The Recommendations | Book Tag

I’ve been tagged by both Ally Writes Things, who made the tag, and Naty’s Bookshelf. Thank you!!

Rules

  • Tag Ally @ Ally Writes Things 
  • Give at least one recommendation for each of the prompts below
  • If you don’t have a recommendation, talk about a book you want to read
  • Tag your friends

A book about friendship

I always look for books about friendship, but somehow all the recommendations I have is heist related? That’s without including all the YA books with too-young characters having to bond because there’s no adults around, of course. Honestly I prefer found-family or platonic relationships to romantic ones in general in books.

But I think of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt as a story about friendship, as much as it has lonely elements as well. I guess also “The Secret History”. I need more not-gloomy-murder recommendations, is what I’m figuring out.

A translated book

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. For once I’m standing by my first language and choosing a norwegian book. I know this book that’s a mix of children’s and philosophy is really well-known, but it’s kind of strange trying to get if people know of it elsewhere in the world. I grew up with the author’s book, but I really want to reread this and see how (or if) different I would understand it now. It’s philosophy made so accessible, even for someone who is forced to take a university philosophy course right now and hating it.

A diverse romance

I’m so bad at reading pure romance books without stopping half-way through. I just finished Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and while it felt very middle-school and not young adult, it’s the queer romance between a Latino trans boy and a gay boy that I would’ve loved growing up.

A fast-paced book

I rarely remember the pace of a book unless it was horrible one way or another?? I think the sequel A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green had a fast pace in that the set-up of the first book (with strange giant robots that might be alien) needed a lot to tie up and it all managed to happen in this book, through multiple points of view and a group of friends collaborating by working on each of their part of the bigger problem.

A nonfiction (not memoir)

Naty’s Bookshelf mentioned The End of Everything by Katie Mack which I just read and very much agree with her take! It was such an experience reading, written with so much passion about astrophysics and the existential questions. In that way it does have a lot of perspective and personality from Mack and even though I am in university for physics, you don’t need any background to enjoy reading it. She goes briefly through the smaller things you need to follow the theories of how the world will end and what that means.

An underrated memoir

A truly underrated one is “A Woman in the Polar Night” by Christiane Ritter about a german upper-class (or at least comfortable) woman who in 1934 travels to the Arctic to spend a year there. It goes very quickly from “ah, a relaxing, but challenging trip” to “boredom and life & death”. Her writing is stunning as well and really delves into aspects of life that I’ve never had described to me this way, but rings as clear as the snow surrounding her for miles and miles.

A book with fewer than 10.000 ratings on Goodreads

Somehow the first I thought of was (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn, which was one of those books that was on my TBR for FIVE LONG YEARS with no idea of what it was about. It had such a powerful story of facing reality and dealing with it or continuing making the easy decision of running from it. As a story it’s also on the line between fantasy, magical realism and dystopia in a way I haven’t seen before, set in a “paradise” where no one ever get sick or seem to die. It’s currently at 2171 ratings.

A book with a LGTBQ+ protagonist

I just bought City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault in physical form as I loved it so much and wanted to reread it before reading the rest of this high fantasy series. It has several asexual characters, including the main character (who is also aromantic) and is written by an asexual and aromantic author. All the characters are queer; bisexual, demi, pan, poly, gender fluid, agender, as well as asexual and aromantic is all represented in an overall badass magical city. Really, this book should be underneath the ‘friends’ recommendation as well as I might have a big weakness for main characters who observes everything all the time as a thief or assassin, but also cares deeply for their friends. And the plot builds so naturally on the personalities and choices made by these characters, and the way their lives intertwines by living in the same city. This book just gave me a lovely, fun and exciting experience reading it with characters I squeal over, but also feel comforted by. Without sacrificing any of the heavyness or high fantasy elements usual to the genre.

A book by a trans or non-binary author

I’ve got so many books I want to read that fits here, so these are on my TBR (and hopefully I can get to them after exams):

Freshwater, Pet or basically any other book by Akwaeke Emezi. I’m really interested in how Freshwater protrays mental illness , identity and the protagonist develops separate selves within her as she moves from Nigeria to America for college. But it all in this magical realism/fantasy type of story. Pet is also magical realism/fantasy for somewhat of a younger audience centered around a black, transgender girl who meets a monster and all the adults around her are in denial of their existence.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo also has a transgender girl main character who deals with being new in high school and everything that comes with. Relationships, mental illness, conflicts around gender – it seems like a really honest book.

A book with more than 500 pages

The longest book I’ve read and enjoyed is apparently now the popular fanfic All The Young Dudes by MsKingBean89 with its 527k words. And while I do recommend it for all its glorious scenarios as the whole fanfic follows the Harry Potter Marauders through Hogwarts and until the end, giving you everything queer J. K. FUcking Rowling would never – don’t start reading it without having the next few days completely free. The platonic relationships and the different twist on Remus’ character and life all wrecked me.

Besides that, it’s The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson which is one of my favourite fantasy books of all time and also 1283 pages long. It’s a struggle of wanting to write reviews for all my fav books, but then also having too much to say about them and never getting to it. It’s just the best, although I always recommend Mistborn by Sanderson if you’re looking for an easier way into his work and not to dive into this epic fantasy chaos of greatness as it has as much of same brilliant elements in an easier to digest format and size.

A short story collection

Both The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu are supreme. Just the paper menagerie collection has stories about “The bookmaking habit of select species”, an AI utopia that you might actually want to live in, hujing; beings who are both fox and human, chinese calligraphy and deadly fear of communism / plain racism, being chinese in america, simulacrums; illusions of people stuck in time, aliens, Guan Yu the chinese god of war visiting America (American Gods vibes from that one, it was awesome). Also immense sacrifices and a few stories that willl make you sob inclung about unit 731 and the biological warfare and experimentation in China during WW2.

A book you want everyone to read

In general, the books that had the most impact on me heavily depends on the situation and context in which I read it. Not to mention my on-going struggle of finding a general recommendations list for people in my real life who ask. Because it’s always so much better to tailor them to their interest and like level of understanding of any given genre. For example the already mentioned A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter I find myself automatically recommending, but I get that it will be a slow-paced and quite boring book if it doesn’t match with the person.

So I think the best answer is the poetry collection BRANCHES and the new release Grocery List Poems (when it comes out in june, I’ve yet to read it) by Rhiannon McGavin! The writing is easy to follow for those who “aren’t (yet) into poetry”, but I also think McGavin always brings really interesting takes and beautiful writing. She started out as a spoken word poet so a lot of her work is on youtube. I’ve followed her for years, but in general I find that among the younger poets those who already stands out in how clearly they follow their own, more unique path is the ones that grows the most. Of course, easiest way to get into poetry is to start out with someone that speaks about things you are interested in, which sounds obvious, but sometimes needs a reminder.

Yesika Salgado (with the collections Corazón, Tesoro and Hermosa) is another great recommendation for a poet to ‘start with’, but also in general really fantastic. I’ve been rereading the poetry collections and wanted to do a short post on them, but it’s taken a while because each is so powerful and filled with messages connected to its theme that I need to like take a breath in between them. I think my favourite is Tesoro as it’s about family, the women in Salgado’s life and survival.

I’m tagging: Shalini / Leslie / Haf / Kay / Emily / Acqua / Christina if you want to do the tag as well!

all the book hauls | Bi-Weekly Update

So, I’ve started buying more physical books (in comparison to none) and then I never do book hauls, so here they all are gathered up. Honestly, a few of these books are from a year ago, but too nice-looking to not include.

  • Astrobiology: a very short introduction by David C. Catling
  • Kant: a very short introduction by Roger Scruton
  • The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
  • Robin Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (penguin english library edition)
  • A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
  • To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (penguin vintage classics)
  • By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart (bught used, panther granada publishing edition from 1978)
  • how to: absurd scientific advice for common real-world problems by randall munroe
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles (simon and schuester edition)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher`s Stone (scottish edition)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (slytherin edition)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (penguin edition)
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
  • Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
  • Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
  • War on Peace by Ronan Farrow
  • The Iliad by Homer (penguin classics edition)
  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (david fickling edition)
  • Maya by Josten Gaarder (found for free)

The Library Book Haul (aka books I promised to return a month ago, but have not read yet)

  • Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The Story of More by Hope Jahren
  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
  • The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
  • The City We Became by N. K. Jemish

The Notebook Haul (mostly gifts)

  • Floral (green) notebook from Paperblank (called poetry in bloom)
  • Flowers (dark) notebook from Paperchase
  • Edinburgh illustration notebook by Libby Walker

New book posts:

  • none.

