Books I’ve Read – The 2016 Edition

I don’t know why, but I’m cautiously optimistic about 2017. I’ve been in a fantastic mood since like Thursday and today has literally been the perfect Saturday. I woke up languidly today, not too late and not too early. I had an amazing breakfast, the capers, dill and red onion cream cheese from Loblaws is to DIE for.

15876610_250533072045165_3080796748843581440_n

I mean…look how perfect it is!!

Anyways, I’ve cleaned, organized and set up my planner for the next week and I’m seeing Amy and Helen tomorrow so I have had the perfect weekend. Reviewing the books I’ve read in 2016 was a pleasant surprise to me. I thought I had read way less than I did but I did about the same as last year. I thought I would finish The Bell Jar before 2016 ended but that will make it onto my 2017 list with hopefully me meeting and/or surpassing my goal.

Ha, I am not two months late with this post like I thought what it would be. This year was kind of weird. I didn’t read as much as I wanted to but I think I read a lot more than last year? (We’ll see when I do the totals I guess.) I also usually recap the book in my planner but I really fell off of that this year. This year was also a year of re-reads. I don’t know what’s with me… hopefully 2017 will bring new books and new writers!!

2016 Goal: 52 books
Grand Total: 26
2017 Goal: 52

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

How many times have I read this book? I started this book again on the last day of 2015. Oh well, it was nice jumping into 2016 with a fun, fluffy read. I’m excited for Rich People Problems. And the movie! Astrid’s wardrobe better be lavish af or I’m going to be PISSED. (And all these characters better not be white washed. So Emma Stone, and ScarJo are just gonna have to step aside and let some other Asians be cast tysm!!)

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Kitty Pong was the true break out star of this story! I found Rachel so annoying in this book, I swear her sole purpose was to stand around and exclaim, “Sweet Jesus!” at everything. I’m super intrigued by Kitty and Oliver’s backstory now with the ending. Rich People Problems can’t come out soon enough. Hell, summer can’t come soon enough.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

lol now I remember why I re-read Kevin Kwan’s works again. Beloved was such a painful book to get through that it took me ages. I had to keep taking breaks because it was too much. I cannot say enough good things about Toni Morrison or Beloved. Sorry to sound trite here but it truly is a painfully beautiful book. Morrison’s talent is unparalleled. She doesn’t have to give lavish details but with a few sentences the horrors of what happened are fully impressed on you.

As much as I loved this book it will probably be awhile before I pick it up again. The content is really heavy for me. I honestly still can’t believe that some schools wanted to ban this book and there are actual students/teachers/parents who refuse to read this book but actual racist shit stain Milo is getting paid to spew ACTUAL hate speech like BYE.

I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent here but I’m just going to preemptively say “SHUT UP!!!” to anyone who’s going to say, “If you don’t like it, don’t read/buy it!!! Ignore it!! It’s not hurting you/anyone.”

Words are really powerful, especially ~the printed word~. I mean, all through 2016 (especially) we’ve seen some tweets that have been inflammatory and that’s just 140 characters. Letting someone write and publish actual hate speech gives the words and ideas a special kind of credibility. There are actual people out there who will take it as the gospel truth just because it’s a book. Books have the power to change perceptions and educate people and to publish something like THAT is just irresponsible.

And y’all can miss me with that ~free speech, I’m entitled to my opinion~~~ blah blah blah. If your opinion is racist/sexist etc then it’s wrong and you should educate yourself.

Jazz by Toni Morrison 

Stylistically, this may just be my favourite Toni Morrison story so far. I loved how it mimics jazz beats, how it shifted time and perspective all willy-nilly but the whole story is cohesive and lovely. That’s some skill. I don’t think I’d ever be able to do that without confusing everyone, or worrying that I have. 2017 goal is definitely going to read more Toni Morrison books. Even though sometimes they make me sad, but still… they’re so beautiful.

Forever Barbie by M.G. Lord

I’m just going to admit it: I love Barbie. I loved dressing her up, I loved making a house for her and having her live this absolutely perfect life. I really regret letting my mom sell my Barbie stuff at our garage sale tbh. And I probably would have played them well into middle school if I wasn’t trying to be like my cousins and be ~mature~.

I know Barbie has a lot of faults but I’m speaking personally here. I guess the whole body image thing never really effected me because I knew I was never going to look like her anyways because I’m not white lol. I had a pretty positive experience with Barbie but like even now, one of my favourite parts of the Sims are all the clothes I get to download for them. Like whenever I make over a Maxis family or create a new one the first thing I make them do is buy a whole wardrobe.

Anyways those rambly paragraphs were basically me trying to say (in the most round about way) why this book caught my eye. I was just strolling through BMV, and I saw the title, pulled it out and flipped to a random page. The first thing I saw was:

preview413x316_20121002215312_batteredb

Battered Barbie (But Ken’s Sorry), Susan Evans Grove, 1991

You understand why I immediately was like, “What?”. In this book, M. G. Lord charts Barbie’s fascinating history, from her inspiration to the assembly. It also goes into the psychology of the doll, why she’s the shape she is, how it has affected society and culture and people’s feelings towards the doll.

