Monday, September 28, 2020

Review: Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution

Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The most subversive thing a woman can do is talk about her life as if it really matters.”

Mona Eltahawy tackles women's rights in the Middle East, zeroing in on issues such as FGM, marital rape, citizenship, autonomy, ability to work, education, pleasure in sex, enforced clothing code, and more. She is direct, she does not mince words, and it should be obvious that this includes frequent mention of rape, assault, war-based violence, imprisonment, kidnapping, it is not an easy topic.

I appreciate the author's sometimes journalistic take and sometimes personal take, for instance sharing her changing perspective on the veil/headscarve/burqa. It reminded me of G. Willow Wilson's intellectual journey in The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam. Is the choice to wear the veil feminism? Is it really a choice? They did not necessarily reach the same conclusion but both are thoughtful in their consideration of the topic.

The author also is plain about her struggle in discussing these issues with Americans and other people living outside the Middle East, for fear of our tendency to see misogyny and poor treatment of women as being "over there" and a facet specifically of Islam. She shows how it is and how it isn't, and warns that we are all responsible for fighting the creep of control.
“Misogyny has not been completely wiped out anywhere. Rather, it resides on a spectrum, and our best hope for eradicating it globally is for each of us to expose and to fight against local versions of it, in the understanding that by doing so we advance the global struggle.”
The way she connects the control of women's bodies to other events should make all of us pay attention. “The battles over women's bodies can be won only by a revolution of the mind.”

I will also recommend her more recent book, which does a great job at showing the universality of women's rights and is a brilliant followup to this one - The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls.

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Review: Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World

Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World by Zahra Hankir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the September read for my in-person (now Zoom) book club but it was one I intended to read this year because of my focus on the Middle East. Regardless, I'm so glad I read it! It is amazing to read what these women have to say about what it is like to be a *sahafiyat* - female journalist - coming from and reporting on the Middle East. These firsthand accounts of conflict, danger, control, and loss are often harrowing. Some discuss the benefits of their unique positions to gain access to women in these communities in ways they never could otherwise. Some talk about the 70s-90s but the majority focus on the last tenish years. Syria in particular is a focus, and there is no cheery part to that story.

In the book club we talked a lot about bravery, having to choose between family and career, the environment of war, the struggle for autonomy, safety vs. story, etc. In my own reading I went on many many internet rabbit holes to look for more information about some things mentioned in passing. This book was a gentle reminder that the Middle East is a place with wide diversity in belief, language, and social expectations. I don't think I knew that an Egyptian might not understand a Iraqi, both speaking Arabic. The women who are journalists in this area are often from the same countries, and it was amazing how a Syrian can recognize the other even after fleeing from a homeland that will never be the same, and the difference that can make in access to the story.

CW for violence, death, genocide, misogyny, rape, torture, loss of home...but as Mona Eltahawy would point out, it is so easy for us to see it "over there" and be blind to it where we are. In many of these essays, the journalists mention the USA, from occupation to embargo to one-sided political relationships.

A few quotations:

"Even in the Middle East, ... Iraqi women are known to be particularly tough. The guttural Iraqi accent only underlines that reputation...Iraqi women were the region's most beautiful - until they opened their mouths." (whaaaaat you better believe I looked up videos of Iraqis speaking Arabic!!)

"Running in an abaya was a special skill that we honed each time we had to take cover: you use your left hand to hold the silky fabric under your chin to keep it in place and your right hand to hike up the bottom to free your feet. Then you run in a zigzag pattern to avoid giving a clear shot to the snipers."

"I asked everyone else in the room if they believed the moon landing was faked. They all did... Growing up in Canada, I had always been inclined to believe that government officials generally told the truth. But in the kaleidoscope world of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, people had reason to believe the opposite. This skepticism spilled over into a belief that most things were not the way they seemed." (this was not the first time this book made me pause and think about my own country, which is not the point, but isn't this why good journalism is so important... these women show it over and over....)

"I didn't fully understand the value of my choices until after I faced all this danger and harassment - from the state, from tribesmen, and from Islamists. I have been a journalist for a decade now, and let me tell you what I have learned: this is what journalism should be, or else it shouldn't be, at all... This is our destiny, and we remain ever devoted to it."

"Ultimately, both channels were two sides of the same coin, turning Libyans against one another by fueling
polarization in a country that had descended into sheer chaos. I didn’t want to play a part in that polarization,
even though I still wanted to be a journalist.”

"Our entire generation believed in change. We were out on the streets protesting. We resisted and we insisted.
 Perhaps it was our youth and our first loves that gave us such hope. But then everything stopped moving.
Politics became filthier than ever before. We were the victims of a whirlwind of emotions, social media, and the
people we met in this revolutionary environment. How I pity the generation that will have to go out to do it all
over again. We were delusional. That is why we woke up and found our lives in complete chaos. What our
revolutionaries lacked was not ideology but practical means. Life is not built on nor does it change through 
Facebook or social media. Those changes come through streets, schools, colleges, and other educational 

And to sum up some of what we discussed in book club, here is a quote from one of our members:

“It’s always shocking to me how little we know when we go in and invade places.”

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Review: The Writer's Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives

The Writer's Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives The Writer's Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives by Nancy Pearl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Write all the books about books you can, I will read them. All of them. Nancy Pearl teams up with Jeff Schwager to interview 23 mostly well-known authors about their reading lives. Most people know Nancy Pearl as the world's librarian and model for the iconic shushing librarian action figure, along with being the author of readers advisory books like Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason. Jeff Schwager is less known to me but because the chapters in this book are transcribed interviews, I know he likes Philip Roth and Denis Johnson, and that right there tells you a lot about a person.

The best part of books like this is that I come away with more books I want to read - some I already know I want to read, or have had lingering on my shelves; a few I'd never heard of, a few I felt more interested in reading after hearing what the writer had to say about it (or sometimes, the interviewers.) There is a slight warning I feel I should give - the two interviewers are exuberant about books and outnumber the people they are interviewing. And since the chapters are transcriptions rather than narratives, you can see them cutting people off - I feel they would beg your forgiveness and hope you see it in the light of shared delight rather than competing interests. That is the spirit I have chosen to see it (otherwise it might be annoying.)

A lot of writers share some major authors who have influenced them, often some of the greats, and part of me believes that sometimes we say these authors because we think we should. I'm more interested in the unique books or writers that inspired people. I loved hearing about Amor Towles' project-based book club (wow) and Dave Eggers' experiences as a publisher.

I don't think this will take away from the experience of reading these interviews, so I will share the books I've added (or confirmed) on my list:

From Nancy Pearl's comments:
The Nowhere City by Alison Lurie (in conversation with Jonathan Lethem)
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli (in conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen)
A Dangerous Friend by Ward Just, but only after reading The Quiet American by Graham Greene...(in conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen, but I have Ward on my radar from Thomas O.)

From Laila Lalami:
[book of poetry from Tahar Ben Jelloun that doesn't seem to exist in English! darn!]
A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul

From Luis Alberto Urrea:
Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch by John Zada

From Jennifer Egan:
Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (mentioned by others as well)
Night Shift by Maritta Wolff

From T.C. Boyle:
Outside Looking In by T.C. Boyle (oh this is from his intro)
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (I bought this last year for the Back to Classics challenge for a comic novel and never read it)

From Andrew Sean Greer:
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene

From Madeline Miller:
Like Life by Lorrie Moore

From Maaza Mengiste (whose book The Shadow King is currently on my stack):
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
Trieste by Daša Drndić

From Amor Towles:
Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? by Harold Bloom
Middlemarch by George Eliot (mentioned by others)
The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott

From Louise Erdrich:
Hope Against Hope by Nadezhda Mandelstam
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (sitting on my Kindle, mentioned by others)

From Dave Eggers:
Herzog by Saul Bellow (I've never had him explained to me!)
Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather (he claims it is her best...)
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (on my shelf!)

