March was a really enjoyable reading month for me. I may not have had any 5-star reads, but my 4-star reads were all wonderful and I had a bunch of them this month. In terms of my reading goals, I actually did a good job of reading the books on my physical TBR shelf (almost all of my reads this month came from there) and I did manage to read another short story collection, which means that I’m 2 for 2 with my new goal of reading one of those each month in 2017.
Number of books read: 8
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Tasks Completed: 2
✓ 8. Read a travel memoir.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
✓ 5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
When did I buy the books I read? October (The Regional Office is Under Attack!), February (The Possessions, There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself, Wild), March (The Princess Saves Herself in this One, Exit West)
So here’s what I read in March:
Giant Days, Vol 3 by John Allison, Max Sarin, Whitney Cogar, Jim Campbell, and Lissa Treiman (2 stars) – unfortunately, I think I’m done with this series. This latest issue and the previous one were both disappointments, and I’m just not interested enough in the story anymore to keep on going.
The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace (2.5 stars) – another disappointment, unfortunately. I had heard this was similar to Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, which I loved, but the writing was much less impactful in this book and I felt that the poems were overly simplistic with not enough craft.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (4 stars) – fantastic nonfiction audiobook. I loved hearing about the dedication and obsession of this female scientist who was coming into her own in a time when female scientists were very rare; her story is inspiring and fascinating.
The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy (4 stars) – So this was my Book of the Month Club pick for February, and I really enjoyed it–but at the same time, I can totally see that a lot of people probably won’t like it. It’s sort of a mishmash of genres (mystery, ghost story, fantasy, thriller) that never fully inhabits any genre. The main character is really vaguely drawn and we never feel like we really know her all that well; the plot does tend to stagnate and it’s heavier on ambiance than twists. But I was really into all of that, fortunately, and it really worked for me. The book’s premise is that there are pills that allow people to channel the spirits of the deceased, and the main character works at an agency that helps people contact their departed loved ones in an attempt to gain some closure. The intrigue starts when the lines begin to be blurred between the rigid structure of contacting the dead at this company versus what happens when our main character starts to fall for a client and discovers more about the darker side of this phenomenon.
There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself by Ludmila Petrushevskaya (4 stars) – my short story collection for the month of March. These stories are all set in Russia and all involve families and elements of daily life; there’s an overwhelming sense of oppression and depression but still a strong cord of hope running through them. Petrushevskaya’s writing style was wonderful, and her blend of dark humor and stark realism really worked for me. I definitely will be picking up more of her short fiction in the future.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed (4 stars) – For some reason, I had always had this impression of Wild being a sort of sappy, inspirational self help-y kind of book, and so I avoided reading it for years. After I listened to Cheryl Strayed’s other nonfiction book (Tiny Beautiful Things) on audio last year, though, I revised my opinion and realized that I probably had the wrong idea about Wild. I ended up listening to this one on audio as well and it’s probably one of my favorite audiobooks so far. This was NOT sappy or self-help-y at all; it’s honest and real and very absorbing.
The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales (3 stars) – this was a fun read that I mainly listened to on audio about superpowered female secret agents and what happens when one contingent attacks another (the Regional Office) and the events leading up to and following said attack. While it was fun, there were a LOT of issues in terms of plot holes and it constantly teetered between science fiction/fantasy elements and more realistic ones in a way that just did not at all come together. It almost seemed like the author just didn’t feel like explaining a lot of the fantastical elements and also occasionally forgot about them.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (4 stars) – This was my Book of the Month Club pick for March, making this the first time I’ve actually read my BOTM pick during the month it was sent to me. It’s a magical realism story that takes place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country on the brink of civil war; at the same time that this is happening, doors start to open up all over the world that allow people to be transported from one disparate place to another. When I started reading this, I really thought that because of the lyrical, gorgeous prose that it would be a 5-star read, but unfortunately I ended up liking the first half much better than the second and it was more of a 4-star read for me in the end.
And here are the books I purchased in March: