Top Ten Books I DNF’d in 2018

Making up my own Top Ten Tuesday topic again. Today I’m going to talk about DNF’s.

There’s a lot of reasons why I choose to stop reading a book. I’ve discussed them in the past in far more detail, though my rule in general is that if a book doesn’t give me a good reason to continue it after 50 pages, I usually close it and don’t come back. There’s also the “how do I feel” test, where I will read for a while and then ask myself how I feel based on the first couple dozen pages. If it’s not making me curious, I generally don’t go further.

So what did I DNF in 2018? Here’s a quick list of just 10 books that I gave the boot to:

36347955

A History of Violence – Edouard Louis

For a book about the author’s sexual assault, I found this book’s tone far too cold and confusing. Large portions are told through the perspective of the author’s sister, and I couldn’t tell where the author’s own voice was. I like Louis, but this one wasn’t for me.

35487236

2. Bearskin – James McLaughlin

Chills and thrills about a man chasing bear poachers on a mountain. Good premise, but there are huge swaths of the book in which literally nothing happens–birds sing, bees make honey, grass grows. Snooze City.

32969152

3. The Lauras – Sara Taylor

A mother and a child (the sex of the child is never given, it may be assumed that they are transgendered) run away from her husband and criss-cross the country. It’s terribly slow. Page 100 and it still really hadn’t gotten off the ground yet. Blah.

7099273

4. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates – Wes Moore

A successful Black writer and Army veteran investigates the history behind a prison inmate who bears his same name. Seems to draw a faulty premise on a less fortunate outcome based on the existence of his own privilege, particularly class.

34912895

5. The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

I couldn’t seem to get into this one, even after about 200 pages. I may actually come back to it one day when I’m in the mood. For now though, nahhh…I’m good.

36373223

6. Pretend I’m Dead – Jen Beagin

I don’t know how or why this book has such great reviews. About the life of a quirky cleaning lady, it started off cool but towards the middle I found it to be rather tedious and boring, as if the air went out of a balloon and fell flat. There is a sequel to this book coming in 2019, which I don’t care to read either.

37486538

7. How Are You Going to Save Yourself – J.M. Holmes

I was cool with this book until about halfway in, when three of the four male characters gang rape a female character with indifference. Rape in literature minus a critique, in my opinion, is simply unacceptable. It’s also the very definition of what is meant by ‘rape culture.’

36679056

8. The Incendiaries – R. O. Kwon

Another book with high reviews and I’m not sure why. I loved the writing, but the characters I found to be stilted, cold, and inaccessible. Not for me.

36373372

9. Ohio – Stephen Markley

Overwritten and bloated novel about 4 high school friends meeting up on the same night in–where else? Ohio. For me, there were too many flashbacks for expository purposes. I didn’t care either.

29751533

10. I Stop Somewhere – T. E. Carter

Mashup between “The Lovely Bones” and “13 Reasons Why” about the spirit of a young rape victim, murdered by the town’s hero and doomed to watch further sexual crimes in the same location for all eternity. Unlike “How Are You Gonna Save Yourself” there is a critique on rape here, but the bad stuff is far too detailed to be usable, and it’s all at the expense of plot development.

Advertisements

Reading Confessions

I’m tiiiired of talkin’ about 2018, so I’m not gonna do the prescribed Top Ten Tuesday post for today. What I’ll talk about instead are some of the methods to my reading madness, which I’ll call my Reading Confessions...

*plays scary organ music*

  1. Reading Confession #1: I generally will not read a book over 350 pages long. I can, of course, and yes, I have before…but honestly, who has time for all of that? It must be super-intriguing for me to devote that kind of time commitment these days, and I just don’t give it away lightly. Perhaps this is why I’ve never gotten into Harry Potter–it’s just way too long in print. Perhaps I am old and just don’t have the stamina anymore, perhaps I just prefer to pack light. Audio is better, which is why I’ve found myself gravitating more and more toward this medium–it saves time.
  2. Reading Confession #2: I will usually stick with a book that has an unlikable character. As a matter of fact, I prefer asshole characters. For me, not liking a character is not a reason to quit a book. Sure, you may not like what they do and say and think, but ask yourself: why? Is it because they’re challenging you? Irritating you? If they are, so what? Why are you so sensitive about it? Characters are states of being and do not have to meet my standards of neatness, sanity, or politeness. You cannot create a world where everything is to your liking, so why do people demand this when they read?
  3. Reading Confession #3: As much as I hate to admit it, I do like books with nice covers. It’s like a first impression on a first date. If you’re ugly on the outside, why go any further? Answer: you don’t.
  4. Reading Confession #4: If I find a random book that’s been dog-eared (at the library, around the office, etc), I will quickly un-dogear it. Yes. Make the world a better place.
  5. Reading Confession #5: I actually got into a physical fight in the 5th grade with the girl in the desk across from mine because she ripped out a page of one of my Babysitters Club books. And no, I’m still not sorry. Bitch. 

And yes…I’ve started a TinyLetter. Subscribe if you want to hear more intimate happenings, detailed ramblings about my take on books, pop culture, and what else is on my mind.

>> Subscribe here

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

Books I’m extra extra excited about, coming out in the first six months of 2019.

