Media Books


Big Stew
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I seriously recommend The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It's a really long and complex book that is absolutely worth taking your time on and really absorbing every bit of information in. It's set in gold rush New Zealand in the 1860s and you will be transported to this other world that she creates for you. The book does require knowing a bit about astrology, so learn a little before you go in - it will increase your enjoyment of the book a lot. Seriously try this book, you won't regret it.
I read many books since my last post, so I won't talk about them in detail.

I'll write a couple of sentences about what I liked / disliked, and whether or not I recommend the book.
  • Circe — Madeleine Miller
Novel about the Greek anti heroine Circe. Excellent mix of Greek mythology and human-like adventures. Recommended.
  • The Fascist Garden — Ernesto Masina
The story is set in a small mountain town in northern Italy. The population hates the Nazi occupation, and 3 people devise a plan to scare them away. Except the plan has unexpected consequences. This is a novel only available in Italian. But it's been talked about on national newspapers so maybe it'll get a translation? It's decent, but I wouldn't recommend it.
  • Brave New World — Aldous Huxley
Dystopian novel about social engineering on crack. Read this book. Link what happens there with what's happening in this world. Bathe in the despair. Must read.
  • Project Hail Mary — Andy Weir
Sci-Fi novel about a chemistry teacher trying to save our planet from a threatening life-form that's eating the sun. It manages to explain physics in a simple way. I understood most of it with very basic knowledge on the subject. I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns — Khaled Hosseini
A girl born out of wedlock in Afghanistan tries to join her father's house. Instead she's forced to marry a violent man who hits her. Later on she's joined by another girl. It's a touching story about war, domestic violence, and treachery. Everyone should read this book. Must read.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexandre Dumas
The long journey of Edmond Dantès from lively sailor to disgraced prisoner to cold-hearted avenger. Another must read. It's THE literary masterpiece.
  • Fair Warning — Michael Connelly
The protagonist is a journalist who is a suspect for a woman's murder. In an effort to set himself free and publish an article that will get him back into the spotlight, he ends up unveiling a story bigger than him. It's ok, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.
  • The Milanese kill on Saturday — Giorgio Scerbanenco
Crime novel about the abduction and murder of a woman with limited mental faculties. It's a gripping investigation that ends in a most surprising way. Recommended, though I'm not sure it's got an English translation.
  • The Stranger — Albert Camus
Absurdist novel about a man who gets sentenced to death. Excellent is an understatement. Read it.
  • Bonjour Tristesse — Françoise Sagan
I don't remember much about this novel. The style is gorgeous, but there is almost no substance. Perfect book if you want to improve your writing. Terrible book if you're looking for a story that will leave you something.
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous — Ocean Vuong
I have mixed feelings about this book. I think the Italian translation ruined the experience. After reading it I thought "I feel like English would be a much better language for this book". Most of my reading is in English too, I don't know why I went for the Italian version. Still, I'd recommend it, provided you read it in English.
  • 1984 — George Orwell
Orwell's famous dystopian masterpiece. It's a captivating story set in a hyper-surveillance and propagandistic state. It shows the horrors of slavery by control of thought. Must read.
  • The Tao of Pooh — Benjamin Hoff
This is a (very westernized) introduction to Taoism. It draws parallels between Winnie the Pooh's cast and various Taoist concepts. It's a lovely read, even if you aren't into this sort of thing. You can learn a couple of things that will improve your life. Recommended.

Other assorted non-fiction books I've read: The Courage to be Disliked, As a Man Tinketh, I, Pencil. All exquisite books.

Right now I'm reading The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima. I'm almost halfway through it, and I'm loving it. I know I can recommend it, Mishima is always a safe bet.
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I'm back with more good stuff.

The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho

I read this among the ones in the previous post, I just forgot about mentioning it. It's a short book about having faith in yourself and looking at the positive side of things, but not in a corny way. Recommended.

Flowers for Algernon — Daniel Keyes

This one was a ride. I went from detached to sad to glad to vengeful and then back to sad again. It's a novel where a mentally disabled man goes under a special surgery that gives him a super brain. But while you can acquire knowledge fast, you can't learn how to deal with your emotions quickly. Plus, the surgery was highly experimental.

The results don't stick, and his brain regresses back to its original state after a while. The novel is written as a diary. It shows how intelligence wrecks the character emotionally. He knows lots about every scientific subject. But he doesn't know anything about himself. Read this book.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea — Yukio Mishima

This is a novel about respect. The respect a boy loses for the sailor he admires because he manages to know him beyond his on-the-job daily life. The respect he loses for his mother because of her (in his eyes) debauchery. The respect he craves from his friends.

World Cup Wishes — Eshkol Nevo

This is a mediocre book that I wish I dropped. It's not terrible, but it's not great either. There are so many great books out there for which I don't have time. At least it reinforced the notion of having to drop books I dislike. I can't even tell you much about it. It's about friendship in difficult times. But that's about it. I don't recommend it.

Slaughterhouse Five — Kurt Vonnegut

This is where World Cup Wishes came in handy. I dropped this one about 1/3rd into it. It was that bad.

