Um…it’s the end of the year? When the heck did that happen? I’m very confused about the passage of time right now…
Holiday celebrations kind of took up a lot of my time during November and December, so I didn’t make it through quite as many books as I wanted. But the ones I did make it through were pretty quality, so there’s my plus side : )
The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh
Set in a small town in the Ozarks where family ties run deep, TWoB follows Lucy Dane as she attempts to discover the truth behind her mother’s disappearance and the murder of her friend Cherie. The novel goes back and forth between Lucy’s perspective, which advances the plot, and her mother’s, which provides the background information. I can’t really go too far beyond that without giving away the mystery of the novel, though it’s not too difficult to figure the bulk out once you make it about a third of the way through. The ending was too simple and easy for my taste, but it’s not a bad read for a lazy weekend.
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline [recommended by Kevin]
I’m pretty sure this one was on my To Read list for all of 2014, so I was ecstatic to finally get my hands on a copy. It’s a dystopia-ish/techno-future novel about Earth in the year 2044. The planet has been essentially decimated by overpopulation and pollution, so everyone escapes the ugly reality by plugging into the addictive and sprawling virtual reality known as the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, died, his will revealed that he had hidden clues inside the OASIS that would lead one lucky winner to great fortune and power. When teenaged Wade Watts stumbles upon the first key to Halliday’s “Easter Egg,” his relatively normal existence is thrown into chaos, and he is launched into a dangerous and very ’80s pop culture adventure (I’m not kidding, this book is completely jam-packed with ’80s pop culture references, though thankfully it explains the most obscure/relevant-to-the-plot of them). It was an entertaining read for sure, though I’d probably have enjoyed it a bit more if I could fully appreciate the depth of the ’80s references. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who loves a good video game-themed adventure.
Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix
Okay, so anyone who knows me at all knows that I simply Do. Not. Do. gore/horror movies or haunted houses. I flinch and squirm and just find it all generally unpleasant. So I was surprised by how much I wanted to read this book after hearing about it via a couple of booktubers I follow. I blame the design. I mean, look at it!
The entire book is designed to mimic an Ikea catalog, including the shape, product descriptions, and even an order form. It’s incredible.
The story takes place in furniture superstore Orsk, an American rip-off of Ikea, where every morning the staff arrives to find broken sofas, knocked-over lamps, and mysterious stains on the ceiling. So, in the grand tradition of horror stories everywhere, a small band of workers decides to stay overnight to investigate, each one with their own motivations for taking the extra shift. Things obviously go horrendously awry because, oh yeah, the store is built over the swampy remains of a drowned penitentiary. It’s predictable, but still creepy, and I’m actually really glad to have read it (though thankfully I only read it in the daytime).
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
A legalistic theocracy has taken over the United States of America in the near future. Minorities are relocated. Women are stripped of agency and classified into one of five roles: Wives (companions to high-ranking males), Handmaidens (fertile women who bear children for Wives), Aunts (those who train and monitor the Handmaidens), Marthas (domestic help), and Econowives (serve as Wife, Handmaiden, and Martha for low-ranking males). Offred (literally “Of Fred”) is a handmaiden in the Republic of Gilead, her only value contingent on the viability of her ovaries. If she cannot bear children, she will be termed an Unwoman and sent away. She can still remember her life before the coup, her husband and daughter who were taken away from her, and dreams of finding them again and having a life that’s her own again. It’s…well, it’s just not a pretty picture of the future.
Please don’t take my five-month reading period on this book as a reflection of its quality. This is a book you definitely need to read if you have an interest in feminism, the dangers of legalistic and totalitarian religion, or classic dystopian/speculative literature. The pace takes a while to really pick up, and it doesn’t lay everything out for you, but it does deserve to be read with careful consideration, and also with a certain degree of wariness.
Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES PLEASE! I have been waiting and waiting for the book ever since it was announced, so when I found an autographed (!!!) copy at Barnes & Noble on Black Friday I immediately snatched it up. I devoured it in less than 48 hours. Amy covers every topic you could possibly want, from starting out in sketch comedy to motherhood to her SNL days. She dedicates one chapter to listing her favorite moments with each member of the main cast of Parks and Recreation, which was perfect and wonderful. Seth Meyers and Mike Schur each contributed sections of the book, and it’s clear how much admiration exists in those friendships. While I can’t say Yes Please is my favorite out of the modern female comedy memoirs trifecta (that honor belongs to Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?), it’s a grand last piece of the puzzle.
And with that, I conclude my last installment of my 2014 Bookshelf Updates! I’ve read 32 books this year (not counting a few re-reads), which works out to 2.67 books per month and one very happy Jackie. Thanks for following along this year, y’all. I honestly cannot wait to see what books 2015 has in store.
And in an effort to end this on a non-cheesy note, here’s a picture of a really happy cat I found on the Internet: