Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Recent Reads | June



After several months of high numbers of completed books, it was inevitable that as soon as life became busier, my book count would drop significantly. And so, I found myself in June finishing only 8 short books. Most of the month was spent working and exploring DC, and the only time I made to read was whilst riding the Metro.

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I'd been craving a big, old read lately and finally took the time to dig into one during my family's week-long vacation at the beginning of the month. The Idiot primarily follows Prince Myshkin, a twenty-six-year-old prince who, after living in Switzerland for several years due to illness, returns to Russia to claim his inheritance. His innocent nature is taken advantage of again and again, leading all other characters to refer to him as "the idiot." The story takes some surprising twists and I very much enjoyed this book; if you love the winding nature of old classics this is a good one.


A friend recommended this one to me after reading it in her English class, though admittedly I was more intrigued by its square pages than by its content. The Waitress Was New follows Pierre, an older bartender, during the final three days of his job at a cafe in Paris. The book is a constant stream of his thoughts, and through it the reader can see the lonely side of the profession. It was not my favorite of books, but is worth a read if you can get invested in the character.


Shoebox Funeral is less of a plot-driven story and more of a chronological series of memories about growing up on a farm and befriending animals. Voltz discusses these memories in candid detail, hearkening back to her youthful moments with the full emotional weight of a child's love of animals. Having only grown up with conventional pets I can't relate to the whole of Voltz's book, but I can sympathize with her retelling of the innocence of youth and the lengths a child will go to protect their animal loves.


I chose this book expecting a standard book format and instead found it full of poetry-like structuring, which I found off-putting because it wasn't actually poetry but rather regular sentences awkwardly chopped up. This Impossible Light relates the downward spiral 15-year-old Ivy finds herself in when she turns to an eating disorder to cope with her unstable life. Told from Ivy's first person perspective, it's a haunting and sobering look into how quickly things can spin out of control.




Lies We Tell Our Kids by Steve Hoover*
From the description I expected this to be a book of short stories each comprised of several paragraphs, but instead it's a collection of single sentences little white lies kids are told, coupled with related illustrations. Other reviewers seem to not have enjoyed this one very much, but I personally found it hilarious; some of the lies are familiar and others are bizarre, like “fish don’t sleep so that you can, “bats are just birds dressed up for Halloween,” and “the average spider eats eight humans a year in its sleep.” If you like something a little more on the absurd side, this is a fun one to flip through.


The Girl in the Show is a thoughtful and detailed exploration of the intersection of feminism and comedy. Fields gives an in-depth look at the different waves of feminism and at how various female comedians of the past like Gilda and Lucy used their platforms to provide laughs. A few sections felt over-explained or overly long, but I found The Girl in the Show to be an informative look into the female space of comedy.


After reading and loving Eugenides' other two works Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, I picked up a copy of The Marriage Plot at a library book sale. The Marriage Plot is a not-quite-chronological look at the relationships between Madeleine, a regrettably quite bland character, her boyfriend Leonard, and her obsessive friend Mitchell. The writing is on par with the excellence of his other two works and the small jumps around the plotline make a welcome imperative to pay attention, but it seemed like Eugenides was trying too hard to be smart in this one, and consequently it wasn't his best.


*I received a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


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