issue #148 - the reading one
I am a promiscuous reader.
I enjoy all genres in all the formats (hardcover and paperback, audiobook, Kindle). I read when I’m waiting in line or in the minutes between meetings. I read via audiobooks when I’m doing chores or running errands. And I’ve been engaging in some serious revenge bedtime procrastination every night this week because Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling world is just too good.
Ever since I learned how to read, it has brought me a sense of peace and adventure - two contradictory emotions that somehow emerge when I pick up a book and lose myself in someone’s world. I don’t think about the to-do list that runs across my brain like a chyron. I stop dissecting the e-mail I had sent and wonder if I could’ve phrased it differently. And the negative self-talk (we all do it!) fades away as I lose myself in someone else’s life.
August was a messy month. It has some high moments for sure, but an expected depressive episode and the slow climb out of it has been hard. When I couldn’t get out of bed, I re-read Julia Whelan’s wonderful Thank You For Listening while curled up under my chill blanket and weighted sloth (a combination I recommend for all days). Pandora’s Jar reshaped my perspective on just how feminism’s roots are just as deep as sexism’s in our history and turned on the languishing historian inside my head. I wanted nothing more than to escape to a clan of Russian bears when I was reading Silver Silence (one of the best contemporary fantasy series I’ve ever read).
And while I devoured Carrie Soto Is Back, I also watched a number of TikToks from Latiné creators I respect on the criticisms of Carrie Soto and about white authors writing BIPOC main characters with more care. It did put me in a tennis mood, and I cannot recommend Andre Agassi’s Open more if you want to understand what playing tennis in the 80s and 90s was like.
For me, reading is like breathing or drinking water. It’s not just a hobby, but a vital thing for me to do every single day to stay healthy. My promiscuous reading habits are also how I support business that reflect my values (I buy all my physical books and audiobooks via Libro.fm and Bookshop.org and support The Lit Bar, Uncle Bobbie’s, Harriet’s Bookshop, and Semicolon - all Black-owned bookstores - with my purchases).
And while I know many of you rely on Goodreads to track and recommend books, I do not trust myself to read my own books’ reviews when I log onto it. I’ve been logging my current reads over on Copper Books (I’m @hitha on the platform), a woman-founded company that’s creating the Goodreads/Facebook Group/DM platform I’ve always wanted.
What are you currently reading? What hobbies are an essential ‘can’t live if I don’t do it’ ritual for you?
What I Read This Month (And Finished!)
Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Wolf Rain, Alpha Night by Nalini Singh - I’m shocked that this series (and Nalini in general) doesn’t have the same social love as Sarah J. Maas. But here I am, once again, stanning for this series because it is absolutely brilliant on all fronts - plot, character development, steam, and gently unwravels the greater situation threatening Psy, changelings, and humans that have gone unnoticed, ignored, or manipulated for gain. Cresent City or All Souls Trilogy feel like the most similar titles, but Psy Changeling Trinity really stands out on its own and is a world I’m not at all ready to leave (and thankfully, I have one book to finish and another book to wholly read in this brilliant series).
A Curse of Queens by Amanda Bouchet (out October 4, 2022) - you’ve heard me rave and rave about the Kingmaker Chronicles (the love child of ACOTAR and Circe, as I’ve billed it), and the latest book in the series just solidified my eternal fandom of Amanda and whatever she writes next. Do we have closure in Thalyria yet? Not at all. Am I still here, waiting with bated breath, for the book after Curse of Queens? Absolutely. Mercifully, Amanda has quite the backlist for me to catch up on.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin - the way this book lifted me up, only to throw me back down to Earth, and repeat a few more times, only to leave me hugging my copy as I finished it. This book was heavily targeted to people who loved Ready Player One, but I would argue that it’s less a book about video games and more a book about relationships - all relationships - in the vein of A Place For Us (though slightly less devastating). I could not put this book down at all - read it the moment I woke up, engaged in some serious revenge bedtime procrastination, etc. I have no regrets, and I’ll be chasing the way this book made me feel in whatever I read next.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - I was warned that this is one of the weakest books in the series, but I really did enjoy it! That said, my attention was otherwise occupied by the earlier books and I’ll dip back into this series once I finish the last two books in Psy-Changeling Trinity. I am here for Celaena and Dorian and Chaol (and I look forward to BookTok’s videos about Aelin and Manon to finally make sense to me).
From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata - I’d seen this shared quite a bit on TikTok and was having a random urge to watch The Cutting Edge again. I watched the movie, and also read this in a near single sitting because Jasmine and Ivan captured my heart and their slow burn kept me gripped and captivated and I had the most stupid grin on my face when I finished the book. A very happy, predictable, easy romance with a very sloooooow burn (you’ve been warned).
Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid - I do this thing when I read any book written by a white author that features a main character of color - I change their name to an Anglican name, I ignore any cultural references, and I focus on the story and the character’s journey and can enjoy the book in this very narrow view. I also recognize that in doing so, I’m still supporting that author and their harmful stereotyping of certain ethnic groups and that’s just wrong. Especially when an author does double down after getting constructive criticism about this practice in the past, which is the current conversation around Carrie Soto and Taylor Jenkins Reid. Reid could’ve easily written this book from the perspective of a white tennis player and it would’ve been a strong, authentic book (honestly, I drew a number of parallels between Carrie and Steffi Graf). That she chose to write Carrie as a Latina, complete with conversations with her father in full Spanish and upholding harmful stereotypes about this community in her writing, is something I can no longer support as a reader. There are so many amazing Latiné authors out there who write about their experience with heart and humor and capturing all their multitudes, and I encourage you to follow creators like Mel and Lupita for their commentary and recommendations.
All of these books are linked to Bookshop.org, but you can purchase them via Libro.fm or Amazon here.
What Everyone Else Read This Week
The Decoy Girlfriend by Lillie Vale - this is the story of an actor (Taft) with a fake-girlfriend costar (Mandi), and an author (Freya) who looks like Mandi. For romance reasons, Taft and Freya have to pretend to be in a relationship, with Freya pretending to be Mandi. If this sounds complicated, it is a very well-executed story with celeb-normie fake dating AND a literary angle. It's a slow burn, gets steamy in the last third, and has good banter. This is out September 6th, so pre-order it!
Top #5SmartReads Of The Week
Don’t Call Them Trash (The Atlantic)
Siffat Haider, Morning Routine (The Newsette)
The Metamorphosis of Mindy Kaling (Marie Claire)
Restraint Collapse is So Real (So Many Thoughts)
The rest of the week’s reads + last week’s (and conversations!) are below:
Your Recommendation Requests, Linked
(you can search and find all the links over on my LTK profile)
bags/purses (these are the ones I’ve been using all summer long)
I’ll be adding more to the FAQ collection, so don’t hesitate to reach out with your requests!
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, and happy reading!