Last month, I was pleased to have read 30 books, which turned into 35 by the time the post https://hallietibbetts.com/january-and-february-books/ went up. Oh, I so don’t know how to format that from a mobile phone, sorry. As we approach the end of March, I’ve tipped over fifty, and will finish up a few more over the weekend. This is surprising as the subway has been better; instead of reading, I played games and the like. But. Here’s some of what I read.
Love, Z by Jesse Sima: A picture book about a robot that goes out into the world to answer this question: What is love? There are little robot jammies and I might have overidentified just a bit.
The Bloodprint, Ausma Zehanat Khan: A warrior woman gets embroiled in an epic quest that angers ruling religious leaders (among other things). Adult fantasy. This is for you if you’re seeking sweeping vistas and intricate puzzles, plus some found family.
The Afterward, EK Johnston: A lady knight and a lady thief went on an adventure (in the past) and are dealing with the aftermath and a new adventure (in the present), which is explained non-linearly. This is one of those books that seems wistfully chaste and then you turn the page and go huh, that seems like they’re euphemistically–actually holy crap, they are.
[Redacted unless I’m 100% sure we’re reading the same romances, and I’m never sure]: I did not expect this to be chaste at all and it delivered. It actually delivered really well because it was chock-full of tropes, including some I don’t love, but they all seemed to work, except for one that got dropped midway through after one protag briefly went to jail for a mistaken case of embezzlement. This had rock star, rich/poor, forbidden love, interfering friends, and found family, and I never once turned the page and was surprised someone was having a grand old time.
[Redacted, adult romance novella]: Part of a set of several by the same author, where someone from a previous installment gets a story later. I didn’t find this one the most enticing (everybody wears glasses, installment 1, I think, got me on the relationship’s longing), but thought that a plotline where a protag was experiencing agoraphobia and the other assists but love doesn’t cure it was good; the protag has to undergo a holistic change. Well done there.
[Redacted nonfiction, advice]: Not my usual category, but it was 99 cents and surprisingly instructive.
Inkling, Kenneth Oppel: Maybe you loved Airborn and sequels back in the day? This middle grade is about a family where the mom has died and they’re still struggling with it, and graphic novelist/comics guy dad is having author block. And then a bit of his ink gains sentience–and the warm-hearted but poignant adventures begin. I like 95% of this very much–I have some quibbles, but I’d love to see this adapted for animated film.
[Redacted, adult romance]: ohmigod I grew up on pirate romances and I’m not into stopping after every kiss and touch to explicitly verify next steps but the lack on consent in this about did me in. It was basically drugging people with a love drug for some kind of spy thing, and the spy thing was only in like two paragraphs, and later when this is found out it’s pout-worthy but easily solved. I think the only question, mid-nibble on an earlobe, was “Okay if I keep doing this?” And in “it sucked and the portion sizes were small” complaints, it wasn’t even hot and I’ve read fanfic by fourth graders that had better ideas about how people, parts, and relationships work.
Okay. Here is the weirdest reading of the month: audiobooks. I’ve only ever finished one, and that was Code Name Verity. It didn’t matter if I’d read the story before; I just couldn’t stand listening. I…seem to be having trouble in recent years with aural processing skills, partly in absorbing and responding without so much delay that I can kill conversations (though this is also kinda that I taught myself not to talk too much and not to be nosy, but there’s a fine line), and partly in fearing I’ve forgotten a detail or gotten it wrong in the hearing (especially if I don’t get your card or your name or the third thing on the list of things you told me to do), and the doubt is as screwy as a real mistake.
Anyway, I’m finally at the point where I can multitask enough to listen to music while commuting, or even while powering through something that doesn’t need word-based analysis. I’d tried audiobooks–I have a work app that theoretically lets me check out e- and audio, but I’d fallen off hard. Still, maybe I’ve controlled whatever has been plaguing me, because I listened to four audiobooks out of the recent company releases/award-winners/the search function isn’t that great.
Here are the rules, it seems. Not too long; I’m really out of steam at 12 hours, and shorter is better. Prefer/easier to follow an American accent, for some reason, though I made it through one without (and did notice significantly longer space outs, even getting through it). Has to be nonfiction, and the more like something that would be on NPR, the better. That’s all I’ve been able to figure out, and I’ve left an abandoned pile of things I tried for twenty minutes and discarded.
Real Queer America, Samantha Allen: A trans woman road-trips cross country and visits places considered conservative and reports on community there. Interesting, uplifting in many ways, and yet I can’t help thinking about every other book about community that I’ve ever read, where it’s really just the slice visible and important to the reporter.
Maid, Stephanie Land. A memoir about living in poverty and working as a maid, like if Barbara Ehrenreich hadn’t had a safety net. My first job with a pay stub was maid, so this was especially harrowing.
Well, That Escalated Quickly, Francesca Ramsey: She spoke at my workplace a while back and I was entertained; still, I’m not the best audience for caring about seeking fame, especially YouTube fame, or for basic social justice concepts that I’ve known since Twitter dark ages. I think some people could stand to listen, but then again, they might be bots.
Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, Kristen R. Ghodsee: This is every article you’ve ever read about inequality and such, but synthesized, following an author’s note that she’s generally talking about cis women because that’s where the research has been and what recent governments have been willing or able to recognize. Includes shoutouts to The Left Hand of Darkness and the 588th Night Witches.
Aaaaand I’m still finishing Dead Girls by Alice Bolin, an analysis of portrayals of women and often their fridging in media between manuscripts and such.
Looking forward to April’s reading…