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cant_i'm_booked
Inherent Vice | Thomas Pynchon
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Pickpick

My favorite Pynchon by far: a hilarious, zany L.A. noir about a private investigator investigating a kidnapped real estate mogul at the behest of his ex-girlfriend. Though I am in awe of the writing and sheer breadth of knowledge that makes up Gravity‘s Rainbow, I honestly enjoyed more this light-hearted, cannabis-infused, and unapologetically SoCal romp; “Pynchon Lite” as fans likes to say.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

If you can settle in to the lilting patois, spoken by over half of the book‘s 75 characters, in narrating a jumbled retelling of the epic history behind Jamaica‘s troubled years, you‘re in for an extraordinarily rich experience. A Brief History takes fictional freedom in investigating who were, and what became of, the seven mysterious gunmen who attempted to assassinate Bob Marley right before his Smile Jamaica peace concert on Dec. 5, 1976.

SamAnne This is sitting next to my book stand. On my list for this year. 6d
cant_i'm_booked @SamAnne that‘s awesome, I‘m curious what you think of it! 4d
11 likes2 comments
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cant_i'm_booked
The Changeling | Victor LaValle
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Panpan

I started this book excited, having heard good things about it: a book collector in New York City embarks upon a surreal trip into ancient folklore after his wife disappears following a horrendous event involving their newborn infant. It‘s an ambitious mix of fantasy, urban realism and the psychological trials of new parenthood, but a mix that didn‘t cohere well enough to make a truly good story.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

A spectacular cross-study of horror, where Jones considers the various objects/phenomena (both the imagined and the very much real) that've inspired human fright over the centuries before finally given life and color via the novel, the movie reel, television and finally the Internet. If you'd like to know more about the grimness of early fairy tales to Italian mondo/exploitation films to ecological horror and even Freud, I highly recommend this.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

Great selection of creepy stories, collected into one volume in 1957 by Don Congdon, more famously known as Ray Bradbury‘s literary agent (I read Bradbury‘s short-story “The Illustrated Man” for the first time in this book). Other favorites include “The Chaser” by John Collier, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, “The Demon Lover” by Elizabeth Bowen and “Sredni Vashtar” by Saki (H.H. Munro). Background record “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Mehso-so

A good collection of short-stories, written by the co-father of verismo, or Italian realism. Frequent breaks are needed, though, from the near-constant depictions of back-breaking poverty, onslaughts of cholera and tuberculosis, and familial health/wealth being made or broken by the capricious weather of the harsh Sicilian countryside. Lust and jealousy are major themes here: someone is either being called a "cuckold" or "tramp" every other page.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

One of my all-time favorite books: a cultural celebration of swimming and the centuries of literature inspired by it. It‘s invigorated me enough to go plunge into the frigid San Francisco Bay every morning. Sprawson‘s only book, but it should count as five, it being packed with incredibly erudite dives into the author‘s lifelong fascination with water and “the swimmer” archetype. Background record: “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

BarbaraBB My all time favorite record ❤️ 1mo
15 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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cant_i'm_booked
Middlemarch | George Elliot
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Pickpick

Done with a crazy school semester, picked up right where I left off on my “real” reading (sorry, not sorry, you fusty ol‘ biology textbooks). I adore this book: Eliot has a way of prying off the lids to all her characters‘ heads and gently examining the contents. Written 150 years ago, Middlemarch offers the humbling realization that you‘re just another chapter in a never-ending human story of vice, virtue and finding that one great love.

Leftcoastzen Love your review! 2mo
batsy Beautiful review of one of my very favourite books! 1mo
Cuilin ❤️ one of my favorites. Great review. 1mo
23 likes3 comments
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cant_i'm_booked
Incest Diary | Anonymous
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Pickpick

Just a really difficult book to read (obviously). Beautifully written, but the content makes you want to put the book down very often. It must've taken tremendous courage to relate such painful details about something so taboo. She relates how her being abused leaked into almost every aspect of her psyche, how it split her mind of what was beautiful and desirous, molding her as a teenager and as a young woman forming her own new relationships.

