I finished reading Mat Johnson’s Loving Day way back in the beginning of June, but I’ve held off on writing about it. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

The writing is superb, that’s not the issue. The characters are complex and interesting. And infuriating and discomfiting.

I am bi-racial. I am the product of an interracial, interfaith marriage. This is how I have always identified and I wouldn’t know how to claim any other identity.

The assertion that by claiming my bi-racial identity I am denying a part of myself or my history (or cultural history) offends me.

And so reading some of the ideas expressed by characters in this book seriously got under my skin. Yet the characters embracing their combined heritage also irked me. They seemed blinded by their rhetoric, unrealistically idealistic, and downright cultish. Basically, all of the characters said and/or did things that I found wrongheaded and upsetting.

And ultimately, that’s why I think that I might have liked the book. The reading experience was uncomfortable and sometimes difficult; it’s hard to hear unflattering opinions about a group with which you identify, but reading those things helped me think about the various kinds of racial identity in a different way. I haven’t changed my mind about how I identify myself, but I appreciate the glimpse into a different perspective.

 

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I’ve been a terrible book blogger recently in that even though I’ve continued to consume loads of books, I haven’t been writing about them (I have, however, continued to post stuff on Instagram and twitter, so you should clearly follow me @poindextrix on both #shamelessselfpromotion).

But since I’m about to embark on what I can only describe as a book nerd-dom bonanza, I thought I better pop in with a quick update (with the obvious fingers-crossed promise that I’ll be better about updates in the future).

Last week I went to a Free Library of Philadelphia author event in which Ruth Reichl talked about her new book My Kitchen Year. She was fabulous, this book is fabulous — and gorgeous — and I’ll hopefully start making things out of that and tell you about it soon.

But tonight. Tonight I’m heading back to the Free Library to see Patti Smith talk about her new memoir M Train. You may remember how much I love her first memoir, Just Kids. For those just joining us: the answer is a lot. A whole lot. M Train talks more about the later years, the less Robert-centric years, I take it. I’m incredibly excited to read it and super excited to meet/see/breathe the same air as Patti Smith and hopefully get her to sign my copy of Just Kids, which I just finished re-reading.

Crazily, I won’t even have time to come down off of my Patti Smith high, because as soon as I leave the library, I’m heading up to New York for Book Riot Live. When people ask me what my plans are for this weekend I’ve been saying I’m going to a book nerd convention, and I think that’s describing it pretty accurately. It’s not like BEA in that this is way less industry-centric. This is an event for readers and it’s mostly about what readers love and care about and I’m so excited in case you couldn’t tell by my complete incoherence.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I think it’s going to be fantastically bookish in the best ways. If you’re at Book Riot Live and see/recognize me, come say hi!

Readathon In Review

October 14, 2015

I’m a bit delayed in this, but I’m finally sitting down to recount my Popepocalypse Readathon experience. I think it ended up going really well. It was nice to have a few days in which I decided to just devote the time to reading and relaxing. Also, the weather was great, so I spent a ton of time out on my balcony (did I mention my new apartment has a balcony? It’s fantastic and I’m kind of obsessed with it) and at the local coffee shop’s outdoor seating just enjoying the lovely weather with tea and books.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. I should stop blathering on about the weather and tell you about the books.

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First up was Woman Rebel by Peter Bagge. It’s a graphic … biography? (like graphic novel, but a biography. Can I just call it a graphic novel even though it’s a true story?) about Margaret Sanger, who is generally regarded as the mother of birth control. She’s was a bit of a complicated woman and remains a polarizing figure since she wasn’t super intersectional in her feminism, but I think that this was book was a fair representation of her. The art style of this wasn’t my absolute favorite, but I think that’s just personal preference.

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After that, I moved on to Peter Pan. I mean, it’s a classic. I don’t even have much to say about it beyond that. It’s a good deal darker and a kind of more bizarre than all the Disney-fied versions that we see these days.

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The next book I read was Bloggess Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy. I honestly recommend that everyone read this because it is touching and inspiring and hilarious and so many other things that I don’t even have words for. But careful reading it in public because after a while it becomes really difficult to stifle all the laughter.

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Then I moved on to Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older. This had been on my list for a while and I realized that this readathon was the perfect time to dive in. You guys, this book was so good and so much fun. So. Much. Fun. It’s part of the Bone Street Rumba series and I’m excited to read the other books that take place in this world.

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The book I closed out the readathon with was Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. Again. So good. This is one that I think I want to read again even though it’s only been a couple of weeks since I finished it.

