January is for reading

The silver-lining of the last 10 months is that I’ve had way more time to read. As such, I’ve become one of those obnoxious humans who wants to tell you about all the books I’ve read and encourage you to read…something… anything.

Here’s what I read in January:

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

As if it’s any surprise, this book is excellent. And fortunately, it doesn’t feel like a 700-page book. It’s a political memoir that is also a page-turner. It’s not often we get a window into modern history like this. Obama provides so much context for his decisions, and anecdotes from working with members of Congress and his cabinet. It will frustrate you and maybe make you cry. Truly a great read.

Memorial by Bryan Washington

I wasn’t sure how much I would like this book initially, but as I got into it more, I really appreciated the honestly of it. From the representation of Queer men, and particularly Queer men of color, to the complicated family situations, to culture, it was just a very honest book. You can love people who have done horrible things to you. You can also have a lot of love in a relationship, but that love may not be enough to sustain it.

How to be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t by Lane Moore

Given my reading history and some of my other favorite writers, I should have loved this book. Alas, I did not. While I hesitate to in any way discount Lane’s lived experiences or personal truths, I found this book to be so incredibly whiney and self-indulgent. If I had to sum it up: “I had the worst childhood ever. My parents were the worst parents to have ever existed. Every man I’ve dated has been shit and it’s all their fault that our relationships failed. I have no one and nothing. But look at how good I am at singing and comedy and writing and babysitting and stuff. I’m just the best… no thanks to my awful parents.” Okay. Like a lot of people, I also did not have the most ideal childhood (that’s a whole other blog post), and in a lot of ways, I’ve overcome a lot of shit to have the (mostly) drama-free life I currently do. I’m all about stories of personal triumph. But good grief, the wallowing and the patting herself on the back…. I started skimming toward the end. She says at one point (after talking about a high school trip to Germany, which is confusing because you don’t go on school trips like that without a liiiittttle bit of privilege and means and semi-present parents – it was a struggle for me to make it to Florida to sing with my choir in high school), “I truly don’t know anyone with a family who doesn’t use them like a fucking credit card with every dollar matched by cash back rewards.” Ex-squeeze me, really? I have a family. It’s broken and whole at the same time (again, that’s a whole other blog post). I have supported myself at least partially since I started working at 16, and since I moved out of the house, I have not once asked my family for money even in times that I was very much financially fucked. Also, unless the progressive revolution is achieved and student loans are cancelled, I’ll be in debt until I die. And I think there are more people like me than those that live off their families well into adulthood. But sure, all of us with families- we got it made baby! Life. Is. A. Breeze. I’m sure Lane is a lovely person, and I’m happy for all she’s overcome and the success she’s found.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

I really liked this book. I am generally sort of impartial to the mystery/thriller genre because they tend be soooooo similar. Someone disappears (spoiler: they’re dead), someone is responsible for said disappearance, but it’s probably not the person you think it is. Insert substance abuse problem (Girl on the Train: drinking) or mental illness (Sharp Objects: cutting; The Woman in the Window: agoraphobia) to make it interesting and someone has a secret (or secrets) and boy will they blow your mind. And there you have it – recipe for a mystery/thriller type novel. And hey, they’re usually fun and quick reads, since for some reason, we as a society are really into murdery things. When No One is Watching is a gentrification-themed thriller, so expect all of the elements you enjoy about that genre plus an exploration of a common social issue primarily impacting communities of color. The only critique I have is that the pace was a little jarring. There was a whole lot of build and then the end happens kind of all at once. But overall, it was really good. Recommend.

One of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying, #2) by Karen McManus

This book was…fine. I read the first one a while ago, and just hadn’t gotten around to the sequel until now. I think this book is categorized as Young Adult, which disturbs me slightly. Sinister games and teen murder… Yes children, read this book! Is it a book? Yes. Did I read it? Yes. Did I vaguely enjoy it? Sure. Would I watch the shit out of a trash TV series based on this book series (think 13 Reasons Why)? Yes. Yes I would.

Currently Reading: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

No I do not want to join your book club

Am I the only reader who wants nothing to do with book clubs? This is a serious question. I love to read, and I love books. But I hate book clubs. Yet, I repeatedly get asked to join book clubs, and I feel like a jerk for declining as many times as I am asked.

Reading is my loner, introvert activity. It always has been. Even when I was a kid, I remember sitting by the window reading a book while everyone else played outside. It’s one of those few things that I can do completely on my terms, unlike most things in life. I choose the book and how quickly I read it, and the experience I have reading the book is completely my own. I don’t have to talk about it with anyone or be influenced by someone else’s experience. Most importantly, I do not have to leave my house to discuss the book with anyone else.

Dear everyone,

It’s not you. It’s me. I hereby decline any present and future invitations to join your book club.