Feb 172021

Oh boy here are the books I read in the second half of January, and I also want to mention that Henry just read “In the Dream House” which was one of my faves from last year and I am SO PROUD of him for giving it a chance because this is decidedly not a Very Henry Book but he read it and HE LIKED IT. (He did admit that some parts went over his head though lolol.)

(I asked him if he even felt any emotions and he was so offended and scoffed, “YES. I’M NOT DEAD INSIDE.”)

7. Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In – Phuc Tran

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In

The tagline on the cover was enough to get me to pick me up but Phuc’s writing brought it to the next level. There was one part that stood out where he describes his immersion into the punk scene as a way to be considered a misfit or outcast for something other than the color of his skin.

Phuc’s humor & accounts of high school hijinx with his skater crew often made me feel like I was reading the script for an 80s teen movie and it was beyond entertaining, but then he would turn around and show us what he was going through at home with his Vietnamese parents who just wanted to provide the best life they could for their kids but didn’t always do that in the best ways.

Anyway, Phuc is currently a tattoo artist in Maine and I want a tattoo from him in the worst way now.

8. The Ghost Tree – Christina Henry


How is this the same person who wrote Alice, which I read in December and loved?! This book was not great!  Something about it reminded me of that guy Grady Hendrix who everyone thinks is such a great horror writer and I’m always just like, “THIS WAS SO CORNY!” That’s how this felt, except that it was targeted more for young adults, I think so Christina Henry can get away with that a bit more I guess.

I don’t even feel like discussing this, to be honest.

9. Weather – Jenny Offill 


OK excuse me please but this book was OFFILL.

Sorry, I had to.

But this book was really bad. It was like someone printed out random LiveJournal entries from 2002, bound them and then made some OK collage for a cover. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, what the point was, who the characters were…this was such a waste of time.

10. Moshi Moshi – Banana Yoshimoto 

Moshi Moshi

I think this book cover is so lovely.

Moshi, Moshi was a very short book yet it took me nearly the entire month to read it. First of all, it’s not broken up into chapters and books like that make me nervous. I need to have a solid place to end my reading sessions! Second, it’s just a very slow-moving, quiet exploration of the grieving process. The main character’s (Yoshie) father has been murdered and she moves out shortly thereafter, only to have her mother follow. Her mom claims that their old apartment is haunted now, which gives a false impression that this book is going to be a ghost story. It’s really not. It’s more about how Yoshie and her mother each find different ways to move forward from the death.

I didn’t NOT enjoy this book, but it wasn’t something that I am going to find myself ever thinking about again, if that makes sense. You know me and my wishy-washy book reviews. The best part about this book was that I learned from a Goodreads review that Japanese people say “Moshi moshi’ when they answer the phone because ghosts can only say it once. THAT IS THE COOLEST FACT I’VE LEARNED RECENTLY. (I don’t know very many cool Japan facts since Korea is my wheelhouse.)

Anyway, I don’t even know if that’s true.

11. The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce


I didn’t know how badly I needed to read this book. I had never even heard of it and then one day it was recommended on Scribd and I wanted something to listen to while working – UGH IT WAS SO TOUCHING. Anyone who loves music will relate to this.

The side characters are like a British Stars Hollow motley crew, and the two main characters (Frank, who owns a record shop in the 80s and is violently resisting the growing demand for CDs; and Ilse, a woman visiting from Germany who has her own love story with music) are so well-written and I was rooting for them bigly.

I cried like a baby at the end. This book was so sweet.

12.  You Say It First – Katie Cotugno


This was OK. We have a girl in Philly who is super into politics and works at a voter registration call center after school, where she cold-calls a house in Ohio and has a combative conversation with the teenage boy of the family who starts questioning her spiel and OMG HOW DARE HE and of course this turns into some kind of sketchy long-distance frenemy sitch until suddenly they realize that they’re more real with each other than they are with their actual friends. Yadda yadda yadda – we all know this story, but now add politics into the obligatory teen drama.

It actually reminded me of when I worked at Olan Mills as a telemarketer when I was 18 (can you imagine!? I was actually extremely great at it because this was back when I had a super outrageous personality before life and toxic work places beat me down into the bland, insecure pulp I am today. Anyway!! This one night, I ended up calling a guy who declined my offer for a photo package because he was actually a photography major at the Art Institute yet we hit it off for no reason other than we were both young and opposite sex and you know how when you’re young, it doesn’t take much. My manager was like majorly side-eying me for being on the phone for too long so we exchanged numbers and then when I got home that night we talked for HOURS to the point where our conversation took its natural course to us getting married, moving to Montana*, and getting a sheepdog.

*(Weird because I literally can’t imagine myself ever living there so he must have caught me in a good mood.)

I can’t even remember this guy’s name now – JOE?! – but we did end up meeting in real life at the mall. My friend Brian took me there and made sure I was OK before leaving and then JOE?! and I took the bus (literally the first and last time I was ever on a PAT bus) to his apartment in Southside, messed around (lol), and then he took me to a nearby cafe to meet his friends at which time he turned into a different person and I was like EW I DO NOT LIKE YOU ANYMORE and he was like “stay over” and I was like “NO THANK YOU” and had to call my mom to come pick me up at 2am because I didn’t have my license yet LOL.

I think we talked on the phone occasionally after that (I have a recollection of him moving out of state – I think he wasn’t from Pittsburgh and had moved home – and then moving back and getting in touch?) but I was like “Dude you can shove your Montana dreams, I was already in one shitty relationship and I will not be treated like common trash just because you’re trying to look cool in front of your friends” and this is the part that I related to in the book because they end up meeting up IRL and he takes her to a party and all his friends are total rural bros who make misogynistic jokes and think all women are meant to fetch beers, and now the dude isn’t acting like he normally does when they’re on the phone and I FELT THAT.

God, what was that guy’s name!?!? I used to have a picture of him too and now I don’t even know where that is. I just remember he wore JNCO pants and had several piercings because ART SCHOOL.

Anyway, those are the books I read in January. You’re welcome.

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