Thoughts: Authors whose next work I am eagerly anticipating

I follow very few authors religiously. Even if I adore a book by an author, I am not always all that great at picking up other books the author has written. That said, there are a few authors whose next work I am eagerly anticipating. (My inspiration for this post was a similar post done by Zuky, whose blog you should definitely check out if you aren’t following her already)

13922215Katherine Arden

I adored the first two books in her Winternight trilogy and cannot wait for the last book in the series. I am just a huge fan of her writing style and the wonderful sense of place she invokes. That I am a sucker for stories set in the north of Russia certainly didn’t hurt.

Megan Stielstra

Her essay collection The Wrong Way to Save Your Life was one of my favourite books of last year. I have since read and adored her first essay collection and cannot wait to see what she does next. I also own her short story collection but am kind of too scared to pick that up and not have any of her books left to read.

Amber Sparks

She has written one of my all-time favourite short story collections and another one that was similarly great. I follow her on twitter and everything she posts about the collection she is working on sounds absolutely brilliant.

8446300Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char was just so very brilliant and different and just SO much my cup of tea that I have been waiting for a new book by the author ever since. I am starting to give up on that hope because there have not been any news for ages now. That would be such a shame though!

3192838Melissa Broder

I know that I am probably already boring you all with how much of a Melissa Broder fan I am – but there is just somethin so very brilliant about her writing. Having now read both her memoir and her debut novel, I can confidently say that I will be reading everything she writes next.

What are some of the authors whose next work you are eagerly anticipating?

 

2018 Book Haul #1: I bought too many books

Oh boy, it has been a while since I have done one of these posts and well, let’s just say, I bought way too many books. Which on the one hand is super cool because I like books and I like owning them and looking at them, but on the other hand, I am not making it any easier for me to choose which book to read next. I have also recently written a blogpost about the novellas I bought. I obviously feel like reading genre fiction and memoirs more than anything else.

These are the (physical) books I have bought:

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

34666764Blurb: I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Intelligent, insightful, inspirational, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell.
It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?

Why I Bought This: I have been wanting to read this FOREVER and was declined for an ARC more than once. But, now I own it, and it is pretty, and I cannot wait to read this.

Continue reading “2018 Book Haul #1: I bought too many books”

Wrap Up: January 2018

I had a pretty good reading month. I am still playing catch-up with all the ARCs I have to read (there are so many books coming out in February and March!) but still managed to read a few of my already owned books. I have also not read a book yet that I haven’t liked.

These are the books I read this month:

  1. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi: 5 out of 5 stars.
  2. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy: 4 out of 5 stars.
  3. Folk by Zoe Gilbert: 3 out of 5 stars.
  4. The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton: 4 out of 5 stars.
  5. Monstress Vol. 1: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (reread): 5 out of 5 stars
  6. Once I Was Cool by Megan Stielstra: 4 out of 5 stars
  7. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson: 4 out of 5 stars
  9. The Starlings by Jo Walton: 3 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the month:

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, hands down. It is just stunning and I absolutely adored every second of it. I am very excited for more people to read this.

Stats (ish)

I read 9 books with 2400 pages and gave them an average of 4 stars. Of the 9 books, two were written by men, 6 by women and one by a person identifying as gender-nonconforming. I read two memoirs, two short story collections, one graphic novel, on literary fiction novel, one science fiction book, one novella (horror), and one mix between crime and fantasy.

I like that mix. I have been craving mostly genre fiction and memoirs. And will continue to read in this vain.

Currently Reading:

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell

How I Lose You by Kate McNaughton

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S. A. Corey

(Some of the) Blog posts I loved:

Rachel’s list of her ARCs inspired me to write a similar post of my own and caused a bit of book envy.

Stuart’s list of classics he still needs to read made me remember similar goals I have.

Callum recommends brilliant family dramas (and has an all-around impeccable taste).

I loved JW’s post on spoilers and have been thinking about what constitutes a spoiler since.

I also really enjoyed Rick’s post about reading and Virgina Woolf.

I love reading about people discovering new favourites; especially when those are books I loved as well. Go and check out Sarah’s review of Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.

I really enjoyed Rita’s Alphabetical and think you all would, too.

How was your reading month? And do link me your favourite blog post you have written this month.

 

Review: Once I was cool – Megan Stielstra

18528073Verdict: I want to read everything Megan Stielstra has ever written und will ever write.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Date read: January 21st, 2018

Published by Curbside Splendor, May 2014

Find it on Goodreads.

In these insightful, compassionate, gutsy, and heartbreaking personal essays, Stielstra, whose essay “Channel B” was recently featured in Best American Essays 2013 edited by Cheryl Strayed, explores the messy, maddening beauty of adulthood with wit, intelligence, and biting humor.

The essays in Once I Was Cool tackle topics ranging from beating postpartum depression by stalking her neighbor, to a surprise run-in with an old lover while on ecstasy, to blowing her mortgage on a condo she bought because of Jane’s Addiction. Or, said another way, they tackle life in all of its quotidian richness.

When I read Megan Stielstra’s second collection of essays late last year, I had to rewrite my “best of the year”-list. As such it comes as no surprise how much I enjoyed her debut essay collection. I just adore the way she writes essays, from the structure to the sentences to the messages, I find it beyond incredible. The only reason I “only” rated this four stars is because her other collection is just that strong and there are some essays there were a bit too similar.

Megan Stielstra writes about many things: about feminism, about postpartum depression, about love, about mortgages and many other things more. I adore the way she does it and the warmth she projects. She holds herself accountable while still being nice to herself as well as to others. (Her essay on niceness was just wonderful to read) I like the ultimately hopeful feeling of this book despite its heavy subject matters.

Like many of my favourite essayists she writes about the importance of art and literature and education and does so wonderfully. Her writing is accessible while still being clever and deep; which I find very impressive indeed.

I don’t have all that many things to say about this except for this: I am a fan.

Thoughts (and Recommendations): Memoirs Written by Women

In 2015 (I think) I decided I wanted to read more non-fiction. So, I pre-ordered a bunch of books that had recently made various “best of non-fiction” lists and read through them. I had to start somewhere – and non-fiction is a varied genre and I did not know what I would like best. I have found out three things:

  1. I LOVE non-fiction,
  2. I prefer memoirs to other forms of non-fiction,
  3. Especially memoirs written by women.

Recently I have read a few blog posts by young bloggers complaining about the lack of books mirroring their experiences with being a young adult and navigating this weird world; Young Adult novels are usually for younger readers, New Adult novels often focus on relationships (steamy ones from what I can gather – it’s a genre I haven’t read much of) and General Fiction does not quite fit either. But, and this is how this fits into this post: there ARE books that deal with this experience in varied and wonderful ways: memoirs. I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoy them so: I can read about lives similar to mine and lives very different and I can see many things I deal with and how others dealt with them, it puts my (very privileged life) into perspective and simultaneously shows me that I am not alone. Also, with a memoir you can be reasonably sure that the person made it out whatever situation she found herself in, at least enough to be able to write about the experience. There is something soothing in that.

This year, three of my favourite books were memoirs:

 

All three of them deal with growing up, with loss, with finding themselves, and with the ultimate power of art. Megan Stielstra writes about academia and fear and having children and buying and losing houses; Roxane Gay talks about her body and rape culture and finding herself; Lidia Yuknavitch writes about loss and trauma and art. All three books are honest and raw and unbelievably beautifully written.

Here are some other memoirs I have enjoyed, in no particular order (I have linked my reviews whenever possible; clicking on the covers will lead to the Goodreads pages):

34496930Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo about growing up in China, family and family issues, art and cinema, moving abroad and feeling like an outsider.

 

12262741Wild by Cheryl Strayed about fucking up and losing her mother, about finding herself and about healing.

 

23848559Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson about mental illness and chronic pain, about finding your place, about being different and being ok with it.

 

33381433We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby about being queer and black and introverted.

 

Do you read memoirs at all? I sometimes feel like this is genre many neglect (maybe it’s uncool? I don’t know what’s cool).

Do you have any recommendations for me? I would love to read even more memoirs in 2018.

Review: The Wrong Way To Save Your Life – Megan Stielstra

32600746Verdict: Just go and read this.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Date read: December 13th, 2017

Published by HarperPerennial, 2017

Find it on Goodreads.

From an important new American writer comes this powerful collection of personal essays on fear, creativity, art, faith, academia, the Internet, and justice.

