Hi Darling Ones,
I’ve been in a weather-induced funk. Too many grey days stacked up in a row leaving me tipped over on the couch shoving junk-foodesque mysteries into my brain while also whining about being bored. March is over. Taxes are due soon. This is the time of rough anniversaries. I’d say everything feels like garbage, but that would require feeling something. Everything is nothing.
On Thursday I had a Zoom meeting with a newish client. She looked out the window at the grey day and sighed, “March is always so hard.” We commiserated for a bit about the long winters and the unending grey. She asked me if I go anywhere sunny in the winter for a break.
“Uh,” I started. “I don’t like to work a lot or be busy. I like to read and think and daydream. So, I can’t really afford to travel because I choose to do things other than work all the time.”
She smiled at me through the computer monitor. “Me too!”
Then she asked about my reading and I told her I’d read nearly 50 books so far this year and she was astounded. So am I. Sometimes when I contemplate that number it makes me feel bad about myself. It makes me life seem so small.
“That’s a kind of travel too,” my client said. “You go lots of places when you read.” That made me feel a little bit better.
Because one of the top three things someone can say to me is “I read that book you suggested. . .” here’s some of the best books I’ve read thus far. Before I get too far into the list, I must confess that I have not fallen in love with a new book this year. I’ve had a lot of crushes, but nothing has captivated me heart and soul yet like The Witch’s Heart or The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue or Red Comet. So, take some of these recommendations with a grain of salt.
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
This is a rom-com/political thriller that starts with a very deep dive about expensive linen napkins. It took me awhile to warm up to this one and I’m glad I stuck it out. All the characters are flawed in deeply unlikable ways, and yet you still come to care about them as people.
Another RomCom I dug: All the Feels by Olivia Dade. I love when a fat woman gets to be the romantic heroine.
Carry the Dog by Stephanie Gangi
This book came out late last year, but I didn’t read it until January, which feels so long ago I thought I read it last year. Anyway, this book hit me in all my sweet spots: visual art (photography in this case), rock & roll, female protagonist, a bit of a mystery. AND AND AND the female protagonist is a 50+ woman who is still sexual and wants to be seen as a sexual being. It blew my fucking mind. I cannot think of any book I’ve ever read where an over-fifty woman is portrayed that way. Usually once a woman hits forty in fiction she’s a sexless caregiver or embittered crone.
Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
Okay, the premise is a little bonkers, but this one is so good. It’s about a copywriter who gets sucked inside of Slack and, well, then things happens bizarre and haunting. It’s a short’un because the author was smart enough get out before the premise wore too thin. This ne reminds me of one of my favorite short stories, “Orientation” by Daniel Orozco, in the best possible way.
A Few More Worth Your Time
- The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. Probably means to be totally dystopian but with the anti-trans bills all over the country and Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bullshit, this one feels scarily prescient.
- In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom. Ugh. This one about Bloom’s life with her husband who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and his decision to end his life wrecked me for an entire weekend.
- The Verifiers by Jane Pek. A quirky mystery about matchmaking, internet privacy, and murder. This one is a fun.
A Few I’d Avoid if I Were You
- The Nineties: a Book by Chuck Klosterman. I think I’ve made myself clear about this one.
- Vladimir by Julia May Jones. This one is mean mean mean and I should have quit when I first read the line, “I’ve always felt the origin of anger in my vagina and I’m surprised it is not mentioned more in literature.” WHAT? Is this how vaginas are supposed to work? I didn’t quit though, I soldiered on through half the book before the main characters shitty, shitty observations about fat people and/or gaining weight made each addition sentence feel like I was self-harming. So I quit.
- Femlandia by Christina Dalcher. I loved her first book, but this is a hot mess of improbability with an undercurrent of TERFiness. Boo.
Happy reading, Darling Ones. Next quarter’s book report will be chockfull of rock & roll (so many music books by women coming out this month).