Friday, December 01, 2017

Books I read in November

Eleven books, but I also spent much time feeling unwell (cold and flu) and watching a lot of Netflix: the entire (latest) season of five shows: Gilmore Girls, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Alias Grace, Riverdale, and Mindhunter. (All excellent in different ways, except for GG, which is largely about nostalgia.) (Someone take away my Netflix: yes, this was all in two weeks, and that's at least a full workweek worth of tv-watching.)

Kuttiedathi and Other Stories by M.T. Vasudevan Nair (and translated by V. Abdulla)
This is one of a big box of books Sue had generously sent me. I've been trying to read more Indian writing. The stories here are of variable quality, and I almost always feel I'm missing something when I read in translation. I didn't much like the title story, but a few were moving and overall the collection has stayed with me. 

Why I Am Not A Feminist by Jessa Crispin
This brilliant book offers some incisive criticism of contemporary feminism, though I don't agree with all its arguments. It seems relevant for us in India, even though it's a very western perspective. My friend Srinidhi reviewed it for the Ladies Finger.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
This book has been getting a lot of buzz, for good reason. It's a retelling of Antigone, but read it even if you know nothing of Greek plays. It's beautiful, brilliant, heartbreaking; about love (familial and romantic) in the time of terrorism. 

Unraveled, Unlocked, and Unveiled by Courtney Milan
I reread a bunch of Courtney Milans over two days when I was too sick with the flu to do anything else. Unraveled remains my favourite by her; I also have very fond memories of A Kiss for Midwinter, which I haven't read in a while. I like heroes who have professions they do good in, basically, and aren't rich entitled landlords.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I love Wharton, and this is one of her most celebrated, but meh. I'd much rather reread Age of Innocence. Apart from everything else, the framing of the narrative was very unconvincing. Why would Frome -- known to be taciturn and reclusive -- tell an acquaintance/client every single embarrassing detail of his personal life just because he had to stay over overnight due to a snowstorm?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
My first Ishiguro: it's taken me a long time to come to him but I definitely want more. I love SFF that feels so real and has so much heart.

Two Magnus Chase books: The Sword of Summer and The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordian
I really like the first of these, at first. I hadn't liked what I tried of Rick Riordian after the first Perch Jackson series, so I was really glad that he's back to form in this one. But somehow Magnus Chase remains a less compelling character than Percy Jackson, even though he had much promise. Samirah is wonderful, but we don't get enough of her. 

I loved the early part of the second book, again. Especially because Alex. Alex is a wonderful, complicated, attractive character. But I didn't love the book overall. Among other things, there was a very unsavoury episode of coercing and robbing a weaker being, without excuse or reparations or even remorse. Percy Jackson wouldn't have done that, Magnus.

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
This was my favourite book in recent weeks. The cover proclaims it an erotic novel, but it is so much more: it's inspiring, thought-provoking, life-affirming. It's a meditation on women's lives, on work, on writing, on love. I paused often to reread and copy down lines for their wisdom and beauty.

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