Monday, May 21, 2018

May 2018 Book Haul

As the temperatures begin to rise, and as the number of school days left slips into the single digits, I have been devoting more time to building my personal library. If you’re trying to fill out your latest Amazon order or are looking for some recommendations for your beach bag, here are some of my recent purchases:

Gems from the Friends of the Library Bookstore. I make a point of trolling the stacks at the Friends of the Library Bookstore in town at least once a week. Friends’ bookstores are a great place to pick up gently used copies of new releases, older titles, bestsellers, and the occasional mass-market paperback. On my last jaunt through the stacks, I picked up copies of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Anne Tyler’s The Amateur Marriage that are in great condition for $1 each. I love Didion beyond words (JOANIE!) and, for a buck, I am willing to give Tyler’s work another go before I swear off Baltimore for good.

Supporting Independent Booksellers. Over the weekend, I went with my equally as introverted and equally as bookish partner to Pegasus Books on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. In addition to a few literary-related items, I picked up three used books that had been on my radar for a long time: The Accidental by Ali Smith (paperback), Night Film by Marisha Pessl (hardback), and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (hardback). Chachkies not included, I paid about $30 for the lot; each book was in excellent condition and priced well below cover price. If you ever find yourself in the East Bay, Pegasus's used “new arrivals” shelf is well worth rifling through.

The Obligatory Semimonthly Amazon Order. If you live in an area where Prime Same-Day Delivery is an option, why wouldn’t you take advantage of the service? I’m pretty sure it’s criminal not to, at this point. Since I have been taking a deep dive into Mindhunter on Netflix as of late, I picked up copies of the two books that inspired the series: Robert Ressler’s Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI and John Douglas’s Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit. I rounded out the order with two books that have been on my shopping shortlist: Lumberjanes, Vol. 5 (yes, I know I am behind in the series) and Samantha Irby’s newest essay collection, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.

As the volume of my recent purchases might suggest, I anticipate spending a majority of my summer reading in an air-conditioned space!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Summer Reading Plans 2018

Periodically, through May to August, I will be sharing updates on my summer reading-- what I want to read and what I actually read.  Up first: what kinds of books I like to tackle over the summer and some of the titles that are on my TBR shortlist.

It’s May so, like most educators and students alike, I am counting down the days until summer is finally here. For the first time in years, I’m taking time to rest and relax (thanks, medical problems!) and I am looking forward to seven weeks of sleeping late, not wearing “real pants,” and afternoons spent reading in the shade.--Oh, the luxury!

As I count down the days until summer, I thought I would share my summer reading plans to help you suss out which books to pack in your beach bag before you’re legging it through duty-free.

Getting My Suspense Fix. Summer is a great time to tuck into the thrillers and mysteries that have been piling up in your queue for the past nine months. Really, there are few things as satisfying as reading a page-turner poolside on a sweltering day. This summer I am looking forward to finishing Tana French’s In The Woods and have a copy of Dorothy B. Hughes’s pulp-classic, In a Lonely Place, that is calling my name. I’m almost certain that another mooch through my local library’s used book shop will probably add a few more suspenseful reads to my stacks.

Catching Up On the Hype. This summer, I also plan to finally catch up on some of 2018’s most hyped new releases. On my shortlist are Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion, which looks at the relationships between different generations of feminists; Madeline Miller’s Circe, which presently resides on my mother’s nightstand . . . but won’t for much longer; and Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage, which looks at the impact that institutional racism and incarceration have on a family. Hype-influenced reads should, at the very least, be fodder for water cooler conversations and, at best, get you a few months ahead of the game on your book club reading.

Nonfiction Nosedive. In between novels, a good nonfiction read can be a great pallet cleanser. There have been many an essay collection, for example, that have helped me nurse a massive book hangover. As it starts to heat up, I am planning to (finally) finish reading Zadie Smith’s Feel Free and work through newish essay collections from Sloane Crosley (Look Alive Out There) and Samantha Irby (We Are Never Meeting in Real Life). And, morbid gal that I am, I am keen to pick up From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty, the Internet’s Funeral Director, and Sarah Krasnostein The Trauma Cleaner; honestly, if these two can’t prevent people from trying to start conversations with me while I am reading, I don’t know what will!

The Bricks. The long and lazy days of summer also lend themselves to reading big ‘uns: massive, unwieldy, multi-volume works that you have meant to read for years but never got around to for lack of time or because of sciatica. There is an optimistic part of me that wants to believe that I’ll actually get around to reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 this year. As you can imagine this is a small, small, foolishly optimistic part of myself.