Hi friends! How are you all? I’m okay – my anxiety has been legitimately terrible but I’m hoping that it all goes up from here. I might need to talk to my doctor about upping my prescription lol.
So I just really quickly wanted to do another update post for my personal reading challenge: 28 books before I turn 28. And I honestly think that this challenge is going to be a fail, but I’m going to still read as much as I can from this list. Here is my original post where I talk about the books on this list and my first update post.
This update is kind of a mixed-bag, which you will see for yourself and I think that’s super interesting…all of these books I was expecting to fall in love with (hence why they are on this list) and some disappointed me extremely. I have also written about some of these books elsewhere so where that has happened, I’ve linked to where I have expounded on my opinions more.
I have been meaning to read this short story collection for so goddamn long and I am so happy that I finally read it. 𝑺𝒐𝒖𝒗𝒂𝒏𝒌𝒉𝒂𝒎 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒎𝒎𝒂𝒗𝒐𝒏𝒈𝒔𝒂 is a poet and this was her first foray into fiction. This short story collection is an interesting exploration of identity, belonging, racism in class. There is an intense examination of capitalism and it’s residual effects on the working class and the poor. These short stories I really about the everyday lives of different immigrants all from Laos, who just want the American dream. I found this collection to be incredibly emotional, it deeply resonated with me and I would honestly recommend this collection to people who would like to get into short stories but don’t know where to start. One of the reviews at the back of the book talks about how these stories spotlight the people who are sitting precariously within the power structures of our society as well as attempting to disrupt this by highlighting the very people who are living in the margins. And I think that perfectly encapsulates this collection –it’s ensuring that these people are not made invisible.
I think might want to write a dedicated blog post for this book because I have so many thoughts and I need to scream my love for it to you all. But what I’ll say here is that Dorothea would have to be one of my absolute favourite characters in a classic. She was so incredibly complex and intelligent, her growth throughout the novel was incredible to witness. Her relationships and friendships, her moral and spritual contemplations, and the way her story ends were just so perfect.
This novel also has one of the most tender and affectionate love story I have ever read. Dorothea and Will – DOROTHEA AND WILL?! – were beautiful. 𝑮𝒆𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒆 𝑬𝒍𝒊𝒐𝒕’s weaving of their love story is something that I have no critiques of – we are talking pining and angst, of adoration and dedication to the other. It was a masterpiece.
The other characters like Lydgate and Rosamund, Mary Garth and Fred Vincy, were also interesting and I think that’s why I also love this novel. Every storyline I was hooked. Truly, a fantastic feat of writing.
So I read a 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒈𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒕 𝑨𝒕𝒘𝒐𝒐𝒅 in June. I finally read 𝑫𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒚, her most recent poetry collection and I did not enjoy it all that much. Now, reading is incredibly subjective – and poetry even more so. I didn’t connect with 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒈𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒕 𝑨𝒕𝒘𝒐𝒐𝒅’s poetry but someone else will think that it speaks directly to them.
I just didn’t resonate with this collection – there were a few poems I liked but overall, I found it to be slightly disappointing. I think I was expecting to be blown away from 𝑨𝒕𝒘𝒐𝒐𝒅 poetry but it was just another mediocre book from her for me. I have read a total of three books from 𝑨𝒕𝒘𝒐𝒐𝒅 and they’ve all been…okay? 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑯𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒎𝒂𝒊𝒅’𝒔 𝑻𝒂𝒍𝒆 was good but 𝑯𝒂𝒈-𝑺𝒆𝒆𝒅 and 𝑫𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒚 have been so so average.
I enjoyed it. I gave it 3.5 stars. It was good. Would I reread it? Most likely not unless I decide to pick up the sequel or companion novel that came out last year. At this stage, I have no motivation nor desire to read the sequel. I just don’t have strong feelings about this book. It was good and I appreciated it but it wasn’t for me. I really enjoyed the fantasy or sci-fi element, I enjoyed the rules and the way that this magic was regulated, so to speak. I think the cafe itself is super fascinating and I wanted to know more about that specifically. Who built this cafe? Why was it built? How did the time traveling start? But I think the fact that you as a reader are constantly asking questions, is actually the point of this book. It kept you engaged and wanting to read more.
I was, however, fully expecting to break down and cry when reading this since it’s so easy to make me cry! But I didn’t even tear up. It was strange. I think the writing for me was not something that I vibed with. I think this was a result of the translation. I felt a little bit like the emotion was leeched out of the writing? I felt disconnected from the characters as a result – I felt like I was reading these stories and these charactes from behind a haze; it was quite disconcerting. But this is purely a me thing since everyone absolutely adores this book! I just feel so sad that I don’t have the same relationship to it.
I think you all know what the next book is going to be as I wrote an entire blog post about it. 𝑱𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒏 𝑺𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑴𝒓 𝑵𝒐𝒓𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒚 𝑺𝒖𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒂 𝑪𝒍𝒂𝒓𝒌𝒆 was not what I wanted from a novel that I thought was going to be a new all-time favourite. Check out my blog post for more of my thoughts.
So. I am writing this around about an hour after finishing this book and I have complicated thoughts about it.
𝑨 𝑯𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝑴𝒚 𝑩𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒇 𝑩𝒐𝒅𝒚 𝒃𝒚 𝑩𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒚-𝑹𝒂𝒚 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒕 is a memoir slash collection of essays in which 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒕 reflects and meditates on his identity as a queer, Indigenous man living in Canada. The essay is offer a tender, raw and honest look on the complexities that often plague Indigenous men, especially queer men. I found this memoir to be incredibly emotional and reflective, often exploring the impact of the violence of colonisation on indigenous communities and the living trauma that creates. I personally enjoyed the way that 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒕 positioned his own lived experiences in conversation with queer texts, theorists, writers, and poets – I thought this brought nuance to the way history was being told. I also think that the way that this memoir is structured, in its fragmented and at times abstract form, provided the reader with an insight into the mechanics of 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒕’s own mind.
Although 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒕’s writing was gorgeous and lyrical, I found the language to be slightly inaccessible. It read like an academic text. I felt like I was reading a text meant for my thesis, which is definitely not what I want when I’m reading for pleasure! It reminded me of Judith Butler, it reminded me of those philosophical texts that sometimes don’t make sense. But I think this academic aspect of the memoir was slightly at odds with the more personal explorations of 𝑩𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒕’s experiences. What I mean is that you would have essays reflecting on past experiences and connecting that with identity, gender, and sexuality as well as the impact of colonisation on Indigeneity; but then the next essay would just feel like the ramblings of an academic.
And something else which kind of annoyed me, was Belcourt’s love of referencing his own work. It just felt and read like a doctoral thesis.
And that’s it for today, friends!
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,