Garlic & the Vampire and Garlic & the Witch by Bree Paulsen
Very cute and extremely low stakes (pun intended) middle grade graphic novels. I liked the second book slightly more but I liked how easy both were to read. I think I prefer the Tea dragons more for poignancy, but really liked this series and its very lovely artwork.
4.25/5 stars. Read August 27, 2023.
Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World by Christian Cooper
Narrated by the author. My favourite book podcast and a someone in my book club recommended this in the same week. Over the years, I have consumed less memoirs because they started to feel more packaged due to the influence of publishers and ghost writers. They weren’t bad exactly, but they felt a bit more self-indulgent as an industry. Cooper is not a celebrity in the same way though and he does have a background as an editor and writer. He is intelligent, reflective, and considerate telling his story. His audio narration is great. He is expressive and warm. I am so glad I listened to it. I was really engaged and really wanted to finish the book after I read my print ones. I found the writing about his love of birds, nature, and family quite moving. His stories about traveling were good too. The book had the right amount of reflection for me. There are bird songs in the audiobook! I loved that. Probably one of the better memoirs I’ve read in the last couple of years.
4.5/5 stars. Listened August 17-29, 2023. 1.3x most of the time.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Narrated by the author. This is a short YA novella in verse. I borrowed it because I had read a great interview about Jason Reynolds in the New Yorker and then watched more interviews with him. His championing of children’s literature is wonderful. This novella is about gun violence and the endless cycle of revenge especially in youth gangs. The poetry aspect of it is well done and I am glad I listened to the audiobook.
4/5 stars. Listened August 29, 2023. 1.3x.
Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
Narrated by the author. The book that named a genre. While cozy fantasy has always been a thing especially in my world, this book led the charge of the genre being prominent in book culture recently. I lined up the audiobook for it and the library hold finally came in. I decided to start with the audiobook or go between them. Baldree has been a prolific audiobook narrator for years. I was not sure about his narration at first but when the voices started, I was impressed. In the end, I listened to the whole thing on audiobook. It wasn’t long and it did have a cozy vibe. The plot is rather slow and there is a lack of depth in some ways. I found the romance was not built up well enough. I wanted more character and relationship development. It’s not an essential read nor is it my favourite cozy fantasy of this year. I do think it has its charming moments especially as an audiobook. I enjoyed how easy it was to listen to it while I did my chores or physio exercises. This book is a vibe as the kids say. I had a chocolate chip cookie because it featured one prominently. I look forward to listening to the prequel.
3.75/4 stars. Listened August 29-31, 2023. 1.3x.
Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet
This is a favourite of some friends in my book club. It’s a well done middle grade biography with great illustrations and art. I learned a lot of things about E. B. White and the book is a lovely homage to his writing. I read this during a silent book club meeting with a couple bookish friends.
3.5/5 stars. Read August 31, 2023.
July 24, 2023: I found this newer edition beginning of August. Since I had been reading all these 2021, I was glad to find a newer one. Maybe it was the not great weekend that I read it but I found this edition on the grim side. It had stories about M.S., Haiti and its gangs, changing Nashville, bears, and neoliberalism. Maybe I shouldn’t read these on my off days.
August 9, 2021: This had a David Seders essay which I read in his most recent book and did not have many articles I was interested in.
August 16, 2021: The James Webb Space Telescope. Learned about Jason Reynolds and watched some interviews with him as a result too. I skipped the Fiction and was reminded about Ted Lasson S2. I read the review about “Annette”. I like the actors in the cast but probably won’t watch it since I watch very few movies and TV these days because of books.
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See
A historical fiction novel about a woman doctor in the 15th century China. It’s been awhile since I read Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls. I really liked how she handled Chinese culture, history, and female relationships in that novel. Here again, she excelled in those things. The book has nuanced portrayals of women. The protagonist is flawed and privileged, but there is character development due to her many interesting female relationships. This was also a medical drama and there was even a surprise mystery. The medical content was not too gory but it was unavoidable. I think the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) would be hard to grasp or understand for most people. I got the gist of it due to my background. I will never understand the appeal of bound feet and it makes me cringe. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like reading these Chinese historical books. This was a nicely researched historical drama that would make a great Chinese TV series.
4.25/5 stars. Read August 5, 2023.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
Like many women, I liked Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. I’ve been exploring stress and anxiety research recently. I really liked the first chapter about completing the stress cycle and tips on stress management. I wish it had discussed this more. A lot of the other content I was familiar with such as gender roles. It was very feminist but any of these tips could be applied to all genders. I think it had some nice tips in the end but not as essential health reading.
3.75/5 stars. Started July 31, 2023 but I mainly read this August 6, 2023.
A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
This is another book which I bought over a decade ago and didn’t read until now. It was a pristine first edition hardcover too. I’ve read two Vonnegut novels. I really liked Slaughterhouse Five but not Cat’s Cradle and don’t remember why. While they were strange and dark, I liked Vonnegut’s unique voice. He was a good writer. I liked the essays and there was good dark humour in most of them. I did find it a bit depressing after the first few essays. It was a product of its political time so it’s a bit strange to think back on the George W. Bush years and the Iraq war. He was right about a lot of things that apply now. I do think it’s for the best he didn’t see what’s happened in the last 15 years. The book left me a bit hopeless which is why I can’t give it the full 4 stars.
3.75/5 stars. Read August 6-8, 2023.
The Moth Keeper by K. O’Neill
Cute. Very Ghibli-esque. I like the Tea Dragon trilogy more but this was still a lovely cozy fantasy graphic novel. I liked the imagery and the gentle tone in O’Neill’s work. I understood and appreciated the theme of loneliness, isolation, community, and yearning.
4/5 stars. Read August 9, 2023.
These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
Audiobook read by the author. A lovely book of essays written by an author I’m growing to love. Intimate essays about her life, friends, family, death, illness, and books. I discovered that I had already read a couple of these essays in the New Yorker which told me that I am really a New Yorker reader and Patchett lover. These essays feel like hanging out with a friend. I have the trade paperback version, but decided to listen to the audiobook since she narrated it. I am going to keep my paper copy a little more before giving it away because I enjoyed this book so much.
4.5/5 stars. Listened July 31-Aug 9, 2023.
Still lots of graphic novels and illustrated works. I achieved my 52 books very early this year as a result.Continue reading →
A great month and hopefully a greater summer of reading.Continue reading →
For awhile now, I have wanted a subscription to Thew New Yorker. I’ve read books from the regular contributors, often find these articles I like from the Best American Travel Writing series, and love New York. I like a couple of periodicals and wish I could find the time and money to read them. When I passed my PMP in August, I rewarded myself with a trial subscription of $12 for 12 weeks of the magazine so I will have this subscription until November 7, 2016.
I read about 75% each magazine; it varies because sometimes I will have at long articles which I don’t even want to skim read for whatever reason. I skip all the local New York arts news and what’s happening. I thoroughly read or skim-read most of the long features. I skim read most of the pop culture reviews depending on the subject matter.
Considering this magazine is low on advertisements, it’s a lot of reading. Each magazine is basically a small non-fiction book in length and breadth. One of the things that I like about The New Yorker is how high brow it is both in vocabulary, topics, and its comics allusions. I love when I see something in this magazine then have to really think about the meaning of a cartoon. I also really appreciate high diction in the media.