Wow, I read a lot of books this year (at least for me). 58 to be exact. For comparison, I read 27 in 2016 and 28 in 2015. I went really hard at the beginning of the year over winter break, kept it slow and steady during the spring semester, went really hard over summer break, kept it slow and steady at the beginning of the fall semester, lost my mojo a bit, and slowly worked on bringing it back, which is where we are now.
Usually I share a mini review of all the books I read throughout the year in one large blog post in chronological order, but I think that’ll be a little too much for this year, so this year I’m going to divide it up by genre to make it a little easier to digest (the collage above is in chronological order though, if you’re curious).
Note: You may or may not notice that there aren’t 58 books in this post and that’s because a few of the ones I read were trash #sorrynotsorry.
Also note: My brief descriptions with every book don’t always include summaries/blurbs, because you can just click through to Goodreads and check out the blurb there. My descriptions are mostly about my impressions.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (all quotes): I’m ashamed to say that I never read this story; I had only watched the Disney animation! Until now! I need more stories like this and The Tale of Despereaux. // ★★★★☆
- “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t care much where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
- “I don’t think–”
“Then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Hatter.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (all quotes): My TBR list is ever-expanding, and the classics have unintentionally stayed firmly stuck there. Because I attended grade school abroad, my English curriculum was different and didn’t include The Great Gatsby, amongst other works, so I never got around to reading it. But now I have! // ★★★★☆
- And now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the ‘well-rounded man.’
- In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.
- She thought I knew a lot because I knew different things from her.
- I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (all quotes): Another classic that wasn’t in my English curriculum that I finally got around to reading. I can see why this book is an English class favourite! The English is easy to digest, it’s humorous, it’s innocent/honest, and we get back to the basics of morals, which is something we often lose sight of as the world throws us distractions and we grow up and become more socialised. // ★★★★☆
- When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ’em.
- I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
- He could read two books to my one, but he preferred the magic of his own inventions. He could add and subtract faster than lightning, but he preferred his own twilight world.
- I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live.
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (all quotes): This was a reread from my childhood. I didn’t remember much of it, so it was as exciting as reading it for the first time (or so I imagine). Solid sci-fi and adventure, and good questions about ethics. I’d probably recommend this to my kids when they got to middle school, which is when I first read it, but if you’re older, you can still enjoy this book! // ★★★★☆
- When you’re small, you can choose which way to grow. If you’re kind and decent, you grow into a kind and decent man.
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (all quotes): This book was one of my childhood favourites, which I’ve only read once and only very long ago, so I decided to give this book a reread, which I’ve only done with one other book in my life (another childhood favourite). I still love this story as much as I did when I was younger. If you haven’t had the delight of reading this book yet, don’t let your age keep you from it! // ★★★★★
- The answer is… yes. Of course, it’s ridiculous. Love is ridiculous. But love is also wonderful. And powerful. And Despereaux’s love for the Princess Pea would prove, in time, to be all of these things: powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous.
- Reader, do you think that it is a terrible thing to hope when there is really no reason to hope at all? Or is it (as the soldier said about happiness) something that you might just as well do, since, in the end, it really makes no difference to anyone but you?
What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada: It’s been so long since I’ve read a children’s book! I’m not even sure if I should include it in my reading challenge, but it is a book after all. The title and the illustrations caught my eye. I heard about this book (I don’t remember how), and then saw the book when I was browsing a boutique shop, so I sat down and read it in a few minutes. The boutique shop was also selling plushies of the idea/egg! Inspiring story and great for kids. Not bad for adults either. Would be fun to gift with the plushie. // ★★★★☆
Collections (short stories, essays)
Blonote by Tablo (all quotes): I was talking about Tablo with some of my friends who are into K-pop because of the new (at the time) song “Cave Me In” by Gallant x Tablo x Eric Nam, so my roomie showed me Tablo’s book, Blonote. It’s a collection of sayings that read very much like Jaden Smith’s tweets. Some deep shit there. // ★★★★☆
- What I need is a diet that will lose me the weight of the world.
- Something that is unexplainable is either a miracle or you’re just not that good at explaining.
- If I was a fish inside a tank at a fish market, I’d go out of my way to not look fresh.
- I did all that I could. It’s just that I needed to do what I couldn’t.
- Perhaps time is a drug that helps you heal. But I’ll have OD’d by then.
