Did you see our beautiful new button, courtesy of Steph? It was time this linkup, the day our TBRs explode, got a new look, wasn’t it?
I’d hope to start off the first 2016 edition of Show Us Your Books with some amazing, incredible, YOU MUST ADD THESE TO YOUR TRB RIGHT NOW books. But alas, I don’t. Because of all the books I read last month, the highest I rated a book was 4 stars and that was being generous. The 7 I read weren’t bad enough to quit but not good enough that I couldn’t put them down. Which made me sad because one was Fates and Furies.
Let’s talk about that one first and go from there (if you’re new to our little linkup, I’m wordy. There’s a TL;DR summary at the end, right before the list).
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I was SO EXCITED to read this book after all I’d heard about it. The president picked it as his favorite book of 2016 for fuck’s sake. And then I started reading it. And my excitement dwindled almost instantly. It was such an average book. I did not find one thing special about it, unless you count the fact that Lauren Groff also wrote the plays that are featured in the book. The two main characters, husband Lotto and wife Mathilde, are two of the biggest assholes I’ve read, I cared absolutely nothing about either of them and it was a completely average, sad marriage. Lotto’s narcissism was maddening to read and thankfully, once we got to Mathilde’s portion of the book, the story improved exponentially. It’s actually what kept me going to the end. The study of their marriage was interesting but as far as books I’d recommend highly, this is not one of them.
Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott. This was another one I could not wait to read. I’d had in on my list for awhile and the library finally cooperated. I first started it and thought “wow, this author reminds me a lot of the chick who wrote You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine”, and that was a big fat DNF (oddly enough, she thanked Alexandra Kleeman in the acknowledgements so it kind of makes sense that I had that thought) since I hated everything about that book. However. This was had enough interesting characters and the plotlines were enough to make me want to keep reading to the end. It was a slow read because her pretentious writing style plucked all my nerves but not enough I wanted to throw the book against a wall. So that’s good.
After You by Jojo Moyes. Me Before You made me cry so many tears and started me on a binge read of Jojo Moyes, who is definitely my kind of author. And as far as sequels go, this one didn’t suck. The strength of her writing definitely carried the story more than the story itself. Louisa is not unlikeable, and her grief is definitely palpable throughout the story. But there was just so much going on. Too much. Dizzying amounts of plotlines. They all fit together but the support group, teenage girl who I can’t say much more about without ruining a big part of the book, a new love interest/boyfriend, family issues…too much. I get that it’s a reflection of actual life but for a 400-ish page book, it just felt rushed.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I chose to read this book because I’d heard mixed opinions about it and I wanted to form my own. I do not have a problem with decluttering (when I’m not too lazy to actually do it); in fact, clutter increases my anxiety so I do what I can to keep the crap at bay all the time. And if you want to learn how to declutter and need a step by step process, this book is for you. For me, though, it was too fucking weird. Like, I do not, nor will I ever, thank my purse for the “hard work” it does for me during the day (no joke, she suggests talking to your stuff like it’s sentient. Nope, nope, nope. I’m not talking to shoes. I’ve got one foot in the crazy house; I don’t need to give my family reason to actually put me there). I also found her superior attitude a bit offputting but I’m hoping that’s just the way it came across in the translation and it’s not the way she actually is. I like her point that you should surround yourself with the things that matter and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t but still. I wasn’t blown away by her advice. Probably because I’m not her target audience.
American Salvage and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell. These were collections of short stories, all about the people we pretend we don’t see or don’t want to think exist. People who are poor, rural poor. People who do meth (lots of people who do meth. This author REALLY likes that particular drug as a plot point). People who are lonely, abandoned, depressed. Women who are abused and cheated on and dying. And her stories are well written and some of them are quite good. The problem with her writing, though, is that her plots and character types are very repetitive. In fact, I’m having trouble recalling one specific story over another because they all sort of bled together. Except the titular story for Mothers, Tell Your Daughters because the lady who narrated that story mentioned 3 separate times that she drowned kittens. I hate her.
Refund: Stories by Karen E. Bender. What drew me to this collection of short stories was the financial/personal finance aspect that was advertised. Not falsely, I need to say, but not exactly accurate, either. There were some stories based around debt and job loss and recession, but there was one story with a woman teaching in an impoverished school that was put on lockdown and then she took one student to a sea turtle hospital or something like that and it was all very weird. She’s a good writer and I’d be willing to give her another chance, even if I didn’t love all the stories in this collection. It started off strong and then dwindled. Kind of like SNL does each episode. I also think she might be getting an unfair assessment from me as this was the 3rd consecutive short story collection I read and I might have had short story fatigue.
I did notice this about my choices this month: all the books not for work were written by women. So that’s cool.
TL; DR–I read a bunch of average, meh books this month. There’s not one I feel you must add to your list but a couple popular, trendy ones that you should read to form your own opinions. Specifically, Fates and Furies, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and After You.
Now it’s your turn! Bloggers, link up with what you read. Nonbloggers or forgetful bloggers, leave a comment with your favorite reads of last month. And don’t forget to visit a few new to you bloggers to keep with the spirit of the linkup!