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Capsule Book Reviews No. 4: January 2016

After a month of no blogging, I’m back with more book talk. Sorry. I didn’t realize it had been that long.

I’m going to make an effort to do these more often, just because I always “mean to” write short reviews of books I read but never “get around to it,” and that stops now. (Or hopefully, because I don’t know how my year is going to go. I mean, I hope I can keep writing these, but who knows?)

01— Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

This was a carry-over from last year. I’d read about 4 essays before finishing up all 9 in 2016. I liked it a lot; it cast a wide net over topics related to women, so to speak. That said, I don’t agree with everything she wrote, especially about the marriage thing, but it was quite a good primer in terms of examining that gap between men and women, and why they seem to inherently think that they’re superior. And how society has worked out that we kind of also have been letting them get away with thinking that.

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I loved a lot of it, but not all of it. This is a super vague review, but feel free to ask about my thoughts on anything in the book, if you’re so inclined. I can’t guarantee a smart answer, but you will get an answer.

02— Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This came highly recommended and for some reason, I avoided it for a little bit before finally taking the plunge. I learned about it as gay YA, but it didn’t really come up until the book was nearing the ending. The story largely unfolds in Ari’s head, as he sorts out his feelings about his family and the idea of friendship (I think, anyway), and the many lonelinesses he feels. It’s a very quiet book, and it had a lot of cute moments, and though I really, really do like it, I think that it kind of didn’t say a lot, too. There’s so much more that could have been said, I feel like. I would have wanted to hear more, at least.

I think it serviced more of Ari’s growth as a person (which, I related with a lot), and although I enjoyed that, there was something missing in this volume. Something that I feel like would have taken this from “really good” to “great.”

I’ll probably write a longer review on this on GoodReads, but that all depends on like how in the mood I am to do it. I gave this 3, 3.5 stars, because even though I loved reading it and I loved the characters, I think getting to the end of it felt unsatisfying and I couldn’t give it a 4. I think there’s a sequel coming out, so maybe that’ll help with the unsettledness I feel about it, but as a stand-alone story, it was only okay.

03— Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein

MY FIRST 5-STAR BOOK THIS YEAR. I loved this so much. I really thought that was going to be a unanimous opinion, but apparently a lot of people didn’t like it! Most of the comments I heard were along the lines of “too much Carrie” (?) or “Not enough Sleater-Kinney” or “Not enough Portlandia” and while I do agree that these things don’t factor into the text until later in the book (Portlandia being especially “blip-py” in appearance), I do think that people need to be reminded that this is Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, not Sleater-Kinney’s ot Portlandia‘s. And although those are big parts of her life, there are other parts of it, too.

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A lot of people felt like it was overwritten, but I, on the other hand, really thought her vocabulary fit, almost. Like the way she uses her words helped me build a more accurate picture of her in my head. In any case, I related with her feelings a lot, even though she is a performer and an introvert, and way braver than I could probably ever be. I needed to read this book, and I’m so grateful that she wrote it at all.

I’ve finished two books in February, so far, both of which I really liked. I’m going to try and finish one more and write a mid-month post on them, similar to this one. It just feels like I waited too long before writing down my thoughts on these titles… and maybe it would be better to do when my thoughts are still fresh on the brain. Or something. If you want to follow real-time reading, this is my GoodReads account, which is sporadically linked to this Twitter account.

Anyway, it’s been a good year, so far, with me and books. I hope the same for you.