Happy Saturday morning, Chums! As I sit here, looking over the at books I want to read during the weekend and into the coming week, I can’t help but find a sense of comfort in the things around me. A stack of stories. Hues of orange and red outside of my windows. A purring ninja kitty curled up in the ottoman by my feet. My ridiculously oversized flannel pyjama bottoms. A steaming cup of hot chai. Even with a mountain of homework, just having these small things around me help me stay calm and relaxed. It’s oddly sentimental. What a way to start a weekend.
Anyhoo, random prattling aside, I hope that you had a good week. With the holidays around the corner, particularly one that can be quite a harmful time for many people, it’s imperative to focus on the things that are kind to us, whether it’s a hobby that helps us unwind, people who can make us feel less alone, or pets and familiar media that help ease away the tension of the season. Since the holidays fucking stress me out, one of the many ways that I like to relax is to read. A lot. No surprise there, right?
I’ve noticed that November through February tend to be the months when I read the most, or at least I try to read the most. It doesn’t always work out that way. These are the most difficult periods of the year for me, emotionally speaking. Staying distracted is an excellent way to keep the blues out of my bones. So, when I sat down to pick out a couple books for the weekend, rather than choose two like I have been for the past four or five months, I ended up with a tower of five! Luckily for me, a couple of these are novellas. They are also from a decent mixture of genres, which I hope shall prevent me from getting bored or burned out. My goal is to get a start on the distraction process as soon as my homework has been completed and shoved out of my milieu.
Let’s go ahead and check out the pickings. The first two are novellas and the other three are novels of various sorts. GoodReads links are provided for anyone looking for more info.
The Undefeated by Una McCormack
The Undefeated is a science-fiction, space opera novella about a journalist that exposed interstellar corruption during her younger days. Now that she’s retired, she returns to an old place she called home to avoid running from humanity’s newest enemy.
The premise, while seemingly basic, did sound kind of intriguing to me. There is something about stories involving characters who stand and fight against the doom and gloom when everyone else is running and screaming for their lives that I find to be utterly invigorating. Plus, space operas are almost always a win for me.
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
Silver in the Wood is a Queer fantasy novella about a dude who lives in the woods, listening to it while being tied to it. His life is rather dull and humdrum as he resides with a cat and dryads. However, when a new face shows up, old secrets start to rise to the surface, secrets wrapped in wood magic and the dark things that lie in the centre.
This novella sounds magically strange, which is rather irresistible to me. Additionally, the cover is stunning, it’s relatively short, and it’s Queer! At least, that’s what I’ve gathered from all the raving, non-spoiler reviews I’ve read.
Strange Practise by Vivian Shaw
Strange Practise is the first novel in a supernatural, urban fantasy series that follows Dr Greta Helsing, a peculiar doctor that treats the undead for an array of ailments from vocal strains to arthritis to entropy. When a sect of murderous monks arrives, killing humans and undead Londoners alike, it’s up to Greta to use her specialised skills to stop these maniacs before she loses her patrons, her practise, and quite possibly even her life.
Everything about this sounds like fun. I don’t have much experience reading urban fantasies that I’ve actually found pleasant. The only one I can think of is The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. That one isn’t a perfect series, but it has plenty of interesting titbits that keep me coming back to it (I really need to re-read it soon). While this one has a few traits that make it feel familiar to Butcher’s works, there’s enough originality here to flick my interest awake.
In the Woods of Memory by Shun Medoruma
In the Woods of Memory is an #OwnVoices Okinawan historical fiction novel that takes place in 1945. It follows the severely traumatising tragedy of the rape of 17-year-old Sayoko, who was attacked by four American soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa. Told via nine perspectives, from 1945 to present times, the story is about the incredible ripple effects of war trauma through the generations.
This is quite a bit different in tone and scope than the novellas and novel that I have shared thus far. As a rape victim, I expect this story to be quite excruciating and challenging to consume, however, I’m also a victim of war trauma—my family in particular—and I’ve seen first-hand what the generational consequences of such a severe travesty can be like. Combine that with my passion for Japanese history (especially WWII era) and my admiration for Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (which the format and prose style of the novel follows), checking it out became a no-brainer for me.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is a nonfiction book authored by a Black woman from London. The title of the book was originally a post on her blog that went viral and led to the creation of this novel, which is an intricate and powerful examination of what it means to be a person of colour in Britain in the modern age.
The book is one that I have been wanting to read for a very long time, but I always felt intimidated by it. As a person of colour who wishes to rise up and fight for equity, and as someone who’s immobilised by terrible social anxiety, I wanted to learn how to talk about race and White oppression. Yet, it frightened me. However, being afraid is never going to help me stand up for myself, and it’s never going to help me make the changes in the world that it desperately needs. So, when I read reviews about how she talks about White dominance of black history, whitewashed feminism, and a plethora of other things that are important to me as a person of colour, I knew I had to stop allowing myself to be intimidated and afraid. If I want to make a change, I need to educate myself and understand the system from all marginalised perspectives, not just my own.
Let me know in the comments if you see a book here that sounds interesting to you, or something that you’ve already read! With that, I wish you all a lovely and kind weekend ahead.
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