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • Currently reading Winter Hours by Mary Oliver (poetry/prose/essays)
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
  • World Without Fish by (graphic novel, nonfiction, enviromental science) by Mark Kurlansky

Added to TBR:

  • A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Frank Wilczek (science)
  • Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek (science)
  • The Queen`s Gambit by Walter Tevis (chess, fiction)
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (fantasy, superheros, lgbt; bi mc, nonbinary)
  • The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2) by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
  • The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters (contemporary YA, lgbt; m/m)
  • Tell Me by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
  • Bound by Claire Schwartz (poetry)
  • Hours Inside Out by Isabella Presiz (poetry)

Three things on my mind:

  • About physical books; it’s funny how much taking photos of books is would boost my book posts more than anything. My short review of graffiti by Savannah Brown is a perfect example, it gets too many views each day solely from google image searches. I’m using the library more this year and in general have bought more physical books, so I hope to also take more photos, because I do love that aspect as well. I definitely did a lot when living at home, to the point where we would rarely get good natural light in winter and it annoyed me because book photos were worse, hahha. Physical books are just more expensive and less convenient. You’re talking about the girl who at the age of 10 years old chose to learn books in english instead of the translated norwegian copies because they cost so much. But I do prefer having physical copies of science and poetry books a lot over digital ones, because it’s so much easier to refer to and really sit down and take time with reading the book. I would love to have a copy of all my favourite books on hand in case friends are looking for recommendations, but I just don’t have the money for all the fantasy series that would include, as the student I am.

  • I started writing a short thing about how I’ve been thinking about gender for a while, as I did put off an imminent gender crisis during the first season of covid-19 lockdown. But then it turned into its own whole thing, and I think it will just be a post on its own because it fits nowhere else. Not that it has any conclusion, it’s more of an on-going discussion with myself.

  • I’ve listened to & loved the podcast Reply All from Gimlet Media for years. To the point that when company after company was revealed to have racist practices and similiar recently, I actually thought about if these (until now seemingly empathic) white guys behind Gimlet Media would disappoint me to. But instead they’ve hired and otherwise given platform to producers of color with a purpose to cover a more diverse range of topics. And it’s really brought things to my feed that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, I think. A very recent addition to this is a series on the Bon Apetit test kitchen which had a “online reckoning” last summer with being exposed for being racist. Told by reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni, she goes hard in the first episode by calling a huge number of past and current employees over a period of twenty years and highlights the many people of color that has quit already way back because they were devalued in different ways because of the color of their skin and them not coming from the same background or looking the same as every other white person in the kitchen. She does an expert job by pointing out other possible causes for situation as well, many of these people struggled at the time to understand it themselves, but overall it shows a pattern. Especially in comparison to the newest known scandals that made so many very-much-loved-by-the-audience cast members quit. Absolutely worth listening to, I’m sure the next episodes are going to be great as well.
  • Resistance is another new podcast by Gimlet Media hosted by Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. all about the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement. The third episode “Shake the Room” was the first I listened to, and the story of how american police targeted protesters months later, and this example of how they showed up at the house of the Warriors in the Garden protestor Derrick Ingram in particular, really shook me to my core in its injustice and the potential and threat of violence.

lonely birthday, but it’s ok | Bi-Weekly Update

Here’s the thing – I thought I could, and would actually have to, celebrate my birthday with those of my fifteen roommates who are home. We were asked not to go back to our university cities right now unless necessary because of a major corona outbreak there, but for many that message came too late as the semester is starting up. Personally I was supposed to have a hospital appointment that could not be moved, so I would have to travel there. Turns out, when you have a possible allergic reaction to the kind of medicines I am on and an ambulance has to treat you, it’s suddenly (and thankfully) possible to postpone hospital appointments for two weeks more. I’m good enough right now that I could probably go, but I would have to be much more in and out of the hospital to take tests, and that increases the corona risk so much more than if I was in total lockdown with my friends. Well roommates, but we’re pretty much all friends. Which leads me to do all that here and instead celebrating my birthday alone, but with my lovely mom.

