April 2015: My month in books

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger

Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One by Adam Hines

Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan

Dropped Threads 2: More of What We Aren’t Told by Carol Shields

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

The Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart’s Desire by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead, Vol. 05: The Best Defense by Robert Kirkman

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction

Moomin, Vol. 2 by Tove Jansson

Moomin, Vol. 3 by Tove Jansson

April seems far away now, it ended a whole week ago. I always tell myself I’ll do this on the last day of the month but then time slips by and here we are.

I continued on with my J.D. Salinger mission. It isn’t that hard since he only has four books but still. I really liked both Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour and Nine Stories. I was kind of sad when it was over. For a long time I felt like my life was filled with Seymours. In Vancouver there’s a Mount Seymour and a Seymour Street so I felt like everywhere I looked there were Seymours.

I read an essay by Meghan Daum a while back and decided that I liked her. I’ve been meaning to read one of her books and got Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House out of the library. It is about Daum’s real estate obsession and the house she ends up buying. I liked it and it made me think about all the places I’ve lived and the funny stories I’ve collected along the way. I found her real estate obsession weird but otherwise it was good.

I’ve been meaning to read Wild for a good long while. Everyone thinks it’s one of the best memoirs by a female in recent years or they’re one of those people who hates popular books because they are malcontented — I like to believe that bestsellers become best sellers for a reason, they’re not all good but you can’t hate something just because it’s popular. I saw the movie, which was just different enough from the book to keep things interesting. Usually I don’t do that but somebody else picked the movie. I enjoyed the book. It was moving, well ordered and the descriptions were good. I’m glad I read it.

I borrowed Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One by Adam Hines from a friend of mine who generally has good taste in these sorts of things. It’s a hefty graphic novel with lots going on in it. It’s about what the world would be like if animals could talk to humans. They still eat meat and all that but there is a terrorist group run by some angry monkeys. It was subtle with lots of different story lines converging to tell a good story. We’ve been promised a second volume but I don’t know if it will ever materialize.

Saga remains one of my favourite graphic novel series out there. Volumes 3 and 4 were as crazy and drama filled as the previous ones but in a well-done kind of way. There are just so many clever things thrown in there.

I read Dropped Threads 3 after finding it in a little free library when I was waiting for somebody and hadn’t brought a book with me. They are anthologies about the things women aren’t told and they’re done by a couple of Canadian editors. There are far too many things women aren’t told to fit in these volumes but they are a good sampling. I like the shortness of the essays and the variety. Some of the stories I really connect with while others are good yarns. I found volume 2 at the library and decided to take it home. I have yet to read volume 1 but am enjoying reading them in reverse order.

For the most part I like Mindy Kaling. I find The Mindy Project quite funny. Sometimes I wish there was less boy craziness but it’s basically a TV series ode to the rom com. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? had its really funny moments like when Kaling broke the average eight hour day or writing into seven hours of procrastinating, messing around and doing nothing of particular usefulness and one hour of actual writing. That basically sums it up. There were moments like these that had me nodding and saying yeah girl. Then there were the bits that I was like I could take it or leave it. Kaling is adored as a celebrity with an average/normal body, which I generally appreciate. As someone who will never ever under any circumstances be passed off as thin I think the world needs more of this. What bugs me and I find it difficult to relate to is when she makes jokes about eating badly and never working out. As someone who is very active and eats right I think it’s just annoying to hear somebody making light of neglecting their body. We live in a culture that makes it so easy to be inactive and that doesn’t care about the consequences of those choices. One of the things that bugs me most about not being thin or petite is the perception that somehow if I was more active or ate less I could look that way. Even when I was a competitive athlete and struggled to eat enough calories I was not thin. I would love a role model who was like I take care of myself and love being physically active and I look the way I look. Not someone who’s like I’m lazy and eat badly and should lose 15 pounds and I’m slightly chubby isn’t that funny. No it’s not really that funny. It’s mostly annoying.

The same friend who hooked me up with Wonderdog had a copy of Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and said it was good so I got it out of the library. It’s cool in that it’s a graphic novel about a muslim immigrant girl and some of the pressures of her life. She accidentally becomes a super hero on top of trying to juggle doing what she wants and keeping her parents happy. I like the concept and think it adds a new perspective to the traditional white male playboy narratives we hear all too often in comic books.

I didn’t mind The Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart’s Desire. It was pretty standard. Some darkness, lots of infighting. Volume 5 however, went to the point of being outrageous and offensive. I found the plot line dark for the sake of darkness and violent for the sake of violence. I will not say what happened but I will say that I felt violated by the events and will henceforth not be reading any more Walking Dead.

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction is another book that my lovely comic book buying friend introduced me to. I enjoyed it quite a lot. Not much more than the usual I’m a playboy badass who fights crime plot line our culture loves so much but it is a story that can be well told. The character is interesting.

I continue to love the Moomin in Volume 2 and 3. They are quirky crazy fun creatures who do crazy things. I love how they just accept the stuff that happens to them instead of being like no this is unpleasant and ridiculous.