proportion), but I admittedly adore this song.

BOOK: In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne was simply brilliant.

GETS ME: A song that is literally me and a book that is me in book form

SONG: To Belong by Daughter.  I really connect with Daughter’s music in general, but this song always stands out to me.

BOOK: The Idiot by Elif Batuman.  The narrator of that book is me.

WUT: A weird song that you liked anyways and a unique book that stuck out to you for some reason

SONG: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by Joan Baez (cover – originally by The Band).  It’s not so much that it’s a weird song, just that it’s noticeably different from most of the other stuff I listen to.  But, I listen to it a lot.

BOOK: The Vegetarian by Han Kang.  So weird, so haunting, so good.

LET’S GO: Pick your best pump up song and a book that inspires you

SONG: God is a woman by Ariana Grande.  I mean, enough said.  This song is everywhere and for good reason.

BOOK: Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault.  Mainly for the line: “He stood between death and life as between night and morning, and thought with a soaring rapture, ‘I am not afraid’.”

CHILL: Your best chill or relaxing song and a book you’d curl up with on a rainy day

SONG: Black by Pearl Jam.  I mean, this song is incredibly sad, but there’s something relaxing about listening to a song you’ve heard approximately five million times because Pearl Jam is your favorite band and this is just one of the greatest songs ever written.

BOOK: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is one of the most atmospheric things I’ve ever read, and definitely a good fall/winter read.

ADDICTING: A guilty pleasure song and a light, trashy read you can’t help but love

SONG: Literally anything by ABBA, but I’ll go with Waterloo.  People tend to be surprised when they find out how much I love ABBA, so, let’s just get this straight.  I love ABBA.

BOOK: I would describe this book as neither light nor trashy, but The Pisces by Melissa Broder is probably the closest thing to a ‘guilty pleasure’ book for me, since it’s essentially literary erotica.  But, that book is incredibly good.

NOSTALGIA: A throwback song you look back on fondly and a book you read and loved when you were young

SONG: Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis.  If I had to choose a favorite song of all time, this would probably be it.  I am also aware that liking Oasis is deeply unhip.  I do not care.

BOOK: Harry Potter!

Tagging whoever wants to do this!

What kind of music do you guys like?  Clearly my tastes are all over the place.

This Is My Genre book tag

I saw this tag on Callum’s blog and it looked fun, so let’s get started!

What is your favourite genre?

I was actually having a hard time coming up with an answer to this because my gut reaction is ‘literary fiction’ but that’s not even technically a genre, and I’d say the same goes for ‘classics,’ so, limiting myself to strictly ‘genre fiction,’ I’m deciding to go with historical fiction.  Especially because I feel like I don’t talk about my love for it as much as I should on here, so this is a good excuse to do so!

Who is your favourite author from that genre?

John Boyne is one of those authors I envy who has the magical ability to across multiple genres, but I’d say he’s primarily a historical fiction author – even his horror novel This House is Haunted is a gothic tale set in the 1800s.  So, John Boyne.  His way with words is so clever and his characters are all so flawed and vivid they practically leap off the page.  The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of those books I recommend to literally everyone because it’s just that good.

What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

So much!  I love history but I don’t necessarily have the drive or patience to wade through a several hundred page long nonfiction book about a historical subject, so it’s a great way to learn about certain subjects in a more accessible format.  I also love that epic, sweeping family sagas are so common to this genre – so many of my favorite books are 500+ page monsters and quite a lot of them are historical fiction.  And I just love getting sucked into a good story and feeling immersed in a setting, and when historical fiction achieves that it’s so excellent.

What is the book that started your love for that genre?

I don’t know if there was any one in particular, but Lisa See was one of my first favorite historical fiction writers.  I’d still highly recommend any of her novels, but my favorites are probably these three: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Shanghai Girls, and its sequel Dreams of Joy.  All of her books focus on female characters from different regions and periods throughout Chinese history; I always end up learning quite a lot from her.

