September 2017 Wrap-Up

September is usually a rather bad reading month for me – and this year was no exception. Partly because I spend the first half travelling (and catching up with my partner who is abroad for work for three months, so, I didn’t read at all); but mostly because the end of September is particularly busy at work. The next few months will be stressful as hell, what with my PhD kicking into high gear (wish me luck with my interviews!) and the beginning of winter term which is always crazy busy. I hope pleasure reading won’t suffer completely but I am not optimistic.

Books read in September:

  1. The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin: 4 out of 5 stars (review to come closer to the publication date)
  2. Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan: 2 out of 5 stars.
  3. The Relive Box and other stories – T. C. Boyle: 2 out of 5 stars.
  4. Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson: 4 out of 5 stars.
  5. Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire: 4 out of 5 stars.

Favourite of the month:

The Immortalists. It has THE best prologue you can imagine. It had me hooked and glued to the page. The first half is stronger then the second but overall I highly recommend it for anybody who likes stories about siblings, or magical realism, or stories about growing up, or stories about magicians.

Man Booker List update:

I am not doing very well. I am still reading Underground Railroad which is still beautiful but still devastating.

I am not very happy with the shortlist. I have no intention reading Elmet or History of Wolves unless they win – both books don’t sound like anything I would enjoy. I cannot believe Underground Railroad is not on the list and I adored Solar Bones way to much for me to be happy about its exclusion. It was such a good book!

Currently Reading:

Too many books to list. I am a bit fickle and cannot convince myself to stick with one book.

This Wrap up is kind of sad – I really hope to get back into the groove soon.

But on a positive note: I went to South Africa and I cannot recommend it enough. Also, I never knew how much I love elephants. They are brilliant. And otherworldy. And a little bit scary.

Review: The Relive Box and Other Stories – T. C. Boyle

34121921My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Date read: September 20, 2017

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, October 2017

Verdict: Unpleasant characters, derivative storylines.

Find it on Goodreads.

In a nutshell:
Unpleasant characters in situations of their own making feeling sorry for themselves while screwing others over.

I do not think there was a single main character in these stories that was not seriously unpleasant, self-important, arrogant, and whiny. While this might not be a problem for other readers, I have recently come to accept that I do like my characters to have some redeeming qualities. This is especially true for short stories where you only have a limited amount of time with the characters. For the stories to resonate, I have to have some understanding for the characters. These did not feel real in the sense that I sure hope that people are more well-rounded than this (call me hopelessly optimistic if you will).

I also found the stories’ plots left a lot to be desired; the premises felt derivative and not inventive enough to distract from the characters I found unpleasant. Here I enjoyed the more speculative stories more than the realistic ones. This is especially true for the last three stories: these did not work for me and I finally gave up and skim-read the rest.

I have been reading a lot of short fiction this last year; it is a genre I have found a whole new appreciation for. When short stories are done well, they pack an unbelievable punch – but on the other side, if the stories do not work for me, they absolutely do not work for me. This time, I struggled. A whole lot.

I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!