What I was reading in August

Books Read

Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
Today will be Different, Maria Semple
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
Take the Cannoli, Sarah Vowell

I took two days off work in August, but I was in New York and surrounded by love, and actually stopped working at 5 or 5:30, so it felt like more. I also read so much so quickly this month and was amazed by how much longer and fuller the time felt. Commonwealth was my 6:00am airport treat to myself, a reward for having made it through the craziest work period of the year, and I bought it expecting it to maybe keep me entertained if I was awake for any of the flight. Instead, two middle seats and Patchett's propulsive story kept me awake all through both flights, and was all I was thinking about when a stranger occupied my conversation for the hour and a half commute to my parents' home from the airport. The annoyance I felt while talking to this stranger wasn't related to the invasion of my space or the expectation for social skills and interest (which tend to be the dominant flavors of my annoyance when talking to strangers)–it was related to the interruption of my reading time. 

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What I was reading in July

Books Bought
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

Books Read
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning, Jonathan Mahler
Mr Norris Changes Trains, Christopher Isherwood

Well that went by quick. July was a whirlwind of travel and love and celebration, and life just got in the way of reading. As a kid, my summers were so full of books and reading for pleasure. I remember my grandmother's house in Ohio, with its different smell and its cool front room which was protected by the heat of July by heavy shades and a deep front porch. I remember reading at the pool in her small town, while we ate, or after we ate, or if I had gotten too much chlorine in my eyes or grown too embarrassed of my body. And I remember reading back home in New York, sunburnt skin, the thin green rug on a cheek, the nearly endless golden light, and then the orange of the lamps in the evening. 

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What I was reading in June

Books Bought or Borrowed
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy
There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé, Morgan Parker
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration, Michelle Alexander
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning, Jonathan Mahler
Modern Romance: An Investigation, Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenburg
How to Ruin Everything, George Watsky
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

Books Read
Radical Hope
How to Ruin Everything, George Watsky

Makeup Bought
A shade of lipstick almost identical to one I already own
An eyeshadow actually identical to one I already one
Bright fuchsia lipstick in a tiny size
Lip gloss that I thought was lipstick, and was disappointed to discover was not, but kept anyway

I don’t enjoy wearing makeup, but once or twice a year I decide that dabbing things on my face is the way I want to change my life and wind up spending too much money on things I’ll never use. I keep buying the same shades of lipstick over and over, keep buying the same exact things over and over, as if they’ll save me from despair. As if the right color on my eyelids will make me better at socializing, make me more interesting, make me braver in public--and in private. Like it will totally change my life and erase the parts of my personality I’m ashamed of.

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What I was reading in May

Finished
Too Much and Not the Mood, Chew Bose

May was a fitful month. I had a hard time settling into reading and felt like I was reading everything poorly. I had a time finding my way into anything I picked up, until Too Much and Not the Mood.  Chew-Bose’s book is a gift – it felt like meeting someone for the first time and knowing immediately you’re going to get along so well. What Anne Shirley would call “kindred spirits”. A better echo, in some ways, than Sarton’s A Journal of Solitude. I feel about Too Much the way a lot of friends feel about Girls or Broad City – voices of an era...or voices of me! Chew-Bose’s meditations on nook people and her preoccupation with bright sidewalk glare felt much more my speed, my world of people.

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