16 likes1 stack add
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cant_i'm_booked
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Mehso-so

A graphic novel based on the author's experience working on an acute psychiatric ward for several years. Empathetic, educative, and often stark in its realism, it's an introduction to the forces behind a person's particular mental illness and the trials and stigma they often must endure. Depression, dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide, and others, are each treated with a compassionate chapter that begs for our better understanding.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

I've been on a volcano kick since watching Fire of Love, a 2022 documentary about the volcanologist couple Maurice and Katia Krafft. This slim book is an aesthetic pleasure, chock-full of photos and paintings. Some of the world's most famous volcanoes are described, both in their uneasy sleeps and fiery eruptions, the author connecting such blasts to their impact on humanity's artistic and literary imagination over the centuries.

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cant_i'm_booked
Reproductive Justice: An Introduction | Loretta Ross, Rickie Solinger
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Pickpick

Let‘s just say the timing was right to crack this open. A critically informative read removed from a purely pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy, Loretta Ross instead reframes women‘s reproductive rights within a human rights framework, a radical re-contextualization that demands not only reproductive health but a total reworking of all social determinants that plague, especially, poor women of color. It's not a right if not ALL women have access to it.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

It‘s a credit to the wild and eventful life Langston Hughes had lived, for the poet to be asked to already write an autobiography, still in his thirties. Hughes tells of his early life as a curious young man, taking up work as a seaman on merchant ships to Africa, Havana and Europe, working as a waiter in the Black concert halls of Paris and finding his poetic voice, mingling with the literati and other cultural icons of the Harlem Renaissance.

12 likes1 stack add
review
cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

So glad I finally decided to tackle some of the classics penned by this sci-fi master. I can definitely see, now, how so many elements in current science fiction was built upon his short stories and novels. I‘m curious about PKD‘s life as well: if anyone knows a good biography, let me know. It‘d be interesting to know more of the man behind this golden age of sci-fi. For now, I guess I‘ll finally let myself be convinced to watch “Blade Runner.”

vivastory I've read Do Androids Dream & Ubik. Loved both of them & have been meaning to read the other 2 novels collected in this vol. I see that an hr long documentary on Dick that was released a few yrs ago is available for free on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS7WeWG2ITo
6mo
vivastory Ah, I see now that you asked for biography, not documentary recommendations. I haven't read the following bio. but it's blurbed by Art Spiegelman & Jonathan Lethem (a massive fan of PKD) 6mo
cant_i'm_booked @vivastory Hey, I'm totally down for a solid doc too, thank you so much for this and the Spiegelman/Lethem rec. :) Lols, as for fandom, I figured that out too: in this Library of American edition, Lethem was credited for selecting the stories and adding all the footnotes. 6mo
OutsmartYourShelf I really liked the Amazon tv show of TMitHC but heard that the book version wasn‘t as good. 6mo
cant_i'm_booked @OutsmartYourShelf TMitHC was fun to read, but it was probably my least favorite of the four novels included here. It did make me want to watch the Amazon TV version, so thank you for the reminder. :) 6mo
14 likes5 comments
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cant_i'm_booked
A People's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area | Rachel Brahinsky, Alexander Tarr
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Pickpick

As an SF resident, this sent me into a flurry of note-taking. The authors take pains to steer your attention to the un-touristy, long-forgotten corners of the Bay which make up an unbelievably fascinating human geography and complicated cultural stratigraphy. Must read for anyone wanting to know their city better (psst it‘s a whole series too; I want the NOLA one next). Background jazz record: “San Francisco Scene” by the George Shearing Quintet.

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cant_i'm_booked
Adele | Lela Slimani
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Pickpick

Adele, the titular character of this erotically-tinged little novel, is a wealthy, married Parisian mother trying for years to hide the empty compulsions that have her seeking violent and passionless sex with strange men. Not inquiring as to the “why” behind her character‘s affairs, Slimani simply keeps empathetic tabs on Adele‘s highs and heartbreaks, saying, “[literature] is maybe one of the only experiences where you can stop judging people.”

