This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

thisishowyouloseherAs a queer white girl from Utah, my experience is much different from the experiences and lives described in “This is How You Lose Her.”  However, I really felt the emotion of the book– the ways that we struggle to not fuck up in love and the ways that we inevitably do.  I cried often while reading this book.  I think I just really felt its human-ness; how random life is in the pain and the setbacks it gives us and the brief moments that we feel on top of the world and alight with love and purpose.

Although the book was over 200 pages I read it in two days which is pretty unusual for me– it really was that absorbing.  The novel starts and ends the same way with Yunior having cheated on his current girlfriend with whatever “suicas” he is currently seeing.  (From my understanding of the word, a suica is a woman-on-the-side).  After his infidelities are exposed he feels terrible and does everything he can to get the relationship back, but to no avail.  At the end of the book, Yunior’s best friend Elvis tells him that he should write the “Cheater’s Guide to Love.”

I never quite knew what to feel about Yunior- if he was a dude I knew in real life, I’d probably write him off pretty quickly as being a complete asshole yet in reading him as  a fictional character I had quite a bit of sympathy for him.  He can’t seem to not cheat and yet he feels terribly about it and is sent into deep spirals of depression each time he does. Read the rest of this entry »

2011: My Year in Reading!

Friends, here is my 2011 year in reading! (Not counting all of the children’s books I read when I was a nanny,  various zines, magazines, newspapers, online articles, and blogs I read.)  I wanted to write a blog for every book I read in 2011 but that didn’t exactly happen. Out of the 31 (almost 32!) books I read this year, I only wrote blogs for 13 or 14 of them…  Better luck next year I suppose.  I had hoped to read more like 36 to 40 books in 2011, but that’s okay. In 2012,  I am setting my goal at reading 35 books, with the knowledge that I will be in school and will not have as much time to read for pleasure.  Also in 2012, I would like to broaden my reading spectrum and include more non-fiction books and more classics, as the majority of what I read this past year was either young adult or contemporary fiction. So friends, here is my year in books broken up by category. In color is my favorite book I read in 2011 from that genre, followed by a brief synopsis. Oh, and I also tried to include the month I read the book, (although the months may not be entirely accurate…)  Oh, and I made a section for all the LGBT books I read this year even though the books are listed by other genres as well.  Enjoy! And feel free to ask me questions about any of these!

Young Adult Fiction

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (July)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (February)

Forever and Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (February)

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (March)

Catching Fire, Hunger Games, Mockingjay (series) by Suzanne Collins (April and May)

Amazing! Highly rated by many “best of” 2011 book lists and not without cause.  Many people that I spoke to about these books had to run right out and get the next book after finishing the first one.  These books are set in a dystopian society in the future where kids are picked from each family to fight against each other to the death in a giant arena filled with traps. It’s the government’s fucked up way of keeping control of the people.  We follow the heroine, Katniss, as she is chosen to be one of those who fights in the arena and how she comes to win “the games” as they are called.  Thrilling and a must read if you are into young adult fiction or dystopian fiction. Disclaimer: The third book isn’t quite as good as the first two.

Uglies/Pretties trilogy (series) by Scott Westerfeld (April-July)

Matched by Allie Condie (December)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (August)

Empress of The World (March)

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Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs

I enjoyed Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs and was entertained but didn’t think it was one of his best books.  It felt kind of like the book was written because the author already had a book contract and had obligations to fulfill.  I also had this feeling about David Sedaris’s book When You are Engulfed in Flames.  While I have loved things that both of these authors have written and think they’re both clever and witty with interesting perspectives on life, I don’t think When You are Engulfed in Flames would make me a Sedaris fan and I don’t think reading Magical Thinking would make me a Burroughs fan.

However, I really did enjoy this books and was entertained by it for a little while.  I did enjoy the quips of memoir  in Magical Thinking though they’re not as clever or neurotic as his other works.  I think the most interesting thing about this book was seeing Burroughs neurotic perspective 0n life and how his fucked  up childhood has caused him to deal with ordinary events such as getting his boyfriend an iron at K-Mart. (Or more extraordinary events such as when he had to go to court for housekeeping fees and paid his housekeeper $900 dollars all in pennies). Read the rest of this entry »

Pretties (Book 2 in the Uglies series)

“Everyone in the world was programmed by the place they were born, hemmed in by their beliefs, but you had to at least try to grow your own brain.”- Scott Westerfeld (Pretties)

Pretties is book 2 of the Uglies series written by Scott Westerfeld.  (Find out more about Uglies through my blogpost here.)

I found this book entertaining although not terrible emotionally or intellectually dense.  However, it’s a fun read and is a great story  full of creative ideas about what a dystopian society might look like.  It’s a young adult book and something that I think teenagers who are into sci-fi (and adults who love YA or teen sci-fi!) would be really into.

Pretties start out with Tally Youngblood, our heroine from the Uglies, having had the operation to turn “pretty” and now living in Prettytown.  It seems she has no memory of her life before the operation and the new pretty Tally isn’t concerned about her friend Shay, whom she decided to become Pretty in order to save.  She also doesn’t seem concerned about or even able to remember clearly her time in the Smoke and her friends there.  This is because the operation to turn Pretty also causes brain lesions which makes Pretties sort of vapid and easy to control.  As a result, Tally’s main concerns now seem to be partying, breaking into a new clique, (the Crims),  and deciding what to wear to the next party and how to cure her hangover. Read the rest of this entry »

Oblivion by David Foster Wallace

This work is also very aptly named, being titled “Oblivion.”   The stories portray the vastness and the in-between feeling, the distraction and the void of oblivion.  I suppose it’s not a place my mind really likes to dwell.  While I think the writer’s mind is brilliant, I did not like this book.  This is very unusual for me as I feel I can read and appreciate a wide variety of literature.  I especially love short stories so it was very surprising to come across a collection of short stories that I didn’t enjoy.

Oblivion was a very frustrating read for me.  The writer has an interesting approach to writing that is not the traditional beginning, middle, and end to a story that we look for.  There is no cohesive narrative in these works.  His writing style is instead arranged in the way that thinking actually occurs.  Rather than being presented with a story, it seems that a story is vaguely happening but what we are really being involved in is the characters thoughts while the event is unfolding, which may have nothing to do with the actual event occurring.  Sentences can be pages and pages long while paragraphs are almost unheard of.  While reading these stories I found myself  lost in the character’s thoughts rather than being  involved in the event itself. Read the rest of this entry »

February Book Club: Judy Blume-“Are You There God, It’s Me, Maragaret” and “Forever”

Aw, Judy B… She holds a sentimental place in my heart as I’m sure she does in the hearts of many who have read her books.  Who understands being a teenager quite like Judy Blume?  My Adult Young Adult Book Club decided to have a “Judy Blume” theme for the month of February and read Forever and Are You there God? It’s Me, Margaret.

I am going to talk more about Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret but wanted to give a shout out to Forever and just say that for me it was very accurate about the experience of first love and “first time” experiences.  I also really appreciate that Judy B wrote a book in which teenagers were sexually active but were being safe about it and even went to Planned Parenthood.  I think that’s a really great example for sexually active teens. Read the rest of this entry »

The Graveyard Book

What I love about Neil Gaiman is that the books of his I have read, Coraline and The Graveyard Book, seem to be books for children or young adults but actually have much darker and more complex elements than most books for young people. You may know what I’m talking about if you have seen the movie version of Coraline.  Not exactly kid’s stuff.

Same with The Graveyard Book. A boy’s family is murdered when he is just a baby but the boy manages to escape and crawls away to a graveyard.  He is received by ghosts who name him Nobody or “Bod” for short.  The ghosts decide they will raise him and keep him in the graveyard, safe from the man Jack who killed his family.  Two ghosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens become his parents while a man called Silas becomes his guardian.  Bod is given the “Freedom of the Graveyard” and learns such skills as Fading, Dreamwalking, and Sliding.  He also learns about different varieties of the dead, such as Hounds of God, ghouls, and night gaunts.  However, he can’t stay in the graveyard forever and eventually must leave his beloved ghosts and join the world of the living.  This book was a lovely read, both enchanting and exciting. Read the rest of this entry »

And the first book of the New Year… “Lez” classic, “Rubyfruit Jungle”

So the very first book I read this year was Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. It’s one of those classics of lesbian fiction that I’ve never gotten around to until now.  When I was back home for Christmas my Dad gave me a big box of books that his (formerly) lesbian friend gave him.  As she knows I’m also a queer, she told my Dad there were a bunch of lesbo books in the box that I might like. I went through it but there wasn’t much that struck my fancy except for Rubyfruit Jungle, because I knew it was considered to be one of the classics in regards to books written by lesbians and about lesbians. Read the rest of this entry »