I had so much fun doing this readathon and sharing pictures of what I was reading and my progress on social media (and if you’re not following me on Instagram, why not? You’re missing out on some awesome bookish pics. And random shots of food and my cat for variety). Can I just have a three-day weekend to do this every couple of months? That would be spectacular.

The Pope is coming to Philadelphia later this week and that means that the city is basically shutting down. There are something like three or four perimeters, you need special passes for public transportation, and streets are lined with port-a-potties. Penn is closed Friday (some other places have Monday off as well, but I couldn’t be that lucky), giving yours truly a three-day weekend.

And while I still have a ton of unpacking, organizing, and decorating to do (I moved! I love my new place and once things are organized and decorated I’ll have a post showing off my shelves and book nook), I decided that I really want to make this weekend about reading.

And thus the Popepocalypse Readathon was born. It has no real rules (because I’m lazy and I’ve never really done this before). Basically, I’m just going to read as much as I can that weekend (maybe starting Thursday night), checking in periodically with posts on social media.

[This is where I encourage you to follow me on social media if you aren’t already. I’m @poindextrix on basically everything. You know you want to see all my book and cat pictures on instagram!]

So if you’re in Philadelphia — or even if you aren’t — join me in the #PopepocalypseReadathon! Post your own pictures. Tell me what you’re reading. Use the hashtag, tag me, do it all! Even if you’re in Philly to see the Pope, I’m assuming that there will be a ton of down time waiting for him to speak or drive by in the popemobile (and seriously, somebody send me a picture of him in the popemobile!), so you might as well get some reading done! It’ll be awesome, or at least mildly entertaining.

#PopepocalypseReadathon

You know you want to.

 

I know that book nerd-dom comes in many varieties, but I’ve always felt that going to book events (assuming they’re available) was a good book nerd behavior. And so it’s embarrassing to admit that even though I’ve lived in Philadelphia for over a year, I haven’t gone to a single book/author event. Until tonight. 

Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be A Woman and How To Build A Girl, as well as comedian, columnist, TV/film writer and all-around awesome human being was at the Free Library of Philadelphia tonight. She was honest and raunchy and absolutely hilarious. It was a fantastic event.

After the talk/reading and Q & A she signed books upstairs. The line moved a little bit slowly, but that was just because she actually spoke to every single person, giving them hugs and taking pictures. When it was my turn I was a little star-struck, but she was just so lovely —thanking me for coming and saying all of these amazing things that I want to cherish forever — that I kind of just felt like I was talking to a friend. A friend who is hilarious and spectacular and makes me feel better about myself and the world.

Caitlin Moran comes across like a hella-awesome lady in her writing, and she really, really is. Her books are amazing, she’s amazing, my night was amazing.

And because I am that kind of book nerd, here are my pictures from the night:

The fabulous Caitlin Moran.

The fabulous Caitlin Moran.

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Reading from How To Build A Girl

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Close-up of Caitlin Moran reading from How To Build A Girl

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Seriously, she’s so nice and enthusiastic.

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We just had a little chat before she signed my book.

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Also, she’s super silly, and it’s fantastic.

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Love her!

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My signed copy. It has such a great memory to go along with an already fantastic book.

Playing Catch-Up

June 29, 2015

So I’ve really fallen down on this blogging job. It’s not like I haven’t been reading or talking about books. I just kind of forgot to write about them. Whoops.

Anyway, now I’m so far behind that the idea of writing reviews for all the books I’ve read since I last posted is overwhelming and crazy-making, so instead I’m just going to give you a list of the things I’ve read. If you want to know more about a specific book, comment and I’ll write more about it.

The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier

The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

Euphoria by Lily King

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Find Me by Laura van den Berg

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez

How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino (I just finished this one today. It was so much fun and it takes place in Philly, so it gets a little extra shout out)

Wow, it’s even more intimidating when I have it all written out like that. Yep, I think I made the right call in terms of starting fresh from now. That’s way too many reviews to write while I’m still reading stuff.

And yes, I am, as usual, reading many books at once. Hopefully I’ll finish a few of them and get reviews out in a timely manner this time around. Meanwhile, I read on.

I have consulted numerous electronic and paper calendars and all of them have told me the same thing: it’s springtime! But here in Philadelphia, the weather doesn’t seem so sure of that fact. It seems like for every nice day we have, we get a week of cold temperatures, rain, and overall gloom. I shouldn’t complain too much since that is prime reading-with-a-cup-of-tea weather, but I’m ready for reading-on-a-picnic-blanket-in-the-park weather (I’m not saying I do this, but I want the option).

