Books – February Roundup

Cover photos (clockwise from top left): ©2016 Doubleday; © 2015 Image Comics; © 2000 Little, Brown and Company; © 2015 Feiwel & Friends; © 2016 Image Comics; © 2016 Ecco

So since last week was a holiday week, and according to my new posting schedule I did Tuesday/Thursday postings, I missed the “last Friday of the month” for the book post.  So instead I shall go to the next posting day after the last Friday of the month.  And it’s still February friends.  So let’s see what I’ve got for you.


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Remember last time when I said that this book was a more realistic take on the Underground Railroad than I’d been anticipating?  LOL – if I’d written that summary bit a few days later, the things I’d heard would have made sense.  The book was really good, and so different than other books I’ve read surrounding this topic.  It felt very magical realist to me – like this world was not entirely unlike the one that I encountered in One Hundred Years of Solitude.  But the problem with being on the edge of “real or not” is when I feel like I don’t know enough history of my own country to say if it was even possible or not.  For example: South Carolina being as progressive towards Free Blacks as it was portrayed in this book.  Or North Carolina’s horrific policy in the book.  I’m pretty sure those aren’t real, but it’s just so confusing.  Especially when it’s presented alongside the idea of free farms in Indiana, which were definitely real.

I honestly kept waiting to hear something that would clue me in to whether this was alternate history with the Civil War not happening/the South winning, or else if it was just alternate history in the how and what of the Underground Railroad itself.  Really good, but confusing at the same time.

Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop and Sex Criminals, Vol. 3: Three the Hard Way by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

I started reading the Sex Criminals series of comics a few years back because I’d heard they were hilarious.  They are.  And I bought the individual comics for some of the later issues, and the collected volumes for others, and ended up reading two volumes worth of comics this month.  It was interesting to see how the story continued from the first volume.  The premise is: two young people find each other, and it turns out they both have the ability to stop time when they reach orgasm.  So in order to save the library where the woman works, they take to robbing banks.  After having sex.  Hence, sex criminals.  They’re very funny books, and different than so many things out there.  They also try to be very open and sex-positive, and the creators have a sense of humor about themselves too.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

This was my book club book for February.  And it was so easy to read/listen to.  I love David Sedaris.  His books make me laugh out loud on a constant basis.  His humor is so dry, and occasionally ridiculous that I cannot help it.  The glamorization of his drug use (meth and heroin) isn’t fantastic, but I’m glad it’s something he got past, and got addicted to other, healthier things.  But his time learning the French language while living in France reminded me a lot of his stories of learning Japanese while he was living in Japan.  He’s very good at playing the fish out of water.  The first thing that our book club wondered was if David and his partner Hugh are still together.  From what I can find on the internet, they are.  We liked Hugh.  Hugh is the best.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I’d heard an interview with the author of this book on NPR last year around the time it came out.  It sounded really interesting, so I put it on my “to-read” list.  And then it got popular, and by the time I put it on my hold list of library books through Overdrive, there was a long wait.  It finally became available, and I gobbled it up.  The story is very interesting, but few of the main characters are relateable, and a few have just ugly ugly personalities.  The word gets thrown around a lot, but they’re all just so entitled.  The story is of four siblings who will all soon get a distribution of money from a trust fund, and the money is suddenly used up to take care of a problem that the oldest child encounters.  The anticipated distribution amount is decimated, and the three other siblings are left trying to figure out what they’re going to do since they all had expectations for the money.  It makes me feel good about myself and the fact that I have no expectations of inheritance that is allowing me to make poor choices with the expectation of being saved financially by an expected windfall.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

I’m a complete-ist.  This was interesting.  Another story to fill in the gaps on the series that I enjoyed a lot over the past year.  Not recommended unless you too have read the Lunar Chronicles and are as obsessed as I have been.


Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony by Lewis Thomas

Yes.  I’m still reading it.  No, I haven’t forgotten about it.  Yes, there’s been progress, including an interesting chapter on altruism followed immediately by a chapter on falsification of scientific data.  This book was written in 1983.  I feel like there are just times when the universe brings topics into your life.  Altruism and truth [in science] seems to be my personal theme this year.

I’m actually not listening to a book right now.  I’m a little bit ahead of the pace for my book goal through Goodreads, and my next book club book hasn’t come through on Overdrive yet, so I’m catching up on Podcasts.  I’m currently mid-October for “This American Life”.  It’s a different world back then.  😉

2 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    From what I heard Colton Whilehead say when I heard him speak, the books is an alternative/fantastical retelling of the Civil War, with just the Underground Railroad re-imagined. He did a LOOTTTT of historical and genealogical research for the book. He said he imaged each station of the underground railroad was a different test for the characters, and a different facet of the challenges slavery presented. I can’t say anything about the specific policies you mentioned, and I still haven’t read the book myself. But that’s what I learned from his talk, at least.

    Also, now I definitely want to read Sex Criminals.

    1. maggie says: Reply

      You can tell how much work he put into it, but I would need someone else who has read it or has enough knowledge to tell me about the SC and NC parts, which I’m 99% sure are pure fantasy, but there’s always room for crazy batshit stuff from the time of slavery that we were never taught.

      Definitely read Sex Criminals.

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