A Confederacy of Dunces — John Kennedy Toole

This is a literary masterpiece. Read it. It's hilarious and depressing. Grand and humble. Wholesome and cruel. All at the same time. It follows the deeds of Ignatius Reilly, a huge man who lives with his mother. The mother incurs into a big debt and forces Ignatius to look for a job to pay it off.

But Ignatius has a very specific worldview. He's full of himself and extremely out of place. Thus, despite his master's degree, he struggles to find a job. And when he does, all sorts of things happen because of his personality. Every word he says, every action he does makes sense and doesn't at the same time.

He sends an angry letter to his job's main customer calling him a person with a "blighted worldview". And that, should he complain again, he'll "feel the sting of the lash across your pitiful shoulders". He then tries his luck as an hot-dogs vendor.

There are other excellent characters in it like Burma Jones and Miss Trixie. All of them are absurd in their own way. But in the end, they are all dunces trying to hold Ignatius back. Or that's what he'd tell you anyway.

100% read this. Easily one of the best novels I've ever read. It's up there with Nabokov's Lolita, Dumas' The Count of Montecristo, and Camus' The Stranger.
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Phew, I've got a pretty large backlog of books thanks to exams and stuff.

Currently finishing up Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker (huge fan of this guy; love all his books!) and moving onto Elantris (almost finished all Cosmere books!), Dune, Wheel of Time (already read first book a while back; wasn't too into it but decided to pick it up again at the recommendation of many people), Powder Mage (read books 1-2 already) for some more whimsical reads.

One other book I recently read and quite liked was Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It's a pretty big departure from what I normally enjoy, and I only read it because it was required for a class, but I actually ended up enjoying it quite a lot! Feels good to expand my horizons since I almost always read just fantasy with the occasional foray into non fiction. I'm not really sure what other sort of books I might like, though.
Back after years to talk about what I've read recently:

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer -- Patrick Suskund
Really interesting premise that I've never really seen done elsewhere, definitely a famous novel for a reason. Historical fantasy novel that fixates on smell over the other senses, something literature (or at least, literature that I've read) never really does. The 'killing for art's sake' shtick that consumes the lead as he kills women in order to turn their scents into perfume is done and dusted by this point, but Perfume's an older novel so can't really be blamed for what has become a modern cliché when it was likely one of the texts that shaped that genre. Really interesting read with a great ending. Adult themes present throughout but that makes it much more visceral and believable. Very unique and well-written.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein -- Coco Mellors
Book about a girl staying in London on a work visa, meets a self-made guy and falls in love with him. They get married quickly and then the book begins exploring the trials of marriage, gender querness, and mental illness. Not that I'd know because I dropped it so fast, that's what the site says.

I don't necessarily look down on YA fiction but am tempted to do so at one times. This one made waves in the literary world and, at the behest of my girlfriend who dropped it after a couple chapters, I started it last week. Worst thing I've read in years, absolutely crazy similes bordering on the nonsensical and laughable character interactions that are absolutely unbearable -- and that's just the two pages I read before tossing it in the bin.

Here's a passage from the first page. This is the first thing you'll see when deciding if you actually want to read this book. The book also took 7 years to write, apparently.
"Your voice sounds like how biting into a Granny Smith apple feels."
Now she laughed, with less abandon. "How does that feel?"
"In a word? Crisp."
"As opposed to biting into a Pink Lady or a Golden Delicious?
"You know your apples." He gave her a respectful nod. "But it's insanity to suggest you sound anything like a Golden Delicious. That's a midwestern accent."

Sadly I couldn't rate the book 0 stars on GoodReads, but I can here. The characters also have absolutely nothing to do with Cleopatra and Victor Frankenstein thematically, author just decided to name the two leads Cleo and Frank after them. Worst book I've ever tried to read, excluding those with Rupi Kaur's name on them. Just a soup of clichés whipped up by somebody who has no business being in the kitchen.

An Adventure -- Vinay Patel
Same general themes as the previous book seemed to have in terms of relationships and marriage, but it looks at it from a less privileged perspective as a young couple leave India in search of a better life in England in a story based upon Patel's own parents. This is actually a play that I read the script for, intended to be acted in three parts over three hours. Politically charged and fascinating, though it did drag at parts that felt like clear transitions -- letting me become disinterested. By the final chapters of the book I thought it was quite mediocre, but it definitely had the best ending I'd read in any book up until that point in some time. That definitely bumped it up for me, and you have to also take into account that this was written for stage so would most certainly be better to watch than read -- e.g the third section of the script states that the actors are now replaced with older ones in order to show the passage of time in a more direct way, something that gets lost in a book when you're supposed to jump thirty years between two pages. Also consider sound design, accentuation etc. Overall, an enlightening read that gave me insight into a lot of political issues within India and Kenya following the former becoming independent from British rule.
Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt follows Chauvinistic Adam Hodson, who has an experience to remember when his new rented house catches fire and he is moved into a house of liberal, female nudists. As he struggles fully adapt, it is not just Adam who has to learn, as the girls have to adjust to his own foibles, weaknesses, and those of his violent, racist friend.
Join Sarah, the sharp-witted primary school teacher, Tabitha, the pregnant girl and Natalie, the assertive Operations Manager as they get a conservative Adam to embrace their lifestyle while hiding secrets from others.
The book is divided into around 75 small scenes to make it ideal for short journeys or where the reader is likely to be interrupted. This is a romantic story although it does contain some mature language and discretion is advised.
I've been getting back into books this year and I'm currently reading several titles.