it’s actually a lemon cake underneath the pink

In a few more days I will know how badly my start of the year will look like and I’m not looking forward to it. Sometimes there’s only bad alternatives, and there’s nothing you can do except accept that. Ah, I’ve always told myself and those around me that when physics & math are my biggest problems, my life is good. I’m truly excited for that too be the case again. I had a reminder of that when someone (kindly) asked me if it wasn’t better to take a reduced course-work this year, and the pure rage I felt at having the one good thing taken away from me right now. Of course, at a point I will admit defeat, but that’s not one week in.

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • Rereading Corazón and reading Tesoro by Yesika Salgado (poetry)
  • Shame is an ocean I swim across by Mary Lambert (poetry)

Added to TBR:

  • In the event this doesn’t fall apart by Shannon Lee Barry (poetry)
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (fantasy)

Favourite Books of 2020

2020; the year of a pandemic, of my health declining (unrelated), of spending more time with family (if you want it or not) and not to forget – thinking you will read more, but ending up scrolling through tiktok for hours instead. Ah, how much I love the dark academia aesthetic when I’m forced to be separated from my beloved reading places / libraries.

Also, you know the feeling when you were going to write reviews of all of these books, but reviews of favourites is definitely the hardest because you want to get them right and then you will be too far into the year – ah maybe just me, but the ones that is reviewed will be linked.

  • Best sci-fi/urban fantasy mix: Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang and the rest of the series! Because of its exceptionally morally gray / villain vibes protagonist and math superpowers.
  • Best non-fiction (and audiobook): Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow for the great coverage of the Weinstein sexual abuse cases as the journalist who first exposed them and going in-depth about the women affected and the way it was covered up by major news oulets like NBC who later turned out had Matt Lauer’s sexual assault allegations of their bloody hands.
  • Best graphic novels / comics: Deadly Class by Remender, Craig, Loughridge for just being the most-fucked up thing I’ve read ever formatted as boarding school teenage villains in training.

  • Best classic: A Separate Peace by John Knowles – is it a classic? It’s very popular and written in 1959, that counts. A coming-of-age novel set right before a war with all of its moral dilemmas, with an exceptional friendship that seems pretty full of gay yearning to me, but it’s not canon.
  • Best sequel & sci-fi: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green which is the sequel to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and the sequel so much lived up to my expectations that I cried. About fame, about aliens, espionage, friends- what more do you need? Queer characters. It’s all there. It’s so well done from the one person who’s got the intersection of experience enough (science, social media, business, all the other things) to make it feel a bit too real.
  • Best poetry: Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong because it’s just amazing. So vivid, so much looking into violence and the family dynamics of being Vietnamese immigrants.

  • Best romance: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston for its fun royal/presidental gay romance. I’ve seen a couple of these stories around, but I think this one with its humor as well as real elements is a good top contender. Cute enemies to lovers trope.
  • Couldn’t get it out of my brain: Wilder Girls by Rory Power for displaying itself as a YA book with some girlpower, but otherwise normal then turning out to be pure horror and abuses of power and fairytale island forest vibes. It stuck around because it has symbolism to girls going through teenage years and puberty, but it was such a good fantasy/sci-fi plot as well. And queer yearning and girls.
  • Most surprising find: A Woman in the Polar Night is exactly what it tells you it is, but I wouldn’t have found it hadn’t I physically stumbled over it. I did not expect reading about a german woman of the 1930s going to the Arctic and then writing a memoir about it to be such a life-changing experience and at the same time describe certain things I’ve been trying to for years so perfectly.

And then I came to the major & sad realization I didn’t read any straight-up excellent high fantasy this year, or really (only) fantasy at all. That’s usually my biggest genre. I had a lot on my TBR, but most of the year something about my mental state was not ready for the commitment of the brilliant extensive world of any Philip Pullman or Brandon Sanderson book, and otherwise I did not have time. 2021 is the time!

