Tag Archives: elena ferrante

September Reading Wrap-Up

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So, September wasn’t my best reading month in terms of quantity; work stress definitely got in the way of how much reading I got done. On the positive side, I enjoyed all the books that I read this month, including an elusive 5-star read! I haven’t had one of those in awhile, and 5-star reads are really rare for me, so that definitely helped to turn things around. This month, I ended up reading 4 new-to-me books and finished a re-read of Ilona Andrews’s Magic Breaks, while also starting a re-read of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows in preparation for (hopefully) reading Crooked Kingdom in October. Here’s the breakdown:

Number of books read: 5

#readmyowndamnbooks: 4 🙂

Audiobooks: 2

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 0

So here’s what I read in September, ranked from most to least awesome:

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (5 stars) – it’s hard to review this without spoilers, but holy crap, guys. This trilogy is incredible. Book 2 of the Broken Earth trilogy is just as intense as The Fifth Season, and the stakes somehow keep getting higher while the story remains intensely personal. This is fantasy writing at its best, with incredibly complex worldbuilding and a focus on themes of survival and discrimination. Amazing. A definite five-star read.

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (4 stars) – although this was a solid 4-star read, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed by it. Reading Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels has been an immersive experience and an intensely personal story of female friendship; I was expecting the final volume to blow me away. Instead, at times I had to make myself read it because the story just wasn’t grabbing me the way I wanted it to, and the ending, for me, was really lacking in resonance.

The Circle by Dave Eggers (3.5 stars) – This book is about a twentysomething who gets a job at the world’s biggest tech company, which is sort of a Google/Twitter/Facebook type hybrid with a sprawling campus, lots of ambitious young employees, and all sorts of crazy amenities including a built-in social life. As she gets more immersed in life at the company, which is called The Circle, all sorts of craziness starts to emerge from the company’s agenda. The first 2/3 of this book seemed like a solid 4-star read, and I was really enjoying the fast pace, near-future setting, and social commentary. Unfortunately, the last third felt too predictable and wasn’t as interesting.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (3.25 stars) – My main issue with this book was its pacing. If you haven’t already heard (it’s super popular) it’s about a young woman with a seemingly perfect life–beautiful, great job at a fashion magazine, gorgeous fiance, nice NYC apartment–whose ambitions and life were shaped by trauma she faced in high school. The storyline bounces between present-day and her high school past throughout the book, but unfortunately this leaves long stretches of the book where nothing is really happening, and rather than building tension I found it frustrating. I also thought it was strange that the author seemed to want to work so hard to make the protagonist seem “unlikable;” personally, I didn’t find her unlikable at all, and I’m not sure why this was emphasized so much.

 

The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels, #4)Luckiest Girl AliveThe CircleThe Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

 

What did you guys read in September? Any standouts? Let me know in the comments!

WWW Wednesday: July 13th

IMG_1970Random stack of some of my favorite books.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Taking On a World of Words (https://samannelizabeth.wordpress.com/). You answer the 3 W’s: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

Things have been crazy and I was out of town for a bit, so I haven’t been posting much lately, but I’m back! I’ve been really enjoying reading outside with the gorgeous summer weather, and I’m definitely looking forward to the #24in48 readathon, which starts in a little over 2 weeks. Is anyone else participating?

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What are you currently reading?

Men We ReapedThe QuickBlue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)

My current audiobook is still Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward; I actually own this audiobook (I almost never buy audiobooks) so I had it on pause for a bit while I finished some library checkouts. It’s devastating and powerful, and so beautifully written. I’ve also had Blue Lily, Lily Blue on pause; I just really haven’t been in a Raven Cycle kind of mood lately. I really do want to finish the series, but I need a break from it right now. And I just started The Quick by Lauren Owen; all I really know about it is that the premise involves vampires in Victorian London, which is right up my alley. I’ve heard really mixed things about this book, and it has a low rating on Goodreads, but I really like the writing style and atmosphere so far. One of my absolute favorite books (The Magicians by Lev Grossman) has equally bad reviews and a low Goodreads rating, so I try not to put too much stock in that.

