Reading Journal || January & February

This blog is turning into more of a reading journal and less of a YA book review blog, and I’m okay with that. This year in general I’ve been focusing on expressing my thoughts because I want to express them and not because I want other people to know them. When I read my posts from last year, I was really happy that I took the time to write them and I was glad that they look pretty and easy to find in the format of a blog. So, I want to keep up my blog for those reasons.

Let me recap my 2016 reading journey so far.

After listening to The Heart Goes Last (Margaret Atwood) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey) during the turning of the year, my mood swung to things that were equally disturbing but in a slightly different genre. Horror manga.

I read both the Uzumaki and Gyo series by Junji Ito. Ito is known as the patriarch of horror manga, and really, these books are bad dreams. Each chapter in Uzumaki functions almost independently and focuses on a spiral pattern that drives people to mental and physical insanity. The Gyo series is about a mutated fish invasion, and if you weren’t already jumpy about things touching your feet while you are swimming… this will convince you.

I think each person has their own idea of what truly inspires fear and horror. When I had a book club that discussed The Shining (Stephen King), the three of us discussed which parts of the book were the scariest for us personally. I am claustrophobic, so the part where Danny gets stuck underneath the snow in a small tunnel was the part that got the most sensory reaction out of me. For me, Ito’s nonsensical illustrations are disgusting (imagine my facial expression when I watch a medical show on TV), but the stories are not scary. In my mind, manipulative stalkers are true horror.

Speaking of true horror, I listened to Dark Money: The Hidden History of Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Political Right (Jane Mayer) after I heard an interview with the author on NPR. It’s loquacious and has its flaws (not citing sources of minor information), but it legitimizes the feeling that US politics has become more polarized than it used to be. This book made me feel more wary of “organic” political movements and skeptical of opinion articles. It also made me think more than ever before that I am being manipulated by a system that is out of my control, and the only solution that I have in my grasp is to read and write (or create) more. If you love hating Monsanto, Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Seven Sisters, then read this book.

After that glut of heaviness, I read a bunch of fluff: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are (Anne Berest et al), some smutty manga in Portuguese, and Carry On (Rainbow Rowell). Carry On makes my second m/m romance read, and though I still haven’t heard a good explanation for why straight women like to read it, I guess I fall in that group.

Also in the romance category, 11/22/63 by Stephen King surprised me in all the right ways. The only other King book I’ve read is The Shining, and that book disappointed me in a mass-market paperback sort of way. Forty years of prolific writing later, 11/22/63 completely redeemed King. Every single aspect of it is en pointe—characters, pacing, action, feelings, plot rhythm, originality. As a plus, the audiobook narrator was mindbogglingly fantastic. I can’t recommend the audiobook enough.

After over a year of being on the hold list, it was fiiiiinally my turn to listen to Cinder (Marissa Meyer). I’m a few years behind on The Lunar Chronicles bus, but I’m glad I got to see for myself what all the fuss is about. Cinder was good. I thought it was cute, creative, and I adored the characters. Scarlet and Cress came in soon after, and I was excited to listen to them as well. Scarlet had some big issues for me regarding character development (the thing I loved the most about the first book) or rather, lack thereof. The plot was yawningly predictable, and I almost didn’t stick it out to the end. I kept finding more things that annoyed me, and that’s when I decided I probably have had too much YA in a row. I’m going to wait to read Cress until the next time I feel like being in a tub of book fluff.

My ongoing project of reading In Search of Lost Time has been progressing very slowly. I keep getting caught up in other books! I’m a chronic multi-book reader.

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