Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Books read in October 2021

1. No One Is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood (2021)

The first half read like a series of sort of absurdist, sort of accurate micro-blog posts about the internet. It captivated me and made me laugh. The second half was a strange dive into a pressingly offline world of familial medical crisis. It didn't carry me all the way with it but it certainly was interesting and did not lack conviction.

2. Escape from Wolfhaven Castle, by Kate Forsyth (2014)

Read as research for niece/nephew birthday present shopping. Charming early middle-grade fantasy. Just enough age-appropriate peril and spooky, and just enough safety. Takes being a good story seriously without taking itself too seriously at it.

3. Happy Endings Are All Alike, by Sandra Scoppettone (1978)

I was impressed by her young adult novel about a teenage alcoholic, The Late Great Me, that I read earlier this year. This one is a very early treatment of a lesbian relationship (up against much lesbophobia) in a young adult novel, and it has aged just fine.

4. A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload, by Cal Newport (2021)

Clever, interesting, frustrating (because I am not a manager able to create large-scale changes) but still inspiring for me as an individual. His studies of companies that don't operate off email are fascinating because they make you realize how much of our current set-up is neither inevitable nor optimal (or even really good). I also found the history of professional email use interesting in a nerdy way.

5. East, by Edith Pattou (2003)

Reread. When I was a teenager, I liked this book more than it deserved (I thought then) and I think that more now. It's so likeable in some ways but in other ways it phones it in, particularly the farther Rose's journey carries her. I wish it had been edited better. But it gives a good cozy feeling. And it makes me want to learn how to weave. And the cover is so lovely and brings back all these memories.

6. Outside, Inside, by LeUyen Pham (2021)

This picture book about early COVID lockdown made me cry. It is so sweet and good. I'm just sad it doesn't go through the present day (it ends in June 2020) - because it is so comforting to see this set of global experiences through this book's lens, and even as a grown-up, I could have done with being gently and wisely carried along by its pages through all the rest of this exhausting, life-altering experience. My mom, who teaches, told me that the elementary school social workers/counselors in her district were all given copies of this book at the start of the school year, and I can see why.

7. The Beast's Garden, by Kate Forsyth

Uff, Kate Forsyth does it again. I am verging on obsessed and yet to be disappointed! Right after finishing this I went online and put holds on a couple more of her books at the library. This is a World War II-era tale inspired by the German fairy tale "The Singing Springing Lark" (a variation of "Beauty and the Beast"). I was moved to learn at the end how many of the characters were real historical figures (and their actions real historical actions they took in the resistance). Gripping, intricately historical, poignant. This novel covers six years of fiction-within-history, with no skipping around or fading to black to cut out chunks of time! It would have been tiring if it hadn't been so unceasingly fascinating.

8. Where Three Oceans Meet, by Rajani LaRocca, illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan (2021)

Sweet, bright picture book about a multi-generational (a girl and her mother and grandmother) family trip through India.

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