What did you recently finish reading?

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3)The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksGods Behaving BadlyShrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

So many things!!! So I finally finished Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third book of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels; the quality of the writing remains fantastic and I am so anxious to see where Lila’s and Lenu’s stories go next. I finished 2 (!) audiobooks recently, which is a LOT for me (I’ve posted before about my audiobook struggles) and I really enjoyed both of them. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was really informative, and I feel like it’s important for everyone to know Henrietta’s story; I do agree with other reviews I’ve seen that I could have done with less of the author inserting herself into the story. I thought that Shrill by Lindy West was funny but extremely raw and true; I knew nothing about this audiobook and picked it up solely due to bookstagrammers’/book bloggers’ recommendations, so thanks, guys! I also finished Gods Behaving Badly a few days ago; it wasn’t amazing but was a fun and funny satire of Greek mythology.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The ArgonautsThe Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels, #4)Lagoon

I’ve been hearing amazing things about The Argonauts on book blogs and Bookstagram, so I went ahead and bought the audiobook to listen to next. I definitely will be picking up the final Ferrante book, The Story of the Lost Child, soon, but first I need to prepare myself for the emotional onslaught I know it will be. The amazing-sounding Lagoon is absolutely coming up next when I finish one of the physical books I’m currently reading. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what I’ll read for the 24 in 48 Readathon (July 23-24!) but that’s still 2 weeks away so I don’t want to post my readathon TBR picks yet.

 

What has everybody been reading lately???

 

 

June Book Haul

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As usual, I didn’t think I was going to buy a lot of books this month.

As usual, I was wrong.

This month, I discovered bookoutlet.com, which has somehow been hiding from me all this time. I blame Bookstagram entirely for my bookish purchases this month, as almost all of them (all except the Ferrante books and Among Others) were from Book Outlet and the only reason I heard of the site was from looking at book haul posts. The prices on this site are ridiculously good, so I don’t feel too guilty about my binge-buying; I’m so excited about the books I was able to find, several of which are difficult to find in bookstores. I pretty much want to read them all immediately, but since I’m in the middle of 5 different books right now, that’s probably not a good idea.

So here’s what I picked up!

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante – I started reading this at the beginning of the month and am on pause until I get back in the Ferrante mindset. The perils of being a mood reader!

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante – I caved and bought the last Ferrante book so that I’ll have it to start when I finish book 3 and also work up the courage to see how this emotionally gripping quartet ends.

Among Others by Jo Walton – I read my first Jo Walton book (The Just City) earlier this year and loved the originality of its concept. She’s a really prolific writer and pretty much all of her books sound amazing; Among Others got a lot of hype a few years ago when it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novel. From the Goodreads review, it’s “at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.” Sounds perfect.

The Weird edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer – this is an anthology of weird fiction that I’ve been coveting ever since I saw it on a shelf in the Strand a few years ago. It is absolutely gigantic and the cover features red octopus arms holding a book in some sort of stone cathedral.  The $30 price tag scared me away, but then I saw it on Book Outlet for under $7 and I had to go for it. Also, it’s edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer; Jeff Vandermeer is the author of the Southern Reach trilogy, which I loved, and they are both highly respected SF&F editors.

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente – Valente is on my list of “authors I think I will love but haven’t actually read anything by yet,” and this book, which is a retelling of a Russian folk tale, sounds so intriguing. From Goodreads: “Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link – I’ve read two books of short stories by Link so far and loved both of them. Her style of writing is odd, creepy, and endlessly creative; this is technically a compilation of YA stories, but some of these overlap with the stories in her adult books.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – this is a first-contact-with-aliens story that takes place in Lagos, Nigeria, and I’ve been hearing nothing but awesome things about it. The premise from Goodreads says: “When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory – I may use this book for the “read a book about religion” task for the Read Harder challenge. It’s set in the near future after the “smart drug revolution” where people can now design and create their own drugs. Someone eventually creates a drug called Numinous that simulates religion and kicks off what looks like a crazy story.