- “You’re the great gift of all!” Wait till you see me unwrapped.
Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein (all quotes): I heard so much about this collection of short stories and couldn’t wait to dive into this dystopian sci-fi. It didn’t disappoint! It shows a reality in which technology has taken over our lives, which isn’t too far from the truth. The blurb says it best: “An extraordinarily resonant and prophetic collection of speculative short fiction for our tech-savvy era.” // ★★★★☆
- This world, with all its pain and loss. This is where we learn to love again.
Eveningland by Michael Knight (on the blog): The stories were subtle, and conflict was not always at the forefront. They were ordinary, if you will. I’ve always thought that I was the kind of person who enjoyed the charm of a small town—Stars Hollow, Maycomb, etc.—but maybe I’m not such a small town girl. I found that I personally am drawn to stories that have a little more action going on, which is probably why “Smash and Grab” was one of my favourite stories of the collection, but nonetheless, this was a solid collection. // ★★★☆☆
- I can tell you this: there will be other girls, other disasters. And there will be nights to come, his life mostly behind him, when he will long to hurt like that again.
Every Word Is a Bird We Teach to Sing by Daniel Tammet (on the blog): My favourite essay was the first essay, which was written about Tammet’s personal experience as someone who has high-functioning autistic savant syndrome and synesthesia, and more specifically, about his numeric language. I found that really fascinating. The rest of the essays felt more like history lessons and research facts about minority languages, but shared as a narrative. // ★★★★☆
- I had more than one book in me. And each of my subsequent books…was different. Each taught me what my limits weren’t. I could do this. And this. And this as well.
How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron (on the blog): I didn’t expect such a logical and scientific approach to love, and I mean more than just psychology. I associate love with emotions, so to break it down to a science was a refreshing perspective that opened my mind to more ways of critical thinking. Catron is so honest and vulnerable in her essays; how can I say that there is anything wrong about them? But more than that, she was thorough with her research, research that felt like stemmed from more than just curiosity but maybe a need, a need to figure out love, this thing that had and has been so important to her from childhood into adulthood, this thing that had, has, and is probably important to many of us as well. // ★★★★☆
- When I went on dates, I had to coach myself: My goal was not to make this stranger from the internet like me; my goal was to find out if I liked him.
- It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.
- And maybe the best thing about encountering more diverse stories is simply this: They broadened my sense of what was possible.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (all quotes): I don’t remember where I first heard of this collection of short stories, but when Arrival was released in theatres, I was reminded of this short story collection, which includes the short story “Story of Your Life,” which is what Arrival is based on. These sci-fi short stories are incredibly intelligent and thought provoking. May change the way you think about some things in life. Highly recommended! // ★★★★★
- From the beginning I knew my destination, and I chose my route accordingly. But am I working toward an extreme of joy, or of pain? Will I achieve a minimum, or a maximum?
- By the time he saw all the sides of her personality, he’d completely fallen in love with her. And because his best qualities came out when he was with her, she fell in love with him too.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby (on the blog): Hmm… I don’t know. I consider myself a pretty light-hearted person and pretty open to self-depreciating jokes. My sense of humour is from Tumblr after all. Those are my kind of jokes. But this was on a whole nother level, and the vibe I got from this book was quite a bit negative. However, looking at other reviews on Goodreads, it seems like most people really loved this kind of humour, saw it more as “raw” and “honest,” and could identify with it. // ★★★☆☆
- No one ever tells attractive children how much they suck, then the rest of us get stuck with insufferable, narcissistic adults who can barely tie their shoes because someone else is busy either doing it for them or congratulating them on their effort. I do not have the energy to be in a relationship with someone exceptionally good-looking.
- Not being able to deal with your life is humiliating. It makes you feel weak. And if you’re African-American and female, not only are you expected to be resilient enough to just take the hits and keep going, if you can’t, you’re a Black Bitch With an Attitude. You’re not mentally ill; you’re ghetto.
- I’m always amused when they encourage you to eat “instead” foods, like eating an apple when you really want to rub a bacon cheeseburger all over your boobs is a fair substitute. Why not instead list which ice creams have the least calories, by the pint?
- Danger and contraband are the currency of youth.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (all quotes): A short but powerful book that nobody has an excuse not to read! I followed it up by watching her TED Talk by the same title. // ★★★★☆
- We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likeable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons.
