The End of the Year Book Tag 2019

I have a great support system when it comes to my books and reading and when one of my coven suggested we do an end of the year book tag, I was thrilled.

1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

With the move this summer I started and abandoned a lot of books. Not on purpose. It just happened. I got a few of them finished with Nonfiction November, but there are still some fiction titles out there. And then there are a few titles like Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir that I had to put down because my brain wasn’t being able to handle the mindfuckery she was putting me through at the time.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Not really. I’m just looking to finish a few that I already started and some stragglers that I didn’t get to with Nonfiction November.

3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

No, I think thanks to access to Advanced Reader Copies I’ve read all the things I was super excited about already.

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

The aforementioned Harrow the Ninth for sure. Alisha Rai’s Girl Gone Viral. And I’m cheating on this because it’s a series, but Sarah Kozloff’s The Nine Realms series. It’s meant to be binged so I have 3 books to finish.

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

Doubtful. This was a year of Middlegame, Gideon the Ninth, The Starless Sea, The Ten Thousand Doors of January and those were just the SFF titles I loved.

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

I’m definitely going to hit my Goodreads goal which was 300 books (at the time of writing this I’m at 292 out of 300), and next year my husband challenged me to try for 365. At the moment I’m not working so maybe this is something I can accomplish.

stack of books in front of a fireplace with the text Nonfiction November

NonFiction November: Random Edition

Last but not least we have a hodgepodge of topics that just happened to interest me.

You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships by Deborah Tannen

Ever since I read Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer I’ve been fascinated with the idea of female friendship and how they’re portrayed as opposed to how we actually act. Tannen is a linguist so is focused on what we say and how we say it. I’m definitely interested to see if there’s anything there.

Girl Talk: What Science can tell us About Female Friendship by Jacqueline Mroz

Same topic, different perspective. Mroz is interested in the sociology and science behind female friendship. I wasn’t aware of scientific studies being conducted on this topic and I also am curious with this title and the last if we are including trans women along with cis. I have a feeling there’s not going to be a lot of inclusion here unfortunately.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

As I turn back to cooking more (our last kitchen was abysmal and I did the bare minimum), I am also rediscovering my love of food essay collections. We as humans have such a varied relationship with food and I hear Reichl is one of the best food writers. I’m super excited to get to this (even if it takes me until the end of the year to read it).

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee

Chee’s The Queen of the Night was nothing short of phenomenal. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this essay collection as well. Chee has a gift with words and has a lot to share with readers. I’m still kicking myself it’s taken me this long to actually get to reading it.

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

I listened to this on audiobook and it’s so very good. I am fascinated with language and how it evolves and changes. This is a great conversation on what the impact the internet has had on us. McCulloch does a wonderful job on both the information and the narration. This is definitely one of my top picks of the year for nonfiction.

NonFiction November: Romance History

I have been meaning to get to these forever it feels like. As someone who found romance novels at 15, they’ve always been a part of my reading life. It was not until I was older that I found out people shunned them. Why? We talk about love all the time (there’s a whole industry making bank on it, from dating apps to the wedding complex), but we don’t want to read stories about it? Weird. These titles were recommended to me to better educate myself on why romance is such an important genre.

This Week’s Topic: The History and Sociology of Romance

Everything I know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell

This one is tricky. The only romances mentioned are largely by and about het white ladies (with Courtney Milan being the only exception as a bi woman of color) and even then, the same are repeated. It shows a very specific time in romance so maybe you’ll find it interesting.

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

Another by Sarah Wendell and I believe comes first. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but the previous selection makes me seriously nervous. I hope the examples given are more than just Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me (which is fantastic, don’t get me wrong) and Tessa Dare. I don’t have problems with those authors, but where’s Beverly Jenkins for example?

A Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis

Published in 2007 this isn’t going to take into account the current state of romance including the rise of marginalized voices being more prevalent, but it sounds like it’s a good look at romance’s beginnings and middle.

Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained by Maya Rodale

Rodale is one of my favorite romance writers (ask me about Duchess by Design. Sigh) and this book was actually her master’s thesis. I’ve read the first couple chapters, one of which discusses how irritating it is that most people know romance because of a dude. You know the one. Long hair, muscle–y, got smacked in the face with a bird while on a roller coaster.

Women and Romance: a Reader edited by Susan Ostrov Weisser

This one I’m a little wary of. While it was on a list of nonfiction about the romance genre, I have no idea what stance it’s taking because on Goodreads there’s only one written review. It happened to come through my store’s used desk so I snatched it up. I’ll be sure to report back.

Does anyone have a more recent addition to add? Rodale’s was published in 2011 making it the most up to date, but especially in the last few years, giant strides have been made in romance to make it more inclusive (albeit it struggles still as evident in the recent AAR debacle among other events).

stack of books in front of a fireplace with the text Nonfiction November

NonFiction November: History

Here we are in week 3 of Nonfiction November. This week we’re going to History Class. We’re going to cover a socialite librarian with a secret, Britain’s Regency period, ancient queens, Victorian childrearing, a lesbian landowner in the 1800s, and the creation of Jell-O. I have very wild taste, friends.

Today’s topic: History

An Illuminated Life: Belle da Costa Greene’s Journey from Prejudice to Privilege by Heidi Ardizzone

I’ll be honest. I started this in 2017 and never finished it. Life happened and I really want to finish it. It’s top of the list on purpose. I heard about Greene on a podcast and she fascinated me. Belle da Costa Green lived quite the life and I mean to learn about it.

The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austin Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love and Britain Becomes Modern by Robert Morris

Another that I started (although this one’s more recently during the move) and really would like to finish. I hold a fierce fascination for this era, exclusively because of romance novels so this is way in my wheelhouse.

When Women Ruled the World: Six Egyptian Queens by Kara Cooney

Ever since they taught us about Ancient Egypt in 6th grade I was hooked. Cooney’s The Woman Who Would Be King was well researched, yet made sure the reader was entertained. I decided on the audio this time and was not disappointed. Cooney is engaging and knowledgable and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Ungovernable: The Victorian Parent’s Guide to Raising Flawless Children by Therese Oneill

I really enjoyed Oneill’s Unmentionables so when I heard the next was going to be on the raising of Victorian children, I was interested. Unfortunately, I was less than thrilled. The Q&A style didn’t quite come through in my opinion. But the photos and captions are great.

Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma

Queer people have always existed. Unfortunately they don’t always get to live their truth which is why it’s so amazing that we actually have Anne Lister’s diaries detailing her life. She was not a perfect person (pretty much a rich landowner who gave zero fucks about her tenants), but problematic queer people also need to be recognized.

Jell-o Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom

This is the only title on the list that I’m like “why did I add this?” Then I think about how at my grandparents’ 50th anniversary they made sure to have Jell-O as a dessert for the grandkids, and how we would make Jigglers like they were something fancy (I was a poor kid in the 80s, they were fancy af) and realize Jell-O is nostalgic and comfort.

Are you reading any good history books? Share them with me!

stack of books in front of a fireplace with the text Nonfiction November

NonFiction November: Feminism

Hey folks! So last week I focused in on memoirs. This week are the feminist titles I’ve picked up. If you know me at all, you know this is something near and dear to my heart that I’m always looking to improve. If you think the work’s all done, you’ve already failed. We should always work at improving our feminism, especially us white ladies. We as a group have a habit of leaving people out of the movement (as Mikki Kendall points out in Hood Feminism featured below) and we need to knock that shit off.

Today’s Topic: Feminism

F*ck Your Diet: And Other Things My Thighs Tell Me by Chloe Hilliard

For this title and the next, I totally consider books about body image a topic of feminism. Mostly because we spend so much time as a society telling non cis straight white men what they should do what their bodies.

Pub date: January 7, 2020

Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and the Back) by Mara Altman

The cover of this one is what drew me in, but also like I said about the previous title, body image something that is commodified so reading something that helps me accept my body, I’m all in for.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by MIkki Kendall

I follow Kendall on Twitter and was thrilled to see she had a book coming out. I really like what she has to say and I hope more people will take it to heart that there is still work to be done. There isn’t a lot of room for nuance on Twitter so I’m looking forward to a more in-depth look at her thoughts.

Pub date: February 25, 2020

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Shrill (the book and the show) was an important addition to my feminism. I like West’s approach and I really want to see how she’s evolved since the publication of Shrill. Let me tell you, she does not disappoint. She spends an essay on how Adam Sandler is a terrible actor as well as how Trump is a “short in an 8 foot tie.” I highly recommend the audio as Lindy narrates it herself.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

This title has been getting all the rage. I mean, when Roxane Gay recs a book about feminism, you go and get it. I always am looking to improve and I am looking forward to Cooper’s collection of essays.

What are you reading for Nonfiction November? How are you improving yourself?

stack of books in front of a fireplace with the text Nonfiction November

NonFiction November: Memoirs

Hey folks! It’s that time of year again. Because I have a habit of hiding in swoony romance, pew pew romance, and historical fiction, i like to spend the month of November catching up on all the nonfiction I’ve accumulated. So each week I’m going to pick a topic and go from there. This week is going to be featuring memoirs. I love a good memoir. Julia Child’s My Life in France, Eddie Izzard’s Believe Me, Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy are a few of my favorites.

Today’s Topic: Memoirs

Horror Stories by Liz Phair

There was a very specific time in my twenties when I lived in Okinawa that I listened to Liz Phair obsessively (I was also involved with a pagan coven and lived on an Air Force base so there was a mood). This pick is mostly a nostalgic one. I don’t know much about her so this will either be amazing or terrible. But the trip down memory lane will be worth it. I hope.

Dear Girls: Intimiate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong.

I adore Ali Wong. A collection of essays written to her daughters is exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve already read the introduction and it’s a damn delight. I’m still bitter I missed her stand up because of the big move this summer so maybe reading this will make up for it. I doubt it, but it’s still gonna be a fun read.

Something that May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Ortberg

I read Texts from Jane Eyre years ago and while some went over my head (I still haven’t read Jane Eyre, but it’s going on my 2020 resolutions list), I throughly enjoyed Ortberg’s sense of humor. I’m definitely here for a more intimate collection of his thoughts.

Pub date: January 28, 2020

Recollections of my Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit

I can’t believe this is the first memoir we’ve gotten from Solnit, but I’m so here for it. I haven’t read everything that she’s written, but what I have read has inspired and given food for thought.

Pub date: March 10, 2020

Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito

I really like Esposito’s standup and am intrigued to hear about her life and stories. Just from her routine, you know there is a wealth of background to be explored and she’s made an impact on comedy and society.

March 24, 2020

Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place by Jackson Bird

I met Jackson Bird once in New York where he hosted a Pictionary tournament between Sarah Andersen and Valentine De Landro which was everything I ever wanted. He is a smart, passionate person who I admire. I had somehow missed he was writing a memoir, but now that I have it, I can’t wait to read it and pass it down to my oldest who has been exploring their identity.

Are you doing Nonfiction November? What are your favorite memoirs?

*Edited to add publishing dates.

#24in48 Recommendations

Originally, I was going to do a post about what I’m reading for #24in48 which is happening this weekend (click the link for the deets), however, it turns out…the spawn are finally joining us in Pittsburgh that weekend so we will be running around showing them their new city. So I thought maybe I would help with some recommendations. I’m a bookseller on hiatus, it’s the least I can do. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t generally do a lot of my heavy reading for readathons, otherwise it’ll feel like I’m not making any progress so I’ll be keeping it nice and light (in page length anyway). I’m also going to keep it to more recent books since I haven’t really talked about anything newish in the last two years on here. And away we go!

Fiction

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics (Feminine Pursuits, #1)The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Wait

F/F Regency romance is sparse on the ground when it comes to the Big 5 publishers so when I heard about this story about an astronomer who falls for an explorer’s widow? I was basically the human realization of that Fry gif. This hit all the spots. Fiber art! Science! Sexy times! All the exclamation points.

 

 

 

 

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1)Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

While we are on the topic of romance, let’s talk about this romance/fantasy. To be honest, I still can’t figure out if it’s Romance with a fantasy theme or Fantasy with a romance subplot. That’s not a knock. I really liked that way Martineau blended it. As a bookseller, I just didn’t know where to shelve it. Ha! Anyway, it is a fun start to a series that I’m seriously interested in seeing where it goes.

 

 

 

An Illusion of Thieves (Chimera, #1)An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Also the first in a new series, I had a good time with this fantasy novel about a royal courtesan who is exiled when her brother steals from the wrong person and now has to keep an eye on him. It’s not flashy magic, and there’s a found family aspect which I am a huge fan of.

 

 

 

 

MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire

What, you haven’t heard me screaming about this book already? I’ve been reading Seanan McGuire forever and she STILL BLOWS ME AWAY with this standalone about two people, Roger and Dodger who are unexplainably linked. The technical writing alone is fantabulous. Also do yourself a favor and listen to it on audio because Amber Benson narrates and she is amazeballs. It is on the longer side that I generally don’t recommend, but  the plot’s roller coaster will keep you going.

 

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill SistersThe Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

If you loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, you need Jaswal’s recent gift to the literary world (and if you haven’t read it, go do that one too). Three sisters are sent on a pilgrimage to India after their mother’s death. The catch? They don’t really see eye to eye. Themes of immigration, sisterhood, familial obligation, and culture are weaved together so beautifully here. It was one of the first books I read in 2019 and I’m still thinking about it.

 

Nonfiction

Southern Lady CodeSouthern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

Ellis’s short story collection American Housewife is my favorite recommendation for people who don’t like short stories. It’s amazing. And everything I love about it, Ellis puts in this essay collection (also great rec for people who don’t like essays. See what I did there?). This is the book to read for quick bites of wit and charm in equal measures.

 

 

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)Call Them by Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit

Another great essay collection, but this time, less funny. Solnit is spot on with most of her observations and with the state of our nation at the moment (let’s be real, forever) this hits in the spot that tells you this is all fucked up and these are the reasons why that maybe you couldn’t name.

 

 

 

We're Going to Need More WineWe Are Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

I’m just going to say what I put down for IndieNext. Writing this off as another celebrity memoir is the worst mistake you can make in your reading life. Union has put together a collection of essays covering topics of race, feminism, beauty standards, and fame that truly touch the soul. I would recommend for fans of Roxane Gay and Phoebe Robinson, for her blunt truthfulness and heart. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every essay and would read anything she writes in the future. (TW: rape)

 

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz ChickensBelieve Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard

I am a huge fan of Eddie Izzard’s and have been since high school when I discovered Dress to Kill. I highly recommend the audio of this because of course I do. It’s Eddie. He talks about coming to terms with being transgender, a word he never applied to himself, his comedy career, his family, and everything in between. Then go watch all of his standup…after the readathon, of course.

 

 

Priestdaddy: A Memoir

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Ending it with one more audiobook recommendation because Lockwood herself reads it and while a lot of authors can’t pull it off, Lockwood nails it. She does fantastic impressions of her family which is worth the price of the audiobook. She recounts the years where after her husband has some health problems they move in with her conservative parents. And oh boy, it’s a doozy. You need to read it to believe this kind of wild. You’ll laugh out loud on your commute and scare the crap out of that baby sleeping in their stroller. I’m sorry. But not really.

 

So that’s it, I mean, it’s not really it because if you know me, I have more recommendations where that came from, but these are a good start. If you want more, you know where to find me.

