February was a good month for reading. San Diego has decided to become a city where weather exists so we were hit with a lot of rain storms, which gave me a good excuse to curl up and not leave the house.
A slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, Cora finds herself seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad, except in this book the railroad isn’t a metaphor but a working transportation operated by engineers and conductors. We follow Cora on her journey north with a slave catcher close behind. I spent an entire day in bed reading this because I could not put it down and now I’m determined to read everything Colson Whitehead writes. There were moments in this book that were hard to read, the truth often is, even when it’s wrapped up in a fictional tale. This country’s tragic and violent past has been wrongfully sugar-coated in so many ways, and I admired Whitehead’s decision to be brutal when it mattered most.
“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes–believes with all its heart–that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn’t exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.”
I was first introduced to Alana’s work when living in NYC and I have devoured every piece of her writing since. Her first book is no exception, following her perfect balance of bold insight and wit the essays contained in her book examine the innermost thoughts and experiences of women through the examination of pop culture idols. She seamlessly and unapologetically inserts her own experiences into each essay, enhancing the underlying themes, and making this my favorite read of the year so far. Pop culture aficionado or not, Alana Massey’s book is a must read.
“Girls run the world in the sense that they perform the invisible and unappreciated labors that keep the world on its axis. That is different from doing what everyone wants to do, which is rule the world. We don’t speak of world leaders who run countries but of world leaders who rule countries. Running a thing is to toil in tedious and uncredited roles; ruling a thing is to hold dominion over enough that little toil is required.”
A mutual following on Twitter turned into seeing Emily Belden speak at a San Diego Creative Mornings a few months back. We bonded over our copywriting careers and she kindly sent me her first book. A memoir on her twenty-something dating life, Eightysixed is the perfect amount of hilarious, frank, and wise — with a restaurant experience that had me drooling on the pages. Emily has another book coming out this year and I already can’t wait to read it.
“I wanted to leave it at that. I wanted the lessons I had learned, and the memories I’d acquired, to be my souvenirs at the end. Nothing about meeting him took effort. There were no questions, no quarrels, and no confusion. I was fine with the Floris chapter of my life as it was.”
This was a reread, but sometimes when the state of the world has you so distraught that words begin to blur on paper, you need to center yourself in something you know you love. In what is, possibly, my favorite Vonnegut story, we reunite with Kilgore Trout who has found someone is taking his fiction as truth. It is a critique of war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and how to find the truth.
“Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, instead, which I think I have done. If all writers would do that, then perhaps citizens not in the literary trades will understand that there is no order in the world around us, that we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead. It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done.”
The quintessential love letter to New York City that manages to be timeless while simultaneously evoking nostalgia for old NYC. I have missed NYC since before I stepped onto the plane that took me to California and this book made my stomach ache with longing. Started and finished on a lazy Sunday morning, it was an easy, lighthearted and perceptive read.
“It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.”
This book starts with Gil thinking he sees his wife, Ingrid, who disappeared twelve years ago, outside of the bookshop. What follows is an unraveling of the truth of a marriage as told by Ingrid in a series of letters she hid in Gil’s books. I love stories within a story, so this book had me flipping page after page long after I promised I would go to sleep. I have never been one to highlight or underline sentences in a book, but Fuller’s beautiful words had me hunting for the nearest pen, which ironically enough, fit perfectly into the book’s theme.
“It’s about believing two opposing ideas in your head at the same time: hope and grief.”
This book sent me down a spiral of a Google search trying to remember the name of a book I loved as a child that took place in China. Homesick by Jean Fritz, for those wondering. Beginning in the 1900’s in Korea, Pachinko follows the story of a Korean family through several generations as they end up in exile in Japan and are faced with discrimination, tragedies, and the struggles of being without a home. This book is profoundly moving and an incredible look into culture, family, and identity.
“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage”
Book of the Month Club is the best thing in my mailbox, aside from the million dollar check from my long-lost family member I have yet to receive. Each month, you select between a specially curated list of five books, all unique and captivating in their own way. This has completely changed my reading and introduced me to books I may never have selected or even heard about on my own. Signing up will be the best decision you make this month. I’m not getting paid to say that, I just have never loved anything as much as BOTM.