March 2019: How I Made it Through a Rollercoaster of Reading and Buying and Sickness

What I Read:

  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  • Part of Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer edited by Antonino D’Ambrosio
  • This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
  • Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (re-read) by Margaret Atwood
  • Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
  • Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What I Bought:

  • This Book is Gay
  • Quidditch Through the Ages
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke
  • Shelf Life: Stories by the Book edited by Gary Paulsen
  • Daisy Jones
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Women who love books too much by Brenda Knight
  • Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie

March was a month of ups and downs—it started out well, dipped down, and then shot back up to a peak. This was true both in my reading and in my life.

IMG_9450I started out the month with King of Scars, which took some preparation. This book takes place after the events of the Six of Crows duology and the Grisha trilogy, both also by Leigh Bardugo, but I read the Grisha trilogy a while ago and have no intention of re-reading them. So I had to find online summaries of the books in order to remember what led to the plot of this novel. The result of this was that I found myself enjoying the parts narrated by the character from Six of Crows more than the other two-thirds narrated by characters from the trilogy. This did not really take away too much from my reading experience, at least not as much as THE ENDING. The ending is one of those where it seems like some things are tied up and others aren’t, so there could possibly be a sequel but there doesn’t need to be one. Have I committed myself to another book? Or is this it? Will I be left with questions? I normally like open-ended endings, but only if I know it’s the end of what I’m reading.

After this, I started reading Let Fury Have the Hour, because I felt in the mood for some punk rock. Unfortunately, the flu struck me down while I was reading this, and it’s surprisingly hard to read smart analyses of punk music while extremely sick. So I put Joe Strummer aside and picked up This Book is Gay from Barnes & Noble, assuming it would be an easy read. I was right. It was an easy read. But I didn’t get much out of it. Most of the information was stuff I already knew, and the humor was not as funny as I expected. This might have been a good read when I was questioning my sexuality and gender, but it was not a book I needed in my life at this moment.

I read Juno Dawson’s book at the beginning of my spring break, still sick but able to get through an easy book. While I was home, my mom, sister, and I went to my favorite bookstore: Half Price Books. I don’t have an HPB where I go to school, so I always make a trip when I visit home. This is when my Harry Potter buying spree happened. Although I own all of the original series, I am on a mission to get all of the British versions of the HP books, hence the purchasing of books I already own. I also got the quidditch book because, although it doesn’t match my Tales of Beedle the Bard and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them books, it has a stamp on the cover that says “Property of Hogwarts IMG_9448Library” and I knew this was the edition I wanted. Plus, it was only four bucks… Anyway, who says your books have to match? (I also got my first Blink-182 album there—I’m a real emo now.)

Quidditch Through the Ages was another easy read for me while I was busy being sick, but I still enjoyed it, because what’s not to like about being in the Harry Potter universe? I’m not that into sports (even fictional ones), so I’m not sure I’ll ever read it again, but it was certainly fun!

I will only touch briefly on The Handmaid’s Tale, because I read it for class and have already written a ton about it for school, but I enjoyed re-reading it. It felt more emotionally difficult to read this time around, maybe because I’ve grown as a person and have a more nuanced view of rape, sex, sexuality, religion, and gender. Maybe it’s because I was emotional about being sick. I don’t know, but it still felt like an important read, and I understand why everyone recommends this book.

As far as reading goes, March ended on such a high note (pun intended). Our Dark Duet and Daisy Jones and the Six were both SUCH GOOD BOOKS. IMG_9446Honestly, they are new favorites.

Our Dark Duet, which is the sequel to This Savage Song, definitely delivered. Not only did it include a nonbinary monster with a complex personality, but it also made me want to throw it across the room while at work—the sign of a good book. I cared so deeply about the characters, and we get to see a different part of this world and how that region operates. The only downfall was the inclusion of a romance I was hoping wouldn’t happen. I won’t spoil it, but the first book steered clear of this particular relationship, and then it happened in the second book. I’m not a fan of this relationship becoming romantic, and the way it happened was a bit cheesy, but I didn’t absolutely hate it. It certainly didn’t ruin the book for me, but only because it ended up adding to the complexity of human vs. monster and pain vs. beauty vs. love. This is a book about monsters that is so profoundly human and heartbreaking—a work of art. I can’t wait to read more books by Victoria Schwab.

Although it offered an extremely different experience, Daisy Jones and the Six absolutely blew me away. One day during this past week, it was 75 degrees outside, so of course, I sat outside and read for three hours in the sun. I got a sunburned nose (and, weirdly, some sunburned fingers)—but any book that can make me read for hours and forget that I should be doing my homework is an exceptional book. I even stayed up late to finish reading it, and everyone who knows me is aware of how much of a stickler I am for having a regular sleep schedule.

Daisy Jones tells a fake oral history of a band that formed in the 1970s and had a huge falling out after a concert in Chicago. That’s basically all I knew going into it. Now, I already had an inkling that I would like this book, because I love reading oral histories about musicians and music scenes (e.g. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City by Lizzy Goodman). I also love reading fiction of all types (except, maybe, romance…). This book was a combination of amazing storytelling, complicated musicians in a drug- and sex-filled music scene, and characters that were entirely believable. I often forgot I was reading something fictional, and I could barely make myself put it down to go to class or go to sleep. If possible, I think I liked it even more than the This Savage Song duology, and I LOVE duologies.

I’d like to end this post on a bookstore trip. In an attempt to finish a Baginski_Ryn_narrative_8photography assignment, I found a tiny used bookstore called Badger’s Bookshop to take pictures at. But, to nobody’s surprise, I also ended up browsing and buying a few books.

This bookstore has the most character out of any bookstore I’ve been to. This guy, Will, literally sells books out of his home. You browse in the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, a bedroom—it’s a house full of books that he still uses as a living space. He was very gracious about me taking pictures, and I even chatted with some book collectors who were also browsing. I wanted to spend hours and hours there, but I had errands to run, so I picked three books—a beautiful copy of Beloved by Toni Morrison, Women who loved books too much, and an Agatha Christie novel with an amazingly cheesy and fitting cover from the 1950s—and checked out. EvenIMG_9443 though I certainly don’t need any more books, I can’t wait to go back and bring my friends there. Plus, I got some unique pictures for my assignment. It was a win-win-win—cool bookstore, fellow book-lovers, and I finished an assignment.

This March has made me excited for all of the books and experiences I have ahead of me—perhaps another Daisy Jones or Our Dark Duet is in my future.

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