The week in books. This week I got through just two books, leaving three on this pile (including a loooong one). I also have a new stack to share and some thoughts on book hoarding.
1. The Red Word by Sarah Henstra. Ooooh I did like this one a lot. Very feminist, very smart, very searing story about sexual assault in Ivy League frat houses. I enjoyed the politics and the twists and turns, and found many of the characters very recognizable. Overall super thought provoking and a good book for starting discussions!
A smart, dark, and take-no-prisoners look at rape culture and the extremes to which ideology can go The Red Word is a campus novel like no other. As her sophomore year begins, Karen enters into the back-to-school revelry ― particularly at Gamma Beta Chi. When she wakes up one morning on the lawn of Raghurst, a house of radical feminists, she gets a crash course in the state of feminist activism on campus. The frat known as GBC is notorious, she learns, nicknamed “Gang Bang Central” and a prominent contributor to a list of rapists compiled by female students. Despite continuing to party there and dating one of the brothers, Karen is equally seduced by the intellectual stimulation and indomitable spirit of the Raghurst women, who surprise her by wanting her as a housemate and recruiting her into the upper-level class of a charismatic feminist mythology scholar they all adore. As Karen finds herself caught between two increasingly polarized camps, ringleader housemate Dyann believes she has hit on the perfect way to expose and bring down the fraternity as a symbol of rape culture ― but the war between the houses will exact a terrible price.Amazon
1. If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais. I love Bianca’s writing. I really enjoyed Hum If You Don’t Know The Words and this one was also really great. With strong themes of motherhood, race, class and family it also deals with the AIDS crisis, rape and religion. It was sad, but also very warm and memorable. The lives of the three women are woven together very intricately and I loved the pacing and how everything was revealed at just the right time. Very solid read.
In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.
Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it’s what she can’t have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to heal, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.
As the mystery surrounding the infant grows, the complicated lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah become inextricably linked. What follows is a mesmerizing look at family and identity that asks: How far will the human heart go to protect itself and the ones it loves?Penguin Randomhouse
I’ve put together another stack of books to be read (TBR) including the last of my birthday books from Mom, The Death of Vivek Oji (Thank you!!!) I bought Real Life, A Burning, and Kim Jiyoung Born in 1982 this week on sale at Indigo. The rest of the stack is either from VV (The Good People, The Haunting of Hill House, City of Veils, The Sellout, The Great Gatsby, and Educated) or found for free in a little free library (The Three-Body Problem, The Truths We Hold, Satellite Love, and From Where I Stand). I seriously need to get caught up on these books before I collect anymore… famous last words haha.
True story, we’ve been watching a lot of old episodes of Hoarders and there’s one where a couple has filled their home with 500,000 books… (to put that in perspective Vancouverites might understand, McCleods Books on Pender is having to reduce the amount of stock they carry to comply with fire codes and they estimate there are 100,000 books in there) I felt like I really needed to get in there to look and will admit that I paused the screen a couple times to read the titles they had hahaha. I feel like as long as I continue to purge old books as I bring in new ones I should be ok, though I have noticed that a lot of the individuals on the show started to build their hordes by thrift shopping regularly 😅
I actually worked with an extreme hoarder several years back that was having to reduce clutter in her room and as we packed boxes to take to a storage facility I noticed she had quite a few of the Sue Grafton Alphabet series (“A” is for Alibi · “B” is for Burglar · “C” is for Corpse · “D” is for Deadbeat · ” E” is for Evidence · “F” is for Fugitive etc etc). She was really proud of the fact that she had almost all of them. When I asked if she enjoyed reading them, however, she looked at me like I was absolutely crazy and said “I haven’t read any of them! I just want the whole set.”
I took a look back on a book post from November and the two “future stacks” at the bottom have both been completed already though so I’m making progress, and as long as I purge old ones AND actually read the ones I keep I’m not a hoarder, right?!