October 2020 Wrap-Up

It’s Halloween!

I refuse to let 2020 ruin this holiday for me. I am working this weekend (#saturdaylibrarian) and am going in full witch mode because I’m feeling really witchy right now.

If you live in the US and can vote—vote. Make your voices heard. Vote in your local, state and national elections.

Despite a moderately slumpy month in terms of how much I read, I managed to read 12 books: 5 were books, 4 audiobooks and 3 graphic novels, over 4,172 pages and 39 hours. Plus a novella!

Here’s the breakdown:

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I absolutely loved all four of these! And all were so different!

I adore CL Polk’s writing style. She reminds me so much of AJ Lancaster (who I also love), and I love how her books parallel current topics in a fantasy setting loosely based in historical periods. This book features women’s reproductive rights and the disservice done to society when a woman’s ability to reproduce is valued over everything else she has to offer. The romance was a little insta-lovey, but Ysbeta’s drive and ambition overcame that! And I loved how Beatrice grew over the course of the book.

Black Sun is going to take home all the awards. This book is incredible! Inspired by pre-Columbian cultures, it deftly weaves magic, politics, prophecy, religion and so much more into a beautifully crafted world. The world-building was top-notch (logistics!!) and I cannot wait for book two, because that was a fucking cliff hanger.

Juliet Takes a Breath is the graphic novel adaptation of the YA masterpiece of the same name. While some things were adjusted to make it more condensed, the overall plotline was gorgeous. It’s about a Puerto Rican babydyke from the Bronx traveling to Portland, Oregon, to find herself…and finding out the wealth of feminism from women of color and the depth of hypocrisy within many white feminists.

The Fire Next Time is well below the page count for my annual reading challenge (must be over 150 pages), but it was beautifully written, absolutely damning and dishearteningly still very relevant. This is another must-read, and I um, definitely need to read more James Baldwin.

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Sapiens has been on my TBR for…a while now, and while I have the audiobook I have not found time to read it (because my long-defunct Audible account is always overruled by whatever is coming up on OverDrive). So I requested and was approved for the graphic novel, and was absolutely fascinated by it. It’s a little info-dumpy and the illustrations aren’t the best, but both of those could change by the time the finished product comes out. The Once and Future Witches took a hot minute to get into due to some intensely over-written prose, but once I got to the 50% mark things picked up and I was flying through it. Eloquent Rage was just…brilliant. And eloquent. Definitely something to read for folks who are working on being anti-racist.

Did I go to therapy (at last) this month? No. I read Unfuck Your Brain instead, and it helped! I will probably purchase the book, since I slammed through the audiobook in three and some hours and there was A LOT of information presented. Definitely worthwhile to figure out why the fuck you feel the way you feel, and some tools to help cope and adjust. Just Jaime was another MG graphic novel and a pretty decent read about redefining friendships, the effects of gossip, and finding yourself after you realize you’re the villain of your own story. The Nemesis was the wrap-up to the fantastic Diabolic Trilogy, and if you have not read the first book and love YA sci-fi, check this one out. Stamped From the Beginning is Ibram Kendi’s brilliantly researched masterpiece on the history of racism and racist ideas. While it falters in the anti-racism aspects, Kendi’s ability to keenly cut right into the heart of the matter is just *chef’s kiss*. This one is definitely a good side companion to The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

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I was engaged and kept interested by both of these, but not overwhelmed. I think it’s weird that the two highlight some trends I’ve noticed in contemporary romance. One the one hand, in The Boyfriend Project (and many other Black written contemporary romances I’ve read), the main character is highly qualified. She is a fucking BAMF: top of her game, ambitious, driven, hardworking. And yet she constantly has to assert her worthiness of being there, to prove she belongs, in addition to the yadayadayada romance that goes on. On the other hand, in She’s Faking It (and like, most of the other contemporary romances featuring 20-to-30something white women I’ve read this year), the main character is struggling. She has no passion. No real job. No drive. And yet. She’s upheld by other characters who tell her how exceptional she is, how wonderful, how beautiful, without any evidence to support the argument. And she generally says it’s luck/a lack of opportunity that she hasn’t gotten her break yet—not due to the fact that she hasn’t put much effort into moving forwards (I’m not saying that Bree in She’s Faking It wasn’t a hard worker; she was, but she was content for much of the book to allow others to drive her instead of driving herself—she complained about her circumstances but maintained the status quo until the very end, when a ~perfect~ job matching her previously unrealized passion dropped into her lap). It’s…qwhite an interesting trend.

Have you read any of these? Where any added to your list?

5 thoughts on “October 2020 Wrap-Up

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