From Laurie Frankel:
American War by Omar El Akkad (most mentions I see are lukewarm but her feelings were very strong... I have this on my shelf)

From Siri Hustvedt:
Maybe Esther: A Family Story by Katja Petrowskaja
Pain by Zeruya Shalev
Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno

From Vendela Vida:
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (I've meant to get to this forever!)

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Reading Envy 201: Wrestling with Complexity with Elizabeth and Laurie

Elizabeth and Laurie join me in the pub to chat about books we've read and liked lately, from memoirs to fantasy to YA to poetry. I'd love to hear feedback on the three-person episodes; there will be a few before the end of the year.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 201: Wrestling with Complexity

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Books discussed:

Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab-Nye
The Fixed Stars by Molly Wizenberg
Eat a Peach by David Chang
The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Other mentions:

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2020
MountTBR challenge
#readwhatyouown challenge (in Instagram)
How to Fly by Barbara Kingsolver
Devotions by Mary Oliver
Elizabeth's review of Devotions
Orangette blog
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Lucky Peach magazine
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
by Carrie Brownstein*
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
by Colum McCann
All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny
Tides by Jonathan White

*I was foolish and referred to this as "Music Makes Me a Modern Girl"

Related episodes:

Episode 033 - An Undulating Thrum with guests Ruth and Elizabeth
Episode 051 - Dreaming in Books with Karen
Episode 061 - Never Do That to a Book with Elizabeth
Episode 136 - Six Pack with Elizabeth
Episode 160 - Reading Plays with Elizabeth

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Elizabeth at Goodreads   
Laurie on Twitter
Laurie is @dryapyapi on Instagram
Laurie at Goodreads

Friday, September 18, 2020

Review: Iwigara: The Kinship of Plants and People

Iwigara: The Kinship of Plants and People Iwigara: The Kinship of Plants and People by Enrique Salmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my reading goals this year was to pay more attention to various indigenous voices across all types of writing. (From his University's page:) "Dr. Salmón is a Rarámuri (Tarahumara). He feels indigenous cultural concepts of the natural world are only part of a complex and sophisticated understanding of landscapes and biocultural diversity, and he has dedicated his studies to Ethnobiology, Agroecoclogy, and Ancestral Ecological Knowledge in order to better understand his own and other cultural perceptions of culture, landscapes, and place."

This ethnobotany resource focuses on the continent of North America and includes information Dr. Salmón gathered largely directly from the sources of people still holding this information, along with archival research. The entries are alphabetical, often include color photography, and discuss historical uses for each plant along with slight disclaimers of the harm it can also cause. One plant came with a plea not to harvest any. He is careful to say when he is quoting other sources vs his own knowledge. It isn't intended to serve as a medicinal guide exactly, but I think it would be interesting to look for some of these plants in the wild and learn about their histories and uses by people who lived off the land. Where I grew up, we had wild strawberries in our forest, along with stinging nettle and Oregon grape and my Mom grew echinacea. I really enjoyed learning how the plants familiar to me alongside those I hadn't heard of.

I had a copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley; it came out September 15.

View all my reviews

Review: Bestiary

Bestiary Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang follows three generations of Taiwanese-American women. The author describes it as "part migration story, part mythological retelling, part queer love story." The third-gen daughter grows a tiger tail one day and she must uncover her family's history to understand the source of the tail, and along the way she falls in love. Among many strangenesses, there are holes in the back yard that spit out letters from her estranged grandmother.

If I can compare this book to anything, it felt similar in voice to The Discomfort of Evening(which just won the International Booker so that's no light praise) because of the world of the children but the story has more complexity due to the multiple generations and the Hu Gu Po (tiger spirit). You can tell the author is a poet in all the writing but especially in the letters from the grandmother.

