Happy first of June, all! That’s how I would have started this entry had I been awake enough to write a blog post the other night. Believe me, I tried–right until I fell asleep on top of the covers. Which happens more often than you’d think. (All the time.)
Since my last public entry, I’ve written several drafts and posted one of them, before promptly shifting its privacy settings to Private. I’ve had so many ideas and so many things to talk about, but not enough energy to turn written notes and outlines into cohesive essays, and less and less confidence in my ability to string words together into intelligible sentences when not at work.
But there have been : being greeted upon waking up and arriving home by our one-month-old puppies, Mocha and Cappuccino (affectionately nicknamed Chino), who can now run short distances without falling over; watching great movies with friends (Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolute godsend; Sasha James of The Mary Sue wrote a great review that explains why I love it so); and getting to squeeze books into my schedule–both old (Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series) and new (two classics by advertising icon David Ogilvy). (Of course books. I don’t know where I’d be without them.)
Now, I have the terrible habit of pining after books for a long time, then impulse-buying novels on Kindle because they’re so accessible–which brings me short-lived satisfaction before making me tear at my hair, all, What was I thinking?! Which is probably why, a few days ago, I decided I figure being more conscious of the books I buy will help me save money–or at least keep me my backlog from mutating into an even bigger monster than it already is.
So without further ado, I present to you this month’s (week’s?) top three:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
While Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been writing fiction since 2003 (and published her first collection of poems six years before), she recently skyrocketed to fame because of the song ***Flawless by Beyoncé, which sampled Adichie’s TEDx talk on feminism. As soon as I learned about Americanah, I downloaded a Kindle sample, devoured it, and wanted more, stat. I’ve held myself back because I want to be ready to read it—Adichie’s voice is engaging, and I’m so intrigued by the characters and settings I’ve come across so far, but I’ve mostly been reading books that require, er, less brain power—but soon, I will. It’s too good to resist for long!
Synopsis: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. (Amazon / Fully Booked)
Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang.
When I was in high school, I was a history buff, interested in the Tudors, the Second World War, and the Russian Revolution, among others–all, I realized later, events that were very European. But a great Asian history class changed that, so when I find books about great rulers in my corner of the world, I try to find them. Like this one. While I don’t remember Empress Cixi from class, stories about ambitious women who make a difference in a patriarchal world resonate so strongly with me that I know I need this book. Soon!!!
Synopsis: In 1852, at age sixteen, Cixi was chosen as one of Emperor Xianfeng’s numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a coup against her son’s regents and placed herself as the true source of power—governing through a silk screen that separated her from her male officials.
Drawing on newly available sources, Jung Chang comprehensively overturns Cixi’s reputation as a conservative despot. Cixi’s extraordinary reign saw the birth of modern China. Under her, the ancient country attained industries, railways, electricity, and a military with up-to-date weaponry. She abolished foot-binding, inaugurated women’s liberation, and embarked on a path to introduce voting rights. Packed with drama, this groundbreaking biography powerfully reforms our view of a crucial period in China’s—and the world’s—history. (Amazon / Fully Booked)
All right, I’ll be honest here: When Legend of Korra was in the works, I wasn’t interested. While I loved Avatar: The Last Airbender, I didn’t find Korra‘s new, vaguely steampunk world or her own character design particularly fascinating, which was why I delayed watching it, even ignoring Book Two: Spirits when it finally came out. But Book Three: Change turned it all around, with an even more diverse cast, complex antagonists with pretty good reasons for (pardon my French) fucking shit up, and just so many things. Here’s a review that made me want the art book even more than I did when I first saw it. And real talk, this is the last book on my Need-to-Have list, but it’s the first I’m going to buy–and I wouldn’t say no to the other three art books! (Amazon / Fully Booked)
Honorable mentions: Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg; The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith; Dark Places by Gillian Flynn; Lockwood and Co.: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud (in paperback, please!); and of course, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Search, number one on my to-buy list until the Legend of Korra art books appeared on my radar. Give me strength.
What have you been looking forward to reading recently? What are your favorite new reads so far this year? 🙂
Reading Material is a new feature picking up where Sea Reads left off, because the pun got old real fast. It’ll include short book reviews, my upcoming to-read list, and whatever else fits into the category because why differentiate book-related things too much?? I’ll figure it out.