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Capsule Book Reviews No. 2: BookTubeAThon

Ho! I joined a YouTube challenge called the Book-Tube-A-Thon, which is the baby of a Readathon and BookTube, YouTube book vlogger community. This was mostly a failure on my part because a) I read just 4 books, and b) I didn’t even get to vlog for the entire duration because we lost power. And also I was too lazy, heh.

Anyway, here is a video of the books I did manage to read:

As promised in the video (did you watch it!), here are some more book-y thoughts on the titles I read:

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
I’ve had this for a while but decided to finally read it (BTAT’s first challenge is to read a book with pictures) and it was really beautiful. At first, the story seems to be a bit simplistic—another doomed teenage love story—but when you read into the visual narrative, you’ll see details that hint at another, deeper layer that you might miss if you don’t pay attention. A lot of people have dissed this book because it doesn’t seem to pay much, but it’s certainly something you need to read into to kind of get the full effect of what it’s trying to say.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I’m surprised at how much I didn’t really like this book, given that I love E. Lockhart’s other work, a.k.a. Frankie Landau-Banks and the Ruby Oliverseries. We Were Liars is about a group of teenagers who spent their childhood summers at a family island. After “summer fifteen,” Candace (by whom the story is told) loses a chunk of her memory due to an accident and is kind of left picking up the pieces. It kind of feels random and like it tries too hard. The payoff was shocking, but only because it was so improbable. I would pass on this and pick up The Boyfriend List series. I know how stupid that sounds, but those books are seriously hilarious.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Another dud by an author whose previous work I loved. Much like her first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, this release by Marisha Pessl seems to be polarizing. Night Film is a murder mystery in which disgraced journalist Scott McGrath looks into the suicide of Ashley Cordova—ex-child prodigy, daughter of cult horror/thriller director, Stanislas Cordova. I will say that the premise of this is pretty good. I was gearing myself up for a spooking and several nights of sleeplessness, but the payoff was so unsatisfying. The more I thought about this book, the more I hated it. I took back the 3 Stars I initially gave it on GoodReads and gave it a 2. I felt like she tried too hard and didn’t really know much about writing a good creepy story. I don’t know, it was just all over the place and by the time I reached the middle, I thought 2 things: 1) I wish this would end, and 2) With 200+ pages left, what else could she possibly write about this story that would give it value? I think it suffered from not really knowing what “mystery” to prioritize… Is it Ashley’s suicide? In which case, why is it so important? Is it the truth behind Stanislas Cordova? I can see why people would like it, but the ending was just truly frustrating for me. I was so mad at it, lol.

Burning Houses by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta
Again, I’m not the best judge of poetry or even a good judge of poetry by any stretch. The kind of poetry I like has great and unusual or clever imagery, a nice tone and rhythm, and the kind of writing that doesn’t seek to isolate the reader. I love Mookie’s poetry, how she plays with form, and how, even if she writes in English, some poems are very much Filipino.

What was left on my TBR Pile for BookTubeAThon

Challenge: Start and finish a series
I planned to read all of the books or stories about the Glass Family (by JD Salinger) because I didn’t have any series in mind that I felt like I could read during the BookTubeAThon. This includes Nine Stories, Franny & Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter and Seymour: An Introduction, and his out-of-print story and last work to be seen on print before his death, Hapworth 16, 1924.

Challenge: A book someone else picks out for you
I have two: Quiet by Susan Cain, which was picked out for me by Barby, and The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, which was picked out for me by Isa. I have neither of the books with me yet, so I didn’t get to start on them just yet.

Challenge: A book to movie adaptation
I was thinking of finally getting around to reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (spoiler alert: I didn’t) or re-reading Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon and watching the movie, but I wanted both to be new to me… I settled on Carrie by Stephen King, but I don’t know if I can go through with that, because I’m a wuss. Another book I was considering was The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.

Other Books I’m in the Middle of Reading

(Still) Adverbs by Daniel Handler
(Still) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (re-read)
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
I feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being A Woman by Nora Ephron
Kapow! by Adam Thirlwell

Book Depository links are affiliate links. “Kapow!” was sent to me by Visual Editions years ago.