Review: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

“The fuck is your life. Answer it.”

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I am exhausted. And yet, I feel lighter, somehow, after reading it.

This book is one of a multitude of tiny beautiful things in this world. It should be carried around in bags, lunch boxes, and back pockets. It made me think a lot about my ghosts and monsters and questions and decisions. It made me bawl my eyes out – although some chapters squeezed my heart dry more than the others did.

I was a mess of rainbows before reading it, and I still am after doing so. But I feel like I have someone who understands deeply, who isn’t afraid about calling me out on my shit, and who is kind and generous with stories and words that are truer than true. Sugar is that friend, and I feel a little bit better knowing that this beautiful book exists in this universe.

Review: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Last week was grueling, but I managed to get some reading done during stolen moments.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli was dark and gritty and riveting. It touched on Bruce Wayne’s tortured humanity, and showed Gotham City as a horrifying hellhole. But it’s not just about Batman’s story—it’s about Jim Gordon’s as well. Gordon is one of my favorite supporting characters in comic books, because he’s such a decent person and he tries so damn hard to do the right thing. In Year One, we see him struggle as a good cop in a city ran by scoundrels. He rises to the occasion and takes action because no one else will. Batman: Year One shows the parallels between these two flawed and conflicted individuals, and I just really want to give each of them a massive hug.

Speaking of brilliant graphic novels, House of M by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel was fucking fantastic. Wanda Maximoff’s mind voodoo is scary as fuck. It also made me ecstatic about Avengers: Age of Ultron and AKA Jessica Jones.

In other news, my Civil War reading mission got off to a great start, and I finished the first 19 titles on the list. I still have a long way to go, but I’m determined to go through with it. I also managed to squeeze in Runaways, Vol. 3: The Good Die Young by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.

I still haven’t finished Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, and it’s mostly because I don’t want to devour it in one sitting. She writes beautifully and with so much honesty, and my fragile heart needs to come up for air every once in a while.

Anyhoo, on my TBR pile are The Once and Future King by T.H. White (Kubi’s copy is having tea and scones with the rest of the unread books on my shelf), and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. The latter is included in my reading list for the Eclectic Reader Challenge, which I’m trying to accomplish this year.

Two more books that I’m excited about reading in the future are Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days. I know I won’t be able to read them this week, because LIFE, but I hope I’ll get the chance to do so.

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All for now, lads and lassies. Happy reading!

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It’s a fun way to keep track of current reads and to find out what other people have been reading.

There is a linky thing at the end of the post, so go forth, visit new reading blogs, and add to your to-read list!

monday reads

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Of Lists, Monster TBR Piles, and Frittering

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Illustration by Ping Zhu for The Oyster Review

Earlier this month, The Oyster Review put together a list of 100 best books published since 2010. I’ve read only four of the books in the top ten: Patti Smith’s Just Kids (#2), Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life (#3), Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies (#6), and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit to the Goon Squad (#7).

A multitude of my favorites showed up on the list, but I still have a lot of catching up to do. Looking through the entire list, I felt like Rory Gilmore in The Road Trip to Harvard, when she found out about the number of books in the Harvard Library:

I’m a failure. I am stupid. I am uninformed and ignorant and… I can’t even think of a second synonym for uninformed. I suck. Thirteen million volumes? I’ve read like, what, three hundred books in my entire life and I’m already sixteen? Do you know how long it would take me to read thirteen million books?

It’s impossible not to feel like I’ve been frittering away my whole life when my TBR pile is of gargantuan proportions, and there are lists, such as this one, that remind me of the number of books that I still have yet to read.

Anyhoo,  how many of The Oyster Review‘s 100 books have you read? What books would make it to your top ten? If you’re looking for excellent book recommendations, check out the list and let us know what you plan on reading.

Of Lists, Monster TBR Piles, and Frittering

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

March has churned out one delicious read after another, and it’s been an absolute pleasure. Last week was spent mostly devouring graphic novels such as Lilli Carré’s Heads or Tails and Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor. The former is a collection of short tales of whimsy and beautiful illustrations that look like graphic representations of one’s dreams, while the latter is a visual rumination on art, time, love, and life.

Some of my favorite ladies also managed to worm their way into my reading list: Felicia Day in The Guild, Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning and Helena in the first two issues of Orphan Black, and the hilarious trio of university students (Susan Ptolemy, Esther de Groot, and Daisy Wooton) in John Allison’s Giant Days.

Speaking of complex and fabulous ladies, perhaps my favorite thing in the world at the moment is a series called Lumberjanes from Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen.

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It chronicles the lives of a wildly disparate group of girls at a scout camp, where things aren’t what they seem. This happy potion is like an ingenious combination of some of my favorite things in life: Scooby Doo, Gravity Falls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Happy Campers, and The Baby-Sitters Club. I read twelve issues in one night, and I still want MORE. Molly, Mal, April, Ripley, and Jo are the best, and I just really want to be in their girl gang, okay?

Anyhoo, I am about halfway through Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook, which features secret societies, supernatural forces, an amnesiac protagonist, and cheeky British humor. I’ve also been reading This One Summer, a graphic novel from Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. It tells the story of Rose and Windy in quiet observation and gorgeous shades of blue.

