I didn’t read as much as I planned to this month because I was too busy binging on Grace & Frankie, Big Little Lies, Riverdale, and the S-Town podcast. I don’t regret it. I’ll be spending a fair amount of time on planes in April so I plan to make up for it.
Also, this cover photo only features one book, but it’s the only picture I took this month before loaning the books out to friends. So sue me!
If time travel was a technology I could currently access, I would use it to travel back and experience this book for the very first time again. This Science Fiction Novel begins in 2016, only it’s the 2016 we imagined in the 1960’s. Flying cars, synthesized meals, you know, The Jetsons. Tom Barren doesn’t quite fit into his world but after a time travel experiment gone wrong, he finds himself in the 2016 we live in. In our reality, which he sees as a dystopian wasteland, he finds unexpected versions of his family, career, and the women he loves. But he still faces the question of needing to fix his mistake, bringing back the world he is supposed to have, or try to make a life in this new world.
This book made me feel so many things it made my stomach hurt, as the very best books do – wonder, excitement, curiosity, pain, love, and everything in between. It’s a book I want to carry copies with me everywhere I go so I can lovingly shove them into people’s faces saying, “Read this! Read it and wonder about all the things I wonder about and fantasize about realities that aren’t our own and talk to me about all of these things for all of time!”
“People talk about grief as emptiness, but it’s not empty. It’s full. Heavy. Not an absence to fill. A weight to pull. Your skin caught on hooks chained to rough boulders made of all the futures you thought you’d have.”
If ever there was a pertinent book to current events, this is it. Taking place in an unnamed country (with striking similarities to several war-torn countries in the Middle East) on the brink of a civil war, we are introduced to the fiercely independent Nadia and quiet, kind Saeed. What happens when you fall in love as your country is falling apart? We follow Nadia and Saeed through their bomb-blasted land in search of a way out, which involves magical doors. These doors whisk you away to a new land and the stories they create are sprinkled throughout the book.
Exit West is a story of two people searching for a brighter future while struggling to hold onto each other, their past, and their identity. It’s profoundly intimate and moving. Despite being a short, quick read – I finished it in a few hours – the story is well developed and beautifully told.
“When we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.”
Confession: I listened to this book, I did not read it. Against all my protest, there is only a finite time I have to sit down and read a book. My second point is, long drives are made better by audiobooks. A drive to LA, and the traffic you will inevitably hit, is only survivable when that audiobook is Neil Gaiman and Neil Gaiman himself is reading it to you. What am I doing? I owe you no explanation. My life. My rules. My audiobooks.
This is a novella, with a rather simple storyline made compelling by Gaiman’s per-usual gorgeous writing. A guy returns to his hometown for a funeral and proceeds to the house at the end of the lane. He finds himself reunited with some old acquaintances and recalls the summer in which he was seven, when the curious 11-year old Lettie Hemstock entered his life. The story of his summer is surreal, entering into the unknown, and drawing on childhood terrors. As with every Gaiman story, the world he has created spills out across every page (or, you know, out of the speaker in my case.)
Gaiman’s ability to distil complex ideas into simple, lovely, understated sentences always evokes my writer envy, but reading him always makes me love writing more.
“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.”
This book is honest, raw, sharp, and at times, messy – just like life. It’s a very New York novel and a very choosing to be unmarried, without children at 40 novel. Andrea works in advertising, drinks a lot, and has a lot of sex, but she doesn’t know what she wants. She has rough edges and sometimes she infuriated me, and to that, she is a real character. We read about Andrea’s life through snippets, jumping back and forth in time. As a woman you will see yourself in this book, even if you aren’t 40 and without kids. This book is so much of what makes Jami Attenberg a great writer, sharp, relatable, and full of unexpected emotion.
Fun fact: I got to meet Jami Attenberg this month at a reading! We bonded over missing NYC bagels.
“I have a hard enough time being me, not pulling myself apart every single day.
Do you also enjoy reading? Of course you do! Why wouldn’t you? Seriously, what could be so wrong with you that you don’t show up to dinner late because you were caught up in a book! Or is that just me? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, subscribe to Book of the Month Club! This link right here will give you a discount when you first sign up then tell me what book you choose every month because I NEED TO KNOW THESE THINGS! (Seriously, ask the 5 people who have signed up because of me, I message them every time the book selections come out. I’m nosey!)