I had this post—a book roundup for the first quarter of 2017—scheduled for today*… Clearly noted down with a more optimistic view of the amount of books I’d have read in 2017. Well, my friends, it turns out that I’ve only finished four (3 in January and 1 in March!) in that period of time, so this post is going to probably be short and sweet, despite my decided wordiness.
01 — Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Clothing of Books
This is actually a very short piece—an originally-Italian speech translated to English—in book form. I pretty much read and finished this on my plane ride from New Jersey to Chicago. I bought it in McNally Jackson (♥) after reading Aldrin’s best-of list for 2016, via CNN Philippines Life. Essentially, it’s about book covers and how, ideally, they should reflect an aspect of the book accurately, but also stand out on the shelves (i.e. make money), but also—ideally—involve the authors in some way. She mentions a book of hers whose cover she dislikes so much, she needs to fight the urge to rip it off every time she’s asked to autograph it. The book in question, of course, is never named or shown.
02 — Vivek Shraya’s even this page is white
Bought this collection of poetry in Volumes, a bookstore in Chicago, upon the recommendation of Leena/justkissmyfrog, and I finished it in one sitting (as I was waiting for a show), and will likely re-read it. Even this page is white is largely about “everyday racism and colonialism in Canada,” which is where Shraya is from. It definitely opened up facets of racism that I don’t think I’d previously considered before. I’ve lived in a pretty racially homogenous environment all my life, so even if I am technically a “PoC,” in the loosest definition, I definitely did not grow up with all these considerations that actual PoCs struggle with.
Shraya is a prolific artist, having released writing, music, and visual explorations. A recent favorite of mine is a photographic essay on her and her mother called Trisha.
03 — Stephen Collins’ The Giant Beard That Was Evil
I love this strange and fascinating story, which I believe I got off a rec from Sanne/booksandquills. The Giant Beard That Was Evil is a delightful, somewhat somber but still plenty silly, graphic novel. Although there are many themes in this book, the one that stuck out to me was how the fear of the unknown affects people, their lives, and those around them. It’s charming, beautifully drawn, and at turns a little philosophical, and the end was perfect, though not something I expected. Is this burning an eternal flame?
04 — Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale
I started this in January, but really only got into it in March, I think. Although I appreciate the book’s unfortunate timeliness, i.e. in terms of how systems in place grab hold of women and attempt to control their bodies, and how they live, and what they can do—in the name of morality and holiness and “what is right in the eyes of God/religion, I think I was unable to suspend my disbelief at how much the worldview of that particular time flipped in such a short span of time.
Perhaps it’s naivete on my part, because the future, dystopian world that Atwood imagined in 1985 (when The Handmaid’s Tale was released) does look a lot like how it does now, even though our so-called progresses probably shouldn’t have allowed these things to take root at all. I’d like to say that I think that this horrifying, cruel future seems “impossible,” but on the other hand, certain world events have been making plot points look like terrifying possibilities.
I’m in the middle of several books—awful habit—and will hopefully have more to report when I check back in at the end of June. What have you guys been reading and enjoying?
* I don’t actually follow my schedule for blog ideas, so surprise!