April Reading Round-up
Spring is here! A time for new beginnings, including Queerly Reads's first monthly book round-up. Here's what our reviewers have been reading.
I chose a few good books to spend April with. Among them were We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, and Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (review about the genderqueer lesbian robots in this book to come). I’m also reading Madness and Civilization by my boy Foucault, but it’s nowhere near as good as Discipline and Punish. Definitely pick Discipline for your first experience of Foucault; it’s his biggest hit for a reason.
One thing I don’t recommend is Letters to Vera, a collection of Vladimir Nabokov’s love letters to his wife. If you, like me, are a fan of his writing, then you’ll agree that sounds like a cool concept, but Nabokov is really clingy and pathetic in his letters and it will honestly just make you sad. He keeps asking his wife why she doesn’t write to him more, and then jokingly goes like “maybe I will write you less as punishment!!” but then writes like ten more unanswered letters, and it’s just a really uncomfortable window into Nabokov’s life that will make you wish you had stuck to his fiction.
I just finished Yoko Tawada’s weird and dreamy The Emissary, which gives snapshots of post-apocalyptic Japan, where old people live forever and watch their great-grandchildren suffer. It explores environmentalism, politics, and why/how we reshape language. For example, in Tawada's future world, people stop calling parentless kids “orphans” and begin using the term “independent children.” For a book so particular about language, I thought it was translated wonderfully by Margaret Mitsutani.
Currently reading GO by Kazuki Kaneshiro, which was made into a Japanese movie a few years ago and has only just been translated into English. It’s about a zainichi (Korean) family living in Japan, narrated by a mostly typical teenage boy whose involuntary identity politics keep getting in the way of his love life.
I’m very sad to report I’ve now read most of Roan Parrish’s books and thus have fewer to look forward to, but I’m currently loving Where We Left Off.
I recently finished the second book in T. Kingfisher's Clocktaur War duology (Clockwork Boys and The Wonder Engine)—or, as she calls it, "the Thing With The Paladin And The Ninja Accountant." A ragtag band of misfits is sent on a desperate mission to discover the origins army of giant, mechanical soldiers...and, if possible, find a way to stop them. Some of the best-written m/f relationship dynamics I've seen in a while, great magical creatures, a delightful main cast, and some of the absolute best domestic banter I have ever read. Highly recommended.
Among (too many) other things, I read G Benson’s tropetastic f/f contemporary romance Who’d Have Thought, which I quite enjoyed if not loved. It’s that kind of very competently written romance to which one can’t fault much, but that was missing the “spark.” I also read To Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy (aka Brooklyn Wallace). It's a delightful sci-fi romp filled with various film nerdery (anything that references films as heavily is something I’m likely to enjoy). Basically, it’s what you get when the side characters of a college-set sci-fi story become the main characters: here, we have Dexter Wu, a super smart, ace biromantic (!!), fat (!!!) Asian-American kid who is told that he and HAL (of course!), the robot he’s built as his last grad-school project, will destroy the world. No big deal.
Lastly, I’d like to highlight Talia Hibbert’s Wanna Bet?, an m/f contemporary romance with a pansexual heroine, Jasmine, who’s a complicated, layered, lovely porcupine of a character. She’s got abandonment issues and is terrified to screw up any possible romantic relationship, so she just flat-out avoids them. I think it’s a great read, and it’s a book that also happens to do one of the best things I've ever read in a romance, which is having the hero come to terms with the fact that his (seemingly unrequited) love and need for the heroine had reached a self-consuming, not healthy at all, and definitely not romantic point. Hats off to the author.