- The Easy Life In Kamusari by Shion Miura
A pleasant slice of life novel about a man working at a saw mill in rural Japan. There are no real stakes, but it's a comfortable read. I'm looking forward to reading other books by this author.

- The Way Spring Arrives
This is a sci-fi and fantasy short story collection by several Chinese writers. There's also an essay for some reason. The quality varies wildly. I liked the first story and disliked the other two I read. The rest might be better, so I intend to keep going.

- Woman in The Dunes by Kobo Abe

A novel about an etymologist getting lost in a desert. He decides to stay and help dig a ditch in order for a village to not sink. The book is nihilistic and has a disturbing scene that wouldn't go over well if it were published now. The translation and prose are superb though.
Phew, I've got a pretty large backlog of books thanks to exams and stuff.

Currently finishing up Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker (huge fan of this guy; love all his books!) and moving onto Elantris (almost finished all Cosmere books!), Dune, Wheel of Time (already read first book a while back; wasn't too into it but decided to pick it up again at the recommendation of many people), Powder Mage (read books 1-2 already) for some more whimsical reads.

One other book I recently read and quite liked was Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It's a pretty big departure from what I normally enjoy, and I only read it because it was required for a class, but I actually ended up enjoying it quite a lot! Feels good to expand my horizons since I almost always read just fantasy with the occasional foray into non fiction. I'm not really sure what other sort of books I might like, though.
Curious, did you end up enjoying the later Wheel of Time books? I read the first book largely due to my liking for Brandon Sanderson's novels (and the fact that he finished the series) and found it to be pretty bland, basically just a retread of Lord of the Rings that didn't add anything much of worth to the mixture. I'd be interested to hear if it does end up becoming better later on though since it sounds like you feel similarly.
Curious, did you end up enjoying the later Wheel of Time books? I read the first book largely due to my liking for Brandon Sanderson's novels (and the fact that he finished the series) and found it to be pretty bland, basically just a retread of Lord of the Rings that didn't add anything much of worth to the mixture. I'd be interested to hear if it does end up becoming better later on though since it sounds like you feel similarly.
I've been super busy with a bunch of other stuff so I haven't had too much time for reading. Book 1 was kind of meh, as you said, however I quite enjoyed books 2 and 3, enough to go and buy the next 3 for myself to read. Can't speak on the late late books because I haven't read them myself, but yes. I think there's definitely a very big improvement just between books 1-3. It's hard to compete with good old Brando Sando but I am enjoying them nonetheless.
Read The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller over the last couple days. Not quite as good as Circe (also by Miller), but a good read nonetheless; good, meaningful representation and a plot which tugs at the heartstrings as, no matter how hopeful things look at times, we all know how the story of Achilles ends. 4/5.


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It’s one of my favorite times all year, the Ithaca New York Friends of the Library Sale, seriously recommended checking it out, twice a year in fall and spring. Always a good time, always a line out the door in the morning. It’s awesome! I’ll send my haul later.


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Read almost all of Tell Me I'm Worthless by Alison Rumfitt in one sitting. It's a gripping haunted house horror novel set in Brighton, variations on the themes of being gay and living in a dystopian political economy. A rare pleasure, this is one for the reader who likes a little bit of everything and isn't faint/squeamish of anything. I really cannot gush enough about this one, there is a haunted Morrisey poster lol... content warning sexual violence though.

Also finished:

Love and Limerence- This is a nonfiction narrative of one academic's research into the experience of being in love. Had been on my list for a long time, the vivid transcriptions of people's first hand experiences make for engaging reading. Another fascinating section pulls back the veil on misogyny and sexual violence/abuse in clinical practice and psych theory.

The Sea Around Us- Rachel Carson summarizes what is known about the sea at the time of writing (1950ish). I had wanted to return to her after seeing many public scientists fail to communicate well throughout this pandemic as she is quite a good teacher. Many foundational theories in biology and geology have been revised since the book was written; it is still a smooth and pleasant read.

I started but did not finish:

The Dance of Anger- A self-help sort of book about anger and how to harness it and not let it shut you down, I may return to it, but I found it unnecessary for myself.

