I've finally managed to carve out the time to read. incredible, I know, what with so much taking time away from something this simple. books don't demand your attention nor do they seek it, really. they sit, sometimes languishing for years on a bookcase or the floor or the car, waiting to be picked up, dusted off, and loved. they sit, waiting, and waiting, and then finally you're ready for them. I don't know about you but there are books I'm scared to read. they sit on the shelf and I just think, maybe im not ready for you yet. I won't understand you. maybe i'lll misunderstand you. maybe something you read at 19 is different at 35 or 67 (now that is definitely true). maybe the idealism of your youth has worn off or you need to pick it up again, reanalyze it, scour it for errors judgement or just remind yourself of something that was, that maybe can be again.
I've done a lot of reading lately, not all of it high-minded, wickedly intelligent or, well, maybe some of it was just wicked. but I am plugging along this physical plane filling up my time with words. sometimes they make me cry. none of them make me laugh - comedy is difficult to pull on in writing or maybe I don't read it that way? anyway, im curious as to what has impact. here are some of the books that I've read this year (so far) that have been a gut-punch.
1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This was masterful. How does abuse get written to where the victim is pitied but not pitiful? I find a lot (and there isn't much) in the canon on abuse to be exploitive and melodramatic (Flowers in the Attic?) But the abuse isn't the only theme explored here and maybe even then it is on the bottom of the list of themes however it is powerful due to the other connections and layers upon layers of character development already written before the abuse is fully explored. I didn't want it to be over (even though at 832 pages I really wanted it to be over).
2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I probably can't say much about this book that hasn't been said already but - I do love a full circle experience. I don't like all the ends neatly wrapped up (that'd be my husband) but I do like the ability to fantasize that...maybe everything will be ok. I know that's not always the case...especially when interpreting colonial, post-colonial and post-Civil War slavery. Maybe I'm the last millennial who still reads fiction (everyone just wants to LEARN something these days) and my favorite experience is to get out of my comfort zone. My personal history in the USA is only 30 years old; I have no claim or tie to the experiences and heritage of the people around me but I want to know how it was. And it was really, really bad.
3. The Power by Naomi Alderman
If only. If only! Suddenly, we women are imbued with an unquestionable physical advantage over our male oppressors. Isn't a lot of that what our gender distills as the final, overwhelming evidence that we ultimately are Power-less? I could take dozens of self-defense classes and yet, I still know I, personally, would freeze like a rabbit were I to be threatened with violence. Maybe I take that back. We don't know how we would act if it came to life or death. This book takes away the question altogether. Our new physiology predetermines our actions and the finality of their consequences. The new world order can't keep up; chaos ensues. This book definitely reads feminist but not like, militantly. Men are written mostly weak, now that their physical prowess is no longer supreme, but our base biology is still intact. Men and women still want to fuck, and maybe if there was more of that going on, on an equal playing field, there is hope for us after all.
I am in a Book Club, lovingly called Drunk Book Club, and I am always curious about what other people are reading. There are no "wrong" or "bad" (well, some are really bad) books so it's important to keep at it...I'm currently reading Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina (my non-fiction choice, I do have to keep up) but I am finally ready to attempt "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. Learning, two different ways.