- We say to girls, “You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.”
- The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo (on the blog): The beautiful collage on the cover is what first drew my interest. A Chinese young woman goes to London to learn English and get a Western diploma. She is thrown into a foreign country with a foreign culture to learn a foreign language. We see the different cultures reflected in the different languages. She also finds love. This book has some very sexually descriptive parts, but is not vulgar. In fact, it’s quite poetic—lots of euphemisms. // ★★★★☆
- I don’t like plural, because they not stable. I don’t like nouns too, as they change all the time like verbs. I like only adjectives, and adverbs. They don’t change. If I can, I will only speak adjectives and adverbs.
- Your happiness and your sadness is from the world that you fight with yourself.
- I thought English is a strange language. Now I think French is even more strange. In France, their fish is poisson, their bread is pain and their pancake is crêpe. Pain and poison and crap. That’s why they have every day.
- ‘Love’, this English word: like other English words it has tense. ‘Loved’ or ‘will love’ or ‘have loved’. All these specific tenses mean Love is time-limited thing. Not infinite. It only exist in particular period of time. In Chinese, Love is ‘爱’ (ai). It has no tense. No past and future. Love in Chinese means a being, a situation, a circumstance. Love is existence, holding past and future. If our love existed in Chinese tense, then it will last for ever. It will be infinite.
- Falling in love with the right person in the wrong timing could be the greatest sadness in a person’s entire life.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (all quotes): I’m always complaining about how melodramatic YA characters are, but with this book, it was a guilty pleasure getting caught up in the drama of all these catty characters. I rooted for Rachel the whole way through! This was a fun, fast read. It’s probably more YA/general fiction than cultural but… the Asian in me still appreciates this Asian drama. // ★★★★☆
- Let me share a secret with you, Nick. As much as a girl might protest, you can never go wrong buying her a designer dress or a killer pair of shoes.
Lotus by Lijia Zhang (on the blog): The characters were flat, so it was difficult for me to get into the book. What I did not find in this book, I found in A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo. // ★★☆☆☆
- The thing about ghosts is that you can’t completely believe in them, but you can’t rule out their existence, either.
Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang: This book was a one from my childhood that I had forgotten about. It was a book gifted to me from a teacher before I moved to China, and in it she scrawled a note for me. It was such a sweet note that I decided I wanted to reread this book and find new meaning in it. Additionally, my youngest brother told me his class was assigned to read this book. The book did not disappoint. It’s a memoir from the teenage years of Ji-Li Jiang, and it’s charged with emotions, pain, and difficult decisions. // ★★★★☆
- After all, without revolution, how can we have peace?
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (on the blog): I identified with the children whose lives were easy because their parents had worked hard to make a life for them in America. Though I was unfamiliar with the struggle myself, these stories reminded me that my parents are people too, that they’re not superheroes, that I only think that they are because they work so hard and love me so much, that they have had to overcome so much, that they have had to bury so much to make me feel so safe. My parents’ stories are not the same as the ones in the book, but they had and have their own struggles too. At the very least, it’s safe to say that it’s not as easy to make it in America for people of colour as it is for white people. While this is a good piece of literary work, it wasn’t so much the poetry of the words but the meaning of the words that really struck a chord with me. // ★★★★★
- It was my mother who tucked him in and told him that there exists a sort of love in the world that only survives as long as no one speaks of it, and that was the reason why he would never have to worry because my grandmother was never going to be the kind of mother who held her children in her arms and told them how smart and beautiful and talented they were. She was only ever going to scold them, make them feel diminutive, make them feel like they were never good enough, make them know this world wouldn’t be kind to them. She wasn’t going to let someone else be better than her at making her children feel pain or scare them more than she could, and to her, that was a form of protection.
- I knew in the very fuzzy part of what I paid attention to that my parents had suffered, too, they had struggled, too, and whatever happened to them in the year before I was brought to America was somehow related to their refusal to ever order beverages at restaurants because paying an extra dollar or two for something they could get in bulk for cheaper activated some kind of trauma inside them. It really did. But even more astounding was how they never stopped me or my brother from ordering those drinks.
- It takes a child to see what is wrong.
