WWW Wednesday #2 | January 22, 2020

 

www wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a book meme originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words. It asks the following questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you finish recently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ll jump right in.


What are you currently reading?

One of my problems last year was that I was just reading waaay too many books at once – I think at most I had 10 books on my Goodreads “Currently Reading” shelf! Unsurprisingly, I’d quickly lose track of what I was reading, and as a result I also tend to lose interest as well. This year, I’m trying to change that by only keeping at most 3 books on my “Currently Reading” shelf at a time.

So here I have my most recent shelf: Three Daughters of Eve (my literary fiction pick); The ABC Murders (my genre fiction pick); and How to Read Nothing (my nonfiction pick). I feel like this is a good balance of serious, fun, and informative reading, and I’m enjoying all three reads so far.


What did you finish reading recently?

Nothing to See Here
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Published by Ecco in 2019)

The premise: Lillian, the protagonist, is asked by her old high school friend to babysit her husband’s ten-year-old twins from his first wife. The catch? The kids also happen to burst into flames when they’re upset. Despite knowing all this, Lillian agrees to this bizarre arrangement, and what follows is a heartwarming story about the families we come from and the families we make for ourselves.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Kids bursting into flames is an eye-catching premise, but it can easily become just that – a good premise. Thankfully, Wilson refocuses the story on the budding relationship between Lillian and the twins. It’s not just about being loved in a family, but feeling like you’re understood, and that you belong somewhere. I’ll write up a review next time, but this was truly a beautiful novel.


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Published by Hogarth Press in 2018)

I’ve had my eye on this for awhile. This is a coming-of-age story of an ordinary gay man in 1940s Ireland, and based on the title alone I feel like it’s going to break my heart. I even enlisted two friends to read this with me, because I feel like I might need the emotional support afterwards. 😢 That means, of course, that I’m anticipating that it’ll be a great read.


What’s something you’re currently reading, and what are your impressions of it so far? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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WWW Wednesday #1 | January 15, 2020

I’ve been seeing this meme going around and it looked fun, so I decided to write up a post for it. 🙂

www wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a book meme originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words. It asks the following questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you finish recently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ll get right to it.


What are you currently reading?

Gigi and the Cat

Gigi and The Cat by Colette (Published by Vintage in 2001; first published 1944)

Blurb from Goodreads: Gigi is being educated in the skills of the Courtesan: to choose cigars, to eat lobster, to enter a world where a woman’s chief weapon is her body. However, when it comes to the question of Gaston Lachaille, very rich, and very bored, Gigi does not want to obey the rules.

In ‘The Cat’, a story of burgeoning sexuality and blossoming love, an exquisite strong-minded Russian Blue is struggling for mastery of Alain with his seductive fiancée, Camille.

Colette’s books have been on my TBR for ages. My interest in her books stemmed primarily from my interest in the kind of life she lived – she was an author, actress, openly bisexual, and unabashed in her writing about women and sex – but, also, I am just utterly enamoured by her name. I mean, if I had the name Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, I’d probably want to publish left and right just for the sheer pleasure of seeing it. Anyway, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, or just Colette, was a French author and actress who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Her contemporaries were the likes of Andre Gide and Marcel Proust, and her fiction is similar to theirs in that she draws from her own life to write her fiction.

Gigi is one of the two novellas in this edition of the book. I chose Gigi because it’s her shortest and most famous work, so I figured it might be a good introduction to her oeuvre. Good thing, because I thoroughly enjoyed this novella – it was fast-paced, funny, and written almost entirely in dialogue. One thing I liked about it was that it’s similar to Jane Austen’s works about the importance of rules of conduct, but the rules that Gigi’s aunts strictly insist on her following those for becoming a courtesan. The way it was written, there seemed to be little difference in Gigi’s upbringing as a “proper lady” and as a courtesan, with the way her aunts are so stiff-necked about the rules – how she sits, walks, eats, and so on. I liked that Colette wrote about it so naturally, too – as if being a courtesan were an acceptable profession for a young woman. Despite its levity, there’s a lot to unpack about Gigi – its views on women, marriage, and their ownership of their bodies – and I might need some time to think on it before writing a full review.

The Cat is the second novella in this edition, about the love triangle between a man, his fiancée, and his cat. If that’s not a recipe for comedy, I don’t know what is. Also, as a cat person, I love reading books that have cats in it – The Guest Cat, The Travelling Cat Chronicles, most of Murakami’s works – so I was delighted to pick this up just because word “cat” is in the title. I’ve just begun it, but so far, Saha (the titular cat) is already my favorite character. Also, compared to Gigi, Colette’s skill with language is on full display in The Cat. Her prose flows so well and is such a pleasure to read (even translated). This looks like it’s shaping up to be a great read so far.


What did you finish reading recently?

Appetites

Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp (Published by Counterpoint LLC in 2004; first published 2003)

This was a very emotional read for me. This book is the author’s way of grappling with the question of how women’s bodies, desires, and selves are shaped by the demands of culture, power, and patriarchy. Using her own history with anorexia, woven together with other women’s stories of struggling with similar compulsions of eating, shopping, and cutting, Knapp illuminates the complicated relationship between the freedom women were promised by feminism and the ways that we are still imprisoned by society and by our own bodies.

This gave me a lot to think about, both in my personal life and about what’s still happening in our world today, so I might reread sections of it for my review. I had to step away from the book for awhile after reading it just to quietly absorb everything and to settle my emotions, since I felt very angry at the fact that women continue to feel small and worthless and undeserving, and I felt angry at myself, in extension, for my constant self-doubt and for confining my own ambitions because of my fear. At the same time, the book ended on a hopeful note, with sketches of how women can eventually come to embrace all their appetites. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Disappearing Earth

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Published by Knopf in 2019)

Blurb from Goodreads: One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia, two sisters are abducted. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women.

Set on the remote Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth draws us into the world of an astonishing cast of characters, all connected by an unfathomable crime. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty – densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska – and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.

In a story as propulsive as it is emotionally engaging, and through a young writer’s virtuosic feat of empathy and imagination, this powerful novel provides a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.

I’ve been listening to the NYT Books Podcast during my runs lately and this was on their 10 Best Books of 2019 list. Disappearing Earth is the most interesting one to me on that list, though, because – well, there’s crime and mystery and a tight-knit community and women telling stories – what’s not to love? I’m really excited about starting this one.


What about you? Have you read any of the books or are they on your TBR? Tell me what you think!

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