The Long Twentieth Century- I found this one dense although still quite followable it is just I have to be very motivated as sometimes they will just introduce some well-known analysis of a historical event that is really complicated for a layperson like myself so it takes a long time to read even small sections.
I am still in the process of reading “The Chain” in all honesty it started from me seeing what my friend was reading stealing when she wasn’t looking and reading it before class started and it immediately brings you into the action, it was super hard to put it down when my professor started lecturing us
(I stole it again to read a little more)
“The Chain” is about well to say the least The Chain which is an organization that forces parents to kidnap other children, so their own child is released that had been previously captured by another parent, you see the cycle? But the gripping part is that when one of the main characters try’s to like contact the police and tell somebody, there’s always a previous chain agent there to stop her
God it’s sooo good, I can’t wait to finish it. It’s really down to earth and doesn’t sugar coat jack shit it’s just real horrible stuff happening, written in a super good interesting way that makes you want to keep reading. I would definitely recommend it!

(EDIT: I should’ve prefaced with this, there are some serious topics in the book, like violence, kidnapping, and drugs. So if you don’t like that stuff I would not recommend)
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Writing in here because I have read 16 books in 2022. Mentioning a few here.

Fantasy/Science Fiction
Dune - Frank Herbert (3.5/5)

I think most people know of Dune, and I started reading this book because I heard about the movie. Dune is set in a futuristic technologically advanced world which after the Butlerian Jihad (the bloody war between Man and Machines) has eliminated all computers and passed a decree declaring "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man's mind". Since there are no computers, the essential working of the galaxy is still medieval and feudal with heavy reliance on men and their dallying around. Lots of thriller potential right there. Men with superhuman analytical abilities called Mentatshave taken the place of Computers. On the other hand, we have the Bene Gesserit, an ancient school of mental and physical training for female students (it gives them superhuman intuitive powers) who follow a selective breeding program which makes them feared and mistrusted through the Imperium. Their desired end product of this breeding program is the Kwisatz Haderach, a superman who’ll be able to glimpse into the future. This is only the world setting, the plot involves politics and more, but due to the first half being on the back of the book (there is literally a big spoiler on the back) I didn't enjoy reading the first half. The last 100 pages were great. I don't know if I'll pick up the sequels, I first want to watch the movie.

We Hunt the Flame - Hafsah Faizal (4/5)
During my search for an arabic inspired fantasy fiction book, I stumbled upon We Hunt the Flame. Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow... I am currently reading the sequel to this book. I liked the characters and the worldbuildign was okay, but it seemed dragged out at some points...

Midnight Library - Matt Haig (4/5)
Loved it. A woman visits all the "what ifs" in her life after dying. Like for example, what if I had married my crush, what if I had continued playing with my band, what if I had never quit my sports career. It's good. Feels more like literary fiction though.

I ALSO READ HARRY POTTER 1, 2 AND 3 and will read the rest in 2023. I am late to the party, it is so much fun.

Atomic Habits - James Clear (5/5)
I LOVED THIS, it is in the self help genre and it basically helps you with creating healthy habits for yourself. This book learned me that I often procrastinate because I am delaying failure. Big realisation. It's just the right amount of pages and the writing style is so nice. Love it to bits and it is in my favourite books ever hall of fame.

Deep Work - Cal Newport (5/5)
I'm a Cal Newport fan xD. Love this book about reaching pinnacles of the human mind by concentrating deeply, and how to cut out distractions. Hall of faaaame.

12 Rules for Life - Jordan B. Peterson (4.5/5)
I know Peterson is a bigger figure because next to writing he gives lectures and he used to be a teacher. I read this book because I hoped it would give me some new insights, and yes it did. I highlighted many sentences. Getting through this book took me a long time because I had to pause and reconsider my LIFE after some of the rules. I love that it brought me new thoughts and perspectives on life. This one is also going on my Hall of fame shelf and I sometimes pick it up to read some of the highlighted parts.

Surrounded by Idiots - Thomas Erikson (3.5/5)
People say you can not just divide people into 4 personality types. I definitely know a few people in my life that are red though!!! It really helped me understand some people better. It is especially good if you work in an organisation. It was a fun read! only 250 ish pages.

Literary Fiction
Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi (4/5)

Last year, I had read a few books that were set in an east asian country, written by East Asian authors, so that I get to know about culture and setting of that country. This year I decided to try out books written by black writers. Homegoing was great. you follow the story of a family tree and their journey from Africa to America in different generations, first as slaves and then as free people, still struggling to catch up with society and scarred by their past. There is a helpful depiction of the family tree as well. Beautiful.

Open Water - Caleb Azuman Nelson (2.5/5)
Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists - he a photographer, she a dancer, trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. They fall in love. The book was written in a dramatic style. It definitely wasn't my favorite read... I didn't like the writing style.

