Books I read this week: December week 1

These are the books I read this week.

Bad Feminist: Essaysby Roxane Gay is a book that I think every single person would benefit from reading. It is just so good. Roxane Gay is so honest, so clear in her thinking, and she tackles subjects like feminism, privilege, and race is a compassionate, searingly intelligent way. My mind has been riled up all week thinking about the things she has to say and hasn’t calmed down enough for me to write something out about it, so I will simply say, I am unabashedly a feminist, and you probably are too.

I try to keep my feminism simple. I know feminism is complex and evolving and flawed. I know feminism will not and cannot fix everything. I believe in equal opportunities for women and men. I believe in women having reproductive freedom and affordable and unfettered access to the health care they need. I believe women should be paid as much as men for doing the same work. Feminism is a choice, and if a woman does not want to be a feminist, that is her right, but it is still my responsibility to fight for her rights.

We tend to believe that accusations of privilege imply that we have it easy, which we resent because life is hard for nearly everyone. … You don’t necessarily have to do anything once you acknowledge your privilege. You don’t have to apologize for it. You need to understand the extent of your privilege, the consequences of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through and experience the world in ways you might never know anything about. They might endure situations you can never know anything about.

Jackabyby William Ritter is a fun romp of a book. A young woman in the late 1800s absconds with the money her parents have set aside for her education and runs off to look for adventure. She finds it in the employment of Jackaby, a Sherlock Holmesian detective who has the ability to see the supernatural. He has a contentious relationship with the police, a house with a pond on the second floor, and a previous assistant who is currently (and stubbornly) a duck. The core mystery of the book isn’t difficult to suss out, but the ride there is fantastic. There are some really innovative and striking ideas, and the characters are enjoyable.

Hatun sees a different world than you or I, a far more frightening one, full of far more terrible dangers, and still she chooses to be the hero whom that world needs. She has saved this town and its people from countless monsters countless times. That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest battles always are.

We are not with the police department, except for those of us who are.

There are some books that you start to read and they just feel like home. Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Dayby Ben Loory is one of those books for me. Every word is magic. Even the spaces between paragraphs (there are 3 blank lines between each) are perfect, giving breath and life to the stories. Each story is 4 or 5 screens (on the Haunted Kindle) long, just long enough to take root in your brain. The tone of the stories is whimsical and odd and slightly melancholy, and I wanted them to go on and on and on.

The young man has never been afraid of hats before. In fact, he’s recently found himself admiring them. The hats on the heads of the men in this town have actually seemed to him quite marvelous. So it is strange that he should now be so frightened- so incredibly frightened- of this one.

The Strange Libraryby Haruki Murakami is odd in the way that only a Murakami book can be odd. It’s about a boy who gets locked into a room under a library by a man who wants to eat his brain, and he and a sheep man and a girl from another dimension have to escape. Yeah. It’s pretty fantastic. It’s more of a short story than a novel, and it’s early Murakami, but this edition is gorgeous because Chip Kidd designed the whole thing and it’s full of strange images. If you’re going to get this one, get an actual hard copy, not on Kindle- you’ll want to hold it.

Where’d You Go, Bernadetteby Maria Semple is an odd, lovely book. The characters are alive and creeping around your brain from the first page, and they become clearer and clearer the further into the book you get. Told in emails, credit card statements, and other “evidence”, the book is 15 year old Bee’s attempt to figure out where her complicated mother, Bernadette, has disappeared to. See, Bee’s parents promised her that if she made it all the way through middle school with perfect grades that they would give her any one thing she wanted. The end of middle school is weeks away, and what she wants more than anything is to go on a family trip to Antarctica. And more than anything, Bernadette wants to give it to her, but the trip means a cruise, and a cruise means being around people and actually leaving the house- something Bernadette has kind of stopped doing. She’s also stopped doing a lot of other things (like grocery shopping, making dentist appointments), preferring to outsource them to a virtual assistant in India. And then, the day before the trip, Bernadette disappears. There’s so much more to it all than that, which is what the reader discovers along with Bee.

It’s a razor sharp look at genius, family life, parenting, school parent politics, and so much more. Most of the reviews I read talked about how funny it is, and there are some very funny moments (in an Arrested Development vein- Semple was a writer on the show) but it’s also quite sad– you’re basically watching a number of people’s lives implode. I really liked it, and can’t stop thinking about it.

What are you reading?

One thought on “Books I read this week: December week 1

  1. Great books this week! Bad Feminist, Jackaby, and Where’d You Go Bernadette are all on my to read list. I need to read them!

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