Honorary mentions

I read the very popular harry potter marauder’s fanfic All the Young Dudes by MsKingBean89 as the last part of this year was spent thinking too much of Harry Potter again. The fanfic follows the marauder’s through their entire Hogwarts years and then into the uncoming war, getting more queer as they grow up. The writing progresses so much as well, which makes sense thinking about how much time this must have taken to write. I got very much into Harry Potter this year, despite hating Rowling, because a close friend of mine read it for the first time and found a lot of comfort in these characters as the pandemic was messing up everyone’s lives. Warning; It’s 520k words (around 1700 pages?) and I read it in two or three days, it was rough to put it down.

I also discovered the absolutely great horror podcast The Magnus Archives this year and it tells such a extensive story, with all of its great cast of character, creepy creatures and meta-storytelling.

End of Year TBR (2020)

Last year, 2019, I made a TBR for the whole year, with very varying results as I did not take enough into account the fact that I was going to university for the first time, hahha. I knew I would have less time, but the actual time I did have to myself, let alone to read for fun, was still so much less than expected.

This year I’ve only made two smaller TBR lists; Spring TBR! & Queer TBR of June for #PrideLibrary20. I want to make a summary update of this years TBR posts at the end of the year as well, but before that – why don’t I make another TBR with the books I might read between now and next semester start in early january? Take into account that it’s exam season, but it finished up early for me this year. So I don’t think any of these books will get started before 10th of December, at the very least. I’ll probably need even more downtime to recover, as I expect the time until exams to be extra dramatic this covid-riddled year.

The End of Year TBR

Audiobooks

  • We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman (memoir, nonfiction; history, war, politics)
  • We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai (nonfiction; memoir, feminism, politics)
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (poetry, YA contemporary, lgbt; queer girls)

Poetry & graphic novels

  • Sweetdark by Savannah Brown (poetry)
  • Paper Girls vol. 3 – 6 (graphic novel)
  • On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (graphic novel, lgbt; f/f, sci-fi)

Science

  • The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go From Here by Hope Jahren (science; climate change)
  • Love and Math by Edward Frenkel (science; math)
  • Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku (science; physics)
  • Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction by David C. Catling (science)
  • The Body in Pain by Elaine Scarry (was also on 2019 TBR oops, philosophy; disability)

Fantasy & sci-fi

  • Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (fantasy)
  • The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman (fantasy)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (read for bookclub, a classic sci-fi)

Etc.

  • Kant: A Very Short Introduction by Roger Scruton (nonfiction; philosophy – preparing for obligatory philosophy class in spring)
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka (reread for bookclub, classic)
  • A norwegian collection of debut poets – Signaler 2019
  • Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman (politics)
  • A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (nonfiction; poetry writing)
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Exciting New Book Releases Autumn 2020 (part two)

I made a weird summer/autumn mix of new releases last time, so I’ll call it a part one.

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

Release date: September 15th 2020

Why I want to read it: Ghosts, a beautiful remote farm, trauma & loneliness. Same author as a lot of other amazing books; like “We Are Okay” and “Everything Leads To You“.

Burning Roses by S. L. Huang

Release date: September 29th 2020

Why I want to read it: A queer girls retelling of Red Riding Hood and the Chinese mythological archer Hou Yi (which I’ve not read about before), along with a few others mixed into this mashup. Same author as the badass Cas Russell series!

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Release date: October 6th 2020

Why I want to read it: The title was what drew me in tbh. Then I realized it was the same author as another book I want to read; “The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle”. Not to forget the synopsis’ promise of: “A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.”

What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump

Release date: October 15th 2020

Why I want to read it: I first found it because Ocean Vuong is one of many writers in this anthology. I think a lot of poems of empathy & outrage from diverse voices is very much what I need right now.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Release date: October 20th 2020

Why I want to read it: same author as “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”. It promises horror, boarding all-girls school and most importantly sapphic (or lesbian) dark academia

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Release date: October 27th 2020

Why I want to read it: sicilian twin witches, set in 1800s. Murder, vengeance, a sarcastic bad-boy demon princes and dark magic. And I’ve seen people enjoy it so far.

