January Round-Up

Probably a bit of February too, because I’m late.

I haven’t had great success so far with my TBR-only reading goal. I had library books to finish and library holds come in, so I’ve only read two TBR books this year. And right now I’m reading two more library books! This week I paused several of my existing holds–library books shouldn’t feel like homework. As part of my personal TBR challenge, I’m not allowed to place any new hold, but my library wishlist is growing at a frightening pace.

January books I’ve already written about:

Other things I read,or partly read:  Continue reading

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The Sellout, by Paul Beatty

Where, even, to begin? Perhaps with what I knew about Paul Beatty’s The Sellout before I read it: it’s widely described in reviews as a scathing or searing satire on race; the semi-nameless narrator (his surname is Me, his girlfriend calls him Bonbon) is facing a Supreme Court trial because he owned a slave and tried to resegregate his town. (He’s black). The book made a number of best books of 2015 lists.

Maybe you’ve read some of the pieces by black authors on pandering to white audiences. This book doesn’t pander. Remember how I said I wanted to read books that challenged me, for which I wasn’t the audience? This book was a challenge. The question of audience is something Beatty addresses head on in both The Sellout and interviews about it. Right at the end of the novel there’s a scene at a comedy night where a white couple shows up, and the black comedian on stage yells at them:

“What the fuck are you interloping motherfuckers laughing at? . . . Do I look like I’m fucking joking with you? This shit ain’t for you. Understand? Now get the fuck out! This is our thing!”

Now if you’re a white lady reader like me, you might wonder if that’s addressed to you, who has laughed at a lot of Beatty’s witty, comic, heart-breaking book. And maybe it is. But then, so is this, from the narrator:

I didn’t agree with him when he said, “Get out. This is our thing.” I respected that he didn’t give a fuck. . . . But I wish I’d stood up to the man and asked him a question: “So what exactly is our thing?” 

Questions of identity and belonging, including, I think, the question of who belongs in the audience, are always vexed in this book. Continue reading

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TBR Challenge: Tempting Fate, by JoAnn Ross

January’s TBR Challenge theme is “We Love Short Shorts!” and I planned to pick one of the many category romances languishing on my Kobo reader. But then I knocked JoAnn Ross’s Tempting Fate off the bookshelf in my bedroom, and decided a book with a university administrator heroine might be just the thing when I felt overwhelmed by my own first-week-of-semester administrative duties.

The copy I have is a Mira re-release very kindly sent to me by Janet because of the heroine’s job. But Tempting Fate was first released as the last of a Harlequin Temptations trilogy called “Lucky Penny.” There is, in fact, a lucky penny in the book, but it features very lightly. Ross hints at a contrast between the supernatural/superstitious idea that the hero and heroine are “fated” to be together and their rational, logical natures–she’s an accountant and he’s a scientist. But this contrast isn’t really sustained or developed.  Continue reading

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Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal

This was another week of start-of-term madness; the flood of emails and eruption of small administrative fires hasn’t slowed yet. I didn’t make much headway in my library book. But I did borrow and blast through my 13-year-old’s copy of Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, written by G. Willow Wilson with art by Adrian Alphona.

I’m sure I’m the last interested person in the world to read this, and I’m neither a superhero person nor much of a comics person, so I’m not sure what my opinion is worth. But I’m trying to keep up the blogging, so here are a few shallow thoughts: Continue reading

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Weekend Update

Between my One of Us book hangover and the first week of the semester, I did not read much this week. It took me all week to read a category romance (for the TBR Challenge, so I won’t talk about it yet). But I hope I’ll have more time next week, especially since I just picked up Paul Beatty’s The Sellout from the library.

But until I have a good book to talk about, here a few things I’ve been reading this week: Continue reading

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