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. 

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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)

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2. Adele – Leila Slimani (15 Jan)

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

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

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Nonfiction

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

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

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

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

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

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YA

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

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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

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

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

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Fiction

4. Queenie – Candice Carty Williams

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5. The Other Americans – Laila Lalami

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6. An Orchestra of Minorities – Chigozie Obioma

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YA

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

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8. Belly Up – Eva Darrows

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9. A Good Kind of Trouble – Lisa Ramee

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10. With the Fire on High- Elizabeth Acevedo

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11. Watch Us Rise – Renee Watson

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12. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph – Brandy Colbert

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13. Internment – Samira Ahmed

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

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15. On the Come Up – Angie Thomas

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Loves and Hates

Once again, this week’s designated Top Ten Tuesday doesn’t agree with me…so I’m making my own topic. I’ll pretend I’m in a speed dating situation and I’ve got about 15 minutes to tell you about what I like and don’t like as far as what I read.

(This is silly, but play along here, OK?)

Top Ten Book Loves/Book Hates

Loves

  1. YA, YA YA. I pity people that don’t read YA. Seriously. Like, what do you do in your boring ass life? Young adult books are the shit because it’s where all the action is. Want to know what’s hot in the streets? Read YA. YA is a cool litmus test for finding out what’s hip, what’s controversial, what will be talked about next. As an educator I dive into YA often, because I want to know what young people think about, what types of messages about life they receive from older people. I also like YA because it’s a safe place for nostalgia, make believe, and uncomplicated, raw emotion. Where else can you be angsty as fuck and get away with it? YA, of course.
  2. Diverse characters. Ever since I took a Multicultural Literature class as an undergrad student in 2001, I’ve strove to make my reading as representative of society as a whole as possible. Here on 29chapters.com, you will find that I review books about people of all races, ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, ability levels, social classes, as well as inside and outside of the U.S. This is done purposefully, not only keep me in the loop of the human experience, but to shine a light on people with experiences unlike your own whose stories deserve your attention.
  3. Nonfiction about social issues. I love reading nonfiction, but I strive to make the reading of mine worthwhile by reading to educate myself on social issues that interest me–particularly issues of crime and the criminal justice system, race, feminism, immigration, and poverty. Oppression of one is essentially the oppression of all, and learning how all of these issues are connected in our every day lives is critical.
  4. Dystopian lit. Books on how jacked up the future will be are always a treat for me. Perhaps it is because I am deeply pessimistic on the future as well, and believe that the changes we don’t make now will revisit us in the future, only three times worse. Either way, it’s fun to read about how the world’s going to hell, and there’s very little we can do about it but wait. Weee…
  5. “Thinking” while reading. If I’m thinking while I’m reading it, that’s always a good thing. Books that engage me intellectually and challenge me are always books that I will finish, whether I like them or not. It just drives home (for me, at least) that reading will always be a thinking process, not just some passive activity where I’m sitting and absorbing info like a plant. It also means that we can still be friends and disagree.

Hates

  1. “Chick” lit. Ewww, I hate anything that resembles this genre of literature. Books where the main objective is finding love, catfights, figuring out silly friendship drama, or a good pair of heels is not for me. I turn down offers to review on these kinds of books all the time and will continue to do so unapologetically. No chick lit here ever, I’m convinced it causes brain shrinkage.
  2. Romance novels. Another genre I don’t touch with a ten foot pole. As a matter of fact, if I go to a book review site and it’s full of reviews on romance novels (even if they are YA) and chick lit, I immediately back up and make a note not to visit that site again. Brain shrinkage occurs with this one as well, only at a more rapid rate.
  3. Books from Western canons. I’m not saying there aren’t classics because there are, but surely one has noticed that 99% of the books in the humanities considered “classics” are written by White men. I love All Quiet on the Western Front, Grapes of Wrath, Aristotle’s Poetics, and Huckleberry Finn as much as the next gal, but if these kinds of books is all one reads, I question why your reading perspective is limited to that of straight White dudes only. As if Western perspectives and being cisgendered is the center of the moral universe. Not so, I say. I’ll stay on the left.
  4. Mainstream bestsellers. I could care less what’s on the Amazon or New York Times bestseller list. I also don’t care about who won what award, or what book “everybody” is reading right now. As a matter of fact, if I see a book on “the list” I will usually avoid it for that very reason because yes, millions of people can be wrong. Occasionally I do read pop fiction, but it is only because I am curious about that particular book. But nah, I’ve never gone to “the list” and scanned it for something to read. To this day I maintain that I’ve never read a Harry Potter book and don’t plan to. My son has read them all though. Bless his heart.
  5. “Major Motion Picture” covers. So Everything, Everything is a movie now. That doesn’t mean you have to change the paperback cover. I know you want to sell movie tickets, but urrrrgghh…this burns me up. Keep it the same, don’t change it.

Rock on, guys…

xoxo, Kellan