Beloved readers: it’s bad to have book ADD. I’m on about a dozen publisher and upcoming book mailing lists (Buzzfeed, NetGalley, Kirkus, Electric Lit, Signature) so I get the word on books that are coming out months before they hit the stores. I’m also constantly in the library, looking, searching. The books I don’t pick up on my visits there I often add to my TBR pile to come back and get at a later time. Then there are the books that you come across on your Goodreads recommendations late at night, thinking: damn that sounds interesting, so I add those too. Before you know it, you’re like me and you’ve got 609 books in your queue list. I am also no respecter of order–if I really like a book I read it right then, forget the books in the back that have been stuck there, waiting for years to be read.
So this Tuesday, I’m giving ya’ll a glimpse into the books that have been in my TBR pile the longest. I’ve been on Goodreads since 2008, so we can assume that they’ve been there for at least 10 years (or longer, depending on if the actual copy is sitting on my shelf at home).
- Midwives, Chris Bohjalian
- The Farming of Bones, Edwidge Danticat
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
- Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
- The Age of Shiva, Manil Suri
- Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi
- Dessa Rose, Sherley Anne Williams
- All Over Creation, Ruth L. Ozeki
- The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
- You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon
And btw, add me on Goodreads, beloveds. Till next time…
More Top Ten Tuesday goodness.
This was a list that was fairly easy to write. Some books you get through because you have to (your grade depends on it), others you read and you wonder how you got to the end. Was it magic? Perhaps you were dreaming. Either way, you’re at the end and now it’s umm…the end.
- Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad. NEVER, EVER read this book for pleasure! You will find yourself completely vexed, walking around at 3 am in your cold dorm room, wondering why you’re being tortured and how someone can write sentences that go on for 3 pages. Lord, I hated this book. I did finish it for class, but after that I found that I hated the teacher too. Ughhhh.
- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami. This is a book about a young man who has difficulty making friends. Eventually he finds a group of people that he likes to hang out with and one day, for an unknown reason, they stop speaking to him. He spends years alone, trying to figure out why he was cut off until one day, he gets an answer. I listed this book here because this is, quite literally, a novel about nothing, with such minimal action that it should be criminal. However, I read this book from cover to cover and was completely enthralled. This is the novel that eventually brought me closer to Murakami and his genius, his work is often very minimal and about the most mundane of topics, yet something in the writing compels you to read it. This man can make a damn phone book sound interesting. Not many people have that gift.
- It’s No Secret: From Nas Jay Z, from Seduction to Scandal, a Hip Hop Helen of Troy Tells All, Carmen Bryan. I read this on a beach in Daytona Beach, Florida. It’s hella bad and mad forgettable. Written by the ‘baby mama’ of rapper Nas, Miss Bryan gives a detailed account of her relationship with Nas, how she cheated on him with Jay Z and pretty much every other rapper that was popular in the late 90’s. At the end she’s mad because Nas won’t pay her $10k more in child support for their daughter. After reading this I wanted to wipe myself down. Yuck.
- True Love, Jennifer Lopez. I’m a closet J Lover, ok? Plus the pics were cool. Next…
- Note to Self, Connor Franta. YouTuber Connor Franta talks about his battles with depression, self-acceptance, and anxiety. It would have been cool if the whole thing didn’t come off like a long-ass, typical millenial’s Tumblr post, complete with photos. His writing so generic you wonder how it got published, but wait a minute…oh yeah, he’s a YouTube star. Blah.
- what purpose did i serve in your life, Marie Calloway. More hipster lit. The first book with nude photos that I skimmed.
- Things We Lost in the Fire, Mariana Enriquez. Disturbing set of short stories that it took me forever to read. There’s Satanic sacrifices, kids being beheaded, girls who set themselves on fire, haunted houses where people get tortured…and umm, that’s just the first 4 stories. There is something here, but be prepared to suffer through it to get there.
- The Bees, Laline Paull. I somehow got through this book and I HATE bees. I know we need them but I can’t stand their buzzing, and will high-tail it like a runaway slave whenever they’re around. How did I endure a 350 page book about a creature I don’t like? The writing, that’s how. Wow!
- So Sad Today, Melissa Broder. The overshare of this book is icky. I always tell people that if you want to hear about Melissa Broder’s vomit fetish, read this book (btw, I did skip that essay). Books that are meant to shock never really shock me, they just make me annoyed and want to close them. That’s it.
- Rape: A Love Story, Joyce Carol Oates. Book about a rape victim who’s ‘put on trial’ with the perpetrators. It’s an ok book, except the title. For those familiar with JCO though, you know that she’s a decent writer but sometimes she’s a little too extra–you just wish she would write the damn story and stop with the cringe-inducing metaphors. This is such a book.
The original topic of this edition of Top Ten Tuesday (as stated on the website that sponsors it) is “Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About.” Well, I’m changing this one a bit. I refuse to let my reading memory fail me, my handy dandy moleskine notebook in which I catalog and write down everything makes sure brain erasure never happens. I will, however, change this one to “Books I Hated but Love to Discuss.”
Most of the selections I’m about to list here have been reviewed here at some point as a one star or a no star rating. Reasons for a one star review is obvious, but a no star rating is usually reserved for books I did not finish (DNF) or, in one case, because the subject matter of the book presented itself in such a way that I simply refused to rate it. I do however, think that all the books that I don’t like (and yes, even you don’t like) are open to discussion. It’s the American way, right?
Anywho…in no particular order:
- Tampa, Alissa Nutting. This is a controversial book about a female middle school teacher who teaches for no other reason than to seek young male students to fulfill her sexual desires. The author goes deep into her mind, with long (long!) passages that describe her deviant ways. While I didn’t like this book (reading it requires bathing in Dettol afterward), it raises an important point about how society views a female sexual predator vs. a male.
- Peach, Emma Glass. Very short novel about the aftermath of a young girl’s sexual assault. Written in a very experimental style, so weird and trippy that I can’t even tell you what the hell happened in the last 50 pages. I’d love to get some other people’s perspectives here. Hmm.
- Today Will Be Different, Maria Semple. Page 7 tells me why I hated this book and didn’t finish it (“one normal day of white people problems”). Other than that, just some rich lady bitching about her life for 250 pages. No thanks.
- Mexico: Stories, Josh Barkan. A book of short stories all about violent, narco-criminal Mexicans who kidnap and kill Americans. Entitled “Mexico” but these are not the stories of Mexico or Mexicans, these are the fears of privileged white Americans who watch too much Fox News.
- A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, Jen Waite. Pretty bartender meets another bartender, marries him, and has a kid. He cheats on her and suddenly she becomes an expert on psychopathic relationships. Not sure why this story warranted 200 pages, or even a memoir at all. We’ve all been cheated on, ma’am, move to the back and take a number…
- Inside the Criminal Mind, Dr. Stanton Samenow. Leave it to Dr. Samenow, people who smoke marijuana on the weekend are in the same category of deviance as Jeffrey Dahmer. He also disregards addiction as disease pathology, when about 40 years of research into the topic will tell him differently. Dummy.
- Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked, James Lasdun. Was he being stalked by his student or not? Beats the hell out of me. What I’m mad about is that out of 250 pages, only about 50 deal directly with this story. The rest is a paper wash. Jesus.
- Universal Harvester, John Darnielle. Another trippy book. I wish I could tell you what it was about. Hmm.
- The Incest Diary, Anonymous. A recent review on a subject that is so disturbing that I had to include it here. Some people actually do like this book, I’d love to talk to them about why they feel that way.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by E.K. Johnston. A YA book about the aftermath of a sexual assault. It’s a brave book, but also one that I found grossly unrealistic in how it deals with the subject. I’d love to hear more opinions on how other people viewed this one.
Ok, lemme get back to work. Yeah, I’m actually blogging at work. Go me!
To flex my blogging muscles a bit I’ve decided to follow a weekly feature for now. I may not do a Top Ten Tuesday posting every week because I honestly don’t see myself answering all the topics they’ve got posted over at thatartsyreadergirl.com. Also, I may not always give ten responses so this isn’t truly a Top Ten, per se. In the meantime, however, I guess it’s fun to take a departure (whichever way it’s taken) to peek inside my head a bit.
I don’t really make resolutions, but I do make changes in my reading habits fairly consistently. Here’s a few:
- Read the myriad of books I already have. About 90% of the books I review here come from the library. I have about another 100-300 books sitting on my shelves here at my home, unread. Most of them are tagged as ‘Want to Read’ on Goodreads, but I really should get with it and just stay out of the library and clear them off and read them. Even if I wanted to buy a new book, I’d have nowhere to put it. Sheesh.
- Continue to mine sources (other than bestseller lists) for great books. I follow some really swell book-friendly IG accounts, plus I get newsletters from sites like Electric Literature, Signature Reads, and NetGalley throughout the month on titles coming up. Buzzfeed Books is also cool too. Whatever I do, I prefer the less-traveled corner of book recommendations.
- Continue to extol the virtues of DNF. I realized a long time ago that one way to make reading more effective is to realize when you’re not having fun doing it. If a book doesn’t make an impression on me within 50 pages, I will usually stop reading it with absolutely no apologies. This isn’t high school, I’m not doing a book report. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is simply too much to read out there in the world without stressing myself out over reading something that bores me to tears.
- Follow more book blogs on WordPress. I see ya’ll following me and I appreciate the love. I will try to follow more of you guys, I promise. I just rarely have a chance to sit down at my computer and scroll through to find sites I like. When everybody’s reviewing the same 12 books over and over, finding ones that stand out from the pack can be a daunting task, you know?
I think that’s it for now. I told you this isn’t a Top Ten so much as it is just a chance for me to have you get to know me better. I hope it’s working.