I’m doing a shitty job of hitting my goal of writing weekly blog posts. We’re 12 weeks into the new year and I’ve only written eight posts (including this one) so I’m at 67%, which is like a D+. Gotta step up my game.
Anyway, I may not have been writing but I have been reading. I’ve finished 21 books so far this year! And even better than reading a lot, the ones I’ve been finding have all almost magically been great books. Here are some of the highlights:
- The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu: My book club decided to read this one, or I never would have picked it up. And I’m so glad we did because it’s fantastic. It’s a memoir written by a very bright young man who is obsessed with the US-Mexico border and becomes a border agent. It’s very good. There’s some controversy around but because apparently it doesn’t reflect everyone’s experience with immigration, but how could it? The criticism is wasted, I think, because this is a thoughtful look into a problem I think lots of us have opinions about with very little actual experience.
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: This is Oprah’s latest pick for her newly revived book club and a very solid novel, telling the story of a wrongfully imprisoned man and the struggles he and his wife go through as a result. This is much more about the human reactions of two well-intentioned people than it is about big issues like race and politics, but of course those come into play as well. It reminded me a lot of Toni Morrison’s Jazz, one of my favorites.
- The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: This is one of those books that I read and thought, “Hmm, that was a very nice novel,” but didn’t really rate it very highly at the moment I finished. It has however, really stuck in my head, and I find myself thinking about it and referring to it often in the weeks since I read it. It’s an intriguing story of a girl growing up in the shadow of her father’s uncontrollable anger, and is incredibly evocative of place — very rural Alaska.
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne: Is there a name for a novel that follows a person’s story from birth to death, showing the full arc of their life? That’s one of my favorite types of books, and that’s what this book does for Cyril Avery, born to a 16 year-old unwed woman in post-war Ireland and eventually is a gay man living through the AIDS crisis in NYC. It’s beautiful, and heart-wrenching, and very reminiscent of the best John Irving novels.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This was the first book I read in 2018 and it was PHENOMENAL. Beautifully written story on a difficult but important topic — the 16 year old African-American narrator’s friend is shot and killed by a white police officer. Thomas does a great job getting a wide range of perspectives and does an amazing job tackling a difficult subject in a voice targeted to young adults.
PS: Speaking of young adults, don’t those kids from the Parkland Florida shooting just inspire the shit out of you? Everytime I see Emma Gonzalez speak I get a lump in my throat. It makes me think of this great Tweet I saw a few weeks ago: I’m not sure why people are so surprised that the students are rising up — we’ve been feeding them a steady diet of dystopian literature showing teens leading the charge for years. We have told teen girls they are empowered. What, you thought it was fiction? It was preparation. @JenAnsbach (A Douglass College alum, what-what!) That last line just gives me the fucking goosebumps.