Firstly, I’m missing my calendar picture!! I completely forgot to snap a shot before leaving work yesterday, and it’s a long weekend, and I don’t want to delay this post until Tuesday so.. my apologies for the lack of fabulous lady monarchs and/or gorgeous Anna Bond illustrations. (Maybe I’ll throw the picture in later on.. yes. That’s what we will do!)
The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Don’t Look Now (And Other Stories) – Daphne Du Maurier
Maybe In Another Life – Taylor Jenkins Reid
Just Kids – Patti Smith
Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
Maybe In Another Life – Taylor Jenkins Reid
Humans of New York Stories – Brandon Stanton
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Displacement – Lucy Knisley
This month was pretty great! Flipping through my cellphone pictures (how I basically remember what I’ve done the past month or so) I can’t believe how much actually happened in the past four weeks. Here are a few small highlights:
* My fiancé and I booked our wedding!! After getting engaged in Paris over 2 years ago, so many things have happened in our lives. We’ve been waiting for the right time to actually have the wedding and that time is finally here. So come next September (2016) I’m gonna put a ring on it! We’re both really excited. It’s been a long time coming!
* I finally, finally watched Star Wars! You wouldn’t believe the amount of shade passed my way when I admit to having not seen the Star Wars movies. But believe me, it’s not for lack of want! No one I know actually owns the movies, and the video store near our house closed down not long ago. This month, we finally got our hands on Episodes 4-6 and they were great! Episode 5 is my favourite. And though I’m well aware of the controversy surrounding the merit of Episodes 1-3, I still want to watch them. I’ve gotta know about Anakin!
* My best friend adopted a dog! Maggie May is a beautiful 6 year-old Alaskan husky and she’s the sweetest. Adopting a dog is perhaps the one thing I want to do most right now in life, but can’t. My fiancé and I live in an apartment, not close to either of our works and we don’t have the funds for doggy daycare or a dog-walker right now, so we will (again) wait for the right time. Realistically, it won’t be for a long time, but someday, SOMEDAY, we will have a furry friend. Of course, I do still have my baby, Shiloh, who is our childhood dog and lives with my parents. But I won’t get started because it will just be a long, long post full of adorable pictures and gushing but he’s wonderful and just.. okay, that’s all.
The rest of the month was full of social outings and seeing my family and it was really lovely. We’ve had a heat wave here in Toronto this past week and I’ve got quite a bit of reading done in the latter half of the month while basically hugging my air conditioner. And now, onto the books!
I started off the month finishing Jenny Lawson’s second collection of humourous essays, Furiously Happy. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, her first collection, was beloved by so many of my coworkers and friends. I never got around to reading it, mostly because I basically don’t have a sense of humour when it comes to books. I have more (what I describe as) Mom humour. Outrageous situations or Monty Pythonesque humour goes over my head. I’m more of a cutesy Modern Family humour type girl. I think for this reason, Furiously Happy mostly went over my head too. Bits of the book discuss Jenny’s constant struggle with a multitude of mental illnesses, and those parts I loved. Despite having crippling anxiety and recurring depression, Jenny has a secure life filled with love and happiness. I loved hearing her speak about the power she feels knowing that she is more than her illness and that occasionally, when her brain starts feeding her lies about her worth, she has wonderful, loving people in her life who help to ground her. It was touching and illuminating. One thing is for sure, Jenny says we don’t talk enough about mental illness and she is echoing so many others who feel the same. I couldn’t agree more. For some people, this will be a hilarious romp through Jenny’s often crazy world, for others (like me) it will be a testament to the strength of those who battle mental illnesses on a daily basis.