A Court of Silver Flames (ACOTAR #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Release date: October 27th 2020

Why I want to read it: I’ve gotten so far into the series that I want to get through with it, tbh. I’ve mainly given up on still liking this author, it’s like her writing & choices plot and character-wise have declined the last books, probably because of popularity and publishing quicker.

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett

Release date: November 10th 2020

Why I want to read it: dark academia set in college, lonelines, cults, manipulation and at least one death.

Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive #4) by Brandon Sanderon

Release date: November 17th 2020

Why I want to read it: IT’S THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE, IF IT’S ANY BOOK I EVER HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR IT IS THIS ONE! so excited.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black

Release date: November 24th 2020

Why I want to read it: It’s a somewhat short story from the Folk of the Air series, so it’s more to complete it than anything else. I’ve always liked Jude better than Cardan since The Cruel Prince.

Ruinsong

Release date: November 24th 2020

Why I want to read it: I’m kind of on the fence for this one, because, while I truly wanted to, I never got into The Seafarer’s Kiss by the same author because personally the writing didn’t fit me. But this one has enemies to lover vibes and promises sapphic (lesbian) characters, not to mention underground rebellion, so I’m willing to give it another try.

 

The Eleven Books I Never Seem to Finish (Part One)

So I’ve got a currently-reading shelf on goodreads that always contains too many books that I picked up and never really finished or stopped reading? Like sometimes I dive into them again, sometimes there’s good reasons, sometimes I’ve just forgotten to read the last two chapters. This happens way more with nonfiction, but also poetry collections and classics. So here’s those books, from ‘oldest to newest’ in when I first picked them up, so that maybe I will guilt myself into starting the new school year with a empty currently reading shelf and less loose threads in my head.

Einstein biography by Walter Isaacson

When I started reading the book: June 2017

Have I picked it up since? yes, I read about half and then read some more in 2018, so I think I’ve only got a few chapters left I just never finished it

You think you know Einstein’s life, but if you haven’t read an in-depth account of his life – you don’t. I truly love this biography, but it was heavy for two years younger me and I was constantly searching up things to learn more. It’s got so many highlights and notes in it by now.

Why am I not reading it? Truly just because I’m separated from my physical copy bc of corona

We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson

When I started reading the book: January 2018

Have I picked it up since? Yes, several times

This book is truly trying to learn you everything you want about what we know and don’t know about the cosmos through funny and original graphs and cute illustrations (!!!). Mostly quarks, black holes, gravitational waves, whatever dark energy and dark matter is and why it’s dark. It’s meant to be humorous and peak your interest. I got at least 25% in, I guess. Some of my problem was the balance of skimming what I did know already, but then not wanting to miss out on the rest. Would be fun to see how much more different I would approach it now, one year into a physics degree. But it’s really appropriate for someone without much knowledge on the matter (haha) already as well.

Why am I not reading it? I forgot I guess???

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

When I started reading the book: March 2018

Have I picked it up since? Yes, I read poems here and there for about a year. Got 50% through it.

Big poetry collections of a particular poet are strange because you might like on era of their poetry more than another, and that takes time to figure out. Especially with a 200 pages ebook filled to the brim with classical short poems. Thankfully most of them are pretty understandable without a knowledge of the time or much of Dickinson’s life.

Why am I not reading it? I truly forgot I liked individual poems this much, even though the collection itself left me confused often

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

When I started reading the book: April 2019

Have I picked it up since? Yes, I’ve continually gotten back to it

  1. I didn’t know it had been that long since I first started it. 2. I don’t know why I wanted to read it in the first place or what I expected. 3. It’s never … well, bad or uninteresting, it just never cuts to the chase of what’s going on.

Why am I not reading it? I always think I’m reading it occassionally, but then I’m also only 35% into a 270 page book so who knows what’s happening there

Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos

When I started reading the book: July 2019

Have I picked it up since? Yes, to read a single other chapter.