Fiction

1. Inspection – Josh Malerman (23 April)

41058632

2. Adele – Leila Slimani (15 Jan)

40265073

3. Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid (5 March)

40597810

4. Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories – Young-Ha Kim (16 April)

40796117

Nonfiction

5. The Body Papers – Grace Talusan (2 April)

40680094

6. Where Reasons End – Yiyun Li (5 Feb)

40147915

7. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays – Esme Weijun Wang (5 Feb)

40121993

8. The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers – Bridgett Davis (29 Jan)

39599942

9. The Source of Self Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations – Toni Morrison (12 Feb)

40265834

YA

10. Brave Face – Shaun David Hutchinson (21 May)

39348536

Top Fifteen Tuesday: Reads for 2019

I’m so hyped for some great reads coming down the pipe in 2019 that I couldn’t cull my list down to 10, so here goes:

Nonfiction/Memoir

1. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive – Stephanie Land

39218350

2. Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood – Maureen Stanton

40796214

3. The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation

40163156

Fiction

4. Queenie – Candice Carty Williams

36586697

5. The Other Americans – Laila Lalami

34851317

6. An Orchestra of Minorities – Chigozie Obioma

35003282

YA

7. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan

36362234

8. Belly Up – Eva Darrows

35128563

9. A Good Kind of Trouble – Lisa Ramee

38251243

10. With the Fire on High- Elizabeth Acevedo

38739562

11. Watch Us Rise – Renee Watson

40025175

12. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph – Brandy Colbert

38097294

13. Internment – Samira Ahmed

38167114

14. Let Me Hear a Rhyme – Tiffany D. Jackson

36285129

15. On the Come Up – Angie Thomas

35068618

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookstores I Love

Bookstores are becoming a rarity these days. With the growing popularity of Amazon, ebooks, and that ever-present bastion of corporate capitalism [*cough*] Barnes & Noble [*cough*], I’m sad to say that there is really only five independently owned book sellers left in my city. That sucks.

When I visited NYC for a conference last April, I got a chance to check out some really cool independent bookstores there too. I took pics of some, but not others, because when you’re walking all day and your battery gets low, you learn to pick and choose what’s noteworthy. Some of those pics are included here, but most I culled from Google.

Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

Park-Road-Books

Here’s one in my very own city that’s been here forever. There’s even a small dog named Yola that walks around the shop while you’re browsing, just to say hello. Staff is super friendly too, all kinds of events are hosted here.

Paper Skyscraper, Charlotte, NC

Image result for paper skyscraper

Another local gem. Not only do they sell books, they sell stationery, housewares, games, jewelry, you name it. There’s also large, sweet poodle that belongs to the owner by the name of Patsy that walks the aisles here and stares lovingly at you. LGBTQ friendly as well.

Kinokuniya New York, NYC

Image result for kinokuniya new york

Image result for kinokuniya new york

This place was only steps from my hotel when I visited NYC, so naturally I went in here every single day I was there. There were two levels–English books upstairs and Japanese books and all kinds of stationery and gifts downstairs. There was also a small Japanese cafe that sold sushi and mochi and all other good things to eat. My son is heavily into manga, so I stocked up on books. Man, this place was a slice of heaven.

Codex Books, NYC

Another cool place off of the Bowery for new and used books. Lots of literary fiction and art titles. They also carry zines.

Image result for codex books nyc

Bluestockings, NYC

Cool slice of left-wing radical heaven on the LES. An activist center and completely run by volunteers, they carry thousands of academic titles and books and publications on feminism, queer studies, race, criminal justice system, and much more. Also carries zines and a lot of smutty lit titles.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Like to Have Tea With

I’ve decided that not only do I want to meet these authors, I’d like to have tea and crumpets with them. As long as they pay, of course.

  1. Zora Neale Hurston
  2. Edgar Allan Poe
  3. Roxane Gay
  4. Ottessa Moshfegh
  5. Angie Thomas
  6. Tiffany D. Jackson
  7. Katherine Faw
  8. Jason Reynolds
  9. Toni Morrison
  10. Haruki Murakami

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2018 (so far!)

Alright, alright…we’re halfway through 2018. I set my yearly reading goal at 140 books back in January, right now I’m at 86. Here are the best books I’ve read this year so far, in no particular order:

  1. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson – Beautiful autobiographical novel written in verse about the coming of age of a Black girl in the 1960’s and 70’s.
  2. Calling My Name, Liara Tamani – Set in the 90’s, this is a beautiful fiction book about the coming of age of a Black girl growing up in Texas.
  3. Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi – This book is a bit of a shape-shifter. To say it’s about identity or mental health is to deny its true power, so I’ll say it’s about certain subjects that are so thought-provoking it defies explanation. Let that sit for a minute.
  4. Sometimes I Lie, Alice Feeney – Pleasantly surprised by this one. Suspenseful, engaging, and full of drama. Loved this!
  5. Where the Dead Sit Talking, Brandon Hobson – “Quiet” kinda book that packs a helluva punch about the dysfunctional life of an adopted Native American teen in 1980’s Oklahoma.
  6. Heads of the Colored People, Nafissa Thompson-Spires – First collection of short stories this year that I actually liked. This is definitely one to read.
  7. Monday’s Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson – Another recent read that manages to be hopeful, frightening, and inspiring all rolled into one. Great book.
  8. Convenient Store Woman, Sayaka Murata – I was recently blown away by this one. This writer is definitely one to watch!
  9. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? – Kathleen Collins – Kathleen Collins was a Black playwright, filmmaker, and writer who died of cancer in 1988. Several years ago, her daughter gathered many of her still-unpublished writings and issued them in this volume. The stories in this book are definitely revelatory and quite profound–the reason you haven’t seen a review for this on here is because I still just don’t have words for it yet. I read this back in March and it is extremely good. Definitely check it out!
  10. The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui – Another recent read that completely blew me away with its beautiful drawings and message.