Dec 31, 2015

Book Looks: What I Read In 2015



I've been a bad girl this year.

Reading and me...well, we had a tumultuous year.

Aside from the fact that I have become the slowest reader in the world nowadays (and an even slower writer...), this year was a year where I became busty trying to figure out what the fuck I'm doing with my life, and begin making some serious choices and plans. Some of those plans included my other blog Audio Diva, which I spent a lot of time refurbishing and "re-branding" this year (I really hate that word, but it is the only way I can describe it). While other plans dealt from a financial standpoint (finding a job, getting a job, losing a job...the cycle continues). Of course I could have whipped out a book or my Kindle in-between all that planning and reassessing, but for the first time, reading and keeping up with books was the last thing on my mind.

Cue the gasps.

Reading has always been an integral part of my life --- I know I'd break out in hives if I didn't read something throughout the day ---  so it was painful to admit a year where I simply didn't read books the way I wanted to. I was feeling like Burgess Meredith in that famous Twilight Zone episode where he is desperately wishing to have 'time enough at last' to read everything he desires, and then gets screwed when his wish does come true (and if that ever happened in real life, I can read without my glasses --- so jokes on you Rod Serling!). So hopefully in 2016 I will have 'time enough at last' to read and review (and especially blog her!) the way I truly wanted to this year.

Well, I shouldn't be so down on myself as I did manage to read a few books and articles this year, and though I read one of the worst books I've ever read in my life this year, there were some good, life changing ones that made it into the pot and kept me afloat all year.

Without further ado...

Favorite Books/Plays Of The Year
What I flipped through that took my breath away...

Foxfire: Confessions Of A Girl Gang, by Joyce Carol Oates: Feminist to it's core, JCO's electric and gritty saga of a 1950s girl gang introduced me to one of my new favorite fictional characters: Legs Sadovsky. Had lots of fun reading this.

The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin: More than a horror story about husbands replacing their wives with robots as Levin seeps his prose into reality. I got pretty passionate in my review about this book because it made me not only side-eye the good men in my life, but also made me look at gender roles with rose-colored glasses off.

The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell: Lines are blurred and narrators are unreliable while the bootleg gin pours in this creepy tale of a NYPD stenographer who becomes dangerously attached to her new, mysterious co-worker. Set during the 1920s, nobody in the book is what they appear to be, and the ending is a big twist n' a half.

The Art Of Slow Writing: Reflections On Time, Craft, and Creativity, by Lousie DeSalvo: In a hare world, DeSalvo makes me proud to be a tortoise. Yes, I'm a slow writer, which doesn't bode well for the kinetic world we live in, but DeSalvo points out that the best writing comes when we take time to really think about what we're putting on the page. A game changer in my writing advice arsenal.

Angel, by Elizabeth Taylor: 'Elizabeth Taylor doesn't write books!', you say as your head cocks to the side. No, not that Elizabeth Taylor. I discovered the other wonderful Elizabeth Taylor who was one of England's best-kept-secret literary queens. The first book of choice was this hilarious quasi-satire about an popular female author so wrapped up in her own (terrible) brilliance, she can't see tragedy when it hits her dead on. For those who like unlikable characters, this one is for you.

The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields: A quiet, but thoughtful fake-memoir about one simple woman's journey through her life. It won the Pulitzer back in the '90s for good reason.

The Lilies Of The Field, by William Edmund Barrett: Sweet and inspirational story of redemption and the human spirit. The movie with Sidney Poitier is outstanding, but the book, of course, has a lot more vibrancy in it.

Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier: I've seen the Alfred Hitchcock film a zillion times, and have even watched the long, drawn-out BBC series from 1979, so it was about time I actually read the book. Verdict is still the same: Rebecca is a brooding Gothic classic of intrigue, murder, and ex-wives.

Union Street, by Pat Barker: A heavy, heavy book about women in the the throes of poverty. Play lots of Adele when you read this book for a one-two punch of British-esque despondency.


Favorite Articles Of The Year 
Pieces that made me go, "Damn I wish I wrote that!" 

10 Real-Life Female Spies Who Deserve Their Own Movie Franchises, by Lauren Davis: Informative, insightful, and proof evidence why James Bond is seriously overrated.

New Blackness: Pharrell, Kanye, and Jay Z, and the Spectre of White Aspiration, by Safy-Hallan Farah: Thanks to Pharrell Williams, "New Blackness" became apart of the lexicon this year, but he forgot that new ideals come to the detriment of others. A terrific read that really hones in on the damages that forgetting your roots can cause.

Double Dutch's Forgotten Hip-Hop Origins, by Lauren Schwartzberg: You'll never look at the popular schoolyard game again.

Past Perfect, by Richard H. McAdams: McAdams truly breaks down the reasons why you shouldn't be surprised Atticus Fitch turned out to be a racist jerk in Harper Lee's controversial sophomore release, Go Set A Watchman.

The First-Person Industrial Complex, by Laura Bennett: How the personal essay went from being a literary art form to being a dangerous form of self-destruction thanks to the good ol' Internet.

The Church Of TED, by Megan Hustad: An interesting comparison between Evangelicalism and TED talks. It's actually safe to read the comments section on this one.

All About Me, by Anupa Mistry: Mistry has some of the same thoughts (and insecurities) I have about living in a selfie-obsessed world.

The Price Of Nice Nails, by Sarah Maslin Nir: This massive expose might make you think about your next trip to the manicurist.

The Nearly Life-Saving Reasons Why I Write, by Very Merrily Mary: Usually writing advice is pretty standard 'rah-rah-you-can-do-it' stuff, but Very Merrily Mary (whose blog is one of my favorite reads!), gives a true reflection of what it means to write, and why even when all else fails, we flock to the beauty of words.

Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Later, by Marta Jewson and Charles Maldonado: Debunks all the myths about one of the (if not the) largest natural disasters to hit the US, reviving all kinds of ghosts and opening all fresh new wounds. Not for the faint at heart.

'Clueless' Saved The Teen Movie, by Julian Kimble: In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Amy Heckerling's Clueless, Random Nerds' looks back at how the '90s celluloid monument resuscitated the dying 'art' of the teen flick.

Anatomy Of A Black Actress: Viola Davis, by Fanta Sylla: Part beautiful tribute to a phenomenal woman and actress, part pensive perspective on the difficulties that Black actresses still continue to face in Hollywood.

What James Baldwin's Writing Tells Us About Today, by Stacia L. Brown: Brown continues to be one of my favorite essayists, and her piece about Baldwin's misbegotten masterpiece, 1974's If Beale Street Could Talk urged me to take a second look at one of my all-time favorite novels.


+ For my complete 2015 reading list click here (and you can follow me on Goodreads if you so wish to!) 

Now it's your turn...what did everybody enjoy reading in 2015?

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