What’s on the Bookshelf, pt. 3

I’d been watching Hiking with Kevin and I particularly liked his interview with Tom Papa. He talked about his book, You’re Doing Great, and thought it’d be good for some smiles. It was a light read that helped me get through a funk I was in in July. I keep telling myself to trust the journey but I’m not totally convinced. But Papa’s book had some hilarious ideas, like the good old days were not, in fact, good. For example, hospitals were bad. All they knew how to do was cut your leg off. And he shared that Italians love life, but only because staying alive means you can eat more food. My only gripe is that he also said don’t do anything where you have to sign a waiver, but then the stories explaining why were funny. So every once in awhile go ahead and sign the waiver, just understand it might not be fun in the moment!

Paul asks, do you believe in the human heart? …not simply the organ…I’m speaking in the poetic sense. The human heart. Do you think there is such a thing?This was the crux of Klara and the sun. I’m not a fan of robot stories, and I especially didn’t like Klaras’ naivety that the sun could help her, maybe just because that’s what it’s like to hope. It bothered me the entire time, but I wanted to find out if it worked or not for her. As they said on Ted Lasso, it’s the hope that kills you! The story starts with Klara, an artificial intelligence waiting at the store to be picked and Josie wants her mom to buy her. Mom wants to get a newer model that was just released, but it’s obvious that Josie has bonded with Klara. Josie has been sick, so Klara wants to do anything she can to help Josie get better. Her innocence is endearing, I was even surprised all the humans were eager to help her. Even as it ends on a slightly depressing note, this novel will tug on your heartstrings.

Kristen Arnett’s debut novel, Mostly Dead Things was a recommendation from social media that I figured may be a gamble. At first I wasn’t really enthralled with Jessa, but I enjoyed the authors prose. Then I realized Jessa was an over thinker and I loved her perspective. Her father committed suicide in his taxidermy shop where he taught her the trade, and now the family is working through their grief. Jessa’s mom is posing the animals in the shop provacatively until an art curator sees it an offers her a showcase at her gallery. Mom was my favorite character and I was so happy she got a little redemption in the end. I’m still debating on Brynn, even though the book has been returned to the library. I get it, but also, wow. She really did that. Funny, dark and full of metaphor, this story and it’s characters will definitely captivate you with their eccentric life in Florida.

Black Sunday takes us to Lagos to explore the world of 4 siblings growing up after their father loses all the family’s money and the mom has to leave the country to get a job. I feel like saying anything else gives away the rest of it! It follows the siblings into adulthood, and I loved how the author followed up a storyline from one sibling in another’s chapter with their take on the experience the sibling had. It’s so strange that cultures can be so foreign yet so similar to each other. I felt bad for Abiyike in the end but mostly because I found her character to be the most hipocrytical. Each sibling had an incredible amount of pain that charged the novel with sadness, but they were strong, so I hoped they’d find success and happiness. I hope we get more works from Rotimi Abraham in the near future.

Well, This is Exhausting is the debut book from comedian/writer Sophia Benoit. I saw this on the local news of all places and that it was book of the month by Vogue, so I figured it’d be a good read. Like having a conversation, these essays are funny and real and definitely hit a nerve. I could follow along easily enough, although I did find it slightly irritating that the straight white cis male gaze was always to blame. Yes, the patriarchy is The.Actual.Worst. However, identity is a personal matter and it seemed this author experienced an identity crisis rooted in familial issue, rather than media being dominated by the cis male gaze. She repeatedly mentioned her own father’s struggles throughout his life and then faced some of those problems herself.

I 100% acknowledge media has powerful influence, but stories, characters and casts, even advertisement have vastly changed over 50 years. To her credit, I agreed that even female driven operations, like magazines, frequently offered crummy advice columns. The second half of this book really shined when she had more accountability and self awareness, especially after the chapter, I’m pretty sure my insatiable capacity for desire stems from the scholastic book fair. It was just a matter of sharing experiences and what she learned. No blaming anyone else or a broken system, just her experiences and how she dealt with it. But for the record, I thought I would be using a weekender bag a lot more too!

Bonus Review!

Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour was an album I played over and over over the last year. I was thrilled to hear she was releasing a new album, albeit that the subject matter would be in regards to her divorce. Star-crossed started strong and powered along, filled with reflection on all the little moments. Musgraves herself said it was a journey of heartbreak and healing. As a collection of pain, it was great. The instrumental elements cut deeply, however, there the lyrics didn’t quite hit the same caliber. I liked the nostalgia and vagueness, but I was hoping for at least one song that would have some bite and didn’t really find it. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re shopping for new tunes.
Best song: What Doesn’t Kill Me
Song to skip: Cherry Blossoms


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