Winter Break Books Read -- Part I

For several years I had the tradition of taking a picture of the giant stack of books I hoped to read during break. I usually posed with the stack, a comical look spread across my face because man, there were a lot of books. 

However sometimes I could never get very far into the stacks. This break, I'm still optimistic, although I didn't take my normal picture of my books to read. Here's what I have read so far -- curious to see how many I can get through before classes start back up! 

I Am Malala is a book I've had on my pile for a while. As someone who had read and heard much about Malala, I was curious about what her own memoir might look like. What I enjoyed about this book is Malala's optimism, that no matter what, she is fighting for something she believes in. However, it was heart breaking to hear Malala hear about how she and her family are unable to go back to Pakistan. The feeling of being stuck and unable to do anything about it is clear in her writing. 

Quote: "It does not matter what language you choose, the important thing is the words you use to express yourself" (78). 

I conquered Rainbow Rowell's new book Carry On in a day and a half or so. This book follows the series that we learned about in Rowell's earlier book, Fangirl. Carry On is about Simon Snow and his last year in magic school. While this book has definite parallels to Harry Potter, Rowell reimagines this series in a little darker and queerer tone. I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading YA books but was swiftly reminded with this one. 

Quote: from Baz, Simon's archnemesis, "I can tell she finds me both loathsome and distasteful, but Rome wasn't built on mutual admiration" (246). 

I've had Lena Dunham's memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, on my list for a while. I'll say it -- not a huge fan of her show, Girls, but was curious about what she had to say in her book. It's not my favorite (I'll take Mindy's memoir any day), but thought Dunham had some really great moments. She uses lists (always a fan of those), illustrations, and the use of third person (which I can get on board with). 

Quote: "One Saturdays my friends and I load into somebody's old Volvo and head to a thrift store, where we buy tchotchkes that reek of other people's lives and clothes that we believe will enhance our own" (xiii). 

Earlier this year I read Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, a graphic novel about Bechdel's father. The "sequel" of sorts is this one, Are You My Mother? which digs into Bechdel's relationship with her mother. Per Bechdel's style, the drawings are stunning and I like when she pulls text from other books and papers. However, this book is pretty heavy in psychoanalysis and the "true self." I got lost a few times in the meta-ness of this book. Regardless, I'm always fascinated in mother-daughter relationships. I've also learned that Bechdel really knows how to end a book -- both the ending for this graphic novel and the one about her father end with a great lasting sentence or two to get you thinking. 


There was a certain thing I did not get from my mother.
There is a lack, a gap, a void.
But in its place, she has given me something else.
Something, I would argue, that is far more valuable.
She has given me a way out. (288-9)

This was another book that had been sitting on my "to-read" pile for a while. Not only did it get some good press, but I listened to a podcast episode on the book. So I was #jazzed. What a great biography. I liked how it often read like a biography you might read in school but was paired with all the cultural artifacts that have surfaced since the first Ruth Bader Ginsburg meme, "You can't spell truth without Ruth." This book was born from a Tumblr page, which makes my cultural criticism heart so happy. Do yourself a favor and CHECK IT OUT.  

Quote: "I have been supportive of my wife since the beginning of time and she has been supportive of me. It's not sacrifice; it's family" -- Marty Ginsburg, 1993. 

Five in about a week is a pretty good start, right? Let's see if I can hit double digits this break!