March was a busy month, between increases in responsibility at work, celebrating my husband’s birthday, and planning for life post-vaccination. A number of my family are now fully vaccinated, which is a huge relief, though I’m still waiting. I’ve also been thinking about ways to update my blog and I’m trying out a new book-tracking system. It’s spring, finally, which makes me happy.
Here’s what I read in March:
- Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (audio)
- Summerwater by Sarah Moss (audio)
- Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
- Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (audio)
- The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
- Comet in Moominland by Tove Janssen
- Luster by Raven Leilani (audio)
- The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde
- Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (audio)
- The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
My favorite reads this month: In addition to the books I reviewed this month, I also loved Neverwhere. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic narrator, and I loved the story, especially the main character. This is one of those stories where it feels like it’s been done before, until you realize it was written in 1994 and everything else is really copying it.
Jasper Fforde’s The Constant Rabbit didn’t disappoint, with his trademark cleverness and wordplay, though this one goes deeper as an allegoray about racism. Highly recommended.
Sarah Moss’ novella Summerwater was so well-written, especially the way she developed really distinct characters in such a short work. Although ultimately the story itself didn’t leave the kind of impression that Ghost Wall did. (I’m not a huge fan of novellas though – just not enough there).
Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill was incredibly haunting. Even if you’ve heard much of it from the news, Farrow puts it all together for readers, drawing lines from Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer to Donald Trump to Jeffrey Epstein, leaving me with the question of how many more sexual predators are out there and how many companies are covering for them? How many women are forced to go to a job every day where they are harassed, groped, and even raped? This is not light reading, obviously, but important. One detraction — while I appreciated hearing this story in Farrow’s own voice, his voices for other people were terrible. The audiobook would have been better as a multi-cast, but it’s still worth the read.
Disappointing/DNFs: I didn’t make it through Can’t Even, a book about how millenials are “the burnout generation.” This book really felt like the author was just writing about herself. I’m fascinated by differences between generations, and I liked thinking about how my generation (X) differs from my parents (“the silent generation”). But I wasn’t interested enough in how hard it is to be a millenial.
I found Luster interesting and well-written but had a hard time relating to the characters or understanding the choices they made. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London was an entertaining fantasy read but the characters felt undeveloped and the dialogue was stilted (especially the romance). I enjoyed all the references to books and bookstores in London, but nothing else about this book stood out.
Books for challenges:
- Beat the Backlist: Go Tell It on the Mountain, Neverwhere, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell
- Modern Mrs. Darcy: Go Tell It on the Mountain (a classic), Comet in Moominland (a translated work)
What I’m reading now: I’m listening to Real Life by Brandon Taylor and loving everything about it. I’m also reading The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai.
What’s coming up: from the library I’ve got Piranesi, The New Wilderness, and The Only Good Indians. For my book club in April I’ve got Keri Hulme’s The Bone People. I’m not sure what I’ll read next.
Added to my TBR: From the Women’s Prize longlist I added How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House and Detransition, Baby. I’m undecided about longlist nominees Exciting Times and Because of You.
Things that made me happy this month:
This will sound weird, but my TV high point this month was Battlebots — I don’t know why I love that show so much, since I know nothing about engineering or mechanics. But as a tension reliever, watching remote-controlled metal robots send each other flying is the more therapeutic than anything I can think of.
I finally started watching Bridgerton, and I’m surprised by how much fun it is to see a romance novel brought to life. Although I’m starting to find the story problematic, and maybe that’s why I didn’t love the book in the first place (I can’t remember). Still, I can’t deny Shonda Rhimes’ brilliance and hope this will lead to similar projects. Maybe someone will film Evie Dunmore’s or Talia Hibbert’s books next.
We’re also really enjoying watching the women’s NCAA basketball tournament – and we’ll be cheering for both of my alma maters in the Final Four, Arizona and Stanford. I love that women’s sports are becoming more recognized (despite the huge pay/status inequities that still need to be addressed).
Finally, a toast to authors Larry McMurtry and Beverly Cleary, who left us recently. My favorite Cleary book was Ramona the Pest. I loved how she just couldn’t quite behave, and her fascination with the girl with the boing-boing curls made me feel just a little better about my own crazy hair. I met Larry McMurtry years ago. He was a frequent customer at the used bookstore where I worked, and he was revered by the owners, which I understood once I read Lonesome Dove.
Wishing you all a very happy April, and I hope you’re enjoying the spring!