Yikes, I guess I better finish this wrap-up before it’s September!
This is a horror novel about a married couple who buy a house for dirt cheap in some small town and shit starts happening to both of them, an old neighbor stares at them from his window, etc etc. The chapters alternate between the perspective of the husband and wife, and I really liked that, but…I also didn’t really care too much about them and therefore I didn’t really care about what happened? I think I gave this a 3 on Goodreads, and I remember (because a month was so fucking long ago) that I was really feeling the ambiance of this one in the beginning but then it just kind of lost steam for me. I wanted too much, I guess.
10. Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner
My second Jennifer Weiner book, and wow was this one a lot different than “Mrs. Everything”! This was pretty unexpected because I went into it purposely not knowing too much and I honestly thought it was just going to be a fluffy beach read about a girl who reunites with an emotionally abusive ex-BFF just in time to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. It is SO MUCH MORE. I really adored the main character, her parents, the REAL best friend. This was just…another winner from Weiner, I guess you could say? Great summer read!
11. The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa
This one gutted me. There is nothing feel-good or happy about this book at all, it’s pretty bleak. The memories of certain things are gradually taken away from the inhabitants of this small town, for example: One day, they wake up and it’s like “the fuck is that?” and it’s a bird, but then all of the birds have to leave the town and the Memory Police go house to house to make sure everyone has removed all traces of birds, be it a painting or a book about birds.
But there are some people who keep remembering, and the Memory Police are always on the hunt for those special individuals, so some people will hide them in their houses.
That’s the gist of this book. It’s incredibly well-written, I fell in love with every character, I cried. This book is incredible but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for something to lift you out of a depression.
Also, can we talk about how stunning that cover design is???
12. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Olga Tokarczuk
OK, OK, OK, listen. I was very on the fence with this book the whole time I was reading it. I kept losing interest and I think it’s because the main character was SUPER INTO astrology and I AM SUPER NOT so it would get way too detailed for me and I would be yawning into my palms. But then the book ended and I legitimately couldn’t stop thinking about it, for a good solid week I would say.
First of all, there is a great cast of characters here, and the main character herself, with all of her asides, observations, and palpable disdain for the local police (I feel ya, girl!), was SO LOVABLE and incredibly memorable.
Second of all, this is a quirky murder mystery that touched upon animal rights and vegetarianism, and ya’ll know I’m over here like “YES, TEAM ANIMAL!!”
I could see this being turned into a movie, with the Coen Brothers at the helm.
13. If I Had Your Face – Frances Cha
I was on the waitlist for this Korean book for weeks upon weeks and I was getting so impatient, especially when a co-worker emailed me and said she was reading it and she thought I would like it and guess what? I FUCKING LOVED IT.
I mean, once I finally got it.
This book is about how much of an emphasis is placed on beauty in Korea. You know how much I love South Korea, but it’s 100% true and I can’t even white knight their society on that. I mean, as soon as you get off the subway in Gangnam, there are giant ads for plastic surgeons all over the place and people legit take “medical vacations” to Korea just to get some kind of cosmetic surgery done. Girls start getting eyelid surgery when they’re still in high school!
Anyway, this book follows a group of 4 girls in Seoul and shows how each of them struggle in different ways because of the ridiculous beauty standard. Each chapter switches over to a different girl and I really liked that, but only because each character was so interesting. Sometimes when a book does this, there always seems to be that one weak character whose chapters are a fucking drag to read.
I highly recommend this. I don’t think you need to be super into Korean culture or anything as prerequisite and just a heads up: anytime the book mentions a kpop star or actor, they’re fictional.
14. The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell
OK, Lisa Jewell. I see you. I love a good thriller and this one had me hooked pretty early on. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like her writing style (it’s very much like “Karen sits down. Karen picks up the glass. Karen takes a drink.”) but it ended up not being as distracting as I thought it was going to be. This is another one where the chapters switch off and it also does a timeline jump too – I admittedly was way more invested in the “past” stuff that was happening.
Plus, there’s some cult shit going on in this story and I am all about cults, so my interest was piqued.
I’m definitely interested in checking out more of Jewell’s books, because I am so picky with thrillers and this gave me hope that maybe I actually haven’t grown out of the genre.
15. The Wicker King – K. Ancrum
MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT. I picked this up because a booktuber raved about it and the pages themselves are so pretty with a little bit of multi-media action thrown in. It’s a (sort of love) story between two high school boys who have been friends since they were kids when one of them saved the other and they stayed friends even though they’re in two totally different social circles, but one of them has some sort of hallucinations about a wicker king and sees an entirely separate and fantastic universe layered on top of the reality and drags the other one down with him into a dangerous spiral.
I liked the concept of this book and it was certainly a quick read since so many pages were taken up with sketches and maps. But the whole thing left me feeling very empty. I didn’t really care about either of the boys. I dunno. Don’t recommend.
16. Like a Love Story – Abdi Nazemian
Can I recap this book without crying? I don’t think I can. I really thought this was going to be some lighthearted YA romp but nope nope nope. This book follows three teens, one of whom is an Iranian immigrant and very much in the closet; one is extremely out and a huge AIDS activist; and one is the straight girl friend with a gay uncle who has AIDS and honestly he was my favorite part of this whole book.
It’s set in NYC in the late 80s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and honestly it shocked me how little I actually know about this. I think I have already touched on this in another post, but I was in elementary school when all this was going on and for sure didn’t know that protests were happening because of the pharmaceutical companies inflating the cost of the medicine that HIV and AIDS patients needed.
So the book focuses a lot on this, and how the Iranian character (Reza) is terrified of even riding the subway with a hangnail because what if he gets AIDS. I mean, it was heartbreaking.
Madonna also plays a big part in the book. Another thing I never knew back then is what a powerful beacon of hope she was for the gay community and how she had all gay dancers on her Vogue tour. I haven’t given a shit about anything Madonna has done since like the mid-90s but this book had me powering through all her old videos from the 80s and missing my childhood hardcore. It also made me feel like I would have been a big-mouth AIDS activist if I had been older in the 80s.
The day after my birthday, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and listened to the tail-end of this on Scribd. Yo–I was crying so hard that I had to duck into an alley to hide my open weeps. Goddammit for a YA book, this one got me hard. I wish that it had been out when I was a teenager. I think all teens should read this.
I’ll end this book recap of a picture of me from….1st grade? when I was Madonna for Halloween. Man, I didn’t appreciate that blazer nearly as much as I should have, that’s for sure. And you can’t really tell from the picture, but that’s def a giant crucifix on my chain. Also, fun fact: I HATED Jellies. All of my friends had Jellies in like every color but I hated how they felt on my feet, ugh.
I was obsessed with Desperately Seeking Susan. OK, I’m signing off now before I really row my canoe over Memory Falls.