What the fuck? My entire vocabulary has been reduced to those three words. What the actual fuck? Things have gone beyond absurd, and it doesn’t matter where I turn. Almost everything in my life is what-the-fuck? worthy right now. Except the books. Thank you books! Specifically, the fifteen books that I read in January:
What a month of reading, right? Hot damn. Not a mediocre title among them. (List at the bottom in case they are too small to read.)
It all started when I went to the library. My local branch doesn’t have a great English section, and I hadn’t visited the main branch in years—the branch with the big(ish) English-language section. I owe the Miranda July, both Jeanette Wintersons, and the Lethem to its glorious shelves. All hail! How could I have forgotten your sweet charms, oh library?!
Let me tell you a little story. I got a gift certificate to the book store for Christmas. Before I went to the bookstore, I went to the library. I took out five or six books. Then I went to the bookstore, and suddenly I didn’t feel like buying anything. I already had a bag full of awesome books. I didn’t need any more. I didn’t want any more. I went home with a cookbook, a calendar, and a cure for compulsive book buying. I still buy things—the selection at the Frankfurt library isn’t perfect—but I buy far less things and, you know what?, I also try things. The First Bad Man for example. I wouldn’t have bought it, but I borrowed it, and it was a striking, memorable read.
2017: Year of the Library!
A long weekend in Paris with my daughter at the beginning of the month brought me to two used bookstores, where I picked up the Clowes, the Gaiman, and the Suddain. All three were delightful in vastly different ways: the Clowes disturbingly so, the Gaiman delightfully, and the Suddain in the way of the new-favorite book crush. Hunters and Collectors by M. Suddain, a surreal tale of intergalactic gastronomic misadventure, turned out to be everything I love: funny and weird and structurally experimental (yet page turning! so rare!) and even wise. But don’t take my word for it, take Jeff VanderMeer’s.
Book #6 of 2017: Hunters and Collectors by M. Suddain. Halfway through, and I can’t recommend it enough. Page-turning, subtly sci fi (and horror, and mystery thriller) tale of intergalactic forensic gastronomy with a slightly experimental style. Picked up after reading Jeff VanderMeer’s review, and I regret none of the 17€ I had to spend to get a hold of it. #amreading #booksontrains
Meanwhile, at home, I found myself turning to parenting books to help strengthen me in the face of something that used to terrify me (single parenting) and the memoirs of badass mother fucker artist ladies (Viv Albertine, Carrie Brownstein, and Jeanette Winterson) as I continue to fumble around with the question of who the fuck am I as a mother artist writer woman person. It has been exhilarating, I’ve been writing fiction again, and in spite of all the hardships it has already thrown at me, I am excited to see what will bloom from atop the rotting carcass of ought sixteen and the pile of ash that is already ought seventeen.
Random January Reading Stats to Break Up All This Text
Total books read: 15
Written by men/women: 9/6
Purchased in January/purchased books read: 5/5
Library books: 5
Audio books: 2
BAM! Only slightly behind in author gender parity and on point with reading what I buy and reading my own damn books. (Can I fit another library huzzah in here? YUP. Libraries for the win!) But those totally aren’t goals or anything because I gave up goals for new year’s. Nope. I am not achieving my totally non-existing goals, nosiree.
Put it in your ear
Audio books are the battleground I have chosen for the sci fi classics, and this month I tackled my second Arthur C. Clarke. Guys! I like Arthur C. Clarke! I didn’t expect to. The Old White Guard don’t often do it for me, but Clarke—at least in audio form—gives me that hunka hunka sensawunder that makes me oo and aah and really improves my bike commute. (I have now done Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End.) Asimov is up next (right after I finish listening to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), and I can’t wait to find out what kind of love-hate relationship I am going to have with that mother fucker.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Annoyingly Long Title by Benjamin Alire Sáenz was a Book Riot audio book recommendation, thanks to the fact that Hamilton superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda reads it. He is a fantastic reader, and it is an excellent book (particularly on the characterization front) about being queer and a teenager and dealing with life and family and love. I had no idea what it was about when I picked it up, and by the final chapter I was a full-on convert.
This post is already too fucking long
So I’ll leave it to you, dear readers. If you loved one of the books I read this month and want to discuss, let me know. If you hated one of the books I read this month and want to discuss, let me know. I’ll be happy to ramble further in the comments.
Closing arguments: 1. Jeanette Winterson is probably the biggest single influence on my (attempted) (fiction) writing and I fucking love everything she touches. 2. Jonathan Lethem’s “realism” books suck but his science fiction is pretty cool. 3. I didn’t even get around to discussing my three favorite books of the month, how dumb is that. Discuss.
Those cover pictures are small and hard to read, so here is a list of the titles of January:
1. The First Bad Man by Miranda July
2. The Powerbook by Jeanette Winterson
3. Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood edited by Tomas Moniz & Jeremy Adam Smith
4. Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron by Daniel Clowes
5. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell
6. Bête by Adam Roberts
7. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
8. Hunters & Collectors by M. Suddain
9. Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem
10. Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
11. The Monster Within: The Hidden Side of Motherhood by Barbara Almond
12. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson
13. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
14. Artistotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
15. Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine