This is my wrap up for the books I read in March. I didn’t have a great reading month. It was fine, but it might also be my general mood, because I’m really grumpy these days, but it was fine. Hoping April gets better.
Every day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
I read this for the Read Harder challenge a book written by an immigrant or with a central immigration perspective. Teju Cole was born in the States and grew up in Nigeria, where his parents are from, I think he now lives in the States. The unnamed narrator of this short novel is also Nigerian, and lives in the States, is now coming to visit his aunt in Lagos. It’s very short and it’s very beautiful, and it’s… sort of spare. He doesn’t really use too flowery language. The narrator is very disillusioned with the corruption of Lagos, where you can move fairly unencumbered if you’re willing to pay off police and military on your way. He also sees this corruption in the States and he seems so disillusioned and lost in this world he doesn’t like. There is a scene where a boy is caught stealing and executed on the spot, and the narrator doesn’t seem upset or anguished, he just relates the horror of what is happening and it was horrifying, and his spare and monotonous writing style makes the whole thing really good. It’s so good.
Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Him is about two young men who used to go to the same hockey camp when they were kids, and were best friends. Now they’re both in their last year of college and they haven’t talked in years because of something that happened the last year they went to camp. Jamie Canning is straight, as far as he knows, and Ryan Wesley is gay and made a bet with Jamie that pushed their boundaries and then he basically cut Jamie out of his life. And then their teams are going to face off in a hockey championship and they have to meet again and smut ensues. So it’s a M/M romance new adult sort of thing. I don’t think it was perfect, it was fun, and Jamie and Wes are cute squishes, and weirdos. I liked that they used the word bisexual, I liked that it wasn’t just “straight-except-for-you.” I liked that the important people in their life were supportive and helpful. I also liked that Wes’s family weren’t necessarily supportive, because it’s more honest. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun, and cute and adorable and I was almost in a slump, and I read this in like two days because it was so compelling, so that helped.
The Transmigration of bodies by Yuri Herrera
For the Read Harder challenge I had to read a book set 5000 miles from where I live, and Mexico is about 5500 miles from Norway, so I picked this. That was a lot of preamble. Anyway. I read Herrera’s debut novel, and I really liked his way of writing and his way of telling stories. This is about a man called the Redeemer who works for the two crime families in town. When the two families kidnap a child of the opposite family’s it is up to the Redeemer to make sure a gang war doesn’t break out. The language is spare and sparse and Yuri Herrera does not use ten words if he can use two. It’s so beautiful and raw. And it is very crime noir and it shows that violence mostly impacts unintended victims who just happened to get in the way. It’s beautiful and wonderful and I loved it.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Most of March was taken up by me reading Don Quixote. It’s 1000 pages of weird knighthood. This is the story of a man who has read too many books about knights and decides to go out on adventures. He brings along a man who lives in his village named Sancho Panza. He is a farmer and Don Quixote makes him his squire and promises him the rule of an island. In the beginning it isn’t entirely clear if Sancho knows that Don Quixote is crazy, or if Panza actually believes him, but after a while it’s clear he isn’t particularly clever. I liked it, it’s so massive it took me a while, but it was fun. It also drove me a bit crazy that it was so massive. I think that has more to do with my general mood being a bit low these days, and if I’d been in a better mood it wouldn’t have bugged me so much that it was big, but hey. The writing is so sumptuous and beautiful and it’s hilarious.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
So I finally finished this. It won the 2015 Man Booker Prize and it’s big and complex and complicated. It’s set in Jamaica and New York mainly and the first part is focused on the murder attempt on Bob Marley who is referred to as ‘the Singer’ in the book. It also looks at the politics of Kingston mainly and the changing rulers of Jamaica, and the different gangs of Kingston. It is told from multiple perspectives, gang members, a receptionist at a hotel, a CIA operative, a journalist, and a dead peer of the realm who sometimes come into the story and give an overview, among others. The book then moves on to New York and the 80s and we see what happened next and how fun crack was. It is beautiful, and I thought the story was incredible. I will admit that I sometimes struggled with the language, because a lot of it is written in patois and sometimes I had to read sentences a couple of times to make sure I knew what people had said. It did however take me way too long to finish it. I don’t know why. I think because whenever I put it down I didn’t feel a strong urge to pick it up again. Anyway, I liked it, it was fine.
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland all the Way Home by Catherynne M. Valente
This is the last book in the Fairyland series. It focuses on the last adventure that September goes on. She is now the queen of Fairyland, but because of how Fairyland works she has to compete in a derby to keep her throne. She, Saturday, A-through-L and Blunderbuss go on to compete. It’s funny and beautiful and the story is so lovely. I feel like I need to reread the whole series in a more compressed amount of time, because they meet people who I didn’t remember at all. So I think I lost some stuff. So I need to read it again. Anyway, I always love September and Saturday and I love A-through-L so it was lovely.