I had a copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley; it comes out September 29.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review: Eat a Peach

Eat a Peach Eat a Peach by David Chang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I devoured this memoir by Chef David Chang. I have enough of a background in the culinary world to know how hard it is, how few people succeed, how easy it is to completely burn out. It can be such hard work when you're only responsible for yourself; taking on the risks of managing and opening a restaurant are unfathomable to me.

Every once in a while you find someone who despite those same struggles pulls off something amazing and changes the landscape forever, and that is this story. Even if you aren't into food but you have an interest in the creative process, in how to fail and use it as fuel, this will be inspiring on that level too. The irony is that he is not trying to be inspiring, but just to talk about what happened and how. He also discusses struggles with his own mental illness and how this line of work almost manifested as its own addiction (that's my diagnosis/connection and may not be what he really said.)

I know the pandemic has gutted the restaurant industry and his brand didn't escape it either. I cried the night he posted about closing one of his restaurants. In some ways the memoir captures the hopeful period right before all this happened, and maybe that is one reason I kept finding reasons to listen to it. I've followed so many of his endeavors over the years from Lucky Peach to the tv shows; I even remember watching a televised report on the foraging competition (Eat it Raw) in 2010. I've never been to his restaurants because I've never been to NYC but after listening to this audiobook I feel like we've been on that journey together. Such a creative thinker, such a world builder, I finish this book astounded even more than I already was.

As for the title, I know most will assume it comes from The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock ("I grow old ... I grow old ...I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled...Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?") but I like to think it's a more obscure reference to Nicolas Cage in Face Off ("I could eat a peach for hours..")

View all my reviews

Reading Envy 200: Reading Envy Turns 200

The Reading Envy Pub is crammed full of people who want to share their recent projects, where they go for book ideas, and more. Jenny will probably sneak out and let them have the episode, but first she'll talk a little about the last 199 episodes - where do guests come from, and how often? Which books has Jenny read lately but not managed to share about? Please enjoy this bonus episode to celebrate 200.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 200: Reading Envy Turns 200

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
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Books mentioned:    

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card
Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo
An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo
Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver
A History of my Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt
The Long Walk by Stephen King
Bellevue by David Oshinsky
The Good Luck Stone by Heather Bell Adams
So You Want to be a Novelist by Jon Sealy
The Merciful by Jon Sealy

Other mentions:

Scotiabank Giller Prize
Governor General’s Literary Awards
CBC - The Next Chapter
BBC Radio 4 - Open Book
BBC Radio 4 - A Good Read
Two Crime Writers and a Microphone
Tartan Noir Podcast
Literary Friction
You’re Booked podcast
Women’s Prize for Fiction
Simon Mayo's Books of the Year
Book Cougars
Reddit - /r/books, /r/fantasy, /r/what’s that book, /r/suggest me a book
Sword and Laser
Reading Glasses
Deep Vellum
Brazos Bookstore (Houston)
Haywire Books
The BookerPrizes
The StellaPrize
Stonewall Book Awards
LAMBDA LiteraryAward
International Dublin Literary Award
Saturday Morning with Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand
Tom Merritt’s books
Bookmarks section of LitHub
Nerds of a Feather
Skiffy and Fanty
SFF Audio
BookRiot The Get Booked Podcast
BookRiot For Real Podcast
BookTube - ComfyCozyUp, Booksaremysociallife, Poptimist (David Yoon), Audrey from Perpetual Pages
The Librarian is In
KCRW Bookworm
Book Women - readers community
Slightly Foxed- the Real Readers Quarterly
Stuck in a Book - Simon Thomas
Tea or Books? - Simon Thomas
So Many Damn Books
A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast
Shelf Wear podcast
ShelfWear youtube
BookRiot All the Books
NYT Book review podcast
Literary Hub
Dylan Thomas Prize
National Book Award
The Morning News Tournament of Books
Millions Most Anticipated Books


Related episodes:

All of them!

Stalk me online:
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Episodes 100-199 of Reading Envy

 To keep an archive of all episodes, 100 at a time.