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

I couldn’t narrow it down, so I’m going to give recs based off your preferred genre:

If you mostly read thrillers, I’d recommend: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  This tells the fictionalized story of a real person, the last woman to ever be sentenced to death in Iceland in 1829.  The rural Icelandic setting that Kent evokes is so vivid it’s stayed with me years after reading this, and this is one of the best examples I can think of when I think about historical fiction novels that make me feel truly immersed in the time period.  But it’s also quite a gripping story and getting to the heart of the crime that Agnes supposedly committed is a steady source of intrigue, so I’d highly recommend this one to just about everyone (if you have a strong stomach).

If you mostly read literary fiction, I’d recommend: Human Acts by Han Kang.  This is a flawlessly written novel about the Gwangju Uprising of 1980 in South Korea, where hundreds of civilians were killed by government troops.  This book is brutal and harrowing but also succinct and unsentimental and just flawlessly composed.

If you mostly read bestsellers, I’d recommend: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.  I’d honestly recommend this book to everyone.  It’s compelling, lyrical, heartbreaking, moving, etc. etc. etc.  It’s a multigenerational family saga that spans the 20th century which begins in Korea and ends in Japan, and it explores Japanese-Korean relations in such a candid way.  This is easily one of the most informative historical novels I’ve ever read about the time period and countries it’s depicting, but none of that bogs down the narrative, which is effortlessly engaging throughout.

If you mostly read sci-fi, I’d recommend: Kindred by Octavia Butler.  This is a really interesting historical/sci-fi hybrid, which essentially uses time travel as a tool to explore slavery and racism from a contemporary perspective (contemporary at the time Butler was writing this, in the 1970s).  The main character Dana, a black woman, is transported back in time for reasons she doesn’t understand to the Civil War era, and upon her arrival the first thing she does is save a white boy from drowning.  She then discovers that he’s going to grow up to be one of her ancestors, and the two characters’ fates become intertwined and it’s just a fascinating story.

If you mostly read YA, I’d recommend: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rivka Brunt.  Set in the 1980s, this is a sort of YA/adult crossover that follows a teenage girl, June, struggling to cope with the death of her favorite uncle who’s just died of AIDS.  It’s moving and heartfelt but never corny or trite, and it’s not only a fantastic coming of age novel but a really incisive look at the AIDS crisis during the time when it still wasn’t fully understood.

Why do you read?

To learn, to think, to challenge myself, to relax… my reasons change with each book!

Tagging Chelsea and Steph because they’re my fellow historical fiction lovers (not that you guys need to choose historical fiction).  And Hannah because she’s definitely not going to choose historical fiction.

The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2018

I did this tag last summer but I guess it’s that time of year again!  I thought this would be a good way to just check in with you guys about my year of reading so far.

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2018

I think it’s a toss up between Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, and Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon.  Asking For It is a powerful and hard-hitting look at rape culture in contemporary Ireland; Tin Man is a simple but elegantly written love story between two men in England; and Self-Portrait with Boy is a stunning literary novel about a woman’s ethical dilemma when she accidentally photographs a young boy falling to his death.

I actually haven’t been having the best reading year, quality-wise – I’ve read other books I’ve really enjoyed, but these are the only three that are really guaranteed to make my top 10 list at the end of the year.  Securing only 3 of the 10 spots isn’t that great.  I’d like to have read 10 books by now that I loved so much that narrowing it down to 10 at the end of the year will be torture.

It occurred to me after I wrote all that that I should have also included When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy, but I’m not going to add it because those 3 covers look great together and I’m shallow.

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year

I haven’t read any.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

The World Spins Only Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, among many others.

Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, and Melmoth by Sarah Perry.

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment

My enjoyment level varied with each of these, but Circe by Madeline Miller, Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, and A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza all disappointed me in different ways.  Circe I was just expecting to adore because of how much I’d loved The Song of Achilles, but instead I found it rather dull; Days Without End more like Pages Without End; and A Place For Us promised emotion and heartbreak and didn’t deliver on either for me.  I felt like a robot while reading that book.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry (why do people hate this book?! it’s such a good thriller!), The Pisces by Melissa Broder (so so so weird and uncomfortable but in a way that really clicked with me), Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen (an author I’d never heard of, but this book was a haunting emotional roller coaster and a reminder of how much I adore Chinese-set historical fiction).

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author

Louise O’Neill, Marina Carr, Meena Kandasamy.

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

Pass.

Question 9 – New favourite character

30962053It has to be Selin from The Idiot by Elif Batuman.  I think her voice comes closer to my own than any other character I’ve ever read.  So I realize that makes this a bit of a narcissistic answer.  But I just really connected with this character.

Question 10 – A book that made you cry

32620332The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  I read this in two sittings and admittedly was in a much more emotional state than I usually am so I don’t think I normally would have cried while reading this, but I really needed some escapism and this book and its characters completely absorbed me and as soon as I closed the book I started crying because I was so overwhelmed by this wonderful story.

Question 11 – A comic book that made you happy

N/A

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

I haven’t read this book yet and I know it’s ridiculous that I’ve only just watched the film, but I saw The Green Mile I think back in March and I fell in love with it.  I can’t say I’m terribly interested in reading the book, though…

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

Ah, I don’t know!  Maybe my Women’s Prize Shortlist Review post solely because I pushed myself to finish The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock so I could write that post before the winner was announced, and I’m still proud of having read 10/16 of the longlisted titles this year.  Or my review of The Odyssey because Emily Wilson retweeted it and that made me happy.

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

I just ordered The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan and The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin from Book Depository entirely because of their gorgeous covers, so even though they haven’t made their way to me yet it seemed like an appropriate answer.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

Everything I’ve mentioned in this post that I haven’t read yet!

Tagging anyone who’d like to do this.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

Hardest Game of “Would You Rather” for Book Nerds

I’m trying to get caught up with work from the days I missed being at BEA but I’m so overwhelmed that I’ve reached a point where I’m just sitting here paralyzed with ennui, so instead I’m going to do this tag which I saw on Steph‘s blog.  It’s created by Thrice Reads, who found these questions in a Buzzfeed article.

Would you rather have a friend who loses your books, or one who dog-ears them?

Dog-ears.  This is going to sound strange to anyone who’s seen my bookshelf, but I don’t actually care about my books being in pristine condition.  The reason that sounds strange is because most of them ARE in pristine condition – I’m just really gentle with all of my belongings?  But I don’t make a special point of keeping my books perfect-looking.  Like if I loan you a book I’m hardly going to say ‘PLEASE DOG-EAR THIS’ but I don’t really mind if it happens?  Who knows.  Just please don’t lose them.

Would you rather secretly love a book everyone else hates, or secretly hate a book everyone else loves?

I’m going to go for the unpopular answer here and say hate a book everyone else loves.  Not secretly – I am very open about my opinions, lol.  The reason is that loving a much-hated book is a weirdly lonely feeling?  I experience this in the circle of booktubers I watch when I see any of them talk about A Little Life.  Like, I am all for differing opinions – that’s what makes this whole blogging thing interesting.  But seeing a book that’s very close to your heart torn apart is no fun.

Would you rather be stuck on a very long plane or train ride without a book?

I can’t read on either because I get very motion sick, so this is basically just asking me if I prefer planes or trains, and the answer is trains a million times over.  I despise flying with every fiber of my being and if you’ve heard some of my travel horror stories you probably have a pretty good idea why.

Would you rather have dinner with your favorite author or your favorite character?

Favorite author, I think, though I’m not sure who my favorite author is?!  But I’m going to just say it’s John Boyne because I would LOVE to have dinner with John Boyne.  Do you guys follow his Twitter and Instagram?  He’s hilarious.  I talked to him on Twitter about the Backstreet Boys once.

Would you rather date a character you have a crush on or your crush from real life?

My real life crush because I actually HAVE ONE as of like, three days ago, for the first time in like, over half a decade?  I am not a very romantic person lol.  Anyway it is never going to happen for many and sundry reasons but I can dream.  Also I don’t think I’ve ever had a crush on a fictional character.

