Happy new year!
[Be warned - I will say this again at the end of the month, when my birthday rolls round (I have a birthday wish list, thanks for asking!).]
I started the year on a reading high, reading Sexuality: A Graphic Guide by Meg-John Barker (illustrated by Jules Scheele) as I sat by the pool and then starting The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura (translated from Japanese by Lucy North, read by Jennifer Ikeda) when I went for my evening walk. In this regard, I seem to have taken advice to start as one intends to proceed seriously. Let’s see how that goes.
It took me a while to really get into Sexuality and it was another title that benefited from the pool experience (more pools in 2022!). One of the things it made me think about is the culture of non-consent we live in. The book does a good job of connecting a society in which folks are regularly compelled to do things they don’t want to do (to finish a meal, say, or have a drink) to the sexual realm - so many of us barely have practice in stating what we like and don’t like, or any in how to stop when we’re not having a good time. I was at the pool with my friend Maureen and she must have tired of all the interruptions to her reading as I read out passages. I’ve found, even in bookish conversations, that this cultural impulse to keep going whether or not one is enjoying themselves is manifested in all the times folks grant others (and themselves) permission not to finish books or not to praise a book just because. Considering all the changes that can happen in one’s lifetime, I can’t wait to see how changes in greater society will influence the smaller communities we take part in.
A societal thing that came up via a book this last week: the dissolution of marriage and the effect it has on children. The fantastic Ashley from Bookish Realm is a huge fan of Jason Reynolds and I think that’s how I heard of Stuntboy, in the Meantime (illustrated by Raúl the Third). Breaking my “no interviews before reading” rule, I was intrigued to hear of a children’s book character who experiences anxiety. As one can imagine, said anxiety isn’t helped by his parents splitting up without having a conversation about it. I said “poor baby” a lot as I read this comic book whose jaunty voice and propulsive style is a delight but I also thought about all the ways it demonstrated things I love - the power of kind adults (especially in the lives of children who are experiencing upheaval), the relief that comes with naming and then solving problems, the joy of friendship.
Aside from those 2 comic books (this might be the thing I miss most about what I hope will be a significant shift of my reading gaze from the US, which I intend to blog about and also log in a form based on this Black Chick List template), I finished 3 audiobooks (one with a companion ebook). The first of them, Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo, was the one I took in in two formats. That choice, usually inspired, led to the unique situation where I was listening to an audiobook (read by Sara Powell) in British English while reading the e-book in American English. It was…an experience…to say the least. While I usually love a book featuring a woman over 40, the main character read very naive and I sometimes felt embarrassed on her behalf. The Western gaze was glaring and the universe it created was one I was happy to be done with once I finished the book.
The next was Catch the Rabbit by Lana Bastašić (translated from Serbo-Croatian by the author, read by Tanya Cubric), a road novel told from one woman’s perspective. This was another book featuring a woman who could pass for 16 for all the insight she demonstrated. As a person who sometimes chafes against diasporic literature, it was intriguing to read a book with some of the same issues whose “home” isn’t Africa (the Balkans in this case).
After 2 books where completion seemed to be the only goal, the library card I share with Don yielded the week’s non-comic book pleasure: The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson (read by Adam Verner). It was a delight to listen to, especially as a person who loves art, artists, and art workers, and is intrigued by the world of contemporary art (see: the podcast I started with Don, which may come out of hiatus yet). I rarely re-read but this has me tempted to borrow the e-book just to experience it in another format, a thing that only happened once in 2021 - with, no points for guessing, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (the audiobook was read by Janina Edwards). While the book is over a decade old, a lot of it still holds and Thompson’s writing does a great job of giving one a lay of the land.
This may be my reading-est entry yet so please send me
images of links to your favourite hot authors so I can talk about them read their books. Seeing as this last week was spent watching end of year review videos during breaks, I’m feeling pumped about recording my reading this year; if only to have more to say than “I finished 170+ books”. Please write back to me with your 2021 reading highlights and all the books you’re looking forward to reading in 2022.
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!
P.S. Fortnightly swim meets resume on 8/1/2022 :)