March was a month of re-reads, and it was so wonderful. I had “forgotten to remember” the joy of re-reading – new books are so exciting and push me to learn and grow; but discovering and re-discovering layers to familiar and beloved books is such a sweet and almost poignant experience (okay I’ve been reading a lot of L.M Montgomery lately), like falling back in love with your own life, your own dear friends and family and values.
I pledged to not buy any new books for March, and I think that was at least partly the reason I went back to re-reading, although I could just as easily have tried to make an indent in my healthy TBR pile. I kind of almost want to pledge to do another no-buy month, but maybe a bit later in the year. It was relatively painless, to be honest, and not being able to mood-buy made me realize :
- That the books I’ve accumulated in my TBR stack skew dark and/or heavy! Whenever I buy in batches, I tend to read the easy ones first, and leave the heavier ones for later, so those tend to pile up.
- That I tend to read mood-buys immediately – when I feel in the mood for a thriller, I buy one! So I never have thrillers in my TBR stack – therefore in terms of Value For Money, there’s an immediate return on investment.
No conclusions, just reflections. I tend to work around to the stuff in my TBR stacks eventually, even if it takes a few years.
Anyway in March I read 19 books, taking me to 50 for the year.
Books I re-read in March
Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games trilogy I really enjoyed being able to read this trilogy all in one go instead of having to wait for each book (waiting for the second book in a trilogy is always the worst, because the second book is always a “bridge” book and also there’s always a cliffhanger, so its like okay, I obviously have to read it because its too long to wait till the third book comes out, but also zomg)! This time round I was very invested in Team Gale, and also really appreciated how Suzanne Collins created a heroine who was clearly always noble, but who also started off apathetic about politics and who then grew into political consciousness and action. Katniss wasn’t perfect, but she was fundamentally a very good person.
Naomi Novik Spinning Silver, Uprooted, The Scholomance #1 I really enjoy Naomi Novik’s fantasies that build and spin off folklore and fairytales and wizard schools, and knowing how they end didn’t reduce the thrill and sheer fun of re-reading them.
Nalini Singh Rock Addition, Rock Wedding Nalini Singh has long been a romance auto-buy for me, and in particular I’m a big fan of her contemporary New Zealand “Rock Kiss” series, which stars the members of the rock band Schoolboy Choir as they fall in love. I would call these romances fluffy rather than gritty, or fluff with elements of grit, but whatever they are, her loyal, longing, loving heroes are my jam.
L.M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea I can’t count the number of times I re-read this as a teen, and I’m so happy to come back to them. Something that really stands out to me as an adult reader of these novels is the omniscient narrator, which I absolutely do not remember from my previous reads. If you’d asked me last week, I’d have said that these were written in third person, limited POV – mostly Anne’s. Which is probably a commentary on my own positionality while reading – I probably have a lot more in common these days with the omniscient narrator than the beloved Anne-child, Anne-teen.
Andy Weir The Martian I read this a few years ago, the movie is absolutely brilliant, and re-reading it while knowing how it ends enabled me to really enjoy Mark Watson’s resilient, ironic, determinedly cheerful voice.
Notable New Reads
Aoko Matsuda Where the Wild Ladies Are Feminist Book Club Pick! Short story collections are always tricky for me – how do I figure out how these short stories relate to each other, or not, what are the larger themes that draw this collection together etc. Anyway these retellings and subversions of Japanese folktales were super fun and I would definitely re-read – love as K said, how these highlight how sometimes the experience of womanhood in this world that is made for men, is essentially Other. We have not been allowed a space in this world, we are always contorting ourselves and ensmallening ourselves, and sometimes you just gotta MAKE that space.
Peace Adzo Medie His Only Wife I liked this story about a young woman coming into herself, and struggling to do so through her marriage to a man she loves, but who the reader isn’t quite sure loves her. And twisted questions of class mobility and what it costs, and how class manifests itself in a kind of cosmopolitan language of consumerism that you have to learn. And I REALLY liked the ending. It was super descriptive, Ghana felt like a character, and so much of it was heartbreaking in an everyday kind of way.
Taylor Jenkins Reid After I Do TJR does heartbreak-through-humanness-and-not-villainy so so well, and this novel about a couple who begin marriage desperately in love and the novel on the edge of divorceis no exception.
Nadine Jolie Courtney All-American Muslim Girl Read this one a bit too early – should have saved it for Ramadan! A Muslim teen who passes as non-Muslim, comes of age in a post 9/11 America. Her parents – her Jordanian father who gives up the faith, and her convert mother – are fascinating. Bright and a little draggy, but definitely worth a read. I enjoyed the “sisters halaqa” that the protagonist attends as part of her Islamic education.
Liane Moriarty Big Little Lies Dark, fluffy suburban drama
Bolu Babalola Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold As I mentioned in my Goodreads review, while I enjoyed these retellings of folktales that I wasn’t familiar with – a little cheesy, a little playful, with language that jumps and twists in fresh ways – I suppose I was looking for more depth, more subversion, more meaning to the retellings. I would definitely read more of Babalola’s work, and would be especially excited to read non-retellings from her! (One of my faves in the collection was the mythologizing of her own parents’ love story -which was such a sweet way of saying that sometimes the fairytales closest to us are the ones featuring our family – that real life is like a fairytale when its told that way.)
Now that no-buy month is over, there are a few books I’ve got my eye on, including Battle Royale, Professional Troublemaker, Yolk…but first to read my own FBC pick, Leila Aboulela’s The Kindness of Enemies!
Till next month, hopes and prayers for a blessed Ramadan for all. ❤