reading recap: august 2016

August was both a hectic and relaxing month. I moved to Singapore August 5, so while it was exciting and there were all sorts of new things to discover and people to meet, I also had a lot of downtime. It’s the first time I’ve not had a job (or full-time classes) since I was a teenager! It’s a new, unfamiliar situation. It’s nice, but I still have to remind myself to slow down, no need to rush through anything, enjoy this time to relax (because I do plan to have work here eventually). I hang out at the pool, draw, nap (!!!!), take walks, go to museums, work out, and read. In August, I was able to catch up on a couple of books I had started months ago but had to put down due to the move and read two new books:

august-reading

  • The Girls … Emma Cline
  • Dark Matter … Blake Crouch
  • One of Us: Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway … Åsne Seierstad
  • Ghettoside (audio) … Jill Leovy, read by Rebecca Lowman

One of Us was hands-down the best book of that month for me. It was stressful, exhausting read, but a vital piece of journalism about the horrific 2011 massacre in Norway. It’s gripping in the same way Columbine was for me, but I had to take a long break when I shipped it to Singapore. I also finished Ghettoside, my other non-fiction this month, after the move. It’s an important subject right now to be sure—the rampant murders of young black men in America—but there was just something lacking for me here. It focuses on gangs and police in LA, but doesn’t delve deep into history there much, and the majority of the narrative centers on the white police officers and detectives and their roles in the system instead of the black citizens’ stories… or they’re related through the white detectives’ work.

The two new books I read were pretty fun, quick reads. The Girls was inspired by the Manson murders, but flipping the viewpoint from a teenager named Evie invited into the cult rather than an outside view. The setting is intriguing and familiar if you know about the Manson Family already, but the story is not plot driven in the way you’d expect with this setting, and rather revolves more about Evie and her feelings. I liked it, but I can’t say it stood out to me very much… while Helter Skelter had me absolutely glued to the page and I ripped through it in two days. Non-fiction is more interesting to me on topics such as this, I guess. Dark Matter by and large does live up to its enormous hype. It’s a fast-paced, entertaining page turner, and beneath the science is a story about family and choices. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I have to admit I spotted the twist/surprise before it happened. Both The Girls and Dark Matter were good for the poolside!

Recap for September coming soon…
monthly recap image

reading recap: may through july 2016

I’m back! I’m still getting settled in here in Singapore, and I admit I haven’t been real motivated to blog. I haven’t been really interested in being on the computer at all much since the move. I don’t exactly feel like I’ve been on vacation here, but I think I needed the break. But now, two months in here, I’d like to catch up and get back into a regular habit of writing and keeping track. Even though I haven’t blogged, I have been reading! Here are my books read from May through July:

may-july-reading

  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate (audio) … Padma Lakshmi, read by author (May)
  • Earth: A Visitor’s Guide … (audio) … Jon Stewart, read by Daily Show cast (June)
  • A Load of Hooey (audio) … Bob Odenkirk, read by author and various (June)
  • League of Denial (audio)…Fainaru-Wada/Fainaru, read by D.H.Lawrence XVII (July)
  • I’m Just a Person … Tig Notaro (July)

All three non-fiction books here were outstanding, but I’m torn between naming League of Denial or I’m Just a Person my favorite of these months. League, which covers the NFL and traumatic brain injuries in (primarily) football, was horrifying, infuriating, and disheartening but so interesting. It’s an important book for any fan of football and other high-impact sports. Tig Notaro, who suffered two life-threatening diseases and the death of her mother all in a short time period, had me in tears by the end of I’m Just a Person. Padma Lakshmi was so relatable in Love, Loss, and What We Ate, like visiting a close girlfriend. I didn’t know much about her life beyond Top Chef and her marriage to Salman Rushdie, and it was a pleasure to learn more about her life, in her own words and voice.

Earth was fun—just what you’d expect from The Daily Show crew, but it’s predecessor (America) was better. I was excited to listen to A Load of Hooey as I think Bob Odenkirk is hilarious, and several of the short stories here were wonderfully ridiculous, but a few fell flat for me.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll go back to write up individual reviews for all these books from May to September, but recaps for my August and September reading will be coming soon!
monthly recap image

reading recap: march 2016

A little bit more reading this month than last:
march recap

  • If You Ask Me (audio) … Betty White, read by author
  • The Argonauts (audio) … Maggie Nelson, read by author
  • The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic … Jessica Hopper
  • The Underground Girls of Kabul (audio) … Jenny Nordberg, read by Kirsten Potter
  • Area 51: An Uncensored History… (audio) … Annie Jacobsen, read by author

Almost all on audio, all non-fiction, and still keeping with my (happily accidental) all-women authors theme. It’s a busy time of year for me so reviews and posts will be few and far between for the next month or so, unfortunately, but I will try to get some thoughts posted about these four after If You Ask Me in the next weeks.

In April I’m looking forward to finishing My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, which I started early last month. My hold on One of Us: Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad came in through the library and it’s 500+ pages so I’m hoping to at least get through all three of these books!

What did you read in March?
monthly recap image

reading recap: february 2016

It’s March, can you believe it? I’m starting to get back into a reading groove after a slow start to the year.

feb reading

  • A Little Life … Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Grownup (audio) … Gillian Flynn, read by Julia Whelan
  • Dear Committee Members (audio) … Julie Schumacher, read by Robertson Dean
  • Notorious RBG … Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

…but I haven’t written one review post. I’ll get around to all of these eventually. Just busy and enjoying doing stuff out and about, as well as getting back into drawing. I’m having trouble making myself sit at the computer in the evenings and on weekends. Good thing there was an extra day in February this year otherwise I wouldn’t have finished Notorious RBG by the end of the month! Briefly:

A Little Life was great, but I have some mixed feelings. It’s a compelling premise and written well, but I wasn’t devastated by it the way other bloggers were. The Grownup was short, fun, but ultimately not very memorable. Dear Committee Members was great! Funny and spot-on for this academic. And Notorious RBG was everything amazing, of course.

I hope your year is off to a great start! What did you read in February?
monthly recap image

reading recap: january 2016

2016 may look like it’s off to a slow reading start for me, because I’ve only completed one book so far:

BUT I have read 500-ish pages of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara as well, just couldn’t finish it up by February 1. So despite Goodreads taunting me with a pesky “4 books behind” my goal I still feel like I’ve read a hell of a lot this month, and I’m in a better reading groove than I have been for months.

I hope your year is off to a great start! What did you read in January?
monthly recap image

reading recap: december 2015

Happy new year! Yesterday I put up my Best of 2015 post, with my favorite 12 books I read last year. But looking back at just last month, here’s what I completed:

december recap

  • What If? (audio) … Randall Munroe, read by Wil Wheaton
  • One More Thing (audio) … B.J. Novak, read by author and various
  • The Heart Goes Last … Margaret Atwood

Not many, but I thoroughly enjoyed all three books. I haven’t written review posts for any of them yet! New Year’s resolution, I guess—quicker about getting posts up (no promises!). What If? took a long time to get through because my husband and I listened in tiny bits as we fell asleep each night, which actually worked out great for the short “chapter” Q&A format. One More Thing was a lot better than I was expecting—funny, of course, with many stand-out stories and only a couple of duds. I think both of these on audio may be better than on paper, although I feel like I might be missing illustrations in What If?, being written by a cartoonist. The Heart Goes Last isn’t my all-time favorite Atwood, but it was easy to pick back up whenever after a time away from it (I originally borrowed from the library, didn’t finish before the due back date, ordered it, waited for delivery, etc.).

I’m starting off 2016 with Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein. Well, I guess I should say I’m finishing it for my first book of the year… I was already 100+ pages in when I had to return it to the library! It’s so good I went ahead and bought a copy, just got it in the mail yesterday. Same thing that happened to me with The Heart Goes Last.

I hope you all had a great holiday season! What did you read last month? What’s your first book of the year?
monthly recap image