The Week in Books #49

Stack done! 👏🏼

Another week, another stack. I’m a day late but wanted to make sure I got this post up! I’ve finished this pile, finally, in total it took me just under a month to make it through which feels like an accomplishment, especially given that a few of them are long-ish compared to what usually gravitate towards (around 300 pages really appeals to me, a handful of these were more like 500 pages). Favourites from this stack are Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and Do Not Say We Have Nothing. Least favourites were The House at the Edge of Night and How Should a Person Be? (Sorry!)

1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This book, similar to Do Not Say We Have Nothing and House at the Edge of Night, is a multi-generational epic, set in Korea and Japan. I thought it was really great. The characters were pleasant (except for Hana, I really hated her) and the story was memorable. There were numerable unexpected events, including a couple that made me double take in surprise. I was unaware of any tensions between Korea and Japan, and particularly of the difficulties faced by Koreans living in Japan in the early 1900’s. Definitely recommend Pachinko!

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Amazon
Very excited to start this stack!!

2. The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson. What a weird book! It is filled with many characters from multiple different eras and locations around the world, includes narration from an entity that lives in the bodies of others, and has lots of smut (totally unexpected). Salt Roads was nothing like the other Nalo Hopkinson books I’ve read (Brown Girl in the Ring, Sister Mine, Midnight Robber) and I’m not totally sure I enjoyed it. There was a lot of bouncing around and often the snippets told by the “spirit” or god were hard to follow. There were three different narratives going on simultaneously that were interesting enough individually, but they weren’t really all that cohesive to me.

Across the restrictions of time and space, the goddess Lasirén, experiences and aids the struggles for freedom of the Ginen, the enslaved African people. The story is told through the eyes of Lasirén and the main three women whose lives become intertwined with her consciousness: Mer, an 18th-century slave and respected healer on a plantation in St. Domingue, Jeanne Duval, the 19th century Haitian actress/dancer and mistress to the French poet Baudelaire, and Thais, the fourth century prostitute-turned-saint. Each of the women is on her own life journey, and the goddess interweaves and influences their sexual, personal, and religious experiences.

Wikipedia

3. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I started listening to the audiobook of this waaay back in like February but was making painfully slow progress because I never had distraction free time to listen to it. We popped into a little used bookstore over the weekend while waiting for a table for lunch and I grabbed a hard copy for $10, then finished it in an afternoon haha. I really enjoyed the characters in Such A Fun Age, it was truly a fun read. It also carried an important message about white people who try too hard to embrace Black people and culture, to the point of fetishizing and commodifying them. Very well done and enjoyable.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

Penguin Randomhouse.

New books! Omg I didn’t need to buy any of these but I think I’m addicted to book thrifting. It’s a fun little lottery, what will I find on this bookshelf today? Firstly, Indigo had a big sale so I treated myself to two books I’ve been eyeing for a while, Gods of Jade and Shadow and If You Want to Make God Laugh. Then I visited the Rotary Club book sale fundraiser in Nanaimo and picked up a handful of non-fiction titles (for pandemic reasons they reduced the scale of the sale this year and first set out all their non-fic for socially-distanced perusal, and the following week switched it to all of their fiction titles. We visited on a non-fic day) including Three Women, Angela’s Ashes, a biography of Valerie Solanas (writer of the SCUM manifesto and the woman who shot Andy Warhol), A Disobedient Girl (actually a novel), and a collection of poetry about friendship.

An impressive haul of second hand books this week 🎉

THENNNN I went to Victoria for an appointment and with an hour to kill beforehand I visited value village to look in the book section. The victoria location is sooo scarily busy that I just looked at the books then paid and left 😷 but managed to gather a pretty impressive stack for under $40: Dreams of Joy by Lisa See, Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn, Waiting by Ha Jin, There But For The by Ali Smith, Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb, The Red Word by Sarah Henstra, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, An Unnecessary Woman by Ralph Almeddine, and the controversial American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

I’ve assembled a couple of stacks to make it through next, here’s hoping I can wrap up a bunch before the end of the year. I blew my goal of 50 books out of the water and am currently on #69 with 6 weeks left to go. I’m also closing in on 1000 total books read according to my goodreads account! With the pandemic gaining traction again in our province I am hunkering back down for a quiet winter with just my books and my husband and daughter. I hope everyone is staying safe!

4 comments

  1. Let me know what you think of Ragged Company – if you can, when you’re finished with “Indians on Vacation”,
    I would love to read it! Love Thomas King!!

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