Would you rather have your favorite book turned into a movie, or your favorite movie turned into a book?

Book turned movie.  My favorite movie is In Bruges which wouldn’t work at all as a book.

Would you rather read a book with an annoying cliffhanger, or one where your favorite character is killed off?

I’m going to just steal Steph’s answer: Annoying cliffhanger…..unless the death is good and I’m devastated in a good way because I enjoy pain.

Would you rather lose the ability to read any new books, or the ability to reread books you’ve already read?

Lose the ability to reread books I’ve already read.  I rarely reread anyway.  Though I will miss Harry Potter.

Would you rather live in a library or a bookstore?

Bookstore – I just prefer the general vibe of them.  But I love libraries too!

Would you rather lose your place or get a paper cut every time you read a book?

Lose my place.  That is way too many paper cuts with how often I read.

Would you rather have to always read in the dark, or always read books with tiny text?

Tiny text.  This is a dumb question.  No one can see in the dark??

Would you rather read by a fireplace, or on the beach?

I much prefer summer to winter, but I’ll still go with fireplace for this question.  I’m bad at reading in places like beaches because I get very distracted by the atmosphere and can’t concentrate on the book.

Ok, back to work.  Tagging whoever!

The 20 Questions Book Tag

I’m so behind on tags!  So I’m going to nonsensically start with one that I was tagged in today, by Bentley.  Everyone, go check out Bentley’s blog if you don’t already follow him, and his bookstagram is excellent as well!

I actually thought I’d done this tag before, but I just realized I’d started it many months ago and never finished it, whoops.  I think I only made it 2 questions in, anyway.

1. How many books is too many in a series?

2??  I mean, just kidding, but I’m not really a big series reader.  I’m a hundred times more likely to pick up a SFF book if it’s a standalone.  So, the shorter the series the better for me… but when I think ‘too many’ I guess I’d say… 6?

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

I like them, but your book should be strong without them.  If you’re relying on a cliffhanger as a gimmick to make your book stand out, there’s probably not much there to begin with.  But when done well and when they actually suit the narrative, they can be fun.

3. Hardback or Paperback?

Paperback since they’re more portable.

4. Favorite book?

24284In all honesty I don’t think I have one, but I usually say Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  It’s the most beautiful, immersive, and epic story about love, justice, mercy, compassion, and faith.  I know it’s cliche to call a book timeless, but this one really is.  Also, I know the length is intimidating, but it’s so rewarding.  If you’re looking for a cosmic sign to finally pick up Les Mis, this is it.

5. Least Favorite book?

I can’t even fully articulate why I hate this book so much, but Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides always stands out to me when I get this question.

6. Love Triangles, yes or no?

I don’t read a lot of YA so this is not something I encounter often enough to really have an opinion.

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

We’re going to have to go back to 2012 for this, but I think it was Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  I wish I liked Neil Gaiman and I have tried very hard, but I just don’t.  Granted, I probably would have finished this book under normal circumstances, but I remember my life being quite stressful at the time and I went through a period of DNFing several books in quick succession, more by accident than anything, since I put them down and then several months later realized I never finished them.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (loving it!), The Pisces by Melissa Broder (also loving it!), and When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy (not far at all but I’m probably going to end up loving it!)

9. The last book you recommended to someone?

Steph was texting me from a Barnes & Noble the other day and I recommended getting Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, which is one of those books that I don’t think I’ll personally recommend to many people as it can be quite triggering… but since Steph read, survived, and loved A Little Life I thought it was a safe bet (whether or not she bought it remains to be seen).  I also recommended The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to her the other week, which she immediately purchased and ended up loving, so… I guess this is a public apology to Steph’s bank account.

10. The oldest book you’ve read?

I believe that would be The Iliad, composed around the 8th century BCE.

11. Newest book you’ve read?

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton – US publication date is June 5, 2018.  Full review here.  (I actually feel like I’ve read an ARC with a publication date that’s further away but if I have I can’t think of it right now.)

