I haven’t posted in ages and ages. Trying to rectify that right now by writing a bunch whilst camped out at my new Starbucks. I just moved and don’t have internet and won’t for like another week.
Anyway, I only have a few books to share with you this month, so this will be a much quicker post than usual!
Books I Read in June
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo-4 Stars (Recommended)
This was a thought-provoking read. As someone who doesn’t read much non-fiction, I especially liked it because it was written as a narrative. It follows a handful of people living in one slum in Mumbai and it shows rather than tells of the twisted injustices that influence their lives. It challenges all kinds of schools of thought about how to change the structures that cause poverty and it’s clear Boo, in the style of all great journalists, exhaustively researched every aspect of her story.
It was much more narrow in it’s focus then I anticipated, after hearing people talk about it. I was expecting some sweeping reveal of everything wrong with urban poverty, but it’s not that. It’s not even trying to be that. It is the story of a few years in the lives of a handful of families. It’s thoughtful and well constructed and revealing, but it’s not a grand treatise on poverty. It is fascinating, though, a jumping off point for further discussion, especially since Boo doesn’t make an argumentative point with her story. She just tells the story and lets you draw your own conclusions.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson-4 Stars (Recommended)
I’ve been loving Laurie Halse Anderson’s books the last few months. The Impossible Knife of Memory was amazing, Speak was equally wonderful. This was fabulous as well.
Fabulous is a weird word to use. I suppose I’m simply redefining fabulous to mean wholly engrossing in the most torturous possible way. Wintergirls sucked me in to Lia’s experience, making me relate to her so strongly, even though I’ve never experienced–nor even knowingly known anyone who has–her disease.
My one small complaint with it was that it seemed to wrap up too quickly. There’s a pivot point with massive stakes and then the book ends with a pretty quick resolution. It’s a bit jarring, and it seemed to me a bit of a disconnect from the otherwise painful reality of the rest of the story.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart-3 Stars
So. Much. Buzz.
“If anyone asks you how it ends. Just LIE”
“Go into this without knowing ANYTHING”
So I swore I wouldn’t pick it up and then I did. I don’t regret doing so, it’s smart and suspenseful. The writing style is fairly poetic in nature. Fragmented sentences, hyperbolic imagery. I liked it, though not everyone will.
It wasn’t a terrible book, I just had this super hyped up expectation of it because of the “OMG it’s so MYSTERIOUS” marketing. I was expecting something big and when it happened it was good, but it was still a letdown. There was no other thing for it to be. Also, there’s totally been at least three movies in the last fifteen years with a similar twist. That’s all I could think about when I was done, the comparisons.
I also found myself extremely apathetic about every character. They’re rich people with rich people problems, which is fine and their problems are valid and it does internally sort of disdain them for this, but it was still irritating to me. They’re shells, they’re uninteresting and unrelatable, and I just didn’t care about them. I wouldn’t have made it through this if I hadn’t been so stupidly curious about the ending.
I hate to say it, but I’d suggest skipping this one. It might be really great if you could discover it on your own, but for me this was a case of jumped-up expectations without any real follow-through.
This 1000 page beast is why I only read like a third of the usual number of books this month, but I’ll take quality over quantity every time.
The Way of Kings is the first book in a planned epic (6 books? 10? Not sure.) fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive. The Way of Kings is a bit of an exercise in exposition, explaining background in politics, magic, culture, and the plot lines of three major characters, so very little of note happens before the last 200 pages of the book. It could have been tedious, and it did take me a long time to read through it, but the world is so interesting and the characters so complex that it never felt boring.
I freaking loved it. All of it. But the end especially. Mysteries revealed with even more questions raised, it was exciting and shocking and so, so satisfying. I already picked up the second volume…and four other of Brandon Sanderson’s books. The world-building is just that good.