Bookish Oversights: Americanah

As part of my 2017 pledge to read harder (and my general life pledge to finally read those bookish oversights everyone loves), I borrowed a friend’s copy of Americanah and dug in this week. And hoooh boy, did I love it. For some dumb reason, I’ve been casually resistant to reading books not set in the U.S. I guess I would assume it just wouldn’t be personally interesting or relevant to me, or something. And guys, that was so dumb and closed-minded of me. The very purpose of books is to expand your horizons and let you explore worlds, countries, and backgrounds different from your own. Why was I limiting myself from such amazing pieces of literature, just because I assumed it wouldn’t be relevant to me? This is why Trump won, people!

In any case, I could not be more thrilled that I finally gave Americanah a go. Pretty much everyone I know who has read this book is obsessed, including the book community – it was one of the 10 Best of the year by the New York Times, won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award, and a host of other accolades and accomplishments.

WHAT I READ:

Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

SNAPSHOT REVIEW:

On a scale of 1 to 5 star-crossed lovers, I give this 5 Ifemelus and Obinzes.

#FirstFifty Synopsis:

Ifemelu is traveling to Trenton from her home in Princeton to get her hair braided at an African hair salon. It’s clear that this is a big day for her, as she mulls over recently hearing more about her long-lost ex-boyfriend, Obinze; breaking up with her current boyfriend, Blaine; and making plans to move from the United States back to Lagos. Obinze, too, can’t stop thinking about Ifemelu as he goes through the motions as a middle-aged wealthy Nigerian man living a slightly corrupt life in Lagos. With that groundwork laid, we are brought back a few decades to Ifemelu growing up in Nigeria and the beginning of the relationship between the two.

HOW IT MADE ME FEEL:

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Don’t make my mistake, people – find a copy near you (preferably at your local library or bookstore, because we need to support those communities now more than ever) and enjoy sinking in to the worlds and lives of Ifemelu and Obinze.

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Book Roundup: October 2016

This was an embarrassing month for me, books-wise (life-wise it definitely had its ups and downs… more later). Usually I crush 12+ books a month. This month, due to a series of circumstances, I only read 11 books – and 3 of them I had read previously. SORRY.

This was due to the weirdness of October. I spent one week moderately sick with ear infections, and just wasn’t in the mood to dive into anything more substantial than books I already owned and could just glaze my way through. The next week, I was on vacation in London (woe is me!) and was too busy tourist-ing and spending time with my boo to do much reading.

So, sorry folks! Hopefully I’ll embarrass myself less in November…

STATS:

Number of (new/unreviewed on Goodreads) books read: 9 (8 new, 1 new-to-my-GR)

Number of female authors vs. male authors: All women! #NastyWoman

Ratings spread: Three 5-star books; Three 4-star books; Two 3-star books; One 2-star book

Want more? Goodreads, baby.

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WHAT I READ: Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, Ramona Ausubel

WHY I READ IT: Review from another blog!

WHAT I THOUGHT: I kind-of liked it, but think I would have liked it more had I lived in the 1970s and could compare my experience with what this book was representing.

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WHAT I READ: The Secrets We Keep, Trisha Leaver

WHY I READ IT: Book club!

WHAT I THOUGHT: Mostly negative things. This book has a really interesting premise, but the actual story fell short for me. Way too many generic characters; unrealistic action; and just not creepy enough for what I wanted.

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WHAT I READ: First & Then, Emma Mills

WHY I READ IT: It was described as Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights. Need I say more?

WHAT I THOUGHT: Strong book for me. Great relationship growths, mostly good secondary characters, largely a delightful read.

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WHAT I READ: Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman, Lindy West

WHY I READ IT: Everyone spent the summer freaking out about how good this book is.

WHAT I THOUGHT: LOVED it. Very funny, frank, open, and important book for everyone to read.

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WHAT I READ: Holding Up The Universe, Jennifer Nivens

WHY I READ IT: Another blog rec!

WHAT I THOUGHT: Another strong 4-star YA novel for me this month.

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WHAT I READ: Something Blue, Emily Giffin

WHY I READ IT: In the midst of my ear infection, I reached for this book (largely set in London) to comfort myself and pump myself up for my upcoming vacation!