12. Favorite Author?

I hate this question.

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

Both!  I buy a lot of books, but I’m appreciative when my friends lend me books they think I’ll like but won’t necessarily love enough to want to own them forever.

14. A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?

The Child Finder by Rene Denfield.  This is probably the most insufferably trite book I’ve ever read in my life.  I’m sorry, but how am I supposed to read this shit with a straight face???  “This is something I know: no matter how far you have run, no matter how long you have been lost, it is never too late to be found.”  Ugh.

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?

Bookmarks.  I don’t have a fun bookmark collection or anything, I just use the free ones from Book Depository, of which I have hundreds since I stole them from work for years.

16. A book you can always re-read?

Harry Potter is really the only answer to this question.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

This is one of the biggest tragedies of my life, but no, I can’t read with any background noise.  I mean, I guess I technically can, but I end up reading so slowly it’s almost not even worth it.

18. One POV or multiple POVs? (POV = point of view)

It depends on the book.  The Idiot by Elif Batuman would be terrible with multiple narrators, and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie wouldn’t have worked with a single POV.  Whatever suits the story.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Since I read a lot of lengthy, dense stuff, it’s always multiple days.  I can probably count on one hand the number of books I’ve read in one sitting.

20. A book you’ve read because of the cover?

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I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell.  I didn’t even end up reading the version with this gorgeous cover as it’s the UK edition and I read an advanced copy of the US edition, but it’s what initially drew me to the book.

Tagging anyone who wants to do this!  Pingback to me so I can read your answers.

The Netflix Book Tag

I wasn’t tagged for this but I was in the mood to do a tag, so here’s the Netflix Book Tag which has been floating around my feed today.

RECENTLY WATCHED: The last book you finished reading.

22738563I listened to the audiobook of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the way to work today (it was literally the exact same length as my commute – it ended as soon as I parked).  I know I’ll be in the minority here, but I can’t say I was crazy about this… it is a very basic rumination on concepts I’m already familiar with, and didn’t offer me much to think about.  I liked the specific examples about Nigerian culture, but I actually didn’t find this essay to be very intersectional as a whole, and relied very heavily on a conflating sex and gender and treating gender as a very strict binary… I don’t know.  I think this is a good introduction to feminism and would make a good gift if there’s someone in your life who still thinks ‘feminist’ is a dirty word.  But if you’re already familiar with even very basic feminist theory, this doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.

TOP PICKS: A book that has been recommended to you based on books you have previously read.

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I’ve had The Raven Cycle recommended to me a lot based on my love of The Secret History.  I’m so on the fence about whether or not I want to pick it up at some point.  On the one hand, I really loved The Scorpio Races and I thought Maggie Stiefvater’s prose was excellent… and on the other hand, I tend to dislike YA fantasy.  I don’t know.  If you guys are familiar with my tastes, do you think I’d like TRC??  Help.

 

RECENTLY ADDED: The last book you bought.

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My mom got me a gift card to the bookstore for my birthday, so I bought a copy of Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, because I’ve been wanting to read it for ages and because this cover is gorgeous.

 

 

POPULAR ON NETFLIX: Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading.)

 

Have read: Little Fires Everywhere, The Hunger Games.
Have not yet read: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (soon!), 1Q84.

COMEDIES: A funny book.

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Naked by David Sedaris.  Some anecdotes in this collection worked for me more than others (I seem to remember one in particular that dragged on and on for ages), but when Sedaris is good, he’s really great.

 

DRAMAS: A character who is a drama queen/king.

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Francis Abernathy, trash prince of my heart.

 

 

 

ANIMATED: A book with cartoons on the cover.

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I’m not sure what we mean by ‘cartoons’ in this context… this is the only thing I could think of.

 

 

 

WATCH IT AGAIN: A book or series that you want to re-read.

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  I read this when I was 15 and I hated it, but I don’t trust my 15-year-old self’s opinion in the slightest.  I think I’d pick up on a lot more this time around, and I know so many people who love this – I really want to give it another shot.

