A Reading Roundup

Here is Morgan with one of the best books I read this past week.

I gave it five stars on Goodreads, a rarity for me. I read a lot of great work this past week, finally finishing Becoming Unbecoming, a graphic memoir by Una focusing on gender violence. I gave that one five stars too. I also read Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West and am making my way through What Happened. Of course I love it. I stan for HBIC HRC. I haven’t gotten further into it because I have a lot of books to return to the library and also because it hurts to re-live it by reading her take. People are like, well, why doesn’t she just go away, she’s dividing the country, etc. Well, because A. people want to hear from the FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE and B. Bernie Sanders is on a book tour of his own for a book that he probably wrote when he was supposed to be stumping for her and to prevent divisions in this country, will someone please tell him to go away? My husband has taken to saying “Feel the Bern” when he wants to have sex and at this rate, I’m going to die never having had sex again.

We saw It, the movie last week, so I ordered that too. I shelved a few books too but you don’t want to hear about those guys, they’re losers who didn’t make my cut. I’m respecting their privacy.

The Longlist for the National Book Awards were announced earlier this week. I always like to see how closely my taste aligns with books that have amassed critical acclaim, and I recognized a number of them. Some, like The Leavers and Sing, Unburied, Sing I own but haven’t read. After the list was announced, I researched the candidates, placing some of them on hold at the library and ordering others. I was only familiar with Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, so I will do better next year as far as non-fiction goes. My reading taste doesn’t lean toward the political, history. I’ve tried to make strides toward changing that but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. I also wasn’t familiar with the Poetry and Young Adult contenders, except for one. The winners will be announced on November 15th. I’m hopeful I’ll make headway through some of them by then.

Speaking of young adult fiction, I spoke with my mother-in-law last week. Her tastes run more toward award-winning classics, history books. Last year she took a class on the medieval times in Spain. Sometimes our books will align, like with Hillbilly Elegy. She was recommended the book by a friend who absolutely loved it, as did she. I didn’t, so there was some discussion with her as to why the last time she was in New York. But I’m getting off-track.

What I did this past summer was pick-up a lot of books I wouldn’t be caught dead holding like trashy thrillers or romance novels. The first time I relaxed my tastes, it was back in May, we were on a boat, and the pickings were slim. I can see why they refer to some novels as “beach reads” because hell yeah, I wouldn’t have have sex on the beach because you know, sand, but I’ll read about it. I’ve also been driving myself crazy trying to keep up with the news – we have subscriptions to The New Yorker, The Nation, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, The New York Times, and I try to read a slew of others during the month like say, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, InStyle, etc. Sometimes you just need to off-set the heavy shit with “50 Sex Tips to Spice Up Your Relationship.” Speaking of which, has anyone tried any? Because those positions look uncomfortable af.

So last week when we talked, she asked me what I was reading. This is the impression I want her to have of me: I’m cool, I’m hip, I read high-brow literature. Even if I’m reading a bad, trashy novel, I lie to her and tell her I’m reading something that’s considered to be award-worthy. That’s easy enough to do; we have hundreds of books in our apartment. In god forbid the event of a fire, our apartment will go quickly.

Instead, I told her some thrillers – perfect for summer! – and some young adult novels. She wasn’t impressed. Looking back on it, I wasn’t either but that was because I shared with her the plots of books I had shelved, and not books that I had read and were good. In addition to that, I shared with her the plot of To the Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, a book that I thought was okay but it had all the typical undertones of being a romance novel. (Girl is working in a small-town, itching to get away, meets out-of-town boy) She made a reference to the size of the book, assuming it must have been on the shorter side, and was surprised to learn that the book was over four hundred pages. A lot of young adult novels are getting longer in scope and size now but still possess the reputation of being known as lightweight, or fluff. Rather than being thrilled that teenagers are reading and forming their own opinions about the world, adults look down on them for their reading material.

I’m one of them. I side-eye everyone for their reading choices but lately, I’ve started to read more of them, fascinated by their plots, their tackling of certain issues. I recently tried to read Ramona Blue, a book that tackles sexual identity and fluidity, but I couldn’t get into it because I found Ramona irritating. But I’ve finished some and even though Sarah Dessen writes about similar plots in her books, I can’t abandon her. I’ve been reading them since I was in high school, maybe even junior high depending on when her first book came out. I love her early works, like This Lullaby, a novel tackling a teenager subject to domestic violence in her relationship.

Read what interests you. Read something that you think won’t interest you. Just don’t tell anyone you read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray. I know I wrote that I’d be more open-minded of people’s tastes but well, I lied. Save that trash for your home. Don’t step outside with it.