Before the War by Fay Weldon (on the blog): I liked the candid writing style. But after awhile, it didn’t become anything more and left something to be desired. It was just “this is what happened”—no suspense, no build up. I wasn’t sure what the climax or conflict was. The story is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven. // ★★☆☆☆
- It’s the pretty ones that attract love and drive men to unreason and despair, and feature in literature and films; the others are just part of the furniture–unless, Vivvie thinks, they happen to have famous family names or be very rich. They exist to set men free for more ‘important’ and ‘interesting’ things, to keep fictional plots going as written by men.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (all quotes): This was my first Murakami novel. Not very much happened in it, and I’m not sure that the reasons for the things that happened were very good. This book was alright. The writing was fine. It wasn’t my cup of tea but it might be for you. I’m still open to reading other Murakami novels though! // ★★★☆☆
- You can hide memories, suppress them, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.
- Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of destroying them. That’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries. What’s really important in life is always the things that are secondary. That’s about all I can say.
- We truly believed in something back then, and we knew we were the kind of people capable of believing in something — with all our hearts. And that kind of hope will never simply vanish.
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed (on the blog): A big part of what drove me through the book was the suspense of wondering what the wastelands were, right along with the girls in the book who were trying to figure out that same thing, except those girls didn’t even know anything about the pre-apocalyptic world—the island was their only reality. This book kept me hooked like a mystery novel! // ★★★★☆
- Because they can’t stop us from thinking. They can force us to do anything they want, but they can’t stop us from thinking.
Mischling by Affinity Konar (on the blog): I heard a lot of good things about this book, but after finishing the book myself and reading some Goodreads reviews, I realised that there’s a split with this book. Some people really liked it, and some people really didn’t. People who liked it liked the lyrical writing. People who didn’t like it found the lyrical writing inappropriate. I love literary fiction, but for some reason, the lyrical style didn’t work for me here. Maybe it’s because of the subject matter. Because opinions of this book are so split, if you are interested in this book, I would recommend going for it anyway and making a decision for yourself! // ★★★★☆
- It was pathetic of me to try, I know, but I had always believed in the world’s ability to right itself, just like that, with a single kindness.
- I think you like to see the good in people because there’s been so much bad that you have to believe in good. I see the good in knives instead of people. Although there’s really no such thing as a bad knife or a good knife, so long as it cuts.
Sociable by Rebecca Harrington: I think the premise of this story had potential. I was hoping for something very progressive, but this book fell flat for me. Would not recommend, so I won’t say much else. // ★★☆☆☆
Sourdough by Robin Sloan (on the blog): Readers who enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore will enjoy Sourdough! There are similarities, such as the tone of writing (which is a huuuge part of my love for Sloan), and the fact that the story is about a seemingly ordinary part of life (in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore that’d be books, and in Sourdough that’d be bread) but has a touch of tech and a touch of magic and mystery—a secret world within the ordinary world. But this is a different mystery, so readers can look forward to a new adventure! // ★★★★☆
- We were on a quest to end work. And it would involve: a shit ton of work.
- These songs did not blubber. They calmly asserted that life was tragic, but at least there was wine in it.
Startup by Doree Shafrir (on the blog): I was interested in this book for the same reason I was interested in the TV show Silicon Valley. As a woman in tech and in search of a job, tech startups and corporations alike are of interest to me. I identified a lot with the young characters, and the book made me rethink my ideals and expectations of the workplace and what kind of impact I want to make in the technological world and also in general. // ★★★★☆
- Mack thought he did a pretty good job of realizing when people were unhappy, and he did everything he could to prevent that. It was of course important that you felt fulfilled at work and felt like you had a good work-life balance. But the way people, Mack included, worked now, work was life. They expected their work to be fun and their fun to be work, and they didn’t differentiate between “work friends” and “real friends”; they assumed that the way things had been in college was the way things were in real life.
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (on the blog): There were many things about the book that reminded me of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, and because I enjoyed that book, this one intrigued me. Both dealt with characters that were different but united in their love for art, and in The Animators, their love for animation specifically. However, The Animators differed in that it seemed like the conflict between Sharon and Mel all occurred during the beginning of the book, which left the bulk of the book to be about how they collaborated for their next animation, discovering and sharing and exposing each other’s truths to each other, and creating art to share with the world. // ★★★★☆
- I had chosen art because I needed something to make use of the bright lights that had existed in my head for as long as I could remember, my fervent, neon wish to be someone else.
- I wanted so badly to be more than what I felt. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be great, even. But I was cowed by the knowledge that everyone else here did, too.
- But hindsight’s twenty-twenty, isn’t it.
- You know, it would be nice if we were defined, ultimately, by the people and places we loved. Good things. But at the end of the day, there’s the reality that we’re not. Does the good stuff really have the weight that the weird stuff does? What makes the deeper imprint—all the ridges and gathers—on who we are? Do we have a choice?
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson: Allan just rolls with the punches. I wasn’t as interested in his past adventures as much as I was interested in his current one. His life kinda reminds me of the story of Forrest Gump, of which I’ve seen the film but not read the novel. // ★★★☆☆
- Things are what they are, and whatever will be will be.
The Reminders by Val Emmich (on the blog): I immediately fell in love with Joan. She’s so pure! I love that this book uses simple words. But the ways in which they’re used. Man. They make you feel things. I think many of us can relate to not wanting to be forgotten. For some of us, it may be a selfish reason; some of us crave the attention. For some of us, it may be an existential reason; what is our purpose and how do we do something that matters. For Joan, it’s simple. She’s a girl who remembers everything. But when she remembers everything and the rest of the world can’t, it’s a lonely feeling. My favourite read of 2017; highly recommended. // ★★★★★
- Because everyone forgets everything. They forget the name of the second person they ever kissed and they forget about what happened to those twins who were taken apart as babies and they even forget their own grandchildren. And it’s not fair because I would never do that.
- Whenever I meet ex-artists, they always look half alive.
- It’s not just about waiting around for an idea to come, it’s also about knowing when the idea has finally arrived.
- He slides his hand through his hair either because he has great style or because he has a headache, I’m not sure which.
- You just have to keep making art that feels good to you. You can’t control what happens after that. It seems like no one’s paying attention, but then, when you least expect it, someone hears it. Just keep putting yourself out there. It’s the hardest thing. But you never know. That’s it. You just never know.
Touch by Courtney Maum (all quotes): I’m always interested in fiction to do with the tech industry, which is why I was intrigued by this book. But the storyline didn’t end up interesting me. The tension between Sloane and Jin was too obvious. I didn’t not like Sloane, but I didn’t particularly care about her personal life. If you’re interested in fiction to do with the tech industry, try Startup by Doree Shafrir or My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. // ★★★☆☆
- Also, she wasn’t a fan of being scared, and it had to be petrifying to love someone more than yourself.
White Fur by Jardine Libaire (all quotes): I don’t think this book is listed as an erotic novel, but that’s what I felt it was. The protagonists Elise and Jamey were automatically attracted to each other; there wasn’t any build up or tension or suspense. It was like an R-rated Disney love story where it’s like, oh c’mon, you literally met one day ago, you are not in love. The story focuses on their relationship and there isn’t much happening plot-wise, but for me, their relationship wasn’t enough to carry the story. They just like having sex with each other and then become dependent on each other. After finishing the book, I felt like I had watched an indie film I didn’t get. // ★★☆☆☆
- But he can’t combine her world with his, for her sake. Gasoline and fire.
Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson (all quotes): I love Taraji! I only know her from Empire and Hidden Figures though. All throughout reading this memoir, I was searching up clips of her on Youtube. I could totally feel her voice from this memoir and I think it could make a great audiobook (with Taraji herself reading it of course)! She’s overcome so much and has so much drive and so much love. She’s doing amazing things. // ★★★★☆
- In other words, we performers have to be fully available to all of our emotions–to deal with our shit in real life. If we’re missing it in real life, we’re missing it on the playwright’s or screenwriter’s page.
Deaf Again by Mark Drolsbaugh (all quotes): I was assigned this reading for the American Sign Language class I was taking and was surprised by how much I enjoyed this assigned reading. Even though it’s nonfiction, it read like a story. It was so funny, but also so insightful. Drolsbaugh shows us how he found Deafness through his own personal experience. Accessibility is important! // ★★★★☆
- One of the hardest fights a deaf man has to fight is to live in a world where every single day someone is trying to make him hear.
- Whether amusing or annoying, we owe it to our children to answer as many of their whys as possible. When we take the time to do this, children internalize crucial information. This greatly enhances their overall development in terms of thought processing and general knowledge acquisition.