I don’t generally tailor my reading to the season because I’m just not that organized, but this super prolonged winter has me yearning for sunnier books.

So here’s my list for what to read when nature has betrayed you and continues with the cold, grey weather.

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. It’s a big, epic book filled with love and war and magic. It will draw you in and completely transport you to the mythical Macondo, which is in Latin America and therefore is a warm and sunny place at least most of the time.
  2. Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. I’m cheating with this one because it isn’t actually sunnier, but we’ll get to why I picked it. This is a dual narrative combining the fascinating story of the build up to the Chicago World’s Fair and the chilling tale of a string of murders committed by H. H. Holmes in the city around the same time. It is utterly enthralling and after reading about the creepy murders and how Holmes pulled it all off, you might not mind being cooped up inside.
  3. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by is bloggess Jenny Lawson’s sidesplittingly funny (mostly true) memoir. There are some serious bits interspersed with a whole lot of hilarity. I challenge you to read it and not be in a good mood afterward. I’m pretty sure it can’t be done.
  4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. This book is enchanting and whimsical. There’s mystery and adventure and it takes place in bright, sunny California (though often at night…).
  5. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. I’m looking out of my living room window and it’s all grey and I think it’s spitting rain and I can’t help thinking of that titular story with the wizened old vampire drinking lemonade under a Tuscan sun…
  6. iwanttogotothere

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are just a few of the books that might numb the sting of being betrayed by ole’ Mother Nature. What would you add?

 

I read all the time and in a perfect world, someone would pay me to do that. We don’t live in a perfect world, but I still have a pretty kickass job. As you may recall from my post Cataloguing NYC via PHL from over a year ago (WHAT), I am working with the Gotham Book Mart Collection. There are so many amazing things in this collection, I couldn’t even begin to tell you — but I do post a lot of the cool things I see on my other social media accounts (hint hint).

Anyway, the point of this post is to tell you that I wrote a thing about a piece in the collection for one of the library’s blogs. You can read it at the Provenance Online Project. And after you’re done reading my post, you should peruse the rest of the site. There’s a bunch of fascinating stuff up there!

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while now. I have that compulsion to always read the book before seeing the movie, so when there was all that buzz about the film it moved up a bit on my list. And yet I only got around to reading it a couple of months ago (and I’m reviewing it now. This should give you an idea of my backlog/time management skills). It felt oddly appropriate that I didn’t get around to reading it until after I moved to Philly though.

I have to say, while I enjoyed this book, it didn’t really thrill me like it did a lot of other readers. I’m really going to blame the expectations game for that one. You see, I don’t have any particular criticisms of the book. I think that the characters were well-developed and their relationships complex. Parts of the plot might have been a bit far-fetched, but I can spare a bit of suspension of disbelief as a reader now and then. When this book fell a bit flat for me, I think it was just because I had heard such great things from so many people that the book couldn’t possibly meet the expectations I had built up in my mind.

I don’t think I would go so far as to call this a story of redemption, but it is at least a story about the beginning of recovery and forgiveness. Even if it wasn’t at the top of my list of things I’ve read recently, I’d definitely recommend it.

At some point I plan on watching the movie and seeing how it stacks up against the book. The book had some unexpected twists and turns and I’m wondering how they’ll play out on screen. I also found it difficult, on occasion, to connect with the characters, and I think that the movie could either really improve on that or really botch it. I’ll have to wait and find out!

Poindextrix in Philadelphia

January 15, 2014

So here I am in Philadelphia.

I realized over the summer That those extra classes I was taking would enable me to graduate from my library science program a semester ahead of schedule. Since my lease was ending and i didn’t want to incur a semester’s worth of unnecessary student loan debt, it seemed like the right thing to do.

I picked Philly for a number of reasons. There are some that I’m not quite ready to share here, but I’ll let you in on the others: Philly has tons of cultural heritage institutions where I could potentially find work and there are fewer library schools in the area with graduates all vying for positions. Philly is also a bit closer to home, so I can see family and friends in the DC area more often. And finally, I think New York and I just needed a break for a while. Living there by myself was certainly an experience, but New York is intense and I think I need to dial it down a bit. Also, with no job and no student loans, I couldn’t really afford to live there, now could I?

But Philly! Philly is great. It’s a city, but it isn’t quite as crazy as New York (or maybe it is, just in a different way). I’m still getting used to things (I’m using tokens for the train/bus, guys. Tokens.), but my apartment is cute and I’ve gotten my library card, so I’m settling in.

I don’t think much will change here. It’ll be the same old Poindextrix ramblings, just from my new locale.