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cant_i'm_booked
The Little Stranger | Sarah Waters
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Mehso-so

Through the eyes of a country doctor, this post-WWII story details the collapse of a beautiful manse due to time, a changing economic landscape (down with the landed gentry!) and most insidiously, a ghostly blight. Despite a long, untethered plot, the “ghost” stood out: sometimes the most malicious things out there are nothing but incarnations of our darkest, most possessive wishes. Background record: “Once Upon a Dream” by The Rascals.

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cant_i'm_booked
And Then There Were None | Agatha Christie
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Pickpick

The most fun I've had with an audiobook yet; it's narrated by Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey fans, heads up). I've stayed away from any movies based on Agatha Christie books just because I want to pick my way slowly through all her novels, in full suspense. This was well worth the wait: ten strangers are invited to an island by a mysterious owner only to realize it's a trap. One of them is not who they say they are and is intent on killing the rest.

24 likes1 stack add
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cant_i'm_booked
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Mehso-so

Fun book to read: a broad look-through of witch history and witch symbolism (though mind, it keeps mainly to the European-North American sphere). The author discusses the early persecution of “witches,” witch depictions within various visual arts, and adoption of the witch as a fierce feminist brand (a beloved symbol for Wiccans, pagans, or ppl who plain don‘t want to be part of the mainstream) battling commodification and a patriarchal system.

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cant_i'm_booked
Breasts and Eggs | Mieko Kawakami
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Pickpick

Picked this book because I loved the title and the book cover (and it got a good word from Murakami). But it‘s a great piece of body lit, with all its female protagonists and their inconsistencies/hesitancies about their desires and goals, which I found true to life and refreshingly genuine. It is about messy women trying to navigate messy lives with messy bodies: it all leads to some incredibly poignant moments. Backdrop LP: Sun Ra‘s Disco 3000.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

I hope I‘m not too alone in this but reading a textbook for fun can make a cool informative experience…especially if it‘s all about deciphering bones and their context to figure out who died where and how! Forensic anthropologists are called in to identify a body/answer a legal question when there‘s not enough remaining soft tissue for a medical examiner to come to any satisfying conclusions. Thought it matched well with my bedroom poster. :)

17 likes1 stack add
review
cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

This was fascinating, and also wretched, to hear the personal account of one of the last remaining survivors of the last slave ship to the States, as told by himself in 1920s Alabama to one of my favorite authors, Zora Neale Hurston. Cudjoe Lewis recalls vivid memories as a child back in his native home in West Africa, before being kidnapped, as well as of the family he established and tragically lost, as a freed man on American soil.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

I‘m not a fan of neat and tidy endings (with many Sherlock Holmes books, you‘ll get the who, what, where, when, why and how for all aspects of a case, no matter how mysterious its beginnings….it IS a detective story after all); I still like the eeriness of the unexplainable. This book definitely kept up the eeriness for its first 200 pages. What atmosphere! Murder and old folklore all blurred together upon a bleak but beautiful Devonshire moor.

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cant_i'm_booked
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“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” – Louisa May Alcott in “Work: A Story of Experience”
Check out this haul, only $17 for all 33 books. Used book sales are my dirty habit. :)

vivastory I see a few favorites in there 📚📚 Nice haul! 9mo
ManyWordsLater So many good ones! 9mo
11 likes2 comments
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cant_i'm_booked
Middlesex: A Novel | Jeffrey Eugenides
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Pickpick

An engrossing read about a young girl who becomes a young man. Calliope Stephanides is born into a Greek Orthodox family in 1960s Detroit. Her immigrant grandparents, fleeing their Anatolian village after Ataturk's rise to power, and hiding a secret, are the start of an epic story that Calliope (now Cal) narrates, musing over the numerous factors (is it nature? is it environment?) that has shaped a very misunderstood aspect of human heredity.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

I knew Alain de Botton‘s School of Life series on YouTube, so when I saw this at the library, I grabbed it. It‘s an enlightening, sometimes somber, witty therapy-as-book tackling how one can gain perspective, understanding and (some!) control on the chaos that is our emotional lives: emotions regarding oneself, others, your relationships, at work and finally, within culture (my favorite chapter). Hint: art, in all its forms, really helps.

