July 2014: My Month in Books

Books Read:

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak*

Love & Misadventure – Lang Leav

An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

The Archived – Victoria Schwab


Books Bought:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

Just Kids – Patti Smith

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Clockwork Twist – Emily Thompson

Journal of a Novel – John Steinbeck

Sacre Bleu – Christopher Moore

The Lambs of London – Peter Ackroyd

I’m in the process of turning this blog into a proper book blog and I want to occasionally write other things than just book reviews. So I’ll be doing a monthly summary of my book reading and buying experience. I think I did a pretty good job this month since the disparity between the numbers of books I read and books I bought isn’t too large. When I was in school there was often a large gap between them.

This has been a month of YA Lit for me. I have a huuuuuuuge backlog of YA books that I’ve been accumulating over the years (yes, years) that I still need to read. I haven’t even made a dent in the pile but at least I’m getting a start. I guess that’s why I chose to focus on YA this month, they’re what I was most eager to read once I was free from school. Plus, they’re fast to get through and easy to balance with all of the other activities I had through the month of July: Online class, English tutoring, job hunting and cover letter writing. But my goal is to diversify my reading.

My shelves are stocked full of books, all kinds of them, and I really want to read as widely as the books I buy. So next month, and in the coming months, you’ll continue to see plenty of YA but also more literary fiction, some biographies, science fiction, steampunk, science-y books, historical fiction, and classics. I want to be a writer and I really need to start writing this book in my head and before, or while, I do that I want to read as widely as possible.

So that’s my goal, now let me talk a little bit about the books I read this month. The Book Thief is a re-read. I first read it in, I think, 2007 and it immediately became one of my favorite books. I love it now as much as I did then. Zusak’s writing is as beautiful as I remember. And speaking of Zusak’s writing, I also read I am the Messenger, which was published before The Book Thief. I usually try not to read two books by the same author close together but I am the Messenger was recommended (and loaned) to me by a friend so I gave it a shot. Again, in Messenger, Zusak showed his gift for lyrical writing and compelling characters. Though I have to say, I really do love The Book Thief a whole lot more.

John Green is another author that I really and I’ve slowly been trying to read all of his books over the years. Last month I re-read The Fault in Our Stars in preparation for seeing the movie. This month I decided to read An Abundance of Katherines. I also have Paper Towns on my shelf waiting to be read but I chose Katherines for the simple reason that it’s a book about being dumped and I was recently dumped. It did make me feel a little better so there’s that.

Eleanor & Park was an interesting read. It was recommended to me almost a year ago by my roommate and I bought it but never got around to reading it. And then I discovered that on Tumblr it was a pretty big deal. People were flailing over it and posting pictures much like they were doing for Looking for Alaska in 2009 and The Fault in Our Stars now. I expected it to be really really good. In some ways it was, but in other more important ways it was really disappointing. I’ve read a lot about the racism in this book and, I’m ashamed to say, that I willfully overlooked it while I was reading. It was 1986 in the midwest, of course Park and his mother, as Koreans, would be looked at and treated as an other because that’s how white people saw other races at the time. And maybe that’s true but that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, excuse the portrayal and treatment of these characters. But the thing is, I grew up Asian here in the States, and as a kid I did think of myself as being different from my Caucasian peers. I did wish sometimes that I could be lighter skinned and what I perceived as ‘normal.’ I struggled with simultaneously being proud of my Filipino culture and being ashamed of it. I would constantly correct my parents’ incorrect English grammar and feel some shame that they couldn’t speak English fluently. So I guess the fact that Park had some similar thoughts and feelings in regards to his own mom and their Korean culture didn’t feel racist to me but the normal feelings of a multi-cultural kid. There are other things that are undeniably racist though, like the description of Park’s mom as looking like one of the China dolls from The Wizard of Oz. But what really bothered me while I was reading the book was the portrayal of domestic abuse and how little focus was given to it in favor of highlighting the love story between Eleanor and Park. I guess on the surface, it’s a cute book, easy to get through, but when you dig deeper and analyze it, there are a lot of problems. I guess it reminds of the Twilight series in that sense, but I won’t go into that.

July was a good reading month for me. Over the past 2 years at SJSU I’ve done a lot of reading for my classes but I’ve had very little opportunity to read for pleasure. Now that I have free time I’m going to take full advantage of it and read as much as I can and as widely as I can.


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