Next, I wanted to read something as close to Me Before You as I could find. I read Jojo Moyes masterpiece years ago and have been unable to find a “chicklit” (for lack of a better word) book that comes anywhere near touching the heights Me Before You reached. I went for Taylor Jenkins Reid’s newest book Maybe In Another Life, because I’d read her book, Forever Interrupted a few years back and had mixed feelings about it. It did make me cry, which was promising (wow, I’m depressing) but bits of the story didn’t work for me. One of my closest friends and I chatted about her other work not long before, so I thought I’d give it a go. Spoiler: it still didn’t work. Though I did enjoy reading this for the most part, I did roll my eyes way too many times. I hate bashing books because I know there are people out there who love it (Goodreads says so) and though I can see why, it just wash’t my thing.
Then at work, an advanced copy of the new Humans of New York book passed across my desk. I LOVE Humans of New York and so I flipped through it quickly and within seconds, was crying in my cubicle. I ran the book to my friend’s desk, she read the section, and we basically sat there crying and laughing at how quickly it happened. There is just something so magical about the simplicity of the project Brandon Stanton began, and yet how colossally it can impact you. This collection is full of wonderful pictures accompanied by the stories of strangers you could have passed on your way to work. The stories illuminate the part of each other that we often ignore: the insides. We push past each other on the subways, we stand behind each other in grocery line-ups, but do you ever stop to wonder about WHO is standing in front of you? The elderly woman who misses her husband so much she can hardly stand, or the teenager who is terrified of coming out to his religious parents, or the girl who’s mother works three jobs so her and her siblings can go to university. I feel so passionately about the Humans of New York project that I really think everyone should look into it. If you don’t want to buy the book (though it is beautiful), you can look up the blog, or follow the Facebook page. Just check it out. Please.
Next I read something that I have no clue how to adequately articulate my thoughts about. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is getting SO MUCH buzz. Toni Morrison is calling it “required reading” and said that he is the first person after James Baldwin to speak about these topics in such a wonderful way (I’m paraphrasing here). This book takes the form of a letter that Coates wrote to his fifteen-year-old son, to detail the hardships and joys of his own life and to ensure that his son is prepared for the world that awaits him. The book is filled with tremendous insight, heartbreaking personal stories, anger, fear, contempt and at times, hope. Though I appreciated so much of the content, I found Coates’ stream of consciousness narrative a bit jarring. He would begin a section with a story from his own life, which are horrifying in their own right, and continue with poetically written philosophical arguments that I sometimes lost track of. There were many things referenced that I wasn’t familiar with and had to mark down to look into. I tabbed a million amazing quotes, but I also counted the numerous times I was confused by what Coates’ was arguing. I read a TON of Goodreads reviews after, and the biggest complaint seems to be the lack of hope at the end of the book. There are people who agree completely that hope is hard-earned, but others found that Coates leaves the narrative hanging on a very melancholic note. I hold no right to express what Coates may or may not see in the future, but I did feel dejected when I closed the book. Though I have mixed feelings about it, I do think the book did exactly what it was meant to: it made me talk. It made me question. I read this along with three other coworkers and we all stood around the next morning discussing the book. The following morning, after we had all digested further, we spoke again. I don’t think I’ve gone a day without thinking about it since I finished and I think that is a testament to the strength behind it.
After that, I wanted to read something I knew I would love, so I picked up Lucy Knisley’s Displacement from the library. There is just something so lovely about Knisley’s work. She writes travelogues in comic form, and she’s so talented, and yet such a normal twenty-something girl that I feel like reading her books is like sitting and chatting with a friend. Displacement is the story of her experience accompanying her 90-some grandparents on a cruise. With heart and humour, she tackles the difficulties of family and aging whilst making discoveries about herself along the way. Lucy is filled to the brim with anxiety and self-analysis, trying to make sure she does everything right for her beloved “grands”. It was relatable and a simply delightful read.
And that was it! I’m in the middle of one collection of short stories and one comic and I expect to be finished both by the end of the long weekend. I have tons of great reading plans for August (BACKLIST!!!!) and I can’t wait to get started. I hope you all had a wonderful month and that you read tons of great stories!