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cant_i'm_booked
A Passage to India | E. M. Forster
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Pickpick

Beautifully written portrait of a country that is really a multitude of countries: a riotous, colorful body of landscapes, cultures, and religions. Forster‘s novel departs from Kipling‘s “The White Man‘s Burden,” its plot depicting a pivotal time when the 1920s Indian independence movement is beginning to shake off the pestilence that is the British Raj. This in turn starts to shape events for two friends: one Indian and one British.

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cant_i'm_booked
The Hole: A Novel | Hye-young Pyun
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Mehso-so

A paralyzed man recuperates after surviving a car crash that has killed his wife and left him in the care of a grieving mother-in-law who may not be too keen on his recovering. A quiet and very dark book (familial love and duty twisted into themes of isolation, shame and psychological torture), but I feel I can‘t grasp the nuances behind many of the Korean characters‘ thoughts possibly due to the imprecision of an English language translation.

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cant_i'm_booked
The Secret History | Donna Tartt
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Mehso-so

Richard Papen enters a prestigious liberal arts university in Vermont and befriends an insular group of classical scholars. But all of their Dionysus-worshipping, ancient Greek-speaking, Iliad-studying activity soon leads Richard struggling to keep one of their grisly secrets: a midnight bacchanalia-in-the-woods gone horribly wrong. Entertaining, but a little exhausting to keep up with what feels like a never-ending deluge of raunchy campus drama.

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cant_i'm_booked
Paperbacks from Hell | Grady Hendrix
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Pickpick

I borrowed this on a lark, thinking the cover art inside would be worth a 15-minute scan. Five days later 😵‍💫…..I finished reading the last page, with a long list of ‘70s and ‘80s horror paperbacks now penciled into my TBR list. Im hooked. Another contributing factor to my feverish TBR adds is Will Errickson‘s TooMuchHorrorFiction.blogspot.com. Check it out, it‘s fantastic.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Mehso-so

Was looking forward to gleaning some good long-term traveling tips here, but Potts is too vague for my taste. I get the sense of reading the whole book and not really learning anything besides one practical packing tip or two. If you just want a book chock-full of inspirational “get-out-there-and-do it!” quotes, this is the guide for you. Or read it for the lists of Google-able online travel resources provided at the end of each chapter.

danx Yeah I whipped through this and promptly got rid of it. Agree in its vagueness and generally not being very useful. I‘d have liked some practical things like tax tips for vagabonds, travel ‘hacks‘ etc. 10mo
7 likes1 comment
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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

Sometimes you wonder: if you‘d read a certain book earlier/at a certain point in your life, would it have sent you on an entirely different path (career, relationship, country of residence)? If I‘d read this book in college, I‘d have switched majors and become a geologist. Its an astounding five-volume exploration, along US I-80, of the geological forces that have formed (and are forming) our planet. The best natural science book I‘ve come across.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

Capping my Women‘s History Month 2022 with a literary history of the women writers who helped shape my favorite genre. 😈 A fairly good reference book that includes the founding mothers of Gothic fiction, the ladies of the pulp, 80‘s paperback authors, women of the occult and science fiction, and the diverse spread of modern day authors who are reinventing the serial killer, weird fiction, cosmic horror, the haunted house, you name it.

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cant_i'm_booked
The House on Mango Street | Sandra Cisneros
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Pickpick

I‘ve spent years trying to get into poetry; perhaps this book will finally give me that push. It‘s a moving amalgam of real women‘s stories intersecting on a fictional Chicago city block named Mango Street, riddled with poetic prose like: “…me and Nenny, we are more alike than you would know. Our laughter for example. Not the shy ice cream bells‘ giggle of Rachel and Lucy‘s family, but all of a sudden and surprised like a pile of dishes breaking.”

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

I LOVED this. Finally, a “self-help” philosophy read I find instantly applicable to the everyday, and for everyone. It‘s a more appealing and realistic exploration of the cliche, “be here now.” As you read, you feel your mental desktop of anxious “must-do”s getting swept clear. Note: author is former productivity columnist for the Guardian, this is his turning point in realizing “productivity” should become a passe word. More on that in the book.

danx This looks great, I‘ve just bought a copy! 11mo
14 likes1 comment
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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

Clarke‘s writing is dense, whimsical, enchanting…all muddled together, lending the book a fuzzy, ethereal feel. I enjoyed the fantasy of a northern England where medieval magic runs rampant, invisible and untapped — awaiting the return of a mysterious king. Alongside the magic, you also get a dose of early 1800s English history (Napoleonic Wars, Lord Byron); the two coincide so seamlessly, it‘s sometimes hard to render fact from fiction.

21 likes1 stack add
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cant_i'm_booked
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Mehso-so

Found the author‘s style pretty dry (it is an academic book) and he clubs you over the head repeatedly with his conclusions (again, academia) but the material was interesting. I was looking for more info about the Mardi Gras Indians but was given a broad historical sweep of performative culture in the African diaspora, syncretism of Iberian plays/marches with African drumming and the roots of folk Catholicism that make up Voudou, Candomble, etc.

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cant_i'm_booked
The House of the Seven Gables | Hawthorne Nathaniel
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Pickpick

Hello from sunny Golden Gate Park! I think Hawthorne would approve of the location, reading this book has confirmed for me his being a writer with an impeccable eye for beauty in everyday nature, as well as humanity. “House” is Gothic to its core, an introspective, delicate study of a cursed house and its inhabitants. It‘s lighthearted (even humorous) for 3/4 of the plot before descending into some deliciously atmospheric creepiness.

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

A gorgeous book of photos/ interviews with one tribe of the famous New Orleans‘ Mardi Gras Indians. If years of fascinating NOLA neighborhood history, the many influences of an Afro-Atlantic cultural diaspora and a powerful close-knit community determined to struggle through every tragedy, personal and city-wide (Katrina), does not draw you in, then the performative dance, traditional songs and jaw-dropping, ornate beaded work of “masking” will.

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cant_i'm_booked
The Round House | Louise Erdrich
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Pickpick

I like Gary Farmer (he was great in Dead Man, Reservation Dogs) so him narrating this audiobook was a real treat. This was a sad book, examining how rape can sow deep aftereffects of distance, grief, and resentment between family members. Not to mention the slowness of retributive justice, exacerbated by snarls of red tape and confusing land jurisdiction policy: all trials of living on a modern US Native American reservation.

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cant_i'm_booked
The Remains of the Day | Kazuo Ishiguro
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Pickpick

An elegant book with a plot simple enough (an English butler, on a road trip, reminiscing on his past thirty years of “dignified” service to a controversial lord and “gentleman”) but which disguises a deeper undertow of meaning: an interrogation of the idea of one‘s allegiance to something that may not deserve such. It is the butler‘s roundabout attempts to hide these truths from himself, even up to the last page, which makes this story so sad.

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cant_i'm_booked
The Fire Next Time | James Baldwin
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Eloquent, concise and cutting; like they said: the truth hurts. Giovanni‘s Room is still close to my heart (love and subsequent abandonment at its thorniest and most dire) but Baldwin‘s essays on race relations are important, timeless reading: they slice right to one‘s moral core. The first essay, being Baldwin‘s letter to his nephew, led me to an inspired Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ 2015 article “Letter to My Son” in The Atlantic. Check it out!

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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

I was afraid this would be too specific of a book topic, but the author is fantastic in tying McDonalds (and fast food franchising in general) into the big picture of civil rights, inner city development, emergence of black capitalism/empowerment, and Big Advertising‘s evolving attempts to appeal to Black appetites and wallets. Lesson: if you want to lift a community out of poverty, saturating it with fast food joints is not a long-term solution.