Episodes 001-099

Episode 100 - 100 Reasons Why 
Episode 101 - A Different Kind of Time Travel with Karen Acosta 
Episode 102 - The Reading Women Reading Envy Crossover Episode 
Episode 103 - Duchess Potatoes with Carol Ann Ellison
Episode 104 - Uppity Lives and Jelly Melons with Jason Roland  
Episode 105 - Best Reads of 2017 
Episode 106 - Falling Asleep During Tarkovsky Films with Jon Laubinger 
Episode 107 - Reading Goals 2018 
Episode 108 - Venn Diagram with Yanira Ramirez 
Episode 109 - Stuxnet Pancakes with Scott Danielson
Episode 110 - The Accidental Love Episode with Casey Stepaniuk
Episode 111 - Emotional Dipsy Doodles with Shawn Mooney
Episode 112 - Reset Button with Eleanor Thoele
Episode 113 - Speed Dating 2018, round 1
Episode 114 - Raised by Wolves with Karen Acosta 
Episode 115 - Quote, Unquote with Scott Eaton
Episode 116 - Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again with Jeff Koeppen
Episode 117 - Speed Dating 2018, round 2
Episode 118 - Reading Envy Readalong: To the Bright Edge of the World 
Episode 119 - Bread and Butter Writing with Paula 
Episode 120 - Summer Reading; Speed Dating 2018, round 3 
Episode 121 - Love, Lust, Loss, and Longing with Casey Hampton
Episode 122 - A Cylon Raider Shaped Hole in Your Heart with Sara Burnett
Episode 123 - Godlets and Forests with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 124 - Mush Creatures with Lindy Pratch
Episode 125 - Strong Tea and Suspicious Penguins with Luke Burrage and Juliane Kunzendorf
Episode 126 - Bernice Bobs her Hair with Jon Laubinger
Episode 127 - The Sadness Between Books with Bianca Escalante
Episode 128 - Poetry and Whale Guts (Bonus episode; Speed Dating 2018, round 4)
Episode 129 - Coming Back to Books with Nadine
Episode 130 - All the Jennifers with Fern Ronay
Episode 131 - Tartan Noir and More with Claire Duffy
Episode 132 - Whimsy and Density with Anna Baillie-Karas
Episode 133 - To Understand the World with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 134 - A Pastiche Romp with Ruth(iella)
Episode 135 - Speed Dating 2018, Round 5
Episode 136 - Six Pack with Elizabeth
Episode 137 - Reading Envy Readalong: The Golden Notebook
Episode 138 - Shared Landscape with Lauren Weinhold 
Episode 139 - Stocking Stuffer (Best Reads of 2018) 
Episode 140 - Woman Greets Bear (Reading Goals 2019) 
Episode 141 - Profound and Tedious Work with Yanira Ramirez 
Episode 142 - Borders and Bails with Shawn Mooney 
Episode 143 - Reading the Pain with Kala
Episode 144 - For the Fans with Thomas of Hogglestock
Episode 145 - Things Get Dark with Bianca Escalante
Episode 146 - Complicated, Crazy, and Loud with Karen
Episode 147 - Bonus Poetry Recommendations with Lauren
Episode 148 - Multiple Lives with Jeff
Episode 149 - TBR Explode!
Episode 150 - Rife with Storytelling with Sara 
Episode 151 - The Stories They Tell with Karen 
Episode 152 - Kill 'em and Leave with Nadine 
Episode 153 - Reading Envy Summer Reading Challenge
Episode 154 - Is If If with Paula
Episode 155 - Books About Music Recommendations Episode with Thomas
Episode 156 - Introvert Intentions with Scott
Episode 157 - Joint Readalong of Gone with the Wind with Book Cougars
Episode 158 - TBR Explode 2
Episode 159 - Reading Doorways with Lindy
Episode 160 - Reading Plays with Elizabeth
Episode 161 - Women in Translation Month Recommendations with Lauren
Episode 162 - Heat Rating with Sara DeSantis
Episode 163 - Fainting Goats with Lauren
Episode 164 - Character Driven with Carol Ann
Episode 165 - Delightful Reads with Claire
Episode 166 - On Brand with Karen
Episode 167 - Book Pendulum with Reggie
Episode 168 - TBR Explode 3
Episode 169 - Simulacrum with Jon Sealy 
Episode 170 - Permission to Read with Joshua Greer 
Episode 171 - Foodie Recommendations with Jen Nathan Orris 
Episode 172 - The It Book of NYC with Jon Laubinger 
Episode 173 - Expecting a Lot from a Book with Sarah Tittle 
Episode 174 - Cozy Holiday Reads and TBR Explode 4
Episode 175 - Reading on Impulse with Marion Hill
Episode 176 - Best of 2019
Episode 177 - An Unnamed Middle Eastern Country (Goals 2020)
Episode 178 - Precarious Pile with Ruth(iella)
Episode 179 - Think of the Bees with Courtney Burson
Episode 180 - Readalong announcement 
Episode 181 - An Awkward Woman with Yanira Ramirez
Episode 182 - Reading Slump with Eleanor Thoele
Episode 183 - Birthing Rabbits with Jessica
Episode 184 - Theme Night at Book Club with Kala
Episode 185 - The Loyal Swineherd (Odyssey readalong)
Episode 186 - This is Gravity with Jeff
Episode 187 - Sentient Snails and Spaceships with Paula
Episode 188 - TBR Explode and SUMMER READING
Episode 189 - Surreal Superpowers with Tim
Episode 190 - The Good Life with Alex
Episode 191 - Stealthy yet Sparkly with Gail Carriger
Episode 192 - Sly Milieu with Thomas
Episode 193 - And I Feel Fine (Ducks, Newburyport READALONG)
Episode 194 - Squirreling Books Away with Andrew
Episode 195 - Muchness with Nadine
Episode 196 - Miscommunication with Lindy
Episode 197 - Surly Magnificence with Lauren
Episode 198 - Mood Reading with Robin
Episode 199 - Awkward Melancholy with Karen