In this poignant and inciting collection of literary essays, Megan Stielstra tells stories to ward off fears both personal and universal as she grapples toward a better way to live. In her titular piece “The Wrong Way To Save Your Life,” she answers the question of what has value in our lives—a question no longer rhetorical when the apartment above her family’s goes up in flames. “Here is My Heart” sheds light on Megan’s close relationship with her father, whose continued insistence on climbing mountains despite a series of heart attacks leads the author to dissect deer hearts in a poetic attempt to interrogate her own feelings about mortality.

Whether she’s imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra’s work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.

Intellectually fierce and viscerally intimate, Megan Stielstra’s voice is witty, wise, warm, and above all, achingly human.

This book snuck up on me: I was enjoying it and then suddenly I was loving it. I am so very glad that this was the 100th book I finished this year.

Megan Stielstra writes about a variety of topics: academia, feminism, her pregnancy and marriage, her struggle with postpartum depression, the story of her mortgage drowning her, gun control, and many more things. The essays are loosely structured around themes of fear but are so much more than that. It is fearless and honest and stylistically wonderful. It is unflinching – but also ultimately hopeful. I love how she holds herself accountable and how she wants to make the world a better place, one action at a time. This is needed; I needed to hear this.

I love the way Megan Stielstra’s language flows and how her essays are structured, both the individual pieces and the collection as a whole. Her sentences pack such a punch that I had to reread lengthy passages just to be sure I appreciate them as they should be appreciated (and then she says this: “I am not a good enough writer yet to explain what that did to my heart.” – if she thinks there is room for improvement then I cannot wait to read what she does next. It will blow my mind.).

I am having difficulties explaining my love for this book, so let me end by saying this: I had to rewrite my “Favourite Books of the Year”-post for this. It made me cry, it made me smile, I could not stop thinking about this (and thus missed sleep), and I have already bought Megan Stielstra’s other essay collection. Go and read this.

Book Haul: How did this happen again?

I keep telling myself (and others) that I won’t be buying any books in the foreseeable future – and then I do. I had a frustrating few reading weeks, so obviously I need more books to overwhelm me. I make brilliant choices … But then again, I don’t think I can actually have too many books. My own personal rule so far is that I do not want my unread books to be more than a third of my book collection and I am very far away from that.

Since my last haul I have bought 11 books and 1 audiobook.

His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

126990421160329811785598

I only owned these books in German (and now not anymore because apparently my father decided there were his all along) and really wanted to have an English edition. I love the way these books look together. While these are not my favourite books, I adored them when I read them and felt my bookshelves were incomplete without them.

Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie

35898777

Practical-minded Isma has spent the years since her mother’s death watching out for her twin brother and sister in their North London home. When an invitation to grad school in America comes through unexpectedly, it brings the irresistible promise of freedom too long deferred. But even an ocean away, Isma can’t stop worrying about her beautiful, headstrong, politically inclined sister, Aneeka, and Parvaiz, their brother, who seems to be adrift—until suddenly he is half a globe away in Raqqa, trying to prove himself to the dark legacy of the father he never knew, with no road back.

Then Eamonn Lone enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The instrument of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined.

This has been on my TBR for a while now and I finally could not resist it anymore. This sounds like something I will just adore and I need these kinds of books right now.

Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor

31143800From the award-winning author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Even the Dogs. Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss.

Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.

Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.

As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.

Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.

An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

Another one from the Man Booker Longlist that I never got to, this has since been nominated for other prizes and garnered even more praise. There was no way I could not buy and read this. This sounds like something that will either blow my mind or bore me to tears.

Sour Heart – Jenny Zhang

36146264Centered on a community of immigrants who have traded their endangered lives as artists in China and Taiwan for the constant struggle of life at the poverty line in 1990s New York City, Zhang’s collection examines the many ways that family and history can weigh us down and also lift us up. From the young woman coming to terms with her grandmother’s role in the Cultural Revolution to the daughter struggling to understand where her family ends and she begins, to the girl discovering the power of her body to inspire and destroy, these seven stories illuminate the complex and messy inner lives of girls struggling to define themselves.

I was refused for a review copy more than once and this was one of those times I was super disappointed. I hope to read this sooner rather than later because I am so very excited about it.

The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial – Maggie Nelson

31817301In 1969, Jane Mixer, a first-year law student at the University of Michigan, posted a note on a student noticeboard to share a lift back to her hometown of Muskegon for spring break. She never made it: she was brutally murdered, her body found a few miles from campus the following day.

