Sorry about your bad luck, book punks, but I only read three books in February. There were reasons for this, but I have a feeling you probably don’t need to hear about them, so let’s skip the small talk and go straight for the bookish jugular. The books I read in the fine month of February in the year of 2017 were:
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
*Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson (audiobook)
Running total for 2017: 13 books
My desert island book is difficult. The Lie Tree is the superior book in my not even remotely humble opinion. HOWEVER, The Dark Days Pact, Alison Goodman’s stellar follow-up to one of my 2016 favorites, The Dark Days Club, was more fun to read. It’s a Regency romance about demon hunters, so it’s kind of trash, but it’s good trash. Thoughtful trash. Trash that is really well researched and makes you think about gender dynamics and classism in a period of history when maintaining one’s reputation was priority numero uno. However, it did suffer a slight sophomore slump in that I feel like Goodman isn’t branching out from conflicts and tensions that she has already explored in previous books. I want to see more from her. A woman who can write such magically trashy (GENIUS) reasons for characters to make out has to have more literary tricks up her sleeve than “female protagonist disguises herself as a boy, takes on way too much personal responsibility and fucks things up by not sharing that burden with others.”
In case you’re wondering why I’m insisting on calling a book I truly enjoyed “trash,” here’s the back story: one of my students has been trying to get us to read “trash” for our book club for pretty much the entire school year. When I admonished her for calling books that other people might love trash, she looked scandalized and said, “But, Ms. Jelinek, I LOVE trash! It’s all I read!” So, I am adopting my fourteen-year-old student’s philosophy of embracing my love of trash. I mean, people’s entire diets can consist of food harvested from garbage cans. Who says my brain can’t derive sustenance from trashy books? A lot of people can, I know, but those people suck.
But, I digress. Even though I think I enjoyed the act of reading The Dark Days Pact more than I did The Lie Tree, I think the latter has richer sustenance to be mined in a re-read. Also, I hate the cover for The Dark Days Pact so much that I honestly would rather not look at it again.
*Now, for this month’s reading for the resistance, let’s talk the Siege of Leningrad and M.T. Anderson’s brilliant Symphony for the City of the Dead. My love for everything M.T. Anderson produces is no joke. I am not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that I would gladly breathe that man’s farts. Symphony for the City of the Dead, his non-fiction account of the longest siege in history framed by the life and art of the composer Dmitri Shostakovich, has been on my to-read list for a while, but I was hesitant to dive fully into what I knew would be a bleak read. When I read his article about the parallels between Stalin and Trump, and their mutual love of promoting lies that support(ed) their narcissism, I knew I had to get over my reluctance to read about wartime cannibals and just do it, and I am glad I did. If you want to a) learn some fascinating history that you can share with your friends when you get drunk and talkative and b) want to understand what the hell the possible endgame of the Trump dynasty’s blatant manipulation of misconstrued reality, read this book. And maybe don’t eat anything before you start reading the part about cannibals.
Until next month, book punks.