If reading books is my favorite hobby, then talking about them is my second favorite. It’s no secret that I could discuss literature (including the best parts of a book, the most dreadful, its cultural influences, its influences on culture, every literary device under the sun, etc., etc.) just about every day.
But not everyone appreciates the enthusiasm or can relate to that love. So when my good friend, Hilary, told me a book club was starting up exactly two years ago, I jumped at the chance to join. A group of women with similar yet different perspectives discussing at length the inner workings of the world’s finest writing?? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!
They say home is where the heart is. So where do you call home when your heart’s been ripped in two? This is what I kept asking while reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Calling a book “heart-wrenching” sounds a little cliche, but that’s how I felt every time I picked it up. It’s a story of AIDS, love, heartbreak, family, growing up, and finding yourself. The classic band Westlife can explain it best:
“I’ll see you again
You never really left
I feel you walk beside me
I know I’ll see you again”
My friends say they can’t trust my opinions because I “don’t know the meaning of best and favorite.” Maybe I’m just easy to please?
A few months ago, I tried a Mexican restaurant near my apartment. The next day I told my bestie (pun unintended), Jamie, that they had the best margaritas.
Jamie: “Haha I don’t know if I believe that. I’m pretty sure you told me last week you’d had the best margaritas at another restaurant.”
There’s truth in jest. I can’t say I have a favorite movie or restaurant. And it’s true I have a lot of bests. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so here we go: I struggle to make definite decisions about what I like and dislike, and I can’t commit to a firm opinion. So even though I would ideally give Another Brooklyn 3.5 flames (there’s a big difference between three and four!), I’m pushing myself as a book critic and not giving the book the benefit of the doubt. I’m not taking the easy way by giving half a flame, which is physically impossible. Therefore, I’m dropping my review to an average .
You’d think a book blogger would have read all of the classics, but au contraire. As someone whose wish list grows exponentially each day, it’s impossible to have read the most beloved in the world. When new masterpieces come out each year, it’s easy to forget about the classics and forge ahead with the current bestsellers.
But when a friend sent me Amazon’s “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” list, via PureWow, I was surprised that I’d only read 10 of the top hundo. (I’ve sort of read two others on the list, one of which I promise to pick back up eventually.) Was I really such a literary novice?
- What: New People
- Who: Danzy Senna
- Pages: 229
- Genre: Contemporary adult fiction
- Published: 2017
- The lit: of 5 flames
Rarely do I not know what to say about a book. Usually I could talk for hours about a specific plot, character development, narrative arc, setting, etc. etc. etc. And whether I loved or hated the book usually doesn’t matter. I’m a bibliophile; I can talk about books forever.
But Danzy Senna’s 2017 novel, New People had me coming up short. All I can say is that it barely ignited two flames. This might seem harsh, but honestly, the only thing that kept me reading was knowing that I only had to get through 229 pages. “Get through.” That’s not how I speak of literature. New People lacked depth and explanation, and while the bones are there for a great story, they were poorly constructed. I felt lost in every one of those 229 pages.
By: Dana Tong
Do you ever have those days when you’re scanning through channels on TV and you hit upon How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and even though you’ve seen it 200 times, you turn it on anyways? That’s how I feel about Sophie Kinsella books. I know how they go; I’ve read several of them multiple times, but I get sucked in with every read. Chick lit earns a bad rap, but honestly, do you want to read something depressing and dark every time you pick up a book? I love a good thriller and a good sob as well (Cutting for Stone elicited one of the Great Cries of 2013), but I also love a warm and fuzzy, funny, silly book just as much.
After a string of not-so-amazing reads, I picked up Sophie Kinsella’s My (Not So) Perfect Life. The story centers around Katie, a young 20-something trying to make it in the big city after a life on the farm, climb the career ladder, build a social life—and make sure everyone knows via social media how successful she is at all of these things. When Katie gets fired from her job by her constantly frazzled manager, she tries to keep up the appearances she has built while also helping her family turn a corner in their lives and build a successful glamping business.
As a book connoisseur (some might now even call me a critic), I’m pretty easy to please. When you read finance material all day at work, you’re happy to absorb any form of creativity. Very seldom have I found a book I can’t finish or that fails to light the tiniest of sparks. But finding a full-on scorcher is even harder. That type of material is the stuff of J.K. Rowling, Ann Patchett, and Emily Giffin. I might enjoy a lot of books, but I can’t hand out five flames for just anything. Therefore, I am happy to give you Big Little Literature’s first ever inferno.
Maybe it’s because this stellar novel was published on my birthday, Feb. 14, but I instantly connected with Lincoln in the Bardo. I read it during a particularly painful flight experience to and from Denver. Counting delays, this totaled about 10 hours, but with Lincoln, it felt like two. This story will surely dominate every Best of 2017 list; it’s already dominated mine.
George Saunders, one of Time‘s most influential people in 2013, began writing his multigenre and first novel after hearing the tale of Abraham Lincoln paying multiple visits to the crypt of his son, Willie, after he died at the age of 11. What he created wasn’t just a fictional story about life after death but a creative venture that took me into the past and into another world.