WHAT I THOUGHT: It may sound dumb, but I really love this book. I haven’t read the first book (Something Borrowed -a movie was made with the same name) in a long time, but I love rereading this one. The author does a good job at growing the main character, and of course I love anything set in London. The only thing I didn’t love is that the author blithely ignores visa laws. An American can’t just move to England and live there forever! (I wish, though.)

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WHAT I READ: Paris for One, Jojo Moyes

WHY I READ IT: I’ve enjoyed other things the author has put out!

WHAT I THOUGHT: I never hugely love short story collections, and I didn’t LOVE this one. The first and longest story was delightful, but the short little guys after that were just shrugs for me.

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WHAT I READ: Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo

WHY I READ IT: The first book of this duology – Six of Crows – RULED.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Yes, yes, yes. Exciting from start to finish. When’s the movie?

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WHAT I READ: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli

WHY I READ IT: This is a highly praised book in the YA community, guys!

WHAT I THOUGHT: Charming, quirky, utterly delightful.

 

And that’s it! Excited to see what I dive into come November. I have a lot of work travel this month, so I’m hoping to get some good plane reading in.

The Be Brave Book Club

I like to call myself an ambivert. While I inch closer to an introvert,  I find that a little limiting to my actual personality traits: I’m typically completely at ease in situations with a lot of people, I am a friendly, bubbly person who enjoys meeting new people and getting to know them, but after a while I get really exhausted and just want to curl up with a book and read (there goes my introversion showing again!). I’ve found being an introvert to be a double-edged sword in new situations (like traveling solo or moving to a new city): I am comfortable and happy being by myself, but sometimes I am too comfortable and I can easily fall into a rut of being alone that quickly folds into loneliness (my kryptonite is that I love being alone but I get nervous and sad if I am alone for too long. Don’t we all, though?).

One of my biggest struggles in the past has been pushing myself out of my comfort zone and endeavoring to meet new people. If I am already thrown into a situation where I have to interact with new friends (start of college, a new job, a party) I can do just dandily, but I shy away from having to make the effort myself. I failed miserably at making new friends while in London. I kept intending to find some friends outside of my immediate circle of coworkers, but with the business of work, my hectic travel schedule, and the knowledge that I would be leaving in December, I figured there was no point. There’s a similar vibe with traveling solo: I met plenty of people through activities, hostels, and guesthouses, but since everyone is on their way to somewhere else, these were mostly one-off situations (or, in the smaller cities, multiple run-ins, which was fun but still had an expiration date).

I wanted this to be different when I moved to Boston. This was my first time moving somewhere new where I would be living for the foreseeable future since I had left for college when I was 18. Even when I graduated college, I stayed in DC, as did most of my friends. No need to make new ones! But I made a leap of faith when I decided to move to a new city 500 miles away from DC and 700 miles away from my hometown, and this time, I was going to get out of my comfort zone.

I am incredibly lucky that I already have a strong support system in Boston, with several friends from different parts of my life who already live here. But now that I’m past my two month mark, I’ve started to acknowledge that I need to have friends here who I didn’t already have before. Enter: book club.

As you may have gathered by the fact that I tend to read about 7-10 books per month (and that’s a slow month), I really enjoy reading. Meetup.com is full of book clubs; what better way to meet new people than to have a set topic of conversation, I figured? I joined a bunch and waited for the stars to align with the perfect date, time, and group.

Despite my resolve, I was nervous as all get out when I was walking to meet the group. I actually texted my mother, “I’m about to go to a book club where I don’t know anyone. Mommy I’m scared but you should be proud of me!” I figured that if I hated it, I could just leave. And so I steeled my resolve and found – not so scary after all! I loved the ladies, loved talking about the book and other things, and will definitely return. Most importantly, I discovered an amazing new bar in Boston and I shall definitely return – probably with one of my ready-made friends, but who knows? Maybe I’ll go there with a new friend!

This reminds me of one of my favorite mantras from my favorite person Laura Maas: “Keep calm. Be brave.” I repeated it over and over when I was traveling in Asia and when I was working at a tough job in London. I can already see where this sometimes tough and stressful year has helped me grow: I might have been nervous when I walked into the new situations, but I still did it and look forward to the next time. I’m going to carry this thought around with me in my pocket as I continue to build my life here.