Reading wrap-up #59

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Liked it enough
  • (★★): Didn’t care for it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles: A Novel: Miller, Madeline: 9780062060624: BooksRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction, fantasy, mythology

GoodReads rating: 4.40 / 5 (347,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook and e-book (borrowed from library via Overdrive, purchased for Kindle)

PopSugar prompt: A book that won the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Summary: “Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.”

Thoughts: After being thoroughly disappointed in Circe, this blew me away. Both the audiobook and e-book were a joy to read and beautifully written. I need more from this author! (On a side note, has anyone seen someone pronounce something funny and that’s how you pronounce it after that? See this Wheel of Fortune cock-up of a contestant mispronouncing “Achilles” to find out how I now pronounce it in my head.)

Legendary Children by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Who's That Queen? Breaking Down the Cover of Legendary Children | Tom + LorenzoRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, history, LGBTQ+

GoodReads rating: 4.24 / 5 (797 ratings)

Medium used: Paperback (purchased from Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds, WA)

PopSugar prompt: A book with under 1,000 ratings on GoodReads.

Summary: Legendary Children centers itself around the idea that not only is Drag Race the queerest show in the history of television, but that RuPaul and company devised a show that serves as an actual museum of queer cultural and social history, drawing on queer traditions and the work of legendary figures going back nearly a century. In doing so, Drag Race became not only a repository of queer history and culture, but an examination and illustration of queer life in the modern age.”

Thoughts: I am a massive fan of Drag Race. I’ve seen all the seasons (some several times), gone to Drag Con, seen the queens live (Drive N’ Drag, Alyssa Edwards, Trixie Mattel, Ben Dela Creme), etc. This book was pretty good, but not prefect. First of all, I hate an overfamiliar writing style, in this case calling the reader “girl”, using queer colloquialisms and the like, but that’s just a personal preference. Although Drag Race did introduce a lot of people to queer culture, RuPaul is not the end-all-be-all. She’s quite problematic actually (fracking, transphobia and let’s not forget treating Joe Black like complete shit) but the author didn’t utter a word about it. If you’ve never seen Drag Race, you’d miss a lot of references in the book, which is unfortunate because it’s full of great history. I also wish they had some kind of description of who was on the cover, the best I could find was this article which only mentioned the icons I already recognized. If queer history interests you, I’d recommend watching Caitlin Doughty’s video on Dorian Corey and Paris is Burning.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

RECURSION – Blake Crouch (2019) | Weighing a pig doesn't fatten it.Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Science fiction, time travel

GoodReads rating:  4.14 / 5 (136,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (purchased for Kindle)

PopSugar prompt: A book about forgetting.

Summary: In 2007, we follow a scientist Helena as she goes from underfunded Stanford post-doc working to save her ailing mother’s memory to a mysterious all-powerful corporation giving her whatever she needs to move forward with her studies… at a price. In 2018, NYC cop Barry is investigating a suicide linked to a new phenomenon: False Memory Syndrome, where sufferers insist they suddenly have vivid memories of another life and cannot tell which memories are true. Helena’s studies and Barry’s investigations will take them through time to keep this memory-altering technology out of the wrong hands.

Warning: This book contains themes of suicide.

Thoughts: YES. I have no idea why it took me so long to read this. I loved Dark Matter and although I’m not much of a sci-fi reader, I loved this as well. I love books that make me think and also have open-to-interpretation endings. I think I liked Dark Matter more, but these are both excellent. Fascinating, emotional, exciting, all of it.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson - Penguin Books AustraliaRating: ★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir, travel

GoodReads rating: 3.91 / 5 (100,900 ratings)

Medium used: Paperback (gifted from family)

PopSugar prompt: A book set somewhere you’d like to travel in 2021.

Summary: After living in Britain for two decades, Bryson sets off on a farewell tour before moving back to the States, revisiting some of his most beloved places and observing what’s changed and what’s haven’t.

Thoughts: This is one of those books where the GoodReads description doesn’t quite add up to what the book is about. I expected more whimsical places filled with colorful descriptions, but not exactly. Some bits were funny and interesting places and stories, but I think Bryson spent too much time in the U.K. as he had something nasty to say for most every place and didn’t make me want to visit anywhere he went. As someone who has lived in the U.K. and is itching to go back, I was looking forward to this book about the small island from another American’s perspective, but it fell short. Not to mention, it’s a bit outdated (as old as I am). Travel books are hardly relevant after a decade. However, I do really enjoy his writing and will add a few more of his books to my list.

Have you read any of these? 

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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