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On my TBR list for this week are Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, and a few books from my Eclectic Reader Challenge reading list. Kubi and I are also considering reading Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, in preparation for the return of the TV adaptation in April.

That’s it for today. Cheers, duckies. Have a great reading week!

*

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It’s a fun way to keep track of current reads and to find out what other people have been reading.

There is a linky thing at the end of the post, so go forth, visit new reading blogs, and add to your to-read list!

monday reads

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

2014 Year-End Review: A Belated Post

How now, multiverse?

2015 was a stealthy little bugger. We’ve failed to write anything new this year, because LIFE, but we promise we’ve been reading!

KUBI:

Here, belatedly, are Kubi’s favorite books for 2014:

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  1. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  2. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  3. Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig
  4. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  6. Edge of Tomorrow by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
  7. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  8. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
  9. Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes
  10. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  11. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
  12. Levels of Life by Julian Barnes
  13. The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  14. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
  15. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

HANNA:

Here, belatedly, are my favorites for 2014:

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A huge chunk of last year was spent hoarding books, worrying about shelf space, attempting to restrain my impulses, devouring YA novels like cake, and making feeble attempts at writing substantial posts.

I had the good fortune to find and hold in my hands some of the most gorgeous works of art such as a signed first edition of Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore, which is a thing of beauty and a rollicking good read, and Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock. Someone at work thrust the latter into my hands after learning that I love to read, and I’ve been in love with this series ever since. Nick Bantock is one of my favorite visual artists, and it’s always a delightful treat to find his books on display.

Another one of my favorite artists is Chip Kidd, who is responsible for some of the most clever and unforgettable book covers. I am always in awe of Chip Kidd’s work, and he did a masterful job with the art direction and design of The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami. It is a deliciously terrifying book, and I loved everything about it.

Sometimes, you come across a book that seems thoroughly in tune with your thoughts that it seems as if the universe conspired to have you read it at that particular moment, just when you needed it the most. Both The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen and Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba cut me from all angles and provided a much needed catharsis. These books are two of my favorite things on this planet, and I thank my lucky stars that they have made their way into my little corner of the world.

2014 also took me on a wild romp across space and time with stellar fantasy novels such as the unbefuckinglievably fantastic Vicious by V.E. Schwab, and the wonderfully silly Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor provided a satisfying conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, which introduced me to Karou and her magnificence.

I was fucking stunned by the sheer genius of The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I love Locke and the Gentlemen Bastards with all of my heart, but I especially love the book’s language, wit, and magnificent cussing. Scott Lynch is a word painter, and I can only dream of writing something as perfect as this:

“Some day, Locke Lamora,” he said, “some day, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”

Speaking of sublime writing, I loved Just Kids by Patti Smith for its shockingly beautiful prose, and I underlined the bejeezus out of Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I savored every gorgeously written sentence of Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, which provided heartbreakingly beautiful vignettes about a long relationship and a faltering marriage. I unabashedly adored The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin for its charm, exploration of relationships, and emphasis on books and reading. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger is damn near perfection, and I will always be in awe of how each story was written in such easy grace.

Finally, Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor was the perfect happy potion for a year in shambles. It is every bit as lovely and magical as it sounds. Laini Taylor has a beautiful way with words, and I devoured all of it with great relish.

It fills me with pleasure that I didn’t miss any of these books, each of which is a gift to this world, and made last year a little bit nicer.

2014 Year-End Review: A Belated Post

Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

Stephen King wasn’t kidding about this book.

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The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is compelling. I underlined the bejeezus out of it, and adorned it with blue sticky flags.

T.S. Spivet is my favorite kind of human bean, and I just want to hug him and eat Honey Nut Cheerios with him. The marginalia still makes me weep with glee, but it was the ending that cut me from all angles.

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It felt like the universe conspired to have me read this book at this particular moment, just when I needed it the most. It articulated my fears and anxieties, and illustrated the strange inner workings of my brain. It understood. But most of all, it inspired and touched me in a way that no other piece of literature has done in a while.

This book is a gift to this world.

This was a post by Hanna, who still misses people and places and cake.

Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

Currently Re-reading: American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson

I’ve been reading several books simultaneously for the past few days, but at this moment, I am revisiting this delicious memoir from my favorite cheeky monkey, Craig Ferguson.

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“Life got in the way, or, more accurately, I got in my own way. I was sidetracked and waylaid by my own demons…” – Craig Ferguson, American on Purpose

This was a post by Hanna, who is dreading Tuesday.

Currently Re-reading: American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson

Review: Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore

“Well thanks loads, Chris, now you’ve ruined art for everyone.”

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Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art is a “dark little fairy tale of the color blue” that takes the reader on a wild, metaphysical romp through 19th century Paris in its artistic prime. It is a deliciously demented supernatural murder mystery revolving around art, the artists and their muses, and a particular shade of blue.

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(Quick aside: His Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is my favorite, although I kept picturing him as John Leguizamo in Moulin Rouge as I read.)

As in all things Moore, Sacré Bleu is funny, bawdy, and certifiably nuts. But it is also a meticulously researched and intelligently written book, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The signed first edition is also a thing of beauty and a work of art in itself, which makes it a delightful read and a glorious feast for the senses.

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This was a post by Hanna, who misses people and places and cake.

Review: Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore