Ever since I was a little kid, I've been an absolute bookworm. I was blessed to be born into a home with parents who both encouraged reading and were fairly avid readers in their own right. My father preferred science fiction and fantasy, which lead me from C.S. Lewis to Anne McCaffrey, then on to Anne Rice and Stephen King in due time, while my mom preferred mystery novels, which fully threw me into an obsession with The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun. Our house was littered with bookshelves and a trip to the library was a regular weekly occurance in our home.
As I've grown older, memories often flood back to me about my reading habits, as well as anecdotes from family about my obsessive need to ABR - always be reading. These stories vary from the charming, like the time I was sick with the chicken pox and had a stack of books the height of my bed beside me while I read and read and read until I wasn't contagious, to the arrogant. I distinctively remember gloating about winning a book award in the 4th grade because I read more books than anyone else. Too bad I wasn't learning how to be humble at the same time!
I've continued this love for reading throughout my adult life, I was even one of those weirdos who read FOR FUN in University. Another thing I started while in University was counting my progress by tracking every book I read, along with my rating for it. Then in 2007 along came Goodreads and I was able to share my love of reading with others! I've basically been doing the 50 book a year challenge for 15+ years, even though Goodreads has only been around for 12. While some years are better than others (let's not talk about 2013 and 2017) I tend to outpace myself more often than not and this year I've already read 43/50 books with more than 10 weeks to go!
My Fave Reads of 2018 So Far
I started the year with the startling memoir Hunger by Roxane Gay. I've read quite a bit of her writing over the years and although I'd read some of the more chilling excerpts prior to getting my hands on this book, there was still so much for me to read. This is not a light-read. I read it in chunks, taking a break whenever I felt like I could, but along with the depictions of sexual assault, trauma, self-loathing, depression and melancholy, comes this fierceness that defines Gay and her writing as well. Highly recommend this read.
On a different note, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline is a piece of dystopian fiction that is eerily prescient in the same way of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. In a world where global warming and other factors have fundamentally altered how people engage with nature, a large population of North America can no longer dream. But Indigenous peoples can, and their DNA and marrow is sought after and they are hunted. The novel follows teenager French and his found family as they attempt to escape and survive, looking for a rumoured land where they can exist safely. I picked this up after it was chosen as one of Canada Reads 2018 and it ended up being the winner. I couldn't put it down and kept thinking about it for weeks.
Another book I recently loved was The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country, yes another memoir by British writer Helen Russell about the year she and her husband moved from the metropolitan hub of London to an itsy-bitsy town in Denmark for her husband's job. It's an amazing book that is simultaneously about Denmark, while also about reinvention and how we develop our identities and markers for happiness. I was particularly fascinated by so many aspects of Danish culture that I didn't know about, but I also just want a snegle.
On a completely different level, I recently read Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, a graphic novel compilation published by Hope Nicholson and Bedside Press which is full of spooky, woke stories that are as diverse as they are creepy! My only complaint about this compilation is I absolutely want more! It features twenty fantastic one-shots by comics vets and newcomers, and features something for everyone. My favourites include Fazenda do Sangue Azul by H. Pueyo and Dante L, Rose's Heart by Colleen Coover, and One More Cup by Barbara Guttman. PERFECT for Halloween on the way.
On a whole I've noticed that this year more than any other, I've reveled in nonfiction and memoir, while avoiding happy or fluffier works. I think I need to add something humourous soon!
Books I'm Finishing Right Now.
Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube - You may be familiar with Blair Braverman from her Twitter handle where she shares her life raising sled dogs in Alaska. In her memoir she examines her life as a suburban California girl who finds her calling in Norway and eventually, Alaska.
The Burning Girl - Claire Messud's novel about the intensity of two preteen girls and their tenuous friendship. I've tried not to read too much into it yet as spoilers seem to abound in EVERY review lately, but I am fascinated by the concept. I remember having those friendships and the scar-tissue they caused.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien's epic novel is a JOY to read but it's also an epic that requires focus and concentration. I've been trying to read this book for months and almost need a cheat-sheet for all the characters! This is a perfect vacation book however and if I get a few days to just curl up in a ball, I'm sure I can finally tackle it.
What are you reading right now? Do you have any recommendations for something a bit lighter, as it appears that my tastes have swung to the serious side in 2018?