Reading Wrap-up: July 2017 Edition

Another month has come and gone, and more books have been consumed.  For the month of July: two novels!

1) A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.  This is the nearly-700 page behemoth that took me the better part of two months to read.  It is a semi-fictionalized accounting of an assassination attempt on Bob Marley in December of 1976 and the attack’s aftermath in the following decades.  This is a huge leap outside of what I normally read, but I am so glad I picked this up after listening to Marlon James speak at the LA Times Festival of Books back in April.  To say that this novel is dense is an understatement: the cast of characters is as sprawling as the story – each point of view possessed of their own distinct voice and dialect – and the stream of consciousness narrative style Marlon employs forces you to slow down and take in each and every word, every moment, lest you miss something.  But what struck me most was the richness and humanity of each perspective; for no matter whose eyes I read the story through, even those who did despicable, horrible things, I couldn’t help but understand (if not agree with) the reasoning behind their actions.  This book is definitely a time investment, but one that is well worth it.

2) The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  An original fairy tale based off of folklore and legend?  Count me in.  I can’t say I’m all that familiar with Russian folklore, upon which this novel is based, but after reading this I’d love to dive deeper into it.  The story here is a bit of a slow burn, but once it starts to pick up about halfway through it doesn’t let up.  When I started The Bear and the Nightingale I was under the impression it was a standalone novel; and while it still certainly reads as such, it was to my delight that I learned upon finishing it that there is a sequel coming out later this year.  If fairy tales, folklore, myths, and legends (with a dash of the supernatural thrown in) are your jam, pick this one up.

America, The Dream

I’ve been thinking a lot about The American Dream.

Not so much the “anyone can be anything if they work hard and put their mind to it” American Dream, but the idea of America itself – the nation the founding fathers imagined it might be, if given the chance.  A just nation, a free nation, one in which all men are created equal, with certain unalienable rights.

Both interpretations are, of course, fictions.  As a country we have never lived up to either, not for everyone.  And in some cases – the institutionalization of slavery, the genocide of native populations, the illegal internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, just to name a few – we as a nation have flagrantly betrayed the ideals of The Dream.

And yet The Dream persists.  People from all across the face of the earth still flock to our shores, on the promise of The Dream.

It persists, I think, because we as a nation refuse to give up on it.  Because we either want or need to believe that it can one day become reality.

Personally I don’t believe that will ever happen.  It certainly won’t happen in my lifetime.  But perhaps if we are always moving towards the ideals of The Dream – always striving to make this country more just, more equal for everyone who calls it home – maybe we’ll be all right in the end.

The United States of America is a country as flawed as its people, and those flaws – while not insurmountable – are great.

And yet for all their flaws, its people have the capacity for greatness, too.

Happy Fourth of July.

Reading Wrap-up: June 2017 Edition

I know I said last month that I wanted to be a bit more active here on the blog.  Whoops.  Only two posts for all of June.  Even this reading wrap-up is coming out later than normal.  I swear I will one day come up with a posting schedule and stick to it.  One day.

But now, for what I read in the month of June:

Technically speaking, I only got through one novel in its entirety.  Though I did manage to read the vast majority of a nearly-700-page monstrosity, so that almost counts as two.  But I’ll include that in my July wrap-up once I’ve actually finished it.  So the one and only novel I finished in the month of June is…

Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan.  I’m sure none of you are surprised by this, as I’ve been mentioning this series ad nauseum for several months now.  But now the series is done and I had a serious case of book hangover after finishing it – which is partly why it was the only book I was able to finish in June.  I’ve hyped up this book series enough in my previous wrap-ups, so I won’t repeat myself.  Give them a read.  They are definitely worth your time.

And that’s it!  That’s all she wrote (er, read).  Until next time, everybody!

My name is not Beautiful

My name is not Beautiful.
My name is not Sexy.
My name is not Hey Girl, Hey
Or Sweetheart
Or Blondie
Or Baby.

And my name is not Bitch
For refusing to respond
To a moniker
That is not mine.

If you ever bothered
To ask my name,
Instead of labeling me
With one of your own,
You would know:

My name means Victory.

My parents did not know
They named me for the winged goddess –
The journey from
Greek to French
Obscuring its origins
And its significance.

They just liked the sound of it.

I like the sound of it, too:

For my name means Victory,
And it is a challenge
I rise to meet
Every waking day;

For my name means Victory,
And within it lies
The whisper of a promise –
One I hope
To see fulfilled.

And so should you ever bother
To ask me my name,
Instead of labeling me
With one of your own,
I would tell you:

My name is not Beautiful.
I am so much more than that.

Wonder Woman, Moana, and why they matter

Have you ever experienced the sensation of not realizing how hungry you are until food is placed in front of you?  Of not realizing that you were hungry at all until you’re offered something to eat?

That is the closest I can get to describing what I felt while watching Moana last fall, and again last night when I saw Wonder Woman.

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