My video on Wednesday was meant to be my standard end of the month wrap-up of everything I’d read until I realised I’ve actually hardly finished anything this month. I was all set to abandon that plan and do something else when it got me wondering about why I felt it necessary to conceal how little I’d read. Why is it shameful to have been busy, for other areas of my life to have taken priority for a few weeks? It’s really not. So in the video I talk about that very briefly before showing the things that I did finish and a bunch of books I started but haven’t completed. As ever, a transcript is below the video.
So often when you’re in the world of book blogging and book tubing things are very much focused on quantity. How many books have you read this week, this month, this year. How many have you bought. How fast can you get through a book. How many pages can read in this sprint.
Well fuck it. Congratulations I finished two books this month and they were mostly started in January anyway. But you know what I also got a whole bunch of assignments done and wrote my thesis proposal and had a birthday. And that’s a good thing.
I don’t want this to turn into a rant about whether or how we put pressure on ourselves and on the people who watch these videos to read more and faster and competitively which I don’t think are good thing. I just wanted to not put out this false image that I am someone who is always reading. I’m not.
But this is a book blog/channel so for the rest of the video I’m going to show you the magnificent two things I finished this month and all the things I did not read. You’ll see.
First up there was Ammonite by Nicola Griffith. This won the Lambda Literary award for LGBT fiction and the James Tiptree award that’s given out for SFF that expands our understanding of gender. So as you can probably guess this book explores some interesting issues. It’s based on a planet that for hundreds of years has only been populated by women. Earth’s armed forces attempted to make contact and lost half their forces to the disease. Now an anthropologist called Marge Taishan is risking death by testing out a new vaccine and trying to find out how these women survive and continue to reproduce. As her examinations begin to reveal much of the dark hidden histories, Marge realises that her actions are threatening to change the entire society just as it is already changing her.
It’s well written and exciting and such an interesting way of completely taking apart societies into their composite pieces and just having ago at rearranging them and building some new.
Ammonite – 4 out of 5 stars.
Then there was The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker. This book was just enchanting. It’s set in 19th century New York where a thousand year old Djinni and brand new masterless golem woman are both arriving along with the thousands of immigrants who began new lives in America during this period. Both can pass as human with some difficulties and during the course of their adventures they meet and strike up an unlikely friendship.
It is a beautiful and fantastical read but also full of big ideas. I felt like it was very much rooted in ideas about duology of the self. One of these is the idea of immigration and the two selves that brings. For the golem and the djinni this is their supernatural selves and their human facades but they are surrounded by characters who must do the same with their old national identities and their new american ones. And then there’s the internal self with it’s anxieties and terrible thoughts and the face we must present to society. It’s brilliant and clever and I loved it.
The Golem and The Djinni – 5 out 5 stars.
All the things we cannot read
So that’s all things I actually finished this month but I thought I’d also show you what happens when I am stressed and feel like I should be reading. I start things. And then I start other things. These are all the books I did not read this month.
- Half of The Female Factory by Lisa Hannett and Angela Slatter. It’s a collection of short fiction all about reproduction and so far it’s really amazing and it’s ridiculous that I haven’t just finished it because it’s only 146 pages long.
- The first few pages of An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay. Put down because I know it’s going to be hardcore emotionally harrowing and that was not what I needed in the middle of having a breakdown about my thesis.
- About 50 pages of Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold. A fun fantasy romp about an ex-sword for hire turned brothel mistress who is forced to take up her sword once again. It sounds great but it just didn’t happen because I’m a big fail.
- And the first two chapters of Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins which I got out of the library after a recommendation from Steph over at Stephanie Spines and Tim and oh my god they were two amazing amazing chapters. I will read this entire thing soon. I just couldn’t at the time. but seriously check it out.
- And 50 pages of God’s War by Kameron Hurley. Yet another fantasy about a badass female mercenary. Seeing some kind of suppressed rage issues going on here with the choice of books. Anyway it’s excellent so far.
I’ve also read a metric ton of Avengers fan fiction because that’s all my brain is good for after a day of writing about research funding but the less we say about that the less likely I’ll have to put an adult rating on this post. Because oh my.
Looking back that’s actually a month full of reading but just not finishing things. Oh me. You are a one.
My plan for March is to definitely finish God’s War because I’ve now got it on audiobook which is a lot easier to fit in around work and stuff. And I’m also meant to be joining in with a read along for Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor which is being led by Nicole of Nicole’s Adventure’s in SFF. Who knows how that’ll go. And maybe I’ll try and finish some of this lot.