The World Is Burning Down. If You Need Me I’ll Be Here Reading

It feels like the world is on fire, again. In many ways, including literally (global warming), immigration, international politics, but in this instance I’m talking specifically about women’s reproductive rights.

Alabama I’m looking at YOU. Also, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio who’ve passed ‘fetal heartbeat bills’ outlawing abortion beyond 6 weeks of pregnancy, and every other state chipping away at laws that protect woman’s right to autonomy over our bodies. Here’s what I think of all you POS, MF’s, etc.

So besides venting my outrage to friends, sharing feminist articles on social media, canvassing for political candidates who don’t actively hate me or want to control my or my daughter’s bodies, I’ve been hiding in my bedroom.

Kidding. Sort of.

Want to know what has been possibly saving me from utter madness?

BOOKS. Lots and lots of books.

In my last post way back in (gasp) December, I discussed upping my book consumption and asked for any app recs in order to keep track of my reading. Well, I found one easily enough on iTunes, and I can’t explain how much I love it. Or maybe I can.

It’s called – get ready for your mind to be blown – Reading List.

Genius in its simplicity, there are no bells or whistles, it’s just an easy way to keep track of books you’ve read and want to read. You can create lists if you so desire, which I do, and for me those are Fiction and Memoir, but you can create lists for any genre, category, or even for other family members.

All you do is type in the book’s title or author, or, better yet, SCAN the bar code (SWOON!) and an image of the book cover (along with pub info and description) magically appears. Add it to your list and BOOM. You’re done. Except for the actual reading part.

Since January, I’ve read 25 (!) books and my to-read list is about 45 and counting. The only thing you can’t easily do is juggle the books around in a different order, as they’re arranged chronologically, but that is a first world problem so get over it.

As an act of public service, I’m going to share some of my recently read favorites, which you may or may not enjoy since book loving is completely subjective. I’ve split them into categories for fun, and they are listed in order in which they were consumed (please know there are many, MANY more which I’m happy to share with you, just ask).

5 TOP NOVELS

Milkman by Anna Burns
I fell into a hypnotic trance reading this book about the Irish troubles, get it NOW

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
If I can read a book with a dog as a main character and love it, well, that’s all I need to say

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
YA fantasy that sucked me in and spit me out and it’s the 1st in a trilogy YAY

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
Chilling, lyrical, brilliant, you will not be able to stop reading or thinking about it once done

Yellow Star by Jennifer Rozines Roy
One of the most wrenching and beautiful Middle Grade Holocaust books I’ve ever read

 

5 TOP MEMOIRS

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in High Country by Pam Houston
Beautiful and painful and earnest, thank you for being a human being in this world, Pam

Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso
Vignette master + word sculptor, also for anyone suffering from chronic illness

Joy Enough: A Memoir by Sarah McColl
Dead mother club members sign up here, lyrical masterpiece

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
Innovative shit happening in this book of essays that reads like a memoir

Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas
Please just read everything she has ever written, starting with Safekeeping

 

5 MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS-TO-READ

Women Talking by Miriam Toews
Run-do-not-walk to get this book about a real life horror story retold by a master

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
A renown reporter digs deep into the Irish Troubles (see Milkman in Fiction)

Black Is the Body by Emily Bernard
Memoir via connected essays about race, family, and the body

Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange
Middle grade book my daughter is reading bc we LOVED her debut so so much

Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault by Cathy Guisewite
Mostly because my mom loved her Cathy comic strip but also because she’s hilarious

 

READING NOW AND LOVING THE CRAP OUT OF

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
Unsung hero of the short story genre who died before being fully recognized

Rag by Maryse Meijer
Short stories by a woman who is not afraid to get deep in the muck, FYI men do not fare well here


Whew.

Now it’s your turn. How are you making your way through the muck of life, and more importantly, what are you reading?

Next month I will delve into HOW I find my next books…

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Book Goals!

It’s that time again. Resolutions, or for the more succinct, word of the year. For a while, I tried this One Word business, but like resolutions, they rarely stuck.

This year, I figured out something better. Something more attainable and infinitely more fun.

BOOK GOALS!

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Let’s backtrack here for a moment to a dark and terribly grim time in my life:

The time when I didn’t read. 

It’s hard to even imagine, I know. The concept of not-reading goes against every grain of book loving fiber in my body, and yet, it happened. You may guess what inspired this temporary hiatus. Babies.

Of course. Those sweet little life sucking cherubs!

But it didn’t happen all at once. My reading slowed, as one might expect, but I soon discovered reading-while-nursing. And this was before iPhones, or at least, before I had an iPhone.

Imagine the scenario: You’re stuck on a couch or a bed or a chair nursing a baby. A dull glaze quickly settles over you, often accompanied by a rabid restlessness. Without social media as a crutch, I relied on books. I’m talking about actual bound books, printed with ink, and on paper! No digital readers for me, not then or now.

But once my youngest was up and mobile, my reading time collapsed. With two young kids to wrangle, feed, entertain, and nap, I had little time or energy for much else. Like any drug, the withdrawal hurt the most in the beginning, and the longer I went without, the less I craved it. Or at least, that’s the lie I told myself.

If you ask me how long this hiatus lasted for, I couldn’t give you a precise timeline. It was over a year, perhaps a little more than two. I remember scanning the shelves of our local library in Brooklyn (circa 2013) for my own stash after toddler story time.

It was a loss, though. Truly. Not having my most trusted and loyal companions, especially during such lonely time as new motherhood, was rough.

My appetite for books has only increased since then, perhaps making up for those lost years. For example, in 2016, when I decided to write a memoir, I spent an entire year reading memoir and craft books almost exclusively. Emerging from that haze, I returned ravenous for fiction, and now I read both, often at the same time.

Some recent sample pairings:

One of my favorite, and embarrassingly recent, discoveries is the library. Curiously enough, I didn’t grow up with a library habit. My mother took me to bookstores, and while I appreciate her desire to support local businesses, I sometimes wonder why we didn’t take advantage of free (free!) libraries. Maybe it was because she couldn’t afford books as a child, and this was her way of splurging, but regardless, it took many years for me to fall in love with libraries.

But once I fell, I fell hard.

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It can be a bit of a problem. Over checking out. Over requesting. But it’s a problem I’m grateful to have.

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So, after that rather long preamble, what are my book goals for 2019?

Actually, it’s pretty simple. Keep reading.

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But I would like to keep better track of what I read. If anyone has an app they love, please let me know! I’m not interested in anything fancy or complicated, just a simple way to look back and easily recall, since my brain no longer allows such luxuries.

Happy New Year my fellow readers, and of course, happy reading!