What are some books you are recommending for people’s #24in48 needs?

Mid Year Book Excitement recap

A co-conspirator from the Rogue Book Coven that I’m a part of suggested this great tag she saw from Emily Fox’s Booktube channel.

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2019
  2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019
  3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
  5. Biggest disappointment
  6. Biggest surprise
  7. Favorite new author (debut or new to me).
  8. Newest fictional crush
  9. Newest favorite character.
  10. Book that made you cry.
  11. Book that made you happy.
  12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
  13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

 

  1. Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir. It’s released in September by Tor.com, but I was able to get my hands on a digital ARC. Freaking fantastic and I can’t wait for you all to read it.
  2. Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
  3. The Outside by Ada Hoffman. I have an ARC for it and just haven’t gotten to read it. I am here for #ownvoices representation.
  4. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Are you kidding me?! A sequel to Handmaid’s Tale after 34 years? It’s hard not to have expectations.
  5. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia. I wanted to love it so much, but the writing was boring.
  6. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. I knew Seanan had skill. I knew that she is a fantastic author, but what she did with Middlegame BLEW MY MIND.
  7. Tasmyn Muir! If what she did with Gideon is just the beginning of what she has to offer, I can’t wait to watch her shape what Science Fiction is.
  8. Gideon Nav from Gideon the Ninth. As my friend said, she’s the jockiest jock to ever bro and even though I didn’t think she’d be my type, I’m so here for it.
  9.  I loved so many great characters that I’ve read this year, it’s hard to narrow it down.
  10. The Nickel Boys by Colston Whitehead almost made me cry. It was intense.
  11. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal was fantastic. I loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows so much so I was excited to get my hands on her next novel and it didn’t disappoint. She’s a joy to read.
  12. Beautiful covers or beautiful prose?
  13. I don’t have a list of things I have to read. I would like to clear a lot of my digital arcs just to make things cleaner.

WWW Wednesdays 7/27

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? It’s been a crazy week so due to lack of time I’m just going to name off my current reads. I’m not really far enough into any of them yet to give a lot of commentary. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. Before the Fall by Noah Fawley. The Truth About Him by M. O’Keefe. Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroine by Mike Madrid.

What did you recently finish reading? Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is pretty much one of my top books of 2016. It was heartbreaking, but fantastic. I also read Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer which was another hard read, but an important conversation we need to have with our society. I also listened to The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen with my husband. It was enough to make me want to move to Finland, cold be damned (especially with the upcoming election).

What do you think you’ll read next? I have The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel and Shrill:Notes from a Loud Woman by Linda West from Book of the Month. I picked up Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Lui since Lui will be at Book Riot Live so I was excited to see his writing.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 7/20

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I am in the beginning of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I’m stunned by the writing. It’s everything everyone’s been talking about. It’s so good I’m having a hard time stopping to read my nonfiction pick Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. I’m also listening to The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen with my hubby, but now that we aren’t traveling it’s hard to synch up. I’m probably just going to have to swap to either ebook or print to finish it up, unless I decide to do some gaming.

What did you recently finish reading? I just read Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for the Ladies Read Spec Fic book club. I’m a little sad I put it off so long because it was so great. It was heartbreaking in the best way possible.  The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe was one I’ve been meaning to get to. Derek Attig from Book Riot has been singing its praises with good reason! I said it on my Litsy review and I’ll say it again, it took me until my thirties to appreciate characters who don’t have their shit together and Tess, the protagonist in Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, absolutely does not have her shit together. Finishing up my awesome few weeks of reading is Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. This was such a fun book. I haven’t had this much fun since A Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I’m looking forward to the next one and you should too!

What do you think you’ll read next? Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. You know I love me some feminist awesomeness so I’m looking forward to sitting down with this. Before the Fall by Noah Fawley was recommended by Miss Liberty through the Book of the Month Club so you know I had to pick it up.

What does your book life look like this week?