Tuesday, 18 July 2017

2017 Reads: April to June

I'm late doing this because of vacation, but here we are: all the new books I read in the second quarter of the year. To reiterate, I'm keeping track of all the new books I'm reading this year (I'm not tracking rereads, which I tend to do when I'm tired or stressed) with quarterly posts about them. I didn't pick up much in April or May, but crammed in a lot of reading in June, especially during the first week of my vacation, which fell during the last week of June. 

Fifteen Dogs - Andre Alexis

This is a critically lauded book from 2015, launched into Canadian consciousness again this year because it won Canada Reads. It's been recommended to me numerous times, and I finally got around to reading it this spring. The premise is interesting: Hermes and Apollo are having drinks in Toronto (? Okay but if I was a god, I'd hang out somewhere else) and make a bet over the outcome of granting a group of dogs at a shelter human reasoning and language. The story then follows the fifteen dogs and what happens to them. It's heartbreaking, honestly, albeit an incredible exploration of what that might look like. I loved it but was also pretty emotionally devastated for a few days afterward.

Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur

I finally picked up this book of poetry as my yearly attempt to work more poetry into my life. I will never be a poetry person, but I enjoyed this and have preordered her second collection due this fall. I don't think this is the most technically perfect or beautiful poetry, but all of it speaks to the feelings I have about being a young woman in the current year, and I appreciate that.

The Little Paris Bookshop - Nina George

I'm pretty grumpy about this book. All the marketing copy states that this is a story about a man, Monsieur Perdu, who prescribes books for those in need. Bibliotherapy occasionally comes up in my work (though I'm not in that particular line) and so I was really excited to read about that. Turns out this is mostly about Perdu taking his book barge and going on a random journey with some tagalongs after spending twenty years never getting over Manon, the great love of his life. It also gets fairly sterotypical about France, French people, and smacks of festishism of French culture. Gross. There are some good points about love and loss in here, and some threads that I wish were explored more fully, but instead get lost in this meandering mess. Meh.

The Neapolitan Novels - Elena Ferrante

This is actually four books by the pseudonymous Ferrante: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. I got the box set in Kindle form, so it was like reading one incredibly long novel. I really enjoyed it. As a general rule as an adult, I avoid reading any series until it's over since I, like numerous others, have been burned by A Song of Ice and Fire, but once this quartet was finished, I put it on my list to read. These four follow two girls in a poor Neapolitan neighbourhood, Elena (the narrator) and Lila, her best friend. It starts with the beginning of their friendship as little girls and goes through their lives, detailing the competition, the struggles, the husbands and children and jobs, all in the mid to late twentieth century. I really enjoyed these, and I think that they do work quite well as one continuous work, though I understand breaking it into four books. Highly recommend these if you haven't read them.

Crazy Rich Asians and China Hot Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan

These were some light, fluffy reads recommended to me. It's like Gossip Girl as adults set in Southeast Asia. I ate them both up. There's a third which I've finished in the last few days in July, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. Ostentatiously rich people and SEA culture are both completely foreign to me, so it was a nice bit of escapism. Crazy Rich Asians is going to be a movie at some point too, and I'm definitely going to see it, just to see how the excess described is portrayed in film.

The Book of Speculation - Erica Swyler

This was the last book I squeezed into the first week of vacation. This one was weird, in a good way. I liked it well enough. It was about a librarian (not the draw, believe it or not) and a book he receives from a bookseller in another state that refers to his long-dead grandmother. This mystery is coupled with the deterioration of his home, layoffs at work, the reappearance of his wayward sister, and starting to sleep with one of his coworkers and lifelong friends (really? A single straight male librarian? This doesn't exist IMO. All men in libraries, regardless of sexual orientation are taken). It veers to being a little campy at times, but the mystery and fantasy aspects are really well done without seeming out of nowhere.

Total read this quarter: 10
Total read previous quarter: 11
Total read in 2017 to date: 21


  1. I really want to read the Neopolitan novels! I've gone off series in general recently because I feel like it's more commitment than I want to make, but I've only heard wonderful things so I might make an exception.

    1. Series are such a commitment, and when I don't read as much as I want, it can be a lot. They are wonderful, so I think worth the exception.

  2. Those Little Paris whatevers are UGH. I can't even be bothered to form a real sentence to diss them.

    So glad you enjoyed Fifteen Dogs and the Neapolitan quartet though! They were the highlight of my reading experience in the past year. They both hit that rare sweet spot where literary content meets broader commercial appeal. I need more fiction like those.

    1. The Little Paris Bookshop was bad and a lie. Not the worst but especially annoying.

      And agreed! It's so great when a work has that ability.


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