Welcome to the first ever edition of What a Week! Every Sunday, I’ll tell you all about my week in books: what I finished, what I’m in the midst of reading, what I’m reading next, and what new releases I’m most excited about.
BOOKS I FINISHED
The books I finished reading this week. Links go to my full reviews.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (audio)
2/5: I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it. You can read about why in my full review.
Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. (audio)
4/5: I recommend it with abandon!
MLK is probably one of the most quoted . Far too often, the people quoting him are white folks who refuse to contextualize his philosophy of nonviolence, and who see him as a peaceful (and not angry) figurehead, rather than a visionary, radical, and nuanced human. Letter From Birmingham Jail may be a famous peace of writing, but more folks would do well to read it, and actually listen to his words:
“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
I can’t recommend the audiobook enough. Dion Graham’s reading is phenomenal; it’s the next best thing to hearing King himself speak.
Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney (audio)
4/5: I recommend it with abandon (especially the audio version)!
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
4/5: I recommend it with abandon!
The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman
3/5: I recommend it for fans of His Dark Materials. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I would have liked it nearly so much if I wasn’t already a Pullman fan.
Love Poems by Pablo Neruda (audio)
4/5: I highly recommend it.
I listened to this 38 minute audiobook while walking on the beach. I’ve always loved Neruda, and these poems were as gorgeous and imaginative as the rest of his work. Listening to the poems left me with only a sense of them–at the time, they seemed to seep right into me, but a few days later, they feel ephemeral. Neruda’s language is so beautiful and surprising that I’d like to read these again in print, in order to savor them, but I can’t recommend the audio enough.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone (audio)
3/5: I reccomened it, but if you’re only going to read one YA novel about police brutality, make it The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
3/5: I recommend it if you love historical fantasy/steampunk, and if you can handle major cliffhangers (the third book doesn’t yet have a publication date).
The second book in Tara Sim’s YA historical fantasy trilogy in which time is controlled by clock towers. The world she builds is fascinating: a London awash with automatons and clock mechanics, a a beautiful blend of magic and technology. In Chainbreaker, Danny Hart, clock mechanic, and his clock spirit boyfriend, Colton, find themselves caught up in a series of mysterious bombings of clock towers. It’s set in India in the 1870s against the backdrop of the British occupation. It was a bit too long for me, and the enormity of the cliffhanger at the end was a bit much, but it was still an enjoyable read, set in an original and imaginative world.
BOOKS I’M IN THE MIDST OF
The books I’m reading right at this very moment.
A Place Called No Homeland by Kai Cheng Thom
The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding (Sky Pony Press, April 3rd, 2018)
The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara (Ecco, February 6th, 2018)
WHAT I’M READING NEXT
Next up in the never-ending cycle of too many books and too little time.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Why I’m reading it: The bookish internet has been all a twitter about it for weeks now. Plus, any novel that follows the intertwined fates of several characters (in this case, four siblings who are told the dates of their death when they are children) is 100% my jam. I live for multiple POV, multiple decade family sagas.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Why I’m reading it: It came highly recommended by my sister-in-law, who read it to my six year old nephew last summer. Also, it fulfills one of the tasks for this year’s Read Harder Challenge: the first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series.
Books published this week that I cannot wait to get my hands on.
When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Why I’m excited about it: Because it’s a memoir by one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m pretty sure she’s got some stuff to say that I need to hear.
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
Why I’m excited about it: Multiple POV family drama about two sisters and the differing choices they make? I’m in. I am always in for multiple POV family dramas. Always.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Why I’m excited about it: Excited, perhaps, is not the right word. Red Clocks takes place in a future America where abortion is illegal and a Personhood Amendment grants legal rights to embryos. Yes, it sounds terrifying, and a little too easy to imagine. That’s exactly why I seek out books like this: because science fiction and dystopian fiction is sometimes the most profound way to explore the realities of our world, today.
Red Clocks and Everything Here is Beautiful are both waiting for me at the library. I put holds on them last December because folks I trust over at Book Riot told me to. Putting books on hold months before they come out is part of my sneaky new system to curb my library hold addiction. It’s not a problem to have twenty library holds if fifteen of them aren’t coming out till the spring, right?
When They Call You a Terrorist is available on audio through Hoopla, so it’s going to be my next audiobook for sure.
OVER AT BOOK RIOT…
I wrote about three excellent essay anthologies I’ve read recently. Across these three books, 51 writes talk about race, rereading books, and not having kids. I highly recommend all of them.
MEANWHILE, THE OCEAN:
That’s it for me! How was your week of reading?