May Reading Round-up
Hi all! Here's what some of our reviewers read in May.
I'm not much of one for light summer reading—but I am always up for some off-world/high fantasy. So this month, I've been reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. Both are raw, painful works that do not hold back from putting their young women protagonists through hell. Nor do they shy from a high body count—on both a personal and societal scale. Despite their quasi-historical fantasy settings, both works are influenced by real-world events, both modern and historical. They're also an excellent, brutally honest glimpse into the lives of teenagers in worlds that are terrifying and unjust—but where power, if not hope, is seldom entirely out of reach.
The standout of my reading month was definitely Windfall by Ellis Odell Wayland, which I plan to review more in depth later in June. In short: it's a beautiful, quiet but loaded slow burn between two very messed up people who each believe their feelings for the other to be unrequited. They individually have a lot to work through, a lot of emotional baggage and internalized crap. They fuck it all up, own up to their mistakes, and eventually begin to heal. All this infused with references to Classics and myths and jazz music, and it's so closely observed and painful. If it were possible to hug an e-book, I would. Syncopation by Anna Zabo is the other book I enjoyed the most in May (I rambled about it on Goodreads, and Hannah reviewed it here). I have some complicated feelings about the portrayal of Zavier’s aromanticism (and the epilogue), but I loved the friendship and trust that develop between Ray and Zav, the found family dynamic between all the members of Twisted Wishes, as well as the BDSM aspect. So very much looking forward to Counterpoint and Reverb.
This month I tackled the mammoth project of reading 100 Years of The Best American Short Stories. At 752 pages, 10 decades, and 40 stories, this was the majority of my May. As with all anthologies, there's highlights and lowlights, but the vast majority of these stories are solid and thought-provoking. I got my first taste of Faulkner from this collection, and I definitely plan to read more Alice Munro soon. A bonus in this collection is the narration throughout by the series editors, telling the story of the Best American Short Stories series through its succession of editors over the past 100 years. If you love short stories and have a month, read this!
I’m working my way through really promising books that just came out. Helen DeWitt is a genius, and her book The Last Samurai is in my top 10 favorite books I’ve ever read (I reviewed it on Goodreads here). She just came out with a short story collection, Some Trick, and although I don’t normally enjoy short stories, these explore art, creativity, and capitalism in ways that feel relevant to my life and my personal obstacles.
Roan Parrish just released Riven, an m/m rock star romance about reluctant fame and recovering from drug addiction. I also discovered the poetry collection Chelate by Jay Besemer that deals with gender, trans issues, and hormonal treatment. It is so wonderfully fun with its language that it pulled me out of a months-long poetry reading slump. At one point he describes planet earth as “this half-submerged raft of starmeat we sit on.” Later he says, and I’m not sure why: “let’s get really really woody.” I don’t know what that means, but I’m so glad someone wrote it.
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