Things I Read {Jan-Jun Edition}

9:38:00 PM


2017 has been kicking me when I'm down, so what better time to share what I've been reading? The interesting thing about having so little free time is that it tends to clarify your priorities - I haven't had time to spend on anything I wasn't 100% interested or invested in.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman | Gaiman's books are not easily categorized, not simply one thing, but I find myself referring to them, if only in my mind, as grown up fairy tales. Tristran Thorn is willing to do anything to win the heart of the girl he loves, and it is a promise made to her that catapults him into the unknown.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson | Margot Wood from Epic Reads called this one of her favorite adaptations, so I knew I had to pick it up. It's a fractured fairy tale retelling of Peter Pan, from the perspective of Tink. While I enjoyed it, it's not a lighthearted story by any means, so keep that in mind.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin | This novel reminded me a lot of The Woman Who Heard Color, which is another historical fiction novel I love. Both are about connecting the past and the present through history and art and badass ladies. Because of the nature of parallel storytelling, it is slow at times, but listening to the audiobook during my commute allowed me to keep up momentum I might not have had if I was reading it.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan | Susannah is 24 when she begins spiraling into psychosis without any obvious explanation. It's a reminder of how unknowable the mind remains, even to the best and brightest in the medical field, and of the toll that mental illness can have on a person's identity and autonomy. I read it in hours, but it stayed with me for weeks.

American Housewife by Helen Ellis | I didn't go into this short story collection with many expectations, but I absolutely loved it. It has the kind of unhinged female narrators that I adore (think Gillian Flynn), and the collection as a whole reminded me of Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find - razor sharp, dark, and deeply funny.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel | Set in the time immediately before and years after the apocalypse, this isn't a story about survival so much as it's about what comes after. In the years after the end of everything, it is music and literature that help people begin to recover what they have lost, because as the symphony says, "Survival is insufficient."

The Vacationers by Emma Straub | The Post Family are moving away from each other, which is exactly when they get thrown together on a family vacation. Straub is all about that witty family banter and wry observations about family, relationships, and society that are very Austen-esque.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield | Speaking of Austen, I loved this modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Sittenfield keeps all the witty social commentary and angsty "OMG, just tell them how you feel!" moments, but adapts the story in a way that allows it to stand on it's own if you're not a P&P fan.

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham | Where Lauren Graham leads, I will follow. While her first book Someday, Someday, Maybe was a novel, this one is a memoir. She talks about Gilmore Girls and it's revival, but she also shares stories from her childhood as well as from her life outside the show. I don't know that you would gravitate to it if you're not already a fan of hers, but I loved it. I recommend the audiobook, which is narrated by her, to get the full effect.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman | Less a fictional interpretation than a novelization of existing myths, I loved it so much I listened to it twice. Much like the Greek gods, the Norse gods are deeply flawed and incredibly human. There are dark stories, like the one about Loki's betrayal, or the one about Ragnarok, the end of days, but there are silly ones too, like when Loki steals the hair of the wife of Thor, or when a giant takes Thor's hammer and he is forced to dress up as a bride to get it back. Neil Gaiman is a literal born storyteller and his narration of his stories make my life better.

Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson | This is a collection of poems with images of the original poems she wrote on the backs of envelopes, followed by transcripts on the opposite page. If you're a fan of her work, these poems won't be anything new, but it's an incredibly cool reading experience nonetheless.

Honorable Mentions | Instructions by Neil Gaiman, which I guess is a book but is very very short and can be read and enjoyed many times over. | The Em Dash, which is author Emery Lord's newsletter where she talks openly about mental health, advocacy, writing, and the books and TV shows that she's enjoying. I aspire to her level of self-awareness and winged eyeliner. She's the person who finally convinced me to watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and The Great British Bake Off and for that I will be eternally grateful. | The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which I read last year and read again this year and will probably continue to read every year because it is magical and beautiful.

If you stuck with me this long, you must be some kind of magical land mermaid. I'm planning a separate post for the things I've been reading this summer, so keep an eye out for that if you're interested. I'll also be sharing what I've been listening to and watching lately if that's what your into.

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