 

DOCUMENTARIES: A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone.

36461399Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard, which, despite its similarly short length, I actually found a lot more nuanced than We Should All Be Feminists, and explores feminism from a very specific and often under-examined angle (i.e., the historical precedent of excluding women from positions of power).

 

ACTION AND ADVENTURE: An action-packed book.

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I mean, this whole series, but I think A Storm of Swords is the best and also most exciting.

 

 

 

NEW RELEASES: A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

37969723I got an ARC from Netgalley for The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker which is out this fall, and I am VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT.  Here’s the summary from Goodreads (sorry, it’s really long):

From the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration trilogy comes a monumental new masterpiece, set in the midst of literature’s most famous war. Pat Barker turns her attention to the timeless legend of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War.

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman–Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war’s outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis’s people, but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war–the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead–all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives–and it is nothing short of magnificent.”

I mean… is that not right up my alley or what?!

Tagging whoever wants to do this!

The Feminist Book Tag

I wasn’t tagged for this, but I’ve seen it going around and I wanted to do it in celebration of International Women’s Day… and now I am several days late, but oh well.  I’m a feminist every day.

1- Your favorite female author

I wouldn’t even know how to pick just one.  Hanya Yanagihara, Donna Tartt, Agatha Christie, Han Kang, Mary Renault, JK Rowling, Min Jin Lee, Lisa See, Celeste Ng… and then my classicist faves: Anne Carson, Caroline Alexander, Emily Wilson, Mary Beard.

2- Your favorite heroine

17333319So many.  I’m trying to not use the same answer I give every time, which is Sansa Stark, so I’ll mix it up and say Agnes Magnusdottir from Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  Agnes was actually a real person – the last woman to ever be sentenced to death in Iceland – though her personality in Burial Rites is mostly invented by Kent.  She’s a strong, complex, brilliantly crafted heroine, and her journey in this novel haunts me still.

 

3- A novel with a feminist message

cover_girl_waits_with_gun_amy_stewartGirl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart.  This is a historical fiction novel which fictionalizes the life of the first female police officer in New Jersey in the early 1900s, and it’s a major feminist triumph.  A group of three sisters are being harassed by a local bigwig business man, and the three of them are able to fight back on their own while rejecting the help of the male figures in their lives.  It’s a very entertaining novel, but also, it’s hard not to feel empowered by the end of it.

4- A novel with a girl on the cover

 

All of these.

5- A novel featuring a group of girls

29981261The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson.  Ok, this is a bit of a morbid answer, as it’s a novel about a man who imprisons girls in his ‘Garden’ before assaulting and eventually killing them.  However!  The really great and surprising thing about this book was the focus on the camaraderie between the girls who have been captured.  This book is as much about female friendships as it is about the horrors that occur in the Garden – it’s less about the gruesome details and more about the psychological impact, and I’d highly recommend it.  Though, obviously, trigger warnings for rape and violence apply.

6- A novel with a LGBTQIAP+ female character

220px-funhomecoverFun Home by Alison Bechdel.  This graphic novel is Bechdel’s autobiographical account of growing up in a funeral home, but it also focuses on coming to terms with her own sexuality, as well as her complicated relationship with her closeted gay father.  I’m not usually a big graphic novel reader, and I only decided to check this out after falling in love with the musical that’s based on it, but I ended up loving the book too.  Bechdel’s prose is really superb, and it’s a really honest and heartfelt account of a young girl realizing that she isn’t straight.  (Or you could just watch this performance of Sydney Lucas singing Ring of Keys at the 2015 Tony Awards if you want to cry a lot about that.)

7- A novel with different feminine POV

35412372Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi.  Admittedly I’m not 100% sure what this question is asking, but, this book has the most ‘different’ POVs I have ever encountered.  It’s narrated by a chorus of the main character’s ‘selves,’ which she conceptualizes as Nigerian ogbanje.  This is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in expanding their horizons with some less traditional but still feminist lit.