- Couldn’t these people just leave me alone? Couldn’t they stop poking around in my ears? Although I never really spoke up when I was younger, deep down inside I always wished that people would stop obsessing over my ears. I simply wanted them to appreciate me, the whole person. Couldn’t they stop trying to fix me and just accept me for who I was? That was all I ever wanted.
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (all quotes): I’m not a crazy Star Wars fan; I didn’t watch any Star Wars films until my junior year of college when it was screened in one of my classes! But I was curious to learn more about Carrie Fisher because I know that she had touched many lives. I ended up breezing through her memoir and enjoying it very much, and now I want to watch all the Star Wars films! Parts of her memoir were very angsty (as she was recovering her diaries from her youth) but it wasn’t an annoying kind of angst, which is how I feel about most YA novels. The poetry of her words might have had something to do with that. // ★★★★☆
- I had endless issues with my appearance in Star Wars. Real ones–not ones you bring up so people think you’re humble because you secretly find yourself adorable.
- What would he think if he caught me looking at him? That I liked him? Ugh, in that awful embarrassing way that’s impossible to hide?
- I’ve got to learn something from my mistakes instead of establishing a new record to break. Maybe stop fooling around with all these human beings and fall in love with a chair.
- He’s far from a fool, nowhere near. I’m quite near. I can feel the fool that’s so far away from him breathing down my neck.
What’s that Pig Outdoors? by Henry Kisor (all quotes): I found this book by chance whilst browsing for books for my senior thesis. The title of this book caught my eye immediately. It’s a memoir of a deaf guy who is part of the hearing culture. The only other memoir of a deaf guy that I read was by one who was part of Deaf culture (Deaf Again by Mark Drolsbaugh), so it was interesting to see the different challenges and perspectives. // ★★★★☆
- In fact, I thought everybody read lips. When I talked to people, I’d grasp their faces and turn them toward me so that they could see mine. Evidently I assumed everyone was deaf like me. Eventually I did learn that they weren’t, but by then I’d decided, with all the off-center wisdom of a small child, that deafness was a minor, if interesting, human characteristic, like freckles, blond hair, double-jointedness, or the ability to teeter along the top of a board fence.
A Cast of Vultures by Judith Flanders (on the blog): I found this book to be a little slow-paced for a mystery and got bored by Sam’s publisher life. The story didn’t hold me in suspense like most mysteries do. There wasn’t any sense of immediate danger to keep me on edge until halfway through the book. But Sam is a likable character. She’s down-to-earth, has a good sense of humour, and I had a good time acquainting myself with her as the story progressed. // ★★★☆☆
- Foreigners think that all social interactions in Britain must legally begin with a discussion of the weather. This is not true. We are only required to talk about the weather in certain, very specific, circumstances. When the temperature rises above 22°. When it drops below 10°. When it rains heavily, or there are showers for more than three days in a row. And when it snows. Or hails. Or it looks like any of these things might happen in the next month. At any of those moments, weather commentary is obligatory.
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (on the blog): There seemed to be something off about Cass, but even with this suspicion, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel this way about Cass, such was the subtlety of it. I felt like she was concocting a story, and if I was correct with my suspicion, I wasn’t sure whether her motives were for good reasons or not. Was she trying to steer us toward the truth or away from it? As for when it got to Dr. Winter’s parts, I was always wondering whether her insights about narcissism were the author’s attempt to to nudge the reader in the right direction or the wrong direction. This book kept me in suspense until the end! // ★★★★☆
- But seeing the future is a worthless gift if you don’t have the power to change it.
- What I have come to know about death is that it is not like that. It is not fair. It does not add up your cigarettes and drinks and irresponsible behavior and come for you when you’ve reached your quota. People die all the time who were very good, very responsible. And people stay alive to the bitter end of their natural lives who were very bad and who did very bad things.
- It’s so easy to think that we are important and that the things that happen to us are important. But the truth is, we are so small, so insignificant in the scope of even just our solar system, which is itself meaningless in the scope of the Universe. The truth is, nothing really matters unless we decide it matters. We could set off every nuclear bomb we’ve ever made and kill all life on the planet, and the Universe would just shrug and yawn because within the next five billion years while the sun is still shining, some kind of new life would come and we would be talked about by them the way we talk about dinosaurs… I decided that life would be about choosing things to make important even though they are not, and cannot ever be.
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry (all quotes): Needed a quick thriller/suspense novel after reading a slow book. There were some parts in between that I thought were slow, and I thought I knew what was going on until the end when I realised I was on the wrong track all along. // ★★★☆☆
- If there is something missing—if I am afraid to love her quite as much as before—it is only because the potential for love feels so big and so intense that I fear I will disappear in the expression of it, that it will blow my skin away like clouds and I will be nothing.
Shiver Hitch by Linda Greenlaw (on the blog): This is the third book in the series, but each book is an individual case, so reading the previous books isn’t necessary. The protagonist Jane Bunker has a one track mind and only follows one lead at a time. But then when she’s proven wrong, she’ll be like, oh maybe I shouldn’t have dismissed this possibility, so I can appreciate that meta aspect, but does that make it any better? It doesn’t really mean anything if she’s always saying that. But this was a solid mystery novel and a quick read. // ★★★☆☆
- The best and worst times of my life had been defined publicly as “Fine, thanks.”
Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn: I’m not sure that I get the play, but I read it because my school will be performing this play, and I’ll be their digital marketer! I followed it up by looking it up on Wikipedia and Youtube, so I sorta get it now, but I still don’t think it’s my kinda thing.
Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths (all quotes): I chanced upon this book at a secondhand bookshop, was intrigued by the title, looked it up on Goodreads, found it highly rated, and so bought the book. You don’t need to know computer science to understand this book, but it is exciting to nerd out about it as a computer scientist. If you like books like SuperFreakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, then you might like this book. // ★★★★☆
- Some problems are better avoided than solved.
- As such, the explicit premise of the optimal stopping problem is the implicit premise of what it is to be alive. It’s this that forces us to decide based on possibilities we’ve not yet seen, this that forces us to decide based on possibilities we’ve not yet seen, this that forces us to embrace high rates of failure even when acting optimally. No choice recurs. We may get similar choices again, but never that exact one. Hesitation–inaction–is just as irrevocable as action.
- We have the expression “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” but perhaps we should also have its inverse: “Start learning a new language or an instrument, and make small talk with a stranger, because life is long, and who knows what joy could blossom over many years’ time.” When balancing favorite experiences and new ones, nothing matters as much as the interval over which we plan to enjoy them.
- To live in a restless world requires a certain restlessness in oneself. So long as things continue to change, you must never fully cease exploring.
Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin (on the blog): If you’re into history, into writers and creatives, and into their histories, this could be a book for you. The book focused very specifically on various writers that I personally didn’t feel particularly invested in, which is probably why I found the book slow at times and very history-textbook-ish, but I think that may just be because I’m interested in different topics–the writing itself is fine. Really enjoyed the epilogue though. Oh, and some knowledge of the French language may also add some extra charm to the book for you. // ★★★☆☆
- Twenty years old is like forty, that way. The person we’re losing always feels like the last person who’ll want us. We’re always staring off the edge of the cliff, even before the lined face and the grey hair. It’s just that when we’re twenty, we can’t imagine how much more desperate things can get.
- I’m a tourist but I like to think I’m the good kind. I’m here to observe the city, instead of buying bits and pieces of it. As a ‘good tourist’ I hope the city will open itself up to me, if only a little. I hope to find places to be in, to eat in and drink in, that will feel unique and worthwhile. I hope the food will taste good, and the drinks.
- But Venice is not a city you approach with an itinerary: you are certain to get lost, and to be late almost before you’ve set out.
Incendiary by Michael Cannell (on the blog): I was surprised by the level of detail in this book. Not only do you get into the details of the Mad Bomber, but also that of all the people involved with his case. Connell really gets in these characters’ heads and constructs a narrative for each of them. Now that I’m writing this, I realise that Cannell must have used profiling strategies of his own and lots of research in writing this book. // ★★★★☆
- Sometimes the difference between failure and success is a new thought.
- A house can hold a human presence forever.
Intimate Grammars: An Ethnography of Navajo Poetry by Anthony K. Webster: I wrote a paper on this book for class. I find ethnographies interesting, but I probably wouldn’t choose to read one for fun. Nevertheless, it was pretty interesting for a school reading. I say “school reading” rather than “assigned reading” because I wasn’t assigned this book; I chose it. Most people in my class just found online journals to write their research papers on.