The Hilliker Curse by James Ellroy

I like Ellroy’s crime fiction. I think he is a fantastic noir writer. This memoir has me 100% convinced he’s a freaking creep. From his Oedipus complex, to his peeping Tom antics…this is an uncomfortable read. The writing is strange and really adds to his creepy vibe. (I don’t mean creepy like ooh spooky! I mean creepy like having that dude stare at you the whole subway ride, or the guy that walks too close behind you for several blocks.)

This memoir is specifically about his dealings with some of the women in his life and I am so glad that a lot of them have managed to escape him completely.

I think the only kind of good thing I can say about this memoir is that his writing style (although strange, the word choices and placements sometimes make me feel icky) is rapid fire and very distinct to him, I guess? I really, really, just did not enjoy the content.

Slowness by Milan Kundera

I think I pick up a book of his every year. Pretty great tradition if you ask me. He is definitely one of my favourite authors. (I think as a grow older I more or less have a definite list of favourite authors. I use to never be able to make a definitive list but I can name at least a top 4.)

This isn’t a really long story but it features a LOT of characters that cross time and circumstances frequently. I mean, for a short novel A LOT happens. Kundera seems to be a very…economical writer. Like he can say so much with so little, I love it. (Yet another writing skill I wish I possessed.) Anyways, the story is very funny at times, absurdist in others but it’s a really wonderful meditation on modernity and how we conduct ourselves.

I talk about my favourite part briefly in this post here.

Becoming Beyonce by J. Randy Taraborrelli

For an unauthorized biography I gotta say it’s not that bad. I mean it’s absolutely fascinating learning about how Beyonce literally worked hard her whole entire life to get to where she is today. I need that drive lol.

It’s an unauthorized biography so a lot of the quotes and some happenings and claims you have to take with a grain of salt. A lot of it I do get the sense that he has reworded some things and twisted some events to make it a smoother read. I think one of the claims that is ridiculous is that Beyonce got a boob job lmao. I swear it was literally like a whole short chapter. She just went one day and got them because she wanted them and everyone was just like, “Okay!”

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

She was everywhere all over my Tumblr dash at one point but now I guess everyone has kind of moved on from her. I thought it was a truly lovely collection of stories. Some were better than others of course, but it’s sad that we’ll never get to see how her work changes and grow as she does. I mean, there really was something there in her writing.

I think the most touching part was the introduction done by her teacher, I keep thinking of that email where she gets excited about a signature.

[…] my dear Professor, anxiously,

Your fond Student 

([…] I’ve become obsessed with these types of signatures! They’re just so GOOD! Like, that moment with the comma before the line break. I love that moment.)

She just seemed like a really lovely person.

The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship by Marilyn Yalom and Theresa Donovan Brown

I think female friendships are one of the most important things in a girls’ life. What my female friendships have done for me is to provide an emotional outlet for when I’m frustrated or scared and just a really nice loving space that I can go to. I don’t really have that many emotional outbursts but even just texting about daily pop culture stuff and sharing funny memes are all very dear to me. They’ve made me feel braver and just really pushed me out of my comfort zone sometimes but it was worth it (usually).

I think family members, especially parents, especially moms see you in a certain way that’s very closed off, whereas your friends are kind of giving you reflections of the world? IDK how to explain it properly, I’m useless loool. Like, I started wearing more lipstick this year, and I’m looking in the mirror and I am feeling this vampy colour. I think I look cute, my friends think I look cute, some random girl said she loved the colour so yeah, opinion confirmed: I look cute.

But then my mom will see it and be like you look like a trash bag like why would you do that to yourself????? So lol sometimes I still wipe off my lipstick or makeup when I get home so she doesn’t see. I am a 27 year old woman but like…still LOL.

Anyways, this book is about the history of female friendships. (Duh!Cat!!)  It obviously can’t be a complete history but it’s pretty comprehensive. They start off in Biblical times when women were actually believed to be incapable of friendship. Like the Greeks and Romans thought women were emotionally and intellectually inferior and couldn’t handle friendships. But painstakingly, Marilyn Yalom and Theresa Donovan Brown have combed hundreds of documents, letters, transcripts etc. For evidence of female friendship in those times.

To be honest it was kind of shocking to me because female friendship these days is such a given. Like society has always portrayed it as it’s easier for women to make friends, have many friends while men are always ~the lone wolf~.

So like the book charts through Biblical times, then we get into pre-Modern friendships when slowly female friendship became a much more open and more widely acknowledged thing. Like we look at how it developed in the nunneries, and then politically with the first settlers in America and then a very small chapter on female friendship in the 21st century. It’s really interesting to see how female friendships evolved over time. At first it was really just a teacher- student thing. Then it was political comrades in arms, to “the New Woman”. As women slowly get acknowledged at actual people and get rights throughout history the reason and nature of female friendship changes. At first it was mainly like, you live in this convent, I like teaching you this, you’re my friend. Then like, we’re in this new country together, let’s rebel but I need your help so like yeah you’re my friend.

lmao I honestly don’t know what type of rambling circle I’m going in but the heart of it is shared interests, and an enjoyment of each other’s company. I guess comparing the reasons how we become friends in this day and age with how women became friends centuries ago seems not as drastic? Like Janet and I became friends over kpop not protesting for voting rights you know? But it’s still very precious and important.