Out by Natsuo Kirino – From Goodreads, “Natsuo Kirino’s novel tells a story of random violence in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works a night shift making boxed lunches brutally strangles her deadbeat husband and then seeks the help of her co-workers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime.” Sounds intense and absorbing.

Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill – I think I heard about this book on Flavorwire and have meaning to get to it for awhile; I’ve been really into short story collections lately. Goodreads says, “Powerful stories of dislocation, longing and desire which depict a disenchanted and rebellious urban fringe generation that is groping for human connection. (Or, more simply put, the angst of people-who-wear-black.)

The Quick by Lauren Owen – I mean, I’m really down for anything involving vampires, but I really hope this one’s good. It’s set in the 1890s and centers on a woman’s search for her brother through the mysterious underworld of London; I’ve heard mixed reviews but I want this to work for me.

 

Has anyone read any of these? How did you like them? And what book did you buy in June? Let me know!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

I recently finished reading:

Citizen: An American LyricA Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I decided to branch out beyond my nonfiction audiobook niche by listening to Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, which is a short book of prose poems about different aspects of racism in the U.S. I thought that a lot of Rankine’s writing was extremely powerful and there were several lines that gave me chills, but it seemed like some passages were just so much stronger than others. I also found audiobook a difficult format for poetry; I was constantly rewinding to make sure I was fully appreciating the words.

I also finally allowed myself to finish A Court of Mist and Fury, after savoring it for about a month. This series is so romantic and dramatic; it was a fantastic sequel that definitely surpassed the first book. Recommended for fans of romantic fantasy.

The Color of Magic was a disappointment for me. I’ve read two other Discworld books (Mort and Small Gods) that I enjoyed, but this one unfortunately got really…boring. It started out well, with humor and an interesting setup, but then went rapidly downhill. I know that this is the first book in the series and isn’t widely considered one of the best, but I was still disappointed–particularly with the book’s treatment of female characters. I understand that Pratchett was satirizing a lot of aspects of fantasy literature, but it’s still really unnecessary, and in my opinion a turnoff to a lot of female readers, to have literally every female character be naked in this book.

I’m currently reading:

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3)The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)

I’m about 1/4 of the way through Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (the third book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels), which so far is surpassing the previous book in intrigue. We’re getting more and more hints toward the future of the relationship between Elena and Lila, and things are happening really quickly. Also, in a not-so-shocking turn of events, I ordered the fourth book, The Story of the Lost Child, on B&N.com.

Also! I am 100% on board with The Raven Boys. I complain a lot about my pickiness with YA, but this book is hitting all the right notes for me. I purposefully didn’t read anything about the plot or characters before starting it (I picked it up entirely on recommendations from bloggers and bookstagrammers) and I think that was a really good decision. I love all of the characters, the setting, and the fantasy elements. It’s really unlike any other YA I’ve read before. I’m about 1/3 of the way through and already putting the second book on hold at my library.

And for audio, I picked up The Cuckoo’s Calling again after abandoning it about 2/3 of the way through this winter. I wasn’t in the right mood for it before, but I’m enjoying it more now, particularly as the plot is finally starting to pick up. Finally. I’m definitely going to finish it this time, but I doubt I’ll read the rest of this series.

Up next:

Men We ReapedThe Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels, #4)

I think my next audiobook will be a book I’ve had my eye on for awhile: Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. I’m really in the mood for some nonfiction, and this sounds so powerful yet personal. Here’s the Goodreads blub: “In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth—and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.”

As far as print books go, I can see myself jumping right into the next books in the Raven Cycle and Neapolitan Novels next. It’s so weird–I feel like I NEVER read already completed series, and it’s such a nice feeling not to have to wait until the next book is released. Not that this will ever stop me from reading unfinished series, but it is quite nice.

 

What are you all reading this Monday? Feel free to link to your posts!

 

 

June TBR!

