October 16, 2020

I’m so tired of writing about 2020. I don’t want to anymore. I have skipped writing the last two weeks, and I just realized I’m feeling burned out on this year. I’ve been reading, but not as many articles I can link you to in full text. I’ve been reading a lot of books that let me escape this current moment, and if you will join me, I’ll share them with you. I heard someone say “Done is better than perfect,” and that is what is getting me to the end of this Friday5 post.

  1. Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Ahhh this book is wild. It reminds me of Turn of the Screw and The Yellow Wallpaper, but written with modern energy and a willingness to go darker than either of those tales did. I loved the main character, Noemi, as a horror heroine, who is willing to peer deeper into the darkness to save those she loves, to hold on tight and not let go. It’s also cool to read a (in my reading experience) traditionally white genre, the Gothic novel, with both a writer and protagonist of color at the helm. Moreno-Garcia hones right in on the eugenics and scientific racism of the 1950s, and connects the internal decay of the house with the host’s racism, misogyny and entitlement. It also reminds me of Bluebeard, and Tam Lin, and all the good stories about refusing to be the next in a long line of women consumed for immortality or men’s desire. Wow, it’s such a good book and I highly recommend it as a perfect ghost story for this October.
  2. The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal, Clint McElroy. This is a graphic novel, third in a series that novelizes the famously popular Adventure Zone D&D podcast, and in my opinion the best in the series so far. Here’s a quote from it that actually did make me tear up: “Do you know why our organization is called the Bureau of Balance, Merle? It’s because the world’s design, if such a thing exists, is one of masterful equilibrium. Fore every evil impulse drawn from a tempted heart, there is a heroic deed, spurred on by unimaginable bravery. From where we’re sitting, it’s hard to keep them both in our sights. But that balance is there, keeping the world stitched together. For every wrongdoing, there is a right. For each injustice, an act of kindness. For every wound, a remedy.”
  3. Solutions and Other Problems, Allie Brosh. Brosh’s long-awaited second collection of comics (her first, Hyperbole and a Half, is one of my favorite representations of the journey in and out of major depression). This one reveals more from her childhood and family life, and like any good graphic memoir, it’s hard to sum up. But it was worth the wait, and I recommend it to you.
  4. Not Like the Movies, Kerry Winfrey. This is a sweet contemporary romance followup to Waiting for Tom Hanks, which was pretty cute! I actually think the second one is better — it follows Chloe, a girl taking care of her aging father and working at a coffee shop where she and her boss have become the inspiration for a major romantic comedy film. As many romance novels do, the story is as much about the main character’s internal growth as it is about falling in love. I really related to Chloe’s struggle; she is a “helper” to everyone around her, and even though she feels tremendously overwhelmed and alone, she’s afraid to ask for the help she gives out so generously. This book made me cry several times, and is definitely more melancholy than other romcoms, but with a satisfying end and some major chemistry between the leads.
  5. Clockwork Boys, T. Kingfisher. If someone made a novelization of their D&D campaign, I imagine it would read like this book. It’s a duology, and I haven’t read the second book yet, but boy did I love the first. Total escapism into a world where four flawed protags face a doomed mission into enemy lands (in exchange for criminal pardons). We’ve got a fierce, tiny con artist, a wicked, abrasive assassin, and a paladin with a few demon-possession issues. Oh, and a scholar-guide, I’m not as attached to him yet. I like the world, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by T. Kingfisher. I have trouble describing fantasy novels, especially to folks who don’t read them, but this one is just pure fun.

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