With a mind-blowing first two chapters I really liked this book all about how we use maths. That might sound boring or strange, but I strikingly remember the author writing about how different groups of humans count differently depending on their need, and too a much higher degree so do animals. Like the difference between immediately recognizing the size of a herd compared to babies being able to recognize when a number change in number of objects, or something like that. And also cultural differences in how we learn children to count. Fascinating stuff, only problem was that I then started a math-heavy physics degree and then there was little interest in reading non-fiction books for a while, which I’m warning you is a theme here.

Why am I not reading it? separated from my physical copy by corona as well, but mostly lack of will to read more maths on freetime when I’ve just finished math lectures

Exciting New Book Releases Summer/Autumn 2020

So I made a exciting book releases for spring and summer and also a short one with queer summer books, but then I forgot all the July book releases, so that’s included in this as well I guess? Mostly fantasy, young adult, queer, sci-fi, but also some poetry and a graphic novel.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: I’ve already bought it, I just forgot to add it to my latest list. It’s the sequel to Hank Green’s first amazing novel and here’s a review all trying to explain how much I loved that one.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: a fairytale vibe story based on Persian mythology about a princess who’s poisonous to the touch. I’m looking forward to demons and a great character development, let’s see this girl own her powers.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Loved Wilder Girls by Power, and looking forward to more horror involving young adult-age girls, without it really being YA. And w/ all the sapphic vibes! It’s about a girl trying to find her past & old hometowns, which is pretty vague.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Any m/m romance being compared to “Red, white and royal blue” piques my interest, mostly for the enemies-to-lovers trope & slight political setting that hopefully promises. Here we also get fake-dating for publicity.

The Year of the Witchling by Alexis Henderson

Release date: July 21st

Why I want to read it: a promise of feminist fantasy & discovering dark powers. Also witch / church conflict. I mean, I’m always looking for good witch books.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Release date: September 1st

Why I want to read it: a trans guy summons a ghost, which then creates a lot of trouble for the hell of it. Also ownvoices for trans & latinx elements of the book.

To Sleep In a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: the first sci-fi book by Paolini since his Eragon series – that seems like both a hard thing to write & something I’m very curious about

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: grieving her dead mother, witnessing a magical attack on campus, a mage by the name of Merlin that tries and fails to vipe her memory, investigating mother’s murder, learning that there exists a group of ‘Legenborn’ magicians that are descendants of King Arthur & magical war – this young main character is getting put through a lot. Also has a bi mc and lesbian and nonbinary characters, secret societies and demons.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Release date: September 22nd

Why I want to read it: Hyberbole and a half by Allie Brosh is one of my all time favourite humor comics/graphic novels.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Release date: September 29th

Why I want to read it: magical school!! but this time by an author that I truly adore, so hopefully done right or in an interesting way. A YA fantasy where monsters lurks everywhere and frienships are hard to come by as everyone is struggling for survival. And a main character who’s got powerful dark magic.

Sweetdark by Savannah Brown

Release date: October 8th

Why I want to read it: I’ve enjoyed Savannah’s poetry & writing in general for a long time. Pleasure, chaos, apocalyptic vibes, vulnerability – it all sounds very exciting.

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater & Morgan Beem

Release date: October 13th

Why I want to read it: It’s by Stiefvater. But also I’m a sucker for the completely opposite, but inseparable duo. Very interesting to see how the illustrations turns out in this graphical novel as well as just how alive those swamps they discover are.

Queer Poetry Collections | Short Reviews

I thought I’d already reviewed these poetry collections and then realized that I forgot I saved them up for pride month seeing as I ‘acidentally’ read poetry collections from only queer authors there for a while.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Favourite poems: ‘Notebook Fragments’, ‘Prayer for the Newly Damned,’ ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’, ‘Trojan’ – nearly all of them in other words

I’d heard a lot of good things about this queer author, but I truly didn’t imagine the vividness he brought. Everything in here contains so many aspects, like when looking at violence. Vuong brings another level of honesty and delicacy to it, while not softening that violence or its consequences either. Vuong is extremely good at looking into and describing the different layers of his story; of being mixed, coming from a refugee camp in the Philippines to America, the Vietnam war and how this all plays out in the dynamics of his family and relationships. I think I’ll reread this after I finish his newer debut novel ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’, because it so far gives more backstory to where he’s coming from and I like it even more.