Episodes 200-299

Other Podcasts
Book Cougars - Joint Readalong of Sapphira and the Slave Girl
Books on the Go - Ep. 121 - American Sunrise with Jenny Colvin 
Shelf Wear - Book 3 - The Only Good Indians

Reading Envy 199: Awkward Melacholy with Karen

Karen returns to chat books, and we talk about how we met the Reading Envy Summer Reading challenge, the awkward melancholy of books we are drawn to in dark times, and the translated standalone graphic memoirs that seem to call to each of us.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 199: Awkward Melancholy

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
New! Listen through Google Podcasts

Books discussed:


Broken Harbour by Tana French
Transit by Rachel Cusk
5,000 Kilometers Per Second by Manuele Flor
Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, translated by Kim Thompson
Luisa: Now & Then by Carole Maurel
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchison

Other mentions:

Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French
Outline series by Rachel Cusk
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters
Broadchurch (tv show)
Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
Fantagraphics in Hoopla
Shine, Pamela! Shine! by Kate Atkinson
Just Like You by Nick Hornby
The Searcher by Tana French
The Survivors by Jane Harper
Siete Casas Vacias by Samantha Schweblin
Little Eyes by Samantha Schweblin
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
The Margot Affair by Sanaë Lemoine
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Related episodes:

Episode 004 - Home, Frightening and Banned with guest Karen Acosta
Episode 015 - The Time for Exclaiming Over Costumes with Jean and Karen
Episode 051 - Dreaming in Books with Karen Acosta
Episode 066 - When Time Stops with Karen Acosta
Episode 101 - A Different Kind of Time Travel with Karen Acosta
Episode 114 - Raised by Wolves with Karen Acosta
Episode 146 - Complicated, Crazy, and Loud with Karen  
Episode 151 - The Stories They Tell with Karen
Episode 161 - Women in Translation Month Recommendations with Lauren
Episode 166
- On Brand with Karen

Stalk us online:
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Monday, September 7, 2020

Review: The Only Good Indians

The Only Good Indians The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, SGJ blows me away. I want to give a content warning but for some it might be a spoiler so proceed at your own risk: (view spoiler)

Ten years before the time of this novel, four friends who grew up together shot a bunch of elk on lands protected by their Blackfeet elders. Strange things start happening....

