Week 13: Difficult books and fun audio-book experiences

Hello Everyone,

This weekend I am down in Jackson, Wyoming visiting friends. I feel like I had a little extra time this week and breezed through two books instead of the one I have been managing recently. I have also been enjoying catching up on my podcasts, and wanted to mention a podcast I don’t think I mentioned in my post on recommendations a few weeks ago.

All The Books is a podcast hosted by Book Riot, and its hosts Liberty and Rebecca cover about 6 books that are coming out the week of the podcast. What I like about it is that the books they mention a range of books from YA novels to horror to more mainstream literary fiction. This is great because I usually am not interested in all 6 books, and I also find out about books I haven’t heard of otherwise. They mostly cover new releases, so for people who don’t like to buy hardback books, it may not be helpful, but I really enjoy their perspective, their honesty and the variety of books they cover.

In terms of my reading life this week, I struggled with some of these books. One I felt like I didn’t quite get, and the subject matter of the other was incredibly difficult. However, I don’t have a problem with reading difficult books, and in one case, I think this book will stick with me for a long time even though I had a hard time reading it.

Books I finished this week

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The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

Whew. This book is intense. This book is an updated version of Joan of Arc set in a future where the climate crisis and radiation exposure had caused humans to mutate, and the richest few thousand people have left Earth to live in a scavenged space station while siphoning off the few remaining resources on Earth.

I don’t want to say too much, but I read a review that called this a mediation on sex, war and love, and I think that is a good description. This is not science fiction however, but disturbing speculation on what we could become as a human species if we follow the path we are on now. For so many reasons this book feels like it belongs to the moment, down to the fact that the post eco-disaster world is ruled by a former celebrity turned dictator who has a disturbing relationship towards women.

The reason I can’t recommend this book wholeheartedly is because of the violence and graphic depictions of bodily functions that are included. There is a point to these, but they are so well written, and so vivid that I literally had my hand over my mouth at certain points. If sex and violence is something you are not comfortable reading about, I would read something else, however, if you are still interested, I would pick this up and check it out. If the first few chapters are too much however, put it down because it gets more intense as the book goes on.

 

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The Intuitionist by Coulson Whitehead

This was the book I struggled to understand. Although the plot was fairly simple, it felt like the book was actually ABOUT something else and I just never got it. This was a problem because the plot itself is about a surreal version of New York where elevators are symbols of progress, and the elevator world is split between Empiricists, who look at the physical mechanisms of the elevator and Intuitionists who somehow sense the how an elevator is working through vibrations and other unseen cues. The book also touches on the dynamics of race and gender in historically white institutions.

Overall, this was a fun read, but a weird book, and it just felt more experimental then well-developed. I have really wanted to read more Coulson Whitehead, and this probably won’t stop me, but The Undergound Railroad still stands alone!

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Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (on audio-book)

I really love David Sedaris, who includes himself in my permitted reading list by virtue of being extremely vocal about the fact that he is gay. I have always loved listening to him the most, from This American Life to getting to see him live in Bellingham last year, and this book is perfect for that. Not only does he read it himself, but some of the essays are actually recorded live, so it feels like a mix between a performance recording and an audio-book.

 


 

What went well

I read a lot this week, and I what I read this week was definitely thought-provoking. I also loved that it was warm enough to sit outside and read so that I could take advantage of summer AND good books.

What did not go well

I’m still looking for a great lighter book, like Sofia Khan is Not Obliged. I didn’t realize how much I had liked it until I did my first quarter update post, and I realized that re-reads aside, it was probably my second favorite read of the last three months.

What I am reading next week

This upcoming week, I am reading a wonderful book called Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill, and I also just bought a few books about Yellowstone that I can read, so I am excited to pick one of these up.

 

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