A really interesting chapter for me was “Romantic Friendships”. Around the 1800s, us women really got all lovey-dovey with each other. It was totally normal (and it’s still normal now) for girls to call their friends darling, dearest, sweetheart, and to say things like “I love you strongly, openly, intimately.” (That was Sibyelle Mertens to Adele Schopenhauer.) I just think it’s so beautiful. I mean now we’re all like, “I love you babe! You’re so beautiful, you’re the best, kisses and hugs!!” Which is sweet but idk, I love all that flowery, passionate stuff LOL. I think a lot of our friendships do start off as really romantic when we’re younger. Like I remember walking hand in hand, or locked arms with my friends, and in grade school you’d have your BFF and you would be almost kind of obsessive with each other lol. Like here is a necklace from me to you so everyone knows we are together and connected and I love you more than them. Let me braid your hair, let’s dress the same etc.I guess as we grow older we all get into that “I’m too cool for emotions, don’t touch me” phase and it makes me a little sad when I think of it. That self conscious shit that happens to us in puberty sometimes really never leaves. It’s so awkward for me to like just randomly go up and embrace my friends where sometimes I want to haaa.

This history really is white centric though lol. It would be really interesting to read about friendships from WOC and interracial friendships and how all that would be affected by the changing tides of history.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

I really don’t know how to describe this novel. Hmm… it’s very “slice of life”. I don’t know what the official name for that is lool. If you ever read/watched About a Boy I would say that Funny Girl has the same type of tone and feel as that.

This traces a series of characters as they work on a comedy show in the 60s and how the outcomes of that show affects their personal lives over a period of years. There’s a lot happening and it’s very funny and sweet in some places but it’s not loud.

OTL I really can’t describe this novel. It’s good, I liked it, would read again.

Harry Potter 1-7 by J.K Rowling

The quintessential summer read. Also the perfect thing to end off on before I went on my Europe trip II to see the play!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

Okay, I have a lot of feelings about this so bear with me. As a play, it’s FANTASTIC. I had an amazing time going to see it, it was funny and entertaining, Scorpius stole the show, I love it so much!!!

But, somehow, (I really, really do not understand this), the story is BAD. Like when I got back home and bought the script I was just like ???? Like atrociously, offensively bad. J.K said that this play is canon when young Harry in the play has memories of him and Petunia going to visit his mother’s grave! When clearly in book 7 it says that that was the first time he went to his parents graves. And then it’s just so…lazy who the villain is and their motivations. And I really don’t understand why Harry had to watch his parents die, I mean… why? And I hated how they ruined Ron in the play. He was just there to play affable idiot when he’s so much more than that.

Also reading this, Albus and Scorpius are so GAY for each other. I lost it when there was that scene with Albus and Scorpius standing on opposite moving stare cases, staring longingly at each other while this sad orchestra was going on.

I actually prefer G. Norman Lipperts’ James Potter Series as a continuation of Harry’s world. I mean, sometimes the writing is a little annoying but, it’s fun. And he’s coming out with another one this March so I am SCREAMING IN EXCITEMENT!!

Cormoran Strike Series 1-3 by Robert Galbraith

I started reading this during my trip because I forgot to pack my de Botton novel. Still a solid fun series to read in the summer.

IT by Stephen King

I FINALLY found a copy to buy second hand for this! I read this only in the day time because this is a book that scares the crap out of me. I love it so much though lol. I am so excited for the movie but I’m never going to watch it because I cannot with horror movies. Novels are okay, but barely.

I loved the friendship between the Losers it was the sweetest most pure thing, the ending when they’re all grown ups makes me sad and the ending when they were kids still squicks me out. I think one of Stephen King’s greatest strengths is how he writes childhood friendships. It always gives me a yearning to go hunt down all my old elementary friends again.

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch

Another re-read. I got this at the same time as I bought The Secret History of Twin Peaks. I haven’t gotten around to reading that yet, because I want to rewatch the original series and just be prepared for when the show comes back this year! I still love it and what I’ve said when I’ve written about this book here and here, still stands.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

I finally got my own copy of this after reading it ages ago when it first came out. I still really enjoy it, I think Rowling is a wonderful story teller even though she knows 0 Asian people, or anything about Asia in particular.

I think it’s definitely hard to get into because you’re just reading the day to day lives of this large group of people and you don’t really know what it’s all leading up to until the end.

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

I really enjoyed this memoir by Kate Bolick. In it she details her life and the conscious decision to “become a spinster”. She details the growing demographic of women choosing to not marry or have children, the reasons why and also introducing us to her five “Awakeners”. These are the five women who have inspired Kate on building her life that is comfortable for just one person. It’s a very moving and witty memoir and to be quite honest, Kate has become one of my Awakeners.

And that was 2016! Hopefully 2017 will be a year full of new authors, new genres and some old favourites as well. I hope everyone has a safe and happy 2017!!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Today's featured image is by Wolfgang Grilz
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s