 

8- A book where a girl saves the world

220px-the_hunger_gamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Creative, I know.  I don’t really read YA fantasy, so this is all I could come up with.  I did really love these books, though (with the exception of Mockingjay) and Katniss is still one of my favorite fictional heroines.

 

 

9- A book where you prefer the female sidekick to the male MC

15827344The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  I’m bending the rules for this one a little bit – Puck isn’t Sean’s sidekick, and I’d say they share their narration equally… but I couldn’t come up with anything else, so, here we are.  I practically fell asleep every time I was reading one of Sean’s chapters, but I found Puck so compelling and sympathetic.

 

10- A book written by a male author and featuring a female character

12903397Venus in Fur by David Ives.  It’s a play, not a book (I’m doing a great job following the rules in this tag aren’t I) but Vanda is one of the most enigmatic and formidable female characters ever created.  If you haven’t read this script, you absolutely should – it’s a fascinating meditation on gender roles, and it subverts all of your expectations.

 

Tagging: Steph, Chelsea, Callum, Hannah.  Feel free to pass, etc.

Not Good Enough Tag

I’m back!  I’m not sure if I even announced on here that I was going anywhere, but, my impromptu hiatus was due to me spending a week in Los Angeles, which was great and which ended with a very dramatic conclusion, but I’ll talk more about that in my monthly wrap-up.  I’m very behind on reading everyone’s posts again, but I’ll try to get caught up today.

For now, a tag, that I was encouraged to do by Steph and Chelsea.

HOW IT WORKS:

  1. You write down the names of 30 fictional characters on pieces of paper.
  2. You pick two names at a time and answer each of the 15 questions. For each question one of the two characters will be the one you believe fits best and the other is “not good enough”.

YOU ONLY HAVE ONE MORE SPOT ON YOUR SPELLING BEE TEAM, WHO WOULD YOU PICK TO COMPLETE YOUR TEAM?

Harry Potter (HP) vs. Ryan Cusack (The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney)

Oh my god this is hilariously tragic.  Ryan Cusack is a teenage drug dealing high school drop out, and Harry is… Harry.  I guess I’ll have to go with Ryan Cusack though seeing as they don’t have English classes at Hogwarts.

BOTH CHARACTERS WANT TO KILL YOU, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU KILL FIRST SO YOU HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVING?

Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo) vs. Cal Trask (East of Eden by John Steinbeck)

Kaz Brekker, no question.  I mean, the outcome of this is definitely going to be me dying because I would not want to go up against Kaz, but I guess I’ve got no choice…

YOU’RE ON THE BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE AN YOU’RE DOWN TO THESE TWO CHARACTERS, WHICH ONE ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE YOUR ROSE TOO?

Jude St. Francis (A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara) vs. Cathy Ames (East of Eden by John Steinbeck)

Absolutely Jude St. Francis.  Not that Jude would ever go on a show like this, and he’d probably be uncomfortable with the attention, but Cathy is legitimately a sociopath and Jude is my son.

YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN FOR THE HUNGER GAMES, WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY VOLUNTEER IN YOUR PLACE?

Tristan Saddler (The Absolutist by John Boyne) vs. Achilles (classics)

This is SO FUNNY djkslfjdsl.  I mean… Achilles.  I actually regret not putting Patroclus because that would have been funnier but oh well.  Even though Achilles sat out for half the Iliad, I don’t think he’d pass up a chance to show off at the Hunger Games.

YOU’RE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND. WHICH CHARACTER WOULD YOU SACRIFICE TO ENGAGE IN CANNIBALISM?

Alexander the Great (Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault) vs. Willem Ragnarsson (A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara)

I’m going down, that’s the inevitable conclusion here.  I would sooner die than hurt Willem, and I am not about to pretend I can take on Alexander the Great.  RIP me.

YOU’RE THE NEXT DC/MARVEL SUPERHERO (WITH YOUR OWN TV SHOW OF COURSE), WHO IS YOUR SIDEKICK?

Anatole Kuragin (War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy) vs. Alex (A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess)

Oh my god.  Alex would probably be the logical choice because of his propensity for violence, but for the hilarity factor alone I have to go with Anatole Kuragin, who would be the most pretty and useless sidekick of all time.

YOU’RE A MANAGER OF AN AVOCADO ADMIRING COMPANY, WHO WOULD YOU FIRE FOR LACK OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS?

Hector of Troy (classics) vs. Pyrrhus (also classics but specifically An Arrow’s Flight by Mark Merlis)

DEFINITELY Pyrrhus.  Hector is the embodiment of lawful good and he would admire those avocados to a fault.  Pyrrhus would probably sleep through his alarm every morning and roll into the avocado joint around noon and expect to get away with it because he’s so attractive, and it would probably work for a good amount of time.

YOU’VE JUST FINISHED A BOOK IN WHICH YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER DIES, WHICH CHARACTER IS MOST LIKELY TO COMFORT YOU?

Sansa Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin) vs. Edmund (King Lear)

Well obviously it’s my girl Sansa, because she is sweet and caring and Edmund is actual trash.

UGH, IT’S HIGH SCHOOL. WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY BE PART OF THE POPULAR CLIQUE?

Inej Ghafa (Six of Crows) vs. Cyril Avery (The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne)

Inej by default, just because Cyril Avery is so deeply uncool.  I don’t think Inej would be in the popular clique either, but maybe people would admire her from afar for being so competent and mysterious.

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED; YOU’RE FINALLY A YEAR OLDER! WHO WOULD HAVE THE NERVE TO FORGET YOUR BIRTHDAY?

Hermione Granger (HP) vs. Robb Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin)

Well Hermione never would, so it’s gotta be Robb Stark.  I don’t blame him though, he’s got bigger fish to fry, like the red wedding… and I don’t think they’re big on birthdays in Westeros.

YOU’VE JUST FOUND AN UPCOMING BOOKTUBE STAR? WHO WOULD MOST LIKELY BE?

Clytemnestra (classics) vs. James Farrow (If We Were Villains by ML Rio)

Probably James, who gets popular because he’s so smart and charismatic (and attractive), but Oliver records and uploads all his videos and he has no idea that he has such a huge internet following.

SLEEPOVER TIME! UNFORTUNATELY YOU CAN ONLY INVITE ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE?

Sunja Baek (Pachinko by Min Jin Lee) vs. Aliena of Shiring (The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett)

SOPHIE’S CHOICE…… I’m going to go with Aliena just because I have loved her longer and I think we’d have more to talk about.  But, these characters are actually very similar (entrepreneurial, resilient women doing the best they can in hideously misogynistic circumstances) so it’s a close call.

BAM, YOU’RE PREGNANT. WHO’S THE FATHER/MOTHER?

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) vs. Jean Valjean (Les Miserables by Victor Hugo)

Oh my god.  This is so hard.  But I mean… even disregarding biology I think I’d say Jean Valjean, who is THE greatest adoptive father in the history of literature, so definitely not a bad choice for co-parenting.

YOU’VE JUST WRITTEN A SUPER IMPORTANT TEXT. WHO WOULD ‘SEE’ IT, BUT NOT REPLY?

Lu Rile (Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon) vs. Marius Pontmercy (Les Miserables by Victor Hugo)

This is HYSTERICAL djklsjflds I don’t think enough people have read Self-Portrait with Boy yet to realize just how close of a call this is, but still, it’s gotta be Marius, whose entire awkward fictional existence has been leading up to being an answer to this question.

YOU’VE JUST WOKEN UP AND IT’S TIME FOR BREAKFAST. YOUR MUM’S BEEN REPLACED BY WHO?!

Francis Abernathy vs. Henry Winter (both from The Secret History by Donna Tartt)

THIS SO FUNNY I don’t want either of these human garbage cans to be my parent, but I guess I’ll have to go with Francis, who… may have some kind of nurturing instinct deep down, maybe.  I mean, since the alternative is Henry, there’s really only one answer here.

Not tagging anyone, but if you do it, pingback to me so I can read your answers!