This is my wrap-up of books I read in January. I was going to try and read fewer books in 2017, but I don’t have a job, so I have nothing to do in the daytime except work out, clean and read all the things. So there are quite a few books here. If I have a review of the book I will link to it.
Mine brødre (My Brothers) by Adel Khan Farooq
This is a new Norwegian Young Adult novel written by a second generation immigrant who grew up in Oslo. This book is about a second generation Pakistani immigrant who lives in Oslo. He’s sort of disillusioned with his life. He is also in love with a girl in his class, a Somali girl named Faisa. He and Faisa become close and talk about Islam. He starts praying, and finds a quiet calm in it. He also meets with a young man who is part of a Muslim brotherhood and the narrator becomes part of the brotherhood. I liked it. I thought it was an effective story. It’s not something I know anything about, but it is fascinating. I thought it was a bit trope-y. And I thought the narrator was easily persuaded by both Faisa and the brotherhood. I also think the ending was way too simple, but it was a fascinating look into something that I know pretty much nothing about. I wrote a review, here.
God Collar by Marcus Brigstocke
God Collar is Marcus Brigstocke’s memoir and exploration of god and his relationship to god, and religion. He focuses the book around losing his friend and not knowing how to cope with it because he never really believed in god and thus has nowhere to turn really. He talks about the criticisms he has against religion and why he can’t believe. He talks about why he would really like to believe, how he feels like he has a void in his life that religion should fill, but he doesn’t know how to believe. It feels a lot like my own atheism. I don’t believe in God, and I feel like people should be able to believe in what they want so long as they don’t hurt anyone. And religion seems nice, but I can’t believe in anything. Anyway. I liked it, it was fine. I listened to the audiobook and Brigstocke read it himself, which was nice. I thought it was fun, but nothing fantastic. I wrote a review here.
How we got to now by Steven Johnson
This is an illustrated history of great innovations that led us to today. The book is filled with weird and surprising stories of accidental genius, and people making mistakes. And people discovering the same thing at the same time. The book talks about the history of everyday objects we use every day. It was fun and an interesting look at different innovations. There was however a fault in the audiobook I listened to, so I missed a chapter. I have no other way of listening to the book, so I’m not sure how to solve the issue, so for now it’s just how it is.
Vindeltorn (The Twistrose key) by Tone Almhjell
Vindeltorn is a Norwegian middle grade novel about a young girl who has lost her pet mouse, Rufus, and also had to move from the country side to the city. She finds a key and a door to a different world, Sylver, where dead animals who were loved by children live. She has been brought there to find a lost winter lord to save Sylver from doom. I thought it was fun. It had a great Narnia vibe. I think it worked well as a children’s book, but it didn’t work as well for an adult audience. It was sweet, it had some absolutely lovely moments, but it lacked some world building. It was perfectly alright though. I wrote a review here.
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
This is the first Charles Dickens I’ve ever read, and I’m quite impressed with myself, because it was a big ass book. It’s about a whole ensemble of characters. A man named John Harmon has inherited his father’s estate, a dust-heap where rich people throw away their trash, and with that he also gets a young woman in marriage, miss Bella Wilfer. Sadly Mr. Harmon dies and the money and estate goes to Noddy Boffin and his wife, Mrs. Boffin. They decide to take in Bella out of sympathy since she lost her future husband and the money she would inherit. Meanwhile the man who takes lodging in Bella’s father’s house becomes Mr. Boffin’s secretary. The money that Mr. Boffin inherits seems to go to his head. It was delightful and funny, and it’s a great satire, and commentary on what money does to people. Dickens is snarky and funny and I loved it and I will read more Dickens.
Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre
This book is about Venetia Digby, a real-life woman who lived in the 1600s. The book is a fictionalised version of her life. She was incredibly beautiful and people wrote poems about her, paint beautiful paintings of her, and all that. In the book she is starting to get older and her beauty is fading, so she starts drinking this beauty-fication drink called Viper Wine. I liked it, it was interesting. It’s also interspersed with journalists from these days appearing in the story, so it’s also commenting on our current obsession with beauty. I wrote a review of this here.
Papergirls volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
This is the second volume in a graphic novel series. The story is about four paper girls in the 1980s. In volume 1 they meet time travelers and three of them end up in 2016. In this volume they hang out with the adult version of Erin and try to avoid being killed by time travelers and aliens. It’s very cool. I really love the 80s theme, it’s reminiscent of Stranger Things, and I love that. I like the art style, and I always like Brian K. Vaughan’s stories. It’s very cool and I’m looking forward to volume 3.
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
This is one of Carrie Fisher’s memoirs. It’s about Carrie Fisher’s struggles with alcoholism and drug abuse, and her mental health issues. It’s really great. She’s very honest and self-deprecating and cool. And I have loved Carrie Fisher for a long ass time, because my parents made me watch Star Wars when I was ten. I also always loved the Blues Brothers. My parents are weird. Anyway. I haven’t really delved into Carrie Fisher’s other work, like her books, until now, and I’m very excited about it. I love her writing style. I listened to it on audio, which was a bit horrible, because she read it herself and she died recently. She also makes a reference to her mother saying that when she died Carrie and her brother should go through her house and take what they want or whatever, and that broke my heart a little bit, since Debbie Reynolds outlived Carrie Fisher by a day or two. I loved hearing about Carrie’s crazy upbringing, she was the daughter of two Hollywood superstars, and her parents were clearly a bit eccentric. I really loved it, and I really want to read the rest of Carrie’s books. I also want to read anything by or about Debbie Reynolds.
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
So I’ve had this book on my shelves forever. And I had a lot of time on my hands so I decided to read it even though I was already reading a long-ass book. It’s about this castle-thing, called Gormenghast. It is the home of the Groan family. And the current earl Groan has just had a son called Titus. The book just goes through the lives of the Groan family and Gormenghast. It was fine. It’s so involved and there are so many family members and minutiae. And there are a lot of people. And I got sort of exhausted by it, so I had to listen to it on audiobook to get through it. It is supposed to be a classic fantasy story, but fantasy stories need to have plot, at least a bit of plot, and while this book has a villain and a bit of plot I don’t feel like it had enough. It might have been the wrong time for me, but it just felt like it dragged and it annoyed me. I thought the characters were interesting, but it was too slow. Also Titus was the most annoying person ever created.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
This is the second Jacqueline Woodson book I’ve read and it was beautiful. It is about a woman named August who has come back to Brooklyn to go to her father’s funeral. On her way home she runs into an old friend on the subway and she thinks back to her youth in Brooklyn in the 1970s. It is beautiful and poetic, and it’s such a beautiful story of different kinds of childhoods and different kinds of families. It’s great. And I wrote a review here.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
This is a short story collection by Lahiri. It is the first of Lahiri’s books I’ve read and I really liked it. All the stories feature Bengali people, and are usually centered around an immigration theme. The narrator or main character isn’t necessarily Bengali, but they interact with a Bengali person. I thought it was really great. I am not a big short story reader, but I thought this was great, and I’m very excited to read more Lahiri. I really loved the title story, which is about a Bengali man who works as a guide for people on weekends and on weekdays he works as a translator at a doctor’s office and I thought that was beautiful.
Those were the books I read in January. Excited about February.