Honorable mentions:
On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous - Ocean Vuong (2.5/5) Literary Fiction

I'm Glad My Mom Died - Jennette McCurdy (4.5/5) Memoir

♡ PS: If anyone wants to connect on Goodreads, I would love to be friends on there and see what you read. ♡
Haven't read a book in years because of work, university and many personal responsibilities. Read mangas and comics instead, as they go faster and you can read a chapter a week. Got a book store gift card and will buy myself house of leaves and maybe the Jeanette McCurdy book


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Build Your House Around My Body- Violet Kupersmith

A book so good that I worry that my recent praise for other books in this thread could even distract from this book's achievements. Kupersmith weaves a deftly plotted ghost story that glosses ~70 years of Vietnamese history going back to the French colonization, through the Japanese invasion of Indochina and war with America, and into the present day. The author's metaphors are each so perfect that I cannot do justice to them w mere mentions though as an example: in one striking passage at the outset, the main character Winnie longs to be transformed into something or someone else as a strangler fig transforms its host tree. Narratives of possession and body swapping make commentaries on legacies of colonialism, which drives the plot, connecting each character substantively through its haunting. There is a shade of Murakami-like confusion in the ending, which leaves characters permanently at home in new bodies (perhaps signals some type of hopefulness in diaspora that seems distant and perhaps impossible at the start of the novel, at least for Winnie). The novel is quite perfect, perfect metaphors, perfect pacing, perfect landscape writing, Melville like imagery of the rubber plantation etc, no tedium. I give it the myzozoa 100% satisfaction guarantee. While it is a quick read, it is better savored as it is just so deserving of drawn out engagement.

The Origins of Iris- Beth Lewis

This novel follows Iris, a white lesbian woman fleeing an abusive relationship. It interrogates ideas about choice, and freedom, and depersonalization in abusive relationships. Iris has an abusive relationship with her father, and then with her wife. One day, following a traumatic twist in in her marriage that I will not reveal (this twist is imo the weakest part of the book, almost as if an unneeded plot device, but some would say it is central to the ambivalence that permeates the novel) she flees to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Once there, she becomes trapped in space and time with another version of herself that made different choices at certain key moments. The novel is successful and self-aware in overcoming its clunky set-up to wind up being a sort of inversion of Walden where the narrator has more clarity before their isolative period than after. I will warn you it does have an ending that denies the reader closure, which could be expected in a novel which goes so deeply into an experience of ambivalence. While quite engaging, well-paced, and constructed, the metaphors in this novel are as clunky as the set-up: describing seeing her future wife Claude, for the first time, Iris says something like 'She hit me like a freight train', and of course later Claude hits her... Anyway, if you are looking for a nice gay book to read or gift to someone you could do worse than this. I read it in about 5 hours on a NOC shift as it is very quick paced.

will be back w N.K Jemison The Broken Earth Trilogy.
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Wassup. I only managed to crank out 19 books this year; two of which I didn't finish all the way through. That said, this is pretty good for me! Decided to do my end-of-the-year rankings. Here it is:

I hate shitting on books since they are so much more personalized pieces of art than movies/videogames but... I have to. Promises & Pomegranates may very well be the worst book I've read... Lol. Look, it's essentially porn, honestly. I know smut isn't anything new but like let's call it for what it is. I only read it because my girlfriend and I did a blind book reading together, and she picked this. We tore it to shreds. The plot is nonexistent and the characters are insufferable. The smut isn't even good! The Truants is equally as bizarre, with a baffling plot and equally as insufferable characters. Atleast this book is interesting if framed as really really juicy gossip. I may co-opt the plot as events that happened to a "friend of mine" next time I'm out to dinner with someone and need to baffle them with the craziest tea known to man. That doesn't mean the book is good, though.

D tier is what I call the "mid non-fiction tier." This year I spent a lot of time reading non-fiction books in a vain attempt to relive the experience of reading Paul Tough's The Years That Matter Most; which I highly, highly, HIIIIGHLY recommend. These three in particular disappoint because they are a bit too meandering and kinda just boring. Freakonomics especially so. In fact, the lack of any cohesion is something the authors pretty much state in the introduction to the book itself. I liked the Social Animal well enough but can't really remember anything particularly illuminating from it. The Premonitions Bureau wins out in this category because the subject matter is the most interesting, but all I really remember from this book is powering through it just to finish it because I was bored and wanted to move on.

It might surprise some to see Cormac McCarthy that low, but to be quite honest I found Blood Meridian to be incredibly, incredibly, incredibly, incredibly, incredibly, increeeeddiiiibbbllyyyyy boring. All the characters are shallow and the plot is nonexistent. A couple of dirty idiots wander around in the desert for 300 pages. The prose is good and there are some great lines in there but oh my goooooood was it so fucking boring. I'm sure many will accuse me of missing the point or whatever but I guess symbolism and themes are lost on me when I just don't care about anything that is happening.

The Anthropocene Reviewed beats out the other mid-non-fictions because it atleast has quite a personal touch. This feels like reading John Green's personal journal, which is nice, even if the book goes no where and ultimatly amounts to not much more than Green's ramblings.

I loved Bram Stoker's Dracula and read it through Dracula Daily, which I highly recommend. For some reason I connected to these characters on much deeper level than any in the other books I've read. They are the characters I most consider to be my friends, and I would die for all of them.

Lies My Teacher Told Me wins out in the non-fiction category despite it being one of the two books I didn't finish this year (A Court of Silver Flames being the other). This book had some really eye-opening shit, and is especially relevant to me, a Social Studies teacher. Highly recommend it if you are American or interested in American history.