I just can't spoil it for you, read it.

In discussing it (on a future episode of someone else's podcast) I really started to notice how clever Jones is. First, he changes tenses as the story changes, and this really messes with your head in delicious ways. Since he's writing what he calls "Indian" characters, he openly applies some of the tropes you often encounter when reading about indigenous people but then spins them around - I felt like I could see him chuckling at some of the clever turns some of them take. There are moments that required me to go back and be like, wait, what just happened OH DAMN THAT JUST HAPPENED. He tricked me into liking the characters and how real they feel, and how real their relationships with each other feel, and then he would have bad things happen to them. I'm still not sure I fully understand the ending (but enjoyed rereading it.)

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Books Read August 2020: 194-228

 August was a busy reading month, especially because of Women in Translation Month (originally created by Meytal Radzinski.) I'll probably post separately about the reads I did for that month as I find myself reading *just a few more* in September. Not only did I read a heck of a lot of women in translation, one of my favorite novelists came out with a new book this month too. And my reading class had a book club. And my book club had a book club. Lots to read.

Here are my five-star reads for the month:


194. A Small Key Can Open a Large Door by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
195. Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (library eBook; my review)
196. Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
197. Fair Play by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (library eBook; my review)
198. Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
199. Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (review copy; my review)
200. Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Kindle eBook; my review)
201. What's Left of Me is Yours by  Stephanie Scott ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
202. Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett; narrated by Jamye Meri Grant ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
203. The Memory Police by  Yoko Ogawa; translated by Stephen Snyder ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (library eBook; my review)
204. Hold Me Tight by  Jason Schneiderman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
205. Junebat by John Elizabeth Stintzi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
206. What Happens at Night by Peter Cameron ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (physical galley from publisher; my review)
207. Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
208. How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
209. Clea by Lawrence Durrell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
210. The Fixed Stars by  Molly Wizenberg, narrated by Erin Mallon ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
211. The Piano Student by  Lea Singer, translated by Elisabeth Lauffer ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher in Edelweiss; my review)
212. The Switch by Beth O'Leary ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher in Edelweiss; my review)
213. Chef by Jaspreet Singh ⭐️⭐️⭐️  (personal copy; my review)
214. Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami; translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
215. Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher in NetGalley; my review)
216. Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust; translated by Kim Thompson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
217. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld; translated by Michele Hutchison ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
218. Transit by Rachel Cusk ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
219. Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher in NetGalley; my review)
220. The Inheritance by Sahar Khalifeh; translated by Aida Bamia ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
221. Swimmers in Winter by Faye Guenther ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley from publisher; my review)
222. Home by Various, translated by Various ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
223. Exquisite Mariposa by Fiona Alison Duncan; narrated by Natasha Soudek ⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
224. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (library eBook; my review)
225. A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
226. Sex and Lies by Leila Slimani; translated by Sophie Lewis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
227. Spellbound by Bishakh Kumar Som ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  (eARC from publisher; my review)
228. The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated by Jamie Bulloch ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy Kindle eBook; my review)

Books Read: 35

5-star reads:13


Library: 7
Personal: 11 (subscription: 1)

Comics: 2
Memoir: 4
Non-fiction: 5
Poetry: 4
Sci-fi/fantasy: 3

Around the World: 18
Booker or International Booker: 3
Middle East 2020: 5
Read the World:1
Sword and Laser: 1
Tournament of Books: 1
Women in Translation Month: 1 at very end of July, 8.5 in August