Bookshelf: Nine Months Pregnant Reading

I read approximately 10,000 books my last few weeks pregnant. It was the best way to keep my mind off all the waiting. Here's a few of 'em:

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Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. About the absurdity of office life. Could have been so mundane but was somehow hilarious. Told in the second person which can sometimes feel forced in other books but it was perfect for this story.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht. I didn't read this when it first blew up. I'm her age and was working on my own writing so let's get real-- it was 100% jealousy that kept me from this during its initial wave of awards and popularity. At first it felt a little... overworked? Or precious? Or MFA workshop-y? But by about the halfway mark I was all in. It's strange and haunting and I'm now looking forward to whatever is next from her. 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Obviously a tough read since it's about a family tree, half of whom stay in West Africa and half of whom are captured to be slaves in America. Each chapter is a new character which gives the whole book a delightfully fast pace for something so intrinsically heavy. By the end though, I felt like a few too many characters were living conveniently historically "interesting" or symbolic lives. Like they were checking certain boxes. Prisoners coal mining in the south? Check. Union organizing? Check. Harlem Renaissance? Check. Drugs and single parenthood? Check. Still, a satisfying read. 

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby. The BEST book in this stack. SO. FUCKING. FUNNY. When I read her first chapter, which is a fake application to be on the Bachelor (or maybe it's real??), I seriously couldn't stop laughing aloud. I think Steven had to leave the room it was that annoying :) Such an original voice, such a unique perspective. I've read a lot of memoirs recently but I don't think I've ever read a more bracingly honest and shine-a-light-on-it-ALL-no-matter-how-"bad"-I-might-look one ever before. And you just never knew what she was going to say next. I'm a fan of hers for life now. Kiiinda wish I could meet her in real life despite the promise of her title though...

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose. Fast paced, totally bizarre mystery that combines teenage runaways with the dark web and raves and DuChamps. Devoured it in one day. Sometimes mysteries just really hit the spot.

One Day We'll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul. Amusing, tender. I'm always interested in second generation stories (her folks are from India and moved to Canada where she was raised). Not as laugh-out-loud as Irby's memoir above, but I don't think it was supposed to be quite as outrageous. Her chapter on the cyber bullying she's experienced as a woman was particularly good.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Another read-it-in-a-day affair. The kind of book someone would lovingly call "a guilty pleasure" or "trashy" but I think that undersells how smart it is. Wanted to read it before checking out the HBO show which Steven and I started the night before last. So far so good! Adaptations are always hard. 

Transit by Rachel Cusk. Just lovely. One of those books that's not really "about" anything. The opposite of books like Big Little Lies or The Readymade Thief which are soooo plot driven. It's that kind of writing that brings you deep into someone else's mind and points out the details of daily life with such graceful nuance that when you look up, suddenly everything and everyone around you seems more interesting. It made me want to reread Pond.

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta. I loved reading The Leftovers. (Haven't watched the show yet, probably because reading it felt like watching show.) So I was inevitably a little disappointed by this one in comparison. It was hard to care about the characters who were all adrift and making questionable decisions while  being mean to each other. Maybe especially so since I was pregnant and thinking a lot about parenthood and role models.

Currently reading Autumn by Ali Smith and What Happened by Hillary Clinton and LOVING them both! Autumn is surreal and delicious and so original. What Happened is well, also unfortunately surreal. Also incredibly important and insightful and even funny. Amina is posed next to the book because I think about how one day I am going to have to explain to her what the f*ck happened.

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