Felicity by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is my all time favourite poet, basically, and I wrote a whole post on it this pride month. ‘Felicity’ is one of her later works (even if it’s from 2005 so … not that recent), which I seem to prefer generally. I truly enjoyed this collection as well; it’s about love, memory, being oneself, belief and loss. It’s still a bit outside of her usual work, as love is so much a general thing to try to write about, and Oliver usually finds her excellent moments that carries the poems in the small things, inspired by nature or humans alike. Meaning it’s not the collection I would recommend someone to start with, but it’s still good and gives a better perspective on Mary Oliver as a person and her relationship to her late partner Molly Cook. In trying to describe something so universal as love, she reveals more of herself than before.

Soft Science by Franny Choi

I was so into the concept (from the synopsis) of: “explores queer, Asian American femininity” and “how to be tender and feeling and still survive a violent world filled with artificial intelligence and automation”. Unfortunately, I just didn’t understand most of the poems because of the fragmented style. The reason I make short reviews of poetry often is that, as someone who’s not a poet, reviewing poetry is strange because it feels more up to personal-taste than any novel. Still, I would shy away from not recommending a collection to someone, in hopes they get something from it.

Fav Queer Author: Mary Oliver | #PrideLibrary20

I’m joining in on some of the #pridelibrary20 prompts, hosted by The Library Looter, Michelle Likes Things and Anniek’s Library throughout June. Here’s a link to a summary of my posts from last year.

I wanted to write a big post claiming all the reasons Mary Oliver is my favourite poet and queer author, but my body is a wreck currently and I finished exams this week and this post is going to be thrown together quickly. I have a full review of one of Oliver’s collections of poems gathered from several periods, which could be a good introduction, but is also a bit confusing without context. Personally my favourite collection and the first I read from her was “A Thousand Mornings” back in 2017. I also truly love her essay collection “Upstream”, which along with beautiful thoughts on using nature gives a bit more insight into her thought-process and background.

In ‘Upstream’ she says: “I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” And also: “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” Truly words to live by!

First off, I was a bit into poetry before stumbling upon Mary Oliver, but I’d never read the type of nature focused poetry that she writes. I truly fell instantly in love with it. It’s a type of romanticization that doesn’t shy away from the uncontrollable force that nature is or how it affects humans. It’s spiritual at times, but she’s also a talent at using nature and beautiful phrasing to criticize society. In my head her poetry toes a lot of these balances very-well, it’s constantly questioning intentions and morale. But it’s also very simple at times, and that’s what makes it easy poetry to fall in love with even if it’s your first poetry collection, without losing substance along with that simplicity. There’s something special about life advice from someone you know have been through difficult life events and come out on the other side, especially when she looks like the perfect grandma. She’s truly life goals, and I stand by that as someone who grew up thinking I had few role models, also because the queer component was missing.

Mary Oliver went through many of the queer struggles; she was born in 1935 in suburbs of Ohio, she often went in the woods to escape a dysfunctional family and has talked briefly about experiencing sexual abuse as a child. She used writing to observe her world, but also to create one. And through it she was lucky enough to find other queer friends that would also become her family.

And after falling in love with her poetry I learned that she was an old lady! An older lesbian lady! Who had been living peacefully in nature with her female partner Molly Cook for over forty years, before she passed away. And I started crying when I heard Oliver passed away as well last year, but in the sense of someone having lived their life to completeness, even if it was a tough one.

Mary Oliver may not be very confrontative or ‘loud’ in her poetry, she’s not been extremely radicalizing or political in other means than existing as a queer person. But her story, her views and politics is definitely something you see through her poetry, it’s her medium. And I personally think it’s admirable to never lose a certain softness even as a person deals with massive trauma. But don’t mistake that as there not being a sharpness to Mary Oliver’s poetry as well.

I would suggest looking up Mary Oliver reading some on her poems on youtube and sitting down with a cup of tea or coffee, preferably staring out a window, and listen to her calm reassuring voice. You need good time for it, not in length, but in attention. Even if I also sometimes play them to relax if I can’t sleep.