June 2020 Books

Keep up with what I’m reading! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you have recommendations for what I should read next!

Books Reread

As You Wish by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden
This memoir is delightful. It describes behind the scenes stories from the filming of my favorite movie The Princess Bride. It was just as delightful the second time reading it. I highly recommend the audiobook because it is read by Cary (Westley) himself and includes little sound bites from most of the major cast members as well as director Rob Reiner and producer Andy Scheinman. But, I also highly recommend reading the physical book because it includes behind the scenes photos, so you really can’t go wrong.
Rating: 5/5 Rodents of Unusual Size

New Books Read

2am at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
Bertino’s sweet and hilarious book tells the story of 9-year-old aspiring jazz singer Madeleine trying to get her big break, while still inwardly grieving the death of her mother. The story takes place on Christmas Eve, leading up to 2am on Christmas morning. I loved the lyrical writing style and spare prose. It was unique and refreshing and funny.
Rating: 4/5 caramel apples

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Discworld book 6 of 40; the Witches book 2 of 6
I always adore Terry Pratchett’s work and this time was no different. You don’t really have to read the Discworld books in any particular order, but I am planning to read the Witches series (within the Discworld series) in order. This book features the unflappable Granny Weatherwax, the hilarious Nanny Ogg, and brand new witch Magrat. It features witches’ covens, ghosts, a conniving duke and his murderous wife, a troupe of traveling actors, and one prolific tomcat.
Rating: 3.5/5 pointy black witches’ hats

The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein
Heinlein is a classic of sci-fi, particularly championing hard science fiction (or accurate science). This is a tale of time travel, suspended animation, and shady business dealings. While an enjoyable read, older sci-fi is usually pretty disappointingly white and male. My main problem with the story (SPOILERS AHEAD) is that the main character Danny ends up married to his former best friend’s daughter after some tricky time traveling and ‘cold sleep’ to make them the same age. I don’t know I just thought it was a little creepy. Also none of the female characters had much personality at all except these: Belle was evil, conniving but ultimately doomed; Ricky was sweet, pure and took very little convincing to marry a dude who basically acted as her uncle during her childhood; and Jenny was almost a non-character, only important for her relationship to her lawyer husband who helps out Danny.
Rating: 3/5 cats

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ***
CW: gang rape, war, violence
Honestly I can’t recommend Adichie enough. If you’re trying to decolonize your bookshelf and bring in some new voices and authors of color, Adichie is a great choice. Half of a Yellow Sun takes place in Nigeria in the 1960s, during the civil war for Biafran independence. With themes of post-colonialism, race, and gender, the story is thoughtful, engaging, and heartbreaking. It helped me to understand the consequences of British Imperialism in Nigeria and reminded me that “Africa” and even individual countries within Africa are never monolithic but filled with individual cultures, religions, and traditions. Adichie is a gifted story teller, her writing is beautiful, and her characters are rich and complex.
Rating: 4.5/5 platters of jollof rice

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Wayward Children series book 2 of 5
I’ve been really enjoying dark fantasy lately and McGuire’s Wayward Children books are wonderfully dark and bloody. They’re bite sized, short and easy to read with a unique voice. Book 2 follows the story of Jack and Jill, twins whom we met in book 1, Every Heart a Doorway, and the magical world they stumble into in a trunk in their grandmother’s old bedroom. If you’ve ever dreamed of finding a secret doorway to a magical world, these books are for you.
Rating: 3.5/5 mysterious doors

***This book is part of my Books for a Social Conscience series! Read this if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of colonialism in Africa, race, and Nigerian history. Reads marked as part of the Books for a Social Conscience series will regularly address topics like race and racism, colonialism and post-colonialism, LGBTQ+ experience, feminism, BIPOC experience, social and political issues, history, identity, class, disability experience, immigration, gun violence, poverty, colorism, environmentalism, and more! The goal of these books is to diversify the stories we’re reading, grow our empathy for those who are different from us, and amplify voices who are often silenced.