 

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It’s officially time for summer reading! Even though I read year-round, there’s something special about reading in the summer. I always tend to spend a lot of time reading and relaxing in the sunshine and seem to get through more books during this season than the others (although I’ve never really kept track; it might just feel like I read more). I already laid out my top 20 books to get through this summer in my last post, but here is a more specific breakdown of my TBR for June. This month, I plan to finish the Neapolitan novels, continue my streak of listening to nonfiction audiobooks with no DNFs, and pick up a bunch of books I’ve had on my TBR stack for too long. I figure that it’s OK to be ambitious–it’s summer!

So here’s what I’ll hopefully be reading this month:

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante – book 3 of the Neapolitan novels and, to me, the one with the most beautiful title and cover. The last book ended on a pretty major note (don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of spoiling anybody) and I’m so intrigued by the direction the story is taking. I feel like once I dive into this, though, I’ll have to set my other books aside for awhile and then snag book 4.

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante – book 4. I feel pretty confident I’ll get to this book as well this month, but it depends on whether I want to savor the Ferrante books and postpone reading it.

And Again by Jessica Chiarella – I won this in a giveaway from Tor.com earlier this year (the first and only book I’ve ever won in a giveaway!) and I’m really interested in the premise: it’s a literary science fiction standalone where four people are given new, physically perfect versions of their bodies and then struggle to fit back into their lives.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – I started this audiobook in May but now am super frustrated: my Overdrive account only lets me take out an audiobook for a week at a time, and after I had to return this book, I was bumped back to fifth in line. Fifth! So now I might have to find a new audiobook for June…really annoying, since I was getting really into this one. I really like some things about Overdrive, like how easy it is to use, but right now none of the books I really want to listen to are available 😦

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I paused this for awhile in May due to a severe case of Ferrante fever, but I will definitely finish this month. I’m over halfway through and it seems like a solid enjoyable 4-star read.

The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau – feminist fairy tale retellings in short story form that I cannot wait to jump into this month.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith – from the Goodreads blurb, “Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie’s best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal.” I’ve heard such amazing things about Zadie Smith, and I keep meaning to read this book but haven’t done it yet.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I have a bad track record of getting frustrated with and DNFing YA books, but I’ve heard such positive things about this series, and its premise seems pretty mysterious, so I’m going to give it a shot. Fingers crossed! I have DNFing, but I don’t shy away from it; I want to be reading books that I like!

 

What are you all reading in June??

 

May Reading Wrap-Up!

 

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Total books finished: 7

#readmyowndamnbooks/#SmashYourStack:  4 (!)

Audiobooks: 2 (!)

Library books: 1

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 1

✓ 6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
Notorious RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon

Severity of Ferrante Fever: high

So, I had decided to participate in the #SmashYourStack challenge for May and challenge myself to take down books from my physical TBR. I actually did OK on this challenge–I read hardly any of the books I thought I would, but I did manage to read 4 books that I actually own. (Although I totally cheated by buying the first 2 Ferrante books and then counting them for the challenge.) Overall, the quality of the books I read this month was fantastic–I added 2 books to my ongoing list of my top ten reads of 2016 (of course, it’s all subject to change, since 2016 isn’t even halfway done yet).

I also listened to 2 (and a half, since I started Citizen: An American Lyric this month too) audiobooks this month, which is crazy for me. Bout of Books gave me a lot of audiobook motivation, and I feel like I’ve really found my audiobook niche with nonfiction.

The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels #2)My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)Death My Own WayMr. SplitfootRoses and RotNot That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

So here’s what I read in May, ranked in order of awesomeness:

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My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (5 stars) – If you haven’t read this series yet, prepare to become obsessed. It opens with a mystery and the two main characters in their sixties, then flashes back to their fascinating and violent childhood in a poor neighborhood of Naples. The relationship between the two main characters is constantly fraught with emotion in different ways, and the world of 1950s Italy is alien and immersive. I highly, highly recommend this for anyone in a reading slump or looking for a new series to become addicted to–I honestly think anyone would enjoy these books, even if, like me, you typically steer clear of realistic fiction in favor of science fiction/fantasy.

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Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (4.5 stars) – this quickly became one of my favorite reads of 2016 so far. I loved the dual narrative structure and the consistent weirdness of this book. Highly recommended for anyone interested in weird fiction.