The Red Parts is Maggie Nelson’s singular account of her aunt Jane’s death, and the trial that took place some 35 years afterward. Officially unsolved for decades, the case was reopened in 2004 after a DNA match identified a new suspect, who would soon be arrested and tried. In 2005, Nelson found herself attending the trial, and reflecting with fresh urgency on our relentless obsession with violence, particularly against women.

Resurrecting her interior world during the trial – in all its horror, grief, obsession, recklessness, scepticism and downright confusion – Maggie Nelson has produced a work of profound integrity and, in its subtle indeterminacy, deadly moral precision.

I adored Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts when I read it and have since wanted to read more of her books. I love creative non fiction when it is done right and Maggie Nelson really knows what she is doing. I rarely read true crime (if ever) but I trust her and am intrigued to see how she tells this story of her aunt.

The Clocks in this House all tell Different Times – Xan Brooks

32869842‘An orphan is travelling through the deep, dark woods and discovers that the monsters she encounters are as much tragic as wicked and that the handsome young prince may be ugly inside. The world around her is callous, unjust and horribly scarred by the past. But she brings compassion and even a glimmer of hope.’

Summer 1923. The modern world. Orphaned Lucy Marsh climbs into the back of the old army truck and is whisked off to the woods, where the funny men live. If she can only avoid all the hazards on the path, she may just survive into a bright new tomorrow.

This is on the Costa First Novel Award Shortlist and it sounds so amazing that I am a bit confused as to why I haven’t already read it. From the title to the cover art to the blurb this book amazes me.

The Wrong Way To Save Your Life – Megan Stielstra

32600746From an important new American writer comes this powerful collection of personal essays on fear, creativity, art, faith, academia, the Internet, and justice.

In this poignant and inciting collection of literary essays, Megan Stielstra tells stories to ward off fears both personal and universal as she grapples toward a better way to live. In her titular piece “The Wrong Way To Save Your Life,” she answers the question of what has value in our lives—a question no longer rhetorical when the apartment above her family’s goes up in flames. “Here is My Heart” sheds light on Megan’s close relationship with her father, whose continued insistence on climbing mountains despite a series of heart attacks leads the author to dissect deer hearts in a poetic attempt to interrogate her own feelings about mortality.

Whether she’s imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra’s work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.

Intellectually fierce and viscerally intimate, Megan Stielstra’s voice is witty, wise, warm, and above all, achingly human.

I don’t remember whose review it was that made me add this to my TBR, but I know that Roxane Gay’s blurb is what convinced me to buy it (I am so obviously a fan). I have read the first essay already and I can tell that I will enjoy this immensely.

The Beginning of The World in the Middle of the Night – Jen Campbell

36453128‘These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.
That’s why I bought her heart online.’

Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls.

Jen Campbell is one of my favourite BookTubers and there was no way I would not pick up her first short story collection. Plus, that title.

Dora: A Headcase – Lidia Yuknavitch

13544002Ida needs a shrink . . . or so her philandering father thinks, and he sends her to a Seattle psychiatrist. Immediately wise to the head games of her new shrink, whom she nicknames Siggy, Ida begins a coming-of-age journey. At the beginning of her therapy, Ida, whose alter ego is Dora, and her small posse of pals engage in “art attacks.” Ida’s in love with her friend Obsidian, but when she gets close to intimacy, she faints or loses her voice. Ida and her friends hatch a plan to secretly film Siggy and make an experimental art film. But something goes wrong at a crucial moment—at a nearby hospital Ida finds her father suffering a heart attack. While Ida loses her voice, a rough cut of her experimental film has gone viral, and unethical media agents are hunting her down. A chase ensues in which everyone wants what Ida has.

It will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one that I am a huge fan of Lidia Yuknavitch (exhibit a). I want to read everything she has ever written and I want to read it now. But I also want to take time to do so because I don’t want to not have any of her books left to read. It’s a dilemma.

The Child Finder – Rene Denfield

36264514Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

This book was surrounded by so much buzz I couldn’t not read it. I rarely read crime fiction but this sounded like something I would enjoy. I have already started listening to this and I am more than half way through and it deserves all the praise it has gotten.

Have you read any of these books and which would you recommend the most? Let me know your thoughts!