180 Seconds by Jessica Park (all quotes): The 180 seconds experiment interested me after reading How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron. The visceral reaction Allison and Esben had to the experiment and to each other felt unrealistic, and Allison’s character at the beginning really did not appeal to me. I know she had issues growing up in foster care, and I do think it’s reasonable that she had issues, but the way she was portrayed just made her seem like another angsty, “misunderstood” teen. But for a YA novel, this was a solid/standard read. // ★★★☆☆
- In a sea of love, all you see is the one person drowning.
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (all quotes): I was pretty bored with the story until Eliza’s secret was shared with the world. I think someone who’s more interested in fandoms than I am would enjoy this story. If you like this book, you might like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. // ★★★☆☆
- There comes a point in every girl’s life where she reaches a crossroads: a night alone with her sweatpants and her favorite television show, or a party with real, live, breathing people.
- I start to say no, then stop myself. I have to try. I have to try, because I’m doing it again—I’m shutting everything out because I’m frustrated and tired and because the real world is difficult and I’d rather live in one of my own making. But I can’t. I am here, and I have to try.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (on the blog): I used to read Sophie Kinsella all the time. I think I probably stopped after I thought I was reading too much chick lit. The book was very fast-paced and almost verged on rant-y, which suited my mood at the time I was reading the book. Overall, it was a solid, fun, feel-good read about an insecure modern day lady who blossomed into a boss lady. // ★★★☆☆
- OK, full disclosure: I stalk expensive cafés for Instagrammable pictures. Is there anything wrong with that? I’m not saying I drank the hot chocolate. I’m saying, Look: hot chocolate! If people assume it was mine… well, that’s up to them.
- Here I am: Katie Brenner, Embarrassed. There are worse things to be.
- Because it’s human nature to hope for impossible things. You’re in marketing. You know that.
Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (all quotes): I used to read a lot of James Patterson. It’s been awhile since, but I’m pretty sure that this was very different from what he usually writes, or at least the selection of books I’ve read by him are very different from this book. I read James Patterson for action/mystery/adventure, but this wasn’t it. This was an underwhelming and almost creepy romantic novel (not in the good suspenseful way) about Jane and her imaginary friend Michael. // ★★☆☆☆
- How could this be? Any of it? There wasn’t a logical answer that I could think of. Good thing I had given up on logic when I was twelve and realized I was never going to marry Simon Le Bon.
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella (all quotes): This book was a miss for me, which was a shame because I love Sophie Kinsella. I couldn’t sympathize with the couple about the challenges of their marriage or take them seriously. I felt like their bickering was like the trivial bickering of high school kids, and I couldn’t believe that they were actually married with kids. I guess I was never able to wrap my head around the premise of this book. I couldn’t help but think, “What. They’d rather die than continue being married for so long? How in love could they be?” // ★★☆☆☆
- Basically, the entire edifice of our household routine is based on bath time happening. (This isn’t just us, by the way; it’s every other family I know with young children. The general perception is that if bath time goes, everything goes. Chaos descends. Civilization disintegrates. Children are found wandering the street in tatters, gnawing on animal bones while their parents rock and whimper in alleyways. Kind of thing.)
- Love is finding one person infinitely fascinating. And so… not an achievement, my dear. Rather, a privilege.
The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt (on the blog): At first I found Gretchen and Phoenix quite melodramatic, but I gradually warmed up to them. They were still kinda melodramatic at the end, but not as much, and after reading their story, I could understand it a little more. Those two had their own separate struggles, so their angst was definitely warranted, but there was something still juvenile a bit about it. // ★★★☆☆
- My American Dream’s way more simple than that. I just wanna be able to go for a walk in the woods alone—get on one of those little trails in the forest and walk for hours. That would be so awesome. Or maybe head over to a friend’s place after dinner to watch a football match on TV, and not have to look behind my back every five seconds, not have to worry about whether I’ll make it home alive. You know?
- And don’t punish yourself, baby. The world’s gonna do that for you. You ain’t gotta add to it.
4. Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein
3. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
2. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
1. The Reminders by Val Emmich
Honourable mentions: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang, Sourdough by Robin Sloan, Startup by Doree Shafrir, How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron, Incendiary by Michael Cannell, Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
What have been some of your favourite reads of 2017?