While being stuck in my bedroom for days, due to COVID, I got a lot of reading done. As noted previously, I had put a lot of books on hold during the summer and delayed them. Initially they were delayed until the end of September, then I pushed them back to the end of October, then to the end of November. I planned to push them back again and forgot, so at the start of December, book after book kept showing up for me at the library. That turned out to be fantastic as I had lots of time to read. These are the books for adults I read while I was stuck on my own.
The Bad Muslim Discount is written in two voices. One, the male, is mostly hilarious. The other, the female voice, is heartbreaking and hard to read. Interestingly enough, the male is more likeable (which is probably not something I should admit to). I read this book in less than a day and loved it. Many of the more minor characters were especially fabulous. The title comes from one of them, the landlord of an apartment complex where both characters end up living. He was one of my favorites. This is a first novel and I hope Masood keeps writing. (My sister recommended this one to me. I’m so proud when I know what made me put a book on my to read list.)
This book, Matrix, was one of a series of books that Roxane Gay tweeted about and recommended. I think I only put a couple of the books on hold (the other will be in a future post), showing great restraint. This book was tough for me at the start, as it is not a typical read for me. It’s about a woman in the 12th century who becomes the head of a nunnery. There was essentially no dialogue, something that frequently makes a book difficult for me. I didn’t immediately connect with any of the characters, another challenge for me. I never truly liked the main character, but other characters were amazing and I did find myself greatly respecting the main character. I wouldn’t say I loved this book, but I am glad that I read it.
I was not familiar with Ross Gay before reading this book (which I have no idea what caused it to be on my list) and I now adore him. These short essays range greatly. Some of them made me laugh, others really touched me, and some were not memorable to me. I love the idea of finding something delightful in each day and his delights did fascinate me. I think it would have been better to have read this book over a longer period of time and sat with the delights a bit longer. It’s not a book to be read quickly and I read it quicker than I think I should have done.
Oh my goodness, this book. I read this one because it was recommended by my sister-in-law. If I remember correctly, the author used to be the art teacher at her kids’ school. This is a collection of five short stories and the title novella. The short stories are impressive. They are definitely short, all under about 20 pages. They create whole worlds and are heavy in that short while. But they have nothing on the novella. I read it (about 160 pages) in one evening and then couldn’t go to sleep. On the publisher’s website it is described in this way:
Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello,” tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.
Maybe the story wouldn’t have hit me as hard if I didn’t know Charlottesville as well as I do now, having married into a family that lives there and spending time there over the past quarter century. Maybe. But I think it’s more than that. The story feels post-apocalyptical. Typically I’m not a huge fan of that but it also hasn’t ever felt so real. This story felt like it’s just inches away from happening. It’s a story that will be sitting with me for a very long time, I believe.
I read light books, usually mysteries, sometimes romances. I’m good with that as I strongly believe in reading widely, including things that are candy for the brain. It’s books like these here, though, that are the ones that stick with me, that change me, that help grow. I enjoyed all of these (although enjoyed is not really the word I would use for Matrix or My Monticello but it is the best I can find to encompass this reading) and they all pushed me to think more deeply about things that I want to learn more about and better understand; how religion and race play roles in our society, what it means to be a woman or to be Black or to be both, choices people make both conscious and subconscious and why we do so, and how authors craft a story.