The Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten challenge for Top Ten Tuesday June 27th (Top Ten Books You’ve Read So Far This Year) seems easy enough; well, apart from the part where I don’t think I’ve read 10 books so far this year. *checks Blogger on Books* Oh, it turns out I have read more than 10, barely. But that’s good enough for this challenge, so here goes, in order of love it like how I love mango (it’s mango season here) to it was aiiight. Click the names for my actual reviews.
The Known World by Edward P. Jones –Jones is the writer we all want to be when we grow up. This book is America, its brutal history captured in many voices, without filter.
The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly – Speaking of brutal history (this one much more recent)…I haven’t read any Burmese (Myanmar) fiction before and this one is written by a Canadian, though one clearly, deeply au fait with the culture and the intricacies of the lives of the people living under the then dictatorship and those fighting for their country’s liberation. It is a stomach churning read in which you both despair and root for the characters and feel genuine hatred for their oppressors. It’s a tough read but with *spoiler alert* a hopeful note.
Closure – I do like a good short story collection, and this was very good.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott– I’m remembering as I write this the story that inspired the title, her brother sitting crying over a last minute homework involving birds and his father calming him by reminding him to take it bird by bird. Lamott draws on family and familiar experiences a lot in laying bare a writer’s processes and neuroses – that scene of her manically re-writing a manuscript hopeful of turning a nay in to a yay resonates in terms of the desperation we writers sometimes feel. The book is a sweaty, teary mess, just like we are and Lamott isn’t afraid (or perhaps more critically, ashamed) to say so. I am reminded as I write this of a scene between me and my father – me having some kind of meltdown about my writing life, him perplexed at how the conversation had gotten so heated, and in the midst of it telling me that he doesn’t know where all this self-doubt is coming from because he was reading my more than a decade old self-published maybe 12 people have read it poetry book the other night and laughing and musing to himself at the things I wrote. And since my parents are not the effusive type this just had me feeling all kinds of happy, meltdown averted…for now.
Go de Rass to Sleep – (and now for something much lighter, thinner, and with more pictures) A children’s book for adults. Why, you say? Well, Rass is a Caribbean way of saying duck (with an f). This is a translation to Caribbean creole (Jamaican, specifically) of the popular Go the F*ck to Sleep. So don’t let the sleeping child on the cover fool you. But e funny ah rass.
Shades of Milk and Honey – of the two Mary Robinette Kowal books in the glamourist series I’ve read this year (third overall), this introduction to the series was my favourite. The author has taken the world of Jane Austen and added a magical element that makes it something else entirely while still so much of what we’ve come to expect of this type of social manners and romantic pursuits book. Kowal’s books are fun and engaging, and the fact that there’s an element of fantasy adds an unusual ness that makes me keen to read more.
Glamour in Glass – part two in Kowal’s regency era romantic fantasy adventure; I know that’s a lot of genres but it really is all those things. An interesting premise, an appealing main character, twisting history to the story’s ends in a believable-ish way; it was a fun book – if not as suspenseful, for me, as it was intended to be.
Bad Boy Brawley Brown by Walter Mosely – the titular character set the action in motion but didn’t figure too much in the story, really. No, this was an Easy Rawlins book through and through, and Easy is charismatic and – like I’ve said – I always picture the big screen, Denzel Washington, version of him; so there’s that. Suspenseful and darkly entertaining, though the best parts for me were Easy and his family, and the way he used his brain to outsmart police and criminal alike – it was all about Easy; seriously, I didn’t feel invested in Brawley’s fate at all.
Til the Well runs dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma (easily my favourite cover of the year)– the latter half of this was more interesting to me than the first which dragged some, but overall not a bad read about a single mother struggling on a Caribbean island and the sacrifices she makes for her children. In the second part of the book, she escapes the cycle when she takes up an offer to go to the US, not realizing that she was stepping out of poverty in to a kind of slavery and a desperate bid for freedom from both.
Caribella by Phillis Gershator – this is really for a younger reader, a Caribbean Cinderella type story but I read it, so.
That’s the list. It doesn’t include any journals I’ve read or they’d be there too, maybe, or any books in progress or two of these, at least, would surely be on the list as well. That’s it. How about you, what are your favourite reads for the year so far?