The Top 5 was the hardest to order for me. We Had to Remove Your Post was nearly a perfect book; a simple idea executed perfectly, tackling extremely relevant themes related to anxiety, work-related stress, the internet and relationships in general. It is also very very short, so I recommend taking a trip to B&N for lunch and cranking that shit out in the cafe. American Gods was the first book I finished this year and held the #1 spot for most of the year. It's possible its suffering from the reverse of recency bias, since I read it during a time that feels like eons ago. I really enjoyed being in the world of this book, even if it felt like it went off on big tangents during the middle. The ending was also a bit anti-climatic.

The Mask of the Sorcerer might be one of the best fantasies ever written, and it's hard to leave it at just the bronze. I can not do it justice in this post alone. If you like old-school fantasies, DEFINITELY check this out. It has a world that feels really fresh and a main character that is impossible to hate. It's a big story full of ancient gods and ancient magic and yet is also extremely personal. I love how this book makes magic feel so magical.... it's terrifying and mystifying and mysterious. Please someone else read this I want to talk about it with another human being.

I ate The Way of Kings up so voraciously. This book taught me that page numbers mean nothing. It took me like 400000 years to finish Blood Meridian which is only just over 400 and yet I finished Way of Kings' 1200+ pages in like a week. I couldn't put this down and when I finally finished I thought for sure it would be the #1... but I think The Lies of Locke Lamora overtakes it for me. I love the Camorr so much as a setting, and this book took my expectations and knocked me over the head with 'em.

Looking forward to 2023!!!! I have a lot of books sitting on my shelf that I can't wait to read.


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From the past couple months-

Alice Isn't Dead- This is a horror book originally or partially a podcast. The premise, as best I can recall, is that the protagonist's wife has been missing for months but begins appearing on the news broadcasts at various disaster events (crime scenes, natural disaster). In investigating these appearances her wife, the protagonist, stumbles upon a cosmic struggle between good and evil that has been animating dark tensions in American politics. I felt this book was well written, paced, and readable. With interesting enough characters. I read it quickly and the themes and ideas felt familiar and satisfying within the horror genre, with an enjoyable if not necessarily mind-blowing build up. Affectively, the characters in the book grapple with the anxiety primarily and that is perhaps the experience that the book makes the most comments about. I think the text is at the minimum rote wrt its idea of anxiety, where anxiety is like a bystander effect to be overcome, after which justice will be achieved by those who overcame their anxiety and spoke up. Still, there is a critique of 'anxiety on behalf of another person' 'we need to protect the women and children' type security/protective discourses in the context of the protagonist's relationship to Alice. The book's most interesting commentary is perhaps related to the 'forgotten' locations, the places that are 'merely' 'on the way' to other places, that it foregrounds. I did appreciate the creepy portrayal of America's roads, and the horror here is drawn up well..., but I think people who have tracked across America's roads more than I have would like it more. If you're looking for an airplane book this is a safe bet for 8 hours, I don't mean this insultingly or like super pretentiously, but my mind was not blown, it was entertaining though.

In The Dream House- This is the only Carmen Maria Machado I've read. This is a memoir about an abusive relationship she was in during graduate school. She goes into the ways abuse is built into everyday myths we carry with us about relationships, i.e, how abuse is naturalized and enabled. She points out that most of the things the woman who abused her did were actually legal. Looks at elements of abusive relationships present in folktales and well known plays and pop songs. Finally, she looks at the legal history of the first American court room treatments of abuse in lesbian relationships. The author plays a bit with genre to really paint an immersive picture of what abuse can look like. I also really enjoyed her talking about all the places in the PNW she visited while writing the book, which she mentions. Highly recommend for a creative non-fiction piece.

The Price of Salt- aka Carol- This novel was mentioned in In the Dream House, which is how I came to read it. It is a 1950s story of a lesbian romance that actually has a non-tragic ending. It got made into a Cate Blanchett Rooney Mara film called 'Carol' which pretty much 100% recreates the main storyline and dialogue of the novel with no important deviations, highly recommend the movie. In the book, Therese's longing for Carol is even more palpable and the eventual reciprocation is even more satisfying. This to me is really a familiar and common story about two woman who fall in love but must overcome the forces of a marriage and the judgement and persecution of society in order to finally be together. Patricia Highsmith writes Therese and Carol falling in love so beautifully, I really enjoyed. There is an interesting undercurrent in the novel where 'controlling' behavior (what a partner drinks, eats, wears, using financial imbalances, etc) is sort of taken as natural in both straight and gay relationships, as if to underline that there is no special escape from power dynamics even in queer relationships.
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Recently finished 12 rules for life by Dr Jordan Peterson. 'Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today' was the fourth rule and it 100% resonates and probably the one I'd be working on before anything else.
Best books I've read recently:
  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, a novel about the rise of prominence of 2 indie game developers in the middle 80s who used to be childhood friends. It explores love, grief, and how art interacts with the real world by offering an alternative to it, while using the infant game industry as frame.
  • The lost weekend by Charles Jackson, a novel centered around Don Birnam's struggle with alcoholism. As someone who has had his share of alcohol-fueled issues I found it extremely relatable. The way the narrator shows how Don's brain operates exposes alcohol's hijacking of our neural processes perfectly. I read it right after I had decided to quit the substance, which is why I felt it was special.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik, an old-school fantasy novel about a young girl becoming a powerful wizard's apprentice. Shadows saunter around the cursed forest's edges and abduct people who then get trapped inside cursed trees that use the trapped people's life force to grow cursed fruits. The curse is expanding throughout the entire world while the nearby kingdoms are on the verge of war.
I'm currently reading Stendhal's The charterhouse of Parma and Mercadini's The woman who laughed at God.
Books I read this year (so far) & what I thought:
The Traitor Baru Cormorant - One of my favorite protagonists bc she is written like she's a villain. I loved the book's commitment to the bit.

Project Hail Mary - A really technical Sci-Fi survival story. There is always something going wrong so it creates a tight feedback loop and a lot of tension to watch him solve the problems. I loved it and it rekindled my passion for reading.

The Decagon House Murders - Mystery is extremely popular in Japan and this book is partly responsible. Had fun solving (unsuccessfully) with friends.

Nicholson: A Biography - For the first half of my life I knew this guy as "the guy in dril's avatar" so it was cool to see he was also an actor.

Bangkok Tattoo - The narrator is a Thai man who shits on white people. I liked the narrative voice.

The Power of Darkness - This book contains my favorite short story, about a virginia creeper (plant) that kills people. Strongly recommend this story, other stories are fine.

Prisoners of Geography - Geography for baby.

Ladyboys: The Secret World of Thailand's Third Gender - They fascinate me.

Hogfather - I never liked Terry Pratchett as a kid because I thought he wasn't serious. I like him now because I understand he's extremely serious.

Travels With Charley - I loved Winter of Our Discontent, and this book was a lot worse, but still decent.

Lolita - Unstoppable. Very painful to read. Nabokov shits on Doestoyevsky, saying that he's too enamored with psychological realism, but I found myself relating extremely strongly to Humbert, even though I'm NOT a pedophile. Strong recommend, if you can handle it.

House of Leaves - This book is "literary horror" and it's famous for that. It's also written like a maze, in that you have to follow footnotes recursively, hold pages upside down, and try to interpret a story that asks a lot of questions without returning a lot of answers. What I didn't expect is how effectively it satirizes academia. Strong recommend.


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is a Top Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Past WCoP Champion
All the books in this post can fit somewhere under the heading of lgbtq ocean horror lit. It just happened that way, I don't plan it. Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield was released in America as I was getting around to long-time fixtures on my to read list Melissa Broder's The Pisces and Rivers Solomon's The Deep.

The Deep
by Rivers Solomon-

The premise of The Deep is that pregnant slaves thrown overboard during the Transatlantic Slave Trade survived as mer-people and establish a civilization under the sea, called the Wajinru. Wajinru society has a The Giver-type political structure where one person is charged with remembering and containing the whole history of the Wajinru. This person, called the Historian, is the protagonist of the novel. This role comes with a cost, the Historian is isolated with the pain and literal weight of the memories of every single Wajinru both alive and from the past. This often makes her physically ill and renders her weak, as the mind is a powerful organ and exerts profound somatic effects on our physiology.

Every few decades, however, the Historian gathers all of the Wajinru and guides them through remembering their history, allowing themselves to temporarily (a few days maybe) let go of the memories and remind the rest of the Wajinru of their histories and identities, after which they will forget again and the memories are returned to their vessel, the Historian.

It all becomes too much for the Historian, and at the outset of the novel she is sure that the process of guiding the Wajinru through the memories, letting them go, and then taking the memories back will kill her. And so she flees. And that's the set-up, which I found to be quite captivating, it really motivated me to read the novel.

Perhaps some readers w a mainstream politics (this book is published by NPR lol btw) will just blast through this book and pat themselves on the back or w.e, but I have to say the strong exposition lead to a somewhat muddled message and plot arc:

First, a big part of the novel involves the Historian healing and regaining her strength while living as a captive...which is a bit dissonant with the claim this novel makes to be able to speak about or make comments on the experiences of the ancestors of slaves. IMO.

Second, the Historian has a human love interest who turns out to be the last descendent of the society from which the very first pregnant slave to birth Wajinru was from. The revelation of the historical connection is written as cathartic or as being somehow transformative, but I see sort of narrative as somewhat in need of interrogation. To me, an anti-Zionist Jew, this idea that you belong somewhere or with someone because of something that happened 100s of years ago appears slightly too similar to a Zionist saying I should live in Israel or feel some connection and/or entitlement to it because some Jewish people lived there 2000 yrs ago. Now, this book is of course a different context, and it is an interesting question drawn out by the novel, but it for me it comes w some alarm bells. And when I discussed this w a Palestinian friend of mine they also pointed this out, so I don't think this is just me being overly harsh.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder- I love Melissa Broder so much, I just have to say.

The Pisces tells the story of an aspiring literature grad student who just can't fill the void inside her. At the outset, her academic career is falling apart as is her romantic relationship w another academic. She flees from Arizona to Venice Beach (Barbie movie enjoyers, that Venice Beach) to dog sit for her sister. While living in Venice, she meets and falls in love w a merman who swims near the shore at night.

The novel explores the seemingly insatiable craving some of us experience to be loved and the desperate things such people do to find it. The story is told w Broder's typical incredible sense of humor and trademark Melville-ian descriptions of moods/affects. I also LOVED that one of the main devices is a therapeutic processing group for women that the protagonist attends, it really worked for me, made me relate to the main character, and also was just so hilarious in a super realistic way. If you have some reservations about finding love, connection, and meaning in contemporary life, I think The Pisces will be a really fun read for you.

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield- This novel relates a story about a woman who's wife goes on an expedition to the bottom of the sea. Something goes wrong and the expedition returns much later than expected, and Leah, the protagonist's wife, returns changed and 'wrong'. Interestingly, it came out in America right as that billionaire's submarine implosion was in the news cycle. The novel mainly focuses on the love and loss experienced by the protagonist as she finds she cannot relate to her changed wife. Many passages invoke her memories of courtship and the time before she returned from the bottom of the sea. Fundamentally, this novel is not a story about overcoming something, so much as it is about letting go of something. As one review I read points out, a central question of the novel is what happens when one person in a relationship is fundamentally a different person now than the one they were when the 2 fell in love: the Ship of Theseus of romantic attachment...

Armfield's writing captures the pain and sense of foreboding Leah's wife experiences and successfully evokes feelings of unease, suspense, body horror, anxiety, all that fun horror genre stuff. It's really quite masterfully plodded considering there is almost no actual 'events' in the novel. Very little really happens or gets explained, and not to spoil it, but there is no closure in the ending either. Nonetheless, I was pretty enthralled the whole time, the mystery really build and builds drawing you into it, but then leaves the reader to sit with the protagonist's feelings rather than tie everything off neatly. I will definitely re-read or return at some point, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're not a fan of ambiguous endings.

I will be back soon w at least book one of NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season trilogy, and possibly all of it. I am hoping to finish book one within the next day and I will probably complete the trilogy before moving down on my list.
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Wings of Fire The Flames of Hope
All right so I've had somewhat of a pleasant history with the Wings of Fire series.
Whilst I had initially spotted the books in my library, it took my sister to borrow the first Wings of Fire book because I had come off on the assumption it was not suited for me (I was horribly, horribly wrong).
So I stole the book off my sister (like all good big brothers do), and read it.
Let's just say I was hooked.
Wings of Fire as a whole is interesting because I have zero clue who the target audience is. The books are fairly tame in nature, but the extent of violence is certainly not something younger kids would be reading, the first book alone takes about 7 pages in the freaking prologue to not only stab someone through their skull, but also dragon murder about 8 seconds later.
My honest opinion is that it's written for somewhere like the Percy Jackson age demographic, old enough to understand the violence and feel somewhat scared of it, but not too old to be swinging into something like
God of War (yes I did use a video game as an example I'm sorry).
Anyways, the books were extremely cool. Arc 1 defied the "prophecy" trope by establishing that the prophecy was a lie...
until in the last book they make it REAL.
Arc 2 introduced characters that are stupidly loveable, like c'mon Moonwatcher gang rise up
and Arc 3 threw at us a NEW continent with different dragons and an entirely different society to Pyrrhia's social system
So what do I have to say about Flames of Hope?
Luna was the protagonist, and she was
Problem is Luna seemed somewhat rooted in the "This is fine" mindset, which she was stated to have the opposite
Ok so what? A character doesn't think they "should", but NaRrAtIvE dIsOnEnCe (plus Tui would basically be writing from a Sundew-like personality, which she already did)
But by the midway point in the book Luna seems to drop this
eh it's fine
But the main criticism I have with the book is that the MAIN CHARACTER OF THE BOOK STAYS IN THE SAME PLACE FOR a good 30% of it.
See, Luna is captured by the main villain, the Breath of Evil.
The Breath of Evil is actually 3 villains in one.
The first is a plant that's a weed that grows super fast and takes over all animals BAR Dragons.
The second is an evil asshole human (Cottonmouth), who is mad at Dragons for the plant's near eradication and is eerily set on making everything his.
The third is the tiny little dragon who has pretty strong Leafspeak, and is tragically killed in the weirdest murder suicide I've seen since...
since never actually, that's peak.
Blah blah evil asshole human uses the plant to enter their dead bodies so that it becomes supercharged, evil asshole human has full control, tiny leafspeak dragon lets the plant be supercharged, and the plant spreads faster then Grass exposed to water
Ok wow that's cool
TOO BAD that the main character is essentially forced into being in their domain for an extended period of time
It would have been ok if Luna did more
but it sorta leads up to this and while it had a different sort of tension to Arcs 1 and 2
I felt it made for a lackluster ending
Still, for what it's worth, this book is an okay read
Wasn't like I had to force myself to read it again, but I just found it annoying that most of the conflict felt a little too behind the scenes and not enough from Lunas perspective.
Still a better love story then Twilight though.

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