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cant_i'm_booked
The Master and Margarita | Mikhail Bulgakov
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Pickpick

I am voting this one of my favorite classics of all time, and only after the first read, at that! Bulgakov‘s novel, published posthumously and written completely in nail-biting secrecy under Stalin‘s regime, is Russian tragicomedy at its finest with a massive helping of magical realism. Plot: Satan and his diabolical retinue pay a visit to 1930s Moscow…to read the ensuing events therein is one tremendous literary treat.

vivastory This is one of my favorites of all time. I think I'm due for a reread. 13mo
Blueberry I looked it up on Goodreads. Sounds fascinating. 13mo
BookwormM Loved this 13mo
17 likes3 comments
blurb
cant_i'm_booked
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“There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few.“

Rest in peace, bell hooks. You indeed were, and will always be, a mentor and inspiration to the many, rather than the few.

Leftcoastzen 😭 14mo
14 likes1 comment
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cant_i'm_booked
Beneath The Underdog | Charles Mingus
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Mehso-so

Took me months to read. Probably because it was a shared project where I‘d read the book aloud to my partner (who has everything Mingus) whenever we had a minute. Cerebral, philosophical and perhaps NOT meant to be read aloud (the sex scenes are the most entertainingly lurid I‘ve ever come across in lit), it still didn‘t give me a satisfactory look into Mingus‘s early jazz-making. Oh well, it‘s his autobiography! He can write however he pleases.

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cant_i'm_booked
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A morning hike up to a great view, with a book in tow (and a sandwich) checks off all my boxes under “life satisfaction.” Looking east from a peak in Pinnacles National Park, California.
Fun fact: the “pinnacles” are the western half of an extinct volcano that has moved 200 miles north from its origin. Geology is way cool.

ozma.of.oz Oh wow! 🤩🤩 14mo
BkClubCare Cheers for Geology 🪨 14mo
Suet624 Wonderful! 14mo
BarbaraBB That is fantastic 😍😍 14mo
17 likes4 comments
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cant_i'm_booked
Ring Shout | P Djeli Clark
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Mehso-so

I really, really liked the concept of the book (c‘mon, three women fighting the Ku Klux Klan, who are actually pointy headed demons attracted to human hate). I enjoyed, as well, the incorporation of Gullah-Geechee culture, Night Doctors, root magic, the Birth of a Nation film, ex-slave narratives… but the actual synthesizing of all these different things into one story, the timeline of which is just over one week, felt too clunky.

LibrarianRyan I had to listen to this book like 4 times to keep track of everything. So unique, but so confusing. I would probably have been better to read it instead of listening to it. 1y
cant_i'm_booked @LibrarianRyan I hear you. When Nana Jean was speaking Gullah, I was happy that the author was keeping true to the creole, but I had a hard enough time keeping up/understanding, even if I was able to go back and reread the same sentence over and over.... 14mo
13 likes2 comments
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cant_i'm_booked
Annihilation | Jeff VanderMeer
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Pickpick

Very different from the movie but still creepily enjoyable despite all the unanswered questions I have concerning why a mysterious Area X has arisen within a piece of Floridian coast in the first place. I love biology-horror (Swamp Thing!) and this book is a fine example of the genre. Forces you to consider the astounding array of “alien” life that habits just your local park: how it seems so familiar but so foreign at the same time.

tenar Great review! You put into words how it made me feel, too. 1y
15 likes1 comment
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cant_i'm_booked
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Pickpick

Sobering book (right after the holiday especially), but a necessary read. It delves into the devastation imperialism wrought upon most of the non-European world, arguing that instead of just “resource extraction” and “religious conversion,” European powers intended on native “extermination,” paving the ideological way for the Holocaust. Read this after watching the HBO series it inspired (same title, dir. Raoul Peck). Highly recommend both!