Monthly reading roundup August and September 2016

I don’t remember why the beginning of August was so busy that I wasn’t able to squeeze in my monthly reading update and I have a feeling that I will regret looking into it, so I won’t.

WHAT I READ IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER

18143844Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 14, by Julietta Suzuki. Yep. I’m still at it.

25776250Why Diets Make Us Fat, by Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D. A real doctor with a real grip on science (meaning, among other things, that she gets that what happens to rats in a lab is not necessarily what would happen to humans IRL and she doesn’t consider a paltry two years to constitute a “long term study”) explains that the rumors you’ve heard are true: diets make you fat, fat does not necessarily make you sick, and what you eat and how much you move your body are way way way more important for your health than what the scale tells you.

66657Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link. People have been raving about this book for years now, and now I see why. It’s lovely! I wasn’t expecting short stories, and I don’t usually read short story collections, but I gave it a go. The first one is my favorite. Reading this books is sort of like channel surfing in an alternate dimension where all networks show The Twilight Zone and independent horror films all day.

18774906Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 15 by Julietta Suzuki. This seems like a good time to explain, once again, that you cannot judge a manga by its cover. I know these covers are syrupy and stupid, but the interiors are not. Conversely, I have checked out some manga with gorgeous covers only to discover the insides are awkwardly laid out or poorly written.

15904026Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers. Another book of short stories that I wasn’t expecting to be a collection. But so good. Good, solid, creepy, quirky, imaginative horror. Most stories are very short, practically flash fiction, and something about this compels you to read on, to have just one more, just one more, like you’ve got your hand in a bag of chips. I dragged this book around the house and read it while I cooked and played with the dog and waited for pages to load.

26025580The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. A novella by the woman who brought us the fucked-up yet compelling plots of Dark Places and Sharp Objects and Gone Girl. A twisty-turny, at-times-gross story, as expected, but I have to confess to being a little disappointed in the ending. I was really braced for one more unexpected and imaginative twist to unseat the baddie but instead they just sort of rode off into a sunset of existential discomfort. *shrug* Still, though, not bad. Still a good read. I mean, Gillian Flynn could write a single sentence on a napkin in a drunken stupor that would be more shocking and imaginative than my whole second novel is at its current 74,289 words.

21412471Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 16 by Julietta Suzuki.

22609112Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 17 by Julietta Suzuki.

27064358Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay. A realistic missing kid story with supernatural elements. Neither you nor the characters witnessing get answers to the supernatural questions (What are we seeing? Why? How? Are we realing seeing something supernatural or is our grueling worry and grief making us hallucinate?) but we all get answers to where the kid is, though we may wish we didn’t.

23492461Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 18 by Julietta Suzuki.

25110936Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 19 by Julietta Suzuki. Quite possibly the worst cover yet.

16124496The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. You know that feeling when you read a book that’s gotten eleventy billion awards and you’re like “Hey, that was a pretty good book. I don’t regret the time I spent reading it. I would be proud to have written it myself. But . . . would I give it an award? No.” and you wonder for weeks afterward what it was you missed that everyone else found so incredible?

25332115The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner. This is one of those memoirs that will haunt you. It’s hard to put down, but it’s hard to read, too. I didn’t read any reviews before I checked this out. (Due to my high reading volume I don’t often read reviews. I just read the blurb and cross my fingers and hit the “place hold” button.) If I had I probably wouldn’t have read it because I would likely have been warned about the sexual abuse and incest that were just part of what made this story harrowing.

25814365Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 20 by Julietta Suzuki. One of the least awful covers.

32282602Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 21 by Julietta Suzuki. Houston, we have a problem. When I finished this volume and opened my library’s app to ask them for the next one it was listed as being in the service center. That means it’s not available yet. Furthermore, this is the second to last volume. Uh oh.

25543181The Family Plot by Cherie Priest. A classic haunted house story with bonus on-site cemetery (which is just supposed to be an old Halloween joke but whoopsies there’s a real body in it!). Good Gothic feels with 21st century amenities like strong female characters and technology.

 

INCOMPLETE

26114135All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. I’ve heard a lot of scuttlebutt about this book and I knew what I was getting in to (not like with The Sound of Gravel) but the timing wasn’t good. This book arrived on the hold shelf just as I had finished the aforementioned memoir and I just couldn’t handle another tale of a tortured childhood so I bowed out before I even got to the stuff that has driven others away. Perhaps I will try again later.

27774632Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett. Too stream-of-consciousness for me.

13623723Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour by Dita Von Teese with Rose Apodaca. I no longer wear stockings and skirts every day and my vintage hat collection is gathering dust (though I did just buy a tube of ruby red lipstick for the first time in ages) but I still adore Dita Von Teese. She is self-made in every imaginable sense of the word and yet she doesn’t come across as fake. In this lavishly illustrated (and mammoth) book she stresses that you can do this, too. You can find a unique style and milk it for all its worth. You can be eccentric and glamorous and confident. I lack the dedication to take it to Dita’s level, but I wouldn’t mind owning a copy of this gorgeous book so that I can flip through it once and a while with a cup of tea and fill up on the inspiration to squeeze some beauty out of life.

289060About Face: A Plastic Surgeon’s 4-Step Nonsurgical Program for Younger, Beautiful Skin by Gregory Brown. Not what I was hoping for, but rather what I was expecting: another doctor shilling proprietary and unproven products.

3945558River of No Return: Photographs by Laura McPhee. Wide-angle landscapes and a few portraits. Too much detail for my taste (many shots are very busy and everything in the frame is in perfect focus) but the subject matter (rural Idaho) is interesting to me and the composition is good. Not how I want to shoot, but it is great stuff. I think maybe a book doesn’t do this stuff justice. I would like to see this work on wall-sized prints in a gallery.

9871628The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes by Andy Karr & Michael Wood. I read about 50% of this because I agreed wholeheartedly with about 50% of what they had to say: the parts about seeing familiar things with fresh eyes, about mindfulness, that sort of thing. But I checked out when things started getting very prescriptive. Also there was a lot of pressure to not seek out the beautiful. Yes, not all pictures need to be beautiful, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a picture just because you find something pretty or taking a picture in a manner that makes something pretty or prettier.

23753The Absolute Sandman, Volume One, by Neil Gaiman. I have read very little Neil Gaiman and I was looking to rectify that with this enormous collection. But I checked out just a few pages in thanks to some troubling plot devices I thought were beneath this author. I know you want to leave comments urging me to try again, but please don’t. Trust that I know my own limits. This won’t put me off Gaiman altogether, but I won’t be coming back to this particular work.

13434433The Complete Digital SLR Handbook: Mastering Your Camera to Take Pictures Like a Pro by The Editors of PhotoPlus Magazine. Lots of good tips, but also lots more than I needed.

COOKBOOKS

Sadly, I did not find a single recipe I wanted to try in any one of these cookbooks.

26031078Dinner Made Simple: 35 Everyday Ingredients, 350 Easy Recipes by Real Simple.

51cvo6mikel-_sx258_bo1204203200_Good and Simple: Recipes to Eat Well and Thrive by Jasmine Hemsley, Melissa Hemsley.

25862317Big Flavors From a Small Kitchen by Chris Honor.

25810693The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini by Cara Mangini.

25982864The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking by Jeanine Donofrio.

— Amanda

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