March: the 3rd month of the year, the start of a new season, the month of spring break. I thought this would be the perfect time to do my first Recent Reads on the blog. Recent Reads is a series/feature/whatever-you-want-to-call-it that I did on my YouTube channel a few times, when I actually still made videos. I also thought this would be a great time to talk about the last few books I’ve read because I just read my….6th book of the year. Now, some of you may have missed the disappointment in that last line. In 2 months and a week, all I have read is 6 books. That’s pretty bad for me, especially since I was off of school for 2 of those weeks. I started 2016 with a pretty bad reading slump, which I just recently got out of. So this first Recent Reads features all my reads of 2016 so far. I really wish I had been able to read more than six books at this point in the year, but alas, here we are.
1.) Carol by Patricia Highsmith
Both a good thing and a bad thing: I’m pretty sure Carol will be my favorite book of the year. Okay, maybe I can’t say my #1 favorite yet because I have a lot more to read this year but it will definitely be in the top. Carol is a piece of lesbian fiction from the 1950’s that is so progressive it’s amazing. It follows young Terese who falls in love with Carol while working in a department store. The novel follows their undulating relationship and it’s just incredible. Not only is Highsmith’s writing to die for, but the way she writes their relationship is amazing. I can’t really express how much and on what level I loved and appreciated this novel. Absolutely, very highly recommend.
2.) Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz
So, I find it hard to make people laugh through writing. Well, okay, maybe it’s just me who doesn’t laugh a lot while reading. I’ll recognize something that’s funny, maybe blow a little more air out my nose than usual, but Drinking at the Movies actually made me legitimately laugh. This graphic memoir (because for some reason I only read *graphic* memoirs?) follows Julie Wertz’s experience of moving from San Fransisco to New York City. Told through one page snapshots of her normal life, this novel showed the horrors and thrills of living in NYC in a way that made everything hilarious. Wertz knows how to laugh at herself as well as take herself seriously at times, which I really appreciated. I did not want to put this down because I knew that the more I read the more I would laugh and just generally enjoy my time. This memoir was funny while also having a lot of substance, something that I find other graphic memoirs I have read have lacked. If you are planning on reading any graphic memoir in the future, it should be Drinking at the Movies.
3.) A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova
Remember when I mentioned that some graphic memoirs I’ve read haven’t had a lot of substance? Well…. A Year Without Mom is about Dasha’s experience of having her mother leave Russia to study in a U.S college for a year. The art in this novel is absolutely beautiful. There’s this gorgeous theme of black and white with highlights of read in a very sophisticated juvenile style that I loved. The story was interesting, but there wasn’t a lot to connect to. The telling of the events seemed to go by quickly without very much emotion or thought. It seemed to just happen. I don’t know how this novel is being marketed or labeled, but to me it feels like a graphic novel for middle grade readers. It was a very beautiful read, but not something that was very thoughtful.
4.) Free Love and Other Stories by Ali Smith
This was my first experience with Ali Smith, who I have heard a lot about from Jen Campbell on YouTube, and I was very happy with it. This is a collection of short stories and I just loved it. I had quite the reading slump between A Year Without Mom and Free Love, and it did just the trick. This was the second collection of short stories I have ever read and I really enjoyed them. Smith has a very calm and thoughtful style. One thing she does that I love is not always disclosing the gender of the narrators/main characters. I think that’s a really nice, deliberate decision. I have never done this before (for a book I read for fun), but I started annotating while reading this collection and I don’t think I’m ever going back. I read so many lines that I loved, I figured I should just underline them and now I carry a pen with me to mark up my books. It’s been a really cool experience, and it’s really interesting because it’s something I would not have done a couple months ago. So, thanks, Free Love and Other Stories for inspiring this in me.
5.) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
This semester, I’m taking a study in children’s literature class in university and I read the Wonderful Wizard of Oz for it. I didn’t think that I had read this before, but I recognized details in this that weren’t in the movie so I actually may have. Anyway, the Wizard of Oz is a good story. I find the book to be a lot more interesting than the movie, with the land of china dolls and how everyone in the city wears green goggles. It’s not my favorite classic children’s book, but it’s a good one.
6.) Talk by Linda Rosencrantz
Now this might be the most interesting and experimental book I’ve ever read. Talk is told entirely in dialogue, and real dialogue at that. During one summer in the 60’s, Rosencrantz carried around her tape recorder and recorded the majority of the conversations she heard. At the end of the summer, she wrote up the transcripts, read through them, and decided that the conversations between her three friends Marsha, Emily, and Vincent were the most compelling. She then picked out the dialogue she liked the most and compiled them into a book. The novel has no prose, only text, and is only contextualized by the chapter titles. It thought this was so interesting. The fact that I was reading actual dialogue that actual people had said in the past was so cool. There are all these little colloquialisms that people actually say, witty comebacks and mistakes one makes while talking that authors never write into fictional dialogue. There’s certain chemistry you could feel between these friends that is, again, something that I have never seen in a fiction piece. Yes, I’ve read books with characters that had great chemistry, but not like this because the chemistry was very much real. This novel gave me so much to think about and really acted like a window looking into 1960’s America. Highly recommend this one.
Even though I have not read that many books so far this year, I would say that I have still been pretty successful so far. But here’s to hopefully more reading in the next few months!! (I’ve never lost my Goodreads challenge and I’m not trying to do that now..)
Let’s talk: what books have you read so far this year? What has been your favorite? Tell me in the comments!