I was hoping to get some writing done today, but I am laid up on the couch with a severely awful pinched nerve and honestly all I want to do is die. I will settle for watching Pandemic on Netflix while trying to drown out the voice in my head that’s telling me I’ll have to quit acting because I’ll never be able to move my head again.
I was supposed to put an audition on tape today, but I can’t even think straight, or for that matter hold my head up.
So, in place of anything profound (ha ha), I’ll review the books I read last year. I will put a link to the book on HalfPriceBooks.com if they have it in stock. If not, I’ll link to something having to do with the book and you can take it from there. If you’re like me, you can’t read a book on an electronic device (Why, in my day, we had things called “books.”). Also, please try to avoid buying the books on Amazon. Please try to avoid buying anything on Amazon. You can read about why here, here, and here. (While you’re at it, don’t shop at Whole Foods, either…). You can go to your local library. They have books there. For free. You can’t keep them. You have to return them. But you can essentially rent the book for free. It’s like Blockbuster but for books but you don’t have to pay. Blockbuster was a place we used to go to rent movies. Before you could watch anything anytime anywhere.
Okay, so, in rough order here are the books I read in 2019:
One of my favorite books of the year. I am not a fast reader, but I ripped through this one in two weeks (lightspeed for me). Fascinating primer on how we got to where we are today as a species. Highly recommend.
White Houses, by Amy Bloom
Historical fiction makes me slightly itchy because it seems unfair to rewrite an actual person’s life. That said, this was a really good read. If you want to imagine what it might have been like to be a closeted lesbian First Lady in 1932, this is your book.
The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish
Very funny. I LOVE Haddish. She is one of the funniest people alive today. The book reads like she’s sitting there telling you about her life over drinks at an Applebee’s happy hour. There is a very cringey chapter about the time she fucked a handicap guy from work. Not sure why her editor let her leave that one in there.
A Simple Favor, by Darcy Bell
The ONLY thing I can say for this book is kudos to Bell for having such massive success with her debut novel. But it is trash. Skip it.
A Stranger in the House, by Shari Lapena
This book would make a great liner for your catbox or bird cage. Especially the part where the woman lies about domestic violence.
Blanca and Roja, by Anna-Marie McLemore
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It just turns out that I’m not a huge fan of magical realism. I recommend it for Y.A. readers. It has trans and lesbian characters in it, which is terrific.
Parable of the Talents, by Octavia Butler
I really loved the first book in this series, Parable of the Sower. It was one of my favorite books of 2018. I didn’t like this one as much, but I did still like it a lot. The first book is about a woman who is escaping the collapse of her community inside the collapse of the entire country. This one is a few years later once she and her new community have started to rebuild. It’s pretty bleak. I recommend it. But read Sower first.
Fox 8: A Story, by George Saunders
Very sweet and sad. It’s a short story about the perils of human encroachment told from the point of view of a fox who learned to speak English by listening to bedtime stories through a window of a child’s room. You can read it in under a half hour.
God: A Human History, by Reza Aslan
Really great primer on the history of organized religion and why humans have a tendency to create gods in their own image. Quick read.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan
Fascinating look at what life was like in and around the time and place where Jesus was born, proselytized, and crucified. If you want to know how Christianity was developed through revisionist history, basically through a game of telephone, read this.
The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth #1, by N.K. Jemisin
I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. This one was a little more fantasy-based than I’m into. I didn’t LOVE it, but I found myself wanting to keep reading it, and thinking about it when it was over. Part way through I was wondering if I had missed a previous book in the series because there is a lot about the world that Jemisin doesn’t explain. She just wants you to get on board and hold on. If you can do that, it’s worth a read.
Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
Dystopian fiction. Another one I kind of reluctantly enjoyed. I didn’t get to finish it because I was borrowing it from a friend. But I read enough of it to have considered it “read,” I guess? Basically there are genetically engineered people and animals running around and this one dude has to try to survive. I think I’ll try to finish it this year.
The trifecta of dystopian fiction by white dudes. All written roughly around the same time. All pretty much in response to the TERROR of communism. I think these are worth reading given what’s going on in the world. By the way, apparently in North Korea there are government issued radio installed in every home and business that can’t be turned off… Guys.
The Courage to be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
Go read this right now. If you EVER find yourself second guessing yourself because of the trolls in your head, read this book. Just go read this book now.
Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, Anne Frank
No, I had not read this before. What can I say? It’s fucking horrific. I knew how it was going to end and I was still shocked and infuriated. I was actually surprised by how bitchy she was. I was into it.
Everything is Trash, But it’s Okay, by Phoebe Robinson
Terrific. Hilarious. Smart. I laughed out loud like a maniac.
Little Weirds, By Jenny Slate
Absolutely one of my favorite books of the past few years. I love Jenny Slate. And this book is a collection of essays about depression, and love, and flowers, and misogyny. It is unlike anything I have ever read. I kept thinking about the tripped out white guys of the 50s, 60s, and 70s who were lauded for writing weird, tripped out essays that were filled with angry white guy energy. I think we’d all be better off if we had more Jenny Slates and fewer William S. Burroughs’. Her writing is delicate, gentle, weird, poetic, relatable, and beautiful. I plan on going back and rereading it over and over.
I guess this is me not getting writing done?