Reading Wrap Up: April 2018

The Golden State Killer has finally been captured! This murderino was glued to his television all day. Check out my review of Michelle McNamara’s posthumous debut here.

Enter below and you’ll find a dead poet, texting, recommendations for May and much more!

Shout out to Radiant Human for the Aura photograph. Spent a work weekend in Portland this month AND met my nephew!

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Sappho (translated by Anne Carson)  

Who doesn’t like a quick and easy dive into the classics? Carson’s translation not only retains a whisper of Sappho’s original voice, its emphasis on the fragmented nature of Sappho’s work makes it all the more devastating.  I had never read Sappho before but I can now safely say her voice is one my favorites.

On a product level, the cover (Carol Devine Carson) is immaculate and a true tribute to Carson and Sappho both. The font is inviting and sacred, and the side-by-side is a gorgeous and winning touch. I cannot recommend this collection highly enough. I found it by chance in the bargain book section but I’m so glad I grabbed it.

(Amazon) (Barnes and Nobel) (Full Review)

Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer

Popular and highly anticipated in my feminist and left-leaning Goodreads feed, I was eager to read this book by NYT journalist Kayleen Schaefer. Her collection of ethnographic essays focuses on female friendships. From cultural icons to social scientists, Schaefer’s collection comes at the exact right time in the exact wrong package.

Schaefer’s journalistic tendencies shine through in her sophomore work. Her book is almost entirely quotes, or original introductions to quotes, or summaries of quotes. I would have preferred more of her own thoughts. After all, she was the one with the idea for this collection. While I can appreciate a good collection from a diverse range of thinkers, I more highly appreciate a threading narrative from the author overseeing it all. This was my main issue, but more complaints are covered in my full review.

(Amazon) (Barnes and Nobel) (Audible)

Letters To A Young Farmer edited by Martha Hodgkins

With an increasingly changing climate, sprawling urbanism, and a devaluing of any job not requiring a college degree, American Agriculture is in crisis. It’s little surprise that, in a world where groceries can be delivered directly to our doorstep, we forget where it all came from. But, just when all hope for farming’s future seemed lost, an exceptional group of young people fled cities for countrysides, and dared to remind us all what was at stake. For all that these people have given us, we have, by and large, given them nothing in return. The Stone Barnes Center put out this collection of letters as a gift to these few who have given so much us.

While there is a vast array of perspectives and tips in this short collection, I agree with the many reviewers that the bulk of it is focused on a particular kind of young farmer. I can’t claim to know how that omission feels but I do apologize for it. Despite that, I found this to be a unique and timely collection, well-structured and full of life. If you’re a young, small-scale organic farmer you must pick this up. But if, like me, you’re a city-dweller who can’t fathom moving away, you should pick this up too. We all must eat, and it’s high time we recognize those who risk it all to curb our hunger. May they be blessed by even a fraction as much as they have given us.

(Amazon) (Barnes and Nobel) (Audible)

Other April Reads

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (AM) (BN) – graphic non-fiction, racist and xenophobic, 2 stars

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties (AM) (BN) (AUTrue Crime, slow, 2 stars

The Best We Could Do (AM) (BN)  Graphic memoir, emotional, cultural, 4 stars

The Book of Mormon (not rated or reviewed for cultural and religious respect)



Recommendations for May – Mothers Day

If your mother is charming but messy, read

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 

Pearl and her eccentric artist of a mother, Mia, are new to the town, and, for the first time, are looking to stay. Their landlords, a rich, no-nonsense family named the Richardsons, quickly find themselves entangled with this strange, new family. As the two matriarchs move closer together, and a whole town is upended over a custody trial, the residents of Shaker Heights will learn that not even a meticulously planned community can prevent tragedy.

If your aunts are your mothers too, read

As Close to Us As Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner 

Three sisters take their families to their beach home for a relaxing summer vacation. As the three sisters navigate their changing roles and lives, tragedy strikes, driving the family further together – and apart – as they navigate grief and atonement. Told from the future looking back, this novel will break and heal you.

If you have recently lost your mother, read

Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter 

When two young sons and a husband lose their mother and wife unexpectedly, help arrives in the most unlikely of packages.  Told in poetic form, Porter’s debut is sure to resonate in your grief, and remind you how to breathe.

If Grandma was your mom, or your mom spent days telling you stories, read

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

When 7 year old misfit Elsa loses her Grandmother, all that is left of her favorite human is stories of a magical land, and a list of people to take care of. Brave Elsa, accompanied by a fantastical friend, embark on the greatest adventure yet. Fans of magical realism and fairy tales will quickly find themselves lost in the Land of Almost Awake told in Backman’s unmistakable voice.

If you had an absentee mother, read

Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan 

A haunting story of mother and son, we first meet Yuki Oyama, a teenage Japanese-American immigrant, caught in the cross heirs of identity in early 1970’s New York. Then, we meet Jay, Yuki’s adult son in 2016 Connecticut and Berlin. Still dealing with the abandonment of his mother when he was just two years old, Jay enters into fatherhood, reeling with discontentment and frustration. As the novel builds, Hisayo Buchanan seeks to answer “How does a mother desert her own son?”

Bryce Van Vleet is a psychology undergraduate based in the Pacific Northwest. He is a lover of words, terrible video-game player, and frequent drinker of soda and other sugary drinks. Read his short stories here.

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