Friday, October 30, 2020

Best of the Bunch (October 2020)

Best of the Bunch header

Today I'm sharing the best book I read in October.

Of the six books I read this month, I didn't have any 5-star reads, but I did have one 4.5-star read, which was my best of the bunch!

Ace is the first nonfiction work I've seen that provides a comprehensive look at asexuality for a non-academic audience. Chen not only explores the personal experiences of those who identify as ace, but also shows how the same cultural forces that make asexuality misunderstood and stigmatized limit the possibilities for all people in all kinds of relationships (in Western culture). Chen also shares her own personal experiences: her past relationships, her realization of her asexuality, and her continued insecurities in her current relationship. It's accessible, thorough, and up to date. This is a great book for any asexual person who wants to feel validated and any allosexual person who wants to better understand asexuality. I definitely recommend picking it up.

What is the best book you read this month? Let me know in comments, or write your own post and link up below!

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: King of the Murgos and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: The Other Wes Moore, A Snicker of Magic, and for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf
Ten years ago I was reading: Asking Questions

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Ten More Books I Read on Recommendations

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is books we read because someone recommended them to us! I last did this topic in 2016, so here are some books I've read on recommendations since then!

1. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (recommended by Sian)
I'm pretty sure I got this recommendation from my friend Sian when everyone was doing that "ten books that made an impact on me" meme going around Facebook, and that I got the recommendation of Winter of Fire from her at the same time, which is another book I really enjoyed. I was familiar with Montgomery's work from Anne of Green Gables, of course, but probably wouldn't have picked this one up without Sian's recommendation.

2. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (recommended by Eli)
Eli enthusiastically recommended this one during a book club meeting, so I put a hold on it right away, and I thought it was great! YA can be hit-or-miss with me but I trust Eli's taste.

3. Friendship at the Margins by Christopher L. Heuertz (recommended by Heidi)
This was recommended to me a long time ago by the founder of LOVEboldly and it took me a few years to finally get around to reading it. It's both a gentle indictment of typical "mission" work and an exploration of the benefits and challenges of becoming friends with people whose life circumstances are vastly different than your own.

4. Greenglass House by Kate Milford (recommended by MacKenzie)
MacKenzie invited me to go hear Kate Milford speak at a local event, and I wasn't familiar with her, but MacKenzie and I share a love of The Mysterious Benedict Society so she knew I would love it too, and she was right! I finished the first book and was already partway through the sequel when we went to hear Milford speak.

5. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (recommended by Morgan)
This was already on my to-read list when Morgan recommended it to me, so I bumped it up to the top of my list. Although it wasn't necessarily a favorite, there was a lot that I really liked about it, and Morgan and I then got to have a great discussion about the book once I finished!
6. A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin (recommended by 'Becca)
This is another recommendation that I got from one of 'Becca's Quick Lit posts. I then turned around and recommended it to some friends who were looking for a mystery on audio for a car trip!
7. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (recommended by Patrick)
I had heard about this book during the time it was getting lots of buzz, but I might not have picked it up if Patrick hadn't enthusiastically recommended it. Then I was glad to be able to discuss it with everyone else!
8. Sadie by Courtney Summers (recommended by Chelsea)
I enjoy getting annual book recommendations from my younger sister, and this one may be my favorite of the ones she's recommended. I recommended it to my book club this year for the month we were reading an Audie Award winner, and for some people it was their first ever audiobook but they really enjoyed it!
9. Untamed by Glennon Doyle (recommended by Sharon)
This is another one that was getting plenty of buzz but I didn't feel a strong pull to pick it up until Sharon started sending me passages and emphasizing how amazing it was. I think it was probably unusually relevant for Sharon's life at the time, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read!
10. You're Not Listening by Kate Murphy (recommended by Diana)
I found Diana via Quick Lit, I think, and then discovered via her blog that she was also an adoptive mom, and then discovered that we'd attended the same university! I like seeing her recommendations for both adult books and kid books since our sons aren't too far apart in age.

What books have you read because of a recommendation?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Possession, An Untamed State, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: The Other Wes Moore, A Snicker of Magic, and Death in the Andes
Ten years ago I was reading: Asking Questions

Thursday, October 15, 2020

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner: I didn't enjoy this, both because of the premise (psychological wounds from childhood are the only explanation for why a women would regularly seek out casual sex, though it's bound to end in tragedy!) and because the main character, Theresa, was hard to relate to. It's a shame, since Rossner is actually quite a good writer. She just chose to use her talents to write a story making it seem like a real-life person was to blame for her own murder because she liked casual sex.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: This was as good as I remembered, and I think there were even more elements that I caught this time, reading as an adult and listening to it as an audiobook. I greatly enjoyed this version narrated by Anna Massey, and I would highly recommend this read!

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young: This fictional representation of patriarchy taken to extremes was creepy and tense. The author worked in a multitude of different ways that society seeks to control women: their bodies, their attitudes, their roles. The plot was mostly unpredictable, but the plot twists (or "reveals") were highly predictable, which was a big disappointing.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr.: It definitely took a while to get through this, but I appreciated the chance to read about MLK's life start to finish in one book. This is an investment of time, for sure, but it's a worthwhile one if you want to get a thorough account of King's life and legacy.

The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie: The second Miss Marple book is a collection of short mysteries, which I liked more than the Poirot collections, but I'm still not a big fan of Miss Marple generally. I liked the setup for this book but dislike when solutions rely on knowledge of things like what poisonous substance people used as eye drops back in the 1930s. I'm not sold on Miss Marple yet, but I will continue with the series and see if her character develops beyond the caricature here.

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Possession, An Untamed State, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: The Other Wes Moore, A Snicker of Magic, and Death in the Andes
Ten years ago I was reading: Asking Questions

Monday, October 12, 2020

Ten Super Long Book Titles

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

I am not happy about Blogger's updates! I'm giving this a go because they fixed the frustrations I was having with the picture formatting, but I'm still having problems even inserting pictures unless I copy over the code from another post first. I also hate having to put in break tags if I want to draft the post in HTML mode, plus the fact that I can't make the "open in new window" setting on links stick. (Also I used to be able to click the "link" button and then paste in the URL, but now I have to click the button and then click into the box where the link goes, so there are now two extra steps every single time I make a link.)

Anyway, this week's topic is super long book titles. I did something similar with unique book titles a while back. For this one, I debated about whether to include subtitles (there are some great long subtitles, particularly in nonfiction!) but I decided not to count them here, though I did count "and other..." as part of titles.

1. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

3. Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood? by Fred Rogers

4. for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange

5. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

6. It's OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker

7. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

8. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch

9. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum

10. Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian D. McLaren

What are some of the longest titles of books you've read?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Possession, A Thousand Lives, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: David Copperfield, Number the Stars, and Death in the Andes
Ten years ago I was reading: Asking Questions

Monday, October 5, 2020

Ten Books with Wintry Covers

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topics is fall book covers, but since I don't have much to add to the post I did on this theme three years ago, I decided to go with wintry book covers instead! (Since winter here in Portland is mostly rainy I was going to do covers with rain, but I couldn't find very many out of the books that I'd personally read.)

1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

2. Blankets by Craig Thompson

3. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

4. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

5. Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

6. Greenglass House by Kate Milford

7. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

8. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

10. Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan

What books have you read that have wintry covers?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Magician's Nephew, God Land, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Number the Stars, and Positive
Ten years ago I was reading: A Confederacy of Dunces