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The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (4.25 stars) – Although I liked My Brilliant Friend more, this was still incredibly well done–especially the whirlwind last 200 pages and the OH SHOOT ending. The middle had a long plot section that I wasn’t a fan of, but once it transitioned out of that, it went back to amazingness. It’s the perfect springboard into the third book, which I started this morning.

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Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano (4 stars) – I picked this book up at the Buffalo Small Press book fair as part of my effort to read more books from independent publishers, and found that it was a perfect entrancing book to read in one sitting. It’s a philosophical take on life, death, and art set in a single night in Central Park. Recommended for anyone looking for a short, thought-provoking read.

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Roses and Rot by Kat Howard (3.5 stars) – This book was released last month and got a great review from Neil Gaiman, which is how I heard about it. It came in as a library hold and I only had a week to read it; I was nervous about finishing in time so I ended up reading it in 2 days! That kind of binge reading has been rare for me lately due to work, but it was a great feeling to just dive into a book and barely come up for air. This is a dark fairytale/fantasy about two sisters, a writer and a dancer, at an artist’s retreat after escaping an abusive mother; it’s about the love between siblings and the devotion to art.
I loved the setting, the concept, and overall liked the plot and characters, but I found the writing style to be way too simplistic for my taste. I needed a lot more detail and description, and although the characters were interesting, they could have been much more fully drawn. I also found the love interest very boring.
If you enjoy dark fairytale themes, then you’ll probably enjoy this; for me, it was good, but just not amazing.

Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (3 stars) – I liked this audiobook a lot more than I expected to, although I found the quality to be very inconsistent. I like Lena Dunham’s delivery, and found her very easy to listen to.

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (3 stars) – I loved hearing more about the amazing RBG, but didn’t love the structure and writing style of this audiobook. The narrator was also not awesome.

 

What did everybody read in May???

May Book Haul!

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April was a month filled with enticing library used book sales, so there weren’t any sales in my area in May. Instead, I splurged a bit on some new books and, in an unusual move for me, actually read two and a half of the books I bought this month within the month.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – I finally caved into the immense literary pressure and bought My Brilliant Friend, a book that for a long time I resisted reading. I genuinely had thought I wouldn’t enjoy it; I was very, very wrong. I loved it so much that I quickly had to run back to Barnes & Noble for the second book.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante – the sequel to My Brilliant Friend, I just finished reading this book this morning. And now desperately need the third book.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I pre-ordered this book awhile ago and am currently about halfway through; so far I’m finding it significantly more enjoyable than its predecessor, A Court of Thorns and Roses. I’m looking forward to reading the rest but want to savor it.

Love Poems by Pablo Neruda – I have never read a single poem by Pablo Neruda, although I’ve been meaning to for years. I don’t tend to read a ton of poetry but I think I should be attempting to read more of it; I’ll start with this very slim volume of extremely famously beautiful love poems.

Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey – I don’t know a lot about this book, but I found it in the Staff Recommendations section at the Strand. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and depicts a woman being submerged in water; from the description, it looks to be about a woman leaving her life behind and immersing herself in a new environment in New Zealand. I’m intrigued.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro – I’ve read two of Ishiguro’s previous books (Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day) and love his thoughtful style and his focus on the theme of the unreliability of memory. This book is his first foray into touches of fantasy and depicts an elderly couple’s search for their son. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since it came out but was waiting for the paperback edition to be released.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson – Winterson’s The Passion was my first 5-star read of 2016, and I found this book completely accidentally on a bargain table at the Strand. From the back of the book, “The Daylight Gate is Jeanette Winterson’s singular vision of a dark period of complicated morality, sex, and tragic plays for power in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined.” It looks to be about witchcraft and witchhunting in 1600s England, and I have really high hopes for it.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh – I really hate watching a movie before reading a book, but it’s been a long time since I saw the film version in an indie movie theater in my college town. My goal to read more classics has been going really terribly, and I’ve  heard amazing things about this book, so I’m going to hope that this can help get me into a classics zone. The Goodreads blurb refers to this book as “the most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize only his spiritual and social distance from them.”